Spain is a popular tourist haunt for many Europeans and whilst people travel in their hundreds of thousands each and every year, there is only a small percentage of those people who truly envelop themselves in the Spanish culture. There of course, is nothing wrong with spending two weeks relaxing on a sunny beach, trying some tapas and sipping on the odd jug of sangria, but this most certainly does not count as involving yourself in the true Spanish culture.
If this is something that sounds appealing to you then here are a few ways in which you can really embrace this rich and colorful culture, the next time you go to Spain.
Tours With Locals
During my trip to Barcelona last year I went on a fantastic tapas and wine tour which was actually carried out by locals which meant you learned all about the history of the products and how they are made, as well as getting insider information as to where to find the very best quality wine and tapas in the city. This tour was on a website called Withlocals which is a brilliant idea for an app and a website. This young startup puts you directly in touch with locals who cannot wait to show off their city and their culture. Through tours and visits that the site offers, it is the perfect way for a tourist to learn more about the culture.
Learn the Lingo
Much of the south of Spain in particular has become very anglicized such are the number of ex-pats living there but if you truly want to embrace the culture then why not learn some Spanish before you go. Being able to converse with someone in their own language will give you a much deeper understanding of those that you speak to and you could find that you learn a great deal more about their habits and cultures. You could take an online course, a night school program at a local college or even just buy some books and teach yourself. Connecting with someone in their mother tongue is the best way to truly understand them.
Off The Beaten Track
Something which you will find in the big cities and popular holiday hotspots in Spain, are that they lack a great deal of traditional culture. Something therefore that I love to do when I am in Spain, is to rent a car and head out into the small towns and villages where you can really experience the true heart of the cultural side of the country. The differences that you will notice from town to town are huge and the way in which they embrace culture varies greatly, especially in the north where you’ll find that Catalan, Basque and Galician are three very different cultures indeed.
The key to unlocking the culture in any country in the world is to get away from the tourist hotspots, connect with locals and all that they can teach you and make an effort to understand and embrace the languages and traditions that are so important to the people.