4. There's coastline beyond the Costa del Sol
On the Costa del Sol, tales of rampant overpricing and badly designed hotels conflict with the glam, moneyed image of Marbella.
The eastern Mediterranean coast is better known for low-cost tourism.
But there are still unspoiled beaches where development and commercialism are largely absent.
One of Spain's rare volcanic regions, Cabo de Gata is a protected area in the southeast, where black-sand beaches sit beneath Arab watchtowers, monumental rocks and cactus-studded hills.
In the southwest, the sandy beaches south of Cadiz are superb for windsurfing.
In the north, attractive coves and fishing harbors edge the Bay of Biscay.
5. It snows in the olive groves
Andalucia isn't all shorts and T-shirts.
In winter, snows falls at higher elevations, sometimes bringing a surreal vision of olive groves blanketed in white.
The peninsula's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada is almost permanently snow-capped, creating the perfect scenic backdrop to the Alhambra, the famed Moorish fortress and palace.
In spring, wildflowers colonize the slopes, while in the valleys the last olives are harvested.
6. Life is just a series of fiestas
Frenetic music, food, booze, dance and dressing up make saints' festivals a highlight of the year in Spain, even in the tiniest of villages.
The quirky Spanish imagination -- Pedro Almodovar's movies exemplify it, as do Salvador Dalí's paintings -- gives birth to the parade of grotesque papier mache figures in Valencia's Las Fallas festival and the giant annual tomato fight in the town of Bunol.
Seekers of peace and quiet might want to avoid Hellin, in Castile-La Mancha, when 10,000 drummers play for several days.
Those of a nervous disposition might steer clear of Ribarteme, in Galicia, when survivors of near-death experiences parade through the tiny village in open-top coffins.
When wild horses are corralled in Sabucedo, wine flows all night during La Rioja's grape harvest or flamenco singers carouse into the early hours during Seville's Feria de Abril, you know you can only be in Spain.
7. Under every church lurks a mosque
Bell towers crowning Spain's churches and cathedrals may appear Catholic, but if you look closely you might discern the form of a minaret, especially in places such as Seville and Cordoba.
Iberia's convoluted history brought a succession of invaders and religions, meaning many places of worship were rebuilt using the stones and structures of their predecessors.
Roman temples lie deep below, later overlaid by Visigoth churches, then Islamic mosques and, finally, after the total reconquest of the peninsula in 1492, Catholic churches.
The ultimate symbol is Cordoba's eighth-century Mezquita-Catedral, one of the largest mosques in the world, with a cathedral parachuted into its heart.
8. Easter is more important than Christmas
Easter week (Semana Santa) is easily more important than Christmas in Spain.