Spain is such a rich and varied country that choosing a specific destination or locale to explore can become quite a tricky task. There's so much to experience here, from the verdant hills of the north to the arid swathes of the south, that any projected amount of time can seem paltry in comparison to what is needed.
For the traveler looking to get to know the country, or the student looking to learn the language, it can be a good idea to choose an area of Spain and stick to it. Regional identity here is strong, and any one area will provide enough interest and insight to keep the inquisitive happy for an almost infinite amount of time.
Catalonia and Around
Time spent in Catalonia inevitably means time spent in Barcelona, which is as wonderful and impressive a city as you could wish for. Culturally, architecturally, and climatically memorable, it's the type of place that people get happily lost in for years of their lives.
Barcelona is not the be all and end all of the region, however. Tarragona and Girona are both popular destinations, while the small towns and villages that can be found all over Catalonia also make for excellent short stays.
South of Catalonia, Valencia is a popular destination only a short train ride away. This vibrant port is a favorite among travelers, who often chose to stay in a Valencia apartment in order to access the truly authentic city life to be found here.
Andalusia is a complex and thrilling kind of place. Given its desert-like climate, Andalusia should be barely inhabitable, and yet many of the very best places to visit in Spain are to be found here.
One such destination is Seville, an affluent and attractive city located in the center of the region, which boasts a myriad of must-see sights. Again, there's a strong idiosyncratic flavor to local life here, and renting an apartment in Seville is becoming an increasingly popular way of sampling it. Generally speaking, the apartments are affordable, well equipped, and closely linked to a local neighborhood (which means nearby tapas joints and bars aplenty!).
Elsewhere in Andalusia, Cadiz is a popular stopover for those looking to head out to nearby idyllic stretches of deserted beach, while Granada is famous for its Alhambra castle, and general easy-going ambience.
The Basque Region
The Spanish part of the Basque region may be fairly small, but it's the home to many excellent places to go in Spain.
Bilbao, for example, is a fascinating place. Once an industrial powerhouse, it's today becoming an impressively vibrant cultural center, with the famous Guggenheim museum leading the way.
San Sebastian, meanwhile, is a smaller, more laid-back affair, known for its beautiful coastline, and world-beating cuisine. There's not a whole lot to do here, apart from take it easy, eat good food and drink good wine. Which, all in all, means there's more than enough to do here!
Madrid is a region unto itself in travel terms. This thrusting city located at the geographical heart of Spain is a wondrous place that offers the traveler a plethora of sites and activities. Madrid is also home to numerous Spanish language schools, which makes it a great place to visit if you're looking to come to pick up the local lingo.