Monica Sanchez, the Spain Tourism Board’s Director, introduces the country’s best destinations for travelers of all kinds.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s July 2023 Issue.
Monica Sanchez is the Spain Tourism Board’s Director in charge of Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. As a seasoned civil servant, she has been dedicated to promoting Spain as a tourist destination all over the world for three decades. “Now, based in amazing Southeast Asia, I bring my experience to invite this part of the world to discover and enjoy one of the most underrated destinations in Europe,” Sanchez tells Lifestyle Asia in an exclusive interview.
The Director hasn’t had the opportunity to travel around the Philippines, but she says she deeply appreciates the warm and friendly nature of the Filipino people. “I felt really at home in the Philippines,” she adds. For now, we’ve taken the chance to ask her about the best destinations Spain has to offer.
WHICH DESTINATIONS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR FIRST-TIME TRAVELERS TO SPAIN?
Valencia: Known for its modern architecture and vibrant food scene, Valencia offers a mix of history, culture, and relaxation.
Granada: Home to the Alhambra palace, Granada provides a unique blend of Moorish and Spanish influences. The tapas culture here is also exceptional.
Bilbao: A city in the Basque Country, Bilbao is renowned for its contemporary art museum, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It’s a great destination for art enthusiasts and those interested in Basque culture and cuisine.
WHAT ABOUT FOR RETURNING TRAVELERS?
Asturias: Located in northern Spain, Asturias offers stunning natural landscapes, including the Picos de Europa mountain range and picturesque coastal villages. It’s an ideal region for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring charming fishing towns. While there, take the opportunity to travel to neighboring Cantabria, home to one of the most beautiful bays in the world in Santander.
Cáceres: Located in the western part of Spain, Cáceres is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its well-preserved medieval architecture. It’s a city with a rich history and also a great place to wander through narrow streets and discover hidden gems.
Ronda: Situated in the province of Málaga, Ronda is a breathtaking mountaintop city. It is known for its dramatic cliffside views and its historic bullring. It offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
WHAT ARE SOME UNDER THE RADAR DESTINATIONS THAT TRAVELERS SHOULD VISIT?
Cuenca: A small city located between Madrid and Valencia, Cuenca is famous for its hanging houses, perched on the edge of dramatic cliffs. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a peaceful atmosphere and beautiful landscapes.
Cadiz: A historic port city located in the southwestern part of Spain. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain. Cadiz is also one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, with a history dating back over 3,000 years. Adding to that, the city is famous for its vibrant carnival and for its gastronomy, particularly its seafood and fish dishes.
La Gomera: One of the less crowded Canary Islands, La Gomera offers lush green landscapes, volcanic mountains, and charming villages. It’s a fantastic destination for hiking, exploring untouched nature, and experiencing the local culture.
WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE DESTINATIONS FOR FOOD-LOVERS?
San Sebastián: This city in the Basque Country is famous for its pintxos, which are the Basque version of tapas. The Old Town has bars offering a wide variety of these delicious bite-sized culinary delights.
Sevilla: Known for its rich culinary heritage, Sevilla offers traditional Andalusian dishes such as gazpacho, pescaíto frito (fried fish), and delicious tapas.
Galicia: Located in the northwest of Spain, Galicia is known for its fresh seafood. Particularly the renowned Galician octopus (pulpo a la gallega).
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Photos courtesy of Turespaña.