Spain is, famously, the UK’s favourite holiday destination.
Most of us have visited its coastal resorts at some stage for the heady offering of sun, sea and sangria… or checked out its cosmopolitan side with swift citybreak, but Spain offers a world of holidays to suit just about every taste, interest and budget.
Here are just some of our favourites…
1. Take the celebrated Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela. From your armchair you may well have followed the progress of TV celebrities tackling the scenic route, but nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of the stunning vistas and charming towns and cities in this corner of North West Spain. Whatever your age (or circumference!), you can choose your own pace and, as you walk, you’ll enjoy not only the beauties of the region but also the opportunities to forge social connections with fellow travellers. Whether you are looking for it or not, they say that the spirituality of this well-trodden path will change your life for ever.
2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, first published in 1605, is Spain’s most influential work of literature and a much-loved world classic. The quirky hero’s famous journey took in 600+ miles and today, if you follow in the footsteps of Don Quixote and his trusty squire, Sancho Panza, you’re in for a unique view of Spain and an insight on Spanish culture. Top attractions along the route include the windmills in Consuerga; the House of Dulcinea (Don Quixote’s love interest) at El Toboso and the handsome city of Toledo, renowned for its rich architecture, history and art.
3. Tempting tapas, velvety Crème Catalan, spicy Patatas Bravas, refreshing Gazpacho, yummy Turrón, family favourite Paella ... for a taste of something special next holiday don’t just eat the fabulous foods of Spain, learn how to make them with a vacation cookery course. The country’s celebrated cuisine is so varied that every region has its specialities, so there is plenty to learn and even more to enjoy.
4. Get up close and personal with the fabulous landscapes of the Andalusia with a horse-riding holiday. The Spanish Andalusian horse is believed to be the most ancient riding horse in the world, although, in Spain, it is more correctly referred to as Pura Raza Española, simply meaning ‘Spanish Pure Bred’. Even newbies and rusty riders can be welcomed on an equestrian escape but, if you are planning a vacation in the saddle, it pays not to lie about your prowess on horseback! Even if you aren’t up for a full horsey holiday, do check out the options to experience beach or mountain-trek riding.
5. Feeling festive? Spain is the country of fiestas and festivals and every village, town and city has its own unique celebrations. Each January Tamborrada Festival celebrates the gourmet credentials of the city of San Sebastián… visit Valencia in mid-March for the carnival fun, lights and bonfires which mark Las Fallas … in July you can see the world-famous and totally scary Pamplona Bull … La Tomatina Festival is a tomato fight festival held annually on the last Wednesday of August in the small town of Bunol, close to Valencia …the list of amazing celebrations goes on for ever!
Make sure you don’t miss a thing on your holiday by checking with the Spanish Tourist Office www.spain.info
Even better, visit the Spain zone at Belfast Telegraph Holiday World over January 18-20.