After a year of confinement, sun-deprived Britons are eager to travel again, and sunny destinations in Spain are on demand more than ever.
Spain is one of the favorite vacation spots for British tourists. Sunny weather, proximity, affordable tickets and accommodation, plus countless cultural, entertainment and relaxation options, are the reasons for this choice.
What are the best Spanish cities for summer vacations? What are the “must-haves” in each location? This review provides answers to these questions by highlighting the most recommended Spanish cities for those who have not yet visited the country or want to try a new place inside it.
The big cities not to be missed
Travelers looking for diverse and cosmopolitan experiences should not miss Madrid and Barcelona, the largest urban areas in Spain. Although they are only 313 miles apart, they offer very different experiences.
Madrid is a cosmopolitan city with plenty to do for all ages and preferences. Museums, parks, shopping areas, bars, tapas, restaurants and nightclubs are some of the characteristics that the Spanish capital has to offer. It has an excellent transport network, which makes it easy to get around without missing any place.
Madrid has the most important state buildings for those interested in history and architecture, and it is also the official residence of the Spanish monarchs. Around the main square, it is one of the most important European historical centers, known as “Madrid de Los Austrias”. The Royal Square, the Opera House and the 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: the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
For those looking to indulge themselves with the palate, Madrid is the right place. According to the official tourism website, “it has more than 10,000 restaurants, 40,000 bars and 3,000 cafes” where any request can be met with the highest quality cuisine. Tapas and “cocido madrileño” are the most famous dishes.
Many award-winning restaurants are available in the city with famous chefs in charge. More traditional places can also be found, 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 is in fact one of the most important shopping destinations in the world. Elite pockets, avant-garde fashion enthusiasts and budget shoppers will find what they are looking for in city stores, as everything anyone could want is available for sale.
As for Barcelona, it had become an international tourist destination since the Olympic Games of 1992, when 3 km of waterfront were created by demolishing industrial buildings. Since then, the city has added nine beaches to its already diverse menu of cultural and entertainment offerings.
The beaches of Barceloneta (San Sebastià, Sant Miquel and Somorrostro) are characterized by their proximity to the city center. They are full of restaurants and things to do, making them the choice of young people and a great option for a mixed program of city hiking and sunbathing.
Quieter options can be found at the beaches of Llevant, Nova Icaria, and La Nova Mar Bella, although they are far from the city center. Both of these are good for kids because of the free and convenient play areas. While the Mar Bella beach is known to be a gay beach and also has a nudist area. It is also an excellent option for practicing outdoor sports. Volleyball and basketball courts, an ice rink and outdoor gyms are available.
Either way, Barcelona is more than beaches. It has quite a metropolitan destination, filled with art, architectural gems, restaurants, parks, and markets.
Some of the must-see places in Barcelona are the Ramblas, the masterpieces of Gòtic Barri and Antoni Gaudi, such as Casa Batlló, Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà and Park Güell.
Learn Spanish while on vacation
Many people take advantage of the immersive experience of international travel by taking language courses to improve their skills. It’s a great choice for those traveling alone as it provides the opportunity to connect with locals and other travelers on the same course.
Both Barcelona and Madrid offer Spanish courses that combine learning languages and touring, having fun making friends and gaining a deeper insight into Spanish culture.
Expansion, one of the most popular Spanish schools in Barcelona, has a very chic establishment in the Eixample district, where Spanish lessons or even a single Spanish courses Barcelona can be taken with interesting extracurricular activities available for free.
If you love learning languages and enjoy making new friends abroad, this is a great way to do it.
For seekers from small or medium-sized cities, Spain also offers various attractive options.
Lovers of the Middle Ages can be enchanted by Besalú and Girona, both in Catalonia. Besalú is a walled medieval town with intact architecture, narrow stone streets and a magnificent fairytale medieval bridge.
As for Girona, it is a place bigger than Besalú which also 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 Andalusia, it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Spain, known for its beautiful white houses and pristine streets.
Plus, Althea is a great option. Located in Alicante, this city, labeled “Santorini of Spain”, has 22,000 inhabitants, offering a very peaceful environment for resting, sunbathing and strolling through its magnificent streets.
San Sebastian, also known as Donostia, is a beautiful destination located in the Basque country for lovers of the Atlantic coast. It’s a sophisticated coastal option, with beaches, rolling hills, and a wide range of historical and cultural attractions including stunning architecture, ancient streets, and parks.
In conclusion, while we are still battling the pandemic, a vacation to a sunny destination is 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 strength and prepare for a New Year. Taking proper precautions for personal protection and following official protocols will surely make a summer vacation a great experience and ensure a safe return to our homes.