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Hong Kong's only non-stop flight to Madrid

The delicious, exotic flavours of Spain are just one flight away. To help whet your appetite, we’ve compiled a Spanish sampler of great highlights to see, do, and taste. When you experience Madrid – and all of Spain – you can’t help but say “Delicioso!

Spanish sampler: 8 great highlights to experience

Discover the varied regions of Spain and their abundance of things to see, do, and taste – our sampler has something for every palate.

Plaza Mayor at night

1. The heart of the country

It is said that the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach – in Madrid, visitors will find both heart and stomach play a leading role in all areas of life. Spain’s royal capital of charisma and cuisine is unmatched, with few other cities able to claim such enviable combinations of great culture, artistic heritage, and the world’s liveliest nightlife. Explore the grand squares, like the stately Plaza Mayor or bustling Plaza del Sol; visit the Palacio Real, one of the largest royal palaces in Europe; and indulge in this epicentre of gastronomy, with indulgent restaurants open day and night. There is no better place in which to start your Spanish adventure.

Seafood paella in a flat pan

2. Taste of travel

Spanish cuisine has taken the world by storm, and now draws many visitors back to Spain. Foodies of all levels will delight in exploring different regional specialties: try several variations of tapas dishes, either hot (think spicy potatoes and battered squid rings) or cold (famed ibérico ham, manchego cheese, manzanilla olives); the northern variety are called pinchos. The tangy, flavoursome paella rice dishes, original to Valencia, are great for sharing. Madrid dishes up the best of every region, plus local favourites like  callos a la madrileña (meat and bean stew), which can be paired with rich, oak-aged wines from Rioja.

Flamenco dancer and guitar player in a performance

3. Dancing rhythms

Music and dance are at the heart of every Spaniard. Indeed, there’s nothing more vibrant than the passionate, rhythmical moves of flamenco dancers, powerfully tapping in perfect synchronicity with strumming acoustic guitars and soaring vocals – truly an elegant Andalusian artform and tradition. Don’t miss the most famous flamenco artists performing in Madrid’s excellent venues, like Corral de Morería and Torres Bermejas. For a more contemporary experience, head to Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, the biggest indie and alternative music festival in the world, or Sónar, a summer festival of electronic music and multimedia art.

4. Idyllic islands and beaches

Spain’s unique position on the Iberian peninsula gives it a wealth of waterfront experiences to enjoy. Sail forth and discover some of the best European seaside resorts, including culture-rich Málaga on the southern coast, and Vigo, gateway to the stunning north-west region of Galicia. Further offshore, the Mediterranean bliss of the Balearic Islands provides sea, sun, and plenty of fun. Don’t miss Palma de Mallorca, the charming, historic Balearic capital. For an Atlantic adventure, seek out the popular Canary Islands – from eclectic main-draws Gran Canaria and Tenerife, to rugged Lanzarote and wild Fuerteventura – where volcanic beaches and unique geology present incredible visual landscapes.

The central boulevards of Las Ramblas

5. Shopper's paradise

For shopaholics, Spain has it all: from leading department store El Corte Inglés, and its Castellana flagship store in Madrid, to home-grown fashion brands like Zara and Desigual. Also in Madrid, the bustling street markets – such as the gourmet tapas centre Mercado de San Miguel, and the Sunday open-air flea market El Rastro – are always worth a visit. In Barcelona, the tree-lined central boulevards of Las Ramblas, offers up locally produced souvenirs, high-end brands, as well as gourmet food. Stock up at the landmark, centuries-old La Boqueria food market, while sampling cured meats and regional sweets.

Parade and carnival

6. Celebration nation

Celebrations are part of the Spanish experience, and the week-long Semana Santa, at Easter, is one of the country's foremost festivities – many cities host colourful processions with elaborate floats. In April, St. George’s Day is Barcelona’s Valentine’s Day, and streets are covered in stands selling roses, books, and Catalonia’s red and yellow flag. In the Basque Country, dance to the lively sounds at La Tamborrada Festival, a drum parade in San Sebastian to celebrate the town’s patron saint; or, join locals at the Haro Wine Festival, in the Rioja wine region, and celebrate the harvest with a sip of the very best Tempranillo vintages.

Plaza de Espana

7. Immersive heritage

Spain has one of the highest numbers of World Heritage sites in the world, boasting 44 impressive cultural and natural locations – you'll marvel upon site after atmospheric site. In Andalusia, the melting pots of Seville, Granada, and Córdoba, exotically blend Roman roots with Moorish influence. In Galicia, A Coruña’s Tower of Hercules lighthouse beckons for the region to be explored – challenge yourself on the ancient pilgrimage route to holy Santiago de Compostela. Do enjoy a stay at a parador, government-run hotels in unique cultural settings – restored castles, monasteries, and palaces – to be found around the country.

8. Centres of arts and culture

With world-renowned figures like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró – Spain has contributed significantly to the global arts. This artistic embrace features prominently throughout the country: in the north’s Basque region, the modern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao displays some of the world’s best contemporary exhibitions; Catalonia’s Barcelona is home to Antoni Gaudí’s famous, fantastical works (the Sagrada Família is a must-see); Valencia, in the south, offers Santiago Calatrava’s futuristic City of Arts & Sciences; while Madrid, in the heart of the country, welcomes visitors to its famous, iconic museums like the Museo del Prado and the Museo Reina Sofía (shown left). 

Photos in items 6 and 8 provided by Tourespaña

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