Spain’s many regions and cities all have a unique identity – ensuring a diverse, multifaceted cultural makeup that pays homage to history and delights the present.

Suppose you have visited the sunny Spanish resorts along the Mediterranean coast or whiled away many weekends in Madrid and Barcelona, in that case, you’d be delighted to know there are still many hidden gems to be discovered in Spain. Depending on what you’d like to do, those in the know may recommend palaeolithic cave art in Cantabria, the stone arches in Ribadeo, the remnants of the Moorish influence in Alhambra, the Iberian ham route in Salamanca, the Cariñena wine route in the Ebro Valley, and of course, seeing many historic sites via Spain’s classic and high-speed railways. All in all, it’s fair to say that Spain’s natural beauty and cultural diversity offers you an adventure which you aren’t going to forget any time soon.

Spain at a glance

Segovia castle, Segovia, Spain

Capital: Madrid
Language: Castilian Spanish
Money: Euro

If service charge isn’t added to your bill, it is polite to tip 15%.

  • Epiphany – January 6
  • Good Friday – date varies
  • Easter Monday – date varies
  • Labour Day – May 1
  • Assumption of Mary – August 15
  • Hispanic Day – October 12
  • All Saints Day – November 1
  • Constitution – December 6
  • Christmas – December 25

Buenos dais (good morning), Buenos noches (good evening), gracias (thank you), de nada (no problem or you’re welcome)

Exploring Spain

Spain has 49 UNESCO World Heritage sites, meaning it has the world’s third-highest UNESCO sites after China and Italy. The latest addition (in July 2021) was Madrid’s Paseo del Prado boulevard and the adjoining Retiro Park. Every one of these sites reflects a rich diversity of cultural and political history that has shaped modern-day Spain and therefore worth protecting for future generations.

With every region having its own special dishes, Spanish cuisine can’t (and shouldn’t) be confined to a short and sharp excerpt. This is the land where you can taste the best mountain produce and the freshest seafood in a meal, or pick vine-ripened tomatoes from a farm and make your own cava in a day. Having said that, many locals would probably tell you that enjoying tasty tapas and drinks between meals is perhaps the best part of Spanish cuisine. By the way, you should always say ‘yes’ to tomar el vermú – the literal translation is “to drink vermouth”, but in cultural context, it refers to spending quality time with friends and family while enjoying tapas and drinks.

Spain is among the top global wine producers, and wine regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero require little introduction, thanks to the Tempranillo grapes that thrive so wonderfully in the moderate climate here. In Catalonia, sparkling cava and dry white wines dominate the scene, while in sunny Jerez de la Frontera, prized sherry is produced and remains largely underappreciated by foreign drinkers. Of course, there are many more wine regions that most outsiders haven’t heard of, like Toro and Rías Baixas. The latter is known for growing the Albariño grape, said to be introduced to the area by Cistercian monks.

Covering a land area of 498,980 km2  (or a total of 505,370 km2 ), Spain is about twice the size of the United Kingdom. The weather here ranges from oceanic in the Basque Country, semi-arid in the south-eastern part of the country, to Mediterranean in most areas in the Iberian peninsula. The best time to visit Spain is generally spring or autumn when the temperatures are comfortably warm but without the excessive heat experienced in the summer months. 


The Basque Country in northern Spain has a strong reputation for surfing – thanks to the coastal wind that blows frequently from the ocean and helps to generate excellent swells. Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, receives over 1,120mm (44in) rainfall a year. The months from October to January are cool and wet. 


Barcelona, a coastal city in north-eastern Spain, is characterised by long, hot summers and mild winters. On the other hand, Madrid, located in the interior at a reasonably high altitude (667m or 2188ft), has very dry, hot summers and cold, rainy winters. 


As you move further south to the Andalusian plain, you get a warmer climate. Seville, for instance, is warm and (relatively) sunny even during the winter months – the coolest month here is January with an average high of 11°C (52°F). With such warm weather, you’d be forgiven to think that you’re in northern Africa.

If you visit during the warmer months, pack sunglasses, comfortable footwear and light clothing, but add a jacket for the cooler evenings. Having a raincoat or umbrella is also recommended.

However, if you’re heading to the mountains, warm clothes will be needed.

Due to its mountainous terrain and political turmoil in the 19th century, Spain had a slower start in developing its rail system in comparison to other countries in western Europe. The first railway line was built in 1848, connecting Barcelona and Mataró. Back then, Spain decided to build a broader track gauge measuring 1674mm or 6 Castilian feet instead of the standard gauge of 1435mm that several European countries had adopted. The apparent reason was to avert another French invasion. 

Fast forward to today, high-speed trains, regional express trains, city metros and trams all combined to offer reliable and affordable transport options to locals and tourists alike. Of course, we shouldn’t forget about the few remaining classic lines too. You can now join PTG Tours to check out the classic line to Mérida, travel on a private charter train with vintage carriages to Zaragoza, or board a luxury train through Andalusia – call us today on +44 (0) 1235 227288 to find out more.

  • Outlaws by Javier Cercas
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway  
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 
  • The Ornament of the World by María Rosa Menocal
  • Happy as a Partridge: Life and Love in Madrid by Kate Boyle

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Spain

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.