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Tourism Capital 2021: The 10 candidates vying to be 'destination of the year'
03 May 2021 @ 14:03

A STATUS like 'Tourism Capital of the Year' immediately conjures up images of either big cities, such as Madrid, BarcelonaValencia or Sevilla, or coastal hotspots such as the Costa del SolCosta Blanca, or the Balearic and Canary Islands. But apparently, the 10 candidates for 2021, and the winners for the previous three years, could not be more of a contrast from these bustling, cosmopolitan holidaymaker magnets.

La Baronia de Rialb in the Catalunya province of Lleida - could this become the 2021 Tourism Capital? (Photo: Tomàs García on the blog Crónico Viajero)

Every year since 2018 inclusive, Escapada Rural magazine chooses a Tourism Capital – back then, it was Aínsa-Sobrarbe in Aragón's Pyrénéen province of Huesca; the next two years saw locations in the northern coastal region of Cantabria on the podium: Santillana del Mar in 2019 and Potes in 2020, a year when, other than a few brief months in summer, nobody living outside Cantabria could go there in person to do the Tourism and find out why it was so Capital.

Hopefully, 2021 will be different for whichever of the 10 on the shortlist makes the cut once internet users cast their votes and these are counted up on May 18.


Aïa (Guipúzcoa province, Basque Country)

If you love mountain scenery but think a holiday isn't a holiday without a beach involved, this stunningly-attractive town in the giveaway-named district, or mini-county, of Urola Kosta could just fit the bill. 

Aïa, Guipúzcoa province (photo: @inakiurbi on Instagram)

Its Pagoeta nature reserve and the Hernio and Hernio-Txiki mountains, replete with footpaths and cycle routes and with plenty of organised trips to help you get the best out of these, look more like something out of central Europe with their green, undulating pastureland. 


Chelva (Valencia province)

Set in the western hinterland of the Comunidad Valenciana which squashes up against southern Aragón and eastern Castilla-La Mancha, a land of vast stretches of dramatic, multi-coloured mountains with large gaps between pockets of civilisation, and an attractive, rustic, Mediaeval look about said pockets when they appear, Chelva is, as a bonus, located in the district of Los Serranos, close to one of Spain's biggest wine regions, Requena-Utiel, where you can go for the usual vineyard-merchants'-tasting tour. 



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