|Palma de Mallorca||$394|
More people book flights to Spain than almost anywhere else in the world. In fact, only France gets more visitors. It’s such a fantastic destination that the biggest problem for travelers is how to prioritize one’s time and interests over the entirety of the trip: Fly to the Green North or the sunny South? Museum-laden Madrid or buzzy Barcelona? Stunning Seville or gorgeous Granada?
The Spanish way of life might surpass its architectural gems and natural wonders. In fact, for some travelers, it’s one of the top reasons for booking a trip to Spain. Spaniards have a spirited approach to life—nobody else parties like them. A siesta in the middle of the day sets Spaniards up for a late dinner (about 10pm) and then dancing and bar hopping until dawn. Tapas, the little dishes served in bars, washed down by robust wines provide staying power for all-night revels.
A favorite destination is Menorca. The most rural of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is a lush, hilly island. Like the other islands in this chain (Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera) sun and beautiful beaches are guaranteed. Plenty of safe paddling and rock-pooling locales make this the perfect destination for families.
Another island favorite is Menorca. Despite its small size, Menorca has had two capital cities. When the British took control of the island in the 1700s, they moved the capital from Ciutadella, an old Moorish city in the west of the island, to Mahon (Mao to the locals). Mahon has one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Now, it is a bustling town with stately public buildings, such as the Palace Torre Saura, an attractive Old Town and a lively waterfront. Ciutadella is a beautiful city that has acted as the island’s religious center since the fourth century.
Wherever and whenever you decide to visit Spain, keep in mind that there are plenty of opportunities to party: religious events such as Christmas, the Ephiphany (January 6), Semana Santa (Holy Week), and numerous Saints’ festivals fill up the calendar along with the likes of San Fermin, the running of the bulls, and La Tomatina—the world’s biggest tomato fight.
For most of the year, Spain is warm in the south and temperate in the north, but it is very hot in July in August. Spring and fall are the nicest times to visit, although the Atlantic coast gets heavy rains in October and November. Winters can get very cold in Madrid and the country’s central highlands.
There really is no bad time to visit Spain. It’s a four-season destination.
Different regions of Spain all have similar peak seasons, however some do vary slightly. Southern Spain benefits from staying warmer most of the year so tourism continues through part of winter too. Generally, anywhere from late spring is when most tourists start booking flights to Spain, with July to September the busiest. Make sure to book your flight tickets as early as you can during the peak of Summer as cheap flights to Spain will become harder to find. Once you’ve chosen a place to visit, do a quick check of any festivals that might be happening on or around when you want to go. If something is on you’ll need to secure your flight tickets well in advance to save yourself high costs.
Menorca’s peak season kicks off in May and doesn’t end until October, but the island is also beautiful in April. Festival season takes place in July and August, bringing an influx of visitors to the island during those months. September is a great time to visit, as the temperature hovers around 77 degrees, but there are fewer crowds (as long as it’s not a school holiday).
Spring and fall are great times to visit. The crowds in the standout cities of Barcelona, Seville and Granada have thinned out and the heat of summer has dissipated but temperatures are comfortable.
You’ll find the cheapest flights to Spain during the off season, which is typically from around October to March. Tourists do still visit certain regions though, with Benidorm and Alicante staying drier towards the winter season. Thanks to Spain’s almost year round sun, not only can you find cheap flights to Spain during the winter, but you’ll also find beaches a lot less crowded.
For the island of Menorca, late October and November bring the potential for rain, making this a less popular time for visitors.
A general rule is to book your flights to Spain as soon as you possibly can. The earlier you secure your flight tickets, the cheaper they will be. First determine where in Spain you want to fly to and decide what time of year to visit. You’ll find the cheapest flights to Spain outside of the summer months, so if you plan ahead and book in advance you can find great deals. If you are flying to Barcelona then try to sit on the right side of the plane to get great views of the country as you descend. Madrid offers good views from both sides of the plane so don’t worry too much, as long as you don’t choose a seat next to the wings.
You can almost certainly get an inexpensive deal to Menorca, Spain any time of year, as long as you search for bargains in advance. The best prices can be found from December to March, and in July; one of the hottest months in Menorca.
If you’re headed to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, flight times are just over 7 hours from New York, almost 11 hours from Chicago and about 13 hours from Los Angeles.
Spain is a popular destination, so you have several airline options to get there. American, Delta and United Airlines are the major U.S. carriers offering direct flights to Spain, and you can also fly there from the United States on Iberia and Air Europa flights. Departing from somewhere international? Try Air Canada, Korean Air or Cathay Pacific.
People in Spain tend to dress more on the formal side, especially in Madrid and Barcelona. Nice pairs of jeans, blouses and button-up shirts are all good choices. Since it gets so warm, you may also want to bring some linen clothing. Comfortable shoes and sandals are a must for those cobblestone streets.
One of the most common ways is the catch a RENFE train from the airport to Estacio De Sants. If you purchased a T10 ticket at the airport you can change here and ride the Metro at no extra cost to get to your final destination. If you arrive at Terminal 1 then you can get a free shuttle bus to the station to catch the RENFE train. There is also the TMB airport bus (number 46). This normally takes a little longer as it makes a few stops but you can use your T10 ticket to get on and off easily.
There are quite a few ways to get to the center of Madrid, a cheap and reliable one being the Expres Aeropuerto. It’s a bus which runs very regularly from the arrival Terminals at the airport for a low cost. However, it only makes 2 or 3 stops during its journey so you’ll have to then board the Metro to get to your final destination. A slightly easier option is to get the Metro directly from the airport to the center of the city. Again you might need to transfer once or twice depending where you want to end up but it’s a much faster and convenient way to travel. Finally, you can get a taxi from outside the airport, although this will cost a lot more money than the bus or metro. If you have a few friends traveling with you though then you can split the fare and make this more reasonable.
The quickest and easiest way to get to the center of Valencia is to ride the Metro from the airport. It’s reliable and frequent and a lot faster than the alternatives. You can opt to get the aero bus which also goes to the city for a couple of euros, however the journey takes close to an hour and it can sometimes be confusing as to where to board the bus. If you’re not concerned much with price, then you can hail a taxi from the airport. Doing so will be considerately more than public transportation, but it will save you having to navigate your way around, just be sure to agree a price beforehand and ask for a receipt.
Menorca Airport (Mahón Airport) is in the southeastern area of the island, about 3 miles from Mahón.
There are several buses that run from Menorca’s Airport to Mahón. They usually run every 30 minutes. A taxi is also an option if you want to reach other parts of the island, but you can also jump on public transportation to Mahón’s downtown and then use local buses to access other towns.
You can easily rely on the cheap and effective public transportation in Menorca to get around, or rent a car, but it’s important to book a car in advance and make sure you have the right documentation.
Generally, in the cities—Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia—there are metros, bus and tram services. For travelling around Spain by train, RENFE runs most of the railroads. There are good bus services around the country too. Most of the major routes are point-to-point and operate very frequently. Car rental is the best option for independent travel.
Anyone who appreciates architecture should go to Barcelona to see Antoni Gaudi’s work firsthand. Gaudi was known for his modern approach and his use of curves, which is apparent in his Casa Batllo. Madrid has no shortage of cultural attractions, either, from the extensive art collection in the Museo del Prado to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which houses famous pieces by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
If you’re in Granada and want to get a spectacular view of the city, make your way up to Alhambra, an impressive fortress that was once the home of Nasrid king El Ahmar. It’s a good idea to get your ticket in advance, especially if you plan to visit between April and June, as that’s the most popular time.
The end of August marks the La Tomatina festival in Bunol, a town in Spain’s Valencian Community. The festival starts with everyone eating paella, and then it’s one giant food fight as participants crush tomatoes and throw them at each other. Feel like something a bit more daring? Head to Pamplona on July 6 through 14 for the San Fermin festival, which was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in “The Sun Also Rises.” During San Fermin, you can run with the bulls – or just snap pictures of the people who do.
For the best of both worlds, visit Malaga. You can spend the morning skiing the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and then go to the beach in the afternoon for some sun.
If you have more destinations in mind after you’re done seeing Spain, Cheapflights can lend a hand. You can catch a flight back to the United States on the same U.S. carriers that fly to Spain, or continue your trip internationally.
Madrid’s airport is known for its efficiency, so travelers usually get through security quickly. Malaga’s airport, on the other hand, has frequent delays. It’s best to play it safe and arrive early at any airport. Most of the airports in Spain have charming cafes that are great when you need to kill time.
(prices quoted are from London)