Spain's Eco-Culture Travel & Lifestyle Guide
Eco-Culture Spain Travel & Lifestyle
Spain is full of amazing natural landscapes and has a wonderful culture. Our Spain travel guides are all about focusing in this side of Spain, which we want to ensure is respected and sustained. Of course there are also some areas that have been badly affected by over development, but there is so much that is still pure nature and pure culture.
Our Spain travel guides help you to find beautiful places, that have gifts from Mother Nature and gems of culture.
That’s why we’ve coined the phrase: eco-culture. We believe that when people are aware of the beauty of a culture and its environment, that mindfulness and sustainability can be present. In other words, ecotourism and cultural tourism can be sustained and appreciated by visitors to Spain. In our travel guides and features, we try to include as much information as possible for you, alongside an emphasis on eco-culture.
2017 UN International Year Of Sustainable Tourism
Did you know that the United Nations has declared that 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism? Also on 22nd July 2018, the Spain National Parks network will celebrate its 100th birthday.
So there’s no time like the present to start appreciating and promoting Spain as a sustainable, eco-cultural destination.
I started this blog a couple of years ago in my spare time (normally I am doing my digital creative work here), but having moved from the built-up Costa del Sol, I was concerned about this area going the same way. So as the blog has developed, I knew that the two things that I love most here, are the nature and the culture, needed to be minded.
SpainScope came into being for this reason. As we write more guides, we will scope out the best places for you, while letting you know about the natural and cultural treasures that are in these areas. We are also scoping out information from locals, other bloggers and travellers just like you. If you have photos or tips that you would like to contribute, just head over to:
Welcome to SpainScope
I moved to Spain in 2003, in search of adventure and a new life. I certainly found it. Spain has brought out aspects of me that I suspect may not have surfaced if I had stayed in Ireland. In Spain, I have found love, creativity and a deep connection to nature.
Having lived in some of the more typical ex-pat and tourist destinations, in 2012, we moved to this area. We are in the Valencian Community, but 5 minutes over a bridge takes us into Catalonia.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Where we are based is amazing. A half an hour’s drive in different directions could take you from Paddy fields to olive and oranges groves, and then up into the verdant mountains, where you might spot some goats wandering around. The Med is 20 minutes down the road.
Depending on what time of year you visit, you may see an iced pink blanket of almond blossom stretch out endlessly in front of you (spring). Or you could see the vivid oranges, against the lush green of the orange trees that have nurtured their growth. In terms of getting your bearings, we are located almost midway between Barcelona and Valencia.
We love the area so much that we bought a wilderness of land here. Just on this piece of land itself, there are lots of olive trees, almond trees and carob trees. We’re now trying our hand at organic farming, plus we have quite a lot of animals there. In the future we hope to open it up to visitors, who wish to experience and learn about the nature in this area.
Discover new places
We have laid out this page with a series of photo sliders so that you can easily discover new places. All you need to do is click on the text that accompanies a photo that you like, and the link will take you to the relevant travel guide.
Starting below, you can find the travel guides we have written so far, firstly for Catalonia Seaside Destinations, then Catalonia Inland Destinations, and the same applies for the Valencian Community.
Welcome to Catalonia
Click on the text to discover a Catalan seaside destination
Catalonia or Catalunya is located in the North-East of Spain, where its northern tip meets the French border. The Catalans are very proud people with amazing culture, diverse scenery and as you may know, it’s home to some world-class restaurants.
The two official languages here are Catalan and Castellaño (Spanish). Catalan is the first language, spoken proudly by its people. Typically English is spoken in the busier tourist areas. If you head off the beaten track, be sure to take a phrase book!
Did you know that in Catalonia there are 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites or items of intangible cultural and human heritage? Learn more about Catalan UNESCO.
Catalonia also has 1 National Park and 15 Natural Parks, making it a paradise for nature lovers and eco-tourists.
The Catalan Coast
For those of you who want to be by the sea, or mix this with some time spent in fascinating inland towns and villages, the Catalan Coast has plenty to offer.
Flying into Girona Airport, you can explore the wonderful Costa Brava, which translates into the Wild Coast. Follow in the footsteps of Salvador Dalí and spend some time in Cadaqués. However the Costa Brava has lots of beautiful seaside towns to explore, discover the Costa Brava.
The other coastal areas as you travel further south, are the Costa Maresme-Barcelona, the Garraf Coast and the Costa Dorada, which is where you’ll finally reach the point where you leave Catalonia and head into the Comunidad Valenciana – the Valencian Community.
All of these coastal areas has some wonderful spots to visit. The Maresme-Barcelona Coast is possibly the one that is currently most overlooked by English speaking tourists. The Garraf Coast’s best known town is Sitges, which is a super place to spend some time. Salou will be the name most familiar to most on the Costa Dorada, but the coast has plenty of other interesting options for those who aren’t looking for such a lively destination!
By the way, just before you leave Catalonia, you can experience one of my favourite places – the unique, magical landscape of the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park, complete with Paddy fields, flamingos and lovely beaches.
Catalonia has a fascinating history, which includes the Iberian Civilisation – these people had a strong connection to nature and especially worshipped wolves. Afterwards the Romans made a huge impact, later followed by the Moors. We’re currently working on a concise history of Catalonia ….coming soon – If you want to experience some of this in one city, then consider checking out another of our favourites – Tarragona.
I used to be that person who went on holiday from Ireland to hotter climes, and very rarely left the beach. However here, as is the case in many other destinations, it is a shame not to immerse yourself in some of the inland destinations. Typically they have a special character and flavour, often more authentic than some of the coastal towns. On the slider below you can check out some of these travel guides.
Catalan culture is steeped in great art, architecture and literature. Food is also integral to the culture, as are the fiestas and the castellers – human castles. The human castles are amazing to see. Make sure you try to see the Castellers whenever you travel to Catalonia. The Catalans integrate irony as well as fun and traditions into their fiestas. The fiestas are fantastic, and we have some here on the blog already, but are working behind the scenes to get all of them live for you. I highly recommend planning a trip to take in a fiesta!
In terms of art and architecture, Catalonia has some world-famous sons, such as Gaudí, Dalí, Tapies and Miró, yet the longer I have been here, the more I realise that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I plan to elaborate on this in the future!
Picasso wasn’t a son of Catalonia, in terms of being born here. However it is debatable as to whether the impact of Catalonia was more important for the artist than any other place. Why do I say this? Because it was here in Horta de Sant Joan, that Picasso discovered nature. Picasso himself said: “Everything I know, I learned in Horta.”
My visit there had a big impact on me, as my Mum was a huge fan of Picasso, so I grew up with this and really had a strong sense of how the beautiful nature around Horta de Sant Joan would have affected the artist. You can do a special route here to follow in the footsteps of Picasso and some of the others – learn more here about The Route Of The Four Geniuses
Some of the world’s best restaurants are located in Catalonia. The current no. 2 in the whole world is El Cellar de Can Roca, located in Girona. In fact out of the world’s top 10 restaurants for 2016, three are restaurants here in Spain. The foodie experience is all around you on a daily basis, from the Menu del Dia (Franco’s creation for the workers) to tapas and lots of offerings, often with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Menu del Dia (menu of the day) is often priced around €8-€11 for 3 courses and some wine.
Click on the text to discover a Catalan inland destination
Welcome to the Valencian Community
Click on the text to discover a Valencian seaside destination
About The Valencian Community (Comunidad Valenciana)
South of Catalonia, you’ll find the Valencian Community. The last seaside town in Catalonia is Les Cases d’Alcanar and 10 miles (14km) down the road the first seaside town in the Valencian Community is Vinaros. The Valencian Community then continues on down south to the big town of Torrevieja, which is the last town before entering Murcia.
The two official languages here are Valenciano and Castellaño (Spanish). Valenciano is the first language, which to the untrained ear sounds exactly the same as Catalan. Many parts of this area have not been at the forefront of English tourism, in the same way as Barcelona or the Costa Brava, with the obvious exception of the Costa Blanca. You can expect to be understood and spoken to in English, in the more developed places.
The Valencian Community Coast
Did you know that three of Spain’s officially most beautiful towns are in the Valencian Community? One is located on the coast, and has been used as a location for Games of Thrones, El Cid and many more – this is Peñsicola.
On 15th September 2015, the airport of Castellon opened up, which currently has year round flights from Stansted with Ryanair, and also flights from Bristol during the busier times of the year. A shuttle bus runs from the airport to Peñiscola and other coastal towns of Castellón, which is one of the three provinces of the Valencian Community. The other two are Valencia and Alicante.
Heading from north to south, the coasts are Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) Costa de Valencia and the Costa Blanca. Costa del Azahar has some great choices and is mostly less developed than the Costa Blanca. Costa de Valencia has plenty of fine beaches, which run from Sagunt down to Oliva. You most likely already know the Costa Blanca, but it also has nice beaches, but is of course more developed.
There are some magical inland destinations such as Montanejos to be found in this area, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Without any agenda, you can enjoy the remarkable diverse landscapes, the smell of the orange blossom, the pretty pink of the almond blossom and olive trees, some of them quite ancient.
Spain is a country that does a super job of honouring and preserving its culture. The Valencian Community is not an exception to this rule. Packed with plenty of treasures when it comes to its cultural and artistic legacy, within relatively short time spans, you can easily enjoy medieval villages and after head to the amazing city of Valencia.
On one hand the area is home to Levantine rock art and on the other hand, it offers an avant-gard Contemporary Art Space, in Castellon de la Plana.
The Comunidad Valenciana also has a rich history. The Parpalló Cave located in Gandia was the site where artefacts and paintings were discovered, which are believed to be evidence that little groups of hunter gatherers were in the area, it is estimated around 29,000 years before Christ. The Romans had a huge influence on the area, as did the Moors afterwards.
Here you can read a concise history of the Valencian Community….coming soon…