Splendid beaches, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and lively fiestas make Spain one of Europe’s best getaways. Because Spain encompasses several autonomous regions and islands, the country boasts one of the continent’s most widely diverse cultures and landscapes.
Here’s a look at the top places to visit in Spain:
10. Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela. The capital city of the Galicia region in northwestern Spain, Santiago de Compostela, is famous as the final destination of the traditional pilgrimage known as Camino de Santiago. This pilgrimage is important to many Christians because it is believed that Santiago de Compostela is where St. James, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, is buried.
Today, the city attracts thousands of visitors for its religious tradition and history every year. The arrival point for most pilgrims is the main square. Situated in the city’s heart, this bustling plaza is the scene of many important landmarks, particularly the Santiago Cathedral, where the tomb of St. James is located.
Perched on a mountaintop in central Spain, Toledo served as the Spanish capital until the 16th century. Because it was inhabited by Jews, Christians, and Muslims for many centuries, the city is sometimes called the “City of Three Cultures.”
Today, Toledo is a popular destination for its wealth of historic art and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire. The best thing to do in Toledo is to get lost amid the medieval streets and admire the old architecture, including a stunning cathedral, synagogue, and mosque.
Cordoba is the capital of the Cordoba province in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. The historic quarter of Cordoba is a maze of tiny medieval streets, plazas, and whitewashed courtyards, all situated around the star attraction, the Mezquita.
Initially built as a mosque, the Mezquita is a glorious cathedral retaining most of its original architecture. Its forest of columns topped with Islamic-style red and white striped arches reminds of the glory and importance Córdoba held in medieval times.
Other places of interest include the Fortress of the Christian Monarchs, the Street of Flowers, and the Old Jewish Quarter, with charming patios and souvenir shops.
7. San Sebastian
San Sebastian is located in the Basque country of northern Spain, off the Bay of Biscay. This beautiful seaside city is well-loved for its excellent beaches and wonderful culinary tradition. The Old Town features many historic buildings reconstructed in the 19th century after nearly destroying the city during the Napoleonic Wars.
San Sebastian also boasts some of the best beaches in Europe, with the most popular of these being Playa de la Concha, which offers sunbathing and water activities like swimming, kayaking, and water skiing.
One of the largest and most important cities in Spain, Valencia is located in the eastern part of the country in the region of Valencia. After redirecting the Turia River, the city constructed its most impressive landmark, a massive cultural and entertainment complex known as the City of Arts and Science.
This complex contains several buildings such as a science museum, planetarium, and aquarium that are each artistic marvels in and of themselves. Every March, Valencia hosts the Fallas Festival, where each neighborhood displays paper-mâché figures of all sizes and colors. At the end of the week, the figures are ceremoniously burned, and the communities party into the night.
Unique tourist attractions, lively festivals, and buzzing nightlife make Seville one of the best places to visit in Spain. As the capital city of Andalusia, Seville is also the region’s financial and cultural capital.
The city is home to many beautiful and important historic landmarks, chief of which is the grand Cathedral of Seville, where it is believed that Christopher Columbus is buried. Another significant building is the Real Alcazar, an extravagant Moorish palace with luxurious gardens.
Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid, is widely known for its sizzling nightlife scene. The city constitutes diverse ethnic groups, making it one of Europe’s most colorful cosmopolitan cities. Located within the city center are most of Madrid’s most popular tourist attractions, such as the Royal Palace, the residence of Spain’s monarch.
The heart of Madrid and Spain is Puerta del Sol, a large plaza serving as the scene of festivals, important gatherings, street performers, and a hub for the public transportation network. Another important square is Plaza Mayor, known for the lively San Miguel Market.
Located in northeastern Spain, Barcelona is one of the country’s top travel destinations because it offers everything tourists look for in a European city, from historic architecture to lively shopping and buzzing nightlife.
Unique to Barcelona are the architectural marvels of Spain’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, including the Casa Batllo and the famous Sagrada Familia church. These unique structures feature combinations of fascinating designs, shapes, and colors. Barcelona’s popular activities include strolling along La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian avenue, and sunbath on Barceloneta, one of the city’s most popular beaches.
One of the most popular of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is a celebrated beach escape that gets 300 days of sunshine every year. With quiet coves, limestone mountains, citrus orchards, and sleepy stone villages overlooking the Mediterranean, it’s perfect for relaxing. But there’s a lot more to Mallorca than meets the eye.
The island is also home to several Roman and Moorish ruins and a pumping nightlife scene in the capital of Palma. For those interested in history and architecture, don’t miss the royal palace with its exquisite Moorish design and the Palma Cathedral with its beautiful Gothic façade.
Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain, Granada is the capital of the Granada province. Granada offers a perfect blend of traditional cultures, animated nightlife, and spectacular attractions, including the world-famous Alhambra, a pinnacle of Moorish art that encapsulates Andalusian history.
This medieval complex overlooking Granada is one of the great architectural sights of Europe, with many visitors coming to Granada expressly to see the Alhambra. The last Moorish stronghold in Europe, the Alhambra offers the visitor splendid ornamental architecture, spectacular and lush gardens, cascading and dripping water features, and breathtaking views of the city below.