Most of the 17 million Brits who took a holiday to Spain last year flocked only to the big well-known coastal resorts or cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.
But there are many more natural, cultural and historical treasures to discover.
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Forty miles east of Malaga, this village was thought to be sympathetic to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1948, the residents paid a heavy price when Franco’s forces ordered everyone to leave.
It remained a ghost town until 50 years later when one of the former residents’ sons returned. Today, all the houses and streets have been returned to how they were.
Take the ‘Lost Village’ walking tour (five miles but fairly easy, €20) led by amiable Irishman John.
However progressive the post-Franco decades have been, Spain remains a country steeped in its Catholic faith, no more so than in Holy Week (Semana Santa), the days leading up to Easter.
From cities to villages, the occasion is celebrated nationwide by costumed processions with huge floats displaying religious tableaux and penitents wearing capirotes (tall, conical masked hats).
The events in Zamora, a 900-year-old former Roman settlement to the northwest, are attuned to tradition, eschewing the more flamboyant commemorations elsewhere.
The mountain-top Andalusian town divided by a 330ft gorge. The Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) joins the old Moorish town to the newer part.
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If Rioja and chilled sherries eventually lose their allure, head for the Basque Country, where cider-making is as traditional as a black beret.
Astigarraga is the cider ‘hub’ with independently run cider houses dotted around the region.
The drink itself – stored in and poured from vast barrels (txotx) – is flat, pungent and, if you’re not careful, heady stuff. Be sure to visit in spring before the barrels are emptied and the cider is bottled.
La Liga football teams
Forget Real Madrid and Barcelona, try one of La Liga’s lesser lights for a ‘proper’ fútbol experience.
There’s always an amazing atmosphere (whatever the home team’s performance) at Málaga Club de Fútbol’s La Rosaleda stadium, an ideal afternoon or evening for couples and families.
Keep an eye out for the crazy ex-pat fans known as the Guiri Army with their giant England flag. From €20 admission for adults.
An hour’s drive west from Gijón (a treat in itself), Playa de Frejulfe is one of the most unspoilt beaches on a coastline renowned for them.
It’s just over half a mile long, sweeping and wide, with a rocky headland and rock pools, all backed by a forest of eucalyptus.
Prone to rain, but then there’s always a chiringuito (beach café) from which to watch the Atlantic waves rolling in.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez
An impressive residence of the King of Spain, located in the riverside town of Aranjuez, 45 minutes’ drive south of Madrid. It’s the Spanish equivalent of Hampton Court.
A royal property since 1523, it’s open to the public as one of the Spanish royal sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town is majestic too with shady parks, wide streets and squares for relaxing with wine and tapas.
The series of caves known as Cuevas de Nerja, above, close to the pretty seaside town of the same name was discovered by boys bunking off school in the 1950s.
Reaching for almost three miles, they are like giant subterranean cathedrals. Be warned, it can be steep inside.
Back outside, the location is blessed with the best views imaginable across the shimmering sea towards Africa.
Just beyond the sleepy southern town of Aldeaquemada you’ll find the Cascada de Cimbarra, right, with a breathtaking 130ft drop.
Flanked by two colossal limestone cliffs, the water plunges into a large green-blue pool. The drive to the top, in a landscape vast yet quiet, is a joy. You’re likely to encounter only deer, eagles and vultures.
Picos de Europa
A relatively unknown national park of spectacular mountains, bridges and lakes 15 miles from the north coast. Ideal for questing walkers.
It might be better know if it was in the warmer part of Spain so people could get their sun fix, too
The city is rich in history and off the main tourist route, so feels authentic. Don’t miss the Plaza Mayor, one of the loveliest squares in Spain.
For a splurge, try puffed rice with squid ink at this restaurant in Lasarte-Oria in the Basque Country, rated by many as the best in the world.
Drive along Europe’s highest road for snow, then head an hour south to sunbathe on the Costa del Sol.
A lovely region – it’s very interesting to see all those grapes growing before they’re transformed into wine. Driving from Santander, it's also the region where you first start to reach warmer and rockier Spain.
Pico de la Miel
Towering over La Cabrera, a small town under an hour from Madrid, this mountain, whose name translates as Peak of the Honey, is interesting and impressive looking and great for walks and adventure.
A lovely spot to while away some time while waiting for the ferry at Santander.
This 62-acre peninsula has a lovely grassy park, polo pitch, palace, (free) zoo, three galleons and a couple of beaches – one with a great fun slide down on to it from up top.
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