Holiday destinations in Spain

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer

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.

For full consumer protection, I recommend you book a package (e.g. flights and hotel) with a reputable tour operator. Follow the links below to find companies where you can book with confidence. 

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

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Villas and hotels 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 province of Galicia is rich in culture and great value and easy to reach by flight or overnight ferry. Check out these villas with private pool.

If you want a high-quality all-inclusive resort with great prices, check out the newly-opened IKOS Andalusia on the Costa del Sol.

Activity holidays

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 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.

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.

Tours and short breaks

If you feel you’ve done the main regions of Spain, how about exploring lesser-known Extremadura which sits between Madrid and central Portugal. This 8-night self-drive tour starting in Seville and ending in Madrid includes medieval walled towns, Moorish and Gothic architecture and national parks. You’ll be staying in beautiful historic Paradors.

Both Barcelona and Madrid are perfect destinations for a few days of eating and drinking, and visiting art galleries. If you love sport, how about a Formula One break in Barcelona?

Love trains? Take a ride on the luxurious El Transcántabrico through beautiful Northern Spain.

You can also find the hottest areas of Spain.

Spain’s islands

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. Find out which is the hottest Canary Island.

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. Oliver’s Travels has a wide selection of coastal and countryside villas from Villa Emilia, a one-bedroom villa for two, to Villa Elvia, a pretty country house near Cala d’Or that sleeps 12.

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. Menorca is quieter than its two neighbours but has some beautiful sandy beaches, making it popular with young families. However, there are some stylish places to stay for adults too, including this hip townhouse hotel and these sophisticated suites.

Also see the best time to visit the Mediterranean.

When do you plan to travel?

Hottest places in Spain in March
Hottest places in Spain in April
Hottest places in Spain in May
Hottest places in Spain in June
Hottest places in Spain in September
Hottest places in Spain in October

Last updated: 14 January 2022

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Travel restrictions have been lifted by the UK, but some other countries still have measures in place. Check the latest government travel advice.