Last minute Spain holidays are popular among British tourists and especially for those looking for a perfect holiday for a good price. Cheap holidays to Spain do not mean low-quality here. There are several ways to book a fantastic vacation from the UK to Spain even with a low budget.
This article informs about holidays in Spain, including luxury and low-budget accommodations, car hire offers, cheap flights, discount activities and background information of some of the top destinations in Spain. You should be able to find bargain deals to Spain and low cost holidays.
Spain is a country in Europe and is located on the Iberian Peninsula. It shares the peninsula with Portugal, Gibraltar, and Andorra. With an area of 505,992 square kilometers, Spain is the fourth-largest country in Europe. Spain is a first-world country with a stable economy.
The region’s history is rich and Spain has been an instrumental player on the world stage on many occasions. The country has many historical sites spanning its breadth; a testimony to the country’s brilliant past.
Spain has something for everyone. It has a nice climate, diverse provinces and it is a perfect destination for budget travellers. The country is the go-to destination for lovers of adventure sports. There are mountains, fantastic beaches, rocky coasts and beautiful islands. The culture of Spain is also quite diverse. The Romans, the Greeks, the Arabs and the Jews have left considerable footprints in the country in terms of the music, architecture, art and food.
Last Minute Holidays to Spain – Best Resort Destinations
Spain has some of the best beaches and holiday resorts in Europe for the best price. Top holiday resort areas in Spain are:
Costa Brava: beach resorts include Lloret de Mar, Tossa del Mar
Costa Del Sol: beach resorts include Torremolinos, Marbella
Costa Dorada: beach resorts include Tarragona, Salou, main cities Valencia and Barcelona
Costa Blanca: beach resorts include Benidorm, main city is Alicante
Costa de la Luz: beach resorts include Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, main city Seville.
The Balearic Islands: Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza
Canary Islands Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Palma and La Gomera form the subtropical Canary Islands. The most popular resorts are located in Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
Each region or province in Spain has its own landscape, culture, cuisine and highlights:
Northeastern Spain (Catalonia, Aragon): With Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona, Catalonia is among the most visited areas of Spain. Girona and Tarragona have fantastic old town districts. Salou and Lloret de Mar are the most popular beach resorts in the area. Aragon has beautiful mountain and wildlife areas. Besides this, Catalonia is an important historical area of Spain, especially Zaragoza, a must-see historical city in the region.
Northwestern Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria): Here the famous sites include Santiago de la Compostela, centre of European pilgrimage, Santander and A Coruna. This is a mountainous area with wild, rocky beaches, perfect for trekking and “off the beaten track” holidays. In terms of tourism, it is the less visited (and discovered) region of Spain.
Northern Spain (Basque Country, Navarra, La Rioja): Important cities include Bilbao, Pamplona and Navarra, offers you great chance to explore Basque culture in their capital city Guernica and with the yearly bull-running festival held in Pamplona. Navarra’s Tierra Estella is famous for its castles and historical sites, villages. Wild mountains make this area colourful and perfect for trekking tours.
Central Spain (Community of Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Extremadura): It is the heart of Spain with the cities that preserve the most important historical treasures of the country. It is a must-visit region for everyone wanting to know more about the Spanish culture and some of the most beautiful sites in Europe. Must-see cities include Toledo, Salamanca, Madrid, Zamora, Guadalajara, Caceres, and Badajoz. Most include UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Eastern Spain (Murcia, Valencia): Home of the UK visitors and holiday budget package trips, this is the most visited touristic region of Spain with always busy beaches and lots of holiday resorts, such as Benidorm, Torremolinos, Alicante, Murcia, Cartagena being its main cities.
Andalusia: The southern region of Spain preserves the rich Moorish heritage of the country. The province acts as a perfect entrance to the Arabic land that borders Spain. Its main cities include Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Cádiz. The region, full of Arabic style villages, deserts with the snow peaks of Sierra Nevada in the background make this region the most special in Spain.
Popular cities for Spain holidays:
Barcelona: It is world famous for the works of Gaudi and great street life Barcelona. Its main sites include Sagrada Familia, the Rambla and its Old Town district.
Madrid: Being among the biggest and historical cities in the world, Madrid is a great city, full of monuments, and royal parks. Toledo and Salamanca, nearby historical cities are both must-visit sites.
Valencia: This beautiful Mediterranean port-town is the centre of tourism in Spain. Valencia has some of the most modern scientific complexes in the world and is home of the largest Aquarium in Europe.
Palma de Mallorca: With its picturesque port and old town centre, Palma is a great destination for sun lovers. It is also the meeting point of the wealthy from all over the world.
Magaluf: A real “UK city” in the heart of Mallorca, Magaluf is the ultimate and cheap destination for thousands of British tourists every year.
Ibiza Old Town: The picturesque old town of Ibiza is a must-visit site at the Baleares. Ibiza is like the Nice of Spain, playground of the rich and famous, the old port of Ibiza is always full of the most luxurious yachts.
Seville: It is a real Moorish-Christian city, having some of the most beautiful sites in Spain. Seville is also home of the Flamenco, a Spanish-gypsy way of presentation that is one of the most important cultural heritages of Spain.
Granada: Being an almost fully Moorish-Arabic city, with deserts and the snowy Sierra Nevada in the background, visiting Granada is like a trip to neighbouring Morocco. The Alhambra Moorish Palace complex is one of the most beautifully preserved Moorish heritages in the world.
Córdoba: A beautiful Mediterranean city, Cordoba is home to Spanish culture, having beautiful old streets and buildings this is a must-visit city, in the South of Spain.
Málaga: Known for its first class wine, Málaga also has one of the biggest airports in Spain. Being a world famous holiday destination with its beautiful beaches the city is also the birthplace of world famous painter Pablo Picasso.
Pamplona: The Basque city in the North is today world famous for its yearly held fiesta, being the most dangerous one in the world that includes men running from the bulls along the narrow streets.
Alicante: The city is popular for being the centre of Costa Blanca, some of the most beautiful coasts in Spain. Nearby lying Benidorm has the highest numbers of touristic attractions.
Las Palmas: Situated in Gran Canaria, the capital city is the centre of all holiday activities in the island being famous for its theme parks.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Being the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz has a lovely city centre, with always-crowded streets and lots of shops and restaurants. Being one important meeting point of the black markets of Africa and Asia, Santa Cruz is also an important smuggler’s centre. The city is world famous for its yearly held festival, which is also the longest, going on for 4 weeks.
Other must-see sites of Spain:
• The Arabic quarter and souks of Granada
• The Rambla of Barcelona
• The Toledo quarter in Madrid
• The bullring of Valencia
• The world heritage city of Tarragona
• The world heritage quarter of Toledo in Madrid
• Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres Costa Brava
• The Monastery of Monserrat
• The route of the white villages in Andalucia
How to travel to Spain:
Air: Each international airport in Spain receives low-cost flights from all over Europe. Spain’s national airline is the Iberia and its national low-cost airline is the Air Europa, having flights not only inside Spain and Europe, but also to Africa and Latin America. Main airports of Spain are Barajas in Madrid, Barcelona (Girona- is central airport for low-cost airlines in the region), Palma de Mallorca and Málaga. Most Spanish airports have direct connections to the Canary and Balearic Islands. The following carriers operate UK Spain low-cost flights: Ryanair, Jet2, EasyJet, TUI, Thompson, BMI Baby, Vueling, and Blue Air among others.
Train: Spain’s train networks are good and modern and each big city has its own main railway station. If you are planning to travel to Spain by train check the several types of Eurail passes.
Bus: Traveling from the UK to Spain by bus might not be the fastest way to get into Spain, its certainly the cheapest. Try Eurolines or check out Busabout.com, where you can find timetables and book UK to Spain and domestic buses.
Ferry: For those looking for adventure, ferries go regularly all year long, from Portsmouth and Plymouth going to Bilbao or Santander. A ferry trip takes between 11 and 18 hours. It is useful for those wanting to travel inland with a caravan and do not feel like driving through France.
Car: Spain has quality routes, which makes Spain easily accessible by car.
Travelling in Spain:
Train: FEVE and RENFE are the main railway companies of Spain. Trains are reliable in Spain, although can be pretty expensive. Another interesting fact is that train-lines were built in order for them to lead to Madrid. Therefore, in many cases, you will need to travel to Madrid in order to get somewhere else inside Spain. Budget tip here is to buy a Eurail pass, which has different sorts, some of which also include car rental (Rail’n Drive Pass). Rail passes are only worth buying if you really want to travel a lot within the time range given to you. Some rail passes also include free or cheap entrances to museums and galleries.
Bus: Several bus companies in Spain operate all over the country. By bus, you can get to a lot more cities and it is a lot cheaper than train. Most cities have only one-bus station. Madrid, Barcelona and Seville operate multiple bus stations with different travel destinations. Check out the regular timetables here: Movelia.es. Also, check out Busabout and Eurohop operating hop-on/hop-off tourist buses all around the country.
Car: Car hire is not very expensive in Spain and many people rent a car for one or more days during their stay in Spain. Local renta car companies include Sixt, Alamo, Europcar, Hertz, Advantage, and Budget.
The best time to visit Spain:
All year, but the climate is the best between May and October. An exception are the Canary Islands which have a good climate all year long (hot summers, mild winters).
Why visit Spain: Spain is beautiful, colourful, has exceptional monuments, cuisines and beaches, people are kind and you will find fiestas all over Spain all year long!
Budget tips for city breaks in Spain:
– travel with public transport (the bus is the cheapest to take in Spain)
– most museums and tourist attractions have free or deduction entry days or times; You can save up a lot if you check them out.
– take a late rich lunch “Menu del Dia” instead of dinner that costs two times as much at restaurants.
– UK Low-cost carriers have early spring and late summer promotions. If you are lucky, you can travel to Spain for only a few British Pounds!
Flying from the UK to Spain is easy and cheap nowadays. There are as many as 60 airports in Spain and there are cheap flights available from almost all the UK airports. Travellers going to Spain from UK have an abundance of choices to select.
Check out and compare the following airlines to get a cheap ticket to Spain from an UK airport:
The leading budget airlines are Ryanair and easyJet (both British) and operate daily cheap flights to most destinations in Spain. In fact, easyJet carries more people to Spain than all the other airlines combined together. Though, there are some good alternatives you might consider Thomsonfly, Jet2 and Thomas Cook.
Top airlines that fly the UK-Spain route include:
UK Cities it flies from: London (Stansted, Gatwick and Luton), Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
Spain Airports it flies to: Alicante, Girona, Almeria, Madrid, Granada, Murcia, Jerez, Santander, Malaga, Reus, Valladolid, Seville, Valencia, Gran Canaria, Zaragoza, Palma, Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Ibiza.
Good to know:
Ryanair has its online booking system with a deadline, and if you do not check in online, you have to pay an extra fee.
Ryanair has by far the highest additional and extra fees. Do not buy insurance; neither will you have the right to be the first to board the plane.
The maximum weight per person is 55 lbs. They will not allow you to carry more than one-hand luggage.
Ryanair tickets are cheap if you book them in advance. Rates change every day. The airline has extra offers each month. Tickets are the cheapest if you pay with Mastercard.
UK Cities it flies from: London (Luton, Gatwick and Stansted), Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgpow, and Edinburgh.
Spain Airports it flies to: Alicante, Bilbao, Almeria, Malaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Lanzarote, Murcia, Gran Canaria, Menorca, Mallorca, Tenerife, and Ibiza.
Although these two are the largest budget airlines that cover most of Spain, you can also find great offers from the following smaller airlines that often work with charter flights. Hereby we enlist the extra routes these airlines cover, apart from the main airports of UK:
Thomas Cook: Flies from Exeter, Humberside and Norwich flying to every big city in Spain as well as the Spanish islands.
TUI Airways: Flies to the Canary and Balearic Islands, Alicante, Reus, Gerona and Malaga.
Spain’s main airports:
Barcelona: the main airport of Barcelona (El-Prat) and Northern Spain has huge air traffic, receiving flights from all over the world. Barcelona airport has regular bus routes to all the bigger cities of Spain and to the train station. From the UK you can fly to Barcelona from the following airports: London (all airports), Belfast (International), Edinburgh, Southend, Bristol, Glasgow (International), Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Cardiff.
Girona: often referred to as an Airport in Barcelona while in fact its 30 miles away from Barcelona. Girona-Costa Brava airport is a rather seasonal airport, a cheaper choice for those wanting to go to the Costa Brava or Barcelona. The airport has a big bus station with regular routes o the Costa Brava and to Barcelona among many other destinations.
Reus: this is another additional seasonal airport for Barcelona near the beaches of the Costa Dorada. This is a rather small airport with a pretty unreliable bus connection to Barcelona itself. Reus has UK-Spain routes from: London (all airports), Edinburgh, Glasgow (International), Glasgow (Prestwick), Belfast (International), Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Durham Tees Valley, Bournemouth, East Midlands, Aberdeen, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Bilbao: main city of Galicia up in the Northwest, this airport also receives a high number of domestic flights. You can fly directly to Bilbao from London (Stansted) and Manchester.
Santander: this is an additional choice for accessing Bilbao in the summer. Fly to santander from London Stansted and Liverpool.
Zaragoza: a highly frequented airport in the summer, this city is between Madrid and Barcelona and is a great choice for those who want to explore Spain from its Middle region. Has an UK-Spain route through London Stansted (Ryanair).
Madrid: the airport of Madrid receives flights from all over the world. This airport connects with a huge number of bus routes and railway tracks and even the AVE, the fast train of Spain. You can go to any direction from here in the easiest way. Madrid airport is very close to Madrid, which means a transfer from and to the city is fast and cheap. From the UK you can fly to Madrid from the following airports: London (all airports), Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool.
Seville: avoid the taxis here; rather ask your hotel to give you a transfer to the city center for a little extra. The busess from the airport go on a changed routed to the further part of Seville city to San Sebastian, which will not help you at all, so try to avoid going with bus from Seville airport as well. Seville is covered from the UK by the following airports: London (all airports), Liverpool, Bristol and East Midlands.
Malaga: This airport is crowded from spring to autumn and especially great for those wanting to go to Marbella, Seville and Granada, as there are direct buses that depart straight from Malaga airport. There are buses departing every half-an-hour going to Malaga downtown, which takes about another half-an-hour to reach. Malaga hotels also offer cheap transfers for its guests; choose this way if you want to avoid all the waiting and hassle. Malaga airport is being served by a lot of UK airports: London (all airports), Belfast (International), Edinburgh, Southend, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds Bradford, Doncaster, East Midlands, Exeter, Glasgow (International), Glasgow (Prestwick), Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton and Newcastle.
Valencia: Especially busy from spring to autumn, the airport of Valencia is about 30 minutes far from Valencia downtown. There are cheap buses go to the city every half an hour, a ticket costs around one Euro per person. You can fly to Valencia from the following UK airports: London (all airports), Bristol, East Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool.
Quick Facts about Spain
Official name: Kingdom of Spain
Population: 47.2 million
Capital city: Madrid
Area: 505,992 sq km
Most popular language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 81.6 years
Monetary unit: Euro
GDP per capita: $30,412
Internet domain: .es
International dialing code: +34
Government: Unitary regional State parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Prime Minister: Pedro Sanchez
History of Spain
The presence of humans on the Iberian Peninsula goes back at least 32,000 years. The people of Spain trace their origins to Iberians, Berbers, Arabs, Greeks, Celts, Visigoths, etc. The land was for a long time a province of Rome, by the 5th century A.D the region had begun to come under the rule of the Germanic tribes such as the Visigoths, Alans, and the Vandals. Their rule lasted for three centuries.
The region then moved to a period of long domination under the Moors, around 750 years. The scattered Christian kingdoms finally managed to reclaim the land only in the 15th century. The coming together of the different dynasties under a single umbrella led to a consolidation of territories and the shape of Spain as we know today began to emerge.
From the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492 till the next 300 years, Spain was a global superpower with many overseas colonies.
Spain’s involvement in the wars in Europe in the 17th century weakened it economically; however, it continued its hold on its colonies well into the eighteenth century.
In the twentieth century, the country remained largely peaceful under the nationalist dictatorship of Francisco Franco who ruled the country from 1936 to 1975. Today, Spain continues to grow as a constitutional monarchy.
Spain, the second-largest country in Western Europe after France, lies in southwestern Europe and occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Mediterranean Sea forms its southern and eastern boundaries. At the southern extremity of Spain lie the Straits of Gibraltar that separate Europe from Africa.
France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay lie to the north. The western boundaries of the country are defined by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. Spain consists of four natural regions that define its landscape; these are the Meseta Central and related mountains, different mountainous regions, lowlands and islands.
The Tagus is the longest river in Spain and flows 1,038 kilometers. It originates in the Fuente de García, in the Montes Universales, Sistema Ibérico, Sierra de Albarracín Comarca and empties in the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon, Portugal.
Climate of Spain
Spain is a mountainous country. Its climate, to a large extent, is influenced by mountains apart from other geographical features. Large parts of the Iberian Peninsula experience the Mediterranean Climate. In the north of Spain, particularly the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia, oceanic climatic conditions prevail.
The Murcia and Ebro Valley regions in southeast Spain are subject to a semiarid climate. The Pyrenees Mountains experience an alpine climate.
People of Spain
Spain has a population of a little more than 47 million. Around 77% of the population professes to the Roman Catholic faith; 20% of the people in Spain mark themselves as atheist. Of the believers, only 17% are active practitioners of their religious doctrines.
The population of the country doubled in the twentieth century; the period also witnessed large scale emigration to Spain from countries such as Britain, Germany, Romania, Morocco, Ecuador, and Colombia. Immigrants today make up 12% of the country’s population.
The people of Spain have a strong attachment to their respective regional identities; the indigenous people of Spain can be divided between the Castilians, the Catalans, Valencians, Balearics, the Basques and the Galicians.
Spanish is the national language of the country; the official dialect spoken here is Castilian Spanish. The language is influenced by Arabic, Basque language, Latin, and to some extent English. Spanish is the first language for nearly 36 million Spaniards. Other languages spoken in Spain include Catalan, Galician, Asturian, and Aragonese.
Education in Spain
Spain has a robust education system in place. Schooling is compulsory from the age of six till sixteen. Schools in Spain are state-run and private. Private schools can be partly funded by the state or may be fully independent. Primary school is from the age of six to the age of twelve and secondary school from twelve to sixteen.
Post-compulsory schooling for two years after this prepares students for their bachelor or vocational examinations.
University education lasts for four years or in the case of double degrees for six years. There are 240 ECTS credits to be earned, sixty each year. A degree course can be followed up by a Master’s and then a Doctorate course. There are seventy three universities in Spain, of which twenty three are private.
Culture of Spain
Spain, through its long history, has accumulated influences from all over the world. The single biggest influence is of course Latin because Spain in its earlier days was a Roman colony. Moorish influence can be seen in architecture, cuisine, dance, and literature. The Andalusians, Catalonians, and Basques have contributed to the composite Spanish culture. There are 40 UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain, testament to the rich culture of this country.
Spanish literature is rich with works of writers that have lived on the Iberian Peninsula and also of those writers that stayed in Spanish colonies and wrote in Spanish. The literature of Spain also encompasses works in Galician, Basque language, and Catalan.
The literary ages of Spain can be divided into pre-history, pre-renaissance, baroque, renaissance, modernist and streams such as romanticism, and enlightenment are some that flow through Spanish literature. Miguel de Cervantes is regarded as the brightest star in the Spanish literary firmament.
Spain has been home to some world-renowned painters. El Greco, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya are revered for their contribution to art even after hundreds of years. Pablo Picasso was the most well-known painter to come out of Spain in the twentieth century.
Architecture in Spain gained a foundation under the Romans and then further impetus under the Moors. The confluence of European and Moorish architectural techniques led to the development of the Mudejar style.
Spanish architecture contributed to and itself evolved along with the architecture of South and Central America.
Spanish cinema came of age internationally under Pedro Almodóvar. Today, some of the top stars in Hollywood are from Spain; these include Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas. The Spanish Government actively supports the local film industry and the country’s output is seen as vital to the health of European cinema.
Cuisine of Spain
Spanish cuisine owes its roots chiefly to the foods of the Romans, Jews, and the Moors. Spanish explorers helped enrich the palate of their country by introducing to the menu different food items such as maize, beans, squash, mangoes, pineapples, various pulses and herbs.
In Roman times, two distinct styles of cuisine were present on the Iberian Peninsula; in the northern parts meats and animal products were used while in the southern parts seafood and vegetables cooked in olive oil gained favor with the populace. Spanish ham was as popular during the Roman times as it is today.
The regions in Spain have given us different classic dishes. Valencia is known as the home of paella. Andalucía is renowned for the quality of its seafood, Jabugo ham, and olive oil. The Aragon region is renowned for its wines and Migas, a popular breakfast dish.
Features common to Spanish cuisine irrespective of region include the use of olive oil for cooking, the use of garlic and tomato, and the use of sofrito – a slow-cooked base of herbs and spices used for many food preparations.
Sport in Spain
Spain is a football superpower; but right now Spain is truly in the middle of a golden age in sport. Rafael Nadal has brought the country honors in lawn tennis. In football, Spain won the 2012 world cup after defeating the Netherlands in the finals. Fernando Alonso put the country on the Formula One racing map with his wins in 2005 and 2006.
The national basketball team has won the world championship and many prestigious European basketball titles.
As mentioned, football rules the hearts and minds of Spanish sports lovers and the Spanish football fan is one of the most passionate one around. The La Liga or the Spanish Football League is regarded by many as the toughest league out there. The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is legendary.
Spain has consistently provided tennis champions; though till the emergence of Rafael Nadal their dominance was more or less limited to clay courts. Champion tennis players from Spain include Manuel Santana, Sergei Bruguera, Alberto Costa, and Conchita Martinez. Rugby has its fans in Spain; the roots of the game go back more than a century.
Economy of Spain
Spain’s economy is the fifth-largest in the European Union. A construction boom fueled growth in economy from 1997 to 2007, followed by a collapse in the property market. The country chiefly exports machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, and foodstuffs and imports fuel, consumer goods, and food items.
Its main export partners are France, Germany, and Portugal. Its exports for the year 2009 were valued at $341.6 billion. Spain mainly imports from Germany, France, and Italy. It imported goods worth $371.1 billion in 2009.
Spanish companies are expanding their sphere of influence in Latin America and Asia. Banks in Spain are on a strong footing and better placed to face upheavals in global economy as compared to banks from other European nations.
The tourism and renewable energy sector contributes heavily to the country’s economy. Tourism especially is big, as the country is viewed by an exotic travel destination even by Europeans. Sunny beaches, winter destinations, historical cities, resort towns – Spain has something for everybody. Spain is among the most visited countries in the world. In 2010, tourism contributed $81.8 billion to the nation’s GDP.
Government in Spain
Spain is a parliamentary monarchy. The monarch, King Juan Carlos I was the nominal head till 2014, and the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is the head of government. The parliament of the country is bicameral and consists of the Senate and Congress of Deputies.