Tag Archives: Spain

Following an ancient trail: a guide to the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago – also known as the Way of St James – is a long-distance pilgrimage route across Europe that has been followed by the faithful for centuries. Their ultimate destination is the impressive Santiago de Compostela and any walking tour along the same trail will also lead you to this monument.

This is a wonderful opportunity to follow in the footsteps of travellers from years gone by, with the path first being used as far back as the 9th century by pilgrims keen to visit the place where the remains of St James are said to be interred.

people sitting in the streets of Santiago de Compestela

A bit of history…

For the uninitiated, the Camino de Santiago runs from the French border across Spain to Santiago de Compostela near the country’s northern coast. There are several routes throughout the rest of Europe that link to the path that begins on the border, but we’re going to focus on the part that’s in Spain.

The pilgrimage was at its most popular during the Middle Ages, with fewer people choosing to make the journey as time went by due to events like the outbreak of the plague and the protestant reformation. In more recent times it has undergone something of a renaissance, with not just religious pilgrims but also keen hikers opting to tackle the challenge.

If you walk at least the final 100 km of the Camino, you’ll receive an official certificate to mark your achievement. It’s worth bearing this in mind when you’re looking at walking holidays on this route, as not all will give you this opportunity. For an example of an itinerary that does, click here.

You’ll be given a booklet known as a Credencial when you set out on your journey and you should collect stamps in this from various points along the way to prove that you’ve trekked the final 100 km to the city.

Hiking on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is a well-trodden path (as you’ve probably gathered), so the hiking underfoot is not difficult. It’s generally regarded as a moderate trek and you certainly cover a fair distance, but while there are ups and downs, you won’t encounter any overly steep inclines on the final stretch of the trail.

There are many landmarks and interesting towns and villages to visit along the way as well, so you’ll want to take your time on this trek and really soak up the camaraderie and atmosphere as you walk with other people on the same route.

If walking along the Camino de Santiago is something you’ve always wanted to do, it could be best to book a tailormade tour to ensure you get to visit all the sites along the way that interest you. Explore Worldwide offers this kind of trip on the Camino de Santiago starting from £840.

Sights on the Camino de Santiago

The first noteworthy landmark you’ll reach on your hike is the 100 km marker indicating to pilgrims that they’ve reached the final leg of their epic journey. Of course, this will come shortly after you’ve started walking, but is nonetheless an exciting sign to see.

Portomarin is one of the first villages you’ll reach on your hike and it has an interesting story, having been relocated from its original location on the orders of General Franco. It’s worth negotiating the narrow streets to find San Pedro church, which is a great example of Romanesque architecture.

Palas de Rei is another village you’ll pass through, but don’t hurry in this settlement – spend a bit of time admiring its central plaza and look out for the town hall, which is of typical Galician design.

As you get closer to Santiago de Compostela, you’ll reach the charming Santa Irene Chapel, which dates from the 18th century and is home to a number of statues of St James.

One of the final stops en route is in Lavacolla, traditionally where pilgrims would wash and change into their best clothes before completing their trek and arriving at the cathedral. From here you have to climb a hill to reach Monte Gozo, which boasts amazing views over to the city and will afford you your first glimpse of the cathedral’s famous spires.

Make sure you plan to have at least one day to fully explore Santiago de Compostela after you’ve finished your hike. In addition to the cathedral, there are many other historical landmarks in the city, such as the Palacio de Gelmirez and the Convento de Santo Domingo de Bonaval.

Enjoy Tenerife on a Budget!

As one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in Europe, Tenerife has developed a thriving tourism industry, with a wealth of excellent attractions, restaurants and other amenities. However, don’t get fooled into thinking a trip to island has to be expensive, as there are plenty of options for budget travelers looking for a cheap holiday in the sun.

While it’s certainly possible to spend a fortune indulging in fine dining, visits to water parks and scuba diving excursions, it’s also very easy to have a truly amazing time here without giving your wallet a workout. After all, when you consider that Tenerife is a volcanic island sprinkled with charming historic towns, gorgeous beaches and unique landscapes, it becomes clear that the isle itself is one giant tourist attraction, and exploring this amazing location is free of charge.

There are also plenty of cheap hotels in Tenerife for those who don’t want to spend a packet on an all inclusive resort, and you’ll find lots information about budget accommodation here. Once you’ve booked your stay you’ll need to start thinking about how you’d like to spend your time (without spending your money) on the island. To help you, we’ve put together a brief guide to enjoying Tenerife on a budget.

beach in tenerife

Eat like a local

While the popular resorts of Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje are full of the kinds of restaurants that thrive on big-spending tourists, the north of the island boasts its own unique gastronomical culture that is centred small eateries called guachinches. These are basically small makeshift food stalls serving home-cooked dishes using local recipes and ingredients. In accordance with Canarian culture, each guachinche only remains open for three consecutive months at a time, serving no more than three dishes, and usually will only be advertised by a small wooden sign.

Because of this, they tend to be frequented more by locals than tourists, so taking the trouble to find one is a great way to discover some authentic Canarian cuisine at an extremely affordable price. Typical dishes include ceviche and other seafood recipes, as well as crinkly chips known as papas arrugadas.

Explore the island

Rather than splashing out on boat trips or days out at theme parks, why not try exploring the island itself? This way you’ll get to learn more about Tenerife’s history, culture and nature for next to no money.

One place that’s worth visiting is the small town of Garachico on the northern coast. Once the island’s main port, the village’s development was stopped in its tracks when the harbour was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1706. Many historic buildings such as the Santa Ana Church and Convent of San Francisco remain, while visitors can also take a dip in the volcanic rock pools, which were created by the same eruption that devastated the port.

Elsewhere, the Teide National Park is home to Spain’s tallest mountain, Mount Teide. This amazing landscape is home to several species of flora that are not found anywhere else in the world, including the beautiful tower of jewels. Taking the cable car to the summit offers amazing views across the island, and is a great way to spend a cheap day out.

Hit the beach

One thing Tenerife is famous for is its climate, and there’s no charge on sunbathing. With so many beaches to choose from you can spend your entire trip discovering the amazingly diverse coastline of the island, adding a sense of adventure to your relaxing beach holiday.

Rather than lounging around in overcrowded resorts like Playa de las Americas, take a trip to Playa Bollullo in Puerto de la Cruz. The black sand, caused by the erosion of volcanic rock, is unlike anything you’ll have ever seen before, and makes for a unique s

Top Things to do in Barcelona with Kids!

 The top things to do in Barcelona can also guarantee a fun vacation for you and your young ones.  Thanks to the 92 Olympics, Barcelona has made its way to the tourism radar.  Since then, neighborhoods have been renovated and efforts have been made to transform this quiet city into a posh tourist destination (just check out some of the luxurious hotels on Splendia and you’ll see for yourself) that combines the old and the new.

But if you think Barcelona has no place for children to have fun, this list of top things to do in Barcelona with kids will prove you wrong.  As a matter of fact, Spain makes it one of their top priorities to keep kids happy and the locals will do anything to bring back that smile on your little one’s face if he or she looks bored or unhappy.

So if you’re travelling with kids to Barcelona and are worried that you won’t find any child-friendly attractions, then let this list be your guide.

After-dark fun for kids.  Think fun activities for kids in Barcelona are limited to day tours in parks and zoos?  There’s also something your little ones can look forward to at night.  The Font Magica is a musical show which features water fountains and coloured lights, a spectacle worth looking forward to at night.  Located just between the Plaza Espanya and Palau Nacional, this fountain which was built in 1929 has been a tourist attraction in Barcelona for a long time.  The light and water show runs every 30 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between.

Go to amusement parks.  One of the top things to do in Barcelona for kids is enjoy a day in one of the amusement parks in the city.  Two of the most popular are the Tibidado Amusement Park and Bubbleparc.  The picturesque Tibidado Amusement Park is located in Tibidado Hill and has a pirate area, a castle and numerous modern and old-fashioned rides kids young and old will certainly enjoy.

Amusement parks in Barcelona, Spain

The Bubbleparc, on the other hand, has a reverse bungy, and a giant bubble where kids can enjoy the experience of floating on water.

Enjoy a day in the Poble Espanyol.  Sundays in the best day to visit Poble Espanyol, where kids can learn a thing or two about different crafts and enjoy various family shows.  The mock village hosts kids workshops and family shows.  There are also art galleries and restaurants where you could enjoy delicious meals with your family. There’s also a treasure hunt game wherein your kids will solve mysteries and look for clues to get prizes!

Things to see in Barcelona

These are just a few great things to do with your kids in Barcelona, if it’s summer time, don’t forget about the amazing beach right in front of the city!


Murcia: arts, culture and beautiful architecture

If you’ve never been to Murcia before, it’s worth checking out this year. Not only is it one of the biggest cities in Spain, with over half a million residents, it’s also brimming over with architectural, artistic and cultural delights. Situated just inland from the south-eastern coast of Spain, it is renowned for its friendly climate with long hot summers, temperate winters and infrequent rain (less than 30 cm throughout the whole year). If you’re looking for hot sun and plenty of it, July and August are typically very hot and dry months while October and November are rather wetter. For those who prefer cooler weather, December through to March is often both mild and dry. Apart from its inviting climate, Murcia is also full of wonderful buildings in the baroque style and visitors can immerse themselves in the history, arts, culture and beautiful architecture of the Murcia region

Murcia Valley, Spain

Beautiful Architecture

The River Segura runs through Murcia and it is spanned by a number of noteworthy bridges ranging from eighteenth century through to the twentieth century. But further away, the real show-stealer is the ancient Roman Aqueduct of Segovia which is a world heritage site. Although it is a rather lengthy eight-hour round trip, it is worth hiring a car in order to experience this piece of ancient architecture which is still in very good condition. Experts have estimated its age to be two-thousand years old and it is a breathtaking monument which you will not want to miss. Back in town, along with the twelfth-century Castle Monteagudo, Murcia Cathedral was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and is famous for its varied architecture. This stunning building includes architectural features ranging from Castilian Gothic through to Spanish Baroque, along with Renaissance, Neoclassical and Rococo accents.


The area is very well-known for its various festivals and during Holy Week, Murcia hosts a traditional procession which is one of Spain’s best-loved festivals. The local museums house a number of Francisco Salzillo’s enormous sculptures and these are paraded through the streets in a re-enactment of Christ’s route to his crucifixion. As well as the life-sized statues, this stately procession also features hundreds of flowers and candles. A week later, watch out for the Orchard Parade when residents dress in historic rural dress. There is also an international Three Cultures festival in May which showcases the cultural contributions made by the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities that have lived together for hundreds of years.


There are also plenty of art-related activities in the area and Murcia turns itself over to music towards the end of July. In San Javier, against the backdrop of the Mar Menor lagoon, there is an annual jazz festival which celebrates music from the artists of yesteryear with tributes to legendary pianists and saxophonists. In the nearby Caragena, there is a global music event, La Mar de Musicas, which features music from a different country each year when internationally-renowned musicians appear. Murcia is also known for its museums and galleries and there have been enormous investments in arts centres in the region. For those interested in more historic art, the Murcia Museum of Fine Arts is worth visiting to see the impressive art collections which date from medieval times. On the other hand, if you have more modern tastes, spend some time in the Sala Verónicas which is a former church, or in the reinvented canning factory, La Conservera, which showcase installations from international artists and sculptors.

Getting there and getting around

Getting to Murcia is relatively easy and there is a choice of international airports, including Murcia Airport and nearby Alicante Airport. The area is well-served by a good range of public transport. For those who wish to explore the area and make the most of the surrounding countryside, mountain and coastal areas, there are also rental cars available from Car Hire Murcia Airport.

So, whether you’re planning an extended visit or a short break, Murcia is guaranteed to provide a unique combination of historic culture and modern entertainment to suit the needs of international visitors.