Highlands Ranch Travel
The Colors of Spain
The Life España: Feasts, Fiestas, and Fine Arts
Spain is overflowing with incredible cultural offerings spreading from every edge of the colorful country. From museums flaunting notable artistry to laid-back beaches and lively festivals, there’s something for everyone. We’ve compiled the must-do, off-the-beaten-path experiences to make your trip to Spain the best it can possibly be. With our insider connections and expertise, we can help you plan a one-of-a-kind vacation, allowing you to discover all that Spain has to offer. Embark on a journey through the heart — and fringes — of España, and prepare to witness the passionate soul of its land and people.
With more than 1,500 museums scattered throughout the country, creative inspiration abounds in Spain.
Fun Fact: Pablo Picasso completed his first painting, Le Picador, when he was only nine years old.
Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao Perhaps the most renowned of all is Museo Guggenheim, the Frank Gehry-designed icon that transformed sleepy Bilbao into a sleek cultural capital. The graceful, curving structure itself is a work of art and inside is a treasure trove of modern and contemporary art.
El Prado, Madrid The impressive “Golden Triangle of Art,” including El Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofía National Museum, is just the beginning! Madrid has a new network called “Cinco Museos” featuring small palaces, once the homes of royals and artists, that are now open to the public. These Cinco Museos include Museo Cerralbo, Museo del Romanticismo, Fundacion Lazaro Galdiano, Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas and Museo Sorolla.
Museo Picasso, Barcelona Inspired by Picasso? You can indulge even further in two museums dedicated entirely to showcasing his vast collections: Museo Picasso in Barcelona and Museo Picasso Málaga — where the artist was born. See colorful oil portraits, famous paintings from his Cubism period and intricately carved sculptures.
Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona Set aside ample time to explore Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña in Barcelona, an astonishing structure that houses a wealth of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art. Plus, the museum’s rooftop offers unbeatable panoramic views of the Catalonia capitol.
The Past Lives On
With 44 designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, every corner of Spain is steeped in history. Let the past inspire you as you explore a few of our favorites.
Fun Fact: Did you know that season four of Game of Thrones was filmed in some of La Alhambra’s most famous rooms?
La Alhambra, Granada In the Andalucía region, La Alhambra is an enduring homage to Moorish and Spanish Renaissance influences, a resplendent palace and fortress complex overlooking the city of Granada. Swaths of manicured gardens and open pavilions surround the grand structures with domed ceilings and intricate carvings of Arabic script.
Real Alcázar, Sevilla Sevilla’s Real Alcázar is one of the oldest royal palaces still in use in Europe. Stroll through the gardens and admire the stunning architecture, with structures that represent various architectural periods, including Mudéjar, Gothic and Rococo. We can even provide you with an expert local guide to recount the engrossing tales of Spain’s royalty.
Mezquita-Cathedral of Córdoba The Historic Centre of Córdoba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompassing the grandiose Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba; and the surrounding labyrinth of narrow streets bound on either end by the Sierra Morena mountains and the mighty river Guadalquivir.
Windmills and Castle of Consuegra, Toledo You’ll feel as if you stepped into the pages of Don Quixote when you visit the notorious windmills of Castilla la Mancha in central Spain. The 12 windmills are believed to have inspired the legendary tale standing atop the rocky Calderico ridge, overlooking the city’s other icon: the Castle of Consuegra.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Barcelona is a veritable melting pot of historic monuments, from Gothic buildings to modernist architecture. Above all, the Catalan Modernist influences of world-famous architect Antoni Gaudí can be spotted all over. Seven of his works in Barcelona are UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the transformation of La Sagrada Familia and the whimsical Park Güell.
A Day in the Sun
Secluded beaches, pristine Mediterranean waters, adventurous surf and rugged cliffs entice travelers from around the globe to visit Spain’s diverse coasts.
Fun Fact: In southern Spain, Costa del Sol typically has over 300 days of sun a year.
Puerto Banús, Marbella Stretching along the coastline of the Province of Málaga, Costa del Sol boasts hundreds of beaches. El Faro Beach in Marbella is easily accessible and is famous for its iconic lighthouse and beautiful Mediterranean views. Glamorous Puerto Banús is the perfect place to spot celebrities and see multi-million-dollar yachts lining the harbor.
Formentera While Ibiza is known for its nightlife, the nearby island of Formentera offers a more laid-back alternative. Playa de Ses Illetes offers uncrowded, white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and a variety of restaurants to choose from.
Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia Located in Galicia’s Lugo province, Playa de las Catedrales is best known for its dramatic cliffs, beautiful rock formations and secluded sea caves, which are accessible when the tide is low.
Palma de Mallorca panoramic, Balearic Islands Palma de Mallorca is a blend of fascinating history, warm sun and white beaches. Whether you decide to relax on an unspoilt stretch of sand, snorkel in the waters of an idyllic bay, or visit magnificent Gothic landmarks, like the Catedral de Mallorca, the Mediterranean does not get any better than this.
Take to the Outdoors
Whether you prefer to scale mountains, raft dramatic rivers or explore urban landscapes, outdoor adventures abound throughout Spain.
Fun Fact: As Europe’s southernmost ski resort, Sierra Nevada offers views of the Mediterranean Sea on a clear day.
Sierra Nevada mountains, Andalusia Imagine skiing in the morning, swimming in the afternoon and then visiting the gardens of Alhambra at night. You can do all that and more in Granada. Ski the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and head down to the local beaches of Motril or Almuñécar, all without ever leaving Granada.
The Pyrenees The mighty Pyrenees mountains offer ample opportunities whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual stroller. Base yourself in the town of Sallent de Gállego, just outside of the famous Formigal ski resort, deep in the heart of the Aragon Pyrenees. From here, you can explore trails that traverse wild, alpine meadows, glacial lakes and waterfalls.
Guadalquivir River, Sevilla There’s no better perspective of lovely Sevilla’s urban landscapes than from the sparkling waters of the Guadalquivir River. Paddle along the famous river and under its beautiful bridges to catch a glimpse of the city’s landmarks. Behold Plaza de España’s towers, adorned in red brick and colorfully painted tiles. Pass by Torre del Oro, the last major building constructed by the Moors in Sevilla. We also recommend bringing your explorations on shore to further discover this city’s architectural gems.
Maspalomas Sand Dunes, Gran Canaria, The Canary Islands The Canary Islands are scattered like gems in the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the seven islands are close in proximity, so set sail on a private yacht or catamaran. We’ll find a knowledgeable captain and crew for your expedition, or you can take over the helm yourself!
The Spanish like to celebrate in style, with vibrant costumes, joyous music and delicious tapas. There’s no better way to experience the local culture than to join the party.
Fun Fact: Ernest Hemmingway loved the festival of San Fermín and the Running of the Bulls. He wrote about it extensively in his novel The Sun Also Rises.
Feria de Sevilla, Sevilla Feria de Sevilla is a six-day colorful celebration of Spanish culture and cuisine held every April in the Andalucían capital. Celebrations take place inside tents and casetas, where you can experience authentic flamenco music, clap along as locals dance on tabletops and sample tapas and sherry well into the night.
Spain’s cultural gems come together in summer at the International Festival of Music and Dance in Granada. Special events take place in the iconic Alhambra, as well as satellite performances throughout the region. Immerse yourself in open-air symphonies, ballet and theater, the sounds of flamenco and many other artistic performances.
Running of the Bulls, Pamplona The festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Navarra is always associated with the famous Running of the Bulls, a spectacle where bulls charge behind runners through the streets. As a spectator, there are a multitude of ways to celebrate this tradition, including street parties, carnivalesque figures, folk music and games.
Las Fallas, Valencia Fireworks, parades, costumes, music, satire, bonfires and the celebration of St. Joseph’s day is the unique combination that makes up Valencia’s Las Fallas. The festival culminates in a truly amazing spectacle, the burning of ninots, gigantic ornamental and satirical statues made of cardboard.
Savor the Flavors
You’ll soon discover there’s no one type of “Spanish food.” Each region boasts its own specialties, unique flavors and fresh, local ingredients.
Fun Fact: The Spanish diet is synonymous with the Mediterranean diet, which was awarded the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation.
The renowned Chef Arzak and his daughter still work in the kitchens of the Michelin-starred Arzak in San Sebastian, where you can experience innovative flavors and preparations. Beyond this iconic restaurant, there is a bounty of eateries to experience in the Basque Country, highlighting fresh seafood and produce. Pair it with sparkling, light txakoli, a local wine that is poured from high above the glass to maximize the effervescent bubbles.
Travel to Galicia to experience Spain’s unique culinary heritage. Savor a glass of crisp white wines with hints of fruit, such as the region’s famed Albariño or Ribeiro. Explore the Mercado de Abastos (market) in Santiago de Compostela. Wander the capitol city of A Coruña, where every bar serves signature pulpo, tender, boiled octopus.
Vineyard, La Rioja In the northern part of the country, La Rioja is a hugely important part of Spain’s wine culture, comprised of several grape-growing regions with diverse climates and topography, ranging from high elevation to typical Mediterranean. Enjoy a relaxed wine-tasting tour in small wine caves, prestigious estates and authentic restaurants.
Jerez de la Frontera Cellar with barrels of sherry in Jerez de la Frontera The Andalucían town of Jerez is synonymous with sherry, a fortified wine made from white Palomino grapes. In fact, sherry can only be produced in the white, chalky terroir within specific area of the Cádiz province. Take a tour of “sherry bodegas,” including the famous cellars of Gonzalez Byass and Domecq.
A tapas tour of Barcelona will satiate every culinary craving. Navigate the busy streets sampling unique flavors in one bar after another, a social experience known as tapeo. Start with light bites such as cured olives, calamares, and vinegary anchovies, followed by heartier plates like chorizo and stuffed empanada paired with cava, rosé, beer or other traditional Spanish drinks.
How Will You España?
The rich heritage of Spain is reflected in every aspect of its lively culture. Celebrating the blend of past and present, the country’s diverse cities offer unique encounters, from wildly beautiful mountains and intricate architecture to traditional cuisine and dance. As your travel experts, we can craft an unforgettable journey through Spain, customized to your needs and desires. It’s sure to be an adventure you’ll never forget.