Thursday, July 25, 2024

20 Facts About Spain That Will Surprise First Time Visitors

Spain is full of surprises. Many people arrive in the
country with a preconceived idea of what the land and the culture is like only
to be met with a very different reality.

When you’re preparing to visit Spain it’s a good idea to
come with a clear idea of what you might find. To help you do this, we’ve
collated 20 surprising facts about Spain that most tourists might not expect.

1.   Every
City Offers a Different Kind of Experience

Spain’s most visited cities are all distinctly different
from one another. Whichever city you go to you can be sure you’ll enjoy a
unique experience that won’t be the same anywhere else in the country. Be sure
to find out further information about your destination so
that you can get a feel of what it’s like before you arrive.

2.   Paella
Isn’t Common Everywhere in Spain

Most people consider paella to be the national dish of
Spain. However, that’s not quite the case and you may not find it on the menu
at some restaurants at all.

Paella is originally from Valencia, which remains the best
place to try the delicious rice dish. However, the rest of the country has
truly regionalised cuisine and ordering paella may raise a few eyebrows in some
parts of the country.

3.   Nor
is Flamenco

Like paella, flamenco is usually only seen in one distinct
part of Spain. It is famously from Andalusia in the south of the country and
that is where you will find most of the best performances.

You will sometimes get flamenco shows in bigger tourist
destinations like Barcelona and Madrid too. However, for the most authentic
experience, it’s best to head south.   

4.   You
Might Hear Bagpipes Being Played

It’s not just the Scots who love the music of the bagpipes,
it’s also a tradition for many Spanish people too. The country has Celtic customs
going back centuries, especially in the north-west of the country around
Galicia. This includes bagpipers and tartan.

5.   Spanish
Isn’t the Only Language You’ll Hear on The Street

Spanish may be the 2nd most spoken language in the entire
world but it is not universally the first language of Spanish people. Spain is home to several languages including Catalan,
Basque and Galician and around 30% of the population will speak one of these
tongues during their daily lives.

6.   It’s
the 2nd Biggest Country in the EU

Spain is big, very big in fact. It covers a whopping 505,990
km² in total and is bigger than the likes of Germany, Poland and Sweden.

Luckily, however, there are lots of ways to travel easily
around the country. Spain offers good high-speed rail and internal
flights options to tourists who want to speedily see everything the nation has
to offer.   

7.   It’s
Not Hot All The Time

Whilst Spain is a very hot land most of the time it still
has a seasonal climate. Winter in some parts of the country can sometimes be
icy and cold, especially in the central plateau and mountainous regions.

That’s not all bad news for any winter tourists, however.
Destinations in the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada offer great skiing options
for visitors.

8.   Spanish
People Hate Spicy Food

Let’s be clear about something, Spain isn’t Mexico. The
local cuisine in the country is very different and you shouldn’t expect to find
many spicy dishes on the menu at a restaurant.

When arriving in Spain, most tourists will find instead that
the locals prefer much simpler seasoned dishes that don’t pack a punch in terms
of spice. The famous Patatas Bravas are often about as spicy as things get for
many Spaniards.

9. Bullfighting Isn’t Popular Everywhere

When most people think of Spain, the first thing that often
comes to mind is bullfighting. Whilst the bull is the national animal of the
country, you won’t find bullfighting everywhere across Spain.

Some regions of the country such as Catalonia and the Canary
Islands have prohibited the sport entirely. Therefore if you’re visiting these
areas don’t expect to find much happening in their local bullrings.

10. Spain Has Over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Spain is a truly historical land. It is home to around 44 UNESCO
World Heritage sites
, some dating back thousands of years. These
antiquities are dotted all over the country and have been well preserved so
that tourists can enjoy them today. 

11. Spain is Home to Western Europe’s Only Desert

That’s right, Spain has a desert. The Tabernas Desert in the
southeast of the country, close to Almeria is one of Europe’s only deserts and
covers 280 km².

You’ve probably seen it before however, as it’s frequently
used as a filming location. Movies like Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia and
Once Upon a Time in the West were all shot in the Tabernas.

12. Your Tapas Might Be Complimentary

Tapas tradition in Spain offers many pleasant surprises.
However, none more so than the fact these delicious dishes often come free with
your drink.

When you order a glass of wine or a beer in some regions of
Spain, you may find that you get a small plate of food brought over with your
beverage. This isn’t a mistake, it’s a complimentary dish for you to enjoy with
your drink. 

13. Some of Spain Isn’t Even in Europe

That’s right, some of the country is located outside of
Europe. Spain has two small enclaves that are located in North Africa; the
cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Additionally, the Canary Islands are even further
away sitting off the northwest coast of Africa.  

14. Spain’s Tallest Mountain Isn’t Actually in Spain (or Europe)

That brings us neatly on to Spain’s tallest mountain, which
isn’t located on the Spanish mainland. Mount
is found on the island of Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands)
and stands at around 3,718m in height.

15. Beach Nudity Is Quite Common

Things get hot in Spain and as a result, some beachgoers
will often enjoy the sun and sea nude. This is since Spain has no nationwide
anti-nudity laws.

Some regions and cities like Barcelona have instigated local
rules to stop people wandering the streets naked. However, the beach remains a
place to let it all hang out across Spain. 

16. Spain Is Not a Very Religious Country

Spain is full of beautiful churches and cathedrals but the
locals have largely cast off religion. Despite its predominantly Catholic
population and the impression the religion has left on Spain’s history, only
around 30% of the population regularly go to church.  

17. Siestas Aren’t As Common As You May Think

 Despite the
stereotypes about the Spanish siesta, it’s not as common as most people
believe. Today, most businesses operate to conventional schedules without
downtime for a daytime nap. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy a quick
siesta on your trip during the hottest time of the day.  

18. Wine is a Big Deal in Spain

France may be the most famous wine producer in Europe but
Spain certainly gives it a run for its money. Around 1 million hectares of the
country is dedicated to vineyards and the country offers some of the best
European wines around.

19. Spain is the King of Olive Oil

Spain, however, is number one in terms of world olive oil
production. Around 45% of all olive oil is produced here. There’s a very good
chance that the olive oil in your kitchen originated in Spain. 

20. Spanish Christmas is a Huge Celebration

Christmas in Spain is a real experience. The locals love the
celebration so much they effectively celebrate it twice. Christmas Day is
celebrated as normal on the 25th December, but then the Spaniards have one more
big gift-giving day on the 6th January as well.

Spain is one of the most visited places in the world for a good reason.
It is a great destination for relaxation, culture and delicious food that will
never stop surprising you.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Sam heads up Cheshire-based PR Fire, an online platform that has already helped over 10,000 businesses to grab widespread media coverage on their news at an extremely accessible price point.

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