Spain

The image of Spain as the land of straw donkeys and sombreros is long gone. Today travellers flock to its shores to experience its passion, excitement and vibrancy typified by bullfights and flamenco.

As a country, Spain has everything. Throbbing cosmopolitan cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are home to some of Europe’s finest museums, galleries, bars and restaurants. History and romanticism are ever present in Andalucia home to the Moorish Alhambra palace. And superb coastal resorts such as Alicante, Benidorm, Marbella, Malaga, Costa Brava and Costa Dorada offer beach holidays to remember.

Away from the mainland, the Balearic Islands offer thousands of tourists each year a paradise retreat. This archipelago of holiday islands comprises of Mallorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca.

The beaches of Spain often conjure images of overcrowded resorts, however quiet beaches can be found near Malaga, Huelva and Almeria as well as near La Manga, Galicia, Cantabria and Euskadi.

But Spain is not all about sun, sea and sand. Spain’s countryside should not be ignored, dotted with charming villages and towns. From the lush greenery of Galicia and Asturias, to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees, there is much to offer the tourist wanting to experience the true Spain.

The currency in Spain is the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted (American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa) and ATMs can be found almost everywhere. Therefore access to your money won’t be a problem during your visit.

 

Alicante

Introduction

The city of Alicante is an historic Mediterranean port in the south-eastern part of Spain in the region of Valencia. It has become one of the most popular resort towns on Spain's Costa Blanca.
 

With an international airport, Alicante is the gateway to the nearby package holiday resorts such as Benidorm and Torrevieja. Therefore it tends to be crowded with tourists all year round.  

The most well known resort along this stretch of Spanish coastline is Benidorm but unlike here, Alicante has managed to retain its Spanish flavour.  The city also has a distinct African flavour and its historical central district is filled with Baroque buildings.

The main thoroughfare is the palm tree lined Rambla with outdoor cafes and ice-cream parlours serving the unusual local drink, horchata, made with almonds. There are numerous shops, parks and gardens with the Explanada d'Espanya (Paseo de Explanada) encompassing the yacht harbour with its mosaic promenade. Most visitors come to Alicante for the beaches, especially San Juan.

The centre piece of Alicante is the Santa Barbara Castle atop its hill.  However it is still seen more as a coastal destination to which people flock to enjoy the beaches and Mediterranean sun more than to investigate the ancient mysteries of the city.
 

 

See & Do

 

The beaches are the main draw for the tourists that visit Alicante. There are many beaches to choose from - Playa el Postiguet, Playa de San Juan, Cabo de las Huertas (in La Albafureta), Palmeral, Cantalares, Judios, Saladar and Urbanova. They all offer numerous water sports ranging from snorkelling, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing etc.

Of course, once you’ve had enough sun, sea and sand, Alicante has plenty more to offer, such as:

  • Santa Barbara Castle
  • Cathedral of St Nicholas of Bari
  • St Mary’s Church
  • Asegurada Collection of 20th century art
  • The Archaeological Museum
  • Diving
  • Tarbarca Island Reserve
  • Explanada de España
  • Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)
  • Bull fighting at Plaza de Toros

 

Shopping

The shopping in Alicante may not be internationally renowned, but there is a good selection of shops and markets in which you will be able to find most of what you need.

Avenida de Maisonnave is the heart of the main shopping area. With a vast array of shops selling everything from shoes, clothes and local specialities so you should be able to find what you are looking for. It is also home to Spain’s most popular department store El Corte Inglés.

Other centres are Avenida Alfonso el Sabio, La Rambla, Calle del Teatro and Calle Gerona. The Esplanade is a great place to purchase arts and crafts, leatherwork and costume jewellery from street stalls.

During your stay don’t miss the Central Market on Avenida Alfonso el Sabio. The biggest street markets are Campoamor, Carolinas, Benalúa y Babel. For those on self-catering holidays, there are plenty of supermarkets in and around Alicante.

 

Food & Drink

Alicante is awash with restaurants catering for all tastes and budgets. For those not brave enough to try a taste of Spain, there are plenty of international and fast food outlets also. The Explanada and Barrio areas are crammed with restaurants catering for tourists. However for something a bit more authentic (and often cheaper) head for the area around Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) for decent local restaurants.

 

You will find many rice (arroz) dished on the menus of Alicante along with local delicacies such as Paella, Arroz Negro (squid and rice) and Tapas.

Here are the names of a few places you might like to try:

  • Casa Pepa, Ondara
  • Nou Manolin, Alicante
  • Paco Navarro, Alicante
  • Restaurante La Piazzetta, Altea
  • Dársena, Alicante
  • El Bocaito, Alicante
  • Ibericos, Alicante

Being a lively resort there are literally hundreds of bars selling cheap drinks, a few notable names are Confetti, Voodoo Bar and Pata de Palo.

Why not try the refreshing fruit based drink horchata de chufas, or the many excellent local wines that adorn every menu (especially the sweet fondillón).

 

Entertainment

Once the sun goes down, Alicante begins to party. Whether you are looking for bars or clubs there is more than enough choice. The night scene is divided into 5 main areas: El Barrio (the historic quarter), El Puerto (the Port area), La Ruta de Madera (Route of Wood), Panorimis and Playa de San Juan.

Here are a few places you might like to try out:

El Barrio (mainly bars)

  • Jamboree
  • La Naya
  • El Forat
  • Nazca

El Puerto (trendy, modern bars and clubs)

  • Potato
  • Capitán Haddock
  • Ay Carmela
  • H20
  • La Biblioteca
  • Hot VIP

La Routa de Madera

  • Clan Cabaret
  • La Piedra
  • El Salón
  • Anti Doto

If you like your evenings a bit quieter, Alicante also has a theatre (Teatro Principal) and cinemas (Astoria and Aria).

During the year several festivals also take place in Alicante: January – Los Reyes Magos, April – Los Moros y Los Cristianos, and June – Les Fogures de Sant Joan and Feast of San Pedro.

 

Excursions

Although there is a wealth of activities to see and do within Alicante, you may want to look further afield. Here are just a few excursions you might like to take during your stay:

  • Elche (Spain’s only palm forest)
  • Isla Tabarca
  • Alcoy
  • Benidorm
  • Murcia
  • Terra Natura Wildlife Park
  • Terra Mitica (theme park)
  • Aqualand, Benidorm

 

Health & Safety

As with most tourist hot spots beware of pick pockets in busy areas and you should take general precautions with your valuables. Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach.  

If you are travelling with young children make sure they are supervised while on the beach, and arrange a place to meet should they get lost.  

With regards to the tap water, in general it's advisable to buy bottled water for drinking. The tap water is fine for cleaning your teeth and cooking but the taste can take a little while to get used to.

 

 

Costa Brava

Introduction

The Costa Brava stretches along 100 miles of the Catalonia coast line in the north east of Spain. The ruggedly stunning coast is full of high-rise resorts and modern marinas catering for the package holiday tourist.

It stretches between Blanes in the south and Portbou in the north, on the French border. The whole length of the coastline is dotted with beaches, coves, cliffs and woods. With names such as S’Agaró, Tossa de Mar, Begur, Cadaques and Portlligat, the modern tourist infrastructure has turned Costa Brava into one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations.

The more intrepid holiday makers seek out the many deserted coves scented with pine and citrus trees, fragrant herbs and bright flowers. But even the least adventurous traveller can get away from the packaged resorts and discover the relatively unspoilt fishing villages and towns that are awash with ancient castles and fortifications.

The area is also a haven for divers with an abundance of wrecks to explore in the crystalline waters.
 

See & Do

For many holiday makers, the main draw of the Costa Brava is its many beaches. But if you want to get away from sun, sea and sand and explore more of what the area has to offer, you may interested in one of these attractions or activities:

  • Cork Museum, Palafrugell
  • Josep Pla Foundation, Palafrugell
  • Dali Museum, Figueres
  • Colonia Vidal, Puig-reig
  • Diocesan Museum
  • Conca Della Museum, Isona
  • Gala Dali House Museum, Pubol
  • Jewish History Museum, Girona
  • Archaeological Museum, Banyoles
  • Cadi Moixero Natural Park
  • Cap de Creus Natural Park
  • Emporda Marshes Natural Park
  • Montseny Natural Park
  • Garrotxa Volcanic Area
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Snorkelling
  • Scuba diving
  • Horse riding
  • Water skiing
  • Jet skiing
  • Windsurfing
  • Kayaking
  • Platja d’Aro (water park)

  • Quad biking
  • Sailing
  • Marine Land

 

Shopping

 

As with many tourist areas, there is plenty of shopping to be done in Costa Brava. All of the resorts along the coastline have a range of traditional and cosmopolitan shops. You can find anything from souvenirs to local delicacies, arts and crafts.

Most resorts such as Banyoles, Blanes, Figueres, Girona. L’Estartit, Olot, Platja d’Aro, Torroella de Montgri, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar have open air shopping areas with cafes, restaurants and children’s play areas.

 

Food & Drink

 

As you might expect being a coastal area seafood reigns supreme, from sardines to delicious lobster. But if you’re not a fan of seafood you could try specialities such as wild game, like boar, duck and rabbit washed down with local wines.

If you are not feeling particularly adventurous then each resort has a fair mix of international cuisines on offer – from fast food to Chinese, Indian or Italian.

Here are a few places you might like to try during your stay on the Costa Brava:

·         El Bulli, Roses

·         Can Fornells, Roses

·         Pizzeria Dolce Vita, Roses

·         Rafas, Roses

·         America, Lloret de Mar

·         La Parrilla, Lloret de Mar

·         Disaster café, Lloret de Mar

·         La Pampa Steak House, Lloret de Mar

·         Turisa, Tossa de Mar

·         Bar de Tapas, Tossa de Mar

·         Restaurant Pizzeria Bar LLuis, Tossa de Mar

·         L’Ajustada, Tossa de Mar

·         Café Terrassans, Blanes

·         S’auguer, Blanes

·         Marisqueria El Port, Blanes

·         Moli de Vent, Blanes


 

Entertainment

Depending on which resort you choose, the degree of nightlife varies along the Costa Brava. The undisputed capital of nightlife is Lloret de Mar. Here you can dance the night away in numerous bars and clubs such as Tropics, Bumper’s Disco and Hollywood Dance Club. For those that enjoy a flutter, it is also home to the Casino Lloret de Mar.

Calella also has a lively night culture with over 50 bars. Some of the clubs in this area are Turisme 35, The Avenue, The Tunnel and Western Saloon. Although not quite as lively as Lloet de Mar, Calella certainly has plenty to offer the night owls amongst us.

Blanes is a quieter area with a few music bars and clubs. It is more geared up for families as is L’Estartit which only has a few clubs such as The Podium, Rockerfella’s and Maxim’s. Roses is also a quieter resort offering more traditional Tapas bars, ballroom dancing, flamenco and a few international clubs. If you want to party here, look out for New Orleans, Disco Cyber City, Picasso, Zodiac and Octopussy.

 

Excursions

We have already seen that there is a wealth of things to see and do within the area of Costa Brava. However, here are a few more suggestions of excursions that you might like to take during your stay:

  • Banyoles
  • Girona
  • Vall de Nuria Rack Rail (cog railway)
  • Port Ventura Park
  • Montserrat
  • Barcelona
  • Barcelona aquarium

 

Health & Safety

The tap water is safe but you will probably prefer bottled water mainly due to taste.

As with most tourist areas, although crime isn’t a big problem, you should take the usual precautions with your valuable and beware of pick pockets in crowded areas.

 

Costa Dorada

Introduction

 

The Costa Dorada covers a 120 mile stretch of Mediterranean coastline south of Barcelona. This ‘Golden Coast’ comprises of twelve zones: Altafulla, Calafell, Cambrils, Coma-Ruga, El Vendrell, Hospitalet Infant, L Ametlla de Mar, La Pineda, Miami Platja, Montbrio del Camp, Salou, and Tarragona. Unlike its neighbour, the Costa Brava, the coastline is less rugged with miles of flat golden sandy beaches.

As tourism has increased the coastline has become built up with hundreds of hotels, camp sites and apartment blocks, catering mainly for family holidays.  However that does not mean it has lost its charm and history. Inland there are bursting with historical interest such as Reus, Valls, Montblanc, and Tortosa, as well as the great medieval monasteries: Poble, Santes Creus and Scala Dei.

The picturesque landscapes of Prades and Siurana and the rugged mountain ranges overflowing with big game reserves (Tivissa, Cardo and Ports de Tortosa), are also not to be missed.  

For those that enjoy soaking up local culture and history, the main regional city of Tarragona boasts historical ruins and a variety of museums. Moving further inland, among vineyards, olive groves and almond plantations, you will find the medieval city of Montblanc with its fine Gothic church.

If you are looking for a fun filled family holiday the popular resort town of Salou is hard to beat. It has fantastic clean sandy beaches and secluded rocky coves. It is also packed with entertainment for all ages, from water sports to an aqua park, go-karting and one of Europe's most thrilling theme parks, Universal's Port Aventura.

For something a bit quieter L’ Almadrava (south of Salou) is a lesser known beach resort. Other resorts include L’ Amella de Mar and Les Cases d’ Alcanar.

See & Do

Along the coast of Costa Dorada there are a wealth of things to see and do – from ancient history and culture to wild and frantic water sports and theme park rides. Here is just a sample of what is on offer:

·         Windsurfing

·         Water skiing

·         Jet skiing

·         Banana boat rides

·         Snorkelling

·         Scuba diving

·         Sailing

·         Go-karting

·         Universal Studios Port Aventura

·         Aquopolis, La Pineda (water park)

·         Aqualeon (water park)

·         Tarragona

·         Reus

·         National Park of Ebro Delta

·         Sitges

·         Salon

·         Golf

·         Barcelona

·         Museu Comarcal del Montisa, Tarragona

·         Museu de la Vida Rural, Tarragona

·         Museu de les Mines de Bullmunt Priorat, Tarragona

·         Museu del Port de Tarragona

·         Museu Pau Casals, Tarragona

·         Amfiteatre Roma

·         National Archaeological Museum

·         Pont Del Diable (The Devil’s Bridge)

·         150 miles of beaches (e.g. El Mirade, Ribes Roges, Sant Gervasi, Playa el Faro, La Punta de Fangar, Waikiki beach, La Mora)


 

Shopping

Most of the resorts along the Costa Dorada offer the usual souvenir/holiday essential shopping. Favourite purchases among visitors are pottery, wrought-iron work, crafts made of palm and leather items such as botas (leather wine bottles made from goat skin).  

If you are looking for some serious retail therapy, head for Tarragona. The main street, La Rambla Nova, is packed with exclusive Spanish boutiques. There is also a large shopping mall and hypermarket on the outskirts of the city.

Another good spot is Reus, especially the area known as El Tomb de Reus in the centre of town. Much of it is pedestrianised and the streets are lined with clothes shops and coffee houses.

But of course for the serious shopperholic there is only one place to go – Barcelona. Don’t miss the famous five kilometre-long shopping line which stretches from Las Ramblas all the way up to the Avenue Diagonal. To save your feet, jump on the Tombus which is a special service that runs up and down this shopping route where you’ll see big names like Armani, Versace and Cartier.

For a more authentic shopping experience, why not visit one of the many markets in the area: La Boqueria in Barcelona, Cambrils, La Pineda and Salou.  

 

Food & Drink

Rice and meat dishes are very popular on the coast. A classic Mediterranean sauce is romesco, made from the finest olive oil, red pepper and bread, with various additions such as garlic, almonds, cognac and vinegar.

Another regional specialty is calcots (spring onions dipped in an exceptional sauce). Crema Catalana is a delicious, caramelised custard cream, and pastissets are little sweet pastries made of herbs and almonds.

Costa Dorada certainly caters for everyone. You will find an infinite variety of restaurants along the coast line from fast food joints to virtually every international cuisine you can think of.

In Salou there are a decent variety of tapas bars and authentic Spanish restaurants but on the whole it is more geared up for British tastes with plenty of fast food outlets.

If you are looking for a true Spanish flavour the best place to head for is Cambrils. As a working fishing port, the fresh catch can be found on many of the menus in the town. Dishes such as ‘suquet’ – a Catalan fish stew, have made the town’s seafood restaurants revered throughout Catalonia.

Sitges is another excellent place to head for with its glass-fronted restaurants along the seafront. A favourite place with Spaniards, you know you’ll be in for a treat. Enjoy delicious paella or if you prefer, ‘butifarra’ or ‘fuet’ sausages, often served with white beans, they’re Catalan favourites.

For more sophistication head for Barcelona’s cutting-edge eateries that wear their Michelin stars with pride.

Wherever you go, ensure you wash your meal down with the local wines. This area is Penedes country, the home of sparkling ‘cava’.  

Here are a few suggestions you might like to try:


  • Old Brown Cow, Salou
  • Can Bosch, Cambrils
  • Casa Gatell, Cambrils
  • Bar Coimbra, Tarragona
  • Alkimia, Barcelona
  • Casa Gallau Restaurant, Cambrils
  • Albatros, Salou
  • Restaurant Merlot, Tarragona

 

Entertainment

Whether you like relaxing evenings or loud music and partying, there is somewhere in the Costa Dorada for everyone.

Salou comes into its own after dark. As the liveliest of all the resorts, its main street is packed with British-style pubs, karaoke bars and discos. It is full of clubs and bars that will keep you occupied until the small hours. A few names to look out for are: Bahia, Snoopy’s, Gabbers, Rover’s Return, Ibrox, Kiss, Bar 007 and Champions.

La Pineda is lower key but still lots of fun. A long strip of disco bars and cafés runs parallel to the beach, and for hardcore clubbers there’s Pacha and Level O.

Tarragona also comes to life after dark. Most of the action can be found around Pau de Protectorat. Some of the names to look out for here are Puerto de Positive, La Fabula, Ramblas Nova and Vella.   


Of course, for the serious partiers amongst you, there is always Barcelona. As one of Europe’s great party cities head for the Port Vell’s Maremagnum centre for a memorable night. This shopping mall transforms into a throng of smart bars, cafés and nightclubs come sundown.  

 

Excursions

There is a wealth of things to see and do in the Costa Dorada. Here a just a few things you might like to do when you’ve had enough sun, sea and sand:

·         Universal Studios Port Aventura Park

·         Barcelona

·         Tarragona

·         Montserrat

·         Andorra

·         Aquopolis, La Pineda


 

Health & Safety

It is best to stick to bottled water rather than drinking the tap water. Crime is relatively low in the area but you would be wise to take the usual precautions with your valuables, especially when in crowded tourist areas.

 

 

 

Barcelona

Introduction

 

Nestling beside the Mediterranean, Barcelona is one of the few European cities by the sea. Its main thoroughfare, Las Ramblas, runs all the way from the quayside through to the heart of the city.

As a city it has it all, stunning architecture, superb shopping, great climate and beautiful beaches. It is the gateway to the Costa Brava with its popular resorts of Sitges and Vilanova.  

Well worth exploring are the Gothic Quarter and Montjuic which abounds with ancient and ornate architecture such as one of Barcelona's cathedrals, La Seu. Then of course there is the fabulous architecture of Antoni Gaudí. His greatest monument is the Sagrada Familia - an unfinished cathedral that resembles a vast Gothic church crossed with a space ship from a sci-fi movie. His other creations include La Pedrera - a weird converted terrace block in the heart of the city, and le Parc Guell - a surreal haven on a hill high above the bustle of the city. The best view of these and the other architectural masterpieces of the city is found by taking the funicular up to Tibidabo, or the cable car up Montjuic.

Of course, Barcelona is also home to one of the greatest football teams so sports fans won't want to miss the Olympic area or the museum at the Nou Camp, FC Barcelona's famous stadium, where the hundreds of trophies the illustrious club has won are on display.

It is at night when Barcelona really comes into its own. The Catalan capital is widely known as a party city and is home to many bars and clubs to keep the most ardent party-goer happy.  

See & Do

There is a wealth of things to keep you occupied during your stay in Barcelona. Listed below is a taster of what you can do during your stay:

  • Take a city bus tour
  • Las Ramblas
  • La Sagrada Familia (Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral)
  • Picasso Museum
  • Barri Gòtic (Gothic quarter) and Plaça de Sant Jaume
  • La Seu Cathedral
  • Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
  • Par Güell
  • Montjuïc and cable car ride (Castle de Montjuïc & Olympic Stadium)
  • FC Barcelona and the Nou Camp
  • Parc de la Ciutadella (city zoo)
  • Port Vell and the harbour – includes leisure complex, mutli-screen cinema and aquarium
  • Santa Maria del Mar
  • Tibidabo
  • Joan Miró Foundation
  • Museum of Contemporary Art

 

Of course, being a city it is easy to forget Barcelona’s beach front. Once you have explored the city, take time out to relax on one of the beaches and indulge in a little swimming, windsurfing, kite surfing or just sun bathing. The main beaches include: Barceloneta, Icaria, Mar Bella and Stiges beach.

 

 

 


 

Shopping

If you love to shop then Barcelona is the city for you. The main shopping area stretches for a credit card aching 5km from the Port Vell right up to La Ramblas. Department stores, designer shops and international stores can be found around Plaça de Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia and Avinanda Diagonal. Here you will be surrounded by names such as Versace, Armani, Burberry, Bally, Cartier and Calvin Klein.

El Corte Ingles and Fnac are the two large department stores in the city. If you like your shopping all under one roof then head for Maremagnum in Port Vell. For a more intimate shopping experience of small boutiques, antique shops and local arts and crafts head for the Gothic quarter or El Poble Espanyol (Montjuïc Park).

The city also has its fair share of markets. Many of these can be found along Las Ramblas, for example La Bouqueria and Place del Pi. If you reach the point that you have exhausted all that Barcelona has to offer, 45 minutes out of the city is La Roca Outlet Village.

The best buys are arts, crafts, prints and Gaudi style plates, mugs etc. Also, as you would expect in Spain, leather goods are widely available. Other delicacies such as local cheese, Serrano ham, chorizo, turron, cava and rioja are also great buys. And of course no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a FC Barcelona souvenir.

 

Food & Drink

Restaurants in Barcelona specialise in Catalonian cuisine. You will find plenty of excellent seafood on the menu, especially fish stew (zarzsuela), cod, shellfish and squid. Tapas bars abound in the city and are an excellent way to sample a range of exciting dishes washed down with Cava or the local Vi Negre.

The restaurants in the Eixample and Gracia areas tend to be quieter and, at times, more expensive. Those in the harbour area offer great views but aren’t always the best. For a livelier evening, Maremagnum and Port Olympic are home to many bars and discos.

Here are a few restaurants you might like to look out for:

·         El Convent

·         Taller de Tapas

·         El Glop

·         Ca l’Isidre

·         La Habana Vieja

·         Botafumeiro

·         Can Gaig

·         Agut

·         Jean Luc Figueras

·         Can Majó

·         Onofre


 

Entertainment

Whether you are looking for bars, clubs, theatre, music or cinema, there is something for everyone in Barcelona.

 

Music:

  • Classical – Palau de la Musica Catalana; Gran Teatre del Liceu
  • Jazz – Colours; Jamboree; Luz de Gas

Theatre:

  • Teatre Romea
  • Teatre Borras

Cinema:

  • Cines Icaria-Yelmo

Football:

  • FC Barcelona

Flamenco:

  • Tablao Flamenco Cordobes
  • Los Tarantos

Nightclubs:

The Port Vell and Port Olympic areas are best for bars and clubs. Barrio Gotic is home to some of the smaller, trendy bars and Plaça Reial is the best area for clubs.

  • Dot Light Club
  • Karma
  • Shoko
  • Jamboree
  • Up & Down
  • Bikini
  • Moog Club
  • Salistas
  • La Terrazza

Events:

  • March – Fiesta de San Medir
  • April – Festival of Sant Jordi
  • June – Sonar (multi media artists) & Corpus Christi
  • July – Summercase music festival
  • September – Fiesta de la Merce

Excursions

Although there is a huge amount to keep you occupied during your stay in Barcelona, you may want to explore more of the Catalan region. Here are a few suggestions of what else there is to see:

  • Medieval Girona
  • Figueras
  • Tarragona
  • Montserrat
  • Mount Tibidabo
  • Tossa de Mar
  • Stiges
  • Universal Studios Port Aventura Park
  • Caribe Aquatic Park
  • Zaragoza

 

Health & Safety

The tap water in Barcelona is very unpalatable so it is highly recommended to drink bottled water whilst you are here. Crime rates are relatively low in the city, but as usual you are advised to take sensible precautions with your valuables especially in crowded areas.

 

Madrid

Introduction

The royal city of Madrid is the capital city of Spain and home to the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) which houses three thousand rooms bedecked with priceless paintings. It is the highest capital in Europe therefore its climate is somewhat extreme with steaming hot summers and bitterly cold winters.

Madrid is a haven for all lovers of art and culture. The museums of the "golden triangle", namely the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza, are home to an incredible array of paintings ranging from Old Masters to modern surrealists. And the rest of the city is just as rich in cultural icons and architecture.

At the northern end of the Paseo de la Castellana you will find the 'leaning towers' of the Puerta de Europa (Gateway of Europe), a bold display of architecture symbolising the city's confidence in its future.

The medieval quarter of the city is a labyrinth of narrow streets which sharply contrasts with the grand boulevards of the 18th and 19th centuries. Each area has its own distinctive atmosphere - Lavapiés, Malasaña and Chueca are the oldest and most interesting. The central area, known as Madrid of the Austrias is situated roughly between the Palacio Real and the Puerta del Sol, Madrid's 'mile zero'. It is only a short walk from here to the city's main street, the Gran Vía, lined with shops, banks, offices, bars and cinemas.

When you are ready to take a break from art, you may want to visit the Plaza de Toros, Spain's largest bullring, where regular bullfights are still held. For sports enthusiasts who prefer something less bloodthirsty they can watch Real Madrid, or Atletico de Madrid, Spain's most famous football teams.

Once the sun goes down Madrid starts to come to life. The area of Malasaña is packed with bars and restaurants that stay open until dawn and rival anything Barcelona has to offer.

 

See & Do

You will never be short of something to do during your stay in Madrid. Below are listed just a few of the possibilities that await you:

  • Museo del Prado
  • The Reina Sofia
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • Plaza Mayor
  • The Royal Palace
  • Santiago de Bernabeu (the home of Real Madrid)
  • El Retiro
  • Palacio de Cristal
  • Palacio de Velázquez
  • Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
  • The Strawberry Train
  • Parque del Buen Retiro
  • Parque Juan Carlos I
  • Faunia Parque Biológico de Madrid
  • Goya’s Tomb
  • Flamenco at Corral de la Moreria
  • Puerta del Sol
  • National Archaeological Museum of Spain
  • Sorolla Museum

 

 

Shopping

Madrid is one of Europe’s greatest shopping destinations and will keep even the most ardent shopperholic satisfied.

The most exclusive area is Salamanca with all manner of well know designer names. For trendy clothes, head for Chueca. Other excellent areas are Calle Almirante (great for Spanish designer clothes), Calle Serrano and between Sol and Gran Via along the Calle Preciados.

The covered market in Calle Fuencarral is a very trendy area but if you prefer everything under one roof, you will find Spain’s largest department store, El Corte Ingles at Sol.

To experience a piece of true Madrid, head for Rastro a market held every Sunday. It is famous for its antiques but you will also find second hand goods, new clothes and jewellery.

If your shopping cravings still haven’t been satisfied after exhausting Madrid, 45 minutes out of the capital is the Las Rozas Outlet Village.

Great buys are Cava, Rioja, Serrano ham, chorizo and turron. Being Spain, leather goods are another excellent buy especially at Lepanto on Plaza Ramales.

 

Food & Drink

As with many parts of Spain, eating and drinking tend to happen late in the evening. There are several specialities that you can look out for such as Cocido (stew of cabbage, chick peas, onions and beef, pork or sausage), offal (trips and sausage is a traditional dish), crispy pig’s ears, sweetbreads (bull’s testicles) and Gazpacho.

The best area to look for restaurants is around Sol and Plaza Mayor. Here are a few names you might like to look out for:

  • El Olivo
  • Taberna Del Alabardero
  • Restaurante Vinoteca Maestrovilla
  • Casa Lucio
  • Restaurante Botin
  • Casa Mingo
  • El Bamboo
  • El Gaucho
  • El Amparo
  • Divina La Cocina
  • Sobrino de Botin
  • Jockey

 

The area of Malasaña is a great place to find some lively bars and tapas restaurants. A few names to look out for to ensure you have a great evening are:

  • La Bardemcilla
  • Cervecería Alemana
  • Las Bravas
  • Chicote
  • Bar Viva Madrid
  • Faborit

 

Entertainment

 

There really is something for everyone in Madrid. It is a city that stays awake long into the early hours of the morning. Whether you enjoy music, theatre, clubbing or sport you will find the perfect entertainment:

 

Music:

  • Orchestra – Auditorio Nacional de Musica
  • Opera – Teatro Real
  • Jazz – Café Central
  • Rock/Pop – El Sol

Theatre:

  • Teatro de Madrid
  • La Abadia
  • Centro Dramatico Nacional

Flamenco:

  • Casa Patas
  • La Solea
  • Flamenco Las Carboneras (Flamenco Restaurant)

Football:

  • Atlético – at the Calderon Stadium
  • Real Madrid – at the Bernabeu Stadium

Bullfighting:

  • Plaza de Toros de las Ventas (March – October)

Nightlife:

If you are looking for the area where the young and trendy bar crowd hang out, head for Malasaña. For something a bit more up market got to Gran Via and Chueca is where the trendy clubs are found. Here are a few names to look out for:


  • Joy Madrid
  • Pacha
  • Kapital
  • OHM
  • Space and Sound
  • Nasti

Events:

  • January – Procession of the three kings
  • February – Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival
  • March/April – Semana Santa (Holy Week)
  • May – Fiesta de San Isidro
  • August – Virgen de la Paloma
  • December – Christmas Market on Plaza Mayor

 

Excursions

 

Despite its beauty and boundless opportunities for sight seeing, you may decide to see a bit more of this stunning area of Spain. Below is a list of some of the towns and sights near by that are well worth a visit:

  • Avila
  • Salamanca
  • Toledo
  • Escorial
  • Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Segovia
  • Alcalá de Henares
  • Aranjuez
  • Manzanares el Real

Health & Safety

The tap water (and that from street fountains) is safe to drink. Health facilities are excellent in Madrid but you should ensure you always have sufficient health insurance in place before travelling.

The incidence of crime is generally low in Spain however you should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.

 

 

 

Malaga

Introduction

Malaga is best known for its airport than as a major tourist draw. As the self proclaimed capital of the Costa del Sol, many travellers don’t take time out to see what the city itself has to offer.

But if you take the time to explore you will discover a wealth of cultural and historical treasures. It was the birthplace (Plaza Merced) of Pablo Picasso and features several galleries displaying his works.

As with many Andalusian cities, Malaga has Moorish roots and nowhere is this more evident than in the impressive Moorish Alcazaba (the roof of which provides an impressive panoramic view of the city), the Phoenician Gibralfaro lighthouse and the Stone Age Nerja Caves. Malaga’s cathedral is known as La Manquita, meaning “the little one armed lady” and its castle stands on Monte de Gibralfaro.

The city has so much to offer in the way of history and architecture, the best way to see it all is by an open top bus.

Of course, the city isn’t all about history, there is plenty of shopping, relaxing and cafes and , for the more active traveller,  highly-rated golf courses and miles and miles of golden beaches.

 

 

See & Do

  
If you take the time to explore Malaga you will find a wealth of things to do and places to see. There is everything from sporting activities to architecture and museums – something for everyone:


·         Alcazaba

·         Gibralfaro

·         La Manquita (cathedral)

·         Episcopal Palace

·         Picasso Museum and Foundation

·         Nerja Caves

·         Telecabina de Benalmádena

·         Los Montes de Malaga

·         Bullfighting Museum

·         Plaza de la Merced

·         Castillo de Gibralfaro

·         Centro de Arte Contemporáneo

·         Museo Unicaja de Artes Populares

·         Archaeological Museum

·         El Torcal (Natural park)

·         Sierra De Las Nieves (Natural park)

Then there are the sporting activities and beaches:

  • Windsurfing
  • Jet skiing
  • Water skiing
  • Parasailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Sailing
  • Hiking
  • Golf
  • Bullfights

Beaches:

  • Marbella
  • Fuengirola
  • Benalmádena
  • Torremolinos
  • Nerja
  • La Malagueta
  • Pedregalejo
  • Las Acacias
  • La Caleta
  • Baños Del Carmen
  • El Changuete
  • El Candado
  • Peñon del Cuervo
  • Guadalmar

 

Shopping

It may not be in the same league as Barcelona or Madrid, but Malaga does provide some reasonable retail therapy. The main shopping streets are Calle Marques de Larios and Alameda Central which display many national and international brands. The ever popular Spanish department store, El Cortes Ingles, is also present near the train station.

A great place to shop for Moroccan goods and local crafts is around the Cathedral and Picasso Museum.

The best buys are local ceramics, beaten copper, cane work, Malagan Virgen (a local sweet wine) and leatherwork.

 

Food & Drink

Malaga is famous for its wines and many local sweet wines can be found at the numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. Seafood and tapas are local favourites and therefore dominate many of the city’s menus.

The café bar is very much part of Malaga life. For the tourists there are a number of larger bars which can be found along Calle Larious and Calle Granada. For something smaller and more authentic head for the Pasaje de Chinitas.

As with the rest of Spain, eating tends to be a late evening affair. Here are a few of the excellent restaurants you might like to try:

  • Clandestino
  • La Paloma
  • El Campanario de Ignacio
  • El Tintero
  • El Cabra
  • El Palacete
  • Cortijode Pepe
  • Al-Yamal

 

Entertainment

The nightlife will not disappoint you in Malaga. There is music, flamenco, theatre, casinos, clubs, bars and discos. The best area for lively bars is Plaza del Merced and Plaza Uncibay, once you have finished there, you can move on to one of the many clubs:

  • Abisinia
  • Caché
  • Disco Ola
  • Sala Cool
  • Sala Vivero
  • Karma
  • Casanova

If clubbing isn’t you scene, Malaga has several other options to offer you. Here are a few suggestions and venues for you to try:

  • Music – Sala Vivero, Teatro Cervantes, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Malaga
  • Flamenco – Onda Pasadena
  • Theatre – Teatro Cervantes, Teatro Alameda
  • Gambling – Torrequebrada Casino, Marbella Casino

As with many areas of Spain, there are several events occurring throughout the year. Here are just a few that you may like to see if your travel plans permit:

  • January – the procession of the three Magi
  • Mar/April – Senor de las Gitanor and Nuestro Padre Jesus el Rico
  • April – Malaga Film Festival
  • May – Corpus Christie
  • August – Feria de Verano
  • December – Los Santos Inocentes and Fiesta de Verdiales

 

Excursions

For many, a holiday in Malaga is not enough with the nearby beaches and cities proving too strong a draw. Here are a few places you might like to explore during your Malaga holiday:

  • Estepona (for golf and water sports)
  • Fuengirola and its beaches
  • Gibralta
  • Granada
  • Marbella (beaches and nightlife)
  • Ronda
  • Torremolinos (beaches and nightlife)
  • Benalmádena Costa
  • Pedragalejo beaches

 

Health & Safety

It is not recommended that you drink the tap water in Malaga, instead use bottled water which is widely available. Health facilities are excellent but you should ensure you always have sufficient insurance in place before travelling.

The incidence of crime is generally low in Spain however you should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.

 

 

 

 

Benidorm

Introduction

 

Situated on the Costa Blanca, Benidorm is on Spain’s east coast 26 miles northeast of Alicante and is Spain’s most visited holiday resort. It has wonderful beaches, incredible theme parks and golf courses. More recently Aiguera Park and amphitheatre have been built in the centre of town offering free cultural activities. Despite the facilities for tourists, the Old Town still retains a small-town Spanish ambiance.   

As a resort, Benidorm is spilt into 2 areas: Playa de Levante which caters mainly for the British, and Playa de Poniente which is mainly used by the Spanish and other nationalities. The surrounding mountains create a micro climate resulting in mild winters making Benidorm a haven for retired British and north Europeans.

Benidorm sits in a bay that is dissected by the lookout point, Balcón del Mar. To the east is Playa de Levante (stretching for 2km) and to the west Playa de Poniente (stretching for 3km). There is also a third, smaller beach, Playa del Malpas (120m). All boast immaculate golden sand which is cleaned daily and all have enjoyed Blue Flag status since 1987.  

The main draw for many tourists is of course the beaches. Poniente is less crowded than Levante and both have excellent beach facilities including biblioplayas (beach libraries) which allow you to read foreign newspapers free of charge. All water sports are accommodated including a cable ski mechanism on Levante, which allows you to water ski without the need for a speedboat.

But it isn’t all about sun, sea and sand. In and around the outskirts of Benidorm there are four major theme parks and water parks. And the entertainment doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Benidorm is very much the party capital of the Costa Blanca with an unrivalled nightlife.

But if you enjoy a bit of culture during your holiday there are some remnants of Benidorm’s historic past, although you have to look for them. In the Casco Antiguo section of the old town are the ruins of a castle that was built in the 14th century to fend off Berber pirates. This is a stunning place from which to watch Benidorm's spectacular sunsets.

 

See & Do

There is so much to see and do in and around Benidorm you will be spoilt for choice. Admittedly there isn’t a huge amount in the way of culture and history but the beaches and sporting facilities more than make up for that, making Benidorm an excellent family holiday destination.

  • Swimming
  • Diving
  • Jet skiing
  • Water skiing
  • Banana boats
  • Parasailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Windsurfing
  • Beaches: Playa de Levante, Playa de Poniente and Playa de Melpas
  • Terra Mitica (theme park)
  • Terra Natura (theme park)
  • Aqualandia Water Park
  • Mundomar Park
  • 2 18 hole championship gold courses
  • Aiguera Park and amphitheatre
  • Tennis
  • Jeep safaris
  • Cycling
  • Casco antiguo (Old Benidorm city centre)
  • Aitana Safari Park
  • Vergel Safari Park
  • Benidorm Palace (shows/evening entertainment)

 

Shopping

It’s not exactly a rival to Barcelona or Madrid but Benidorm does provide a good selection of Spanish and international shopping. Most of this is found in the Old Town along Avenida Martinez Alejois, Passeig de la Carretera (especially for leather goods), Plaza Major and behind Poniente Beach.

If you like your shopping big, then head for the 3 floors of La Marina Shopping Centre. For the best fashion shopping and boutiques, head for the Levante and Rincón de Loix districts.

For those that like to browse for a bargain, Benidorm also offers a couple of markets. On Sundays is the El Cisne Flea Market and the central Benidorm outdoor market is held every Wednesday and Sunday. You may also like to visit Altea’s Tuesday market and if you want a serious day of shopping, Alicante isn’t too far away.

 

Food & Drink

Benidorm’s choice of cuisine mirrors that of the tourists that flock to its shores. You will find practically every International and Mediterranean cuisine you can think of, including more than its fair share of fast food outlets (especially in the New Town).

The Old Town is the place to head for more sophisticated dining especially around Calle Santo Dominigo where you will find delightful authentic Spanish restaurants and tapas bars. For authentic cuisine, head for the Old Harbour area.

Here are some restaurants you might like to try during your stay:

  • China Garden
  • India Gate
  • Mme Butterfly
  • Witches Bistro
  • Kataria Restaurant
  • Agir Restaurant
  • Aitena
  • Casa Toni
  • Aventi

 

Entertainment

Benidorm is the hot spot for nightlife in the Mediterranean. One of the most well known venues has to be the Benidorm Palace which is home to classic Spanish dancing, flamenco and variety acts.

With approximately 500 bars, 150 disco-pubs and clubs, stage cabaret, karaoke and live music, there is something for everyone. Most of the action can be found behind Levante beach in the New Town area with busiest night clubs around ‘The Square’ on the corner of Calle Lepanto and Avenida de Mallorca.

Here are some of the names to look out for:

  • Pacha
  • KM
  • Ku
  • Space
  • Wheeltappers
  • Sinatras
  • The Palladium
  • The Stardust Benidorm
  • Champions
  • KM Playa
  • Bahamas
  • Lennon’s
  • Vincents Plaza
  • Bar Marcos

 

Excursions

With so many sporting activities and theme parks on your doorstep, you may not have time to look further afield. However, there are many beautiful towns and villages it would be a shame not to explore the surrounding area and discover more of what Spain has to offer.

Here are a few places you might like to visit:

  • Peacock Island
  • Alicante
  • Mountain fortress of Guadalest
  • Altea
  • Finestrat
  • Aitana Safari Park
  • Vergel Safari Park
  • Cactuslandia
  • Algar Falls
  • Canelobre Caves
  • Calpe
  • Elche
  • Javea
  • Villajoyosa
  • Albir

 

Health & Safety

You can drink the tap water in Benidorm but you will probably prefer to buy bottled water mainly because of the taste. If is fine however to use the tap water for cleaning your teeth.

As with most of Spain, the medical facilities are excellent however you should always ensure you have sufficient medical insurance before you travel. Crime is generally low but you should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.

 

 

 

 

Mallorca

Introduction

Mallorca (Majorca) is the largest of the Balearic Islands, measuring approximately 110km long and 76km wide. The island has 7 cities, Palma (its capital), Manacor, Llucmajor, Soller, Felantix, Inca and Alcudia.

Most travellers come to Mallorca for its stunning beaches. Most of the coastline comprises of gentle sloping fine sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Numerous beaches and coves make it a perfect place to indulge in water sports and sun bathing.

However if you do visit, it is worthwhile hiring a car and heading away from the beaches to explore the rest of the island. You will discover romantic fishing villages, historic monasteries, monuments, museums and spectacular landscapes.

The island is dominated by the Serra Tramunta Mountains that stretch from Cabo Formentor to the area near Isla Dragonera on the west coast. The highest peak, Puig Major, is 1455m high. Further east is a second, lower mountain range, Sierra de Levante. Its highest peak is 562m (Atalaia Morella).

The central plain of Mallorca (Es Raiguer) is large and flat. This area is dominated by agriculture with its many almond trees, vineyards, carob trees and orchards.

For more cultural pursuits, Palma still retains some of its historical flavour sporting grand mansions and a magnificent Gothic cathedral in its bustling centre.

 

See & Do

Mallorca truly is an island that offers something for everyone. From the bustling, lively tourist resorts of the south (such as C’an Pastilla, El Arenal, Palma de Mallorca, Magaluf, Palma Nova, Santa Ponsa, Paguera and Camp de Mar) to the quieter resorts of the north (Alcudia, S’Illot, Puerto Pollense, Cala Millor, Cian Picafort, Cala San). Whether you are looking for relaxation or a full-on party holiday you will find a resort to suit you.

The main attraction to the island is its 70 plus beaches, too many to mention, but here are a few of the best that you might like to visit: El Arenal, Palma Nova, Illetes, Portixol, El Molinar, Coll d’En Rebassa, Can Pastilla, Es Trenc, Cala Mayor, Campo de Mar, Portals Nous, Magaluf, Santa Ponca and Peguera.

If you enjoy sporting activities (especially water sports) you will be spoilt for choice. You can indulge in:

  • Swimming
  • Snorkelling
  • Water skiing
  • Windsurfing
  • Paragliding
  • Banana boat rides
  • Jet skiing
  • Diving
  • Golf
  • Cycling
  • Horse riding

However it’s not all about sports. If you prefer to take it easier there are plenty of other attractions on the island:

  • Palma Sóller Railway
  • La Sierra de Tramuntana
  • S’Albufera Nature Reserve
  • Cathedral de Mallorca
  • Palma Aquarium
  • Palau de L’Almudaina (Palace of the Citadel)
  • Castell de Bellver
  • Cuevas de Drach (The Dragon’s Cave)
  • Real Cartoixa de Valldemosa (Medieval Royal Monastery)
  • La Grania
  • Banys Arabs
  • Marineland
  • Museo d’Art Espanyol Contemporani
  • Museo de Mallorca
  • Museo Municipal
  • Aqualand, Magaluf and El Arenal
  • Western Water Park, Magaluf
  • Safari Park, S’albufera
  • Tropical Park, Jumaica

 

Shopping

Each of the resorts on Mallorca offer shopping facilities. Often, as with Magaluf, Alcudia and the other larger areas, this means there are plenty of outlets selling beach wear and souvenirs and other touristy things. However if you want some serious shopping the place to head for is Palma.

If you are looking for chain stores, international names, boutiques or that something a little bit different, Palma is the place for you. The Passeig d’es Born is lined with numerous chain stores and smaller shops. If you are looking for clothing accessories, boutiques, beauty and perfume stores, head for Carrer Sindicat. For those that love browsing high quality shops and international brands, head for Avenida Jaume III.

Mallorca is great for glass, leather, footwear, ceramics, cultured pearls, olives and wine. If you want to find some of these local specialities, head for Passeig per l’Artesania for stores selling genuine Mallorcan products.

To mix your shopping with a bit of culture head for Carrer Sant Miquel. This pedestrianised area is great for shopping and seeing the stunning churches of Sant Miquel, Santa Margalida and Sant Antoniet.

If all those shops haven’t quelled your shopping appetite, then you could always head for one of the commercial shopping centres such as Festival Park (Marratxi), Porto Pi (Palma) or Al Campo (Marratxi).

Cala d'Or is known as the best shopping district on Mallorca. Its main shopping street, Avinguda Tagomago, is full of chic boutiques, leather shops and galleries. Designer clothes and shoes, in particular, are available at reasonable prices. For your souvenir shopping, the Sunday morning flea market in Felanitx is excellent.

Shopping in Mallorca isn’t just about chain stores and shopping centres. The Marcat de l’Olivar, in the centre of Palma is one of the oldest markets in Mallorca. Each town has its own regular market where you can pick up local produce, mingle with the locals and pick up a bargain or two.

 

Food & Drink

Being a popular tourist destination, the restaurants in Mallorca cater for everything from chips and hamburgers to curry and schnitzel. But the island isn’t all about fast food, there are also plenty of excellent restaurants that offer traditional Mallorcan dishes as well an international fare. Here is a selection of the excellent restaurants that you might like to try:

  • Es Reim, C’an Pastilla
  • Bar Restaurante, S’Illot
  • Espas, S’Illot
  • Can Ronpes, S’Illot
  • Garlanda, Alcudia
  • Rancho Chico, Alcudia
  • Nova Marina, Alcudia
  • Acuarius, Cala d’Or
  • Shangrila, Cala d’Or
  • Clivia, Puerto Pollensa
  • Giardino, Puerto Pollensa
  • Natalies, Palma Nova
  • La Cucaracha-Tex Mex, Palma Nova
  • Mason del Rey, Santa Ponsa
  • Jardin de Jade, Santa Ponsa
  • Koldo Roya, Palma
  • Celler Sa Premsa, Palma
  • Baisakhi, Palma
  • Ublo, Palma

Seafood and pork feature heavily on many of the menus in Mallorca. If you want to sample some local delicacies rather than the fast food, look out for the Ensaimada (spiral shaped cake dusted with icing sugar), Sobrasada (spreadable red chorizo-like sausage), Mallorcan soups, Tumbet (baked and layered potato, courgette, aubergine and tomato sauce) and Pa ambo li (bread and oil). As for drinks, try the local Palo or herbes de Mallorca which are aromatic herby liqueurs.

 

Entertainment

The southern part of the island is where the serious partying happens after dark, especially in Palma, Palma Nova and Magaluf. The northern resorts have a much more laid back feel with their nightlife mainly centred on bars and restaurants.

Palma and Magaluf both offer exciting entertainment after dark however Palma’s is more sophisticated while Magaluf’s is aimed at the young British tourist and is loud and brash.

Palma offers several venues for live music (classical, jazz and rock) such as the Auditorium, Castell de Bellver and the Jazz Voyeur Club. If you enjoy the opera, you can indulge your pleasure at the Teatre Principal and there is a cinema at the Centro Commercial Porto Pi.

As for bars and clubs, the main areas in Palma are along Passeig Maritim and La Longa. A few of the names to look out for are Tito’s, Art Deco and Abraxa.

In Magaluf the onus is very much on the young British tourist. The nightlife is wild, loud and raucous. The famed Punta Ballena Strip is full of bars, themed parties, discos and clubs such as BCM, Carwash, Bananas and Boomerangs.

But Mallorca isn’t all about bars and clubbing. The island also offers 3 excellent dinner/show evenings which are very popular with tourists of all ages – Pirates Adventure, Son Amar and Es Foquero.

 

Excursions

Depending on where you stay on the island, there is a wealth of places and beaches to visit during your holiday.

Here are a few more possibilities you might like to add to itinerary:

  • Arta and its bronze age settlement
  • Pirate Adventure
  • Son Amar
  • Palma
  • Pollensa
  • Lluc
  • Alcudia
  • Valldemossa
  • Paquera
  • Can Picafort
  • Ibiza

 

Health & Safety

The tap water is safe to drink in Mallorca and the island has excellent health facilities. However you should ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.

Instances of crime on the island are low however you should always exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas.

 

 

 

 

Ibiza

Introduction

 

Ibiza (Eivissa in Catalan) is known to many as the party capital of the Balearics. As the third largest of this archipelago it has become hugely popular with Europe’s young revellers.

However the island isn’t all about loud music, foam parties and drunken teenagers. There is a beautiful side to Ibiza that is often overlooked by many of the younger holidaymakers. With approximately 60 white sand beaches, it is a sun lover’s paradise. Hidden coves punctuate the cliffs along the coastline providing plenty of exploration opportunities.

Further inland are hills, forests and picture-perfect traditional villages full of white-washed houses. The larger towns are awash with stunning architecture, traditional restaurants and chic hotels and eateries providing the perfect backdrop to some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the Mediterranean.

The island’s capital is Ibiza Town. Its nightlife is more for the grown-up clubber. It has a quaint old town and 3 sensational beaches nearby – Figueretes, Es Cavallet and Ses Salines. Probably the best known resort is San Antonio. Billed as a clubbers paradise it won’t disappoint. It is loud, brash and cheerful and home to 2 of the islands main clubs, Es Paradis and Eden. The beaches (Cala Conta, Cala Bassa and Cala Tarida) are clean but can get very crowded during the main holiday season. However, just a short hop across the water is the satellite island of Formentera for those who want to get away from it all for a while.

The third main resort is Santa Eualia. Unlike the others, this is much more low key and therefore more attractive to families.

 

See & Do

For most people, Ibiza means beaches, sun, sea and dancing the night away. There is certainly no shortage of beaches on the island. Platja d’en Bossa, south of Ibiza Town is home to the Bora Bora the most raucous bar on the island. If you are looking for something a bit quieter try Las Salinas, Cala Bassa, Aigues Blanques (the islands first nudist beach), Potinatx (with secluded caves and bays), Cala Salada and Cala d’Hort.

Of course with beaches come water sports and Ibiza has plenty to offer:

  • Scuba diving
  • Windsurfing
  • Water skiing
  • Jet skiing
  • Parasailing
  • Dolphin/sea life cruises
  • Banana boats rides
  • Sailing

If you want to get away from the beaches you could explore Ibiza Old Town. Although much of Ibiza has been taken over by modern resort complexes, the old town still displays its ancient Arabian-built walls and cobbled streets. It is entered via the Portal de Tablas (draw bridge entrance) and is dominated by a Cathedral. Other palaces of interest are:

  • Port of San Miguel
  • Cova de Can Marca
  • Ses Fontanalles (prehistoric cave paintings)
  • San Antonio
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Formentera

 

Shopping

Most people don’t go to Ibiza for its shopping but having said that it does have its fair share of upmarket stores. The best areas are Santa Eulalia, Es Cana, Las Dalias, San Antonio and Ibiza Town (especially on Ave del Espana) where the shops often stay open past midnight.

San Antonio has everything from tacky souvenirs to designer boutiques, although for the latest fashion accessories, Ibiza Town is the place to go. Hypermarkets and supermarkets can be found in most of the large resorts so you’ll never go short of food or alcohol.

For a more laid back shopping experience, the island has many weekly markets – look out for those in Ibiza Town, Punta Arabi, Es Canar, Cala Llonga and Las Dalias for local porcelain and leather goods which are always excellent buys.

 

Food & Drink

 

There are literally thousands of places to eat on Ibiza so you’ll never go hungry. The most prevalent cuisine is British – it’s cheap and lots of it. In all resorts you will be faced with numerous fast food bars, chips, burgers and pizzas. But if you look hard enough, you will find some excellent restaurants representing most nationalities. Here are a few names to try:

  • Ca N’alfredo, Ibiza Town
  • Sa Capella, Can Bassera
  • La Oliva, Ibiza Town
  • El Rincon de Pepe, San Antonio
  • Curry Club, San Antonio
  • Jamel’s Bistro, San Antonio

 

Despite the prevalence of British and fast food, there are a few national specialities you should look out for:

  • Paella
  • Guisat de peix (fish)
  • Sofrit pages (stew of meat and potatoes)
  • Borrida de Rajada (skated baked with almonds)
  • Fiaó (cream tart)
  • Vi Pages (local wine – red or rosé)
  • Granizados (frozen fruit juice)
  • Horchatas (frozen crushed nut milk)
  • Frigola (aromatic herb based drink)
  • Hierbas Ibicencas (aniseed based drink)

 

Entertainment

Party, party, party – that is what most visitors to the island want to do, and they won’t be disappointed. For many the night’s entertainment starts at the infamous San Antonio Sunset Strip in one of the many bars before hitting the clubs:

  • Mao Rooms, Ibiza Town
  • Café del Mar, San Antonio
  • Pacha, Ibiza Town
  • Privilege, Ibiza Town (the islands largest club)
  • Amnesia, San Rafael
  • Es Paradis, San Antonio
  • Eden, San Antonio
  • El Divino, Ibiza Town
  • Space, Ibiza Town

Through the summer super club organisers such as Cream, Ministry of Sound, Manumission and Miss Moneypenny’s take over these venues with international DJ’s making tickets difficult to get hold of. Therefore it is wise to invest in an Ibiza Club Pass which will give you automatic entry.

But it isn’t all about clubbing. There is the Can Ventosa theatre, Ibiza Casino (Ibiza Town) and if you enjoy your cinema, Multicines Eivissa (Ibiza Town).

 

Excursions

If you have the energy to look further afield after exhausting everything Ibiza has to see and do perhaps you may consider a trip across to Mallorca, Valencia or Formentera.

 

Health & Safety

The tap water is only partially desalinated so although it is perfectly usable for teeth cleaning you will probably prefer to drink bottled water. The main annoyances in the summer month are the mosquitoes so ensure you take plenty of repellent with you.

Crime is generally low, but you should take the usual precautions with your valuables especially in crowded areas.

 

 

 

 

Menorca

Introduction

 

Menorca (Minorca) is the second largest of the Balearic Islands even though it is only 9 miles wide and 32 miles long. It is much quieter that it’s neighbour, Mallorca, and has managed to stave off over development through tourism leaving a Mediterranean haven for families and those looking for a peaceful holiday.

Menorca is a verdant island, with pinewoods and wide, lush fields for the island's innumerable grazing cattle. The north coast of Menorca is rocky and rough, while the south coast is home to sandy coves, with fine, golden sand, sheltered by cliffs and gorges. But the island is not only renowned for its stunning landscapes, but also for the strong breezes that nature brings.  

The island’s capital is Mahón (Maó), a busy port in the south east of the island. It is a peaceful town with a wonderful array of restaurants and cafes lining the harbour frontage. One claim to fame is that the mansion house, Golden Farm that overlooks the harbour was once occupied by Admiral Lord Nelson. Also well worth a visit is the Xoriguer Gin Distillery where famed Menorcan gin is produced in an age-old process, and the celebrated huge organ (with more than 3,000 pipes) in the church Esglesia de Santa Maria la Major.  

Other wonderful towns include Ciudadela in the west, a vibrant town with zig-zagging streets and baroque churches and Mercandal which is set at the base of Monte Torro, Menorca’s highest peak (357m).

But the main draw to Menorca is its stunning beaches. The beautiful silver sand beaches and coves make the island a favourite with families and those looking for a relaxing holiday without the crowds of Mallorca or Ibiza -  Triant, Pregoda, Son Saura, Na Macaret, Puerto de Adaya, Cala Galdana (Queen of the Calas), Son Bou, Els Canutells, Cala Alcaufar and Son Parc to name but a few.

 

See & Do

Menorca may not be a big island, but it has plenty to offer holidaymakers. Whether you are looking for culture, history, sports or relaxation, you will find something to your taste. Here are a few suggestions of places to visit and things to do:

  • Cova d’en Xoroi (cave complex at Cala en Porter)
  • Visit the island’s many beaches
  • Mahón and its harbour
  • Xoriguer Distillery
  • Naveta dels Toudons (burial chamber near Ciutadella)
  • Torralba d’en Salord
  • Ciutadella
  • Binibèquer Vell
  • Arenal d’en Castell
  • Es Freginal Park, Mahón
  • Placa Alfons III, Mahón
  • Sant Francesc Church, Mahón
  • Ciutadella Cathedral
  • Santa Clara Church, Ciutadella
  • Museum of Menorca
  • Museo de la Natura de Menorca
  • Museo Municipal de Ciutadella
  • Museo Fort Malborough
  • Sailing
  • Windsurfing
  • Paragliding
  • High speed water biking
  • Water skiing
  • Rubber rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba diving
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Horse riding
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Los Delfines Aquapark, Ciutadella

 

 

Shopping

Menorca isn’t a huge draw for shopping. Mahón and Cuitadella are your best bet. They both have a good selection of shops ranging from souvenirs to clothing. Pottery, leather and shoes are a particularly good buy on the island.

For a more local feel, the island hosts many markets where you can browse for a bargain with the locals. Here a few you might like to visit:

 

Fresh food:

Mahón and Ciutadella every day except Sunday

Ferreries on Saturday

 

Clothing, crafts, jewellery and leather goods:

Mahón on Tuesday and Saturday

Es Castell on Monday and Wednesday

Alaior on Thursday

Es Migjorn Gran on Wednesday

Ferreries on Tuesday and Friday

Ciutadella on Friday and Saturday

 

Food & Drink

Many restaurants in the coastal resorts serve the type of international resort food found throughout the Mediterranean and cater for holidaymakers' tastes (e.g. pizzas, burgers, bratwurst, full English breakfast etc). But elsewhere Spanish cuisine predominates. Here are some of the regional specialities you should look out for:

  • Queso de Mahón (fresh island cheese)
  • Caldereta de llagosta (lobster stew)
  • Sobrasada (soft, spreadable red chorizo-like sausage)
  • Tumbet (baked layered potato, courgette, aubergine and tomato sauce)
  • Pa ambo li (bread with oil) served as a snack with cheese, ham or chorizo
  • Pomada (gin with cloudy lemon)
  • Calent (liqueur made form wine, cinnamon, aniseed and saffron)
  • Palo and herbes de Mallorca (aromatic herby liqueurs)

 

Now that we have whetted your appetite, here are a few restaurants that you might consider trying during your Menorcan holiday:

 


  • Café Baixamar, Moll de Ponent
  • Roma, Moll de Llevant
  • Valduero, Moll de Llevant
  • Es Moli d’Es Reco, Es Mercadal
  • Ca’n Aguedet, Es Mercadal
  • Liorna, Ferreries
  • Restaurante Andaira, Mahón
  • Antigua Casa Pilar, Mahón
  • Jàgaro, Mahón
  • La Minerva, Mahón
  • Restaurante d’Es Port, Ciutadella
  • Restaurante Sa Llesca, Ciutadella
  • Restaurante Cas Quinto, Ciutadella
  • Restaurante Ancla Mar, Ciutadella

 

 

Entertainment

 

In contrast with Mallorca and Ibiza, Menorca is very quiet with nightlife usually hotel-based, though Mahón and Ciutadella offer a choice of good nightspots. One place you must try is the cliff-side nightclub Cova d'en Xoroi, Cala en Porter.

 

Here are a few other suggestions:

 


  • Nou bar, Mahón
  • Bar Akelarre, Mahón
  • Café Mo Blues, Calle Santiago Ramon
  • Café Mares, Placa Conquesta
  • Latitude 40, Mahón
  • Mambo, Mahón
  • Tse-Tse, Mahón
  • Jazzbah, Ciutadella

 

Excursions

 

As Menorca is such a small island, everything it has to offer is in easy reach no matter you stay during your visit. Whether you want to head for the beach or explore the islands history and architecture, there is plenty for you to see and do. Of course, another idea is that you could always take a trip over to neighbouring Mallorca.

 

Health & Safety

 

The water in Menorca is entirely safe to drink, although it may not taste great, so you may prefer to stick to bottled mineral water that’s readily available across the island. In the summer season, the sun poses one of the biggest threats to health so avoid the midday sun and use a high factor sunscreen.

 

Crime is not a big issue however you should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables.

 

 

 

 

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