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Viva Espana! Spain Still UK’s Favourite Holiday Destination


Brits have never had so much choice when it comes to overseas holiday destinations. But none have come close to toppling Spain as the number one country of choice for UK residents.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 15.6 million trips from Britain to the Iberian nation in 2018. That’s almost two times as many as the second-most visited country, France (8.6 million).

The ONS data actually revealed a 2% fall in the number of Spanish visits in 2018, when compared to 2017. But it shouldn’t make you think that Brits are falling out of love with Spain as their destination of choice. The number of trips made from the UK to Spain between 2009 and 2018 has increased by 1.6% overall – with nine of out every 10 trips made for holiday or leisure purposes.

Where in Spain do people go?

For anyone planning to travel to Spain for whatever reason, some locations are quicker to spring to mind than others. Madrid and Barcelona are two iconic cities that regularly feature among some of the best city break destinations in Europe. But the spread of visitors to Spain extends much further beyond these two locations as UK residents soak up everything the country has to offer.

While Barcelona and the wider Catalonia region welcomed 19 million international visitors in 2018, data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística underlines the popularity of other parts too. Helped by convenient Seville and Malaga airport transfers, the southern region of Andalucia attracted over 11.5 million international visitors. Both the Baleric and Canary Islands welcomed nearly 14 million.

Who does Spain appeal to?

Part of what makes Spain so popular with visitors from the UK is the broad range of traveller it can appeal to. From young to old, there’s something to see and do in every corner of the country. All it depends on is what you’re looking for. For every stag and hen do destination, you’ll find a place for all the family to enjoy. There are so many opportunities for solo, couple and group travellers alike.

What can people do on a Spanish holiday?

Like certain destinations, there are also cultural cues that come to mind first when thinking about travelling to Spain. Both on the mainland and the islands, the beaches that line the coast are a big draw for UK visitors – particularly at colder times of the year. The Costa del Sol, for example, often sticks in the mind thanks to it being “a lot warmer” than parts of northern Europe during winter.

Spain is a gastronomic delight for food and drink lovers, while aficionados of art and history won’t fail to be enchanted by attractions such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Família, Granada’s Alhambra Palace or Madrid’s three main museums such as the Prado. And that’s before you even think about Spain’s rich footballing heritage, Ibiza’s renowned clubbing scene or vast areas of natural beauty.


It’s no wonder that UK residents keep flocking back to Spain year-on-year.



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