Spain is famous for many activities including flamenco dance and bullfighting, which are both cultural symbols of the country and known across the world. However, some activities well known to tourists are often overrated and may actually be worth skipping during a visit.
Barcelona receives more tourists than any city in Spain. The appeal of this city includes its architecture, food and weather, which is usually gorgeous thanks to its position on the Mediterranean Sea. Many visitors make their way to the beaches in Barcelona to enjoy the sun and warmth but as you quickly find, the beaches are not particularly nice. These beaches are actually man-made and don't have the best sand or layout. The beach area was created for the 1992 Olympics as part of a massive seafront reconstruction. For a much better beach experience, head north to the Costa Brava or south to Sitges which boasts stunning views and beautiful blue water.
The festival of San Fermine, known as the Running of the Bulls, is arguably the most famous festival in all of Spain. Consequently, it has also been overrun with international tourists looking to get their own taste of the event made world-famous by Earnest Hemingway's book The Sun Also Rises written in 1926. For a more authentic Spanish festival experience, try the smaller and more local Batalla del Vino. This wine battle takes place in the small town of Haro, located in the wine country of La Rioja and only receives a fewl thousand visitors each year during the event.
Paella is a classic rice and seafood dish from the Valencia region of Spain. This dish has become so popular in Spain that you can now find hundreds of different varieties all across the country. Unfortunately, the popularity and simplicity of this dish makes it abundant and often low quality. If you're set on eating paella during your trip, your best bet is to get a locals recommendation. Ask your hotel staff or a local restaurant employee to recommend a good paella place; otherwise it might be worth skipping.
Nearly every city and town in Spain has a central plaza, typically called the Plaza Mayor. While many of these plazas are beautiful and historic, they are often crowded with tourists and local street performers showing their latest gimmick or trick. Sure, each plaza is worth a quick look and a photo, but don't spend too much time in these areas. Its usually also best to avoid eating in the restaurants in the main plaza because they are often overpriced and serve low quality food. You can get advice from a local to find a plaza with a more relaxed and authentic atmosphere if you want to dine outside.
Bullfighting is one of the most famous cultural activities that represents Spain. However, this sport is considered by many to be cruel and inhumane. For those who still want to experience a sense of the sport without the violence, you can attend a Recortadores event as an alternative. Inspired by the original Spanish bullfighting custom, this sport involves multiple performers doing acrobatic jumps over the bull, rather than taunting and killing the animal at the end. The least fearless recadortador who earns the most respect from the crowd is considered the winner.
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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