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Just Do It In Spain - Where Sports Are A National Passion

Published: Jun 17, 2011
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When it comes to sports, Spain has it, does it, and often wins it.

The nation has produced multiple champions of tennis, soccer, basketball, golf, Olympic gold medallists, winners of Tour de France…and the list goes on.

A thrill for any fan is to visit the places that raised these champions, like the Mallorca of tennis whiz Rafael Nadal, or the Valencia of golf great Sergio Garcia. It’s as if a little piece of their skill and talent could transfer itself to us. We can but imagine, and Spain has the wherewithal to help us do it.

Every region has its golf courses, and the mild climate in the south makes golf possible for much of the year. Major tournaments are no strangers to Spain. Malaga is one of the most popular areas with courses to suit players of all levels, including the famous Valderrama, where the Andalucia Masters takes place October 27 to 30 this year.

Cycling and hiking vacations have never been more popular, and they can be as mild or as challenging as you wish. Mountain biking doesn’t get much better than in the Pyrenees, and hikers love Green Spain in the north, which also lends itself well to white water rafting and kayaking.

You’ll find more river sports in the Pyrenees region and along the fast-flowing rivers of Aragon. Spaniards love speed, and they’ve adapted the passion to jet-boating on some rivers. You’ll even find waterskiing and windsurfing on a few inland waterways.

Water sports are big all along the coast of course, including diving and snorkelling, parasailing and windsurfing. But remember that to sail, drive a motorboat, or pull a water skier you need a licence and permit.

Spain is a maritime nation with history so it’s no surprise that it’s considered a water sport capital of the world, hosting championship competitions. Valencia hosted the America’s Cup (2007) and Alicante is the launch port for this year’s Volvo Round the World Ocean Yacht Race in October.

Valencia is in the spotlight these days, hosting major tennis tournaments (the Valencia Open 500 runs from October 29 to November 6 this year) and other world-class events. The city also features Formula One racing and major equestrian competitions.

Active vacations can extend to the air and hot-air ballooning gives a great bird’s eye view of the land you’re travelling through. If your taste is edgier, go for paragliding or sky diving. It’s all here.

Perhaps you prefer being underground? Check out the caving, or for gentler sightseeing, the recently opened mine attractions.

If mountaineering is your choice, the Spanish Tourist Board offers itineraries to climb more than 120 peaks. Gentler slopes lend themselves to horse riding routes and mountain bike trails. And if you’re a birdwatcher, head to the parks of Andalucia where sightings of golden and imperial eagles are not uncommon.

Find out more about these and other activities and events and whether you need permits for your chosen activities, from www.spain.info/ca.

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