Here are five more of my favourite spots in Spain.
Granada: Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is where you’ll see a Moorish influence in Spain. (The Moors ruled Spain for almost 800 years until they were kicked out by Isabella and Ferdinand, whom also sent Columbus to America.) The Alhambra is the old Moorish palace. It’s a must-see. As you drive around the hill on which the Alhambra is built, you’ll see caves. Gypsies live in those caves, and they’ll approach you asking to read your fortune or sell you something else.
Granada also has the best tapas in Spain. If you go out to a bar for a drink, you may never need to buy dinner, as you’ll be given tapas to munch while you drink. (In Madrid, the tapas also are free but are smaller. In the north of Spain, you’ll rarely receive free tapas, but if you are willing to pay for them you can buy large tapas called pinchos.)
Ronda: Ronda is probably my favourite city in Spain. Set in a mountainous region, the city is built on a cliff. Stay at the Parador de Ronda hotel -- from your window, you’ll be able to look down to the bottom of kilometer-deep gorge. Ronda also has the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain.
Bilbao: This northern port city is home to the Guggenheim Museum (designed by Canada’s own Frank Gehry). Bilbao used to be very industrial but has benefited from the museum and is now quite beautiful.
Santiago de Compostela: On the northwest coast near the northern tip of Portugal, Santiago de Compostela is the end of the famous Pilgrimage route. The Spanish spoken here and on the public signs has a heavy Portuguese influence. Stay at the Hotel de los Reyes Catolicos (Hotel of the Catholic Kings) if you can. It is literally where the Catholic Kings would stay. Just an hour north from here is Cedera, a pretty little town with virgin beaches. It's a beautiful drive.
Barcelona: Admire the architecture of Barcelona, which is the capital of the Catalan region. Don’t miss the Church of the Sacred Family (La Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia), a masterpiece of modern architecture by Antoni Gaudi.
Travelzoo Tip: Don’t plan to eat dinner at 6 p.m. like you might at home. Most meal times in Spain are different than in North America. Breakfast is early, just like at home, and most Spaniards drink café con leche (similar to a small café au lait). Lunch is typically eaten just before noon -- it’s the biggest meal of the day in Spain. From noon - 3 p.m., much of Spain closes down, if not for siesta (nap), then for descansa (rest). Around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., have a snack of tapas, because dinner in Spain never starts before 9 p.m. In fact, 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. is when most Spaniards eat -- and it’s usually something light, such as seafood or salads.
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