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Spain is one of the top travel destinations in the world among people who love arts and culture, incredible food, and exciting festivals. Whether you enjoy big cities, tiny villages, or a bit of both, you can find amazing adventures around every corner of the country.
Here are some of the top things to do in Spain to help you get started with travel planning.
Visit the Iconic Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
What Is It? The Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very popular place to visit in Barcelona. It draws in millions of visitors each year and has been undergoing construction for over a century.
Why Do It? With a surreal appearance and colorful stained glass windows, the architecture is stunning and so is the history of Sagrada Familia
Good to Know: Various tour options are available to see this landmark and give you an opportunity to skip the long line to get in.
See the Museo del Prado, Madrid
What Is It? The Prado Museum has thousands of paintings and hundreds of sculptures that celebrate Spanish, Italian, and Flemish art.
Why Do It? There are lots of museums in Madrid, but if you only have time to visit one, make it to the Museo del Prado because of its local, cultural relevance. Here you’ll find one of the best art collections in the world.
Good to Know: This is a very popular museum with lines often extending out the door.
Explore Teide National Park, Tenerife
What Is It? One of the best things to do in Tenerife, Teide National Park (Parque Nacional del Teide) is a large national park in the Canary Islands and where the highest peak in Spain is located.
Why Do It? At the national park, you’ll find rugged landscapes and peaceful places to get in touch with nature, ranging from volcanic peaks to lava fields and ancient calderas.
Good to Know: You can join a guided full-day tour of Mt. Teide and the Masca Valley to make the most of your limited time here. Half-day guided trips are also available.
Alcazar UNESCO World Heritage Site, Seville
What Is It? A top attraction in Seville that every tourist should see is the Alcazar, which is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site and royal palace.
Why Do It? This landmark has a fascinating history, which you can read about in advance of your trip or hire a local guide to tell you about while you’re in Seville. Some of the many areas you’ll learn about at the Alcazar are the upper floors, gardens, Salon de Embajadores, and the Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla.
Good to Know: Tours booked in advance with a small group last about an hour and a half and help you skip the long admission lines.
See a Flamenco Performance, Seville
What Is It? Flamenco is a beautiful Spanish tradition, and there are quite a few amazing places to watch a live flamenco performance in Seville.
Why Do It? This is an essential Spanish experience you’ll never forget!
Good to Know: One particularly popular spot in Seville is Tablao El Arenal, which puts on two-hour flamenco shows that exude raw emotion and expert choreography with every move made and note played. This is one of the best venues in the world to see a live flamenco performance. It also has comfy seats, packages that include drinks, and the option to dine on traditional tapas or a gourmet three-course meal.
Hike Around the Masca Valley
What Is It? The Masca Valley is a remote and beautiful place to visit in Spain that has trails, forests, rugged cliffs, and waterfalls.
Why Do It? Masca Valley offers opportunities to go for epic hikes through the gorge, near waterfalls, and to a black-sand beach.
Good to Know: Some guided tour options include Masca Valley and Tenerife’s Mt. Teide on a full-day trip. Other tour options include a visit to the historical village of Garachico and take you out in a 4WD vehicle or three-wheel motorcycle to see the landscapes.
Visit the Seville Cathedral, Seville
What Is It? This impressive Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world and was completed in the early 16th century.
Why Do It? As you’re walking around the city of Seville, don’t miss out on touring the Seville Cathedral. The Giralda is the cathedral’s bell tower, and it has over a dozen beautiful doors to see.
Good to Know: Guided tours of the cathedral often include a tour of Giralda Tower too and last about an hour and 15 minutes. Here you can also see the tomb of Christopher Columbus and get amazing views of the city.
Take a Tour of Alhambra, Granada
What Is It? Alhambra is a sprawling complex that is made up of a fortress, palaces, and gardens. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the Nasrid Dynasty.
Why Do It? The Alhambra is nothing short of impressive and a must-visit site in Spain. There is so much history and architecture to learn about at this Granada attraction.
Good to Know: Guided tours booked in advance can help you skip the long lines and see the Alhambra with ease. Some tour options are combined with the Generalife Gardens and Nasrid Palaces.
Climb Montjuïc Mountain, Barcelona
What Is It? Montjuïc Mountain is a great place for a scenic hike and also not typically overpopulated by tourists. The park is best known among locals for its Font del Gat, or Fountain of the Cat, built in 1918.
Why Do It? If you want to give your legs a great workout, head up to Montjuïc Mountain.
Good to Know: In addition to enjoying the spectacular view and natural surroundings, at the top of the hill is Olympic Stadium and the Jardi Botanic. You’ll also discover buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games, like the Palau Sant Jordi and a telecommunications tower. Be sure to visit Laribal Gardens, a romantic park on the hill with its mix of fountains, water, and shady trees reminiscent of the gardens at Alhambra Palace in Grenada.
Tour the Guggenheim Museum, Bilboa
What Is It? Famous architect Frank Gehry designed the Guggenheim Museum, which opened in 1997. It is an important architectural work that features modern and contemporary art.
Why Do It? The Guggenheim Museum is impressive both on the outside (in terms of architecture) and on the inside (in terms of artwork).
Good to Know: Private and group tours are available to see this museum and learn as much as possible from the experience. If you’re short on time in Bilbao, a tour is the way to go.
Sample Spanish Tapas, Madrid
What Is It? It would be a shame to spend time in Madrid without experiencing the culinary bliss of authentic Spanish tapas. This is a culinary specialty of the country.
Why Do It? A tapeo is a bar crawl that focuses on both tapas and drinks, and you can even take a tapa tour of the city for a seriously immersive experience.
Good to Know: Recommended tapas bars in Madrid include Casa Gonzalez, La Venencia, and El Tempranillo. Make sure and try typical foods like cocido madrileño, huevos rotos, and a famous sandwich called the bocadillo de calamares.
Explore Dormant Volanoes at Timanfaya National Park
What Is It? Timanfaya National Park (Parque Nacional de Timanfaya) is a park filled with dormant volcanoes and lava fields.
Why Do It? The park’s landscapes are strange and eerie, almost resembling those of the moon rather than what people normally think of seeing in Spain.
Good to Know: It’s fun to take a side trip to this park from the nearby beach towns. You can save research time and effort by booking a tour to the park and going on a nature tour for half a day.
Admire Architecture at Valencia City of the Arts & Sciences, Valencia
What Is It? This Valencia site is an impressive work of architecture and a science museum and planetarium that is popular to visit in the city.
Why Do It? You can learn about architecture and science during your visit, while keeping the whole family entertained and engaged.
Good to Know: The museum is often part of Valencia city tours that may also include wine tastings, tapas, biking, and the beach.
Check Out Picasso's Art, Barcelona
What Is It? The Picasso Museum in Barcelona was founded by the iconic artist’s lifelong friend whom he’d gifted many of his works. While Picasso was from Malaga, in the south of Spain, it was Barcelona he chose as the location for his namesake museum since it was the city where he apprenticed when he was just starting out.
Why Do It? The museum encompasses five connected Catalan Gothic palaces and one of the most complete collections of Picasso art, with more than 4,000 early works in sculpture, paint, and engraving. In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions explore his life, artistic interests, and love of the city.
Good to Know: The five adjoining 13th- and 14th-century residences that complete the museum have many treasures as well.
Join Local Festival, Barcelona
What Is It? Most of the city’s larger festivals take place between late spring and early autumn, like the world’s biggest indie and alternative music festival. Primavera Sound takes place in late May or early June. August brings the nine-day Festa Mayor Gracia, while September hosts the grandest fiesta of the entire year, the four-day Festes de la Merce, which honors the city’s patron with a run, harbor swimming race, concerts, parades, Catalan dances, and feasts.
Why Do It? Barcelona loves to party, and if you’re looking for a non-stop party, or just want to mingle with the locals, join in one of the many festivals.
Good to Know: Barcelona also celebrates Carnival in February, which includes carnival events and parades that are almost as colorful as Cologne’s legendary festivities.
Watch a Real Madrid Football Game, Madrid
What Is It? In the north-central region of Madrid, you can visit Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the city’s main fútbol (soccer) stadium.
Why Do It? The Real Madrid team plays here, so definitely plan to attend a game if you can. Even if the team isn’t playing during your visit, it’s still worth stopping by the stadium to take a tour. The tour route includes a history room, photomontages, the presidential box, dressing room, dugouts, press room, official store, and more.
Good to Know: Hop off at the Santiago Bernabeu metro stop if you’re traveling by public transit.
See the Generalife Gardens, Granada
What Is It? The Generalife Gardens was a summer retreat for kings and dates back to the 13th century.
Why Do It? This is a beautiful place to visit and take photos. You’ll find picture-perfect gardens, promenades, and terraces here that lead out to awesome views.
Good to Know: One of the best ways to see this tourist destination is to book a guided tour that includes both Generalife and the Alhambra.
Enjoy Views of the Las Alpujarras Region, Bubión
What Is It? You can get off the beaten path and enjoy small-town life in the Las Alpujarras Region of Spain. There are tiny, picturesque towns here, including Bubión and Capilerilla.
Why Do It? The scenery in this region is unforgettable, as well as the local architecture and opportunities for hiking.
Good to Know: You can take a bus from Granada to get to these small villages if you don’t plan to rent a car on your trip.
Take a Cooking Class, Barcelona
What Is It? Barcelonans are proud of their Catalan cuisine, and they should be. A geographically diverse region, Catalonia produces a variety of fresh, high-quality seafood, meat, poultry, game, fruit and vegetables that sometimes come in unusual combinations, like meat and seafood, poultry and fruit, fish, and nuts.
Why Do It? It’s absolutely mouth-watering, and by taking an authentic cooking class you can even bring back some of it home with you, and get a lesson on Spain’s rich culinary history. Barcelona Cooking offers daily morning and evening cooking classes, providing a hands-on experience preparing Catalan dishes.
Good to Know: A typical class starts with a trip to La Boqueria Mercat to purchase local produce for the class before getting into the kitchen to cook appetizers, soup, paella and dessert. Classes are designed with everyone from the novice cook to the advanced, with activities in the food preparation process for every skill level.
Relax at La Concha Beach, San Sebastian
What Is It? This beach is between the Monte Urgull and Monte Igueldo hills. Spanish royalty used to come to this seaside resort area in the 19th century.
Why Do It? It’s a lovely European beach where you can relax and slow down your pace of travel.
Good to Know: In addition to going to the beach, there is a lot more to see and do in San Sebastian, such as taking a bike tour, going stand-up paddle boarding, and heading out onto the water on a sailboat.