A country of amazing cultural and geographical diversity, Spain is frequently a surprise to visitors who are aware of its reputation for fantastic beach holidays. However, the country has much to offer beyond its alluring white sand beaches, from almost deserts in the South to lush meadows and snowy mountains in the Northern provinces. Spanish tourism continues to experience development and growth, seen as a significant source of income to the national economy. Currently, the country is the second most visited tourism destination in Europe after France, which attracts more than 52 million visitors annually, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Spanish tourism embraces two largest cities within the country: Madrid and Barcelona, while some other attractive places include cultural sites Pontevedra and Vigo in Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, Galicia, and beaches Almeria, Cadiz, Huelva and Malaga in Segovia, Toledo, Salamanca and Andalusia. Some of the most important destinations that contribute significantly to the prosperity of Spanish tourism include Rias Baixas in the province of Pontevedra and the Cantabrico, Catalonia, Valencia and Canary Islands located north of Spain.
Famous for bull fights, Flamenco music and dance, beautiful beaches and excellent food and wine, Spain has a rich history and distinct architecture, appreciated by visitors. For thousands of years it has been one of the most important cultural centers of Europe, offering a great variety of theatres, museums and art galleries housing extensive collections of art.
The country is home to beautiful old buildings that range from Islamic palaces to wonderful Gothic cathedrals. Nearly every second village within the country has a medieval castle. Some of the world's renowned artists lived and worked in Spain, notably Vel?zquez, El Greco, Picasso, Dali and Goya just to name a few. Spain's numerous cultural attractions vibrate with music of every kind, from melancholy lyricism of Celtic music to the drama of flamenco. For many tourists Spain is a shopping Mecca, featuring plentiful stores, designer shops and boutiques, as well as large and exciting market places.
Spanish tourism owes much in its development to the capital city Madrid, situated on the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula and characterized by cool winters and warm summers. Madrid is known as a city of monuments, with such highlights as the Prado Museum and the Medieval Centre that dates back to the Habsburg Empire. However, the capital city isn't just a cultural destination, but also an animated metropolis with a variety of nightclubs, discos, cafes and pubs. Among other most visited cities are Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, Grenada and Valencia.
Those planning a trip to Spain should take advantage of Spanish tourist board, offering information on Spain, including accessibility, transportation, climate, major cities and tourist places, lodging, dining and entertainment venues.
This administrative unit of the Central Government is responsible for promoting Spain as a major tourist destination in the international markets.