Spain has a diverse culture, a rich historical legacy and most visitors have a down-right good time sampling the nightlife, wild festivals and cosy tapas bars.
Spain’s rich cultural diversity is reflected in its four official native languages: Basque, Catalan, Galician and Spanish (often referred to as Castilian or el castellano to differentiate it from other Spanish languages). There are also several unofficial native Spanish languages spoken in some regions including Aragonese, Asturian, Extremaduran and Leonese. The four official languages neatly divide the country into convenient regions to explore.
The Basque region which include the Basque Country and neighbouring Navarra. The annual San Fermins festival (running of the bulls) in Pamplona has made this region is enormously popular with backpackers who let their hair down in San Sebastián when the bulls have stopped running.
The Balearic Islands and the south-east coast bordering France comprise the main Catalan speaking regions. Cataluyna was the home of Picasso, Antonio Gaudí and Salvador Dalí and is a great spot to head to soak up the culture which inspired such off-beat interpretations of modern art. Barcelona is the most visited city in this region and a must for all travellers.
Galicia is the north-west corner of Spain which borders Portugal to the south. This seldom visited region is famed for its wild coastline, although picturesque Santiago de Compostella draws in pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
The rest of Spain includes the majority of the country’s rich history where many cities bear the rich historical legacy of the Roman, Visigoth and Muslim civilisations which predate modern Spain. Andalucía has perhaps the country’s largest concentration of this beautiful old cities including Granada and Seville, which all travellers should take the effort to visit.
The modern capital Madrid may not have the history of many smaller cities, but it has an abundance of modern Spainish culture which manifests itself in the city’s tiny bars and the general late-night party spirit of the local madrileños.
Take the plunge and explore all that Spain has to offer. However the only practical way to do this is to explore the country in depth rather than just a whistle-stop tour of the main cities.