After a year of lockdowns, sun-deprived Britons are looking forward to travelling again, and Spain sunny destinations are on-demand more than ever.
Spain is one of the favourite holiday spots for British tourists. Sun-filled weather, proximity, affordable tickets, and accommodation, along with countless cultural, amusement and relaxation options, are the reasons behind this choice.
What are the best Spanish cities for summer vacation? What are the “must-do” at each location? This review provides answers to those questions highlighting the most recommended Spanish cities for those who haven’t visited the country yet or want to try a new location within it.
Big cities that shouldn’t be missed
Travellers looking for diverse, cosmopolitan experiences shouldn’t miss Madrid and Barcelona, the largest urban areas in Spain. Although they are separated only by 313 miles, they offer very different experiences.
Madrid is a cosmopolitan city and is packed with things to do for all ages and preferences. Museums, parks, shopping areas, bars, tapas, restaurants, and nightclubs are some of the features that the Spanish capital offers. It has a great transportation network, making it easy to go all over without missing any spot.
Madrid has the most important state buildings for those interested in history and architecture, and it’s also the official residence of the Spanish monarchs. Around Main Square, it’s one of the most important European historical centres, known by the name of “Madrid de Los Austrias”. The Royal Place, the Opera House, and Almudena Cathedral are other must-see buildings.
Madrid is also popular for its museums. “The Art Walk” includes three of the best museums in the world: Prado Museum, Reina Sofía Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
For those looking for indulging in the palate, Madrid is the right place. According to the official tourism site, “it has more than 10.000 restaurants, 40.000 bars and 3000 cafes” where any demand can be satisfied with the highest cuisine quality. The Tapas and “cocido madrileño” are the most famous dishes.
Many awarded restaurants are available in the city with famous chefs in charge. More traditional spots can be found too, like Casa Labra, Lhardy, La Bola or Botín, which is also the oldest restaurant in the world.
Countless shopping areas are also available in Madrid. It’s, in fact, one of the most important shopping destinations in the world. Elite pockets, avant-garde fashion seekers and budget shoppers will find what they are looking for in the city shopping venues since everything anyone may want is available for sale.
As for Barcelona, it had become an international tourist destination since the 1992 Olympic Games, when 2 miles of beachfront were created by demolishing industrial buildings. Since then, the city added nine beaches to it already diverse menu of cultural and entertainment offer.
Barceloneta’s beaches (San Sebastià, Sant Miquel and Somorrostro) are characterized for their proximity to the city centre. They are packed with restaurants and things to do, making them the young’s choice and are a great option for a mixed city-hiking and sunbathing plan.
Calmer options can be found in Llevant, Nova Icaria and La Nova Mar Bella beaches, although they are far from the city centre. These two are good for children because of the handy free playgrounds. While Mar Bella Beach is known for being a gay beach and it also has a nudist area. Also, it’s a great option for practising outdoor sports. Volleyball and basketball courts, a skating rink and outdoor gyms are available.
Anyway, Barcelona is much more than beaches. It has a whole metropolitan destination, filled with art, architectonic jewels, restaurants, parks and markets.
Some of the must-visit places in Barcelona are the Ramblas, the Gòtic Barri and Antoni Gaudi masterpieces, such as Casa Batlló, la Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà and Park Güell.
Learning Spanish during vacations
Many people are taking advantage of the immersive experience of international travelling by taking language courses to improve their skills. This is a great choice for those travelling alone since it provides the opportunity to connect with locals and other travellers taking the same course.
Both Barcelona and Madrid offer Spanish courses that combine language learning with touring, having great fun making friends and getting a deeper insight into the Spanish culture.
Expanish, one of Barcelona’s most popular Spanish schools, has a very fancy facility in the Eixample neighbourhood, where Spanish courses or even a single Spanish class Barcelona can be taken with engaging after-school activities available for free.
If you love learning languages and appreciate making new friends abroad, this is a great way of doing it.
For small or mid-size cities seekers, Spain also has various attractive options.
Medieval lovers may be delighted by Besalú and Girona, both in Catalonia. Besalú is a fortified medieval town with intact architecture, narrow stone streets and a beautiful and fairytale medieval bridge.
As for Girona, it’s a bigger place than Besalú that likewise offers medieval architecture. It also has one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe.
If a beach vacation is a must, don’t miss Almeria. Located in the southeast of Spain, in Andalucía, it’s undoubtedly one of Spain’s most beautiful coastal cities, known for its beautiful white houses and immaculate streets.
Also, Althea is a great option. Located in Alicante, this city, labelled as “the Santorini of Spain”, has a 22.000 population, providing a very peaceful environment to rest, sunbathe and walking through its gorgeous streets.
San Sebastián, also known as Donostia, is a beautiful destination located in the Basque country for Atlantic coast lovers. It’s a sophisticated coastal option, with beaches, hills and a wide span of historical and cultural attractions, including amazing architecture, antique streets and parks.
To conclude, even though we are still fighting against the pandemic, holidays in a sunny destination are much needed after a long year of restrictions and a long cold winter. British holidaymakers can enter Spain and take advantage of the many places to regain energy and prepare for a new year. Taking the appropriate precautions for personal protection and following official protocols will surely make summer vacation a great experience and ensure a safe return to our homes.