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    Visiting Spain's don't-miss destinations

    Palma de Mallorca's Gothic cathedral is one of Spain's most striking buildingsSpain is one of the world's top tourist destinations and the ideal place to explore by car hire. It's such a vast country with so much to see that we thought it would be interesting to tell you a bit about Auto Europe's five most popular car hire pick-up points in Spain - namely Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Alicante, Ibiza and Barcelona - so why not include them in your itinerary next time you're driving around sunny Spain.

    Palma is the capital of the largest of the Balearics, a small group of Spanish islands in the Mediterranean. Dominating the city’s skyline, its imposing Gothic cathedral was completed in 1587 and is one of the most impressive buildings in the country. Housed in an ultra-modern building, another of Palma’s must-see attraction is the Fundació Pilar I Joan Miró featuring the artist’s studio and a collection of his work. Palma Aquarium is a pleasant complement to the city’s art and architectural heritage with no less than 25 tanks of various sizes, including the 9-metre-deep Big Blue which contains numerous sharks and a wide array of other impressive sea creatures.

    Malaga is a popular stopover for road trippers in SpainGateway to the Costa del Sol, and one of Spain’s top holiday regions, Malaga is a vibrant city with one of the most temperate climates in the whole of the Mediterranean. Pablo Picasso was born here in 1881 and the house in which he spent his early years now operates as the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation, while a nearby museum dedicated to his art features around 150 of his works. Another of the city’s most popular tourist attractions is the Alcazaba, a huge fortress built between the 8th and 11th centuries displaying a fine collection of Phoenician, Roman and Moorish artifacts. Last but not least is Malaga’s cathedral built on the foundations of an old mosque, which is particularly notable for its exquisite Gothic and Renaissance interior.

    Capital of south-east Spain’s sun-drenched Costa Blanca region, the coastal city of Alicante is the hub of a long stretch of sandy coastline blessed with some of the loveliest beaches in the Iberian Peninsula. Set high on a Alicante's historic centre is a major draw for tourists visiting Spainpinnacle overlooking the city, Alicante’s old castle was built by the Moors in the 9th century and today houses a fascinating history museum inside its fortifications. Another of the city’s most important tourist attractions is MARQ, one of Spain’s top archaeological museums and winner of the European Museum of the Year in 2004. Nestling on the slopes of Mount Benacantil, Alicante’s old quarter (known locally as El Barrio) is a labyrinth of winding streets lined with trendy boutiques and tapas bars in close proximity to the city’s San Nicolás Cathedral – the perfect place to unwind after a busy day’s sightseeing!

    The enchanting Balearic island of Ibiza is as popular for its idyllic beaches and coves as it is for its world-famous night-life. Few tourists venture into the mountainous interior, but if they did they would discover a wild, remote region of lush green pine forests set amidst large swathes of fertile olive and almond groves. The island’s capital,Ibiza's idyllic shoreline has some of the best beaches in Spain Eivissa or Ibiza Town, is a pretty place with a lovely cathedral and an assortment of archaeological treasures dating back to the 7th century. Built around a hill at the harbour’s entrance, its star attraction is the Dalt Vila (Upper Town), an old quarter first established by the Phoenicians when they arrived in 654 BC. Contained within a beautiful natural park, the shimmering salt pans of Ses Salines aren’t just a haven for wildlife, they form one of the most spectacular beaches on the island. And with your Auto Europe car hire, you shouldn't miss the sweeping vistas to be enjoyed from the top of Puig de Missa, a fortified hilltop above the town of Santa Eulária des Riu on the east side of the island.

    Barcelona's magnificent cathedral is one of Spain's most emblematic attractionsOne of the Mediterranean’s busiest port cities, Barcelona showcases the very best of Spain’s history and culture with a mélange of first-rate tourist attractions. A riot of colour and unusual architecture, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished basilica - La Sagrada Família - is Barcelona’s most emblematic building. His body rests in the crypt, close to where a museum displays scale models of how he imagined the church would look before his untimely death in 1926 brought the project to an abrupt halt. Housed in the Palau Nacional (National Palace), the Catalan National Art Museum is equally unmissable with its extensive collection comprising one of the world’s richest treasure troves of Romanesque and Gothic paintings, sculpture and precious metalwork. Another of Barcelona’s top attractions is the Picasso Museum, which portrays the great artist’s development ranging from his sketchbooks as a nine-year-old to some of his finest paintings.

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