Making an attempt to outline the most effective locations to go to in Spain is one thing of an countless job. After all, Barcelona is famend for its golden seashores and flamboyant Gaudí structure. Madrid, the county’s capital, dazzles with world-class museums. Then you’ve gotten the year-round attract of the islands’ sun-kissed sands. But, past Spain’s most obvious metropolis breaks, there are numerous extra provincial cities price visiting.
Right here, I’ll deal with the most effective cities to go to in Spain. These spots are ideally suited in case you’re in search of a weekend in Spain however are searching for an alternative choice to Barcelona.
From a city-cum-beach island capital to mountain-backed aged alcázars, these Spain metropolis breaks additionally present a super base to discover a few of Spain’s ‘hidden gems’. Listed here are my picks of Spain’s greatest cities to go to.
Good for? A protracted weekend of late-nights, tradition and Islamic structure
The place and when? The southern metropolis of Seville sees temperatures soar within the peak summer season months, making it nearly unbearably sizzling for sightseeing.
Andalusia’s heart-thumping, feet-stomping, and castanet-clapping capital of Seville is a metropolis of ardour. Fiery – each figuratively and actually in summer season – this can be a Spanish metropolis break you gained’t overlook.
Right here, you’ll discover your senses frequently aroused. From the sounds of flamenco and the Andalusian desk’s flavours to the architectural eye-candy and fragrance of orange timber, Seville’s enchantment is unavoidable.
Make sure you watch a Flamenco present. Go to the hulking Gothic Cathedral and climb the La Giralda tower. Chill out amongst the leafy gardens and inexperienced areas. Discover time to admire the tilework of Plaza de España and the Seville Museum of Wonderful Arts. Then, devour all of the tapas earlier than sipping beers into the early hours. The town’s student-heavy inhabitants retains the nights lengthy.
After all, a go to to Seville wouldn’t be full with out acquainting your self with Andalusia’s historical past. This itself will convey you to one of many metropolis’s most interesting sights.
Closely influenced by some 5 centuries of Moorish rule, Seville’s structure exhibits typical Andalusian traits. But, being a metropolis of a lot significance, the ornament went far past whitewashed partitions. The par excellence is the Alcázar of Seville (e book your tickets prematurely). This huge, intricate, patio-heavy palace was initially a fortress. Sadly, a lot was destroyed following the Christian conquest and later reconstruction. Nonetheless, the Eleventh-century partitions, some reception rooms, and different elements stay preserved. Whatever the timestamps, the complicated is one in every of Spain’s greatest locations to go to.
Good for? A day journey from Madrid, or magnificent sundown keep
The place and when? Lower than an hour from Madrid by excessive velocity practice, Cuenca is in Castela-Mancha, and is an efficient selection anytime of 12 months.
Since my first go to to Cuenca, I’ve waxed lyrically about the way it’s top-of-the-line cities to go to in Spain.
Perched upon a limestone ridge and with a historical past traced again some 1300 years, the UNESCO-listed Previous City is enchanting. Famed for its Casa Colgados – hanging homes which overhang the rock face – it’s a well-liked day journey from Madrid.
Nonetheless, spending a couple of hours right here gained’t do Moorish-built Cuenca justice. From the colorful facades and chateau ruins to the cathedral’s medley of architectural types, the town sparkles.
You may even sleep in a few of the heritage buildings. Choose to in a single day within the upscale Parador, a former monastery. Or, for a extra wallet-friendly keep, decide the Seventeenth-century ex-cathedral’s choir residence.
With loads of postcard-perfect views to take pleasure in, the rugged setting lends itself to exploring. Fortunately, loads of nature, and journey actions, await on Cuenca’s doorsteps. Many trails weave via the close by karst mountains, making certain this metropolis break delivers a slice of the nice outdoor. Notably worthy of a go to is The Ciudad Encantada, a geological web site of quirky rocky formations.
Good for? An architecture-heavy metropolis break served with scrumptious tapas
The place and when? León is in Spain’s northwest, and the local weather ranges from balmy summer season temperatures to generally below-freezing winter nights.
León doesn’t have big-ticket stunners like Granada’s Alhambra or Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, but it’s nonetheless top-of-the-line locations to go to in Spain for structure
Of the buildings that sparkle, Gaudi’s Casa Botines, the ‘Cathedral of Gentle’, and the ‘Sistine Chapel of Romanesque artwork’ shine brightest.
The primary, one in every of Gaudi’s solely works outdoors of Catalonia, is a far cry from this regular fashion. For these searching for the flamboyant, you could be disillusioned. The straight strains and considerably typical facade of the constructing appear ‘easy’, however it’s not with out its quirks.
Constructed to be a home and cloth manufacturing facility in a modernist fashion, the design was restricted by the proprietor’s concepts relatively than the artist’s creativeness. But, once you enterprise contained in the now museum and be part of a guided tour, they’ll level out a few of his signature whimsical inclusions.
The second, León Cathedral, is well known for its stained glass home windows. Whereas lots of the authentic installations have been been broken, those preserved (from way back to the 14th century) are spectacular.
Third up, you’ve gotten the Royal Pantheon. A part of the bigger Basilica of San Isidoro de León, the frescoes on this room has earned the Sistine-esuqe moniker.
Past the buildings, the town excels at feeding you properly. There are heaps of high quality bars and eating places, and an evening out right here feels native relatively than touristy. One thing which is all the time a bonus in Europe’s historic cities. There’s additionally a sensible choice of heritage lodging to safe the deal, akin to this transformed basílica.So, in case you’re searching for top-of-the-line cities in Spain for structure, which retains an understated attraction, León could possibly be simply the ticket.
San Sebastian (Donostia)
Good for? A foodie feast paired with golden sands
The place and when? San Sebastian, on the Bay of Biscay, is among the greatest locations to go to in Spain year-round. Summer time is good for the seaside, whereas there are sufficient sights – and meals – to entertain on a winter trip.
You may’t go improper right here in case you’re searching for a Spain metropolis break that has all of it. Golden sands present seaside days. Hilltop trails provide the vistas. And the Parte Vieja (Previous City) delivers on tradition. Then you’ve gotten the shimmering waters and verdant mountains creating a reasonably backdrop.
However, the primary cause to go to is easy: to eat.
San Sebastian is famend as top-of-the-line cities in Spain for culinary science, and pintxos are the speciality right here. These paid-for tapas are a step up and are normally piled excessive on each bar prime. Usually mounted on bread, count on wealthy flavours of cheese, cured meats, and anchovies. But, different artistic morsels are additionally current.
Loved in a laid-back standing fashion, you merely pay for the variety of skewers you’ve savoured on the finish. Then, it’s time to repeat within the subsequent bar.
Gastronomy has lengthy been on the coronary heart of the town. For a more in-depth encounter – and to study some expertise – enterprise to one in every of San Sebastian’s non-public underground cooking golf equipment. Hailing from days when residents’ houses weren’t large enough for friends, this can be a neighborhood custom. These areas, referred to as ‘Sociedades Gastronómicas’ or ‘Txokos’, have been as soon as very non-public. Nonetheless, lately, sure golf equipment have allowed guests via their inconspicuous doorways. When you’ve ventured into the basements, you’ll discover an ample, communal cooking area. Right here, a few of the metropolis’s greatest cooks have refined their expertise, so that you’ll undoubtedly achieve some ideas and go away with a contented abdomen.
Good for? A weekend of Roman ruins and countryside delicacies
The place and when? Set in Spain’s sun-parched Extremadura area, bordering Portugal, intention to keep away from summer season when the warmth is relentless.
Extremadura is among the least visited Spanish locations for Brits. But, the area’s capital Merida delivers a few of Spain’s best-preserved Roman sights.
The star is the well-conserved amphitheatre. Nonetheless standing proud after two thousand years, a daytime go to is unimaginable. Even higher nonetheless is to look at a night live performance right here in case your dates align.
Different unimaginable treasures are displayed contained in the Museum of Roman Artwork. This expansive area, a nationwide museum, is residence to an enormous assortment of mosaics and artefacts.
Equally attention-grabbing – if barely much less spectacular – are the aqueduct and Temple of Diana. Merida’s architectural wonders will transport you again in time, however don’t rush them. I’d recommend permitting your self not less than two days. To economize, purchase the multi-attraction ticket, which covers all the important thing sights. In case you’re already in Seville, it’s straightforward to mix a journey to Extremadura with Andalusia.
Good for? A laid-back Spain metropolis break surrounded by greenery
The place and when? Set within the cooler northern area of Asturias, Oviedo is among the greatest cities to go to in Spain throughout summer season.
Oviedo, the capital of the Asturias area, is also referred to as the capital of cider, or sidra, in Spanish. This area is well known for its orchards, and city-dwellers love swigging the regionally fermented apple juice. So, observe their lead and head to one of many Chigre (cider homes in Asturias) across the metropolis.
In these bars, the uncarbonated alcoholic drink is expertly poured from excessive by an escanciador. This fashion of pour helps add air to the beverage. For the most effective pairing, order a collection of the area’s cheese – they’ve greater than 40 sorts.
After getting your fill, you may hit the sights of this spotless metropolis. From the positive artwork within the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias to the archaeological museum, there’s sufficient to entertain.
Oviedo can also be celebrated for its statues, of which there are numerous dotting the town. From busts and bums, to notable figures, the sculptures present one thing of a strolling tour.
On the town limits – heading in the direction of inexperienced mountains – you’ll discover a few of Oviedo’s World Heritage-listed websites. These pre-Romanesque church buildings are nonetheless standing proud, telling an over 1000-year-old story. If you wish to escape to the seaside, that’s simply executed, with the coastal metropolis of Gijón a brief hop away. Oviedo is a reasonably and peaceable metropolis break – though you’ll need to preserve an ear out for the Gaita asturiana. On the weekends, strolling bands enjoying this native kind of bagpipe usually add a soundtrack to the town.
Santiago de Compostela
Good for? A hallowed finish to a protracted path
The place and when? Santiago de Compostela is within the northern area of Galicia, famend for it’s rains outdoors of summer season.
For greater than 1000 years, weary ft which have adopted the Camino de Santiago have discovered their exhausted finale right here. Serving as the ultimate level on the pilgrimage, Santiago de Compostela has develop into well-known worldwide. For that cause, the town is commonly thought-about top-of-the-line locations to go to in Spain.
In recent times, nonetheless, the Camino has seen a new-found appreciation. Not is the route traversed solely by these wishing to pay respects to Saint James the Apostle, however it has additionally been commandeered by non-religious walkers searching for calming surroundings and area for ideas. This, and the town’s 100,000-strong inhabitants, ensures it isn’t all concerning the cathedral as a metropolis break.
Nonetheless, the opulent and iconic constructing is undoubtedly Santiago’s crown jewel. Inside as as spectacular because the facade, due to the museum, crypt and climbable tower. Simply count on there to be loads of individuals, and don’t overlook to safe tickets prematurely (entry to simply the cathedral is free).
Away from the hoards of hikers, you’ll discover a relaxed mixture of craft beer bars and Galician eating places. Pulpo a la Gallega (boiled octopus) is a staple, and the almond-based Tarta de Santiago makes for an honest dessert. There’s additionally a handful of museums – each sacred and art-focused – and loads of photogenic corners within the Medieval core. Positive, it’s not someplace you come for a celebration. However, even in case you’re not paying your respects, you’ll discover a nice place, good as a base to discover Galicia’s lush lands.
Good for? A quadruple-hit of UNESCO-listed sights
The place and when? Córdoba is among the greatest cities in Spain to go to throughout Spring or Autumn. It’s infamous as one of many hottest cities on the peninsula, and summer season is just not nice for exploring within the mid-day solar.
Córdoba, not even the second or third metropolis of Andalusia, manages to boast a formidable resume. The town was residence to a minimum of 4 UNESCO listings – probably the most of any metropolis on this planet. Fairly an achievement for for someplace that isn’t on each must-visit Europe listing. Sadly for tally counters, UNESCO just lately bundled two collectively, technically decreasing the rely again to 3.
It’s not solely the titles that impressed me, although. No, it’s additionally the sun-bleached environment, the chilly soups scrumptious, and the structure is magnificent from all angles. There’s additionally an air of slumber that you could take pleasure in outdoors of the core, whereas late-night antics are additionally simply hunted out.
However, again to these heritage listings. First up, we now have the Mosque-Cathedral, one in every of Spain’s greatest monuments. Initially constructed within the mid-Eighth century as a mosque, it was spared the destiny of many Islamic buildings in Spain. Following the Christian re-conquest, it was as a substitute transformed right into a cathedral within the Thirteenth century. This preservation has created one of many world’s most unusual – and most vital – homes of worship. Arched pillars divide the area into isles; marble performs a starring position, and a towering belfry has changed the outdated minaret.
The second designation went to the Historic Quarter, which has not been rolled in with the Mosque-Cathedral. The third is the Caliphate Metropolis of Medina Azahara, on the town’s fringes. A powerful archaeological web site, right here you’ll discover the stays of a nearly-forgotten metropolis relationship again to the Umayyad occasions. It’s a exceptional splendour resulting from its superior growth for the tenth century.
I’ve expanded on the fourth accolade, for the Pageant of the Patios, in my Spain hidden gems article. However actually, sufficient stated already – Cordoba is a winner.
Good for? Basque tradition and delicacies in one of many cities to go to in Spain for Trendy Artwork
The place and when? Bilbao is a good metropolis break 12 months spherical. Though, in case you plan to hit up the seashores close by, late spring to early Autumn is your best option.
Having shaken off its barely rough-around-the-edges industrial previous – and as a substitute, embraced it as a UNESCO Metropolis of Design – Bilbao has develop into a beloved Spain metropolis break up to now a long time.
A lot of that change could be accredited to the Guggenheim Museum. Whereas the spectacular and futuristic design remodeled the cityscape, the fashionable and modern artwork collections inside pushed Bilbao ahead. Twenty-five years after the primary exhibition, the town has perpetually modified, changing into one thing of a cultural hub.
This new lease of life has been greater than capitalised on, with a flurry of cultural choices. Now, Bilbao is commonly celebrated in journals and analysis for its extra equal society. Fortunately, nonetheless, it retains its Basque (and old-Bilbao) soul.
Much less neighbouring San Sebastian, the eating scene right here is superb. The area’s signature tapas, pintxos, are a go-to, and fine-dining and classy bars at the moment are aplenty. You’ll additionally discover extra reasonably priced choices than within the culinary-famed sister metropolis.
Begin your day rambling the river and admiring Guggenheim’s futuristic structure. Slip into the Ribera marketplace for a chew, then delve into Azkuna Zentroa’s cultural programme. Amble amongst the alleys of the Casco Viejo (Medieval Quarter). Then, wrap up the day feasting on Basque specialities. Cod, fish stews and Txakoli, the native glowing wine, are all the time a good suggestion. Settle in for a feast, this is among the greatest locations to go to in Spain for high quality and fairly-priced grub.
Palma de Mallorca
Good for? An island metropolis break fringed with seashores
The place and when? Spring via Autumn are nice occasions to go to the island. As Palma is a big metropolis, and doesn’t shut throughout the winter like resort cities, it’s additionally an excellent winter solar spot.
Palma, the capital of Mallorca, is commonly ignored as top-of-the-line cities to go to in Spain. It’s comprehensible; the Balearic Islands are higher recognized for seashores than metropolis breaks.
But, Palma de Mallorca supplies the most effective of each worlds. There’s sufficient tradition and cosmopolitan stylish away from the sands, whereas the Mediterranean waters are all the time there once you fancy a dip. It is likely to be top-of-the-line locations in Spain for a summer season vacation, however it may also be a standalone metropolis break.
There’s a compelling eating scene and first-class nightlife. In contrast to well-liked Magaluf additional alongside the coast, the town has primarily swayed away from revelry. As an alternative, Palma’s mixologists and cooks have focused on cocktail bars and culinary creativity.
Then you’ve gotten the primary course; the heritage and tradition lining the net of streets within the oldest a part of the town. Most spectacular is Palma Cathedral, which towers above the city. The non secular masterpiece, well-endowed with Gothic grandeur, took almost 400 years to assemble. Different notable sights embrace the Royal Palace and the intriguingly-round Castell de Bellver. Artwork can also be properly represented in Mallorca, particularly the works of Balearic creatives. The perfect collections are on show at Es Baluard and Fundació Miró.
Good for? A vigorous weekend in a student-heavy metropolis
The place and when? Located in Castile and León, Salamanca is reached from Madrid in lower than two hours by high-speed practice. Come within the time period time to witness the town most alive.
House to one of many oldest universities on this planet – the fourth by opening date in Europe – Salamanca wears its historic significance with understated delight.
Strolling these illustrious streets, flanked by the town’s signature warm-sandstone buildings, a way of knowledge will eat you. From the purple calligraphy that decorates the grand buildings to the greenery and parks alongside the river, taking all of it in is a straightforward pleasure.
On the coronary heart of all of it is the huge and vibrant Baroque Plaza Mayor, celebrated as one in every of Spain’s most spectacular. At evening, issues actually come alive. Tables spill out from candlelit eating places, dinner could be loved with views from the higher ranges, and youngsters play within the centre.
By day, there’s sufficient to entertain. Whether or not you’re touring the 2 cathedrals, venturing contained in the college, or marvelling on the Casa de las Conchas – uniquely adorned with shell shapes – structure is a typical theme. Of the town’s museums, Casa Lis is my favorite. Housing an thrilling array of Artwork Deco works behind its stained glass facade, it’s a deal with.
By some means, Salamanca stays much less visited than lots of the different greatest cities to go to in Spain. And that, in case you ask me, is difficult to fathom.
Good for? Futuristic, conventional, modern and traditional – Valencia wears its beguiling mix with delight.
The place and when? With a primarily heat local weather, and many to do on wet days, Valencia is among the greatest locations to go to in Spain year-round.
Spain’s third-largest metropolis has a lot to supply, however there are three predominant causes to go to. Firstly, Paella, the area’s notorious dish. No journey is full with no obligatory heaped skillet of seasoned rice. For a greater understanding, Paella cooking courses are in no brief provide.
Secondly, there’s Valencia’s Previous City, the place you’ll discover medieval Spain as you realize it. Petty plazas present good people-watching. A plethora of panorama-boasting towers guarantees photogenic angles. And loads of non secular structure completes the image. Highlights embrace the Thirteenth-century Cathedral and the Artwork Nouveau Central Market.
Valencia’s most well-known storied sight, although, is the La Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Alternate). The grand UNESCO-listed constructing tells of a time when Valencia was a world powerhouse within the silk commerce. Admire the spectacular webbed-ceiling corridor, stroll the orange-scented courtyard, and climb the tower.
Thirdly, you’ve gotten the town’s forward-thinking facet, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. House to museums, a cinema, modern gardens and an aquarium, the complicated focuses on the humanities and science. Even with out venturing inside an exhibit, the fashionable structure is certain to impress. Deliver your digital camera; Valencia appears good from all angles.
Good for? For endless tapas and exploring The Alhambra
The place and when? Granada is among the greatest locations to go to in Spain outdoors of summer season. Within the hottest months of the 12 months, it’s just too sizzling to be sightseeing all day. Winter, nonetheless, could be fairly chilly – although, it’s an ideal time in case you additionally need to ski within the Serra Nevada.
Overflowing tables of tapas, sun-drenched days and sometimes snow-capped mountains, one of the crucial spectacular monuments of Islamic structure in Spain – or certainly the world – and an environment that’s each laid-back and spirited. Sure, Granada is palms down top-of-the-line cities to go to in Spain; no two methods about it.
Having spent a couple of months residing in Granada to study Spanish, it’s one of many Spanish cities I’m most aware of. Nonetheless, even after that prolonged interval, a day doesn’t go by the place I don’t yearn to admire The Alhambra from afar once more.
For many guests, it’s this magnificent Thirteenth-century fortress from the times of Moorish rule that attracts them to Granada. Typically, simply as a day journey from Seville. However I promise you this; solely a day right here won’t ever be sufficient.
Even in case you’re solely coming for The Alhambra, an impressive medley of ornate Islamic structure, courtyards, and adorned partitions, permitting an hour or two to tour the inside won’t ever do it justice. To understand Granada, and certainly The Alhambra, you have to permit your self time.
Time to discover each nook, from the palaces to Generalife. Time to slowly mooch across the in depth gardens. Time to seek out all the most effective viewpoints of the constructing from afar. Time to take in the golden-hour vitality of this magical metropolis. And time to devour each final morsel of tapas put in entrance of you.
You see, in Granada, Tapas is an age-old custom. In contrast to another cities in Spain, the place menus and costs are introduced, right here it comes because it was initially meant – free and as an accompaniment to your tipple of selection. Some nights I might simply order beers, and even earlier than that late-night time for supper rolled round – after 9 pm is customary right here – I’d be stuffed.
Different metropolis highlights embrace the Cathedral, the Hammam, the outdated gipsy neighbourhood of Sacromonte, and, after all, flamenco.
In case you’re heading to The Alhambra, e book tickets prematurely. In case you don’t get them earlier than they promote out, look to e book a tour, as they usually have a couple of pre-purchased ticket areas left.
Good for? A Barcelona facet journey and Europe’s best-preserved Jewish quarter
The place and when? North of Barcelona, Girona is a dependable year-round metropolis break – though winter night’s is usually a little chilly.
Girona is maybe greatest recognized within the UK in its place Barcelona price range airport and a gateway to the seashores of the Costa Brava. In case you’re prepared to present it greater than a fleeting look from the aeroplane window, although, you’ll discover an inviting medieval labyrinth and top-of-the-line locations to go to in Spain.
Taking centre stage lately as a Recreation of Thrones filming location the storied streets of Catalonia’s second metropolis are the place to be. Stroll atop the town’s partitions for spectacular views. Marvel on the Arab Baths. And indulge your super-fan standing on Girona Cathedral’s stairs or a GOT strolling excursions.
Whereas a contemporary city sprawl envelops the historic centre, the Previous City will take you to bygone days. The Jewish Quarter – El Name – particularly, is of nice significance. You’ll discover a genuinely Center Ages environment amongst these slender streets, thought-about the best-preserved Jewish Quarter in Iberia.
Good for? A cosmopolitan coastal Spain metropolis break
The place and when? On Spain’s southern coast, Málaga is a scorcher in summer season. That climate, although, ensures Málaga is among the greatest cities to go to in Spain year-round.
For a lot of Brits, Málaga is a predominant gateway to the sun-kissed sands of the Costa del Sol. However, whereas making a beeline to the seaside is rarely a nasty concept, it’s additionally price spending a while in one in every of Spain’s greatest cities.
Cosmopolitan and cultural, Andalusia’s second most populous metropolis packs a punch. Whether or not you’re wandering museums and galleries, admiring structure from the Moorish rule, or chowing down on recent seafood, you’ll discover the town’s attraction buried under the less-appealing skyline.
Historic highlights embrace the well-preserved Alcazaba of Malaga, a Moorish fortification complicated fronted by a Roman theatre, and the solo-towered cathedral.
You’ll additionally discover greater than 30 museums dotted throughout Malaga, with artwork and archaeology each represented. Because the birthplace of Picasso, it’s no shock one of many metropolis’s main galleries is devoted to his works. Different notable areas price a peek at are the avant-garde assortment within the Pompidou Centre and the Museo del Património Municipal. Contained in the MUPAM you’ll uncover Malaga’s historical past, from the Phoenicians to the current.
Need to dive even deeper into this magnificent and star-studded nation past the most effective locations to go to in Spain? Uncover my favorite secret Spain spots for extra adventures barely ‘off the crushed path’.