Europe seems to be everyone’s go-to spot for a cultural immersion, irrespective of season, and we can’t say we’re surprised.
The continent has millennia upon millennia of amassed History, and it houses some of the oldest, as well as best-preserved ancient cities built by mankind. From Roman ruins in Italy to Viking-age villages in the Scandinavian wild, Europe’s cultural diversity is unmatched.
Though options are far from limited, if you’ve been dreaming of cobbled old towns and medieval castles and you’re attempting a Transatlantic trip this winter, this European country is where you should be headed:
Spain Is Europe’s New Cultural Capital
Occupying a huge portion of Europe’s Southwestern peninsula, known as Iberia, Spain requires no introduction.
It has always been a hugely popular tourist destination and a soft power whose cultural influence precedes it. Spanish culture is everywhere around us, from the most commonly used language in Latin America to the music on the radio and tapa bars in your favorite city.
In a way, we’re all familiar with Spanish culture, even those who might have never been to Spain.
Still, it’s largely portrayed in the media as a sunny getaway and somewhere you go in summer, or at the very latest, in the fall, when it’s warm enough for wearing shorts and swimming and living your best tropical life.
As you are about to learn, Spain is in fact so much more than that and the jam-packed party islands filled with reggaeton clubs — it can be an incredible year-round cultural destination.
More Tourists Are Flying To Spain With Cultural Trips In Mind
According to new research conducted by the National Institute of Statistics, cultural tourism could have surpassed pre-pandemic levels in Spain, as a growing number of foreign visitors fly choose this destination precisely for its cultural value.
As the data suggests, 19.3 percent of Spain’s international visitors have culture as their primary interest vacationing in Spain, comprising nearly one-fifth of all trips in 2022.
This year, numbers are bound to be even higher, as demand for cultural expeditions among Americans has skyrocketed since the world’s wider reopening for tourism in late 2022.
We also know now where tourists are heading for culture, as the cities and autonomous provinces hosting the most culture seekers have been revealed.
Which Destinations In Spain Are Taking The Lead?
As expected, Andalusia came out on top with 2.7 million trips.
The hottest region not only in Spain but the whole of Europe, it enjoys daily highs of 80 degrees as late as November, particularly in the capital of Seville and coastal spots like Malaga and Sanlucar, and it’s best known for its Arab heritage.
In case you weren’t aware, this part of Spain remained under Arab control for several hundreds of years, and much of the local culture has been influenced by North Africa, including the architecture – think the monumental Alhambra in Granada – and cuisine.
If you’re looking to escape the biting cold this winter, yet you’re keen on visiting Europe, Andalusia is probably where you will find the highest temperatures.
It is followed by Madrid and its wider capital region, chosen by 1.2 million tourists as their cultural destination. A major European city, Madrid is famous for its wide, leafy boulevards, stately civic buildings, and world-class museums.
The Prado Museum is one of the most visited in the world, housing iconic works by Diego Velazques, Francisco Goya, Caravaggio, Raphael, and others.
Castille and Leon comes in third with 1.1 million trips. The cultural heart of the bygone Castilian kingdom, where the modern Spanish language originated, this province is nicknamed the ‘Land of Castles’, as over 300 fortifications were constructed there.
Three of the top cultural destinations in Castille and Leon include Salamanca, an ocher-colored city with a landmark cathedral, Segovia, where tourists can admire a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, and Burgos, a walled town and one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval gems.
At number four, Catalonia has breached the 1-millionth cultural visitor mark.
Home to Barcelona, a major Mediterranean port and global destination recognized for its Gothic Quarter, La Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi monuments, the scenic Costa Brava, and numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Catalan homeland is every culture seeker’s dream come true.
Visiting Spain this winter and unsure where to go? Read more about the country and get inspired here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com