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In southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula.
The largest cities in Spain include the capital, Madrid, as well as Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville.
Climate and Geography
Spain borders Portugal to the west and France and Andorra to the north, with coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and the Mediterranean Sea. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands off of the west coast of Africa, and the uninhabited Plazas de Soberanía on the Mediterranean side of the Strait of Gibralter.
Spain is the second largest country in the European Union and 51st largest in the world at 504,782 square kilometers. The highest peak in the country is also the third largest volcano in the world (measured from the base), Teide in Tenerife. The highest point on the Iberian Peninsula is Mulhacén, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the south.
Mainland Spain is made up is mostly of highland plains and mountains. Mountain ranges include the Pyrenees on the French border in the north, the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) along the northwest coast, the Iberian System (Sistema Ibérico) in the central northeast, the Sistema Central in central Spain, the Montes de Toledo in central Spain, the Sierra Morena in central Spain, and Baetic System (Sistema Bético) in southern Spain.
Most of Spain has a mediterranean climate except for a small section in the north that has an oceanic climate (no dry season) and in the southeast that has a semiarid climate (longer dry season).
Spain’s tourism industry is enormous; it’s the fourth most visited country in the world. Because of the volume of air traffic to the country, deals on flights to Spain can be found online. Spain’s popular areas for tourism include Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Mallorca, Tenerife, and the Sierra Nevada.
Spain’s attraction is obvious. Beaches, near perfect climate, and a rugged geography are huge attractions. So is history. Spain is home to 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the second most in the world (after Italy, which has 45).
Spain has a variety of unique ‘throwing’ festivals. On December 28th people in the town of Ibi fling cooking flour at each other. On the last Friday of August revelers in the town of Laredo engage in a battle of wildflowers. The most popular is La Tomatina. On the last Wednesday of August people in the town of Buñol (and tens of thousands of visitors) have a citywide tomato fight. In 2007 they used 115 tons of tomatoes during the celebration.
Of course, everyone has heard of the Pamplona’s running of the bulls, which takes place from July 6–14.
With mountains, islands, lakes, rivers, beaches, Spain is incredible of outdoors sports. Wikipedia lists 27 ski hills in the country. The Torka del Carlistain the north, is the largest cave chamber in Europe at 520 m by 245 m and Torca del Cerro del Cuevón, also in the north, descends 1589 m below the earth’s surface. There is surfing along more than half of the coastline. There is an enormous variety of scuba diving available. With 14 national parks, pristine hiking, trekking, and mountain climbing is accessible in most places.
Spain has a many incredible festivals. One of the most unique is La Tomatina–a giant tomato fight that takes place on the last Wednesday of each August.
• Stand-up paddle boarding
• Scuba diving (wreck, reef, cave)
• Surfing (all levels)
• Hang gliding
• Sky diving
• Bungee jumping
• Hot air ballooning
• Whitewater rafting
• Kayaking (river and lake)
• Caving and spelunking
• Hiking/trekking (all levels)
• Rock climbing (all levels)
• Ice climbing
• Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
• Horseback Riding
• Skiing and snowboarding
• Cross-country skiing
On a Budget?
• Prices in Spain vary greatly by location and season. Beds can be found in hostels for $15 – 30 USD per night.
A full list of hostels in Spain can be found here.
• Inexpensive restaurants will have breakfast for around $7-8 USD and lunch and dinner for around $11-13 USD. Of course, the supermarket is always an option.
I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.
Images (in order) courtesy flydime, Bert Kaufmann, marcp_dmoz, Gastev, Ken Lund, DanTheBeastMan, Ignacio Conejo, Samuel Stocker, Rol1000, moMents fiXats, mirindas27, and Jonathan Ablitt on Flickr.
Click on the images for more information
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