Spain is a must-see European destination with good reason. Culturally vibrant, alive with art, architecture, music, and a food-lover’s nirvana.
The bustling metropolis and the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona, combines quirky with the exotic. Take in the vibrant street life on the famous Las Ramblas and revel in Europe's best-preserved Gothic Quarter. Treat yourself to the stunning architecture of Gaudi, like La Sagrada Família, or Casa Batllo situated right in the heart of the city.
Spain's central capital, Madrid, boasts elegant boulevards, meticulously manicured parks and art galore, from Goya, and Velázquez to Picasso. With its great theater and tapas bars, nightlife abounds in the medieval La Latina neighborhood.
For a Mediterranean getaway with lively nightlife, quaint villages, yoga retreats and beaches lined with hotels, bars and shops, hop on over to the famous island retreat of Ibiza.
From the Pyrenees to the Picos, fiestas to Flamenco, Spain’s boundless energy and natural beauty await!
Is it a legacy of Emperor Charles V, a notorious foodie? We cannot tell, but what is certain is that the Spaniards love to eat, and sharing their meals promises cheerful feasts!
Atlantic ocean and Mediterranean sea. Mountains and plateau areas. Spanish cuisine has always taken good advantage of the country’s diverse environment. Historically, it was enriched by Roman and Arabic influences, as well as by « exotic » products supplied by the colonies of the New World - think chocolate. This variety of foodstuffs and precious local know-how help explain why such good meals can be enjoyed in the homeland of Cervantes!
To take the full measure of the diversity of Spanish specialties, simply head to the closest market ! Going from stall to stall, you’ll enjoy multiple tastings. You will also discover jamón ibérico, a source of national pride with its « Denominación de origen » label. This cured ham is a real delicacy. It comes from the Iberian pig, the best being pata negra de bellota, which is exclusively fed acorns of the cork oak. You will also become familiar with many olives, sausages, such as chorizo , and cheeses, including manchego, another DO made with the milk of La Mancha’s sheeps. As all of this is quintessential tapas bar fare, you will know what to order from then on! Must-see markets include : in Barcelona, La Boqueria; in Malaga, the Mercado Central de Atarazanas ; and in Madrid, the very popular (and beautiful) Mercado de San Miguel, as well as San Antón, a large, neighborhood market. Psst, take this opportunity to buy saffron, a spice used in the paella valenciana, or a good quality olive oil.
In seaside towns, fish and seafood naturally occupy a regal place on menus. In Barcelona, treat yourself to xipirones (fried squid) and gambes a la planxa (grilled prawns with garlic) served with pa amb tomàquet (fresh tomato pulp on toasted bread). Then you might be tempted by fideuà, a paella where short vermicelli replace the usual rice. Finally, you just cannot say no to the famous Catalan cream, a variant of the French crème brûlée. The same goes for cava, the local "champagne"! In Madrid, where culinary specialties are more related to the hinterland, try cocido madrileño. This most renown dish is made with chickpeas, vegetables and assorted meats, including the celebrated chorizo. As it dates back to the Middle Ages, ordering it in one of the historic restaurants of Cava Baja makes perfect sense. Obviously, you could find Andalusian gazpacho or cod from the Basque Country everywhere in Spain, but being locavore allows you to partake in the vida local. An example? Madrid's after-hours nightlife just wouldn’t be the same without churros (fried dough) and hot chocolate !
Good to know: dinner is served late in Spain, rarely before 10 pm. Hence the crowds filling the tapas bars from 8 pm !
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