Ever wondered where the word ‘Spain’ comes from? Or how about how many miles of beaches there are in Spain? Let us help you out with our 16 excellent holiday facts about Spain.
#1 Let’s start with one of our favourite facts about Spain. It is the most popular holiday destination for Brits, (it was in 2013) with Majorca, Malaga, Tenerife and Costa del Sol holidays ranking highly. Purple Travel’s most popular Spain holidays included Ibiza, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca as well as city breaks in Barcelona.
#2. Some of the most famous names in the world hail from Spanish shores. Actors Javier Bardem (Gran Canaria),Penelope Cruz (Madrid) and Antonio Banderas (Malaga) and sports stars like tennis player Rafael Nadal (Majorca), Andres Iniesta (Castilla-La Mancha) and Fernando Torres (Madrid) are just a selection of the famous faces hailing from Spanish shores.
#3. The word for ‘Spain’ is said to come from ‘Hispania’, which roughly translates to Island of Rabbits. So if you see some bunnies, don’t be too surprised.
#4. Tapas of patatas bravas, fresh seafood paella, crema catalana (similar to creme brulee), gambas ajillo (parlic prawns) are regularly described as the most famous foods in Spain (and are totally delicious too!) Try them all out in one of the 350,000-odd restaurants, bars and cafes in the country.#4. Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas in Gran Canaia are joint capitals of the Canary Islands.
#5. Spain has a number of really popular drinks: the famous Rioja red wine is delicious with steak, San Miguel beer from the sunny city of Malaga is light and crisp, while sangria, known the world over is a refreshing summer cocktail of wine and fruits.
#6. Spain has nearly 5,000 miles of beaches – can you pick a favourite? Because we certainly can’t but we’ve given it a go. We love Playa de las Catedrales in Ribadeo, a stunning beach with naturally forming ‘cathedrals’ in the rocks. The Blue Flag beach of Estepona is a sheltered and has beautiful sunsets. In the Canaries, we’ve already looked in-depth at beaches but it’s hard to beat El Golfo on Lanzarote. There is a green lagoon, then a layer of rich, black sand before it stops at the blue waters’ edge. A lovely natural phenomenon.
#7. Spain is famous for its festivals with two in particular standing out. The town of Bunol in Valencia is well known for the Tomatina festival. Held on the last Wednesday of August. The idea is simple: over-ripe tomatoes are used for a massive food fight. The ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival in Pamplona draws visitors from all over the world. Participants aim to outrun the bulls who are released into the small streets of the town. Yikes!
#8. The Canary Islands have their own natural swimming pools. Formed ages ago when lava was stopped at the ocean. Instead of a pool, these feel more like open air spas. So dive right in!
#9. Same sex marriage is legal in Spain since 2005, when a law was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain’s parliament.)
#10. Soccer is one of the most important parts of Spanish culture, and maybe one of the most obvious facts about Spain is that Real Madrid is the most popular club with 228 million fans. In fact, most people refer to Spain’s love of soccer as being akin to religious fervour. The football chant of ole-ole is said to originate in Spain.
#11. Spain has had a huge influence on the world through its art. Artists like Gaudi, Picasso, Dali and Miro are world famous and examples of the work can be seen in museums across the globe.
#12. Mother nature is a friend of Spain, bestowing around 280 days of sunshine per year on the Mediterranean country.
#13. Cadiz is known as one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to around 1,000 BC and the country has wealth of incredible historical sites: the fortress-palace of Alhambra near Granada, the historic city of Toledo and walled town of Cuenca.
#14. For fans of art, culture and architectural history, there is plenty to see too, from the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Valencia has the City of Arts and Scicences architecutral wonder, Barcelona’s streets are filled with the work of Gaudil. Well for some!
#15. Naturally occuring sites seem to be a speciality for Spain. San Sebastian’s curved bay is one of the most famous in the country and probably throughout Europe. Maspalomas dunes in Gran Canaria and the volcanic Mount Teide in Tenerife offer a trip off-the-beaten-track. Increasingly popular this year is Walking the Camino. The Camino de Santiago pilgrimmage is a lifetime experience of overland walking in the North of the country.
#16. Benidorm is easily one of Spain’s most famous holiday resorts. In the Alicante area, it enjoys 300 days of sunshine, overlooks the Mediterranean and has some epic nightlife including endless bars with shots, draft beers, cocktails and whatever you ask for. There are bar crawls, foam parties, beach bars, and all night parties if that’s what you’re after.
#17. The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s famous unfinished cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi was started in 1882 and is not scheduled for completion until 2026 or 2028. That’s 140 years after it was started! Sagrada Familia image via @ Twicepix
That’s it! There’s at least 17 cool facts about Spain that you might never have heard of. Do yo know anymore? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.