Land of delicious tapas, flamenco dancing and magnificent Moorish palaces, Spain is undoubtedly the favorite travel destination of many travelers looking for a unique experience. It is a place fused with rich culture and interesting history which has led to the creation of timeless architectural monuments. As a first-time traveler to Spain, it can be overwhelming to find the best Spanish cities to visit. We have compiled a list of the top 10 cities worth visiting in Spain.
Nestled on the northeast coast of Spain, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city known to be a favorite with travelers looking for a holistic experience. This city is the epicenter of breathtaking architecture like the masterpiece of Sagrada Familia, a brainchild of Antoni Gaudi. The basilica features both modern Catalan and late Spanish Gothic designs. The Gothic element extends to the Gothic Quarter, where one can find quaint churches, chic cafes and Roman ruins. Those who love the arts might consider visiting the Picasso Museum to marvel at Picasso’s magnificent masterpieces. In summer, one can enjoy the sun-drenched beaches and enjoy a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
One cannot leave Spain without visiting its cultural capital Madrid nestled in the Manzanares river in the very center of the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid is the most populated city in Spain. It’s bigger than Rome and Paris, which means it’s always packed with people. No wonder it’s called ‘la ciudad que nunca duerme’ (the city that never sleeps) for good reason. Here you can always find fun things to do. Its Puerta del Sol square usually hosts shows. It is also a meeting point for locals and tourists. The Gran Via is another popular attraction for witnessing cultural scenes such as flamenco shows. While foodies will undoubtedly find a plethora of delicious tapas at the Plaza Mayor.
Third largest metropolis in Spain, Valencia is often overlooked by tourists in favor of Barcelona and Madrid. There’s a lot to see when it comes to this cultural and futuristic hub. First, it is called “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias”, which means the “city of arts and sciences”. You can visit the emblematic complex of scientific and cultural leisure designed by the famous designer Santiago Calatrava. The family-friendly complex is made up of a science museum, an opera house, an IMAX theater and an aquarium. Moreover, there are sublime beaches where one can choose to relax after a long tiring day exploring the city. History buffs can visit ancient churches and monasteries steeped in rich heritage.
seven San Sebastian
Apart from its typical bustling metropolises, Spain is also home to verdant cities dotted with rolling mountains, golden beaches and blue seas. Head to the northern coast of the Basque Country and discover the charming town of San Sebastián. This city is very popular for its unspoilt beaches like Playa de la Concha and the many hiking trails including Monte Urgell. For adventurous spirits, consider indulging in water activities like kayaking or surfing at Playa de La Zurriola. And the best place to enjoy delicious tapas (the Basque version) and good wine is to visit its pintxo bars.
Another city to consider in the Basque Country is the city of Bilbao, which sits in the middle of a green valley. Bilbao can easily be reached in less than an hour’s drive from San Sebastián. What makes Bilbao attractive is its iconic Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. It is an attraction where one can immerse oneself in contemporary art and innovation. From its spiral ramp to its domed glass roof, the museum is a veritable emerging art scene. In addition, the city is embellished with several green parks such as the Parque Etxebarria overlooking the old town.
The historic city of Seville was founded by Hercules around 2000 years ago. Seville is the capital of the sunny plains of Andalusia, the southern region of Spain. Here one can bask in the eclectic range of architecture influenced by its many past conquerors such as the Almoravids, Romans and Muslim Almohads. One of its main attractions is the Real Alcázar, which features sublime Mudéjar architecture. And those who are fans of Christopher Columbus might consider visiting Seville’s grand cathedral, where his monumental tomb is located.
If one wants to see the true spirit of flamenco culture and marvel at some of the best Moorish architecture, then Granada is definitely a place not to be missed. Granada is nestled in the southern part of Spain at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada invites avid travelers to visit one of its popular landmarks, the Alhambra Palace, known for its intricate Moorish architecture and designs. And of course, its manicured gardens dotted with water fountains make this attraction a must-see. Flamenco lovers may find Sacramento, the cave-covered hill, a wonderful place to connect with the locals and witness the beauty of flamenco and Zambra dancing.
The city of Malaga is where there is a beautiful coexistence between the old and the new. Founded around 770 BC. AD by the Phoenicians, Málaga is a place where you can go back in time thanks to its archaeological remains from the Phoenician, Roman and Arab periods. Probably, its ancient monuments inspired its creative geniuses such as the painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso, and the poet and philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol who were both born here. Malaga has a thriving food culture. Visitors can find Michelin-starred bars and restaurants offering scrumptious seafood menus you can only swear by.
For a laid-back adventure, head to one of Europe’s oldest cities, Cadiz is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It was founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC. AD, and today it has become a picturesque town praised for its historical monuments, including some of the oldest Phoenician ruins and its majestic 17th-century Castillo de Santa Catalina perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Sea. Want a 360 degree view of the city? Then prepare to climb the stairs of Torre Tavira to see the surrounding whitewashed town contrasting with the turquoise blue ocean.
Another Andalusian city to tick off your bucket list is definitely Cordoba, a city that stirs curiosity in the mind. This place is home to the magnificent Mezquita, which is a mosque-cathedral. Its magnificent courtyard is an attraction in itself. One can enjoy the shades of orange trees and majestic palm trees. Visitors can also feast on intricate architectural works inspired by Moorish, Baroque and Gothic designs. But Cordoba is also more than its landmarks. A simple stroll through its narrow streets and one will be amazed to find whitewashed patios adorned with vibrant flowerpots. These streets are also home to some of the best cafes and restaurants.
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