Spain Travel Guide
What to do in Spain? Do you want to visit Spain on your next vacation but you don’t know what to see or where to go yet? Well that’s good! Our Spain Travel Guide will help you get an idea of the country and plan your travel itinerary.
For each place, we will tell you about the essentials of the region, which will allow you to discover which are the best places to visit and the cities to see in Spain.
So what to do in Spain? Set off now to discover the most beautiful cities and places of interest on the Iberian Peninsula!
Visit Spain: the essentials
The mythical city of Barcelona, capital of the Catalan region, is the most visited in Spain. Its assets are not lacking: it has to offer superb beaches, numerous museums, a pretty historic center, a lively nightlife, as well as tapas bars not to be missed.
Do not miss the very original monuments built by the architect Antoni Gaudí!
Not to be missed during your visit to Barcelona:
- The Sagrada Familia
- Park Guell
- Casa Milà and Casa Batlló, 2 buildings designed by Gaudí
- The Gothic Quarter
- La Rambla, emblematic avenue of Barcelona
- The hill of Montjuïc, where the botanical garden of Barcelona is located as well as the Olympic installations of the 1992 Olympics.
- The Camp Nou, mythical stadium of FC Barcelona
If you are a thrill seeker, take the opportunity to go to the Port Aventura amusement park, 1h30 from Barcelona.
From the top: 22@ new business district, Sagrada Família, Camp Nou, Castle of the Three Dragons, Palau Nacional, W Barcelona hotel and beach. Frank Müller, User:Germanramos, Adrià García, User:Johannes Kern, User:Freepenguin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Capital of Spain, Madrid is a must with its lively and lively atmosphere that will delight more than one.
Personally, I loved strolling in the evening in the alleys lined with restaurants, snacking on tapas in different bars, mingling with the Spanish youth who gather in the main squares.
Madrid also has no shortage of places to discover, here are the ones that I consider the most interesting:
The Palace of Cybèle, for its magnificent architecture
The Plaza Mayor of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Prado Museum
The sublime Retiro Park, one of the best landscaped in Europe!
If you are visiting Madrid for a few days, do not miss a day trip to the sublime monastery of the Escorial, 45km from the city.
From top left: The commercial center on Paseo de la Castellana, Alcalá and Gran Vía streets, Palacio de Cibeles, view of Palacio Real and Almudena Cathedral. see above, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Located in the heart of Andalusia, Seville is a destination of choice for your tour in Spain!
The city enjoys a pleasant climate all year round, a particular cultural richness and an exceptional environment, between sea and mountains. Enjoy its warm atmosphere, discover its friendly inhabitants and appreciate the warmth of the South!
Must see in Seville:
- The Spanish Steps
- Seville Cathedral and the Giralda
- The Alcazar of Seville, an architectural marvel, as well as its gardens.
- The Real Maestranza de Caballería bullring in Seville
- The Golden Tower (Torre del Oro), on the edge of the Alphonse-XIII canal
From top: Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, Torre del Oro and the River Guadalquivir, Alcázar gardens, Plaza de España, Metropol Parasol and the Triana Bridge. Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, Giralda: DiliffTorre del Oro: EmDeePlaza de España Atardecer: José Luis Rodriguez de su blog “http://flaxtonbein.blogspot.com/”Metropol Parasol: AnualPuente de Triana: Antonio Foncubierta, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
4. El Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve
Considered one of the most beautiful landscapes in Spain, the El Torcal de Antequera reserve contains impressive rock formations, worthy of a miniature Grand Canyon. Created by millennia of erosion, these natural sculptures are definitely worth seeing.
The surrounding setting is wild, and the man who walks among these eroded rocks feels the power of nature and receives a good dose of humility.
And with a bit of luck, you will even meet a few ibexes (species of wild goat) frolicking in this unspoilt landscape.
Nature reserve El Torcal de Antequera. Dgalan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Santiago de Compostela
Famous throughout the world, Santiago de Compostela is the final stage of the famous pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of people set out on foot, on horseback or by bicycle, towards this mythical destination.
Once there, you will discover an incredible cultural and historical richness, which has earned the city to be listed as a World Heritage Site. Do not miss:
- The cathedral, very impressive
- The medieval historic center
- The typical alleys that criss-cross the city.
Also located in Andalusia, Cordoba is our favorite city in Andalusia!
The city’s most famous monument is the Mezquita, an amazing mix between a mosque and a cathedral. Change of scenery guaranteed! Its different architectural styles will interest enthusiasts, and its dozens of colorful arches will appeal to the whole family.
Cordoba is a pleasant city where it is good to stroll, and its old center is full of remarkable monuments. Things to do in Cordoba:
- The Mezquita, also called Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
- The historic center
- The Calahorra tower, its famous Roman bridge and the Pont gate
- The Alcázar of the Christian Kings of Cordoba, which has a very beautiful garden
- The Roman Temple of Cordoba
The visit of Cordoba is done very well in a day from Seville, the 2 cities are only 40 minutes away by express train! The ticket costs around 30 euros return.
Zaragoza is one of our favorite cities in Spain.
It is a city that is not very touristy, off the beaten track, which makes it a pleasure to discover it.
Built on the banks of the Río Ebro, Zaragoza reveals all its charm at sunset, with its romantic bridge and its basilica worthy of a children’s story. A must see:
The Basilica of Nuestra Senora del Pilar
The fortified palace of the Aljaferia
The old fortifications from Roman times.
8. The Roman ruins of Mérida
It is the largest Roman archaeological site in Spain.
Faithful representative of this bygone era, the site of Mérida, which takes its name from the eponymous city, can be visited thanks to a pass sold for 12 euros.
You will thus have access to the huge amphitheater, the ruins of a 2000-year-old theater, as well as all the other constructions, allowing you to get a good idea of the way of life of the Spaniards under Roman domination. The site is so well preserved that it almost looks like it…
The National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida is also worth visiting!
Collage of Mérida, Top: Mérida Ancient Roman Theater, Second left: Asanblea de Extremadura (Extremadura Assembly), Second right: Acueducto de Los Milagros (Los Milagros Aqueduct), Third left: A interior of Mérida National Roman Art Museum, Third upper right: Mérida Roman Bridge, Third lower right: Templo de Diana (Diana Temple), Bottom: A night view of Lusitania Bridge and Guadiana River. Alonso de Mendoza, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toledo is a charming city located south of Madrid. It is a medieval city of narrow winding streets that sits on a small hill and the river Tajo
With its air of a city frozen in time, Toledo enjoys a rich architectural heritage, influenced by several civilizations. The result is a special atmosphere, varied and original buildings, and a particularly open-minded population.
Toledo, Spain aerial panorama. Chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
To do in Toledo:
- The Alcazar of Toledo
- The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo
- The Monastery of Saint John of the Kings of Toledo
- The Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca.
|Record high °C (°F)||22.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||11.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||1.3|
|Record low °C (°F)||−13.4|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||26|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||5||5||4||6||6||3||1||2||3||7||6||6||54|
|Average relative humidity (%)||76||69||59||58||54||45||39||41||51||66||74||79||59|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||151||172||228||249||286||337||382||351||260||210||157||126||2,922|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorologia|
10. The coast of the Rías Baixas
The Rías Baixas represent the succession of valleys separated by the sea that make up the coast of northwestern Spain. The region is relatively unknown to tourists, but the landscape is exceptional!
On the other hand, it is necessary to have a car in order to enjoy the Rías Baixas, otherwise access to the most beautiful corners may not be easy.
Must do: stick around until dark, the light of the sunset over the ocean provides great photo opportunities. The 5 Rías that make up the Rías Baixas are:
Ría de Corcubion
Ria de Muros y Noya
Ria de Arosa
Ria of Pontevedra
Ria de Vigo.
Valencia is one of the most visited Spanish cities by the French, and also one of the cheapest in terms of airfare to get there (you can get away with a €20 return ticket in low season).
The city seduces thanks to its architecture mixing the old and the modern, and thanks to its relaxed atmosphere.
Places of interest not to be missed in Valencia:
Plaza de la Virgen
The city of arts and sciences including the Oceanogràfic, an oceanarium with amazing architecture!
The Barrio del Carmen
The Turia Gardens, a public park laid out in the former bed of the Río Turia
The Torres de Serranos
12. Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park
This park, located in the Pyrenees mountain range, straddling Spain and France is easy to access and really worth the detour!
Nature and hiking lovers will enjoy its tens of kilometers of marked paths, in a breathtaking landscape.
Located at the foot of Mount Lost, Ordesa National Park is full of canyons, peaks, valleys and waterfalls (such as the “Cola de Caballo” waterfall), making it one of the most beautiful parks in the peninsula. And the fauna is not left out either!
13. Segovia Aqueduct
Perhaps you have already heard of the aqueduct of Segovia, built by the Romans in the 1st century AD.
This construction impresses with its 800 meters long and the 20,000 blocks of granite that were used to build it. It is the largest Roman vestige in Spain, and we must admit, it is very photogenic!
If you go to Segovia, do not miss its historic center and the beautiful monuments that make it up, such as the Alcazar of Segovia or the magnificent cathedral.
14. Caminito del Rey
Notice to thrill seekers: the Caminito del Rey is a vertiginous path allowing you to discover the most beautiful gorges in Spain.
His particuliarity ? The footbridges are fixed directly on the side of the cliffs, which means that one walks just above the void.
The landscapes are breathtaking and, even if I have vertigo, the experience remains one of my best memories in Spain!
Formerly nicknamed the most dangerous path in the world, the Caminito del Rey can now be discovered in complete safety, thanks to the renovations carried out.
The Caminito del Rey is easily accessible by car from Ronda, (50 min) Antequera (50 min) and Malaga (1h).
15. Picos de Europa National Park
This national park was among the first to be created in Spain. It is made up of three main rock masses, and offers dozens of hiking possibilities in a landscape worthy of a film.
Do not miss the observation of the Naranjo de Bulnes peak, which lends itself well to photographs, and if you have to do only one hike, opt for the Ruta del Cares, which will take you to discover magnificent gorges.
The peculiarity of this city located in Andalusia is to be cut in two by a ravine with a depth of 130 meters.
Located 100 km from Málaga, the city of Ronda is worth a visit, at least to photograph this unusual arrangement!
When you cross the Pont Neuf, which separates the two halves of Ronda, you will have an incredible panorama of the surrounding valley. Also take the time to get lost in the alleys of this charming town, you won’t regret it!
Known for its great architectural diversity, Valladolid will delight lovers of beautiful monuments.
Influenced by several civilizations, the city has managed to create its own image. If you have time, there are dozens of churches, palaces, squares, parks and monuments around you.
Places of interest in Valladolid, Spain:
The National Museum of Sculpture located in the magnificent Collège Saint-Grégoire
The Royal Palace of Valladolid
To do in the surroundings of Vallodolid: the castle of Peñafiel, on the heights of the eponymous town. Very little visited, it is really worth a look.
18. Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
To visit Cabo de Gata-Níjar Park in Andalusia, stay at least two nights in the nearby town of San José.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy magnificent almost deserted beaches, and admire the turquoise color of the sea.
Be careful, in summer it is hot, very hot! This natural park is located in one of the driest regions in Europe, and was the setting for a number of spaghetti westerns in the 1960s!
It is one of the most exotic places to see in Spain.
The Montserrat massif is located in Catalonia, about sixty kilometers from Barcelona.
Its rare geological formations, which each year attract specialists who come to study them, already make it a special place.
But the place is especially known to the general public for the Abbey of Monserrat, which enjoys a magnificent panorama of the surrounding valley.
Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, thanks in particular to its famous Alhambra, appearing on all the postcards of the city.
Located in Andalusia, the heart of the city beats to the rhythm of the South: it is good to live there, the inhabitants are smiling, and the monuments are not lacking. An excellent choice for a trip to Spain!
Among the main attractions to visit in Granada:
The Alhambra of course, a must among the must-sees, including: The Generalife Gardens, the Palace of Charles V and the Nasrid Palaces
The San Nicolas viewpoint, which offers a breathtaking view of the city
The Basílica de San Juan de Dios, very richly decorated (I had personally never seen so much gilding!)
The historic center of Granada with its narrow streets and monuments.
From top left: The Alhambra, Generalife, Patio de los Leones in Alhambra, Royal Hall in Alhambra, Albayzín and Sacromonte, Huerto del Carlos, in Albayzín, Plaza Nueva, house in Albayzín, façade of the cathedral, bell tower of the cathedral, Royal Chapel. Stegop, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Located on the west coast of Andalusia, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz is not a very touristy city at first, but its historic center, its small port and its 2 forts which dominate the ocean really liked it!
To see in Cadiz:
San Sebastián Castle
Santa Catalina Castle
The Roman theater of Gades
The monument of the 1812 constitution
The Central Mercado
When you arrive in Cádiz from the mainland, you will certainly pass by the bridge of the Constitution of 1812, opened in 2015, whose architecture is worth a look!
22. Bardenas Reales
The Bardenas Reales desert, classified as a world biosphere reserve by Unesco, is the ideal place to spend a weekend, especially if you live near the Pyrenean border with Spain.
You will only need 2h30 by road from Bayonne, for example, to be completely out of your element! On nearly 42,000 hectares, you can admire a landscape of rocks entirely shaped by erosion.
Be sure to visit the Castil de tierra, a gigantic fairy chimney, emblem of the desert.
Many hiking trails are available to you but you can also explore it by bike, motorbike or car. And for fans of series, know that scenes from season 6 of Game of Thrones were filmed there.
23. Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park
This is the last natural park mentioned in this top things to do in Spain.
Located between the cities of Málaga and Ronda, in Andalusia, do not miss a visit if you visit the latter. The Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park includes several mountainous areas rich in vegetation and fauna.
Dominated by the Pico Torrecilla which culminates at 1919 m, this park offers many hiking possibilities, in an enchanting landscape of pine forests.
If you want to visit the Sierra de las Nieves on your next trip to Spain, you can download the tourist guide in PDF (in English and Spanish).
Not far from Málaga and the previously mentioned park, the city of Antequera conceals many little-known treasures: several Baroque churches, a vast and beautiful main square, small parks scattered around the city, and other monuments to discover.
To see in Antequera:
The Alcazaba which dominates the city and the Arco de los Gigantes which can be seen on the way there.
The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Mayor of Antequera
The El Carmen church, which is worth it for its superb interior
But what gives Antequera its particularity is the set of prehistoric dolmens discovered on the outskirts of the city. They are not commonplace in Spain!
Listed as a World Heritage Site since 1985, the city of Avila is known for its impressive wall built in the Middle Ages to defend the city from Moorish attacks.
2500m long and with no less than 88 towers, the wall of Avila circles the city and is incredibly well preserved.
Enjoy the medieval atmosphere that reigns in Avila, with the air of a medieval village.
Located 1h30 from Madrid by car, the city had very well to visit on a day.
The city of Burgos is known because it was here that El Cid was born.
Although having been largely modernized under the Franco dictatorship, Burgos still has several monuments worth visiting.
Among them is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos, considered one of the most beautiful in Spain (and the 3rd largest). It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As the city has focused on greenery, you will have the pleasure of strolling through its medieval center, dotted with parks and green spaces of all kinds.
27. The Balearic Islands
Finally, to end this top, I will now tell you about some of the Spanish islands not to be missed, starting with the Balearic Islands!
Mallorca, is the largest of the islands of Spain, and it is also one of those that attract the most tourists each year, full of amazing beaches and great nightlife.
This paradise island brings together a multitude of breathtaking landscapes: the turquoise sea, white sand beaches, dense forests, mountains suitable for hiking… There is something for everyone.
The most beautiful places to discover on the island of Mallorca:
- Palma de Mallorca
- Cape Formentor
- The cove of Cala del Moro
- Es Trenc beach
- The villages of the Serra de Tramontana: Soller, Deia, Valdemossa, Fornalutx
- The Caves of Drach.
Palma de Mallorca at night. © Friedrich Haag (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Like Mallorca’s little sister, Menorca is less well known.
Better preserved than its neighbour, it will delight lovers of nature and tranquillity. Its beaches are magnificent and less crowded, its coasts offer many possibilities for water activities of all kinds, and its villages are charming.
Do not miss the places of interest:
- Mahon, the capital of the island
- The Mola fortress
- The superb beaches and coves: Sa Caleta, Cala Pregonda, Cala Mitjana, Cala en Turqueta, Cavalleria beach…
- The Cami de Cavalls for a hike in Menorca.
Cala Macarelleta, one Menorca’s most beautiful beach. https://jujunatrip.com/menorca-guia-completo-da-ilha/, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Even if this island now has a rather bad reputation as an island of party, alcohol and lust, it has a lot to offer. Ibiza is one of the best places for clubbing, raving, and DJs in the entire world.
Get away from the overcrowded south coast of young Europeans who come to have fun, and you will discover the true face of Ibiza.
It is a preserved island, whose 210 km (130 miles) of coast lined with beaches ensure everyone a moment of appreciable relaxation. Walk along its coastal paths, discover its typical villages, and take the time to discover old Ibiza, which is listed as a World Heritage Site.
The island of Formentera, 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza, is also a must see!
Ibiza – Tarida Beach. MrPepanos, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tenerife is the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands. It offers lush forests, exotic fauna and flora, deserts, mountains, volcanoes, beautiful coastlines and spectacular beaches.
Conquered by the Spaniards more than 500 years ago, this island has several heavenly beaches, Mount Teide, the highest in Spain, natural parks, a zoo, volcanoes…
Its mild weather all year round makes it an ideal destination for a stay in Spain during the winter. But beware of the price of plane tickets, which can go from simple to triple depending on the time of booking!
Tenerife, Adeje aerial view. Wouter Hagens, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Lanzarote is the most exotic of the Canary Islands. Its lunar landscapes will surprise you for sure, I personally really had the impression of discovering another world!
Its lands are covered with black ashes, the vegetation is almost non-existent, only a few species of succulents remain. Lanzarote is renowned for its wine, which comes from vines cultivated in a curious way.
A must see:
- La cueva de los Verdes, a lava tube that you can visit
- Timanfaya National Park
- The Chinijo archipelago and its natural park
- The Cactus Garden
30. Gran Canaria
Like its sisters, the island of Gran Canaria attracts thousands of tourists every year, who come to enjoy the exceptional climate of the region.
The range of possible activities is quite similar to that offered by Tenerife: many heavenly beaches, charming villages, lively nightlife in certain bars, discovery of volcanoes, and countless hikes.
Travel Guide By Destination : Africa, Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe
Sources: PinterPandai, Spanish Tourism, Rick Steves
Photo credit (main picture): Limbyungjei via Pixabay
Photo description: Flamenco dance. Flamenco is a popular artistic expression of oral tradition articulated around three poles: the chantcante, the dansebaile and the guitaretoque.