For first time visitors, the best cities to visit in Spain are the most popular ones. But if your trip to Spain includes having more time to explore we suggest you go off the beaten path and visit some less touristy places and see the countryside.
Prepare yourself for a lot of sun and dress accordingly when visiting Spain. Wear sunglasses, hats, and comfy sandals. Even though all the indoor spaces are air-conditioned, including trains, coffee shops, and hotels outdoors it can get pretty sticky.
Get your paper and pen ready and check out our list of top 10 cities to visit in Spain!
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Barcelona is usually the first place everyone visits in Spain. The city can thank Dali, Picasso, Gaudi, and many other prominent artists and architects for its global popularity. There are so many beautiful streets, buildings and attractions you need to see here that one day won’t be enough.
Walk down Las Ramblas promenade to get that vibe that the city has. You will see hundreds of tourists but also locals sitting in restaurants and coffee shops, going to the market, or visiting churches, museums, and boutiques. The tree line will give you shade in a usually sunny Barcelona.
Architectural marvels you should see are Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, and Park Güell. They all look gorgeous from the outside, but if you want to go inside there are huge lines, and buying tickets in advance is a great idea.
If you love museums don’t skip the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. It has an incredible amount of his artwork and however busy it is not too touristy. As a center of Catalonia province in Spain, learn about region history through art in the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you must know that the part of the series was filmed in Barcelona. You will b surprised how much of it looks so original when walking around the city’s palaces and streets.
The city is a mix of gothic cathedrals, medieval remains, mudéjar palaces, and baroque churches. You can see this city in one day if you plan ahead really well, otherwise, it would take you at least two days of walking around.
Some of the most popular tourist locations are Plaza de España, Parque de María Luisa, Catedral & Giralda, and Real Alcázar. Everything in the city is walking distance, but if you are not used to the heat you might want to stop for refreshments every two hours and take a break.
If you want to see exceptional modern landmark, check out the Metropol Parasol, built in 2011 by German architect Jürgen Mayer H. To experience flamenco culture you should visit one of the numerous flamenco clubs in the city or go to the Museum of Flamenco Dance.
Madrid is not just the capital of Spain, but also home to the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino de Botín. Spain is a great destination for foodies and every city is famous for some specialty dishes. In Madrid, it is a calamari sandwich.
One of the most visited attractions in Madrid is the Puerta del Sol. It is Spain’s “Kilometer 0” where all the roads start. This square is also where the New Years’ eve is celebrated in Madrid.
When in Madrid you don’t want to miss out on the incredible Royal Palace of Madrid. It is a residence of the royal family that is also open to the public. Other incredible places to see are Prado Museum, Retiro Park, Temple of Debod, and Palacio de Cibeles.
Madrid is full of cute rooftop bars, restaurants with tables on cable stone squares, and charming street fairs. You will be able to speak to locals, buy handmade souvenirs, and enjoy the city’s energy which is very vibrant, especially in the evening.
This northern city is a hub to artists, designers, and creatives for decades already. you can see unique buildings built right next to a centuries-old church or old-fashioned hotel.
Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim Museum where you can see works of many international artists like Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein, and Anslem Kiefer. Outside of the museum, you can see sculptures and art installations in a so-called “Art District”.
The old town of Bilbao is very colorful and interesting to explore. It is called the Casco Viejo and here you can visit local bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries. Nearby you will find museums like the Archeological Museum and attractions like the Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao and the Plaza Nueva.
If you want to see the panorama of the city you can go up to the top of Mount Artxanda. To get there you can go on a hike or take the old funicular that is operating since 1915. Taking this cable railway is itself a unique attraction.
Valencia is a coastal city with long beaches, gorgeous countryside nearby, and vibrant nightlife. You can go to natural swimming pools, go on a sailing trip, eat paella, or just relax on the beach when visiting this beautiful city.
The old town has charming squares like Plaza de la Reina or Plaza Lope de Vega. Here you will see a lot of touristy restaurants with overpriced meals. If you walk for a few minutes, nearby there are many truly great local restaurants, bars, and cafes where Spanish people love to hang out.
For those history buffs, it might be an interesting fact that Valencia Cathedral has what is considered to be The Holy Grail. If you haven’t heard about it before, it is a cup from which Christ was drinking on the last supper. However, this was not proven, but tourists come here for curiosity.
If you are visiting Valencia for its pristine beaches, the most popular beach is La Malvarrosa. this beach is split into sections called Playa las Arenas and Playa Cabanyal. Other beautiful swimming locations are Playa de Pinedo and Playa el Saler.
6. San Sebastian
Also known as Donostia, this is the place to visit for long sandy beaches and days full of fun with your family. Playa de la Concha is one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, and it is just one of the three main beaches in the city. While sunbathing you will have a gorgeous view of the city.
Take a hike to the top of Mount Igueldo to get a perfect panoramic view of the city. This can be a half-day trip starting early morning. If you are not fun of hiking in the hot summer sun, there is an old-school funicular that is operating since 1912.
A stunning neo-gothic style Sun Sebastian Cathedral is a must-see landmark in the city. It was built in the 19th century with beautiful arches and glass windows. The interior is serene and quiet and the cathedral is housing one of the largest pipe organs in Europe.
Traveling with kiddos was never this fun. Check out this underwater Aquarium Donostia-San Sebastian where you will get face to face with sharks and other marine animals. It is an interesting place for all ages and there is a lot to learn about in this educational visit.
When visiting this amazing city you will see some breathtaking Andalusian landscapes, including the view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The city itself is located very high and looks like a medieval fortress more than a vivid town.
The Sierra Nevada mountains have numerous hiking trails and are also very good for scenic driving. The highest peaks are Mulhacen at 3,470 meters and Veleta at 3,385 meters. If you feel very adventurous you can split this hike into two days and camp out on the mountain overnight.
To see the real Granada, wander streets close to the Carrera del Darro. sneak into small bars, listen to live music, and eat tapas. This romantic town with stone bridges and narrow streets is an ideal weekend getaway for you and your better half.
Probably the main reason for visiting Granada is the Alhambra, palace, and garden which was royal residence since the 13th century. The castle has a rich history, very interesting to learn about when you visit. To enter you will need a ticket, but some parts of it you can see for free.
Here you will see a mix of cultures, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, as this was “Imperial City” and the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Spain. It is also known as the “City of the Three Cultures” and remains of the past times can still be seen on the streets of Toledo.
This is one of the best kept medieval cities in Spain. Climb up to the highest point in the city, El Alcazar, for the best views. Wandering around the city will take you through unique narrow streets and over to small squares with shops and cafes.
For another great view of the city, you can go up to the 44-meter tall tower in the main cathedral of Toledo, Catedral Primada. This gorgeous medieval building is the second-largest cathedral in the country. Paintings inside are done by El Greco, Goya, Velazquez, and other famous artists.
A must-see museum in Toledo is El Greco Museum. This famous Renaissance artist spent most of his life in Toledo, even tho originally he was Greek. The museum is located in the Jewish Quarter. Visitors can see two buildings, a beautiful courtyard, and a garden.
Once the most prominent city in Europe, Cordoba was the center of art, architecture, and academics in the 10th century. It is also considered western Mecca because of one of the most spectacular Islamic buildings in Europe, La Mezquita, the UNESCO-listed mosque.
Walk around the historic Jewish quarter, called The Judería. Here you’ll see winding narrow streets, full of colorful patios and white houses. you will find amazing restaurants here and many specialty stores.
Castle of the Christian Monarchs is where you can see Roman and Visigoth ruins. This palace was home to the Moorish rulers until the 13th century when the city was conquered by Catholic King Fernando III. You will see the classically Andalusian architecture, many trees, and aromatic plants.
Roman Bridge and Calahorra Tower are the most picturesque locations in the city. This 16-arches bridge was built after Caesar’s victory over Pompey the Great. About the interesting history of the city, you can learn the most in the Archaeological Museum.
You must have seen this spectacular bridge that connects land and top of the gorge where the city is located. If you are looking for modern bullfighting (or to protest against it) this is a place to go. Historically its been a cultural and literary center of the region.
The Arabic Baths in Ronda were built in the 13th century. They are the best-preserved baths of this kind in Spain. The baths are located in the old Arab quarter of the city, also known as the San Miguel Quarter.
Cuenca Gardens are not just gorgeous to visit but also offer amazing views of the surrounding area. They are spread around different terraces and have all kinds of plants and flowers. It is an excellent choice for a romantic stroll.
Do not leave Ronda without trying out tasty local wines. Ronda has many great wineries, which you can visit on a wine route. You can start your day with a visit to a winery and also go to the countryside where you will find even more of them.