The mildness of the climate, the almost 5,000 kilometres of coastline and the countrys mountainous backbone make Spain the ideal venue for sports of all kinds.
Water sports have always been traditionally popular in Spain: sailing, especially in the Mediterranean; angling; scuba-diving; and windsurfing, with Tarifa, a legend in its own right. Over one hundred yacht clubs and marinas are scattered around the country (for information kindly contact the Spanish Sailing Federation - Federación Española de Vela. Tel: 91 519 50 08).
Tunny fish and shark in Atlantic waters are two attractions beckoning the deep-sea fisherman, whereas the river and lake angler can look forward to salmon, trout, barbel and other species.
The Medes Isles in Catalonia, along with inshore areas around the coasts of the Balearics and Canaries, are a real paradise for scuba-diving, a sport which in Spain enjoys ideal conditions insofar as clarity of light and water temperature are concerned.
Outdoor sports and activities
Nature, in all its changing faces, favours sports such as hiking, amidst natural surroundings of great beauty, with pony- and horse-trekking, closely tied in with traditional culture, and cycling, particularly mountain-biking, becoming ever more widespread (for information kindly contact the Spanish Mountain Club - Federación Española de Montañismo. Tel: 91 445 14 38).
Rock-climbing, whitewater rafting and canoeing are yet more fascinating adventure sports, a category which necessarily includes aerial sports, with over 50 flying clubs around Spain. In addition, ultralight aircraft can be flown and both para- and hang-gliding enjoyed under equally favourable conditions, depending on local climate and topography (for information kindly contact the Spanish Airports Federation - Federación Española Deportes Aéreos. Tel: 91 547 59 22).
From Autumn to Spring, Spains mountains and hunting reserves fill with hunters eager to bag chamois, red and roe deer, moufflon, ibex and wild boar among the prizes in the bigger game category (caza mayor) and rabbit, patridge, duck, egret, woodcock and quail among other species of smaller game (caza menor) (for information kindly contact the Spanish Hunting Federation - Federación Española de Caza. Tel: 91 311 14 11).
In view of the size, extent and importance of the facilities available for their enjoyment, golf, tennis and skiing will be dealt with separately:
Around 200 clubs, the vast majority provided with 18-hole courses, are a sure guarantee of round-the-year golf and represent the possibility of over half a million hours of total playing time per year. Modern course-landscaping and -design, with the promise of varied layout and the pleasure of superb scenery, topflight sports equipment, expert course-professionals and ancillary services (gyms, swimming pool, saunas, etc.), taken together with the warmth of a climate that ensures the visitor 300 days of sunshine and golf a year, make Spain a Garden of Eden for the keen golfer (for information kindly contact the Spanish Golf Federation - Federación Española de Golf. Tel: 91 555 25 82).
Hundreds of clubs and tennis courts in the thousands are dotted around the country. Clay courts, in which the Spanish specialise, offer the chance of playing on a surface which has taken Spanish players into the ranks of the world tennis elite. On the premises of almost all hotels of certain standing, the tourist is sure to find one or more courts for hire, as well as tennis coaches and even invitation tournaments for guests (for information kindly contact the Spanish Tennis Federation - Federación Española de Tenis. Tel: 93 201 08 44).
From the Pyrenees in the north down to the Sierra Nevada Range in Andalusia, Spains ski resorts cover the country, with top quality installations and hotel and leisure facilities to match. A wide spectrum of packages and rates accounts for the unprecedented boom in this sport in recent years (for information kindly contact the Spanish Wintersports Federation - Federación Española de Deportes de Invierno. Tel: 91 344 09 44).
Keen interest surrounds competitive sport in Spain. Football, basketball and handball clubs and championships rank among the best in Europe, and volleyball, waterpolo, hockey, swimming and athletics are not lagging far behind. Spain has been chosen as the venue for sports events of world relevance, such as the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the 1996 World Ski Championship in Sierra Nevada (Granada) and the 1999 World Athletics Championship in Seville, with Spanish sportsmen and -women recording outstanding performances in a number of individual and team sports and events.