Few countries offer more choice to the visitor than Spain, with its lush forests and wild mountain
peaks, its busy cities crammed with great art and architecture and the endless stretch of laid-back beach resorts. To find out what you want from a trip to Spain amid all this variety, you need to
know where to look. These pages offer an at-a-glance guide on where to go, with the different characteristics of each region, city or island group explained and the main sights highlighted.
The exuberance of the Spaniards and the glorious predictability of the summer weather have been attracting refugees from northern Europe's damp and clammy lands for decades, but Spain is much more than the Costa del Sol and warm English beer. It is drenched in the historical pageantry of empire and conquistadors, the artistic legacy of Goya, Velazquez, Picasso and Dali, and the romance of Don Quijote, Papa Hemingway and the International Brigades.
In true Spanish style, cultural events are almost inevitably celebrated with a wild party and a holiday. Among the festivals to look out for are Festividad in San Sebastian in January, when the whole town dresses up and goes berserk. Carnaval takes place throughout the country in late February; the wildest is said to be in Sitges. In March, Valencia has a week-long party known as Las Fallas, which is marked by all-night dancing, drinking, first-class fireworks and colourful processions. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week leading up to Easter Sunday with parades of holy images through the streets; Seville is the place to be if you can get accommodation. In late April the Feria de Abril in Seville is a week-long party counterbalancing the religious fervour of Semana Santa.
The last Wednesday in August sees the Valencian town of Bunol go bonkers with La Tomatina, in which the surplus from its tomato harvest is sploshed around in a friendly riot. The Running of the Bulls (Sanfermines) in Pamplona in July is Spain's most famous festival. Along the north coast, staggered through the first half of August, is Semana Grande, another week of heavy drinking and hangovers.
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