Spain: When to Visit, Where to Stay
A part of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a remarkable place for exploration and romance. The weather in the country is seasonal but sensational, at the right times, with the best months to visit being May, June, and September, avoiding the summer rush in July and August. In the southern region, April and October are also wonderful times to travel.
There are accommodations available for all budgets, Spain being one of the most affordable countries in Europe. If you're looking for luxury lodgings, the "Paradores" (eighty-five prestigious hotels run by the government) offer the opportunity to stay in castles, palaces, cloisters, and country estates throughout the countryside. For those on a more conservative budget, cheap and cozy hotels are easy to find, and are often built around elegant flower-filled courtyards.
Additionally, Spanish cuisine is some of the hottest in the world right now, and you'll find you'll be able to order a full-course dinner late into the night, as Spaniards' meal schedules are somewhat delayed as compared to those with which you're likely familiar. You and your loved one are sure to find plenty to excite your palettes.
Spain: Getting There, Getting Around
Nearly every major city in Spain has its own international airport, so getting to the country is just an easy flight away. Once you're there, you'll have the option of renting a car (provided you have an international license), or moving throughout the country by way of the extensive rail system. For those looking to save money, regular bus service is also available.
In cities, taxi service is generally easy to come by, along with the standard forms of public transportation. Often, however, the best way to get around a city is on foot - with charmingly narrow and winding streets filled with colorful shops and lively music, it can be great fun to wander with a purpose.
Most of the major Spanish cities are absolutely captivating, and each one is, of course, its own unique experience. For those with a metropolitan mindset, Barcelona, on the country's northeast coastline, is one of the world's most stylish and modern cities. Sporting trendsetting food, fashion, and music in addition to wildly contemporary Gaud√?¬≠ architecture, this seaside metropolis is a whirlwind of sensory stimulation.
If your tastes in buildings run to older, more venerable styles, consider a stop in Teruel, between Tarragona and Castell√?¬≥n de la Plana. This small city is home to Mud√?¬©jar architecture, a symbiosis of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim construction and sensibilities. You'll see breathtaking cathedrals in the Moorish style, and incredible stone inlays in the paved streets and sunlit courts where fountains murmur softly.
And, of course, no visit to Spain would be complete without a stop in the nation's capital, Madrid. This most vibrant of Spanish cities will ignite your hearts and minds with its opulent palaces, world-class museums, and its passionately welcoming population.
Long a favored vacation getaway for Europeans, the Mediterranean Spanish coastline continues to boast some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Costa Brava and Costa del Sol are the most popular destinations, with the latter being the most tourist-heavy and crowded. For those looking for a bit more seclusion, Costa Dorada ("The Gold Coast") or Costa Tropical offer a more relaxed and romantic atmosphere. For the adventurous among us, there are also a number of nude and semi-nude beaches along the country's coast.
Paperwork and Precautions
As with most international travel, you'll need to procure a passport to travel to Spain. For tourists, however, no visas are required. Make sure you carry at least one copy of your passport with you during your travels, keeping it in a separate location from your original identification. If your passport should be lost or stolen, this will greatly expedite the process of acquiring new paperwork.
Though Spain is generally a fairly safe country, the level of petty crime is moderate, with tourists being frequent victims. Use traveler's checks and credit cards when possible, rather than cash, and keep your valuables close to your body (a travel wallet is recommended), rather than in a backpack or purse.
Also, beware of thieves who work in teams, one acting as a distractor while the other robs, or those who pose as plainclothes police officers, often asking to check your money for counterfeit bills and "confiscating" your "evidence". Spanish police do not work this way - in the unlikely event that you're faced with this situation, insist upon seeing a uniformed officer, and do not give over your money until you see one.
Spain is an incredible country, offering numerous possibilities for adventurous romantics. With ancient castles (some haunted!), multicultural cities that throb with energy and art, and some of the world's most breathtaking beaches, this European nation is a great spot to begin your marriage.