One of the largest European countries, Spain covers most of the Iberian Peninsula as well as two archipelagos – the Canary Islands off the African coast and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Its vast territory offers a remarkable variety of landscapes, climates, historical influences, and regional cultural identities. Renowned for its legendary tapas, but also for the seafood, jamon (cured ham), plentiful and fresh fruit and vegetables, and outstanding wines, dining out or visiting a local market in Spain is a feast for all senses.
Most first-time visitors focus on two of Spain’s most attractive cities – Madrid and Barcelona, each of which deserves at lest two full days to cover their historic, cultural, and architectural highlights. The capital Madrid has an Old Town steeped in history, art galleries displaying works by the likes of Velazquez, Picasso, Dali, and Gaudi, grand public squares, and an impressive royal palace. Barcelona – the capital of Catalonia, is a busy Mediterranean port and a bustling cultural and commercial center. It is probably best known for its unique modernist (Art Nouveau) architecture from the turn of the 20th century, and especially the fairytale masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi.