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It’s difficult to arrive in Spain for the first time without preconcepcions of boisterous bullfights, epic plazas, expansive beaches and quiet hillside villages. With the second-largest tourism industry in the world, this isn’t a country people just stumple upon. Spain’s history touches almost every civilization of the western world, and as the motherland of a language 500 million speakers strong, Spain’s branches still reach as distantly as the country’s deep roots.

The country’s romantic reputation isn’t undeserved; some Spanish girls do still dream of growing up to become flamenco dancers and abandoned castles and windmills still linger in the landscape. But a true adventure here won’t happen in palaces, it will be on the streets, cramming into tapas bars or sharing the world’s best $2 bottle of Rioja.

Spain isn’t the world’s biggest country but its diversity creates endless boundaries for exploration. Whether you just walked out of a Gaudi, took your last look at the Prado, said goodnight to the Alhambra or caught a final wave in the Grand Canaries, you’ll never, ever feel like you’ve seen the whole picture.

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