Flamenco dancers in polka dots, Moorish castles standing proud, matadors with sweat on their brows – Spain conjures up millions of different images. The country has been a favourite with British holidaymakers for years, thanks to its fantastic beaches, lovely climate and the fact it’s just a short hop from home soil.
Holidays to mainland Spain revolve around the Costas. Up north in Catalonia, you’ll find the rugged Costa Brava and Costa Dorada. Further down the coast are the Costa Blanca’s white-sand beaches. And curving round Spain’s southern edge are the sun-soaked regions of Costa de Almeria, Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz.
You’ll find Spain’s Canary Islands just off the coast of Morocco, in the Atlantic Ocean. Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife are the big three, while Fuerteventura is starting to make its mark on the travel circuit. For somewhere made for peace and quiet, try the lesser-known isles of La Gomera or La Palma.
Floating in the Mediterranean, just off the Spanish mainland, are the Balearic Islands. Choose from family-friendly Majorca, low-key Menorca, off-the-radar Formentera, and hip and happening Ibiza. Needless to say, they all come with beautiful beaches, countryside scenery and a relaxed way of life that’s typical of this part of the world.
Last but not least we have Portugal. Its winning combination of sandy beaches, dramatic scenery and world-class golf courses has kept it firmly on the holiday map for decades. And if all that wasn’t enough, the country also has a good weather credentials, basking in around 300 days of sunshine a year. Curving round the south coast is the Algarve region, which has a dramatic coastline, scalloped with sandy bays and secluded coves. Resort-wise, you can choose between large, lively towns and sleepy fishing villages. This pocket of Portugal is also one of the best places in Europe for golfers – and some of the courses are spectacular.