Spain - Heaven Or Hell?

By: Terry Roberts

Depending on who you listen to, Spain can be heaven on earth, or it can be the worst place imaginable to visit. Who is right?

There is no doubt that Spain has many charms and can be extremely attractive as a tourist destination. It is, in fact, the third most visited country in the world (after France and the United States).

The reasons are many, beginning with a climate that is reliable enough for visitors to find sun almost year round. But not everyone goes to Spain for a beach holiday. More and more people are travelling to Spain to enjoy the wonderful cultural heritage of the country: Spain has the second-highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, after Italy. The country is dotted with castles and palaces, with snowcapped mountains, stunning sights and vibrant, modern cities. Contemporary Spanish architecture is considered to be among the best in the world...

What is more, getting around in Spain to see all these things is now much easier than just a few years ago. There is an excellent network of highways, and a growing number of high-speed (AVE) train lines. A number of domestic airlines, and even a couple of international low-cost operators, offer flights between most of the major cities.

So, what is the problem?

Some people will tell you that the tourist destinations in Spain are overcrowded, the buildings are like beehives, you can't find a place to lay your towel on the beach, etc. Others say that Spain is an unsafe country, where you are likely to be mugged or robbed.

While these criticisms have some truth in them, I think they should not put you off visiting Spain. It is true that some of the most popular tourist resorts on the Costa Brava or Costa de la Luz may be extremely crowded, but there are many other resorts where you can find peace and quiet. It is also true that the resorts are overcrowded between June and September, and if you go out of season you can enjoy all the facilities of a first-class resort without the overbearing crowds. What is more, this argument only refers to beach resorts, whereas more and more people are looking to Spain for cultural or scenic trips. It is extremely easy to get away from it all inland, in the mountains or in the countryside.

Finally, the argument about Spain being unsafe is only relatively true. Spain has become much less safe than a few years ago, but unfortunately this is true of much of the developed world. When visiting Spain, you need to take the same precautions as you would in any other place - even in the major cities in your own country.

All things considered, I think it's fair to say that Spain is neither a heaven or a hell, but on balance it has a lot more in favor than against.

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