Your staycation guide: Spain


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Travel corridors may be opening up, but a holiday this summer isn’t necessarily on the cards. Get set for a serious staycation with our holiday hit-list: here’s everything you need to bring a slice of Spain to you

Swap Radio 4 for Enrique Iglesias, and settle in with a glass of something that speaks of warmer climes, as you start planning a superior staycation. You may not be walking round the Prado, exploring Seville, or gazing up at the Sagrada Familia, but – with the right soundtrack, reading list, films and food (not to mention wine) – you can get pretty close. Here’s our short-list to get you going.


  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: From its conception in 1989, it took Terry Gilliam almost three decades to get this film out the door. It’s a fun adventure that will take you deep into rural Spain.
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona: A Woody Allen classic that earnt Penelope Cruz an Oscar. It’s a charming escape to a tempestuous summer in Barcelona.
  • Sexy Beast: This black comedy featuring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley might make you happy you’re staying home this summer. It’s a brilliant twist on the classic gangster genre filled with the sunshine of the Costa del Sol.
  • Volver: We had to include at least one Almodóvar – this, also featuring Penelope Cruz, come from his heyday. Gripping, this dark yet warming and vibrant tale follows three generations of women in rural Spain.


  • As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee: This sequel to Cider with Rosie follows Laurie Lee’s walk from the Cotswolds to Spain, a nation then on the brink of civil war. It captures the brewing uncertainty and Spanish countryside perfectly.
  • Death in the Afternoon – Ernest Hemingway:Smell the blood and sand, the tension in the air as all eyes watch a lone bull and the torero do a fatal dance in Hemingway’s brilliant book on bullfighting.
  • Leaving the Atocha Station – Ben Lerner: There’s something almost Dostoevskyan about Ben Lerner’s both tragic and witty tale of an American poet struggling with life and art in Madrid.
  • The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Disappear in this literary thriller set in Madrid. A page-turner that also happens to be written beautifully, settle in as the mystery of a forgotten book is unravelled.


  • Gipsy Kings: We couldn’t limit ourselves to a single song from this iconic band, whose flamenco-edged pop is as catchy as can be.
  • Carmen – Bizet: A French opera, but set in Seville, Bizet’s tragic tale is filled with fiery women and bullfighting. We recommend having a bottle of Manzanilla on hand.
  • Y Viva España – Sylvia: With travel corridors opening up, you might be able to sing the chorus of this retro hit with confidence: Oh this year I’m off to sunny Spain…
  • Deveulveme La Vida – David Bustamante: We challenge you not to tap your foot to David Bustamante’s classic tune. In fact, we challenge you not to deep dive into the archive of this Latin pop legend.


Stock your wine rack with bottles from the region to set up for a serious staycation: browse our favourites here.