- Tourism in Spain
Tourismin Spainwas developed during the last years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, when the country became a popular place for summer holidays, especially for tourists from the United Kingdom, France, Germanyand Scandinavia. Since then Spain has been the second most visited country of the world after France. In 2007 almost 60 million foreign tourists were received, according to the World Tourism Organization, that has its headquarters in Madrid.Spain's tourism spending annually is over $46 Billion, the highest tourism spending in any nation worldwide except the USA with $74 Billion.
airlineis Iberia (or Iberia Airlines), but the country can also be flown into on many international passenger airlines such as Spanair, Air Europa, Vueling, Air Berlin, Clickairand charter airlines, both of which fly to many tourist spots in the region. The main train operator is RENFE, the AVE(Spanish high speed train) or Talgoare the main intercityservices for tourists. Many freeways link the main touristic cities.
ummer Resorts and Beaches
This modality of Tourism was the first to be developed in Spain, and nowadays, is the one that more income grants to the Spanish economy.The mild climate during the whole year and the extensive sandy beaches of the
Mediterraneanand North Atlantic, as well as of its two archipelagoes (the Balearic Islandsand the Canary Islandsrespectively) have been attracting tourists from the cold territories of North Europe for decades. Summer resorts are popular between the Spaniards too.
The Spanish coasts suitable for summer vacations include, from north to south:
Costa Brava, the Costa Dauradaand the Costa del Maresme, in the autonomous community of Catalonia, very popular between tourist from inland Spain and France, including famous resorts like Salouand the city of Barcelona, that also has the largest harbour of Spain.
Costa del Azahar, Costa de Valencia, whose capital city is Valencia and the Costa Blanca, (one of the most developed coastal areas of Spain, extremely popular for tourists from the United Kingdom and Germany, with Benidormas the leading summer city of Spain), all in the Valencian Community.
Costa Calidain Region of Murcia, Mediterranean Coasts and the Mar Menor(Lesser Sea), a inner salt lake separated to the Mediterranean by a large sandy bank.
Costa de Almería, the Costa Tropical, the Costa del Soland the Costa de la Luz, all in Andalucía. Some of its summer towns are worldwide famous, like Marbella, a tourist destination of tourist with big purchasing power. Málagais also one of the largest harbours in Spain.
Spain also has two archipelagoes, the volcanic
Canary Islands, in the Atlantic, and the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean, both very popular between Spaniards and foreigners.
Parallel to the summer tourism, other modalities like cultural and monumental tourism congresses, sport or fun tourism have been developed in these areas, including such famous cities as
Valencia, both the biggest harbours of the Spanish Mediterranean coast.
The Beach Tourism also has had to do in the development of the nightlife, present in all the coastal or island cities, as well as their excellent gastronomy.
Many coastal or island places also have great ecological and natural importance.
Theme Parkslike Port Aventuraor diverse Water-fun parks are also popular between Spaniards and foreigners.
Cultural Tourism, Business Tourism
Spain is also a popular destination of cultural tourism because of its historical importance, including cities like
Seville, Granada, Córdoba and Toledo. Thirteen Spanish cities have been declared World Heritage Cities by the UNESCO: Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Ibiza, Salamanca, San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Tarragonaand Toledo.Cultural tourism contemplates too the two big metropolis of Spain: Madrid and Barcelona, both with great historical importance.In addition, there are more important cultural places in Spain, including several cities in North Spain, like A Coruñaand Vigo, in Galicia, Santanderin Cantabria, Oviedoand Gijónin Asturias, Bilbaoand San Sebastiánin the Basque Country.North Spain is usually called " Green Spain" due to its lush green landscape, similar to the United Kingdomand Ireland. It has a lot of importance in terms of folklore, nature, cuisine and even summer holidays, although beaches of the North are notably colder than the Mediterranean's.
Spain is also an important place for
Christianityand Judaism. In fact, some of the holiest places are in Spain: city of Santiago de Compostelain Galicia (North-West Spain), the third holiest place after the Vatican Cityin Romeand Jerusalem. It's also the end of the Way of Saint Jamesor Camino de Santiago in Spanish. Santo Toribio de Liébana, Cantabria(also at the North) is the fourth, followed by the Sanctuary of Caravaca de la Cruz at the South-East, Region of Murcia(fifth holiest place). These places attract tourists from all the world.
Also important are the numerous festivities and festivals in Spanish cities, such as the
Holy Weekin cities like Seville. Very popular are the Seville Fairor Feria de Abril in Spanish or the world-famous festival of San Ferminin Pamplona, the Fiestas del Pilarin Zaragozaand many more in every town.
Spain enjoys a lot of culture festivals too, including the
Carnivalall over Spain, but especially in the Canary Islandsand Cadiz. Movie festivals can be found in San Sebastian, Malagaand Sitges. Music festivals includes: the FIB, Festimad, Primavera Sound, Bilbao Live Festival... among others.Several cities have hosted international events, including: Universal Fair of 1888 and 1929 in Barcelona, the 1992 Summer Olympics, also in Barcelona, the Universal fair of 1992 in Seville, the America's Cup in Valencia, and the Expo 2008in Zaragoza.
Nightlife has a long tradition as one of the leading tourist resources of Spain.
Madridand Barcelonaare leaders as nightlife capitals of Europe. The Balearic Islands, especially Ibizaand Majorcaalso have a lively nightlife. Almost all medium to big cities in Spain (especially University towns like Salamanca) and the coastal areas are suitable for nightlife.Discoteques are also very popular in coastal areas, including the former "Ruta del Bacalao" (which includes several hardcore clubs). In inner cities, pubs and bars lead the night fun.Spaniards like both club sounds and worldwide hits or heavy/rock. Spanish musicis very diverse, and it can be heard in clubs and bars, just like international music.The large cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Bilbao are the most visited place for nightlifes from which tourist could always have a fine accommodation with any hotel in Madrid, hotel in Barcelona, hotel in Valencia, hotel in Sevilla and hotel in Bilbao.
Spain, as the second most mountainous country of Europe, is full of high mountains and good
ski resorts, with famous ski slopes all over Spain, including the Pyrenees, the Cordillera Central, The Sistema Ibérico and Sierra Nevada.
"See also: List of ski resorts in Spain"
Nature and Rural Tourism
Spain enjoys a diverse landscape and is full of places with great ecologic value all over the Spanish territory, including the
Ordesa Valleyand Monte Perdidobetween the autonomous community of Aragonand France, in the Pyrenees. Spain is a very mountainous country, but also has plains. The largest plain is the Meseta Central, with a "Castilian" landscape, full of prairies.There are also several wetlands with ecologic value, including the Doñana National Park, the Albuferaof Valencia, the Lago de Sanabria(one of the largest lakes of Spain), the Lagunas de Ruideraand the Tablas de Daimiel National Park. North Spain is usually called the Green Spainbecause of its lush landscape, due to wet and rainy weather.However, the Canary Islandshave an exotic volcanic landscape (including the Teidevolcano, that is also the highest peak of Spain).Spain has a lot of importance in terms of archeology and paleontology including Atapuercaand the cave of Altamira."See also: List of National Parks in Spain"
* [http://www.spain.info/Tourspain/?language=en spain.info] Spanish Tourist Information
* [http://www.tourspain.org Spain Travel]
* [http://www.costatropicalnews.com/ English News Magazine Spain]
* [http://www.hbw.com/lynx/en/search.html Birdwatching in Spain] : "Where to Watch Birds in Spain.The 100 best sites"
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