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Spain has been one of Europe’s top travel destinations for a very long time now, and it really is an unforgettable country for so many reasons. Spain has something special to offer travelers and is quite different from other European countries. Here you can learn about architecture, culture, festivals, food, and history or visit beautiful beaches and small villages.
This is an obvious travel pick for foodies and wine enthusiasts because there’s nothing quite like Spanish paella, jamon, croquettas, and sangria. Spanish culture is stylish, yet laid-back, and the nightlife scene is far from boring. Spain also has lots of natural beauty, with lovely beaches along the Mediterranean Sea, the Cantabric Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re headed to soccer games, festivals or bullfighting, getting around Spain is easy thanks to an abundance of planes, trains, buses, and rental cars.
But you probably don’t really need any more reasons to visit Spain; you just need a plan to get there and see it for yourself! So here are some of the many unforgettable places to visit in Spain when you book your trip!
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Barcelona is often a traveler’s first stop when arriving in Spain. It’s a Mediterranean port and busy city that is full of creative energy and life. Barcelona makes for an excellent urban getaway, and you can even spend time at the beach during your stay. You’ll find a long list of things to see and do, including art, culture, nightlife, and shopping. The National Park of Monserrat is nearby, so plan to hike or climb to the top for amazing views of the region.
The capital city of Costa Blanca is Valencia, and it’s a beach town favored among tourists from near and far. The City of Arts and Sciences complex boasts of futuristic architecture, which is in stark contrast to much of the other architecture you’ll find in Spain. A really lovely part of the city is Barrio del Carmen, and the botanical gardens at the University of Valencia is worth visiting on a nice day as well. Make sure to check out the Museum of Fine Arts here to see works by Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco.
Madrid is an exciting city in Spain, especially if you enjoy a fun nightlife scene. This is a place where you may feel the desire to sleep all day, party all night, and do it all again the next day! But when you’re awake during the day, you have the opportunity to check out the city’s excellent museums, parks, and cafes too. Plaza Mayor is the best place to people-watch. Other sights to see are Retiro Park, the Egyptian Temple of Debod, Puerta del Sol, and Gran Via. One classic place to get dinner is Casa Botin, which is a restaurant that has been in continuous operation since 1725.
Granada is at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain and most famous for Alhambra, the citadel and palace from the nation’s Moorish history. This is definitely a sight to be seen in Granada, but there’s much more to do too. Check out the Muslim quarter with its white-washed buildings and the paved lookout spot at Mirador de San Nicolás. This is a particularly lovely area to visit at sunset. Granada was the last stronghold of the Islamic occupation of Spain, and Muslim culture is still strong here. In the winter, you can check out the southernmost ski resort in Europe here.
The Canary Islands offer a unique mix of European, African, and South American cultures, but they are actually part of Spain. Popular activities to do here include everything from lounging on the beach to climbing a snow-capped volcano, hiking the mountains, and sampling Spanish wines. Visit during Carnival to experience a party scene that rivals that of Rio in Brazil. The views of Mt. Teide are stunning, and the Lanzarote volcanoes and lava flows will take your breath away. Peak seasons to visit the Canary Islands are over Christmas and Easter, especially for Northern Europeans, so keep that in mind as you plan your trip.
The region of Catalonia is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains, and this colorful place has a vibrant urban culture. Rather than a city, this is a region in Northeastern Spain that is home to Barcelona, the resorts of Costa Brava, the Pyrenees Mountains. Spend time here to tour medieval towns, the countryside, the seaports, and the quaint villages. Head to Girona for medieval ambiance, Tarragona for beaches and monuments, Sitges for upscale seaside resorts, and Cadaques for a seaside artists’ village. The Salvador Dali Theater-Museum is located in Figures, and there are ancient churches worth seeing in Besalu.
Seville is a beautiful Spanish city that truly embodies the stereotypes of Spanish culture. Here you can experience Flamenco dancing, Moorish architecture, and bullfighting. The neighborhoods are picturesque, and the largest cathedral in all of Europe is located here. Make sure to check out the impressive Real Alcazar, which is a royal residence that dates back to the 1300s. Other sights to see are the Plaza de, Espana, the Alcazar Palace, and the Jewish District. As the capital of Andalusia, Seville hosts a fair in April of each year on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. This is a wonderful place to watch Flamenco dancing and dine on delicious tapas with wine. In the summer, the temperatures really heat up in this southern Spanish city, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your trip.
A beautiful city in Southern Spain is Cordoba, and it’s famous for the iconic Mezquita. This mosque has stunning red and white arches that celebrate Moorish-Andalusian art. This place isn’t as touristy as some others on this list but its significance dates back to medieval times. It’s small enough to explore on foot and wander around the narrow streets. In the springtime, you’ll see the locals decorating their courtyards and patios with plants and flowers. This is all part of an annual festival in May called the Patios Festival. Another festival to check out here is the Feria de Cordoba, which is a great festival to watch traditional dancing.
Toledo was once the capital of Spain, which is why there are so many monuments here that date back several centuries. This is a place that Arabs, Christians, and Jews all called home and lived behind the city’s walls. Tour the area to see churches, synagogues, mosques, fortresses, and museums. Toledo is surrounded on three sides by the River Tajo, and the best way to see the sights is on foot. So simply wander the city’s meandering streets to get lost in time!
Andalucía is a romantic and passionate region in Spain that celebrates Flamenco dancing, Spanish guitar music, and an interesting mix of cultures. Spend some time here and see if you can understand the meaning of duende. This word translates as an emotionally charged experience you have while witnessing an artistic performance. Chances are that if you spend enough time in Andalucía, you’ll feel it. There are golf courses and development here, but also agricultural villages that seem untouched by time. Rent a bike and ride along the vía verdes in this region for some fresh air and exercise.
Salamanca is located in Central Spain, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing than its coastal neighbors. The buildings here were built from sandstone quarries nearby and their glowing color led to it being nicknamed “The Golden City.” This is a vibrant university town that is a favorite among architecture buffs. Many visitors start their exploration of Salamanca at the Plaza Major, which is a popular student gathering place.
Bilbao hasn’t been as large of a tourist destination over the years, and admittedly, it isn’t as scenic as some of the other places on this list. However, it has a refreshingly down-to-earth and artsy vibe. Located in Northwestern Spain, Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim Museum, which is incredibly impressive both outside and in. After viewing some modern art, you can see lots of other amazing architecture nearby. When it’s time for dinner, try some local cod because Bilbao is the cod capital of Spain. Another foodie favorite plate of specialty appetizers called pincho or pintxos.