In a recent article entitled ‘The Secret to Expat Happiness’ we revealed that one of the three essential criteria for expatriate contentment was keeping busy – and this is particularly imperative for all those who retire abroad.  Yes, retirement is all about putting your feet up and relaxing, but it’s also about having the time to do all those things you have always wanted to do – such as moving abroad!

Many newly transported expat retirees fall into an unhealthy pattern of doing very little indeed once they move abroad however, in part this is because they no longer have their usual band of family and friends around them with whom they would normally have socialised.  So as an expat retiree it is up to you to find things to do abroad, otherwise you could become bored and fed up!  In this article we will suggest a whole range of activities to keep you busy when you retire to Spain.

No matter what the media says about Spain’s property market and no matter what financial analysts say about Spain’s economy at the moment, the fact of the matter is, the majority of us who want to retire abroad want to retire to Spain.  It’s the accessibility, familiarity, the climate, lifestyle, cost of living and beauty of the place that has us all hooked!  And no amount of negativity will turn us off Spain because at the end of the day, it is a fabulous country offering a very good standard of living especially for retirees who want the temperate weather, the laid back pace of life and the relative affordability of day-to-day living costs.

However, newly arrived expat retirees who rock up in Spain, put down a few roots and then sit back and take a look around often find themselves struggling to fill the many long hours of the day and night.  Sure, one can enjoy the swimming pool, the Mediterranean, the sunny days, pretty garden, beautiful villa or apartment that are one’s immediate surroundings, but what about getting out and about and meeting people and getting to know more about Spain?  In order to keep your mind and body active and to make sure you stay happy it is essential to socialise and keep busy.  The following activities that you can enjoy once you’re living in Spain will enable you to do so.

Golf in Spain

Because of Spain’s excellent climate it makes it an ideal place to play golf all year round, and all of the major towns, cities and resorts have golf clubs where you can become a member or simply sign up for a days play when the mood strikes. The Costa del Sol region of Spain has over 30 courses and the state of Andalucia is home to around 60 courses for example, so if you’re heading for the South of Spain in retirement you’ll never be far from a course.  Fees vary according to the standard and reputation of the course, and they also vary if you prefer to just play for a day depending on the time of year you go.  Those who want to find affordable golfing options can choose to play out of season when the weather is cooler anyway, and therefore more conducive to pleasant playing conditions.

Almeria, Catalonia and Murcia are also all blessed with a choice of course and whilst golf is certainly a sport one can enjoy alone, it’s best played with friends.  Not only that, but the clubhouse is a great place to meet new friends as well.

Walking in Spain

Keeping active in retirement is of course important, but only a select few choose to run marathons or attend the gym daily.  Of much more fun is walking and getting to know the real Spain whilst you stay fit and healthy.  What’s more, Spain is truly ideal for walking with terrain suited to everyone from those who like to amble and look at the scenery to those who prefer hard hiking, mountaineering and even rock climbing.  If you’re retiring to Southern Spain you might think that walking is really an out of season activity, after all the heat of the summer sunshine on the Costas means that most of us don’t like to walk much further than from the pool to the sun lounger, but the further North you head, the cooler the climate can tend to be – and even in the summer months there are very pleasant walking conditions in the Pyrenees for example.

In some areas of Spain walking groups and tours are organised, look out for leaflets and flyers in supermarkets and bars as well as regular expat haunts.  Consider signing up for a group walk even if the thought doesn’t appeal greatly at first, because at least you will then meet up with people with whom you at least have one thing in common!  It could be a great way to make friends and even if you never go on a group walk again, if you find someone with whom you’d like to walk again, you can plan trips and days out of your own.


In Spain you can fish in lakes and rivers or you can head out on the Med and do some sea fishing.  Fresh water fishing requires the fisherman or woman has a permit, and these can be obtained from the regional wildlife authorities.  Whilst fresh water fishing is something of a lone pursuit and one that requires patience and peace and quiet, it can be combined with a walking or camping trip with friends.  Sea fishing can be far more sociable with many boats offering day trips for groups and parties of friends, these trips invariably involve something of a fun day out with onboard refreshments forming part of the package!

Horse Riding

Whilst Andalucia is probably home to the most stunning and beautiful horses in the whole of Spain, the entire nation offers exciting terrain and magnificent views for those who love horse riding.  From the Pyrenees to the beaches on the Southern coast of Spain, horse lovers can explore Spain off the beaten track and also get out and about and meeting new friends.  According to the Saga website, the mountains and wilderness of the Sierra de Gredos is perfect horse riding country where you can camp out under the stars and trek along ancient roads to reach medieval walled towns and villages and get to see a side of Spain that few other expats ever see.

Water Sports and Sailing

The sailing in Spain is world class and with thousands of miles of coastline to explore one need never venture further than Spain’s own waters!  However, as a gateway to the Med, sailing enthusiasts can indulge their passion of exploration whilst maintaining a base close to home.  As for water sports in general, the climate and the mild and tempting, calm and enticing Mediterranean Sea means that everything from sea swimming to snorkelling, diving, wind surfing and just bobbing about on a lilo are all ideal pastimes.  In the mountain rivers in Northern Spain water sport alternatives include canoeing and kayaking as well as rafting and even white water rafting.

Skiing in Spain

Did you know that it is Spain not France or even Austria that lies in second place to Switzerland as the most mountainous nation in Europe?  What this means for ski enthusiasts is plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal to snow!  Head for the Pyrenees or perhaps Pradollano in the Sierra Nevada and prepare to be impressed with the standard of Spanish ski resorts.

Socialising in Spain

The final thing on our list of activities to keep you busy when you retire to Spain is socialising!  Whilst this is a fairly generic type of ‘activity’ to engage in it will be one of the most rewarding.  When you’re out and about socialising – whether you prefer to do so in a bar or café or via a sports club or specific social group – you will be able to begin sharing your life with other like minded people from many different backgrounds.