Despite common misconceptions, Spain is a very diverse country, stretching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. The Iberian nation of Spain is more than just paella and bullfights. More cultural diversity exists in Spain than one may think.
Barcelona is a great place to learn about Catalan culture and see some of Antoni Gaud’s fantastical architecture. Check out pintxos – the Basque twist on tapas – in the northwest, and witness the impact left by Moorish architecture in Andalusia in the south.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Spain
There’s a lot more to consider as well. And that doesn’t even account for the beautiful beaches found along the Costas. Or the amazing Roman ruins found all over the nation, notably in and around Segovia’s aqueduct.
You can get your fill of culture, delicious cuisine, and vitamin D from the abundant sunshine. Make the most of your time in the Mediterranean by consulting our recommended stops in Spain.
Merida, founded in 25 AD by the Romans, is home to some of the country’s most spectacular Roman remains. The city is located in the western central portion of the Iberian Peninsula, with the Guadiana and Albarregas rivers passing through it, and it serves as the seat of the autonomous community of Extremadura.
Because of its over 2,000 years of history, it is filled with historical landmarks and archaeological sites. The old Roman Theatre is one of the most impressive of these, and it is still used to this day for flamenco performances and other forms of theatre.
The Roman bridge, aqueduct, and hippodrome are also remarkably well maintained, and there are also the spectacular ruins of a Moorish citadel. In addition, the city is home to several beautiful Baroque and Gothic churches and a number of instructive and entertaining museums that highlight the city’s long and illustrious past.
Located on an estuary about 16 kilometres south of the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao is the largest city in Spain’s Basque Country. The city’s parks and riverbanks, as well as the surrounding hills, are fertile and green due to the city’s milder and wetter environment.
Until the groundbreaking for the Guggenheim Museum in the 1990s, the northern Spanish city of Bilbao was recognised mostly as a port and industrial centre. As a result, visitors have flocked to Vizcaya’s main city, boosting the local economy and reviving the area’s numerous underappreciated attractions.
The Guggenheim Museum, widely regarded as one of the most significant buildings ever constructed, has become a shining icon of Bilbao. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, this gigantic network of linked buildings shows a massive work of abstract sculpture that conveys a maritime theme with its reproduction of ship outlines and shimmering fish scales.
Salamanca, the province capital and largest city, is located on the Northern Plateau of Spain on the banks of the Tormes River. Its ancient core is full of architectural gems and stunning monuments dating back centuries, making it widely recognised to be one of the most beautiful Renaissance cities in all of Europe.
The Plaza Mayor is the heart of the city, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and nightlife. At night, when the grand structures are illuminated, the spacious and magnificent square takes on a mystical quality.
The New and Old Cathedrals, two examples of excellent architectural design, are located nearby. They, too, are constructed of sandstone like the rest of the city. Salamanca is known as the “Golden City” because of its sunny climate and rich architecture.
Cuenca, a major tourist destination in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha area, is on a narrow peninsula at the confluence of two steep river gorges. Due to its strategic location, it was battled over, conquered, and ruled by both Muslims and Christians, including Napoleon in the early 1800s.
Among the maze of cobblestone lanes in its ancient old town are numerous churches dating back centuries, as well as a cathedral and a castle. While its gorgeous buildings are painted in warm tones, brilliant colours and daring motifs decorate the walls of its various modern art galleries and museums.
Ibiza, the third largest of the Balearic Islands, is found in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain. The island has many different sides, but it is best known for its pulsating nightlife and summer club scene, which brings in world-famous DJs.
Ibiza is known as an excellent beach holiday spot due to its stunning coves and beaches, as well as its warm, sunny, and dry climate. Ibiza Town, the island’s capital, is situated on a hilltop above the water and features a magnificent walled old town.
While you can certainly find relaxing rural retreats and sleepy, seaside villages on the island, many people visit Ibiza for its incredible party scene and exhilarating electronic dance sets. In summer, its heaving clubs stay open through the night until dawn, when the sun finally rises over the sea.
Segovia, the province capital and main city, is located in a beautiful valley with the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains as a backdrop. Its sun-kissed neighbourhoods border the Eresma River on Spain’s Inner Plateau with Valladolid and Madrid lying not far away.
Segovia is known for its historical sights. The Aqueduct of Segovia, constructed by the Romans in the first century AD, may be found within the city’s fortified Old Town. The city’s grand and beautiful Gothic cathedral, as well as several churches, convents, and monasteries, are all within easy reach of this engineering masterpiece, which serves as the city’s symbol.
The Alcazar of Segovia, perched on a rocky promontory above the city, is another major draw. Thought to have inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, the ancient castle and palace contains tonnes of exquisite architecture and was once one of the favoured royal homes of the Kings of Castille.
7. Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the Galicia region in northern Spain, is well-known as the finish line of the ancient pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, also known as the Way of St. James, has been going on since the Middle Ages because many people believe that St. James the Apostle is buried there.
Thousands of tourists visit the city each year to take part in its religious rituals and learn about its rich history. Most visitors will first enter the city through the Praza do Obradoiro. This busy plaza is home to many of the city’s most notable buildings, including the Santiago Cathedral, which houses the tomb of Saint. James.
The Gelmrez Palace, Rajoy Palace, Catholic Kings Hostal, and San Jeronimo College are also noteworthy structures in this area. The Pilgrimage Museum is a fantastic site to learn all about the history and significance of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage while the Museum of the Galician People highlights the culture and history of the region.
Toledo, situated atop a mountain in central Spain, was the country’s capital for centuries. Because it was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims for many years, the city is frequently termed the “City of Three Cultures.” Toledo’s rich Roman-era cultural heritage has made it a renowned tourist destination in modern times.
The greatest way to experience Toledo is to wander its winding mediaeval alleyways and marvel at the city’s spectacular churches, synagogues, mosques, and ancient Roman castle.
The Zordocover plaza, scene of numerous significant events, is also conveniently located to a number of interesting stores. Cafes are a great place to take a rest, people-watch, and try out regional delicacies like the almond and pine nut dessert Mazapan. Pre-dinner cocktails and tapas are available at local bars in the evenings.
Cordoba, in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, is the provincial capital of the same name. While Cordoba is characterised by its small town charm, this mid-size city offers all the historic and cultural attractions of a bustling metropolis.
One of the oldest towns in Europe, the ancient area of Cordoba is a tangle of narrow mediaeval alleyways, plazas and whitewashed courtyards all grouped around the flagship attraction, the Mezquita.
The Mezquita, which was originally constructed as a mosque, has been transformed into a magnificent cathedral while retaining much of its original design. Its forest of columns topped with Islamic-style red and white striped arches serves as a reminder of the glory and importance Córdoba held in mediaeval times. Outside the Mezquita is a beautiful orange grove perfect for relaxing.
The Old Jewish Quarter, with its charming patios and souvenir shops, as well as the Fortress of the Christian Monarchs, are also worth visiting. Cordoba, a former Roman colony, still boasts many remnants of its Roman past, including walls, gates, a bridge, an amphitheater, and a mausoleum.
Throughout the city are various plazas offering a range of museums, theaters, restaurants, hotels and bars. The Plaza de las Tendillas is the city’s bustling commercial hub, while Cervantes’ Don Quixote is linked to the Plaza del Port.
Valencia, one of Spain’s largest and most important cities, is found in Valencia Region, which is in the country’s eastern half. After years of construction and renovation, Valencia is now known for the Fallas Festival and the architectural masterpiece that is the City of Arts and Sciences.
Beautiful churches, historical monasteries like San Miguel de los Reyes, and the site of an important silk trade centre are just some of the many restored historic buildings in Valencia.
City of Arts and Science is a vast cultural and entertainment complex built after the Turia River was redirected to become the city’s centrepiece. Located within this complex are various structures such as a science museum, planetarium, aquarium, arts museum and an IMAX cinema that are individually artistic marvels in and of itself.
The former Turia riverbed now features lovely gardens, athletic playgrounds, and man-made lakes. The Barri del Carme is a hip area of Valencia known for its eclectic architecture, multicultural residents, and array of stylish boutiques and sidewalk cafes.
During the Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain, papier-mâché figures of all shapes, sizes, and colours are proudly displayed for an entire week. The week culminates in a ceremonial burning of the “fallas” followed by all-night celebrations in the participating communities.
Yet, March isn’t the only time to party in Valencia. There are bustling bars and clubs in every part of town, making the city come alive at night.