Mainland Spain is situated on the Iberian peninsula in the southwest of Europe. It also encompasses two groups of islands. The Islas Baleares (Balearic Islands), in the Mediterranean, Mallorca the largest island is just over one hundred miles off the eastern coast and the Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) which are situated approximately five hundred miles to the southwest and lie off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Mellila and Cueta are two Spanish enclaves in Morocco on the African continent.
Whilst Spain is one of the world’s leading destinations for the package holiday there is more to this country than the beaches of the costas and islands. The independent traveler will want to move around see what more Spain has to offer.
Getting there – There are thirty one airports on the mainland serving the following cities and towns: A Coruna, Albacete, Alicante, Almería, Asturias, Badajoz, Barcelona, Bilbao, Burgos, Cordoba, Girona, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, Leon, Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, Pamplona, Reus, Sabadell, Salamanca, San Sebastian, Santander, Santiago, Sevilla, Valencia, Valladolid, Vigo and Zaragoza. In the Canaries the islands of El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote and Tenerife and in the Balearics Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca all have airports. Gibraltar, the British colony at the southern most tip of Spain, also has it’s own airport. British Airways and the Monarch fly daily to Gibraltar from several departure points in the United Kingdom and Monarch has some very good deals on seats. Major carriers provide scheduled flights to Spain but it is also a principal destination for budget airlines with return flights available for less than 100 Euros from other European cities. It is also possible to pick up bargain seats on the many charter flights serving the tourist industry. Air travel within Spain, with the exception of a couple of budget airlines, is expensive.
Major roads provide access from Portugal to the west and France which borders Spain to the northeast. Road travel within the country can vary. Many roads are not of a good standard but Spain has received billions of Euros in aid from the European Union and much of this has been spent on the infrastructure and so it is also possible to travel on some of the newest and finest roads on the continent. The country is well served by many bus companies linking the major towns and cities with express services. There are also a wealth of local bus services.
The train service is well developed enabling access to the country from both Portugal and France and fast travel between towns and cities within Spain. Fares are cheap compared to some other major European countries. Madrid and Barcelona are served by extensive Metro (underground railway) networks.
In addition to the many inter island services ferries run from the mainland to both the island groups and the two enclaves in Morocco. The Canary Islands are served by a boat running from Cadiz. The journey is long, some 48 hours and the sea conditions often make for a rough passage. It may be preferable to fly although as we have already pointed out this can be expensive. Ferries from Tariffa and Algeciras, in the Andalucian province of Cadiz, run to Tanger in Morroco. Ferries also link the enclave of Cueta with Tariffa, Algeciras and Malaga. Mellila, the other enclave is served by a boats out of Malaga and Almeria. The Balearic Islands have services to the mainland running to Barcelona, Valencia and Denia.