Many come for the beaches and great weather, but this soulful nation on the Iberian Peninsula is so much more than just sun, sea and sand. There are awe-inspiring landscapes beyond the coast, with majestic mountains from the northern Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada in the south. Europe’s only desert, the stunning Cabo de Gata in Almeria, has also been a movie location for many Westerns.
Every town and city, large or small, is scattered with streets that are full of character. Old cobbled paths and Spanish stone buildings create a setting that transports you to a place where time stood still. For luxury breaks, there’s the promise of amazing history and culture, stylish hotels with rooftop bars, and an art scene boasting icons like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Then there’s the indulgent, flavorful and lip-smacking food and wine. Two reasons that make a Spanish holiday an annual event for even the most adventurous of travellers. By combining the best hotels and accommodation with exclusive food and wine tours, we can customize the perfect luxury experience.
While a visit to the capital or one of the many gorgeous beach resorts may spring to mind, Spain has so much more to offer. If gastronomy, world-class wine and local culture inspire you, there are many regions that are worth exploring on a Spanish vacation. The home of Barcelona, Catalonia, should be voyaged further for a full cultural awakening. A historical tour in Priorat or a helicopter ride over the vineyards of Penedes will take you off the beaten path and into a time-honoured Spain where tradition is still practised.
Another well-known region is Andalusia, one of the most beautiful winemaking regions in the country. This area covers the popular Costa del Sol, Costa Tropical, Costa de Almeria and Costa de la Luz, making it a dream destination for those who want to combine beach with wine tasting and culture. The landlocked Castile-La Mancha in central Spain encompasses Milan and the ancient walled city of Toledo, a site that houses medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments.
With its position in southern Europe, Spain enjoys pleasant weather in every season. Travellers come here to embrace the long summer days and mild winter sun. And with almost 5,000 km of coastline, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches. The peak summer months (June to August) promise the best weather for swimming and sunbathing, but the shoulder seasons (late spring or early autumn) are ideal for dodging the busy tourist crowds.
For a more relaxed atmosphere and access to attractions without the long queues, late autumn or early winter are wonderful in many of the towns and cities.
For grape harvest celebrations in premium wine regions such as La Rioja, arrive in September and catch the October grapes at their most ripe and beautiful. Or if you prefer to walk through the vineyards in warm weather, May or June are also good times when there are also fewer travellers about.
Spain is undoubtedly one of the most important destinations on a connoisseur’s wine map. The country has the biggest vineyard surface in the world, plus an ideal climate for creating some of the best-tasting varieties in Europe. Despite having pleasant year-round weather, there are also regions with their own micro-climates and this forms model conditions for different grapes. As a result, there’s a huge variety in the Spanish wine cellar, ranging from the signature Rioja and well-loved Tempranillo to full-bodied Priorat.
In terms of wine, La Rioja and Ribera del Duero are the main regions. Close to La Rioja is the region of Navarra, where there are grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Within Navarra, there are a number of micro-climates resulting in five sub-regions of production. These are known as Baja Montana in the northeast, Valdizarbe in the north, Tierra Estella in the northeast, Ribera Alta in the centre, north of the Ebro, and Ribera Baja in the south below the river.
La Mancha’s wineries benefit from an extreme continental climate and high limestone content in the sub-soil. With ample sunshine, grapes ripen without difficulty, with Airen grapes producing fresh and dry whites, and plenty of reds and rosés to choose from too. Some traditional Spanish varieties include Graciano, Bobal and Monastrell, plus international wines such as Grenache and Petit Verdot.
Then there’s Andalusia, home to charming wine towns like Seville, and famous for its sherry. While Catalonia is known for its sparkling Cava and red table wines with similar characteristics to reds produced in Roussillon. Catalunya brings a lot of French influences, and also holds the country’s first region-wide, cover-all DO title.
Tourism in Spain has been a hugely successful industry over the years, so the choice in accommodation is vast. Whether you’re interested in city exploration or countryside retreats, there’s an excellent selection of hotels, boutique stays, luxury villas and chic holiday homes.
A number of wine hotels are spread across the country, with exclusive properties available in different regions. If gastronomy is your main agenda, vineyard hotels in La Rioja or Ribera del Duero are highly recommended. We hand-pick the best accommodation with fine dining, extensive wine lists, and an on-site sommelier to ensure that food and wine experiences are unforgettable.
Discover the country’s signature dishes and enjoy everything from casual tapas to authentic Valencian paella. Spanish cuisine is so diverse, and regional specialities are an important part of Spanish culture. Food and wine pairings are also a widespread concept in many fine-dining venues, as are food and wine tours.
Another key trend is the development of international flavours, as seen at prestigious restaurants like Converso at Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena in Ribera Del Duero.
Wine Paths can help you build a tailor-made luxury holiday to Spain, taking in its soulful cities, stunning architecture, rich history, and amazing gastronomy. Get more advice on travel in Spain with our local experts Miryam, Jordi and Carmen.