Spain is an amazing country filled with delicious food, endless adventure, and a love for life. Over the years it has easily become one of our favorite places to travel, and we keep coming back visit after visit. Join us as we dive into these interesting facts about Spain for some fun information to know before you go.
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1. Tapa Time
Tapas are a trademark of food in Spain, and a super fun way to eat and taste different local flavors. The first time we tried tapas we couldn’t believe it… Order a drink and get a free plate of food? What a concept!
While the style can vary depending on what part of the country you visit, the Tapas are flowing and plentiful in cities like Nerja and Granada.
Some restaurants will have a menu while others will just bring you a random snack with your beer or wine. Whatever the case, tapas are always a good time in Spain!
→ Best Restaurants in Nerja Spain: One Night Tapas Hopping Route
2. Islamic Reign
One of the most interesting facts about Spain is that it was actually under Muslim control for many centuries. Starting in 711, the Islamic forces conquered the entire Iberian Peninsula in just 7 years!
The Muslim armies from Northern Africa would flex their muscles all the way to the France border but were mostly concentrated in Southern Spain.
Despite the Islamic rule, both Christians and Jews lived together for many years peacefully. This reign would last all the way until 1492 when Catholic monarchs gained back control of Granada.
3. Alhambra de Granada
Speaking of Granada… One of the best examples of Arabic rule in Spain is this great fortress! First constructed in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid Kingdom, the Alhambra de Granada quickly became the defining feature of this great city.
It served as the palace to King Mohammed ibn Yusuf Ben Nas and would undergo plenty of spectacular additions and renovations with each ruler that followed. These days it is an amazing place to see the influence of different religions and cultures over hundreds of years.
→ Alhambra de Granada: One Day Guide to Spain’s Most Impressive Castle
4. Islands of Spain
One of the most fun facts about Spain that you may not know is it actually has over 60 islands! The best part is these islands are so unique from each other. They range from glamorous beach destinations like Ibiza to the rugged and adventurous Canary Islands.
5. Catalonian Independence
Catalonia is a special region of Spain which borders Southeastern France. Here they have their own dialect, customs, food, and traditions that are somewhat separate from the rest of Spain.
Catalans are very prideful of their area and it’s common to see the Catalonian flag instead of the Spanish one when driving through this area. There are many political gripes that we could barely scratch the surface of, but many citizens want independence from Spain.
6. Pyrenees Mountains
Something that’s impossible to miss in Catalonia is the majestic Pyrenees Mountain range! The massive mountains rise to an elevation of 3,400 meters and act as a natural border between Spain and the rest of Europe.
In fact, they even stretch across France and the little country of Andorra! Driving through the Pyrenees is quite the experience and there are many famous hiking trails here as well.
7. Spain’s Tallest Mountain
This may come as a surprise after learning about the giant Pyrenees, but Spain’s tallest mountain actually isn’t on the mainland!
Mount Teide is located on Tenerife in the Canary Islands and stands at over 12,000 feet high. But wait there’s more! One of the most interesting facts about Spain is that its highest peak is also an active volcano.
Its most recent eruption was in 1909, but that doesn’t scare tourists away from exploring it. There is a gondola that takes you to the top and you can even ski on Mount Teide in the winter! We loved driving around the National Park in Tenerife and through its wild hardened lava fields.
8. Camino de Santiago
Didn’t get enough fun facts about Spain and its mountains? Well, there are some awesome hiking trails in Spain and none more famous than the Camino de Santiago!
However, this is not your average hiking path. The Camino is actually an important religious pilgrimage that dates back to the Middle Ages.
The official route is 500 miles long and takes most hikers between 4 and 6 weeks to complete. Many travelers prefer to do the walking route in sections, and hostels called albergues are available to sleep in along the way.
9. Plate of the Day
Also referred to as Menu del Dia, the plate of the day is one of the most fun and filling facts of Spain! The Plato del Dia is a traditional lunch that consists of three separate courses and a drink. Want to know the best part? It usually costs only 10 Euros or less!
That’s right. You’ll get a starter, entree, dessert, and beer or wine for crazy cheap! When walking by a restaurant you may see a sign or black chalkboard listing their plate options. Just a warning: Don’t plan any wild activities for afterward… You’re going to be full!
→ The Plato del Dia: How to Order Spain’s Delicious 3 Course Budget Lunch
It wasn’t until after our first plate of the day that we truly understood why Siesta was needed! Siesta is another custom particular to Spain where they take a short rest or nap after lunch.
During the hours of 2pm to 5pm it is common for businesses and restaurants to shut down as people head home for this period. We’ve walked around cities in Spain during this time of day and thought we were in a ghost town!
11. Epic Coastline
One of the facts of Spain that draws in so many travelers is in is its beautiful beaches. Incredibly, the country is blessed with over 3,000 miles of coastline! Since it’s part of a peninsula, much of Spain is surrounded by ocean.
Some of our favorite beaches in the world are located on Costa del Sol in the South of Spain. If you go further North you will also find some amazing beaches in Costa Brava in Catalonia. Even in Northwest Galicia there are rustic beach towns worth exploring!
→ 9 Reasons to Fall in Love with Spain’s Costa del Sol
12. Caves in Spain
Along with the towering mountains and beautiful coastline, there is another part of nature in Spain worth exploring. One of the most interesting facts about Spain is that has over 30,000 known caves!
Honestly, before our visit to Cueva de Nerja we had no idea that this country even had caves. Yet, we would be blown away with how big and well-maintained it was. Other caves worth seeing in Spain are the Grotto of San Jose, Drach, and Valporquero.
→ Caves in Nerja?? The Underground World of a Popular Spanish Beach Town
This may be one of the most controversial facts about Spain on this list, but bullfighting has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries. The sport gained popularity during Medieval times drawing its inspiration from the Roman games.
The stadiums are one of the most noticeable features of any Spanish city and events still take place around the country today. Animal rights activists continue to push against it but it is hard to see bullfighting going away completely any time soon.
14. Day Trip to Gibraltar
If you’re looking at a map of Southern Spain, you may notice there’s another peculiar country at the bottom of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar may be enclosed completely by Spanish borders, but it’s actually a British Overseas Territory!
That means as soon as you cross the border you can be eating fish and chips at the pub! Gibraltar is a super fun day trip from Spain. The massive Rock of Gibraltar stands tall above the town, and you can even see the coast of Africa on a clear day.
→ 17 Awesome Facts About Gibraltar
15. Spain Has 49 UNESCO Sites
By now you know that some of the most interesting facts about Spain have to do with its history. Well, one of the best ways to see this is at Spain’s many historical sites! Spain has an incredible 49 Unesco Sites, which ranks 4th in the world only behind Italy, China, and Germany.
Some of the most famous include castles, churches, and historic city centers. For more of our favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world check out these posts below!
- Visiting Butrint National Park in Albania
- My Son Sanctuary: Vietnam’s Extraordinary UNESCO Site
- Rhodes Old Town Guide: The Medieval Island City in Greece
- Walking the City Walls of Dubrovnik Croatia
- Sunrise at Angkor Wat: One Day Tuk Tuk Tour
16. Flamenco Dancing
Music and dancing are such an integral part of life in Spain, and there is no better example than this! Flamenco began at the end of the 18th century in the Andalusia region.
It is believed that its influence came from the Romani gypsies and transformed into what is still performed now. The musical style combines song and dance for a special performance. To this day, some of Spain’s most iconic musicians are Flemaneco artists!
17. Spanish Royalty
Spain is one of the few countries in Europe that still has a royal family. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia live on the outskirts of Madrid in Zarzuela Palace. While they don’t retain much political power, the king still represents Spain in international matters in more of a symbolic role.
18. The 12 Grapes of Luck
One of the most fun facts about Spain is their unique New Years tradition. At midnight the Spanish eat 12 grapes with each clock strike hoping it will bring them luck and happiness for the new year. Just don’t get a sour one! Some believe that this will bring you the opposite of good luck.
19. Most Bars in Europe
Spain has the most bars in Europe! The astounding figure equals out to 1 bar for every 175 inhabitants. There are also over 270,000 bars across Spain. Needless to say, if you’re thirsty you won’t have to walk far to get a drink in Spain!
→ 13 Drinks in Spain to Enjoy on Your Next Vacation
20. Spanish Civil War
Sometimes slipping under the radar as it happened right before World War II, the Spanish Civil war took place from 1936 to 1939. The bloody battle began as a revolt by the Nationalists against the Republican government.
It was a pent-up frustration that had been building for many years when the Nationalists eventually took Barcelona. It would only end when the same party captured Madrid in 1939. The leader of the Nationalists, Francisco Franco, would go onto rule Spain until his death in 1975.
21. La Sagrada Familia
Ok back to more fun facts about Spain! While we’re on the topic of Spain’s cities, you should know that Barcelona holds one of its most prestigious churches. It would be impossible to miss the massive basilica as it towers over 500 feet high.
La Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudí and began construction in 1882. If you can believe it, the church is still being built to this day!
22. Picasso’s Home Country
The last of our most incredible facts of Spain has to do with maybe the most famous artist of all time! Picasso grew up in the city of Malaga in Southern Spain.
The time he spent here is thought to have influenced work throughout his life. Make sure to visit the museum dedicated to his work if you’re in Picasso’s hometown!
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own interesting and fun facts about Spain? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Best of Spain: Visiting in Winter – 11 Cities in Southern Spain
Granada: Best Tapas – 15 Fun Things to Do
Nerja: 15 Things to do – 7 Beautiful Beaches – Playa Burriana
Small Towns: Mijas – Frigiliana – Rupit – Cadiz – Ronda
Gran Canaria: Agaete Natural Pools – Route of the Tapas – Volcano Hike
Fuerteventura: 12 Best Beaches – Aguas Verdes Natural Pool – Krabbenfelsen Natural Pool – Popcorn Beach
Tenerife: 7 Best Beaches – Playa Amarilla – Boat Tour
Spain Travel Planning
Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly between cities in Spain than driving or taking the train!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Spain road trip!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around Spain. You can book a tour of the Madrid Royal Palace, skip the line and explore the Alhambra de Granada, or even jump on a Tenerife Dolphin cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Siento que fui español en mi vida pasada. ¡Yo amo España!
We feel the same way!
I have been to Spain twice and only managed a tiny bit due to time constaints. I love Seville and Galicia. I can’t remember the name of a fishing village I stayed in once too. It was so peaceful despite the flurry of the fish market.
Love this post, so nostalgic for me in many ways.
Thanks for reading! We love Spain and are so happy to share our travels there with others. Easily some of our best travel memories in Europe here. Glad you enjoyed it (-: