Tourists in Spain have a certain reputation – particularly the British. Rather than going to immerse themselves in the culture, they instead go to areas where they are surrounded by English-speaking holidaymakers, eat all the same food as back home, and don’t fully enjoy the wonderful country that is Spain. So, this article is going to go into more detail about how you can enjoy a more authentic Spanish experience that will give you a totally different impression of the country as a whole. Whether you're a solo female traveller in Spain, going on a family holiday or travelling as a group, I highly recommend that you experience some of the wonderful Spanish culture during your trip.
Eat Some Tapas
First of all, rather than ordering a full English or a Sunday roast, eat some tapas instead. With such a diversity of dishes that are different depending on the region of Spain that you travel to, you are bound to be able to enjoy a vast variety of flavours. Tapas is food that is designed to be enjoyed slowly, and it is also very social as everyone shares from the same plates. Wash your food down with a beer or glass of wine and you will really start to feel like a local!
Learn to Flamenco
If you are up for a challenge, why not try to learn the traditional Spanish dance Flamenco? If you don’t quite feel ready to take on this challenging dance, you could at least head over to Andalusia, which is the home of the dance. Seville is a fantastic city to here Flamenco performed by a full orchestra. Alternatively, you could head over to a small club which is packed to the rafters with people wanting to enjoy the dance in person.
Party into the Night
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Spain will know that they like to do things late over there. Dinner is traditionally served at around 10 or 11pm, and many Spaniards like to keep the partying going well into the early hours of the morning. The Spanish island of Ibiza is a world-class destination for nightlife where you will see the biggest DJs in the world, and be surrounded by thousands of other late-night revellers seeking a good time.
Visit Some Festivals
There are so many weird and wonderful festivals all over Spain that you simply have to visit one or two in order to really experience the local culture. For example, the small town of Buñol is home to a huge tomato fight on the last Wednesday in August! One of the most famous (and also dangerous) in the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Check your calendar before travelling to Spain so that you can time your trip to coincide with a festival that interests you.
Explore the Architecture
Perhaps the most famous architect in the whole of Spain is Antoni Gaudi, and the main place that you can go to see some of his work is around his former hometown of Barcelona. His most famous creation is the still unfinished La Sagrada Familia, but you should definitely pay a visit to this truly bizarre but very special cathedral. Another great Gaudi creation is Parc Guell, where you can go walking for a spectacular view over the city. There are also plenty of statues and little personal touches which make this a must-visit attraction. Personally, I also love to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain.
Learn Some of the Language
When it comes to second languages that you could learn, Spanish is one of the easiest to pick up as well as being one of the most useful. After all, it is the second-most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin. There are plenty of Spanish courses that you can take to improve your skills. Locals tend to appreciate even a little bit of effort, and if you travel around the less touristy areas, you may find that English is useless anyway.
Make Your Own Paella
We have already talked about the importance of tapas in Spain, but the other national dish is certainly paella. This dish originated in Valencia, and while a lot of people think that it is traditionally made with seafood, the original one was made using chicken and rabbit. Chefs all over Spain have adapted the dish and made it their own. If you feel like getting a little creative in the kitchen, why not enrol in a class so you can try to make the dish yourself?
Pay a Visit to Madrid
One of the best places in Spain that you can go to discover more about this great country is the capital, Madrid. The oldest restaurant in the world is located right here, and you can enjoy traditional cooking which has been around for hundreds of years. While you are here, you certainly have to take a trip over to the Prado, one of the premier art museums in the world. And if you have the time, watching a Real Madrid game is the perfect way to experience just how passionate the Spanish are about their football.
Learn About Some Spanish History
Though there are countless high-quality museums that you can visit to get to grips with Spanish history, you will feel like you have travelled back in time in the medieval city of Toledo. The best way to experience it is on foot, and the number of churches, synagogues, and mosques that you will find dotted around is perhaps the best testament to the diversity of Spain. Pack a good pair of walking shoes and enjoy! If you want to go even further back in time, the Cave of Altamira in the north of the country features paintings from a prehistoric age.
So, hopefully this guide has inspired you to take a trip to Spain and see a completely different side to the country that the standard holiday costas. Each region of Spain has something slightly different to offer, and it is the kind of country that you could return to over and over again. Essentially, you should try to embrace the culture as much as possible and you will undoubtedly be rewarded along the way.
Check out this post for tips on Madrid's best nature escapes!
*This post was brought to you from a collaborative partnership with Fat Jo.