Listing the best places to visit in Spain is no easy feat! The country is full of so many interesting cities and towns, my list could stretch to over 50 places. However, I have narrowed it down to 25!
Famous places such as Barcelona, Ibiza and Sevilla are included as you cannot visit Spain and not check these places out. I have added a few lesser-known spots like Formentera, Ronda and Salamanca are the best of Spain, that you shouldn’t skip either!
Spain is one of my favourite countries. The people are incredible, the food is to die for and the country is very diverse, despite descriptions of it as sun, sea and sand. Huge variations in the culture and scenery are apparent when you visit different parts of the country.
If you’re wondering where to go in Spain, the best cities in Spain and more, this list incorporates all of that and more!
Let’s get into it!
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Table of Contents
Best Places to Visit in Spain
Where to stay: Casa Gracia | Best activity: Montserrat Tour
When people think of Spain, Barcelona is one of the first places that spring to mind. The Catalan city is famous around the world for its football team, architecture and beaches. If you’re visiting Spain it’s somewhere you can’t leave off your itinerary!
I lived in Barcelona for two years and although I didn’t always love the place, there is no doubt it’s a great place to visit. Something is always going on and the architecture in the centre is out of this world. Gaudi’s buildings such as Casa Botilo and La Sagrada Familia, in particular, are ones you have to check out!
One of my favourite things to do in Barcelona was to head to Montjuic. It is located close to Plaza Espana and houses a museum, but if you head further on, you will come to the site for the Olympic games held in the city in 1992. It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the centre!
Whether you spend 3 days in Barcelona or longer, it is a lively city that can serve as the gateway to the Costa Brava region, which is one of the most beautiful places in all of Spain!
For more information, check out my Barcelona Travel Guide
Where to stay: Bcool Bilbao | Best activity: Guided Bike Tour
Bilbao is one of the best cities in Spain to visit. Located in the North of Spain in the Basque Country, Bilbao has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years.
The Guggenheim Museum is one of the weirdest and most spectacular buildings I have ever seen. It has to be seen to be believed! Its location next to the Nervion River only adds to its lustre. Plus, there are some strange statues outside including a giant spider and a big dog made up of flowers!
I highly recommend heading into the hills above Bilbao to get a view of the city. The funicular up to Mt Artxanda is how to do it and you get some beautiful views of the city and the surrounding area.
You can’t leave Bilbao without trying some of the famous pintxos which are a Basque speciality. They are little open sandwiches with a variety of toppings. They are served in almost every bar and are a cheap way to eat if you’re travelling on a budget!
For more information, check out my Bilbao Travel Guide
23. San Sebastian
Where to stay: Surfing Etxea | Best activity: Pintxos and Wine Tour
San Sebastian is arguably the most beautiful city in Spain. Considering how many amazing places there are to see in the country it’s a strong statement! However, the city’s location next to the sea, beautiful buildings and spectacular scenery make a compelling case.
To see just how beautiful the city is, you need to hike up Monte Igeldo to get an incredible view of the city and La Concha Bay. You can either hike up or take the funicular, but I advise walking up, as the views while doing so are amazing!
If you love surfing, then you’re in luck too. You can head to San Sebastian’s second beach Playa Zurriola and try out the waves. If surfing isn’t your thing you can always just head there late in the day and admire the frequent beautiful sunsets the city gets!
One thing you have to try in San Sebastian is the food. the city has the largest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants anywhere in the world! That is as good an excuse as any to splurge on a decent meal while you’re visiting!
For more information, check out my San Sebastian Travel Guide
22. Tossa de Mar
Where to stay: Medplaya Aparthotel Esmeraldas | Best activity: Hike to the castle
Tossa de Mar is a small beachside town in Catalunya about an hour away from Barcelona. It is one of the most picturesque places in Spain and a beautiful spot to visit whatever time of year.
What makes Tossa de Mar so special is the castle that is nestled at the end of the beach. This gives the beach a unique feel and climbing to the top of the castle offers some incredible of your surroundings. When you visit Tossa de Mar, you’ll understand why there are so many quotes about Spain and its beauty!
It is a bit difficult to get to Tossa de Mar as no train goes directly there. You will either need a vehicle or get a direct bus from central Barcelona. However, the difficulty of getting there only adds to its allure.
If you’re looking for somewhere with beautiful beaches and scenic views on the Costa Brava, Tossa de Mar is the place to go!
Where to stay: Hostel One Madrid | Best activity: Bernabeu Stadium Tour
Madrid is Spain’s capital and an interesting city in its own right. There are several exquisite buildings and sights to see during your time in the city.
Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and El Retiro Park are all beautiful spots that you need to explore. While, there are several fine museums in Madrid too such as the Museo Nacional del Prado, which houses a significant art collection.
You will also find plenty of great places to eat and, in particular, many spots to have brunch in Madrid. The city has a vibrant food scene that you have to check out while you’re there!
If you’re a sports fan, then you have to visit the stadium of the big clubs in the city. Atletico and Real Madrid are famous around the world, and their stadiums are impressive in their own right.
Better yet, if you can arrange your visit to coincide with a match you will get to experience Spanish football at its most passionate!
Where to stay: Roomin Hostel | Best activity: Guided Walking Tour
Salamanca is one of the lesser-known Spain destinations you have to check out. It’s a beautiful and lively city in the Northwest of the country, not far from Madrid.
The city is full of history no matter where you go. From ancient castles and churches to bustling medieval streets, history oozes out of the city! If you’re a history buff, this is one place you have to include on your Spain itinerary!
The cathedral and Plaza Mayor are the two main attractions in the city and they are both spectacular. A personal favourite of mine was Casa de las Conchas, which is a Gothic building covered in shells!
The city has a lively nightlife due to its large student population. This makes it a great place to see in Spain for cultural and hedonistic reasons!
Where to stay: Option Be | Best activity: La Mezquita Guided Tour
Córdoba is one of the best cities to visit in Spain. This is especially true if you visit when the city is hosting its patio festival during April and May. Due to the warm climate, most buildings were built with a central patio. To keep them cool, locals fill them with plants and water features.
The results are beautiful as the buildings are decked out in a variety of colours, with gorgeous plants everywhere. The downside is that the reason for the plants is because temperatures in Córdoba can reach boiling point!
It’s not uncommon for the mercury to reach 40 degrees and above during summer. This can make it tricky to see places while you’re there. You have to either get up early or venture out late in the evening to see everything!
La Mezquita, a sprawling mosque from the Moorish period is the main attraction in Córdoba. The Alcazar is another beautiful building you have to check out. I enjoyed walking around the old part of the town and seeing the various patios and twisting alleys that make up this part of the city!
Where to stay: Albergue Los Molinos | Best activity: Ronda, Mountains and Setenil Tour
Ronda is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, never mind Spain! What makes the city so scenic and picturesque is the gigantic Puente Nuevo bridge.
It is a gigantic structure that towers above the chasm made by the Guadalevín River below. Ronda doesn’t just have one bridge it has two! The smaller, Puente Viejo, is not as impressive, but still an amazing sight. It’s one of many bucket list places you have to visit while in Spain!
There are plenty of other things to do in Ronda besides checking out the impressive bridges. You can hike around Cuerva del Gato and explore some caves, while you can see the old Arabian baths too.
Ronda is one of the most top places to visit in Spain due to the nature of the city. If you’re doing an Andalucia road trip, Ronda is somewhere you have to visit!
Where to stay: Hostel One Centro | Best activity: Alcazar Guided Tour
Sevilla is one of my favourite cities in Spain. Located in beautiful Andalucia, it’s a vibrant place with a lot to see and do. The best thing about Sevilla is that there is always something happening, there’s no chance you’ll get bored during your visit!
One of the best places to visit in Sevilla is Plaza de España. It is an impressive building that has to be seen to be believed! If you have seen Star Wars Episode I, then you will recognise the building as it was used as the Palace of Naboo in the film!
Sevilla hosts several festivals throughout with the most famous being La Feria, which takes place around two weeks after Easter. The festival lasts for a week and it includes a lot of food, drink and dancing! If you want to visit Sevilla when it’s at its most vibrant, planning your trip to coincide with La Feria is a good idea!
There are many fun things to do in Spain and visiting Sevilla will ensure that you get to experience a truly unique and enjoyable Spanish city!
Where to stay: Feel Hostel Soho | Best activity: Caminito del Rey Guided Tour
If you want sun, sea and sand, Malaga is one of the best places to go in Spain. The city at the tip of Andalucia, on the Costa del Sol, gets shedloads of sunshine all year round.
You could easily spend your whole trip lounging on the beach and soaking up the rays. However, I don’t advise you to do that as there is a lot to do in the city. You can check out the numerous historic parts of Malaga such as the Teatro Romano and Castillo de Gibralfaro.
Malaga is also the birthplace of Picasso and there is a museum here dedicated to his life. If museums aren’t your thing, there are plenty of things to do outside, including hiking up behind the Castillo to get an incredible view of the city.
One thing you have to do while you’re in Malaga is head to El Caminito del Rey. It is a walkway in a gigantic canyon that was once labelled the ‘most dangerous hike in the world’! Thankfully, it’s a lot safer now and offers a spectacular walk as you make your way through the canyon!
For more information, check out my guide to 3 days in Malaga
Where to stay: Casa Caracol | Best activity: Cadiz Medieval Tour
Cadiz is one of the most interesting places to visit in Spain. It is notable as reputedly being the oldest inhabited city in Europe. Archaeological remains dating back to 1104 BC when it was founded by the Phoenicians.
The city is located on a spit of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to Playa La Caleta, which is a beautiful beach close to the centre of the city. One of the good things about Cadiz is that everything is within easy reach of the centre.
This makes getting around easy and allows you to explore the city at your leisure. The Baroque Cathedral is worth checking out as it offers a panoramic view of the city. While you can also get excellent views from Torre Tavira, which was an 18th-century lookout tower.
Cadiz is a lesser-known place to travel to in Spain, but it’s intriguing nonetheless and somewhere you should visit during your time in Spain!
Where to stay: Hotel Vía Gótica | Best activity: Wine Tasting Tour
If you’re interested in history, Burgos is one of the best cities in Spain to visit. It was the historic capital of Castille-Leon and has several interesting buildings and monuments to check out.
The main attraction in Burgos is the 13th-century Gothic cathedral. It is an impressive building that towers above you. It’s not the only religious building in the city with many other churches and monasteries such as Monasterio de las Huelgas to see too!
One of the more interesting things to do in Burgos is to visit the remnants of Castillo de Burgos. It is located in the hills above the city and offers a fantastic panorama of the city below.
Far from being an obscure city in Northern Spain, Burgos is an intriguing destination that you would be wise to include as part of your trip!
Where to stay: Purple Nest | Best activity: Valencia Bike Tour
Although not as widely visited as Barcelona up the coast, Valencia is still one of the best places to visit in Spain. It is a vibrant and beautiful city that deserves to be explored in its own right. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Valencia, such as relaxing at the beach or checking out some of the sights in the city!
Valencia is home to some intriguing architecture, most notably the City of Arts and Sciences, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The design is intriguing, as you walk towards it you get the impression and big egg has landed!
The city is the home of the famous Spanish dish, Paella. This is where the dish originated and you have to try some while you’re here as it is incredible! It would be a crime to miss out! Especially if you spend 3 days in Valencia or more.
The beach in Valencia is gigantic and another place you should check out! Valencia is one of the cheapest cities in Spain to visit and a lot quieter than other cities in the country. This makes it a great destination if you want to go somewhere with fewer tourists than more mainstream hotspots!
For more information, check out my Valencia Travel Guide
Where to stay: ECO Hostel | Best activity: La Alhambra Guided Tour
Granada is home to the most popular tourist attraction in Spain, La Alhambra. This alone is a good enough reason to visit Granada because it is an impressive and unbelievable building!
La Alhambra used to be a Moorish palace before they were chased out of Spain in the 15th century. Words cannot describe how amazing this place is. You need to book tickets in advance, such is the popularity of the place! Make sure you do this beforehand to avoid missing out!
One of the best things about Granada is that you get free tapas at bars and restaurants. Even if you order a drink, your order will come with free tapas. The tapas varies from place to place, but the quality does not and it’s a great way to sample the local cuisine!
If you’re heading to Andalucia, you would be mad to visit without including Granada!
Where to stay: Oasis Backpackers | Best activity: Toledo Walking Tour
Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, yet it is not as widely known as it should be. This ancient city used to be the capital of the ancient Visigothic kingdom from 542 to 725 AD. 2000 years of history is preserved in the city which makes it a fascinating place to visit!
A lot of the main things to do in Toledo revolve around exploring the history of the city. You can check out the Alcázar de Toledo, which was originally a Roman fortress in the 3rd century and was restored as a palace by Charles I and his son Philip II in the 1540s.
The beautiful Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz are fabulous places you have to check out as well!
Toledo is brimming with history around every corner. If you like history as much as me, it’s up there in the competition for the best place to visit in Spain!
Where to stay: Can Cocollona | Best activity: Game of Thrones Tour
Girona is a lovely city an hour north of Barcelona. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones you will recognise the cathedral in the city from the show. It’s easy to see why they chose it, as it is an imposing and spectacular building.
Walking around Girona it’s not hard to feel like you have been transported back to a medieval time. The buildings in the city are beautiful. One of the best things to do in Girona is to head to the top of the city walls to get an amazing perspective of the city.
Several fantastic museums are located in the city such as the Art and Cinema museums, both of which are worth visiting while you’re there.
One of the best places to visit is by the river as you will be to get an epic photo of the colourful houses set against the backdrop of the river. If you’re wondering where to visit in Spain, then Girona, despite not being on everyone’s list, should be on your itinerary.
9. Santiago de Compostela
Where to stay: Roots and Boots Hostel | Best activity: Cathedral and Museum Guided Tour
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia, which is one of the lesser-visited parts of Spain, but also one of the most interesting. The area has a curious background, as it was home to Celtic people before being incorporated into the Roman Empire.
The city is the end route of the famous pilgrimage the Camino de Santiago, in which pilgrims trek across Europe to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the city’s cathedral.
As well as this, there are plenty more sights in Santiago such as the Praza do Obradoiro, Monastery of San Martiño Pinario and the contemporary arts complex at the City of Culture of Galicia.
Santiago is a beautiful part of Spain and one I recommend visiting if you see a part of the country that is often neglected. It’s a great place to explore as part of a wider Galicia road trip.
Where to stay: Bcool Santander | Best activity: Picos, Potes & Soplao Cave Day Trip
Santander is the home of the famous bank of the same name, but there is much more to the city than this. It is a beautiful and interesting city with a rich history and a variety of things to do.
Located in the North of Spain to the west of Bilbao, Santander has some fantastic views of the Bay of Santander. A visit to the popular beach Sardinero and walking along the Magdalena Peninsula are highly recommended!
It is a great place to visit during the summer as it’s an alternative to the more popular destinations in Andalucia and the East Coast. It’s a great place to include as part of a road trip in Northern Spain!
As with most cities in Spain, there is a wealth of museums and architecturally significant buildings to check out such as Centro Botin and the cathedral.
Santander is one of the best cities to visit in Spain, not only can you go to the beach, but you can explore some amazing cultural sights too! What’s not to love?
Where to stay: Hostel Soller | Best activity: Caves of Drach Tour
Mallorca is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. A lot of people head there to party and get their fill of beaches and sun. However, there are a lot of other places to visit in Mallorca aside from these areas.
The capital, Palma, is a lovely city with a lot of interesting historical buildings. While a trip to Cap de Formentor is a good idea due to the stunning scenery.
Due to its size, there are plenty of things to do in Mallorca. You can go hiking in the mountains, kayaking or relax at one of the numerous beaches and visit lots of small towns too!
Mallorca is a beautiful island, one with a variety of places to see. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Spanish vacations you can take!
Where to stay: Hostel Menorca | Best activity: South Coast Boat Excursion
Menorca is the smallest of the three main Balearic Islands. It is often forgotten about, as Ibiza and Mallorca draw in most of the tourists. However, it is a beautiful island and one you should go to if you want to find secret places to visit in Spain.
The island has a lot of beauty and is relatively unspoiled owing to its small size and lack of mainstream tourism. The beaches here are pristine and the water is often turquoise. It is certainly a picturesque place to visit.
Cala Mitjana, which is a small cove with a sandy beach, Cala Galdana and the Mola fortress are among the best places to see in Menorca. For a small island, there is a lot to see and you will need to rent a car to see it all!
If you want to get off the beaten track in Spain, a trip to Menorca is a good idea!
Where to stay: El Poris | Best activity: Whale and Dolphin Tour
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and a fantastic place to visit! You won’t get bored anytime soon as there are plenty of things to do on the island.
The island resides in the shadow of Mt Teide, which is the highest mountain in Spain and an active volcano. If you’re an adventurous soul, it is a good hike to get to the top. However, at 3,718 m (12,198 ft), it is a challenging ascent and not for the faint-hearted.
As you would imagine for an island located off the coast of West Africa, there are plenty of beaches on Tenerife. If you’re looking for a getaway in the sun, Tenerife is one of the best places to see in Spain!
Visiting the biggest island in the Canary Islands is a good idea if you want to go somewhere not in mainland Spain and get some sun!
Where to stay: Apartamentos Ses Eufabietes | Best activity: Relax at the beach
You may be looking at Formentera and wondering where the hell it is. I know the feeling! I remember coming across it one day and wondering where it is in Spain. Turns out it is a small island off the coast of Ibiza.
It’s so tiny that I mistakenly thought there were only three Balearic Islands! However, despite its size, Formentera is still a great place to visit.
One reason is that doesn’t get as many tourists as the other islands due to its size and the lack of awareness about it.
However, you will find pristine beaches and a laidback vibe that is in contrast to what you might find in Ibiza or Majorca. It’s a fantastic place to go on a day trip from Ibiza or for a weekend away from the mainland!
Where to stay: Amistat Island Hostel | Best activity: Beach Hopping Cruise
Ibiza is one of the most popular places to visit in Spain. The Balearic Island in the Mediterranean is renowned the world over for its dance clubs and party lifestyle. However, there is a lot more to Ibiza than just this!
The beaches in Ibiza are fantastic and they are among the best in Spain. Platja d’en Bossa is one of the best on the island and Cala d’Hort is a beautiful one shaped like a crescent!
Ibiza will be packed with revellers during the summer months, which makes it more expensive and harder to see places. My advice is to before or after party season when the island is a lot quieter.
This way you will miss all the party people and be able to explore the more tranquil parts of Ibiza in relative peace!
Where to stay: Hotel H2 | Best activity: Walk around the walls
Ávila is a lesser-known place to visit and one of the most unique places to visit in Spain. It is a fortified city, located in the region of Castile and León. The unique thing about the city is that it has intact medieval walls which span the outside of the city.
They are an incredible sight and look even more impressive at night when they are lit up! 80 towers and nine gates make up the walls and they are in excellent condition considering how old they are!
As with most ancient cities in Spain, there are plenty of churches in the city. The cathedral is akin to a fortress, and it is unique in the fact that it is built into the city walls!
Ávila is only a small city but set in the rolling hills west of Madrid, it is a beautiful place you have to check while travelling around Spain!
Where to stay: Duermevela Hostel | Best activity: Hot Air Balloon Experience
Segovia is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. The city is famous for several historic buildings and landmarks. Primary among them is the towering Roman Aqueduct, which has to be seen to be believed! It has more than 160 arches!
Not many aqueducts from Roman times are still standing, it’s one of the best reasons to visit Segovia just to see it! Among the other impressive buildings is the Alcázar de Segovia, which is a 12th-century castle and the cathedral, which is an impressive Gothic building.
The city itself is a beautiful place with the large Plaza Mayor, featuring a wealth of tapas bars for you to try out.
Segovia also has plenty of narrow alleys to explore, some of which lead you to the Jewish Quarter, which was an important part of the city during medieval times.
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Looking For More Travel Guides?
Road Trips in Spain – Check out some of the best road trips you can do while you’re in Spain to see some of the places listed above and more!
Barcelona To Madrid Drive – A fun road trip between the two biggest cities in the country!
Famous Landmarks in Barcelona – Speaking of Barcelona, here are some of the best spots you have to see when you’re there!
Spain Packing List – Find out what you should pack and what you shouldn’t, before your trip to Spain!
Places To Visit in Northern Italy – If you fancy taking a trip to another country in Europe after you’ve been to Spain, here are some places in the North of Italy to check out!
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Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!