Earlier this week Buzzfeed came out with an article entitled “25 Reasons You Should Be In Spain Right Now,” which is full of the kind of basic info I found when I was preparing for my move to Madrid. Yes, the things on the Buzzfeed list exist. However, they only scratch the surface of the country. How can you give a nod to El Bulli and Almodovar without also throwing in some tidbits about Spain’s people or history? Sure, bullfighting exists, but I would be hard-pressed to think of any friends or colleagues (Spanish or not) who have set foot in a bull ring in the past decade.
Most importantly, there is more to see than Madrid and Barcelona! As someone who has four years of Spanish livin’ under her belt, I decided to pose the question, “What would you tell friends and family to convince them to come to Spain?” The following are my reasons why you should load up the piggy bank for a Spanish vacation:
1) The Amazing Diversity
There is a huge variety between the regions, which makes exploring each area even more of an adventure. From the volcanic terrain in Olot to island beaches to the Castilian plain, there is a huge variety. Not only does the landscape change, but also the traditions, food, and language.
The gorgeous Picos de Europa mountain range
Peaceful sights in Comillas, Cantabria
2) The People
In general, the people are very open and friendly. If I had to choose one word to describe them, it would have to be “social.”
Don’t tell me you don’t love a good castle. From the fairy tale spires of Segovia’s Alcázar to Sevilla’s sprawling Reales Alcázares, Spain is home to many picturesque castles. Ah, and did you know that “the [Spanish] province of Jaén has the greatest concentration of fortresses and castles of any region in Europe!”? How’s that for royal?
4) The Language
Seseo. Colorful expressions. Regional dialects. Heck, different languages! And if you’ve ever studied Spanish in school and were told that you’d never have to learn vosotros, you’re in for a rollickin’ ride.
5) The History
You can’t help but stand agape at the footprints left by Arabs, Romans, and other people who have called the Iberian Peninsula home over the years. And speaking of history, did you know that Spain is home to 44 different UNESCO World Heritage sites?
6) The Weather
If you’re visiting Spain in the spring, summer, or early fall, the weather is awesome! As Lonely Planet states, “In general you can usually rely on pleasant or hot temperatures just about everywhere from April to early November.” Sign me up!
7) The Museums
There’s the Reina Sofia and and Prado art museums in Madrid, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the National Museum and Research Center of Altamira in Cantabria, and so much more!
Iconic Puppy at the Guggenheim in Bilbao
8) The Architecture
From Moorish architecture to modernist structures, Spain’s architecture doesn’t lack variety–or personality.
Valencia’s Silk Exchange–click here to take a tour of Valencia’s architecture
9) The Markets
A picturesque plant vendor in front of the Valencian market
10) Café Culture
There seem to be cafés on every corner, and it makes sense when you realize how much of daily life goes on there. Business meetings can be conducted over a drink, colleagues pause for a mid-day coffee break, and friends meet up at all hours of the day in the ever-present café. It’s a time to hit the pause button for a momment, and your mental health (and social life) will thank you for it.
Coffee at Madrid’s Gaudeamus café
11) Spanish Food
From market-fresh fruits and veggies to salmorejo (chilled tomato soup) to Galician octopus with paprika, there is something for everyone. Oh, and don’t forget olive oil, olives, cured meats and cheeses, fresh fish, croquetas…
Oranges ripe for the picking
Salmorejo, a tomato-based soup
When in the Basque Country, do as the Basques do. That means plenty of pintxos and the fun of El Txikiteo.
14) The Spanish Love Affair With Ham
It’s almost humorous how much the Spanish adore ham. Once you try the different varieties, you may even be tempted to smuggle the stuff back home.
15) The Long Day (and Even Longer Night)
The Spanish are famous for their socialness, and for good reason. There is always something to do–morning, noon, and night.
16) Plenty of Outdoor Activities
Like the beach? Skiing? Hiking? There is plenty of outdoor fun to be had.
17) …And Plenty of City Adventures, Too
Searching for street art in Madrid’s Conde Duque neighborhood
Museums, shopping, strolling thorugh the park, and enjoying cañas at a terrace bar: city life is also a treasure trove of options.
18) Vino, Vino, Vino
On this account, the Buzzfeed article got it right–Spanish wine is awesome! However, it’s not just Ribera del Duero that should be mentioned, but also Albariño, Rioja, Rueda, Toro, Somantano (to name a few). It deserves to go on the list again–there’s so much wine to love!
Deciding which wine is our favorite at a Madrid Food Tour wine tasting
19) Dos Besos
20) The paseo tradition
The nightly stroll is a great excuse to go outside, stretch your legs, meet with friends, and people-watch. It’s not just an activity, it’s a tradition.
21) Ease of Travel
Bus, train, subway, plane…it’s easy to travel around Spain!
No matter what month it is, there is guaranteed to be a festival flooding the Spanish streets.
Typical dress for Madrid’s San Antonio de la Florida celebration
So, my dear friends–have I convinced you yet? The biggest question now should be deciding where to go first!