Easter week– Semana Santa–has finally arrived, meaning days of interminable processions and religious celebrations, particularly in Andalucía.
Unfortunately this also means surging crowds and normally quite a bit of rain. If Semana Santa isn’t your thing, then there is no better time to explore the rest of Spain. A combination of warm weather, fantastic food and hundreds of timeworn traditions make Spain the ideal place for a holiday, and Spring time– from mid March to early mid May– is the perfect time to take advantage.
Here you have 10 wonderful destinations to celebrate Spring and Easter. From rainy Galicia to bone-dry Castilla and Mozarab Andalusia, Spain is calling!
One: Cuenca, Castilla for architecture
Cuenca is one of those places in Spain where you will feel as if you are wandering around a medieval film setting. It was built by the Moors as a defensive position and today anyone who visits this fortress town will easily be able to see why its architecture adapts to the natural landscape. Cuenca has been named a Historic Walled Town by the UNESCO.
Top Tip: No matter how long you stay in town, you can´t miss a visit to the famous casas colgantes (hanging houses), which are literally suspended over the Júcar river.
Two: La Rioja for food & wineIf you’re a wine lover, you will fall in love with Rioja. In the North East of Spain, very close to the Basque Country, La Rioja offers vineyards, friendly people and of course, mouthwatering gastronomy. Don’t hesitate to try patatas con chorizo, paella riojana or the local codrero (lamb). Remember, here it is all but mandatory to have a glass of red wine with your tapa!
Top tip: This area has over 500 wineries so wine tasting is a must. In addition, a one-day trip to Logroño, the capital of the region, will be well worth it.
Three: Ribeira Sacra for mountain views
La Ribeira Sacra is found in Southern Galicia, where the river passes through a vast mountain range. It is a natural paradise coupled with stunning architecture– there are 18 monasteries along this route!
Top tip: Take a ride on the Catamaran and follow the river. After that, don’t forget to taste the local wine, Ribeiro, while enjoying the views from the Madrid balconies (views of the canyons from above). For more information about the tours have a look at this site.
Four: Sierra Nevada for skiing and sunshine
It’s not just sun, sea and sand in southern Spain. Not too far from Granada in Andalusia, the Sierra Nevada contains the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3,478 metres. Semana Santa is the perfect time for combining sun-drenched skiing and trips to beautiful cities like Granada and Córdoba, where you will be able to step back in time into southern Spain’s Moorish past…
Top tip: At this time of the year the ski station gets very busy, so it is recommended to go during the week. To find out more about weather, accommodation and equipment have a look at the official Sierra Nevada site.
Five: Matalascañas, for quiet beaches
April in Spain is known for its favourable temperatures, and Andalucía’s beaches are perhaps the best example. Matalascañas (Huelva) is one of those beaches where you can easily combine the beach days with little trips to natural paradises like Doñana National Park, a natural reserve that covers 543 km² of which 135 km² are a protected area.
Top tip: Don’t forget to visit the Aldea del Rocío, a little village only 15 minutes from Matalascañas and a perfect destination for camping.
Six: Lagos de Covadonga for breathtaking natural beauty
Back to the North, the Lagos de Covadonga (Lakes of Covadonga) is a feast for the eyes. These Asturian lakes, called Enol and Ercina, date back to the ice-age and are both located in the Picos de Europa.
Top tip: Don’t miss a visit to Oviedo city and a tour across the coastline of Costa Verde– you’ll never forget the views!
Seven: El Vale del Jerte for cherry trees
The Jerte Valley is one of the best places to visit during Spring. Here the cherry trees cover the landscapes with white blossom for a ten-day period; it’s undoubtedly one of the best vistas in Spain.
Top tip: Rent a car and follow the route across the sierra to the north of the valley from Cabezuela del Valle to Hervás.
Eight: Santiago de Compostela for The Way of St James
Here is where the famous St James pilgrim route ends. Every year, hundreds of peregrines cross different countries to get to the Jubileo in Santiago de Compostela, which has its origin in the shrine of Saint James the Great. Today the city is student-friendly and a very lively destination for tourists. Its cathedral is one of Spain’s most famous.
Top tip: If you decide to spend a few nights in town, make sure you stay in the historic area of Santiago. And, don’t forget an umbrella– it’s very likely that it will rain!
Nine: Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes for the Pyrenees
If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, there is a place near Lleida (Catalonia) where you can almost hear a pin drop. Here there are crystal clear waters that come from striking waterfalls and an abundance of plants and wildlife.
Top tip: For more information regarding hiking routes have a look at the The Regional Tourist Board of the Diputació de Lleida.
Ten: Madrid for city culture, nightlife and buzzing tapas bars
Yes, Madrid, the capital of the country, is always a good destination no matter what time of year, though it’s better to avoid in August when the temperatures are very high. If you are looking for cultural events, nightlife and amazing tapas, Madrid won’t disappoint you. Don’t miss an evening in lively La Latina and a picnic at El Retiro, the biggest and greenest area of the city.
Top tip: Stay in the Lavapies barrio to get a feel for Madrid’s quirkier side. Here you will be close to some of the most popular monuments like Museo Reina Sofía (for Contemporary Art) and if you need to take a train to continue your Easter holiday elsewhere in Spain, Atocha Station isn’t too far.
Where are you spending Easter week this year?
Marta López is a journalist & writer based in North West London. After living in Paris she decided to move to London where she fell in love with the multicultural capital. She loves quality food, Spanish wine and travelling. Marta is currently working on her first novel based on the City of Light.