|Palma de Mallorca||$1529|
Booking cheap flights to Spain will prompt one important question. How will you do everything you want to do in the time you have? Spain is an enchanting country, endlessly fascinating, with lots of colour and life and festival and fun. Where will you go? The Green North or the sun-baked south? Museum-packed Madrid or buzzing Barcelona? Spectacular Seville or grand Granada? The Balearics or the Canary Islands?
The Spanish approach life with passion. Nobody, with the exception perhaps of the Irish, parties like them. A leisurely siesta in the middle of the day sets them up for a late dinner (sitting down about 10pm) and then a night of bar hopping and dancing. Tapas, the appetizers served in bars, washed down by gutsy wines, provide the fuel for their night-time revelry.
Spain’s calendar of festivals is packed. The religious calendar – Christmas, the Epiphany (January 6), Semana Santa (Holy Week), and various saints’ days – provides a window on Spain’s heritage while festivals such as San Fermin (the running of the bulls), La Feria de Sevilla, and La Tomatina (the world’s biggest tomato fight) give the Spaniards – and their guests – the opportunity to get down and party.
Given Spain’s size and diverse geography, the climate varies greatly. In the north – Green Spain – the climate is Oceanic. Visitors can expect mild summers and warm winters and plenty of rain. In the centre, in Madrid for example, there is a Continental Mediterranean climate. The winters are cool and the summers are very hot. The Costas (including Barcelona, Spain’s “cool” capital) have a Mediterranean climate – sun year-round. The southeast (Murcia for example) is semi-arid. On the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa) the climate is subtropical.
There really is no bad time to visit Spain. It’s a four-season destination.
The European summer (July and August) is high season. Spain is a popular destination with the British and the beach resorts will be very busy during their school holidays (mid-October, Christmas, mid-February, Easter, mid-May, and July and August).
Spain doesn’t really have a low season, but the weeks following the Epiphany (January 6) will be relatively quiet.
April (following Easter), May, June and September are shoulder months. The weather will be good and there will be fewer tourists.
Several airlines offer cheap flights in Spain. These range from Iberia, the flag carrier, to Ryanair, the low-cost airline. Airlines face stiff competition from high-speed trains. The AVE high-speed trains are punctual and fairly cheap. The standard fare from Madrid to Barcelona is about $110 (approximately $168 AU) and the journey (660km) takes about two-and-a-half hours.
Renting a car is a good idea if you want to explore the more remote parts of Spain, but unnecessary if you are sticking close to the city or the beach. Public transport is excellent. In cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia there are metros, bus and tram services.
(prices quotes are from London)