Being in social isolation doesn't stop us dreaming of all the places we'd like to visit; in fact now we've got even more time to daydream. Escape on a virtual vacation to bring a little piece of Spain to your living room.

Whether you associate it with the whitewashed villages of Andalucía, the gastronomic delights of the Basque Country, the lush pastures of Galicia or the museums, markets and Art Nouveau mansions of Barcelona, few countries are as seductive as Spain. Until we can toast each other over a glass of sangria and plate of pinxtos under the blistering Spanish sun, here’s your guide to experiencing the best of Spain at home.

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People relaxing in a bar terrace in La Latina district in Madrid, Spain ©VICTOR TORRES/Shutterstock

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Best Movies

Drama/Comedy
Pain and Glory (2019): Director Pedro Almodóvar's semi-autobiographical story bagged lead actor Antonio Banderas an Oscar nomination this year, and a spot in the best foreign film category too. You can't virtually travel to Spain without experiencing Almodóvar and his latest release is an excellent place to start.
Nine Letters to Berta (1966): A student feels stifled by his family's traditional values in 1950's Spain after returning home from a summer fling in England with the daughter of a Republican exile. Widely regarded as one of the key works of the "Nuevo Cine Español"; the new new age of Spanish cinema that came about in the cultural renaissance following the death of Franco. 
El Sur (1983): Multi-award winning film tells the story of a young girl growing up in the north of Spain who is fascinated by the rose-tinted memories of her birthplace in the south, and the secrets her father holds from that town.

Fantasy
Pan's Labyrinth (2006): Mexican director Guillermo del Toro introduces us to the wonderful Ofelia, a 10-year-old girl obsessed with fairy tales in this cult fantasy set in Franco's Spain.
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973): In the wake of the country’s civil war, a young girl starts to note strange goings-on in her small hometown after she attends a travelling movie showing of Frankenstein.

Best TV

Money Heist: The Spanish thriller is the most-watched foreign language series on Netflix, and its third-most watched TV series in any language. 
Gran Hotel: A cloak-and-dagger “whodunnit” set in a Spanish hotel in Edwardian times. It's a bingeable guilty pleasure that's ideal for quarantine, with touches of Poirot and telenovela (soap opera) extremes.
Elite: This Spanish drama that takes place in an elite boarding school was a big ratings hit for Netflix last year. Not your average teen drama. 
Cable Girls: Netflix’s Spanish spy drama set in a 1920's telecommunications company is full of twists and turns. All five seasons are available to stream.

Listen

Modern flamenco, pop and r&b:

Best Books

Modern Spanish literature:
The Shadow of the Wind: This utterly absorbing coming-of-age tale is your passport to the gothic heart of Barcelona. Part mystery, part love story, you'll be hooked as soon as protagonist Daniel enters the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books.”
The Delta Function: Longtime El País journalist Rosa Montero examines a woman's fears of abandonment and of feeling invisible through ageing, as she recalls the love affairs of her youth.
The Time Between Seams: A dressmaker escapes the Civil War in Spain to join her lover in Morocco, where she gets sucked into an espionage scheme. This bestselling novel from Maria Dueñas has been adapted into a TV show too.
A Heart So White: Woven storylines bring the reader from Madrid to Havana, Venice, New York and London in this book from beloved Spanish novelist Javier Marías.

Non-fiction:
The Ghosts of Spain: An informative study into the heart and history of Spain from the Guardian correspondent, and historian Giles Tremlett.
Homage to Barcelona: Irish author Colm Toibin's love letter to Barcelona as an expat in the 1970s.
Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: To truly get to the heart of Spain, you'll need to understand El Clasico football rivalries.

Best Podcasts

The History of Spain: Biweekly podcast that focuses the history of Spain and presented in chronological order. 
 

Notes in Spanish: An immersive language podcast available in separate beginners, intermediate and advances series.
 

News in Slow Spanish: Current affairs show presented at a slow pace to help those with a basic grasp of Spanish understand every word and sentence. 

Nómadas: Hosted by RNE (Spain's public radio service), each episode focuses on the life of a Spaniard living abroad and explores their new city from a Spanish perspective.

Food

Southern Spain is known for tapas, jamón ibérico and fried seafood, while the north has pinxtos and Michelin stars. Valencia has paella, while Catalonia loves to experiment, and Madrid is a melting pot of flavours. You'll want to try them all but start with this recipe.

Best Videos

Drinks

Essentially a Spanish punch combining red or white wine with fruit and seltzer, sangria is a refreshing summertime tonic. Make it yourself with our recipe for the perfect sangria.

Cultural Highlights

Inside Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona

Epic Landscapes

Lagos de Covadonga, Picos de Europa

Playa De Sakoneta

Caminito del Rey

Shop Online

Do some online browsing with these Spanish shops who ship internationally (please note there may be some delays or restrictions due to COVID-19).

La Manual Alpargatera - Traditional shoe store dating back to the Spanish Civil War specialising in authentic Spanish espadrilles. Past customers include Pope John Paul II, Salvador Dalí and Penélope Cruz.

Les Fleurs Studio: Vintage clothes and homewares.

Aoo: Barcelona-based design store. The owners say it's "a place where you can easily find things that are hard to find."

More reads:

Why I live in both Madrid and Barcelona - and which city I prefer

My Andalucia road trip: sights, sounds and tastes of Spain

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