11 Best Towns and Cities to Visit in Spain | All With Photos
Spain is best known for its stunning beach resorts that dot the sun-kissed coastline, but it also offers some of the most exciting city break destinations in Europe. From the famed buildings of Barcelona to fabulous flamenco in Seville, Spain’s towns and cities offer something for everyone.
Each city has its own authentic cuisine, unique style of architecture, and some even have their own language, which makes visiting each destination completely different. It’s well worth exploring the towns and cities of Spain year after year to compare and contrast each one and to find your favourite!
Thankfully, Madrid is one of the biggest flight hubs in Europe, making travel between these Spanish cities and the rest of the world relatively cheap and hassle-free. Here we’ll walk you through some of the best towns and cities in Spain so you can add some exciting new spots to your ever-growing bucket list!
We couldn’t write ‘a best’ list for Spain without mentioning the wonder that is Barcelona! Perched on the Iberian Peninsula with access to the warm waters of the Mediterranean, Barcelona offers travellers the best of both worlds – a beach and city break in one. With spectacular Gaudi architecture dotted throughout the city and some of the best nightlife in the country, Barcelona is ideal for a romantic getaway or a break with friends.
Don’t miss the unfinished yet beautiful Sagrada Familia, the sprawling gardens of Park Guell and the intriguing Casa Batlló with its mask-like features and curving walls. Dine on paella and tapas before tasting the city’s favourite tipple, vermouth.
If you want to head to the beach, it’s just steps away with Playa de la Barceloneta serving up golden sands, beach bars and seaside restaurants galore!
The city’s transport system is top notch too, so getting around the city and to and from the airport is a breeze.
The Spanish capital is, of course, one of the greatest cities in the country with plenty to keep you busy during a long weekend away. Madrid is home to a collection of fantastic art galleries which play host to the wonderful works of Picasso and Velásquez to name but a few! The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums all feature a variety of changing exhibits so you can visit time and time again without ever getting bored.
Intricate churches and palaces grace practically every corner of Madrid, so you’re never short of some stunning architecture to witness and photograph as you stroll the city streets. With cool cafés and trendy boutiques in between, you’ll have everything you need for a fun weekend break.
If you’re seeking tasty tapas, look no further than the La Latina neighbourhood which is filled with gastrobars and tapas joints where you can nibble and natter the night away!
Spain’s third largest city, Valencia, lies on the east coast where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean. The city is culture-rich with arts, sciences, and nature all playing important roles. The architecture is a mix of modern, Mediterranean, Art Nouveau and Gothic, creating a really eclectic city. There are parks and gardens scattered throughout the walkable centre allowing for calm in the chaos.
The quirky, modern museums are great for families with futuristic architecture that will take your breath away and plenty of interactive exhibits for kids.
For the adults, there are bustling bars, stylish shops, and a burgeoning restaurant scene that is sure to impress.
When you’ve finished exploring the city scene you can head to the long stretches of beach to recline on the sandy shores or in the warm water or visit La Albufera Natural Park, a wetlands reserve with a tranquil lake and a number of walking trails.
The southern capital of Seville is the beating heart of the Andalusia region and is packed with breath-taking Moorish-Renaissance architecture and a number of green spaces. Santa Cruz is the main centre, with the Seville Cathedral, the Giralda Bell Tower and the Real Alcázar palace all deserving a visit.
For a scenic stroll, walk along the banks of the river Guadalquivir or meander through the landscaped gardens of Parque de María Luisa, stopping to take in plazas, monuments, and fountains along the way.
Enjoying a flamenco fiesta is an absolute must in Seville, with the Triana neighbourhood having the best dance spots! This region is also home to some of the great markets, food stalls, and restaurants so you can fuel up your flamenco fire with some tasty treats. Watch a show or why not get involved yourself with some flamenco dance lessons?!
Picturesque Granada is ideal for springtime strolls, people watching and taking in the sights and smells of Spain. The town has an amazing mix of old and new, allowing you to discover the buildings influenced by the Moors standing beside modern, bars and boutiques.
The stunning palace complex of the Alhambra lies on the hilltop overlooking Granada and is an absolute must-see. The palace and fortress combine Roman, Renaissance, and Nasrid Andalusian architecture to create a spectacularly beautiful site.
At the foot of Alhambra, there is more to explore, with the Bañuelo Arab baths and the stunning waterside street, Carrera del Darro. The Generalife Gardens are well worth a visit too, and you can easily spend an hour meandering through the peaceful planters.
Another great thing about Granada is that the traditional form of ‘drinks and snacks tapas’ is a way of life here! Both locals and tourists alike head out of an evening to enjoy a delectable mix of bite-size dishes, before perhaps hitting up a flamenco dance hall or club.
Unlike the previous towns and cities on the list so far, San Sebastián is very much a resort town that is ideal for a vacation. While the crescent-shaped beach of La Concha is the focal point of this idyll, it doesn’t mean that there are only sandy shores to explore.
Located in the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastián is a town renowned for its Basque cuisine and culture, and they love to show it off in style. Drinking and dining on pintxos and paired wines is a must here, with some of the best bars in the country showing you how it’s done! Plus, there is a number of Michelin-starred restaurants that excel in highlighting local produce through traditional Basque-style cooking.
When not beaching or gorging on delicious cuisine, check out the Miramar Palace, take the funicular railway up Monte Igueldo or visit the fortress on Mount Urgull to get a great view of the town and its beaches.
While Alicante may just seem to be a jumping off point for package holidays along the Costa Brava, the city itself actually has a lot to offer travellers that decide to stay and explore.
As with many Spanish cities, Alicante boasts a medieval fortress that overlooks the town, and it’s the perfect place to start your day of discovery. Head up to the Castle of Santa Barbara before the heat of the day hits, and then spend the late morning roaming the museums and galleries that are dotted throughout the white-washed town. Alicante is home to some stunning works of architecture such as the Basilica of Santa María, the San Nicolás Cathedral and the City Hall.
When hunger sets in there’s no better place to be than the market! The Mercado Central is overflowing with fresh produce, and you can usually find yourself a tasty Arroz al Horno to satiate your rumbling stomach!
Finish the day with a stroll along the esplanade before some much-needed beach relaxation – it doesn’t get much better than that.
The Andalusian city of Córdoba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which really gives travellers an insight into the town’s changing history and culture. Influenced by the Romans and the Moors, Córdoba has a mix of Christian and Islamic architecture, most notably the huge La Mezquita complex in the heart of the city.
La Mezquita – which is now a cathedral despite being originally built as a mosque – is a truly extraordinary sight to behold. The sprawling building features Arabic-style arches and intricate detailing alongside a traditionally European-style church spire.
The rest of the city is picture-perfect too, with a Roman arched bridge, quaint cobbled streets, and terracotta-roofed houses that make it look like the town has jumped straight out of a painting!
Málaga offers something a little different to the traditional towns and cities of Spain, with notably more high-rise hotels and nightclubs. However, if you stay long enough to delve into the heart of this city (rather than jetting straight off to the Costa del Sol), you’ll discover that it has its own wealth of history, a burgeoning art scene, and some vibrant festivals to give you a slice of culture.
The Arabic Alcazaba fortress stands proud in the centre of Málaga with the Roman Amphitheatre standing nearby. These sites offer both history and beauty and are well worth a visit.
For art lovers, the newly-opened Centre Pompidou Málaga shows off modern works of art, while the Picasso Museum plays host to pieces by the famous Malagueño. And it’s not just the galleries that showcase art, with the hip Soho district being packed with urban graffiti.
Finally, Málaga is a hotspot for foodies too, with markets, food tours, tapas bars, and restaurants bursting at the seams with traditional dishes and modern fusions.
The Basque city of Bilbao is an art and architecture lover’s dream. With an incredible combination of old and new standing side by side. The colourful buildings of the old town (aka Casco Viejo) contrast with the Art Deco Ribera market and the exceptionally modern Museo Guggenheim which stands boldly on the Bilbao waterfront.
Even when merely strolling around the shops in the heart of Bilbao, you’ll be impressed by the variety of architectural wonders and museums and galleries dotted around the city.
Not only is the city of Bilbao itself a stunner, but the surrounding mountains aren’t half bad either! Hiking around Arraiz Mendia, Artxanda Hill and Presa del Bolintxu all allow you to get out into nature for a day before being back in Bilbao for dinner. Plus, the beaches of San Sebastián aren’t far away if the sea is calling you.
Renowned for the infamous Running of the Bulls festival, Pamplona, in the north of the country, is the last on our list of the best towns and cities in Spain.
This legendary town comes alive every July with the Feast of San Fermín festival which sees adrenaline-fuelled bulls and people run alongside each other through the city streets. This crazy festival is totally unique, and while not everybody would like to risk their lives in the chaos, the sideline dancing, drinking, markets, and music will offer plenty of entertainment!
If you’d rather visit at a more relaxed time of year, stop off here during your walk along the Camino de Santiago or simply visit for a city break. Pamploma boasts a medieval old town, picturesque churches and cathedrals, delicious Basque pintxo bars and a buzzing nightlife which is fuelled by the divine Rioja from nearby vineyards!
Hopefully by now, you’re excited to travel to the wonderful towns and cities around Spain to delve into the history, culture, cuisine, and landscapes of this incredible country. With fantastic architecture, lively entertainment and regional, seasonal produce filling the restaurants, these cities have everything needed to make for an exciting city break. Let us know which town and cities in Spain you’ve been to or which have now been firmly added to your Bucket List!
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