Spain is a country with an incredible wealth of history, beautiful architecture, exquisite landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine. It’s no wonder that this country is a standard stop on most travelers’ European vacation itineraries.
Whether you’re looking for the best party islands in Spain, historical hotspots, or foodie paradise, we have compiled a list of the best cities to visit in Spain.
Best Places to Visit in Spain
From the popular cities of Madrid and Barcelona to the hidden gems of Menorca and Rioja, keep reading to discover some of the top places to visit in Spain.
Let’s start at the heart of Spain, with its capital city, Madrid. This dynamic, metropolitan city is brimming with life and infectious energy. Boasting magnificent architecture, countless museums and galleries, world-class cuisine, and bustling nightlife, Spain’s capital is a diverse and exciting destination.
Art and History
For art lovers, a visit to the famous Prado art museum is essential. Here you will find an overwhelmingly large collection of some of the world’s greatest baroque and renaissance masterpieces — think Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
If you’re more of a historian at heart, we highly recommend a trip to the National Archaeological Museum, where you can immerse yourself in Spain’s rich history. This museum is home to a collection of invaluable artifacts gathered from all across Spain, some over 2,500 years old.
Other fascinating historical sites worth visiting are the city’s oldest Arab baths, built over three centuries ago, and the Royal Palace, built in the 1700s.
In Madrid, dining out is taken very seriously. The city boasts thousands of eateries and bars, so you’re sure to find a spot for a delicious bite around every corner. Make sure you pop into the Chocolatería San Ginés for some heavenly deep-fried churros, paired with a cup of rich Spanish hot chocolate for dipping.
Also worth visiting is Sobrino de Botin, the world’s oldest restaurant, founded in 1725 and still serving up traditional Spanish fare to this day.
Without a doubt, Barcelona is Spain’s cultural capital. From its mind-blowing architecture to its delightfully pleasant weather, it’s no wonder Barcelona is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike.
Architecture and Art
The city’s urban sprawl is punctuated by the famed architect Gaudí’s whimsical creations, including the awe-inspiring La Sagrada Família, the city’s iconic landmark. It would be unheard of to be in Barcelona and not visit this magnificent masterpiece.
Other noteworthy examples of Gaudí’s work include Park Güell and Casa Batlló, both displaying the architect’s typical neo-gothic style.
Barcelona is also home to the Picasso Museum, housing over 4,000 artworks by the master Pablo Picasso.
If you’re a foodie, you have to visit La Boqueria, Barcelona’s oldest market (dating back to 1217!). You could lose yourself for hours exploring this vibrant market where you can indulge in anything from exotic fruits to fresh-from-the-ocean seafood.
This Andalusian city is probably one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in Spain. The birthplace of flamenco, Seville is the perfect place to delve deep into Spanish culture.
We can’t think of a more Spanish experience than a night out sipping sangria and nibbling on tapas while enjoying a fiery flamenco performance. For some of the best flamenco experiences in the city, we recommend Casa de la Memoria, Casa del Flamenco, and T de Triana.
Another quintessential (yet slightly more controversial) cultural tradition in Spain is bullfighting. We don’t recommend this experience for animal lovers or the faint of heart, but if you’re looking to immerse yourself in centuries-old tradition, you’ll find it at the Plaza del Torros (Seville’s bullfighting ring).
Part of Spain’s beautiful Balearic Islands, Mallorca’s baby sister island is the perfect alternative for travelers hoping to avoid the crowds associated with Mallorca and Ibiza. Menorca offers a smaller but equally beautiful slice of paradise.
Sunshine and Sand
Menorca is a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve with charmingly rustic swathes of unspoiled landscapes, as opposed to a built-up concrete beachfront. It’s home to many typically beautiful Balearic beaches and coves — think pristine white sand and crystal turquoise waters. Along with the more popular beaches, you’ll also be able to enjoy some secluded, virgin beaches, set in untouched scenery and only accessible by foot.
While lazing on a sunny beach all day is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your holiday, you may be looking for something slightly more active. Menorca is also a haven for hikers, with its Camí de Cavalls, the 185 km trail that circumnavigates the island offering breathtaking panoramic views.
When one thinks of Ibiza, the phrase “party island” probably comes to mind. It’s true — this exotic paradise has earned itself the title of ‘The Entertainment Island of the World’ for a reason. But there’s far more to Ibiza than just bronzed bodies, pounding music, and flashy superyachts.
If you venture over to the island’s northwest side, you will be met by a totally different side of Ibiza, exploding with rugged, untouched beauty. What’s more, the island is yet another one of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Whether you choose to find a quiet spot on the beach to watch the sunset or opt to explore the underwater world with some scuba diving, Ibiza’s natural beauty is sure to impress.
The above being said, Ibiza is still one of the best places to go in Spain if you’re looking for a good party. Take your pick from one of the island’s six main clubs: Amnesia, Eden, Space, Pacha, Privilege, or Es Paradis. These clubs feature multiple dance floors spread across several levels and often host some of the world’s best DJs.
Rioja is one of the best places to visit in Spain if you consider yourself a wine lover. This Spanish wine region boasts an unending supply of local wines and exquisite scenery.
Wine and Dine
With over 500 bodegas (wineries) in the area, Rioja serves up some of Spain’s finest wines. Much like France’s Champagne, only wines that have been grown and produced in Rioja can be labeled as “Rioja” wine.
As any responsible adult knows, drinking on an empty stomach is not wise. Luckily, the area is home to a trail of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Venta Moncalvillo and El Portal de Echaurren.
With its unique Arabic influence, Granada is slightly different from the rest of Spain. Because of its history of being a Muslim kingdom for over 800 years, you’ll find tapas bars rubbing shoulders with ancient Arab bathhouses.
Mesh of Cultures
Many of Granada’s highlights center around intricately designed Islamic architecture, including the Alhambra palace-fortress. Spend an afternoon exploring the royal chambers and the splendid courtyards, then stroll to the nearby Alcaiceria market.
This market was originally a bazaar established by a North African group known as the Moors during their reign in the 8th century. Today the market has shrunk in size but still flourishes and flaunts an array of exotic Moroccan goods.
Wrapping Up the Best of Spain
We hope this guide has convinced you to start planning your trip to Spain.
With its intriguing history, rich cultural diversity, divine food, and striking scenery, there are countless reasons why you should include Spain in your next European travel itinerary.
Whether you’re there for the country’s natural beauty, its metropolitan cities, or the best of both, Spain is guaranteed to capture a piece of your heart forever.