Spain, a popular destination to visit with a rail pass, is a country that remains strongly in touch with its deep roots. It’s vibrant, buzzing with energy and reluctant to change its ways. A short time using an InterRail Spain Pass will reveal just why the Spanish feel so passionately about their country. Olé!
Madrid: As Spanish as it gets
Although, not a capital city that will bowl you over with masses of sites and attractions, Madrid is however considered to be one of the most Spanish cities you can visit in the country. Make a beeline for La Latina on a sunday morning between 9:00 and 14:00 and join the hustle and bustle of el Rastro fleamarket. Rummage through antiques, books and clothes, but most of all savour the Madrileño spirit. Then head into the heart of La Latina and join the locals on the street for Sunday afternoon cañas (small beers) and tapas. More things to do in Madrid
El Rastro can be reached with a 5-minute walk from La Latina metro station.
Spanish island seduction
One of Spain’s best kept secrets is the Isla Cíes National Park – a short boat trip off Galicia’s west coast. Listed in several polls as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, expect a spectacular contrast of white sands and turquoise waters on the land-facing side of the island, with a dramatic rugged coastline and crashing waves on the Atlantic side. Mallorca, the biggest of the Balearic Islands is a Mediterranean paradise with crystal clear waters and tranquil coves to relax within.
Take the train to Vigo and walk about 20 minutes to Vigo’s main port, where you can take the 45 minute boat ride to Cíes. To reach Mallorca take a discounted ferry from Valencia.
World class party scene
The island of Ibiza boasts one of the most hedonistic party places on the globe, with world class DJs swarming to the island each year. Your rail pass allows you discounted ferry journeys from Spain to Italy, so stop off on the way through! Visit between June and September and go wild in Ibiza’s legendary clubs, including big names like Space and Amnesia. Barcelona also has a lively night scene. Start at Las Ramblas for drinks and tapas, then move on to Plaça Reial, with its Gaudí-designed street furniture and try Jamboree with great live music.
Ibiza can be reached by discounted boat from Valencia or Denia. To arrive at the centre of Las Ramblas in Barcelona get off at the Liceu metro station. Plaça Reial is situated just behind Las Ramblas.
Top beach and mountain action
Tarifa, a strip of sandy white beaches on the southernmost coast of Spain, is a favourite place for both windsurfers and kitesurfers, thanks to its strong and regular winds. The relaxed vibe also adds to its popularity, along with the views of Africa’s Rif mountains. If you prefer a surfboard to glide you through the waves, San Sebastián’s Playa de Zurriola is Spain’s surfers’ paradise. Sierra Nevada, as well as being a stunning backdrop in Spain’s enchanting student city of Granada, usually has sufficient snowfall each year for some winter sport.
To get to Tarifa take a train to Algeciras and then pick up a bus, which will take 30 minutes to bring you into the centre. The main train station in San Sebastián is located on the east end of Puente de Maria Cristina and Playa de Zurriola is a 15-minute walk from there. To reach Sierra Nevada pick up a bus from the centre of Granada to Lanjaron.
Get blown away by Spain’s epic architecture
There are historical gems scattered across the whole of Spain. Seville (Sevilla) is one of them – a truly Spanish city, that has clung onto traditional values and a simple way of life. Seville’s cathedral is the largest gothic example in the world and is supposedly home to Christopher Columbus’ remains. To the north is Spain’s most cosmopolitan city, Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia, wouldn’t be so self-confident and charismatic, without Antoni Gaudí’s influence on the city’s aesthetic beauty. See examples of his work across Barcelona, most notable of course is the unfinished Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familía.
Take the tram to Archivo de Indias and Seville’s cathedral is just a 5-minute walk. To get to the Sagrada Familía simply get off at the metro station of the same name.
- 21-24 September, 2013
Hundreds of events, activities and parades and the famous Fire Run (Correfoc) fill the streets of Barcelona with even more light and energy than usual.
Festivities take place all over the city of Barcelona. Use the city's public transport network to reach the different venues.
La Feria d’Abril
- 24-29 April, 2013
Each year the Sevillanos take a week off work and dress up in traditional flamenco costume. The locals gather around separate casetas (wooden huts) and throw themselves into flamenco marathons, along with eating, drinking, singing and making one hell of a party.
From the centre of Seville the festival grounds is a 15-min walk.
- 31 August, 2013
The Spanish try not to take themselves too seriously and this festival demonstrates this perfectly. The culmination of crazy people (both Spanish and tourists) plus unlimited supplies of tomatoes is basically all that is needed to make Tomatina a splattering success!
Take a bus from the centre of Valencia to Buñol.
- 15-19 March, 2013
This 5-day festival revolves around the creation and finally the burning of card, wood and paper-machéninots (puppets). On the final day the puppets are filled with fireworks and at midnight they are all set on fire. This definitely goes down as one of Spain’s craziest fiestas.
The festival takes place across the entire city of Valencia, which can be reached from the main train station.
Ibiza closing parties
- 1 September - 7 October, 2013
Join clubbers as they give Ibiza a huge send off for the end of the season. In fact, just an excuse to party even harder on the Balearic’s main party island.
Most of the nightlife can be found in the southern part of the island.
- 28 June - 7 July, 2013
Certainly one of Europe’s biggest, liveliest and most colourful Gay Pride celebrations. The most fun can be had along the Gran Vía and in the Chueca area.
Take the metro to Gran Vía or Chueca.
- 6-14 July, 2013
San Fermín is another example of the Spanish gone mad and their infatuation for lengthy, passion-filled fiestas. Early each morning if you push through the throbbing crowds of Spaniards you can catch a glimpse of what the whole festival revolves around: the running of the bulls. The rest of each day is spent partying in true Spanish style. Be warned the bulls are real, so leave the running to the locals!
The train brings you into the centre of Pamplona, where the festival can easily be reached by foot.
- 24-31 March, 2013
During Holy Week (the last week of Lent and the week immediately before Easter) there are processions up and down the country, however the one in Seville is well-known for being the most elaborate. Worshippers follow the procession bare foot, carrying crosses and candles and it isn’t uncommon to see people carrying shackles and chains attached to them as penance.
The procession moves through the centre of the city and can be reached by tram.
- 13-15 June, 2013
This annual, 3-day electronic event has top DJs and artists dropping by from across the globe.
The festival is located in several different areas of Barcelona, which can all be reached by public transport.
- 18-21 July, 2013
What more could you wish for: a Mediterranean beach plus a world-class line-up of music. This 4-dayer is particularly popular with Brits. Be prepared for sweltering temperatures, so don’t expect much sleep under the canvas once you stumble home in the morning!
Take the train to the town of Benicàssim, where the festival is easily accessible.