Positioned between Europe and Africa, Spain is the land of wine and olives, the flamenco, beautiful storybook castles, bullfights, rich cultural traditions and people with a contagious zest for life. No other country in Europe can boast such a range of contrasting natural attractions and cultures.
Nowhere is the diversity more evident than in the rich, bustling cosmopolitan cities. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are dotted with some of the grandest museums and galleries in Europe, contrasted with a vibrant nightlife. If you can muster up the stamina after a day's exploring, you can eat, drink and party all night at the bars and restaurants that remain open till dawn.
Spain's currency is the Euro. Spain is three and half hours behind India in summer and four and half hours in winter. Spanish is spoken throughout, although regional variations can be significant. Catalan, with its elements of French and Spanish and its own unique charm, is spoken in Barcelona.
Located on the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona is Spain's second leading city in terms of size and importance. Luxurious resorts are dotted along its pristine beaches, making Barcelona a sunbather's haven. Its main thoroughfare, Las Ramblas, runs all the way from the quayside through the heart of the city and it is here that you should start your tour of one of Europe's most exciting cities.
You particularly don't want to miss the fabulous architecture of Gaudí, Barcelona's favourite son. The Gothic Quarter and Montjuic are also well worth exploring, with ancient and ornate architecture everywhere you look.
Spain's capital and its largest city, Madrid is one of the chief commercial and cultural centres of the country. As the capital of the Spanish Empire, Madrid was once the richest and most powerful city in the world and still remains a majestic city with refined tastes. The Royal Theatre in Madrid is Spain's most important classical music venue, hosting several opera and concert events. The area of Malasana is packed with bars and restaurants that stay open until dawn. There is a growing interest in the traditional flamenco dance among Madrid's young population, which has led to shows and clubs springing up across the city.