- Spain can be divided into four main regions: the northern Atlantic and mountain region, the Mediterranean coast, the central plateau, and the southern regions of Andalucia and beyond. Covering the whole lot in a single trip represents a daunting task, but nevertheless, Spain is smaller than Texas, with enough widespread transport links to link the major cities. Highlights include Toledo, with the largest cathedral in the Christian world; the Moorish Alhambra in Granada, which dates from 1238; Barcelona; and outstanding art galleries in Bilbao and Madrid respectively, with the latter’s Prado boasting the largest gallery in the world. Walkers on the Camino de Santiago going to the sacred shrine at Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain can mix with backpackers from all over the world year-round and stay for a nominal fee at albergues — shared pilgrim hostels — along the route.
- Red Espanola de Albergues Juveniles (REAJ) manages more than 260 hostels across Spain, where backpackers may find a shared dorm room, locker and communal kitchen for the night at bargain-basement prices. The hostels often are centrally located. Frommer’s recommends the Hostal del Cardenal for the chance to stay in a historic Toledo palace on the cheap. Similarly inexpensive are family-run pensiones, equivalent to a bed-and-breakfast, which are easy to find in rural towns but less so in Madrid and Barcelona — where advance reservations are a must. Rough Guides recommends heading to the town cathedral or central square, around which most cheap accommodations are clustered. In summer, backpackers can save money by staying in any of the hundreds of campsites spread across the country, bearing in mind that no camping is allowed outside official areas.