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When you think of Spain, what comes to mind? For many people, they picture the sun-kissed beaches and resorts of Costa Blanca, the city of Barcelona, and perhaps some of the incredible islands like Ibiza and Tenerife.
Whilst these are great destinations in their own right, it paints a 2-dimensional image of Spain. Or rather, it just paints half of what there is to be seen. Heading inland, towards older villages and quieter regions, new cuisine, culture, and atmosphere can be indulged.
Diving into Spain’s Cultural Diversity
Spain’s rich history is mirrored in the diversity of its inland communities, where cultural traditions are still very much alive. From Andalusian flamenco to Basque cuisine, every region has its unique charm.
The vibrant cities like Granada boast magnificent architectural jewels such as the Alhambra. And, its local student and youthful atmosphere differs from the usual party atmosphere’s of Marbella. Valencia, known as the city of arts and sciences, introduces you to a mix of cutting-edge architecture and centuries-old landmarks. Segovia, with its ancient Roman aqueduct and fairy-tale Alcazar castle, transports you back in time.
Exploring the Inland Communities
Travelling inland also brings you closer to the smaller villages, each with its unique personality. The white-washed villages of Andalusia, locally known as ‘Pueblos Blancos’, sit perched on hilltops, providing spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The medieval towns of Castilla y León are treasure troves of history, where you can walk through cobbled streets lined with centuries-old buildings.
In Catalonia, Girona’s Jewish Quarter transports you to medieval Spain, with its labyrinth of narrow streets and historic buildings. Further north, the Basque Country fascinates with its distinct language and cuisine. It’s here you can taste pintxos – the local version of tapas – and world-renowned Basque cider.
The Camino de Santiago: A Walking Holiday Like No Other
For a truly unique perspective on Spain, consider walking the Camino de Santiago. This historic pilgrimage route has attracted travellers from around the world for centuries. Nowadays, book your vacations on the Camino de Santiago offers a safe and fun way to explore this journey.
Walking holidays allow you to slow down and truly immerse yourself in the Spanish landscape. As Werner Herzog once said, the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot. As you travel from town to town, you have the opportunity to engage with local communities, discover regional cuisines, and see first-hand the stunning variety of landscapes across the country. It’s also just a pace that allows you to fully digest your surroundings.
Organized group tours make the Camino more accessible than ever. These tours provide guidance, support, and camaraderie, making it a great choice for first-time walkers. But ultimately, it’s a way to stay healthy and “migrate” across, as if one would hundreds of years ago – in their same pathways.
Seeing a Different Side of Spain
Spain’s beauty lies not just in its white sand beaches and vibrant cities, but also in the rich cultural diversity that unfolds as you journey inland. As you delve deeper into this wonderful country, you’ll come to understand that there’s more to Spain than meets the eye. It’s cheaper, fewer tourists, and more traditional. Walking the Camino de Santiago is one way to achieve this, but it could simply be rolling the dice on a random northern village and booking an AirBnB.