Tourism in Spain: Wikis

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Tourism in Spain was developed during the last years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, when the country became a popular place for summer holidays, especially for tourists from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Scandinavia. Since then Spain has been the second most visited country of the world after France. In 2007 almost 60 million foreign tourists were received, according to the World Tourism Organization, which has its headquarters in Madrid. Spain's tourism spending annually is over £46 Billion, the highest tourism spending in any nation worldwide except the USA with $74 Billion.

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Transport

AVE train in Córdoba.

Spain's national airline is Iberia (or Iberia Airlines), but the country can also be flown into on many international passenger airlines such as Spanair, Air Europa, Vueling, Air Berlin, Clickair and charter airlines, both of which fly to many tourist spots in the region. The main train operator is RENFE; the AVE (Spanish high speed train) or Talgo are the intercity services for tourists. Many freeways link the touristic cities.

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 the cold territories of Northern Europe for decades. Summer resorts are popular with Spaniards too.

The Spanish coasts suitable for summer vacations include, from north to south:

Spain also has two archipelagoes, the volcanic Canary Islands, in the Atlantic, and the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean, both very popular with Spaniards and foreigners.

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.

The Beach Tourism also has been involved in the development of nightlife, present in all the coastal or island cities, as well as the excellent gastronomy.

Many coastal or island places also have great ecological and natural importance. Theme Parks like Port Aventura, Terra Mitica or diverse Water-fun parks are also popular.

Cultural Tourism, Business Tourism

Spain is also a popular destination of cultural tourism due to its historical importance, especially cities like Seville, Granada, Córdoba and Toledo. Thirteen Spanish cities have been declared World Heritage Cities by the UNESCO: Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Ibiza, Salamanca, San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Tarragona and Toledo. Spain is the country with most World Heritage sites designated by UNESCO along with Italy, each with 42 sites. Cultural tourism contemplates to the two big metropolis of Spain: Madrid and Barcelona, both with great historical importance. In addition, there are other important cultural places in Spain, including several cities in North Spain, like A Coruña and Vigo, in Galicia, Santander in Cantabria, Oviedo and Gijón in Asturias, Bilbao and San Sebastián in the Basque Country. North Spain is usually called "Green Spain" due to its lush green landscape, similar to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is important in terms of folklore, nature, cuisine and even summer holidays, although beaches of the North are notably colder than the Mediterranean's.

See also: List of World Heritage sites in Spain

Holy Week in Astorga.
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Religion

Spain is an important place for Christianity and Judaism. In fact, some of the holiest places for the Catholic Church are in Spain: city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (North-West Spain), the third holiest place after the Vatican City in Rome and Jerusalem. It's also the end of the Way of Saint James or Camino de Santiago in Spanish. Santo Toribio de Liébana, Cantabria (also at the North) is the fourth, followed by the Sanctuary of the Vera Cruz in Caravaca de la Cruz at the South-East, Region of Murcia (fifth holiest place). These places attract tourists from all the world.

Festivals

Also important are the numerous festivities and festivals in Spanish cities, such as the Holy Week in cities like Seville. Very popular are the Seville Fair or Feria de Abril in Spanish or the world-famous festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, the Fiestas del Pilar in Zaragoza and many more in every town.

Spain enjoys a lot of culture festivals too, including the Carnival all over Spain, but especially in the Canary Islands and Cadiz. Movie festivals can be found in San Sebastian, Malaga and Sitges. Music festivals includes: the FIB, Festimad, Primavera Sound, Bilbao Live Festival... among others. Several cities have hosted international events, including: Universal Fair of 1888 and 1929 in Barcelona, the 1992 Summer Olympics, also in Barcelona, the Universal fair of 1992 in Seville, the America's Cup in Valencia, and the Expo 2008 in Zaragoza.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Spain is very attractive to both tourists and locals. Spain is known to have one of the best night lives of any country. Big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are favorites amongst the large and popular discothèques. For instance, Madrid is known as the number one party city for clubs such as Pacha and Kapital (seven floors), whereas Barcelona is famous for less famous clubs. The discothèques in Spain are open until odd hours such as 7am. The Baleraric Islands, such as Ibizia and Mallorca, are known to be major party destinations, as well as favored summer resorts.

Formigal, Spain's biggest ski resort.

Winter Tourism

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.

See also: List of ski resorts in Spain

Nature and Rural Tourism

The Picos de Europa National Park in the Green Spain.

Spain enjoys a diverse landscape and is full of places with great ecologic value all over the Spanish territory, including the Ordesa Valley and Monte Perdido between the autonomous community of Aragon and France, in the Pyrenees. Spain is a very mountainous country, but also has plains. The largest plain is the Meseta Central, with a "Castilian" landscape, full of prairies. There are also several wetlands with ecologic value, including the Picos de Europa National Park, the Doñana National Park, the Albufera of Valencia, the Lago de Sanabria (one of the largest lakes of Spain), the Lagunas de Ruidera and the Tablas de Daimiel National Park. North Spain is usually called the Green Spain because of its lush landscape, due to wet and rainy weather. However, the Canary Islands have an exotic volcanic landscape (including the Teide volcano, that is also the highest peak of Spain). Spain has a lot of importance in terms of archeology and paleontology including Atapuerca and the cave of Altamira.

See also: List of National Parks in Spain

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