For most people, traveling is essentially about enriching our lives by discovering and exploring new destinations and cultures. For others, it’s all about taking a relaxing break from work or everyday stresses beside azure coastal waters or in a snow-capped mountain refuge. For some, it’s a dogged quest to find the next thrill-seeking experience. 

No matter what our main travel motivation is, however, all of us will have at least one overriding consideration: safety. Well, perhaps less so in the case of hardcore thrill-seekers, but even they would probably prefer to be abseiling down a cliff-face in Australia’s Blue Mountains than in a stretcher in the hospital.

According to the results of a “Visa Travel Intentions Study” published by U.S. News, Vacations are often associated with families packed into cars and college friends moving from hostel to hostel. But increasingly, more people are ditching group adventures to travel the globe solo. The number of people traveling alone doubled between 2013 and 2015.” 

In response to this trend, a ranking was drawn from a global perceptions-based survey to determine the best countries to visit alone. The survey ranked countries based on scores from a compilation of seven attributes: culturally-accessible, fun, friendly, pleasant climate, safe, scenic, and approachability. The result? Spain led the way (as it also did in 2018), followed by Italy, New Zealand, Greece, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Ireland, Thailand, and the Netherlands.

southern spain travel inma lesielle
Photo by Inma Lesielle.

Record Tourism Numbers in Spain

Being able to travel safely is just one of many reasons why Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. As Christopher Clover, managing director of Panorama Properties notes in his “Marbella Property Report 2019,” Spain set a new record of 82.6 million international visitors in 2018. This represented just under a one percent increase over 2017, but an impressive increase of 43.7 percent since 2012. In addition, there was an accompanying increase in tourist expenditure of 3.1 percent, a figure now approximately 90 billion euro. “For the second year running,” says Christopher Clover, “Spain has surpassed the United States in international visitors, and is the second most visited country in the world behind France.”

Ushering in a New Era of Luxury and Quality in Marbella

In Marbella, Andalucía is seen as a glamorous capital of luxury living. International hotel chains have made a key contribution to the area’s burgeoning tourism figures. Many of the loyal high-level customers of these new brands will discover, or rediscover, the Marbella of today. This results in many more affluent tourists visiting the city, which in turn is certainly great news for anyone owning a property or running a business there. At the same time, this will contribute to the further expansion of the strong shoulder season activity into the winter months, which makes Marbella one of the few resort areas in the Mediterranean basin that can be enjoyed year-round.

cadiz from above andrea leopardi
Photo by Andrea Leopardi.

Cádiz Pinpointed as Premier Global Destination

Away from Marbella and the Costa del Sol, there are other major tourism areas throughout the Andalusian region which are considered attractive destinations.  The “New York Times,” for example, named Cádiz as one of its top-52 destinations to visit this year, while “The Guardian” echoed this praise for Andalucía’s stunning Atlantic coastline. In one article, the publication noted that Cádiz city’s most famous beach, Playa de la Caleta, imitated Havana’s craggy harbor in the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’ – when Halle Berry famously emerged, goddess-like, from the sea.”  

Another “Guardian” article focused on Tarifa, the chic surfing town popularly known as the wind capital of Europe. The town is only eight miles from Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar. This destination is famous for its world-class kitesurfing and windsurfing, as well as its  party scene. In summer it’s also a great place for families with shady dunes, a bar, and delicious fish. 

For tourists visiting the Costa del Sol, Tarifa is a convenient drive away on a main highway that continues for just over 49 miles from the town to Cádiz, another spot worth checking out on your tour of the southern part of Europe.

Southern Europe is having a moment, which means that it might be worth it for you to consider taking your vacation there this year. The best part? It can be almost at any time since this region’s weather is prime for year-round tourism.

Which other areas of Spain are worth visiting? Leave your favorite places in the comments.

Header photo by Jorge Fernandez Salas.