Spain in Short
The mainstay of the European tourist and second home buying destinations. The amazing rich culture
deeply rooted in the past, the breathtaking 5,000+ kms of incredible Mediterranean coastline, the
second most mountainous country in Europe with hidden valleys completely unspoilt. Heavily developed
areas by the coast to the East and to the south providing a veritable playground for foreigners from
many places and with something for people with all budgets, from cheap budget package tour
destinations to "Golden Miles" and even boasting the most expensive and elite urbanisations in
Fully geared up and very accustomed to receiving visitors, the Spanish truly are the masters of
"hosteleria" hosting, working hard to bring an amazing experience to you while you relax and party!
A recent Bloomberg study officially dubbed it one of the healthiest countries in the world in which
Spain has something for everyone, from beautiful museums, churches, traditional mountain villages to
the hustle and bustle of the busy coastal towns. There are water parks, theme parks, golf courses
and shopping centres, but never far away from massive expanses of countryside and great walks in the
mountains. The forever present Spanish culture and respect for tradition can be seen everywhere in
the architecture, the food and the regular fiestas and celebrations held in every town and village.
You are never far from an amazing party in Spain! At the same time there are many peaceful areas
enjoyed by people looking for a break in the peace and quiet of a beautiful valley surrounded by
majestic mountains providing spectacular sunsets...The warm Mediterranean climate makes it such a
comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Spain is cheaper than many of the Northern European countries in respect to the cost of living and
property prices. The high speed internet connection is facilitating more people to work from home
and Spain is becoming a very popular destination for this reason too.
We hope you enjoy exploring the information below about lifestyle, facilities and “things to do” in
Spain. You may also explore our gallery full of photos and short Vision Media movies which will give
you more of visual and virtual experience of life and activities in Spain.
ABOUT SPAIN - OVERVIEW
Spain is one of the warmest countries in Europe and has been a popular place for many foreigners to
settle since the 1960s. The British and Germans were the first to arrive in great quantities,
nowadays people come from everywhere, particularly Northern Europe and there remains a very strong
international presence, concentrated in coastal areas.
Spain has the mainland, most notably the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and
the Canary Islands. It has been a full member of the European Union since 1986 and as such is very
easy for visa-free European travel.
There are plenty of Airports all over Spain. The Costa Blanca served by Valencia, Alicante and
Murcia, the Costa del Sol is principally served by Malaga or Gibraltar. There is an enormous tourist
trade in Spain giving opportunities to invest in construction, holiday accommodation and related
Property prices vary massively in Spain, even within a few kilometres things can be very different.
Premiums are paid in relation to views, distance to the beach and local facilities. Inland
properties tend to be more economical.
A 2-bedroom apartment in Denia front line on the beach would cost from 400,000€ yet 500m back would
be closer to 180,000-230,000€. Go inland 15-20 minutes and the price would almost half again. All
enjoy the same sun, sea and fantastic climate.
There is a huge selection ranging from hidden boutique hotels nestled in the mountains or back
streets of towns to larger establishments by the sea. It would take months or even years to explore
all the different options as all of them welcome guests who wish to book a reservation or simply
view the facilities. There are really no restrictions of entry and non resident visitors love to
breakfast, lunch or dinner and take in the amazing service and facilities. You can choose to join
one of the super luxurious hotel spas and health clubs or just drink in the bars and restaurants
within the hotels. Many are close to attractions and activities such as Surfing Kitesurfing or SUP
classes, Jet ski, Water parks and more.
Some hotels offer all inclusive holidays where guests often remain there for meals and drinks. It is
always recommendable to visit the local area as eating out is not expensive in Spain and there is a
great tradition of going out for a coffee - meaning there are countless terraces and areas with many
bars and restaurants creating a wonderful atmosphere to be able to relax and watch the world go
There is something for all tastes and budgets.
The main season starts at Easter through to September/October but many hotels are open year round
with Christmas time being a popular time for a getaway with the family.
It is simply not possible for us to list all the beaches as the choice is just too vast. Spain has it
all! From wild unspoilt beaches among some of the top Blue Flag awards such as Oliva or Mijas to the
populated and built up areas such as Benidorm or Marbella.
Beach lovers can explore for months to find your favourite place. Rent a car, take a walk/cycle along
old coastal roads or book a sun-bed and parasol and be served food and drink in one of the many
Chiringuito or Beach bars that are out during the summer months.
Some beaches have wide promenade lines with bars and restaurants and others are away from it all with
peace, quiet and only the sounds of the wind and waves.
Get up early to witness stunning sunrises or hang around for the most wonderful sunsets. You can even
book boat tour with drinks at sunset! Follow this with a Tapas or two in a traditional Spanish bar
You can even take day trips out to certain smaller Islands like Formentura or Tabarca.
Vision Group are always willing to share with you the best beach locations in Spain!
NATURE, FLOWERS AND FAUNA
There are certain times of year like the famous Almond Blossom in late January - early February in
the Jalon Valley when people come from far and wide to witness the beautiful carpet of pink and
white flowers across the valley.
You know you are in Spain when you see the Palm trees! A feature almost everywhere, some towns having
lines of them along the main roads into town.
Orange and lemon groves scattered across the ancient terracing on the sides of mountains, abundant
olive trees producing delicious fruit and also natural shade from the warm sunshine. If it is
magical forests you seek, enjoy the dense evergreen pine and carob trees never far away.
If you take a walk in the mountains you will be amazed by the beautiful environment and you will find
all manner of interesting plants all along the way.
If wildlife fascinates you then you will enjoy visiting one of the many nature reserves such as The
Albufera, or L'Albufera de València (meaning "lagoon" in Valencian) where you can go to the visitors
centre to get to know the birds and wildlife that populate the reserve, or you can see the Flamingos
that come the the Salt Lakes near Torrevieja - an amazing site to behold! Scuba diving and
snorkelling are also very popular amongst nature and water lovers - with some natural parks
spreading out into the sea to protect coastlines of rocks, caves and amazing marine wildlife. Up
close with an Octopus or seeing Dolphins swimming by are not uncommon occurrences along the Spanish
WALKING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING
Senderismo is Spanish for hiking. Rutas de Senderismo are the countless hiking routes sprawling
across the countryside both along the coast and inland in the mountains. Discover restaurants hidden
in the mountains with the most spectacular local dishes.
Recent years has seen a massive growth in the popularity of cycling, the Gira de España has made
cycling a mainstream hobby and new laws protecting cyclists have been introduced. Spain has become a
training ground for world class teams with the mountains and the climate allowing much longer
training seasons than other countries. Groups of people of all ages can be found on their bikes
enjoying the clean air and spectacular views of a "paseo en bici" roughly translating as a "stroll
out on your bike!”
Follow the old coastal roads with the sea breeze in your face or venture high up and enjoy the almost
airplane views from up in the mountains.
So what can you do to raise your heart rate, practise your sport or pump some adrenalin. Spain is a very
outdoor and sporty country, once again there is something for everyone as there is no shortage of
sporting activities. Let’s see if any of the activities below appeal to you :-
Golf - Spain is huge on Golf! You are seldom more than a few kms from not just one but many golf courses.
The Costa del Sol is often known as the Costa del Golf! If Golf is your thing, you will definitely find
the right course for you here!
Water Sports - A sunny Mediterranean country with huge a coastline makes it a haven for water sport
enthusiasts so here are some to choose from :
Scuba Diving - There are many places to rent equipment and book classes from the beginner to experienced
divers. Spain has many natural reserves along the coastline giving great places to get under the water
and see life going about its business!
Wind Surfing - This action sport has been popular in Spain for decades with centres dotted along the
Paddle Boarding or SUP boarding as it’s known - A newly popular sport in Spain, particularly because of
its lack of dependance of wind to practise it and the accessibility for all levels of experience or
ability - on your first day you can go on your knees and paddle - even if you don't learn to stand
immediately! Great for balance and core strength. Some places even offer Yoga classes floating on
Kitesurfing - a very popular Sport in Spain with the main spot (in Europe) being Tarifa. Becoming an
Olympic sport has caused even more of an upturn in popularity and classes are abundant in most areas -
although it does need specific wind conditions and some areas are known to be much better than
Sailing and Boating - Spain is covered in ports and marinas where renting boats is relatively easy. If
you have the licence you can rent without a captain, or if not you can book a short tour or day trip
that can include the whole package with meals and drinks. Many people also choose to keep their boats
here all year round.
Gyms, Health Clubs and Spas - There are Gyms, Health Clubs ad Spas all around ranging from public parks
with gym equipment areas or the municipal facilities with beautiful quality gyms, tennis courts,
football pitches and swimming pools amongst other things to privately owned and exclusive hotels with in
house stunning Spas.
Motor Sport - GoKart centres of varying sizes, quad bike hire with and without guides, there are many
ways to get about! The latest craze seems to be the electric scooters and bikes allowing the versatility
to get around but without having to find a parking space!
RESTAURANTS AND TRADITIONAL CUISINE
It used to be that France owned the franchise on quality eating - but Spain has stepped up over the last
decades. They now boast more Michelin stars than ever and have the finest locally sourced ingredients
ripened on the plant, under the Mediterranean sun. They are becoming world leaders in high quality food.
The culture in Spain means many people eat in restaurants - not just tourists so the selection is very
wide and the prices are still very cheap compared to many other developed countries. The combination is
very successful and great food can be obtained as very reasonable prices. The "Menu del dia" created by
Franco is still a strong tradition requiring restaurants to advertise a fixed price that should include
a starter, main, dessert and drink (sometimes even the coffee is included) the person should see the
price and know that is exactly what they will pay for what is stated. Often several choices for each
course are offered and it is a great way to "eat, drink and be merry" for a pre-agreed price.
Spanish food is so good they often don't bother with any other! That being said, there are also
restaurants from all over the world in Spain: Chinese, Italian, American, French and more...that hardest
part of having so many choices is to actually decide!
Traditionally the Spanish eat 5 times a day, not 3! Desayuno = Breakfast, Almuerzo = "second breakfast -
or Elevenses," Comida = Lunch, Merienda = Afternoon snack, Cena = Dinner. That means you can eat out 5
times a day, not 3!
Vision Group would love to give just one recommendation of a special place to visit - but this would be
impossible because of how many ideal places there are. The choice is just too great and each restaurant
is special for so many reasons. We are always happy to share our local knowledge - you just have to
If you simply desire to live off the land and you love cooking at home, you will adore the abundant
markets and shops that sell a huge variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, all grown within Spain.
There is no doubt that fruit and vegetables also like the Mediterranean climate as they are fresh and
naturally delicious without preservatives and shipping damage. These green grocer’s and regular markets
are very popular with the locals and foreigners alike, and there is a reason - fresh for the day and
super value. Some stock locally produced goods such as cheese, sausages, eggs, olive oil, nuts and
bread. Don’t forget some herbs or the famous smoked paprika to throw in your pot.
There is a wide choice of modern supermarkets fully stocked and with some of your European favoured
brands. Following years of a growing international market you will find many brands from all over the
world and some supermarkets dedicating to importing the things you miss.
Spain has Nightlife to suit all tastes and ages and operates an all welcome policy in most places. There
are the classic terraces with music and drinks served late into the night and early morning, the
Discoteca - some open air and some inside, choose by location or music type and there is often a local
fiesta or celebration in a plaza or a few streets closed off to accommodate it. The Spanish youth tend
to go out about midnight and come home around 6am!
During the summer months the sky is a mixture of stars and often fireworks. A fiesta here, a celebration
there, a discoteca opening somewhere or local Fila (party organisation) crowning a new king and queen or
Just a stroll round the old town and an ice-cream or a coffee makes for an enchanting after dinner
Where there are people there is life. Bigger towns offer more events, flamenco shows, theatre, cabaret
In the summer open air cinemas are often opened on beaches or the main square of an inland village. Great
to mingle with the locals and they often show Spanish or VO foreign films (Version Original with
subtitles into Spanish).
Once again the choice is substantial, you just need a lifetime to explore it all.
The calendar is published each year and is taken very seriously indeed. There are around 10 national
fiesta days and 2 local ones. The small villages try to coordinate with other local villages to not have
the same dates - to allow each other to attend the other local fiestas. The result is that there is a
fiesta somewhere most weekends!! You just have to watch out for the publicity to see where the next one
The annual list includes:-
Kings Day - the Cabalgata, large processions where magic kings throw sweets out to the children (whilst
simultaneously leaving them presents at home as traditions goes - magic!)
Fallas - specific to the Valencia region, during the year huge papier-mache statues are built which are
then displayed, judged and then burnt in order of the results starting with the number 2-12 then the
number 1 at the very end. It has to be seen to be believed. A must to see the Valencia Mascleta once in
Moros y Cristianos - Celebrated at different times in different towns throughout the year. A procession
depicting the Spanish expulsion of the Moors from Spain 800 years ago.
Semana Santa - Holy week particularly noted in Andalucia - the central point point being Malaga, with
prime spot tickets being sold out generations in advance but space for everyone to get a look at
Las fiestas de ...... - Every town and village has it's own specific dates and style of fiesta from the
Tomatina in Buñol involving the throwing of tons of tomatoes at each other to the running of the bulls
still present in many towns and cities involving the young demonstrating their bravery by avoiding
getting hit by a bull!
Some people choose to get legally married in their own country and then have a Blessing and celebration
in Spain for all their family and friends. There are many places very well prepared to host your special
day. Vision Group Spain can help with specific information once you know what area you would like to
head for - just ask our team.
FOR THE KIDS
Kids are very welcome everywhere in Spain and you'll see them up late in the restaurants with their
parents. There are many sports centres, groups and classes for kids. Educational and activity centres
that combine fun and learning. A great healthy life for children is available in Spain. The weather
alone allows for a much healthier lifestyle and "playing out" with their friends will late. Most
establishments will pay more attention to the kids than the adults!
The Spanish love their commercial centres. Big Spanish brands like La Zara and Mango are side by side
with international brands in the many shopping centres. All shops close on Sundays, except for certain
permitted Sundays, often in summer to allow for tourists. But the bars and restaurants remain open every
day so you'll often see people in shopping centres on Sundays having a drink or some food.
There are many universities in Spain, working to the Spanish system and requiring Spanish fluency to be
able to study here. Applying for attendance at a university in Spain is the first step in making your
dreams of attending school in this amazing country come true. All universities in the country require
that an application be completed before one can be considered for admission into a university. Luckily
you will find that filling out these college applications is simple and easy to do, and takes only a
short amount of time.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs & Admissions
If you wish to earn a Bachelor’s degree at a Spain university, the process of completing an application
will vary according to the country in which you obtained your secondary education. European and
Non-European students will need to follow the exact procedures for applications as indicated below.
For those who are in a European country, application submission takes place through the SNUDE, the
Spanish National University for Distance Education. The application, called the solicitud de
inscripcion, opens during the month of April. Upon completion of the application it should be printed
and mailed to the address indicated on the website. You may be asked to submit a copy of a passport,
identity card or school leaving certification with the application. If accepted you will receive a
Credencial de Accesso within a period of three months. This should be sent to the university in which
you want to attend.
If you are not from a European country and looking to earn your Bachelor’s degree it is necessary that
you have a recognition from your high school. This recognition certifies that you have attained the
necessary certification in compliance with requirements in Spain. The recognition can be obtained at a
Spanish Embassy. The Embassy will provide you with a Volante Accreditation which can be used to apply at
the universities of your choice.
After being granted the Volante Acreditativo it is necessary that you register for a Spanish University
entrance exam. This exam is called the selectividad or the Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad. You are
now ready to apply.
A Look at the Exam
There are four different components of the Selectividad exam. Each is important:
Text Analysis: This portion of the exam gives you the chance to choose between two texts, written in
Spanish. Once you choose the text questions related to it will be provided to you.
Questions about Spain’s History or Philosophy: You can choose between the two when it is time to take
your test. You will need to answer several questions about the chosen subject in this portion. Foreign
Language Exam: Take your choice of French, English, German, Portuguese or Italian.
Your Choice: The fourth and final part of the exam can be indicated by your selection, with choices which
include subjects related to Art, Fine Art, Dance and Music; and subjects related to Science and
Technology. Several choices are available in all.
You must successfully complete each portion of the test in order to move forward in the process of
attending school in Spain.
Applying at a University for Postgraduate Degrees
Those seeking a postgraduate degree should contact the institution they are interested in attending
directly to learn the admission requirements. In most cases you will need to provide proof of earning
your bachelor’s degree, a copy of your passport and transcripts. This is also true for those who are
returning to a university after already attending or attending a college or university in another
There may be more than one period of applications at the university that you want to attend, as many of
the universities offer both fall and summer semesters. For the main semester (summer) it is usually
required your application be submitted by July of the year. Make sure that you have all of your
information, as well as the application, in as soon as possible. Never wait till the last minute to get
all of the things in to the school.
Also keep in mind that all of your applications and documents must be submitted in Spanish. If your
documents are not already in Spanish, you will need to have an official translator translate them into
Having one of the newer National Health Systems, many visitors are surprised and impressed with the
efficiency of the Spanish medical system. There are also many private hospitals working with insurers to
provide a top class service. With a large percentage of European retirees choosing Spain, the health
system is always a large factor in that decision process and Spain does not disappoint.
Spain's legal system is the same as most European countries, based on the Roman system - and very
different to the Anglo Saxon system in the UK and USA. You must use a locally qualified lawyer for any
Vision Group have successfully assisted hundreds of clients with banking services and opening accounts.
Whether they are foreign, public, private or international, there are many banks to choose from. Some
were established for and focus on the ex-pat community and all are multi lingual. Opening a bank account
is relatively easy and generally require to see a passport, NIE number and a rental or purchase
contract. Whilst the local currency is Euros, the best exchange rates and a swift and easy on-line
experience, you may choose to use the services of VisionFX (visionfx.vision-org.com). Loans are
available for smaller items such as cars however the interest rate charged is generally higher than
those in Europe and they require detailed proof of contracted earnings and address. Mortgage lending is
very heavily controlled after 2008 and banks will generally offer a maximum of 70% of the pre-tax value
of the property and will not fund any of the costs or taxes.
Although public transport is relatively good in Spain, it is much more preferable to hire or buy a car
depending on the length of your stay. There are even many companies at airports offering 365 day parking
permits as many holiday home owners keep a car at the airport to use when they come to their property.
Car hire prices rocket during the summer so owning one is often more economical.
There is a fantastic network of relatively new and well maintained motorways throughout Spain allowing
for easy travel by car or bus. Local roads are in good condition and constantly maintained or improved.
There are new high speed trains linking Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and more as well as the air-bridge
short internal flights so it is easy to get around Spain when necessary. Water becomes more scarce the
further south, particularly in summer months and hence the national system brings water down from
Catalonia to Castellon and on to Valencia and on further south.
The nature of the mountainous terrain means that the landscape retains water and Spain can survive
without rain for much longer than other countries with more constant rainfall.
Alicante is the main airport servicing the Costa Blanca and Malaga the Costa del Sol. Although there are
many airports across the whole of the country.
The Costa del Sol
The heart of Andalucia, home to Malaga, Marbella, Puerto Banus and Sotogrande amongst other well known
The South coast of Spain, facing Africa which you can see on a clear day, particularly in the winter.
The playground in the sun, it has been a very popular destination for tourists and holiday home owners
for decades. As the available land for construction becomes more scarce, the prices reflect this and it
is no longer a "budget" area.
The Costa Blanca
The Communidad Valencia, east coast of Spain, the Costa Blanca stretches between the southernmost point
of the province of Alicante up to Denia at the northern tip of the province.
With prices soaring on the Costa del Sol, it became a very viable alternative and has budget areas like
Torrevieja to more exclusive areas like Denia, Altea and Alicante capital.
Covered with beautiful towns, amazing beaches, mountains, inland and almost as many Golf courses as the
Costa del Sol, it is a great area to consider with the bonus of slightly shorter flight times from