Spain's icons are known across the world: paella, sangria, flamenco and Picasso. But beyond its siestas and popular beaches, Spain offers up art, world class gastronomy and centuries and centuries of culture. Forget about the bullfighting, Spain offers so much more.
Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Valencia all make for perfectly packaged weekend breaks. For a different taste of Spain, hire a car and from Madrid head into La Mancha or fly to Santiago de Compostela and explore green Galicia.
Either city hop from Barcelona to Madrid, Cordoba, Granada and Seville or base yourself in one of Spain's regions. Costa Brava, Andalucia and Galicia show three very different sides of the mainland, while the Canary and Balearic Islands have a different vibe again.
Spain suffers when it comes to its image in my homeland. All sun, sea and sangria, the general perception misses the miles and miles of greenery, rich history, architecture, art, gastronomy and just about anything else that makes up a country's culture.
My time spent living in the south showed me an entirely different side. But so, too, did my numerous trips across the length and breadth of the country.
Delve in deep - and be surprised time and time again.
"Art washes the dust of daily life from our souls," Pablo Picasso
Trusted by the best in travel:
The best way to make a trip happen is just to book a ticket and let the adrenaline make everything else fall into place.
However, there are some key things to check out first. ALWAYS check out the health and safety advice for the region you're travelling to and make sure you're up to date with any recommended vaccinations and healthcare procedures. After that, it's up to you whether or not you book accommodation now or figure it out when you get there - or whether you'd prefer to let someone else take care of all the logistics for you through an individually designed tour.
For my general recommendations on equipment, tour operators and more, visit the Travel Resources page. For tips specific to Spain, read on below.
As ever, with any advice you find on the web, this is meant for help and guidance only. Always check with your own doctor, embassy, lawyer and spouse before making any irreversible plans...