When the weather turns cold, my mind always turns to the thought of some sun. And although I have done a lot of traveling over the years, one of my fave destinations is still Mainland Spain, a place I first visited over 20 years ago, and have now visited on numerous occasions since. Holiday Gems asked me what my favourite Spanish destinations were, and although the beaches of the Costa Del Sol proved to be very tempting, I decided to write about a few of my fave cities.
Malaga, Barcelona and Cadiz are all destinations that I would highly recommend if you want to get a real taste of Spain, the Spain of Tapas and Moorish architecture, or Picasso and Gaudi, and also want to enjoy shopping that ranges from traditional markets to my favourite Spanish department store, El Corte Ingles. Spain does have the most amazing beaches in the Costa’s, but it is so much more than a destination to go for relaxation, it is a place to explore.
Cadiz is well known as a destination for cruise ships, but many tourists then take a trip to Seville rather than checking out the important historical port. Cadiz is in Andalusia and is the home of the Spanish navy. It is also one of the oldest cities in Europe, which makes it a wealth of historical buildings – a must see on your Spanish travel map.
The Cathedral is simply stunning, an 18th century design that was not actually finished until 116 years after its inception. One reason to visit this landmark is the Torre De Poniente, a tower that offers amazing views across Cadiz.
Cadiz is also a fabulous place to enjoy traditional street markets in the towns squares. Look out for the traditional hand painted pottery in wonderfully vibrant colours and designs.
Malaga is another fabulous city in Andalusia, a city full of art and culture. It is a city full of must sees, from the 11th Century castle of Gibralfaro, to the Roman theatre that was only rediscovered in the 1950s.
Malaga is an modern art lovers dream due to being the home of the Picasso museum, but there are beautiful things to look at on every corner. Calle Marques de Larios pedestrian mall is the most famous shopping street in Malaga, and often has ingenious ways to protect shoppers from the midday sun, with beautiful shades over the walkways.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the World. For me, there are two main reasons to visit Barcelona, if you are a fan of stunning (if unfinished) architecture, and a fan of football. The Camp Nou and the Sagrada Familia, both shrines to different kinds of religion and both incredible buildings in their own right.
The Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s great unfinished masterpiece, although some proclaim it to be ugly, it is a must visit for anyone paying their first visit to Barcelona. A masterpiece of gothic architecture, you can pick up cheap family tickets if you book beforehand. And whether you love it or hate it, it is sure to be the most unique building you have ever encountered.
The Camp Nou is one of the most fantastic sports stadiums in the world. Home to the mighty Barcelona, you can get to the Nou Camp on one of the many tourist buses, and can then take a guided tour around the stadium. The Camp Nou experience is a must for fans of Messi, Suarez and football in general.
Do you have a favourite part of mainland Spain?