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Holiday destinations in Spain

Holiday destinations in SpainPorto PollensaSpain holidays 2014

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

Spain is Britain’s favourite holiday destination. We’ve been heading down to the Costas in droves ever since the 1960s. But there is plenty more to Spain than high-rise resorts and sports bars. With a rich culture, beautiful countryside and fabulous food and wine, it remains one of the greatest countries in the world for a holiday, whether you want to lounge on a beach, explore a historic city or find an idyllic rural bolthole.

If you are travelling with children, see our guide to the best family holidays in Spain.

Villa holidays are hard to beat if you want a lazy break in the sun with privacy and lots of space. They are ideal for families and groups of friends. There are some wonderful places to stay in Catalonia including medieval Pals and the pine-fringed bays of Calella and Llafranc.

In the far south-west of Spain, the Costa de la Luz is one of the country’s sunniest regions and boasts the finest beaches on the mainland – long swathes of soft sand protected by dunes. There are many great villas in the region.

In the rush to reach the south, many Brits neglect the north of Spain, which has lovely uncrowded beaches, rolling countryside, fascinating villages, mountains and great food. The provinces of Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia, Navarra and Salamanca are rich in culture and great value. We recommend Casas, which specialises in holidays to Northern Spain and has a great collection of self-catering cottages and traditional small hotels.

Its sister company, Caminos, offers a range of independent touring holidays in northern Spain, the Pyrenees, central Spain and in Andalucia. They can arrange car hire or you can take your own by ferry. Check out their recommended routes. You can even fly into Spain and drive across to Portugal.

Take a walking holiday in beautiful Catalonia, where you can enjoy gentle strolls along the coast, or hit the peaks of the Pyrenees. The Picos de Europa in Northern Spain is great for wilderness and wildlife spotting, or you could explore the timeless, unspoilt landscapes of Galicia or Castile. We recommend Inntravel‘s hotel-to-hotel walking which gives you both independence and the security and back-up of local experts. Your luggage is transported each day to your next hotel.

Another great way to see the Spanish countryside is on a cycling holiday. Again, Catalonia is a great destination. This gentle ride along the Catalan Coast is one of our picks.

Or you could take a wine tour to the vineyards of Rioja or Catalonia. A trip to Andalucia and Jerez – the home of sherry – is also particularly fascinating.

If you just want to spend a few days getting away from it all, how about the DDG Retreat, a chic hideaway in the hills of Andalucia just an hour’s drive from Malaga airport. Set in a beautiful national park, the retreat has casitas for two with private pool.

If you’re a single parent, try Single With Kids which has some excellent group trips in Spain.


Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPark Guell, Barcelona

Short breaks and other holidays in Spain

Both Barcelona and Madrid are perfect destinations for a few days of eating and drinking, and visiting art galleries.

Inntravel has some great activity holidays in Spain for families including walking in Catalonia and cycling in Mallorca. Your luggage is transported each day to your next hotel, leaving you free to enjoy the countryside.

You can also join a luxury health retreat in Andalucia that combines yoga, fitness, hiking, massage, a healthy diet and nutritional advice. Details from in:spa retreats.

Bepis SonDiscover Menorca's idyllic covesPretty Santandria beachStylish hotels

Islands in Spain

The Canary Islands are ideal for year-round sunshine, and there is a lot more to find than pile-’em-high resorts such as Playa de las Americas. Lanzarote is particularly attractive and has some excellent villas with pools. Tenerife has many charming hotels and a rugged volcanic interior to explore. We recommend Abama Golf & Spa Resort in Tenerife and Princesa Yaiza Hotel Resort in Lanzarote, both of which are especially good for families.

For a real away-from-it-all experience, try the island of La Palma or La Gomera which is reached by ferry crossing from Tenerife. It has a beautiful Parador.

For an unspoilt beach holiday, the tiny isle of La Graciosa just north of Lanzarote is idyllic. See more information on the Canary Islands.

The Balearics are the most popular holiday destinations in Spain. Mallorca has a reputation for downmarket package tourism, but once you get away from the crowded resorts you’ll find beautiful scenery, mountains, deserted coves, pine forests and quaint villages. Simpson Travel has a wide selection of coastal and countryside villas from a characterful farmhouse, Ca’n Antuna, to Sa Teulada, a romantic retreat for two. If your budget is larger, consider a luxury staffed villa in Mallorca. Details from Scott Dunn.

Mallorca’s capital Palma is overlooked by many visitors to the island, but it’s a beautiful city of cobbled squares, tapas bars, historic buildings and elegant shops making it ideal for a city break.

Ibiza is not just for teenage clubbers. This beautiful, sophisticated island has some magical corners and a great collection of luxury villas. Check out romantic La Ventana, which sleeps 4 and is located high on a clifftop near Siesta. Menorca is quieter than its two neighbours but has some beautiful sandy beaches, making it ideal for young families.

Also see the best time to visit the Mediterranean.

Last updated: 7 February 2017

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