This guide divides Spain into 17 colour-coded sightseeing areas, as shown on this map. Find out more about each area on the following pages.

n This guide divides Spain into 17 colour-coded sightseeing areas, as shown on this map. Find out more about each area on the following pages.

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The Catalan capital traces the history of architecture in its cityscape. As well as contemporary constructions, it features Europe’s largest, and best preserved, medieval quarter and the greatest concentration of Modernista buildings found anywhere in the world. The most famous of these fantastical structures is the Sagrada Família, the still unfinished work of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet. Throw in almost 5 km (3 miles) of beaches, a superb dining scene and fabulous nightlife, and it’s easy to see why this stylish, laid-back city on the Mediterranean coast draws so many visitors.

Best for Amazing architecture

Home to Old Town, Eixample, Montjuïc

Experience Panoramic, city-wide views from the famous tiled bench in Gaudí’s Park Güell

Go To: Barcelona i

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t Gaudí’s sculpted air ducts on the roof of La Pedrera

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Eastern Spain

The rugged, craggy coves of the Costa Brava, the sun and sand of the Costa Blanca, and the mountains of the Pyrenees await in Eastern Spain. It’s a fantastic destination for a huge range of outdoor sports and activities, including hiking, skiing, cycling and sailing. The region has a wealth of historical sights, too, including Catalonia’s monasteries, Mudéjar towers in Aragón, and the great cathedrals of Valencia and Murcia. Foodies are also in for a treat – Valencia is the original home of paella and Catalan chefs are feted around the world for their dazzlingly imaginative creations.

Best for Outdoor activities

Home to Catalonia, Aragón, Valencia and Murcia

Experience Tucking into a steaming bowl of paella at a seafront restaurant in Valencia

Go To: Eastern Spain i

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t Boats moored in a cove near Blanes on the Costa Brava

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Northern spain

This is the wild corner of Spain that few visitors discover. Seek out the mystical Celtic culture of Galicia, hike along the dramatic peaks of the Picos de Europa or walk the Camino de Santiago and explore the glorious coastline, with its wind-whipped cliffs and charming fishing towns. But this is also a sophisticated region, and the wealthiest in Spain, home to buzzing Bilbao and sleek San Sebastián. The Basque Country is world-renowned for its spectacular cuisine, while La Rioja is equally famous for its superb wines.

Best for Dramatic scenery

Home to Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria, the Basque Country, Navarra and La Rioja

Experience Heading out on the pintxos trail in San Sebastián

Go To: Northern spain i

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t The winding path to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on the Costa Vasca

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The enchanting Spanish capital has a host of glittering attractions – from the enormous Palacio Real, with its lavishly decorated chambers, to the massive Museo del Prado, whose collection comprises over 20,000 art works – but it somehow also feels surprisingly intimate. This is particularly true of the city’s historic heart, where the cobbled streets and tiled taverns have barely changed in centuries. But the capital is far from staid and after dark Madrid really comes to life, with chic cocktail bars, pulsing clubs and revellers spilling out of tiny tapas bars.

Best for Massive museums

Home to West Madrid, East Madrid, sights just beyond the city

Experience Browsing El Rastro flea market on a Sunday morning

Go To: Madrid i

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t Traffic zooming along the Gran Vía past the Edificio Metrópolis

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Central Spain

There’s nowhere better to soak up the history of Spain than at its heart. Admire glorious Roman monuments in Segovia and Mérida, wander around Toledo’s medieval core to discover its multicultural heritage in the form of churches, synagogues and Moorish fortresses, and gasp at the stunning Renaissance architecture of Salamanca. As you’d expect from their names, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha teem with castles, but Central Spain is also home to some of the country’s most beautiful and remote landscapes, particularly in Extremadura and the Sierra Centro de Guadarrama.

Best for Historic towns and cities

Home to Comunidad de Madrid, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura

Experience Strolling along the magnificent walls of Ávila, admiring the mountain views

Go To: Central Spain i

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t Toledo’s Alcázar, presiding over the city below

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Southern Spain

When you think of Spain, you’re probably thinking of the south: the strumming sound of flamenco, the heady scent of jasmine and orange blossom, and savouring a refreshing glass of ice-cold manzanilla sherry on a pretty square. Al-Andalus may have been vanquished centuries ago, but its spirit lives on in Seville’s Alcázar, the Mezquita of Córdoba and Granada’s Alhambra. Beaches, fishing villages and party towns stretch along the beautiful Mediterranean coast, perfect for escaping the summer heat.

Best for Beaches and whitewashed villages

Home to Seville, Andalucía

Experience A flamenco show at one of Seville’s peñas – flamenco clubs run by true aficionados of the art

Go To: Southern Spain i

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t One of Seville’s ubiquitous orange trees against a peach-hued wall

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Spain’s Islands

The beautiful Balearic Islands – Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Cabrera and Formentera – provide the perfect Mediterranean escape. Despite their diminutive size, they offer a whole range of activities, whether you’re looking for fun and glamour in one of Ibiza’s raucous nightclubs, ancient history in the form of Menorca’s Neolithic remains or a blissful rural retreat on unspoiled Formentera. Head for the subtropical Canary Islands to soak up stunning volcanic landscapes, breathtaking beaches and superb hiking routes all year round – it’s the perfect winter-sun destination.

Best for Nightlife and stunning scenery

Home to The Balearic Islands, the Western and Eastern Canary Islands

Experience The views from Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide

Go To: Spain’s Islands i

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t People walking along the Playa de Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

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