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Spain is a country rife with beauty, fun, and adventure, and as our rundown of some of the best places to visit in Spain goes to show, it very well could be the culture-fueled, sun-bathed haven you’ve been seeking out for a much-needed getaway.
From abstract architecture to sprawling mountain ranges, bustling cities to tranquil beaches, Spain has it all in abundance. Prepare to fall in love with this gorgeous and exciting country, as together we discover Spain through 21 of its must-visit places.
Places to Visit in Spain
Top Tourist Spots
1 – Barcelona
The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, is one of the top tourist destinations in Spain. The city offers a range of attractions, although it’s vastly renowned for its stunning Gaudí architecture. The highlight of Antoni Gaudí’s work is the Sagrada Familia church, with its impressive interior and amazing views of the city.
Some other must-see landmarks by Gaudí are Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera. If you want to take a break from visiting museums and landmarks, go for a walk along the famous street La Rambla, stop at the Boqueria Market for local products, and enjoy the sun at Barceloneta. For breathtaking sunset views, head to the top of Montjuïc, where you can also visit the castle.
2 – Madrid
Boasting a variety of museums and galleries, Madrid is the cultural capital of Spain. The two most famous museums in Madrid are the Reina Sofia, housing masterpieces by Dalí, Picasso, and Miró, and the Prado Museum, with artworks by Goya, Rubens, and Velázquez, among others.
However, there’s much more to see in Madrid. Parque de El Retiro is a lovely place for a stroll, while the historical center is filled with more museums, lively streets lined with restaurants and shops, and gorgeous squares like Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.
Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Catedral de la Almudena and to check what’s on at the exhibition center Matadero.
3 – Valencia
Sunny Valencia is a great destination to sample delicious Spanish cuisine, enjoy pleasant weather year-round, and admire stunning architecture. Valencia is the home of Paella, one of the most famous Spanish dishes, originally prepared with chicken and rabbit meat.
Valencia is also renowned for the futuristic science complex Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, which features a huge aquarium, an IMAX theatre, an events center, and a Science Museum.
The historical center, also known as Ciutat Vella, is a lively area filled with restaurants, cafés, and historical landmarks like the gothic-style Valencia Cathedral, the beautiful Plaza de la Reina, and the old defensive walls and towers.
4 – Granada
The beautiful city of Granada in Andalucia is widely known for its impressive Alhambra and, overall, its Islamic heritage. In the 13th century, during the Nasrid rule, the city was the capital of the Emirate of Granada. The Alhambra remains one of the most important and best-preserved examples of Islamic architecture.
While the Alhambra is the main attraction in Granada, the city is full of Moorish buildings as well as Christian churches and monasteries. Some of the most important sights are the Granada Cathedral with the Royal Chapel of Granada, the 14th-century building and courtyard at Corral del Carbón, and the 11th-century baths El Bañuelo. For a lovely view of Granada and the Alhambra, head to Mirador de San Nicolás.
5 – Seville
If you don’t mind huge crowds, the best time to visit Seville is during Semana Santa, the most cherished festivity not only in the city but also in the rest of Spain. Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) marks the start of the Holy Week, with huge parades in the historical center of Seville. No other city in Spain celebrates this week like Seville, so it’s a great event to witness.
Aside from Semana Santa, the capital of Andalucia is full of important landmarks, like the impressive Seville Cathedral, housing the tomb of Columbus, and the Royal Alcázar of Seville, a stunning Moorish palace.
For panoramic views of the city center, climb The Mushrooms of Seville. And since you’re in the region where flamenco was born, there are plenty of opportunities to see amazing shows.
Great Beach Vacations
6 – Marbella
The resort city of Marbella on the Costa del Sol is considered one of Europe’s top luxury beach destinations. The glamorous city boasts Michelin-starred restaurants, hip bars, a lovely coastal promenade, and a marina constantly filled with yachts.
Relax on the long sandy beaches, dine at the seaside restaurants, and go for walks on the chic Avenida del Mar. If you want to get away from the fancy area, explore the charming historical city with narrow alleys and lovely whitewashed buildings.
7 – Tossa de Mar
North of Barcelona, on Spain’s Costa Brava, Tossa de Mar is an iconic seaside destination also known as the “blue paradise,” as painter March Chagall named it. The small Catalan town is better known for the 12th-century castle towering over its main beach, Platja Gran.
Tossa de Mar offers something for every taste. Gorgeous beaches, historical landmarks, and great restaurants. Discover the archaeological site of Villa Romana dels Ametllers, explore the Muralles de Tossa de Mar (castle), and go for a hike around Balcón al Mar to enjoy stunning views of the coast.
8 – Canary Islands
An amazing place to enjoy summer all year round is the Canary Islands. The archipelago is just off the coast of Morocco and enjoys pleasant weather throughout the year. The largest island, Tenerife, is also one of the most diverse, offering everything from beautiful beaches to hiking areas and picturesque little towns.
Gran Canaria is another great destination for beaches, especially in the south, where you’ll find resort hotels and beaches perfect for family vacations.
If you’re looking for long sandy beaches with fewer crowds, Fuerteventura is the place to go. The island is also great for water sports, but you must be prepared for quite a lot of wind.
For otherworldly landscapes, Lanzarote is the best island. Volcanic craters are scattered all over the island, especially in the Parque Natural de Los Volcanes, making you feel like you landed on the moon or some other planet.
The other islands worth checking out are La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, and the tiny La Graciosa just north of Lanzarote.
9 – Balearic Islands
The four main Balearic islands are Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. Despite being part of one archipelago, each island has its unique features. Mallorca is the largest of the four and offers a bit of everything. Gorgeous beaches, great nightlife, amazing restaurants, and rich culture can all be found on this Mediterranean island.
Menorca is probably the best island for family beach holidays. The island has many little beaches and coves with crystalline, shallow waters, perfect for children. Furthermore, the island has great spots for snorkeling and diving.
Ibiza is known as the party island, with lots of beach clubs to dance the night away any day of the week. Despite its crazy nightlife reputation, the island also offers amazing natural landscapes and lovely beaches.
Finally, Formentera is more of a laid-back island, great for exploring nature, hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on beautiful sandy beaches.
Great Places to Visit
10 – Buñol
The small town of Buñol west of Valencia is better known for La Tomatina, an annual festival that consists of a huge tomato fight on the streets of the historical center.
La Tomatina was born by chance in 1945 and slowly grew to become the major event it is today, drawing thousands of people every year in August. After the break in 2020 and 2021, La Tomatina came back in 2022.
Once you’re done with the fight, you can visit Buñol Castle, explore the lovely historical center, go hiking around Charco Maravilla, and enjoy a panoramic view from Mirador Buñol.
11 – The Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a mountain range forming a natural border between France and Spain. The mountains cover the entire French-Spanish border, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, so it’s a very extensive region. Unless you have several days, choose an area of the Spanish Pyrenees you wish to visit and stick to it.
All along the mountain range, you’ll find amazing landscapes and natural parks like Parque Natural Valles Occidentales with its valleys and lakes, Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido featuring the 3355 meters high peak Monte Perdido, and Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, the largest natural park in Catalonia.
12 – Tarifa
The most popular spot for wind sports in Europe, Tarifa is a small town in the southernmost point of Continental Europe. Just across the strait of Gibraltar, there is the coast of Morocco, only 20 miles away.
As you can imagine, the best things to do in Tarifa are taking kitesurf or windsurf lessons, with plenty of schools offering lessons for all levels.
The town is also great for boat trips to watch dolphins and whales, best between April and October. To reach the southernmost point of Europe, head to the tiny Isla de Tarifa.
13 – Galicia
The gorgeous region of Galicia is the place to go if you want to experience beautiful nature, lovely small towns, and the impressive Santiago de Compostela, which marks the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The city is also the region’s capital and home to the impressive Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Other amazing places to visit in Galicia are Finisterra, a small town on the ocean once thought to mark the end of the world, and Ourense, better known for its hot springs.
If you’re up for an adventure, walk a part of the Camino de Santiago to experience a different side of Galicia, passing through small towns and stunning natural landscapes.
14 – Bilbao
The most famous landmark in Bilbao is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum. The structure of the museum is a contemporary work of art in itself, with its titanium and glass curved walls reflecting in the waters of the Nervion River.
The art at Guggenheim is not only inside the museum but also outside. In front of the museum, you can see the giant flower-covered Puppy by Jeff Koons, while on the riverside, there’s Maman, a giant spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois.
Inside, admire the impressive sculpture by Richard Serra, The Matter of Time, and works by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Robert Motherwell, among others.
Aside from visiting the Guggenheim, explore the historic center of Bilbao, sample pintxos (similar to tapas), and stroll along the Gran Vía.
15 – San Sebastián
Not far from Bilbao, San Sebastián is one of the most picturesque towns in Spain. The town is extremely popular in summer, with the beautiful beach at La Concha Bay drawing thousands of visitors.
The Paseo de la Concha is a great place for a seaside promenade, while the best panoramic views are to be enjoyed from Monte Igueldo, where you’ll also find the amusement park Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo.
The charming Old Town at the foot of Mount Urgull is filled with restaurants serving traditional pintxos. San Sebastián is also known for its delicious cuisine and many Michelin-star restaurants.
16 – La Rioja
La Rioja is a region in the north of Spain best known for its wine production. Rioja wine is world-famous, so visiting its birthplace is a perfect opportunity to go on a wine tour or, even better, take part in a wine festival.
The Rioja Wine Harvest Festival takes place in September in Logroño and includes float parades and processions carrying the grapes from the vineyards for them to be foot-crushed by men in traditional costumes.
Another great event in the region is the Battle of the Wine in Haro. Though less famous than La Tomatina, La Batalla del Vino is just as fun. The festival takes place at the end of June, around San Pedro’s Day.
17 – Salamanca
With its sandstone buildings, Salamanca is also known as the Golden City and is among the most beautiful cities in Spain for its architecture. The historic center of Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its impressive Plaza Mayor and a mix of architectural styles from Romanesque and Gothic to Moorish, Renaissance, and Baroque.
A must-see sight is Salamanca Cathedral, an ornate gothic and baroque church with unique details, including an astronaut added to the main doorway. For amazing views of the cities and the cathedral, visit the Ieronimus Tower.
Salamanca is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1218. Head to the main university building and see if you can spot the frog on the façade. Legend has it that students who could spot it would have good luck in their exams.
18 – Málaga
Boasting amazing sandy beaches, a picturesque historical center, and many museums and historical landmarks, Málaga is a great destination to visit any time of the year. The city is Picasso’s birthplace, so it’s only natural that one of the main sights is the Picasso Museum.
Other amazing landmarks in Málaga are Gibralfaro Castle, offering panoramic views of the city, and the Moorish-style Alcazaba. If you visit the city in summer, the most popular beach is Playa la Malagueta, just a few minutes from the historic center.
19 – Cáceres
With its charming medieval town enclosed within Moorish walls, Cáceres is a gorgeous city to visit if you’re looking to get a bit off the beaten track. The Old Town is a maze of narrow alleys with many museums and preserved medieval and Moorish buildings.
Torre de Bujaco and the Cathedral of Santa Maria bell tower offer gorgeous views of the city from above. Outside the walls, Plaza Mayor is the main square in the city, with restaurants all around it.
In the Old Town, Casa-Museo Árabe Yusuf Al-Burch is a unique place to discover Arabic architecture in Cáceres.
20 – Mérida
Although Spain is not exactly renowned for Roman ruins, Mérida houses some of the most impressive and well-preserved rests dating back to the reign of the Roman Empire.
The highlights of the Ancient Roman heritage in Mérida are the Roman Bridge, the Trajan Arch that anciently led to a Roman Temple, the Temple of Diana, and arguably the most impressive ruin, the 8th-century BC Amphitheatre of Mérida.
Aside from the Roman ruins, Mérida also has a rich Moorish heritage. The most important place to visit is the Alcazaba of Mérida, a citadel dating to the 9th century with lovely views over the Guadiana River. With a combined ticket, you can visit all the main landmarks in Mérida.
21 – Zaragoza
Zaragoza is the capital of the Aragon region, in the northeast of Spain. The city is known for the Mudéjar art that characterized Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture in Spain, including Arabic elements. The Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Important landmarks that include Mudéjar features are the Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza, also known as La Seo de Zaragoza, and the Aljafería Palace, a gorgeous 11th-century palace.
Zaragosa also houses a museum dedicated to painter Francisco Goya, who was born in a small town in the southeast of the city. Important works by Goya can also be admired in the imposing Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Places to Visit in Spain Summary
From mountain peaks to golden shores, and cathedral domes to wine cellars, there is so much to see and do when you spend some time in one of Europe’s most vibrant and cultural countries.
Hopefully, this fun, exciting, and action-packed list of places to visit in Spain has more than stoked a burning desire within you to get planning a vacation you’ll remember for many years to come.
Wherever your adventures in Spain take you, we truly hope you have an unforgettable time!
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