With its storied castles, snowcapped mountains, vast monuments, and sophisticated cities, Spain has long been one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. From Madrid’s Adolfo Suarez/Barajas International Airport to the coastal city of Valencia, the country is accessible from many European and global cities with direct flights. And while many of the largest cities have their own airports, discount airlines also fly to smaller regional hubs such as Alicante and Jerez-La Parra.

Spain covers a surprisingly diverse range of terrain, from the arid plateau of the Meseta to the snowcapped peaks and rocky beaches of the north and southwest. Its elongated coast on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean includes some of the world’s most famous beaches. And, with three of Europe’s longest rivers—the Tagus, the Douro, and the Guadalquivir—there’s no shortage of inland waterways to explore.

While Spanish cuisine is renowned, the country is also known for flamenco dance and music, siesta, bullfights, art and literature, architecture, a Moorish heritage, its islands, and the sport of football (soccer). Located at the southern edge of the Iberian Peninsula, a highly diversified mix of ethnic groups has populated the region from the second millennium B.C., when Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts moved to the Iberian mainland.

The result is a vibrant culture that has something to offer every kind of traveler. The capital, Madrid, is a cultural, culinary, and political center; it’s home to museums, palaces, and one of the world’s most important opera houses. A day trip from the city takes visitors to Segovia, whose ancient Roman aqueduct, medieval castle, and Alcazar have inspired many a Disney fairy tale. And, in the picturesque hilltop town of Ronda, the majestic Moorish Alhambra is a breathtaking sight.

Spain’s dazzling landscape has inspired many a painter, sculptor, and novelist. It’s the birthplace of Picasso, Goya, Cervantes, and the Flamenco dancer. And, it’s the origin of many of the world’s most popular dishes and drinks, including paella, tapas, churros, sangria, and wine.

Whether you want to stroll the beaches of Mallorca, see Barcelona’s Gaudi architecture, or take in the sights of the Basque Country—a road trip around Spain gives you the freedom to enjoy all these experiences and more. With a rental car, you can prioritize back roads over highways and discover off-the-beaten-path surprises. And you can set aside the map and focus on enjoying the scenery as you drive—without rushing to catch a train or nailing your itinerary down to the minute. That means you’ll truly experience Spain.

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