THIS year’s TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards are in – and Spain features on almost every list.
The tourism planning platform vote annually in various categories on cities, attractions, beaches, countries, hotels, airlines and other features of worldwide holidays, and the top 25 are highlighted on the site.
Spain’s best bits – not all of them, of course, just a tiny handful
They Appear year after year, and it is frequently one of the most-featured countries in each of the top 25 lists.
In ‘Trending Destinations‘, the Canarian island of Fuerteventura (picture five, by the island tourist board) comes 16th,
with recommended attractions mentioned including Sotavento beach, Cofete beach, the Corralejo nature reserve, the Tefia eco-museum, the annual pre-Lent Carnival, Baku water park, and the quaint, pretty town of Betancuria.
It comes ahead of México DF at number 17; Chiang Mai in Thailand; Fes in Morocco; the Hungarian capital of Budapest; Zanzibar Island in Tanzania; Cartagena de Indias in Colombia; Edinburgh in Scotland, UK; Cebu Island in the Philippines, and, at number 25, the Russian capital of Moscow.
like the Balearic island of Mallorca comes eighth
recommendations include Palma cathedral, Alcúdia old town, Muro beach, Marineland sealife park, the ancient Palma-to-Sóller train, and also refers to famous islanders including artist Joan Miró and composer Frédéric Chopin
who spent a winter there with French novelist George Sands and Barcelona is ninth, with attractions listed as the Bellesguard Tower,
The Sagrada Família Cathedral, the Amatller House, the Ramblas with its ‘flamboyant street performers’, and the colourful Güell.
The list is, predictably, topped by London and Paris, followed by
Phuket island (Thailand)
and Sicily (Italy),
Although Mallorca and Barcelona have beaten in descending order
Dubai (United Arab Emirates),
the Dominican Republic,
Prague (Czech Republic),
Hoi An (Vietnam),
Siem Reap (Cambodia),
Tokyo and Kyoto (Japan),
New York at number 25.
In ‘Experiences‘ – which covers full-day tours, frequently off the beaten track and often with unconventional elements to them
Spain comes in at number 12 with an excursion to the spectacular monastery in Montserrat (first picture, by Gyrofrog on Wikimedia Commons), Barcelona province, including lunch and gourmet wine-tasting.
Ahead of the Montserrat tour is a red-dune camel safari in the United Arab Emirates, Tuscan cooking classes in Florence, an Amsterdam canal cruise, Berlin walking tour, Northern Ireland circuit tour,
Chicago river cruise, day trip by camel to the Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour in New York, a day trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney, sea-kayaking and snorkelling in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and an Ancient Rome and Colisseum underground tour.
The Montserrat trip came ahead of a Lisbon walking tour, a Harry Potter ‘London for Muggles’ tour, a Douro Valley cruise with lunch and wine-tasting in northern Portugal, a Niagara Falls boat trip, a Highlands, Glencoe and Loch Ness tour in Scotland, a traditional village sightseeing trip in Bali, a Prague walking tour with a Vltava river cruise, an Ubud circuit tour in Indonesia, an Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka salt-mine trip, a Great Ocean Road eco-trip from Melbourne, a Chernobyl and Prypiat excursion in Ukraine, a Dachau memorial site rail trip, and a Teotihuacan tour with an archaeologist and tequila-tasting in México DF.
For the ‘Beaches‘ award, most of those on the list were not traditional package-tour magnets – which included the ones chosen for Spain, Formentera’s Ses Illetes in the Balearic Islands, and San Sebastián’s La Concha (third photograph), in the Basque Country, at 14 and 15 respectively.
They came ahead of Florida’s St Pete beach; the Playa Norte on México’s Isla Mujeres; Maho Bay in St John, Virgin Islands; Bavaro beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Woolacombe beach in Devon, UK; Elafonissi beach in Chania, Crete (Greece); Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday Island, Queensland, Australia; Cala Mariolu in Baunei, Sardinia, Italy; Balos Lagoon in Kissamos, Crete; and the Black Sand beach in Vik, Iceland.
Most of those ranked above Spain were in Brazil and the Caribbean,
One each in Florida and India, but the only European beaches ahead of the two in Spain were Italy’s Spiaggia dei Conigli, off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa (4), Kleftiko beach on the Greek island of Milos (10), and Luskentyre on the Scottish Outer Hebridean island of Harris, UK (13).
Spain got one entry in the ‘Emerging Destinations‘ list, although residents and tourists would probably question whether Cala d’Or, Mallorca (fourth picture, by Riessdo on Wikimedia Commons) was really ’emerging’ or, in fact, already established
but it is still very much worth a visit, and the TripAdvisor description makes it sound even more inviting than it already is: “With its calm waters, sandy bays and family-friendly vibe, Cala d’Or is an easy-going alternative to Mallorca’s more popular resort destinations. Charming cobbled streets wind past whitewashed buildings, and lengthy sunlight hours allow plenty of time for exploring the town’s woodland surrounds.”
Curiously, Cala d’Or’s ranking at number 18 came below Ipswich in Suffolk (UK), the description for which refers to ‘historical charm’, ‘relaxing strolls’, ‘an immersive taste of English life’, and ‘one of the nation’s oldest communities’.
Agra, the ‘Taj Mahal city’, Antwerp in Belgium, Darwin in Australia, Tangier in Morocco, Luxor in Egypt and Beirut in Lebanon were other ’emerging’ destinations listed.
For ‘Restaurants‘ – a category where Spain arguably comes out top in the world and where Michelin stars are not exactly in short supply the most dominant countries on the list are France and Italy, although the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, the USA, China, South Africa, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, México and Chile are featured.
Two of Spain’s most world-renowned eateries, run by celebrity chefs, made the cut – Azurmendi, in Larrabetzu, and Martín Berasategui in Lasarte, both in the Basque Country, at numbers 15 and 17 respectively.
Top comments shown on the ‘awards’ list for Azurmendi included: “Another ‘must’ for the gourmet agenda,” and “Trust me, chef Eneko will never let you down,” and for Martín Berasategui, “The best combinations of flavours we have ever experienced. The meal was culinary poetry.”
Spain did not achieve any entries in ‘Attractions‘, which were entirely theme parks except Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens, and covered the various Universal Studios and Disneylands;
Nor in ‘Hotels‘, where the winners were in
Siem Reap (Cambodia),
Hanoi and Hoi An (Vietnam),
Manuel Antonio and La Fortuna de San Carlos (Costa Rica),
Funchal in Madeira (Portugal),
San José del Cabo and Cabo de San Lucas in México,
Pointe de Flacq and Belle Mare in Mauritius,
Llandudno in Wales (UK),
Baros Island in the Maldives,
Jakarta in Indonesia,
Chithirapuram in India, D
assia and Sani in Greece,
Kemer in Turkey,
Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt,
and Charleston in South Carolina (USA).
The ‘Airlines‘ category only ran to 10, none of which were Spanish but which were topped by Brazilian carrier Azul,
followed by Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, Jet2, Air New Zealand, EVA Air (Taiwan), Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways, and Emirates.
This said, most major airlines serve Spain, and national carriers Iberia, Vueling and BinterCanarias have all been nominated for this year’s World Travel Awards, as have several hotels.
And if you’re seeking a hotel with a twist, have a look at some of Spain’s most weird and wonderful here.
As for theme parks, Spain has no shortage of these – water parks, scary rides, animal magic, marine underworlds, and plenty more
But these are worth a separate article of their own, so we’ll come back to you on those.
Just to add that you don’t have to be a child, or even a child at heart, to enjoy many of them, although if you’re either, you’ll have a hard time getting around them all before you reach adulthood – there simply aren’t enough years between birth and coming of age to pack every one of them in. But we’re sure you’ll have fun trying.