When it comes to an affordable, all rounded destination, it’s hard to beat Spain.
Blessed with a beautiful Mediterranean climate, sun-kissed beaches, incredible food, and a history that runs from as far back as the Roman Empire, Spain is one of the richest countries in the world for culture, history, and nature.
It’s this winning combination which made us fall in love with Spain; here are some specific reasons to love both Spain, and the Spanish culture.
Reasons to Love Spain and Spanish Culture
The Spanish Timetable
The first thing you’ll appreciate in Spain is the timetable. They do things later there, and they work to live as opposed to most other countries, where a culture has evolved of living to work.
Expect to take lunch around 2 – 3 pm, and join the locals in taking a siesta, an afternoon nap, afterwards. Businesses may close in the afternoon for a few hours, with the exception of bars, restaurants, and large department stores, and open up again later.
Knowing this in advance allows you to plan your day around it. Even in the evenings, Spaniards tend to take dinner later at the night, mostly after 9 P.M.
Some Spaniards especially those living in major cities such as Madrid do speak English. However, most of the population can only communicate in Spanish. And from a cultural perspective, this means your experience will be immersive!
You’ll likely learn to become fluent from immersing yourself in the community after a couple of months of living there, but if you’re only visiting for a short period of time, learning some Spanish can make your arrival a lot easier, even if it means mastering only few words.
For instance, you can practice how to say hi, and how to ask for directions in Spanish. You can practice general conversations with people you’ll come into contact with.
Spain’s gastronomic culture spoils everyone, native or visiting.
Stealing the show somewhat are the tapas, small dishes of food which can be ordered or which, when you order an alcoholic drink, may be provided anyway.
Typical tapas include patatas bravas, a type of small roast potato served in a spicy sauce with garlic mayonnaise; and Spanish omelet, a combination of egg, potato, and onion.
Then there’s the paella, a glorious mixture of rice, seafood, chicken, possibly rabbit, peas, peppers, and anything else the person preparing the dish wishes to pop in there. Part of the magic of the dish is the absorption of the flavors by the rice.
Catalonia boasts a reputation for meat and vegetable casseroles, whereas Andalusia enjoys a reputation for gazpacho (a cold tomato, garlic, and cucumber soup) and Valencia is the homeland of the aforementioned paella.
Galicia loves its seafood (as does Spain in general) and, in Castile, roasts and air-dried hams are more the specialty.
The Arts & Architecture
Spain’s artistic tradition is top notch, and the country has produced many fine artists, including Francisco de Goya, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Diego Velázquez, and Joan Miró.
Naturally, the country supports its fine tradition with many outstanding art museums, such as the Prado Museum and the Queen Sofía Museum (Madrid); the Guggenheim Museum, in Bilbao; the Picasso Museum in Barcelona; the National Museum of Sculpture, in Valladolid; and the El Greco Museum, in Toledo, to name but a few.
While the art of Picasso and architecture of Antoni Gaudi should be on your list to see, remember to make time to visit Museu Nacional d’Art in the Catalonia area of Barcelona. This museum is worth your time if you love Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque works.
Spain offers visitors two archipelagos: the Balearic and Canary islands. The Balearic is known for the islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, and Ibiza is most famous for being Spain’s party island.
The Canary Islands offer 8 islands; Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa and offers a diverse natural experience, from hiking through scented pine forests, or lunar-like landscapes to reach volcanoes, or spending your time on the golden shores.
A great way to explore the islands is to charter a yacht in Spain, and in terms of a cultural experience, this is after all a country with a strong boating history, and is one of the world’s leading maritime nations.
Whether you choose to travel by land through mainland Spain, or charter a yacht in Ibiza, the country is rich with World Heritage Sites, many of which you can personally visit, or admire from shore if you’re boating.
Spain offers 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, third only to China and Italy (both of which have 55).
Of our favorites, visiting Cáceres feels as though you’ve stepped back in time, or at the very least, onto the set of a medieval movie. And it’s for this very reason that Game of Thrones chose Cáceres as a filming location.
And Mérida is also an incredibly special site, also holding the title of an Archaeological-Historical Complex. Dating back to 25 BC, the sheer amount of ancient Roman architecture in Mérida is staggering, and today it offers more important Roman monuments than any other Spanish city.
Bottom line: Spain is beautiful. Fabulous food, arts and general culture all combine with warm, wonderful locations for a trip you’ll never forget. We hope you love Spain and Spanish culture as much as we do!