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Barcelona feels a bit surreal – appropriate, since Salvador Dali spent time here and Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí designed several of the city’s buildings. Stepping into Gaudí’s Church of the Sacred Family is a bit like falling through the looking glass - a journey that you can continue with a visit to Park Güell. Sip sangria at a sidewalk café in Las Ramblas while watching flamboyant street performers, then create your own moveable feast by floating from tapas bar to tapas bar.
The dreamy island that provided inspiration to Chopin and Miró now has a reputation as a spring break beach destination. Don't worry, though, if you're vacationing over elementary school spring break-- there's plenty for the younger crowd. Marineland's dolphin and sea lion shows and children's beach attract families. And if you have a Thomas-obsessed toddler, the antique train that travels between Palma and Soller is a must-see.
Tribal Terenife still shows influence from the aboriginal Gaunches people. Visitors clamber to conquer Mount Teide (Spain’s tallest peak) and to stretch out on the sands of Los Gigantes. Squawk hello to the playful parrots of Loro Park, or brave the petrifying drive to beautiful Masca Valley. For a true taste of Terenife, sample fresh farmhouse cheese and local bananas. A piece of delicate calado canario lace makes a special souvenir.
Welcoming, tolerant Gran Canaria offers a little something for everyone. Families flock to the water parks and beaches of Puerto Rico. Those seeking peaceful escape scamper to Mogan's quiet fishing villages. Gay visitors crowd the bars, restaurants and beaches of Playa del Ingles. Urban attractions are on offer in Las Palmas. Three highways open up the island for those with a rental car or a bus schedule. Prime sites to visit include Iglesia de San Juan Bautista de Arucas and Palmalitos zoo park.
Drawn by its fiestas, late night discos and clubs, water parks and golf courses, visitors can't resist sunny Fuerteventura. Discover local culture in Betancuria, home to a cathedral and several museums, at Tefia's eco-museum or at one of February's quirky Carnaval celebrations. Cool down after a hot day on the beach or a hard night at the clubs at Baku Water Park.
So many of Madrid’s buildings look like castles, you’ll think you’ve stumbled into a fairytale. Even City Hall is astounding, with its white pinnacles and neo-Gothic features. A self-guided architecture tour can begin by the great bear statue in the central Puerta del Sol. Wander by the fanciful Royal Palace before absorbing the natural beauty of Retiro Park, then visit one of the city’s many museums. You could happily cap off each day by nibbling on forkfuls of paella while sipping Spanish rioja.
Ahhh, Lanzarote: The Canary Island paradise where you can ride a camel into the sunset and then dine inside a candlelit cave. The rock formations of Los Hervideros will take your breath away, as will the views from the Mirador del Rio lookout point. Legend has it that locals would hide from pirates in the underground caverns of Cueva de los Verdes, which are now open to curious visitors. Above ground the Jardin de Cactus will teach you all about the spiny desert plants.
Ibiza: Old Spanish for "party 'til you drop." Perhaps not literally, but this is definitely one of Europe's favorite nightlife playgrounds. Ibiza boasts more than 100 miles of coastline with some 50 beaches, plus plenty of restaurants, bars, and water sports—and clubs, of course. Fit in a little culture and visit Ibiza's UNESCO-designated old town.
Originally founded as a Roman city and now home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Seville is bursting with antique charm. The Alcazar palace complex is a stunning collage of architectural styles, and the Cathedral will impress you with its beauty and its status as the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The Metropol Parasol is the world’s largest wooden structure, a massive mix of grids and swirls that contains a market and a terrace observatory.
As the first place in Spain to see the sunrise, Minorca is like the country’s ambassador to the morning. Beaches here are beautiful and, surprisingly, relatively empty. The jewel-colored water is a magnet for waterskiers, windsurfers and sailors. Playa De Binigaus beach is perfect for families, while Cala Mitjana is an idyllic spot for romance. Head to the town of Alaoir to nibble on some fresh local cheese or turn back time in the charming fishing village of Fornells.