The Green Coast (called España Verde in Spanish, `Green Spain`) is the beautifully lush area in the extreme north of Spain, consisting of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the northern part of the Basque Country, which all receive more rain than the rest of the country. Verdant and forested mountains contrast with the nearby coastline and its blue-green waters. The region`s largest population centers are Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, Santander, Bilbao, and San Sebastián.
Madrid - Pamplona: 4 hrs. 20 mins. approx.
Pamplona - Logrono: 1 hr. approx.
Logrono - Burgos: 1 hr. 30 mins. approx.
Burgos - Leon: 1 hr. 45 mins. approx.
Leon - Lugo: 2 hrs. 20 mins. approx.
Lugo - Santiago de Compostela: 1 hr. 25 mins. approx.
Lively, energetic, and vibrant, you won`t find any other place in the world like Madrid. Capital of Spain since 1562, Madrid's museums host, among others, works by Dali, Miro, and Picasso`s Guernica. Madrid boasts art galleries, large open lush gardens, streets lined with Spain`s best tapas bars and a city atmosphere that never dwindles no matter the time of day!
Barcelona, Spain`s second city, is on the cutting edge of fashion, architecture, food, style, and good times. Its most powerful monuments are the intricately carved edifices of the Gothic Quarter; the Catalan Art Nouveau modernism that inspired Antoni Gaudí's Basilica de la Sagrada Familia; and the seminal surrealist works of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
Valencia, Spain`s third-largest city and capital of the Valencian Community, can boast a very rich history, one that has spanned two full millennia. Twice the former capital of Spain, Valencia`s rich history is evident in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), one of the largest old towns in Europe, which houses buildings that date back to the Moorish invasion and Roman-era plazas.
Central Spain contains some of the last great unexplored areas, as well as some of its most glorious architectural and historic treasures. Mile upon mile of empty roads lead you from one to another of the great cities and forgotten villages. This Spanish heartland is a mountainous region where wildlife flourishes and the mid-summer sun bakes the land.
Andalucia, comprising much of southern Spain, is a land of culture, history, fiestas, and excellent food, featuring outstanding monuments and gorgeous natural landscapes. It is home to Granada and the Alhambra Palace; Cordoba and the Mezquita; Seville with its Cathedral and Alcázar; and popular festivals such as the Carnival in Cadiz and the April Fair in Seville.
The Costa Blanca is over 125 miles of Mediterranean coastline in Alicante province, Spain. It features a coastline with calm waters and fine white sand beaches with mountains that loom over fruit and palm groves as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the beaches of the Costa Blanca are very famous, such as Levante and Poniente beaches in Benidorm.
Stretching north of Barcelona to the French border, the Costa Brava is about sun, beaches, coves surrounded by nature, refreshing dips in crystal-clear water, strolls along coastal footpaths, and charming fishing villages. Gloriously wild in parts and tastefully manicured in others, the Costa has some of the finest sandy beaches in Europe.
The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) offer warm weather year-round. Collectively they are the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, if not the world. Mallorca, with its fine white-sand beaches, and Ibiza, with 130 miles of coastline, are the most popular islands, known for arguably the world`s best nightlife.
Situated just off the southwestern coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands have been popular vacation destinations for decades. The Canary Islands offer breathtaking landscapes, beautiful beaches, lots of shopping and entertainment opportunities, and of course over 600 years of Spanish architectural influence and history.
The Spanish Empire dates from 1492, and by 1516, the Kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, and others were united under the Spanish crown. This is in addition to other storied kingdoms which existed pre-1516 in Spain`s current borders, such as Galicia, Leon, and the Almohad Caliphate. The cities in these regions are filled with thousands of years of history.
Spanish cuisine is very flavorful, and is a quintessential Mediterranean diet, befitting the world`s largest olive oil producer. Spain`s former colonies all over the world influenced the cuisine at home, in everything from tomato sauce to saffron. Today, the various regional staple delicacies represent history and tradition.
Tens of millions of people visit Spain each year, and many combine its picturesque cities, such as Madrid, with some of the most popular and beautiful beaches in the world. Whether you`re sunning yourself on the Mediterranean Costas, the Bay of Biscay shoreline, or on one of Spain`s gorgeous islands, you will find a vacation best suited to your needs.
Much of the Green Coast was once part of the Kingdom of Galicia, which was established in 409 CE with its first capital in Braga, a city in northern Portugal. Braga`s history stretches back thousands of years, through the Roman, Galician, and Portuguese kingdoms. Today it is well-known as a stop on the St. James Way toward Santiago de Compostela.
Guimarães is known not just in the history of the Kingdom of Galicia but is also considered a `cradle city` for what became modern-day Portugal. Guimarães was the Portuguese Kingdom`s first capital and is renowned for its beautiful Medieval city center, which is lovingly preserved and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Ernest Hemingway put Pamplona on the map by describing the famed `running of the bulls`. In order to participate in the popular Fiesta de San Fermín, which ends in fireworks, live music, and wine, visit in July. Once a fortified city and the capital of the ancient kingdom of Navarre, adjacent to Bilbao and San Sebastián, Pamplona is more than a one-event town.