HOTELS IN SPAIN
SPAIN – WHY GO?
Don Quixote adventured through Spain on horseback. These days you can do it all in huge style – zipping in on low-cost flights and staying everywhere from rustic ranches and hip haciendas to swish townhouse hideaways.
The country that spawned flamenco, tapas and bullfighting offers a cornucopia of travel experiences – whether it’s the cultural fizz of arty Barcelona, the dazzling white villages of Moorish Andalucia or the palaces and plazas of the capital Madrid.
The Catalan capital of Barcelona has bags of cultural fizz. Wander the winding medieval streets of the city’s Gothic quarter with its squares, fountains and churches. Join the crowds along the world-famous promenade of Las Ramblas, or take in the evening buzz along the waterfront – packed with bars and eateries.
Barcelona is imprinted with the stamp of Gaudi, whose architectural masterworks litter the city’s landscape. See his great unfinished cathedral Sagrada Familia, the extraordinary Casa Batllo house and the amazing stone structures of Guell park. See some of the city’s fabulous museums, or spend a lazy Sunday on Montjuic mountain, with its jogging trails and vistas.
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Moorish Andalucia is home to some of Spain’s most celebrated cities. Its characteristic white villages, bullfighting traditions and flamboyant flamenco lend the area a character all of its own.
Every city has its plaza de toros (bullring) where the bullfighting season kicks off at Easter. Whatever your views on the sport, it’s an evocative reminder of how deep tradition strikes at Andalucia’s heart. Night time is flamenco hour – and the staccato clack of castanets against sultry guitar chords heralds yet another deep-rooted tradition that’s very much alive and well here.
Don't miss Seville's Gothic glories: the spired and towered cathedral is home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus and priceless Goyas. Then there is the Alcazar, home to royal families since the ninth century, and the Real Fabrica de Tabacos – famous as the setting for Bizet's opera Carmen.
A walk through the winding alleys of Seville's old Jewish quarter – Barrio Santa Cruz – is unmissable, while leafy Maria Luisa park makes a nice spot for a late afternoon wander. Do make time for a foray into the Museo de Bellas Artes – a fabulous art collection in a former convent. There's also a bullfighting museum next to the bull ring. When you’re ready for out-of-town excursions, Cordoba, Granada and Jerez beckon.
Marbella has the cobbled streets and squares of its old town and the party port of Puerto Banus. Marbella's golden palm-lined beaches have promenades, parasols, hammocks and bars, not to mention a variety of watersports. Prefer to head out of town? Ronda and other old Andalucian towns are easily reached.
Palaces, plazas and parks make Madrid a pretty special city – and there’s plenty of late-night buzz here too. The city’s world class museums include the Big Three – the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia – all with vast and mesmerising art collections. Sundays are the time for strolls in Retiro park, watching boats on the lake and demolishing a local ice cream.
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