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Skiing is cheap and the facilities and conditions are surprisingly good. The season runs from December to May and the most accessible resorts are in the Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and in the ranges north of Madrid. Spain is a trekking paradise, especially the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa. You can also hike the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrims' route running from Navarra to Santiago de Compostela

Cycling is popular but there are deterrents, like the often-mountainous terrain, crowded roads and summer heat. Take your pick of the hundreds of beaches offering fine swimming, but be prepared to tiptoe over package tourists during summer. The coast of the País Vasco (Basque Country) has good surf.


In true Spanish style, cultural events are almost inevitably celebrated with a wild party and a holiday. Among the festivals to look out for are Festividad in San Sebastián in January, when the whole town dresses up and goes berserk. Carnaval takes place throughout the country in late February; the wildest is said to be in Sitges. In March, Valencia has a week-long party known as Las Fallas, which is marked by all-night dancing, drinking, first-class fireworks and colourful processions. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week leading up to Easter Sunday with parades of holy images through the streets; Seville is the place to be if you can get accommodation. In late April the Feria de Abril in Seville is a week-long party counterbalancing the religious fervour of Semana Santa.

The last Wednesday in August sees the Valencian town of Buñol go bonkers with La Tomatina, in which the surplus from its tomato harvest is sploshed around in a friendly riot. The Running of the Bulls (Sanfermines) in Pamplona in July is Spain's most famous festival. Along the north coast, staggered through the first half of August, is Semana Grande, another week of heavy drinking and hangovers.

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