the largest of the seven Spanish Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, might bring to mind package holidays and beaches, but there is actually so much more to see here. Away from the coast and the tourist hotspots the landscape is otherworldly, with volcanic peaks – Mount Teide is the highest peak in Spain – where you can explore the craters and ancient lava flows.
Sun, sea and a soaring rocky peak make Alicante a prime coastal destination. Many foreign tourists fly into the airport, then head straight out to resorts further along the coast – but they’re missing out, because Alicante is worth exploring in itself. The port city has a lively beach, with Mount Benacantil as a backdrop; Santa Bárbara Castle, dating back to the ninth century, sits at the top. Stroll by the marina in the evening before checking out the tapas bars in the old town.
The second largest city in the country is an eternal favourite with visitors, thanks to the stunning Mediterranean location, famous architecture and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Go gaga for Gaudí‘s architecture at Sagrada Familia and Park Güell – be sure to check out some of his lesser-known works too, such as Casa Batlló. Make the trip up to Mount Tibidabo for sparkling views across the city and the sea beyond. Rollercoaster fans, visit the Tibidabo Amusement Park, which opened in 1905. The mountain is also a great place for you to cycle or hike
Granada is like a Disney fairy tale come to life – it has a stunning ancient fortress, snowcapped peaks and winding cobbled streets. The Alhambra is one of the most famous attractions in Spain, and with good reason. The Moorish palace sits high over the city, containing some of the best-preserved Islamic art and architecture in the world. Don’t miss Sacromonte, an area of white caves clinging to the hillside, where the gypsy community originally lived; there, flamenco dance and music flourished.
This elegant city, on the coast in the Basque Country, is a must for foodies. The pintxo – a Basque version of tapas that usually includes delicious morsels balanced on crusty bread – is the local gastronomic calling card, and the bars of the Old Town lay theirs out on the bar tops so you can see everything on offer. Concha Beach is a beautiful, shell-shaped cove popular with families, while the nearby Zurriola Beach is great for surfing.
Seville, the capital of Andalusia in southern Spain, is famous for the flamenco culture. Take in a show in one of the intimate little flamenco bars to fully appreciate this passionate, dramatic and melancholic art form. Explore local history with a trip to the Real Alcázar, a well-preserved example of Mudéjar architecture that has been added to by Spanish rulers over the years. You should also take in the modern architecture at the Metropol Parasol, a huge, wooden structure that brings much-needed shade in the summer.
The Spanish capital is a great destination for a weekend break. The golden triangle of art galleries holds some of the most famous works in Europe, from Picasso’s Guernica to Velázquez’s Las Meninas. The city is home to the Royal Palace, the largest in Europe in terms of floor area, and around every corner you can discover churches, shops and bars. La Latina is home to the best tapas bars around and is a great place for a tapas crawl