(Last Updated On: 29/06/2016)
Can you name any Spanish city west of Madrid?

Think about it for a minute. No, Lisbon doesn’t count —that’s not Spain. Try again. Don’t cheat. Still nothing? Then you don’t know Spain as well as you think, do you?

Yes, of course you’ve been to Spain. Everyone has. But maybe (just maybe) you’ve been to the same places everyone else has and have done the same things everyone else has done.

Check this list below and mentally tick off the places you’ve been to:

  • –Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Majorca
  • Ibiza
  • Tenerife
  • Costa del Sol
  • Seville

Now tick off the activities you’ve done:

  •  Go clubbing to Sala Kapital (Madrid)
  •  Have some tapas in La Rambla (Barcelona)
  • Go to La Boquería food market (Barcelona)
  • Get hammered (anywhere above mentioned)
  • Watch a flamenco show
  • Drink sangria
  • Stay in a resort

If you’ve ticked off more than two places and two activities you are another typical tourist in Spain. That’s ok if you don’t mind going where everyone goes.

You like calling yourself a traveller and pride yourself on all those remote and exotic places in South America and Asia you’ve visited. However, when it comes to Spain, you went for the most touristic places on earth.

Contrary to what many might think, Spain is more than sun and beaches. There is no need to fly to the other side of the globe to have an amazing travel experience on a budget. So next time you fly to Madrid, just head west and visit Extremadura.

Why?

For many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • It’s not exploited. Most foreigners I know haven’t even heard of it. Well, actually, only two non-Spaniards I met in my life had heard of it.
  • The food is great. Forget about tapas, this place is not tourist-oriented. Black pigs are the source of many local delicacies, such as Iberian ham and meat. Lamb is of great quality and if you like cheese you’ll feel in heaven with the variety. Moreover, Cáceres is Spain’s Food Capital 2015 and is home to the 2 Michelin star restaurant Atrio.
  • A remarkably underpopulated area. Only 6 cities in Extremadura have a population of over 30,000 people. It’s perfect for rural escapes out of the crowds and to enjoy the slow life.
  • Extremadura is wild. If you like nature Extremadura is for you. The mountains in the northern part of the region are great for trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and canyoning. It also has ‘natural’ swimming pools with fresh and clear water from the mountains where locals cool themselves off in summer. In Monfragüe National Park you can spot thousands of birds, such as black storks, Imperial eagles and the impressive griffon vultures.
  • Rich heritage. Extremadura has three UNESCO sites (Mérida’s Archeological Ensemble, Guadalupe’s monastery and Cáceres’ old town). Castles, medieval towns, Jewish neighbourhoods, stone houses, Moorish towers… You name it.
  • Quirky festivals. From a turnip fight to smacking others with brooms on fire, you can’t get bored here. If you thought Tomatina was the weirdest Spanish festival you need to come to Extremadura.
  • Open spaces. Extremadura is a region of small towns and villages and vast and untouched plains. The roads are good and extremely quiet (in my last trip we drove for 40 km without a single car on the road), so it’s perfect for road trips.

If that didn’t sound good enough, check out the pictures below:

Extremadura in pictures

Extremadura in pictures

Extremadura in pictures

For more information and loads of travel inspiration of this beautiful, but often overlooked part of Spain, keep an eye on the blog. You can also follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Discover Extremadura, Spain’s best-kept secret.

Irene Corchado Resmella
Spanish Sworn Translator and Content Writer at ICR Translations
Spanish expat living in Oxford (UK) sharing my home region of Extremadura with the world to encourage travellers to discover a different Spain. Founder of The Linguists Hive.
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