Spain – the ultimate lifestyle destination
Spain is often portrayed as the world’s Number One lifestyle destination, and it is not difficult to understand why. There are few countries that can offer such a diverse landscape, exciting architecture and a deep-rooted historical heritage not to mention its fantastic climate and beautiful beaches.
Spain was also recently cited as the healthiest country in the world, according to a study of 169 nations by Bloomberg. The research took into account several factors that contribute to overall health, such as sanitation, environmental factors and health services.
Spain also has the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations, behind Japan and Switzerland globally, according to the United Nations. By 2040, Spain is forecast to have the world’s longest lifespan, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland.
Here are Lucas Fox Style’s top ten reasons why we believe Spain’s position as the world’s lifestyle hotspot is secure for a very long time:
1. The Climate
The world-class beach lifestyle explains the widely held belief that the Iberian peninsula has a Mediterranean climate, but in reality this is just a part of the whole warm, welcoming story. Spain is big, and with its immense central plain, spectacular mountainous regions and the significant length of coastline that also bumps the Atlantic, this is a country of subtle climactic differences – all of which are fair set for enjoying life. Sure, it rains on the plain, but while the weather might let you down occasionally the climate won’t. Whether you’re basking on the white sands of Ibiza, cruising the ski slopes of the Pyrenees or picnicking in verdant meadows overlooking the dramatic Galician coastline of the north, conditions will be on your side.
Spain has 8,000km of mainland and island coastline, including some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Think crystal clear blue water, white sand, picturesque rocky cliffs, hidden coves and beautiful dunes. Choose walking, promenading or basking in the sun, bobbing about, surfing or training for a triathlon.
Widespread Blue Flag certification underlines Spain’s position at the forefront of beach quality and safety, with 569 beaches (20% of the total) officially allowed to display this prestigious banner of excellence. 16% of the world’s Blue Flag beaches are in Spain. A strong commitment to coastal clean-up targets litter and waste, and help to secure these natural environments for wildlife residents too.
Spanish eateries have appeared in the top three of the ‘World’s Best Restaurants’ list since it started in 2012. The list has made international household names of Ferran Adriá and El Bullí (won three times) and The Roca Brothers and El Celler Can Roca (won twice).
But to dwell at the ‘top end’ of the culinary scale is to betray the sheer depth and variety of Spain’s exceptional gastronomic offering, from tapas to tortilla, bacalao to jubago and pulpo to paella. There are regional specialities to suit any taste, and venues for any occasion.
Spain is also the world’s third biggest wine producer (after Italy and France), with a million-plus hectares of cultivated vines and 500+ native grape varieties. Rioja, Cava, Tempranillo and Valdepeñas (a favourite of Hemingway) trip romantically off the tongue as easily as they arouse the palate. Whatever your taste, you’ll find world famous reds, whites, Cavas and Sherries to remember.
4. Art and Creativity
Spain is about so much more than bullfighting and flamenco, although these traditions are woven into the country’s history. It has also given the world iconic artists, musicians and writers, and continues to do so. Goya, Velásquez, Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Cervantes and Gaudí… the enviable roster of greats can be enjoyed in museums, on streets and in the many theatres and concert venues where Spanish culture is celebrated.
Spain loves to rejoice in its past but also embraces constant evolution and is using its deeply rooted past creativity to develop a leading role on the world’s cultural stage into the future. Wherever you go in Spain this is being played out, from Castellers building gravity-defying towers in plaças, to choirs performing open air in parks or buskers trying to catch your eye on street corners. In town and country, art and culture rules, and is a highly enriching part of the lifestyle.
5. Infrastructure and Communication
The World Economic Forum placed Spain at number 12 in the world and a ‘role model’ for infrastructure and logistical services. It has one of the largest road networks with 17,000km of highways, Europe’s longest high-speed rail network that now links Barcelona with Paris, and excellent air and sea links.
So getting around is easy, and Spain gives people plenty of reasons to travel and explore. It is also developing infrastructure for a dynamic future. Growth in digital industries is exceptional, while comprehensive broadband coverage connects households and even the government and health service are embracing e-platforms.
Education is excellent – there are 226 registered international schools – healthcare is admired throughout Europe and beyond, parks are tended to, streets are cleaned and rubbish and recycling are dealt with neatly and efficiently.
6. Culture and Festivals
Fiestas are an art form in Spain. It’s virtually unheard of for a week to pass by without a celebration that everyone can enjoy. As a Catholic country Spain has plenty of religious festivals and parades. Giants, costumes, long tables on closed streets and the echo of drums are integral to life in every city, town and village.
Pamplona’s San Fermin festival, the famous ‘running of the bulls’, and the very messy 40,000 person fruit-based flingfest of La Tomatina in Valencia may grab the international headlines but rich traditions and the love of a day off, a dance or a firework – live on even more strongly and authentically in ‘real’ Spain.
Also, while many countries claim to have café cultures, but junk-food versions can’t hold a cappucino to Spain’s seemingly endless array of individual, characterful, welcoming and often rowdy establishments.
These places have no time for baristas and overpriced beans. They are community staples, an essential part of the lifestyle where a businessman can take a fast cortado alongside workmen easting sandwiches from silver foil and enjoying a hard-earned breakfast beer. And where a gin and tonic or glass of wine is taken on the terrace or on rickety chairs perched on pavements.
The outdoor lifestyle has fostered many Spanish sporting champions. Individuals such as Seve Ballesteros, Rafa Nadal, Garbiñe Muguruza, Miguel Indurain and Fernando Alonso sit alongside clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid who dominate the world stage.
Since the iconic 1992 Olympics, the number of women athletes making a career in sport has risen from 300,000 to 700,000. But anyone can take advantage of the Spanish sporting lifestyle.
From mountain biking and climbing to swimming and surfing, from football and basketball to tennis and handball, and from an after-work jog or gentle game of Padel at the club to wandering along a seaside town in search of a restaurant, physical activity is very difficult to avoid.
The Iberian peninsula’s tempestuous history has left its scars but also donated cultural gems that turn the country into a free, open air museum ready to reward the interested with architectural landmarks with Roman, Arabic, Gothic and Modernist influences.
An appreciation of architecture is a cornerstone of the Spanish lifestyle, fuelled no doubt by the many UNESCO World Heritage sites – Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, Granada’s Alhambra, Salamanca’s Old City and La Mesquita in Córdoba – a fusion of baroque, gothic, renaissance and Moorish Mudéjar, as well as a cathedral and mosque in one.
Beautiful masias rise from manicured grounds in the country, cabins nestle in the embrace of mountain valleys, proud but untended church towers stand above the plain and host the incongruous nests of stork families, and tourist throngs jostle to take selfies against a Gaudí masterpiece…
From ancient ruins to tiny details, Spain’s architecture is a constant source of surprise and amazement.
9. The People
A friendly sense of community pervades Spanish society. People pull together to discuss, to protest and to celebrate. Age is respected and enjoyed and family is everything – whether you’re the latest addition or the oldest you’ll be a part of things, never more than in a restaurant on a Sunday lunchtime.
Friendly, challenging, parochial, cosmopolitan, traditional and forward-thinking in equal measure, the population of Spain is a fascinating mix of characters and social mores based on a long, tempestuous history that continued until relatively recently.
But this only seems to strengthen the determination to move into the 21st Century as a leader in so many aspects of life’s good things. Spanish people are proud and have a strong identity, but luckily they can be welcoming too, which means outsiders can join in and enjoy their own version of a perfect lifestyle.
10. Spain Itself
We all have different ideas as to what constitutes the perfect lifestyle, but Spain’s appeal lies in a wealth of natural attributes that have been forged from the earth over millions of years
Whatever you’re looking for, Spain has countryside, islands and coasts that deliver the perfect setting for your version of your best life. It has vibrant cosmopolitan cities, sleepy fishing villages, bustling market towns and countryside idylls that provide peace and tranquility miles from anywhere.
Lakes, mountains and valleys stand in majestic natural contrast to glittering superyacht marinas and new developments that are all about taking luxury to new levels. A love of old history remains despite the will of innovators to write the digital history of centuries to come.