Summer resorts and beaches.
This type of tourism was the first to be developed in Spain, and today, generates the most income for the Spanish economy. The mild climate during the whole year and the extensive sandy beaches of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean as well as of its two archipelagoes (the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands respectively) have been attracting tourists from Northern Europe for decades. The leading source markets of Spanish beach tourism are the UK (around 24% of the total arrivals in Spain in recent years), Germany and France (around 15-16% each), followed by Scandinavia and Italy (around 7% each) and the Netherlands (around 5%).
The most popular Spanish coasts are on its Mediterranean side, and include, from north to south clockwise:
- The Costa Brava, the Costa Daurada and the Costa del Maresme, in the autonomous community of Catalonia, very popular with visitors from France as well as inland Spain, with notable resorts like Salou and the city of Barcelona.
- The Costa Blanca, (one of the most developed coastal areas of Spain, extremely popular for tourists from the United Kingdom and Germany, with Benidorm as the leading summer city of Spain) and the Costa del Azahar are both in the Valencian Community.
- The Costa Cálida in the Region of Murcia and the Mar Menor, a lagoon by the Mediterranean sea.
- The Costa de Almería, the Costa Tropical, the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz, all in the community of Andalusia. Some of the summer destinations here are renowned worldwide, such as Marbella in Málaga Province or Sotogrande in Cádiz province, both destinations for tourists and summer residents with big purchasing power. The city of Málaga is a notable Costa del Sol destination and also one of the largest harbours in Spain and frequented by cruise ships.
Spain’s two archipelagoes, the Balearic Islands off the mainland coast in the Mediterranean and the volcanic Canary Islands in the Atlantic, are also both very popular destinations with Spaniards and Europeans.
In addition to the summer tourism, other modalities like cultural and monumental tourism congresses, sport or fun tourism have been developed in these areas, including such famous cities as Barcelona and Valencia, the biggest harbours of the Spanish Mediterranean coast.
Many coastal or island places also have great ecological and natural importance. Theme Parks like PortAventura, Terra Mítica or diverse water-fun parks are also popular.
In 2014 Spain broke its own record of blue flag beaches, achieving 681 flags and becoming the leader in the Northern hemisphere. Spain is also the leader in blue flags for marinas.
Spain, as the second most mountainous country of Europe, is full of high mountains and good ski resorts, with famous ski slopes all over Spain, including the Pyrenees, the Sistema Central, the Sistema Ibérico and Sierra Nevada. For the most part, the main crest forms a massive divider between France and Spain, with the tiny country of Andorra sandwiched in between. The Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre have historically extended on both sides of the mountain range, with small northern portions now in France and much larger southern parts now in Spain.
Sierra Nevada in Spain is a popular tourist destination, as its high peaks make skiing possible in one of Europe’s most southerly ski resorts, in an area along the Mediterranean Sea predominantly known for its warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. At its foothills is found the city of Granada and, a little further, Almería and Málaga.
Parts of the range have been included in the Sierra Nevada National Park. The range has also been declared a biosphere reserve. The Sierra Nevada Observatory is located on the northern slopes at an elevation of 2,800 metres (9,200 ft). The Sierra Nevada was formed during the Alpine Orogeny, a mountain-building event that also formed the European Alps to the east and the Atlas Mountains of northern Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Sierra as observed today formed during the Paleogene and Neogene Periods (66 to 1.8 million years ago) from the collision of the African and Eurasian continental plates.
|Visa requirements||Visa in not needed for EU citizens.|
|Area (km2)||504,645 km2|