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The almost circular island of La Gomera is the second smallest of the seven Canary Islands

Having remained relatively untouched by tourism compared to its neighbours, La Gomera is punctuated by dramatic ravines and verdant valleys, with black sandy beaches and cliffs around its 90-kilometre coastline.

The UNESCO-protected Garajonay National Park with its famous laurel forest covers nearly one tenth of this fascinating island, which has been popular with travellers for centuries – Christopher Columbus stopped here prior to his voyage in 1492!

With Pico de Garajonay standing 1,487 metres above sea level, a rainforest and breathtaking scenery, Gomera is as worthy of discovery now as it was then.

 

Culture and history

The main religion in Spain is Roman Catholic, which accounts for around two-thirds of the country, along with a small minority of Muslims.

When meeting new people, a handshake is the common greeting among men, and a kiss on the cheek between women - the number of kisses can vary, so prepare yourself for two or even three!

You'll also find that the Spanish eat much later than we do in the UK, with lunch between 2-3.30pm and dinner between 9-11pm, so don't be alarmed if you find yourself in a relatively quiet restaurant. Oh, and the Spanish love to party - depending on when you visit you might find yourself embroiled in one of their many annual celebrations, including one that involves a battle with tomatoes!

Pablo Picasso is among Spain's most celebrated sons, along with Antoni Gaudi, whose eccentric architecture enlivens the Barcelona cityscape. More recent times saw Spanish cinema come into its own with directors like Pedro Almodovar breaking into the English-speaking world. And films like Guillermo del Toro's darkly fantastic masterpiece, Pan's Labyrinth, a Spanish-Mexican venture, solidified Spain as a big player in the film industry.

History-wise there has been a lot going on, from its dominating position when the Spanish Empire set out to discover the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries, to its catastrophic civil war in the 1930s and radical change following the death of dictator Franco in 1975. For an insight into the country's most recent history and the Spanish psyche, Giles Tremlett's Ghosts of Spain is well worth a read.

Things to do

If you'd like to put your feet up and completely unwind, choose a relaxing holiday to the Canaries in one of our lovely coastal hotels. However, if you just can't choose between the islands, how about opting for a tour that island-hops between them, or maybe join a cruise?

That way you'll be able to discover the unique highlights of each of the islands - even little La Gomera, the smallest and most untouched of the islands. Those with green fingers (or admirers of others' work) might like to try one of our special interest holidays in Tenerife or Gran Canaria, or you could perhaps step it up with a walking holiday of Lanzarote.

Flight time

London to Madrid and Barcelona – from 2 hours

London to Seville – from 2.5 hours

Currency

Euro - The currency is the euro, divided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

A few basic words of Spanish to get you started…

Hola – hello

Adios – goodbye

Por favor – please

Gracias – thank you

Si – yes

No – no

Perdon – excuse me

No hablo espanol – I don’t speak Spanish

Timezone

Spain is one hour ahead of GMT, two in British summertime.

Electricity

Mains voltage is 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles) and all sockets take small round two-pin plugs. You’ll need an adaptor for your British appliances, so remember to bring one with you as you probably won’t be able to find one in Spain.

Language

Spanish; Castilian -

Castillian Spanish is the official language, with other Spanish languages and dialects varying in different regions.

English isn’t widely used outside of the main coastal resorts, so you may find it very handy to learn a few words before you travel.

Tipping

Tipping is similar to the UK: the typical amount in restaurants is 10% (most establishments don’t add a service charge to the bill). Taxi drivers and porters expect a small tip too.

Climate

The climate varies depending on the region, but generally the further south you go, the warmer it will be. The weather on the south and east coast is fairly reliable all year round, enjoying a balmy Mediterranean climate, while the interior tends to stay hot and dry as it’s located on a plateau.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Spain has a population of 47.4 million, which is relatively low in comparison to other European countries such as France and Italy.

At 505,988 square kilometers, Spain is more than twice the size of the UK.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in enclosed public areas and is not allowed on public transport, in bars or restaurants, except in designated areas. Be sure to remember this or you may be stuck with a hefty fine.