It’s so easy to just assume that Spain is all about gloriously golden sandy beaches and sunny holidays (not that there is anything wrong with that) but Spain is a lot more diverse than just being a sunshine destination most Europeans flock to in the summer. Some parts of Spain look like you’ve stumbled into Arabia while some other parts look more like green Ireland than your typical arid Spanish cities of the south.
Similar to our maps we’ve created on visiting Italy, California and Iceland, we’ve teamed up with the awesome people at Avis to share our ultimate list of the very best places you should see when visiting Spain. It doesn’t matter if it’s your 1st, 5th or 50th time, I guarantee this route will open your eyes to some of Spain’s most gorgeous places!
Take a look at our map of the 15 very best places to include on your holiday across Spain.
🇪🇸 Swipe left to right on the map to view 🇪🇸
1.) Stroll through Barcelona
Barcelona is one of those cities that should be on everybody’s radar when visiting Spain. Its unique architecture, Gothic Quarter, museums, food are just too good to miss!
Spend your stay exploring the stunning sites of Gaudi, or get off the trail a little and head for some places where locals chill. It really is a diverse and magical city.
If you’re considering hiring a car to travel the route, then make sure to check out this amazing resource, Barcelona Uncovered, that offers some hand-picked hidden gems that are well worth visiting – especially if you’re wanting to stay away from the main sites.
2.) Party in the cliffs in Menorca
The Balearic Islands are a beautiful place to discover! Hop on a ferry (you can take your car with you on the ferry) or a short flight from Barcelona to experience some of their charms. Make sure to visit the gorgeous crystal clear waters of Menorca, where you can canoe your way around (part) of the island.
Oh, don’t forget about heading to the club in the cliffs too! This incredible bar is pumping come evening and the perfect place to see the sunset or sunrise, depending on your style.
3.) Rave and relax in Ibiza
Heads up, Ibiza has some of the best parties in all the world but its famed reputation as the party island is kinda limiting. This stunning island is so much more than DJ’s and bottomless tequila cocktails – head to the stunning Es Vedra to watch the sunset, check out some of the most incredible tapas in Ibiza Town and make your way up to the north of the island to experience a much calmer slice of island life.
4.) Explore the iconic city of Valencia
Don’t tell the others but Valencia is one of my favourite cities in all of Spain! This gorgeous place is filled with incredible sights, including the city’s iconic, City of Arts and Sciences, Mercado Central and Albufera Park. Don’t forget to go hot air ballooning in the Sierra De Mariola! 🎈
5.) See the Alhambra in Granada
Perched within Andalusia, Granada is a city that sits a few hours drive from the shore. One of the most iconic places you have to visit in the city is the Alhambra which has some of the best Arabesque architecture and the most amazing Moorish Throne Room that you’ll ever see. Just remember to book your tickets before your visit – there is a finite allocation on each day and tickets sell out days and sometimes weeks in advance for the main sites.
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping, make sure you check out the slopes of Sierra Nevada – the most southerly skiing site in all of Europe. Après ski anyone?
6.) Spend a few days in old Malaga
Malaga is much more than just its airport where we all arrive to visit Spain’s gorgeous beaches. The city itself is steeped in a rich history that can be easily glossed over if you’ve only ever driven through. On your next trip, make sure to spend the day in the city itself – it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the old citadels and ancient ruins that scatter the city.
Interestingly, it’s also the former home of Pablo Picasso 🎨, one of the world’s most famous artists. Visit his home and the museum for a more in-depth look into his life and creativity.
7.) See the dramatic city of Ronda
Legend tells us that Ronda was once a town filled with arguments and brawls – to such an extent that the almighty powers above decided to split the city in two! After the arguments quelled and peace resumed, the city dwellers decided to rejoin the city with one of the most impressive bridges in all of Europe!
A few hours from Malaga, it’s one lovely little city that you should definitely include. Head to the bottom of the bridge for some awe-inspiring views of the cliff top city above. It really is a unique place to visit.
8.) See the city within the rocks, Setenil de las Bodegas
This tiny city has to be seen to be believed! With a population of fewer than 5,000 people, it’s the perfect place to explore in a day. Make sure you walk the streets that are actually under the cliffs themselves. It’s a surreal type of place that is unlike any other place in Europe.
9.) Flamenco dance in Seville
The capital city of Andalucia, Seville is a great city to visit, especially if you want to discover a little rhythm in the form of Flamenco dancing 💃. The city’s famed, Alcázar Castle is also one key spot that you have to see when visiting the city. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
10.) Enjoy the centre of Huelva
Nestled on the Gulf of Cádiz, Huelva isn’t on a well-trodden trail but the city is a great place to explore more of Andalusian culture. This industrial city is best seen from within the city centre itself, where you can see Huelva Cathedral, Plaza de las Monjas and Parque Moret (which is gorgeous in spring).
11.) Explore the country’s capital, Madrid
The capital of Spain, Madrid almost sits in the centre of the country. It seems to be lots or rivalry between people from Barcelona and Madrid on which city is best but I’ll leave that for you to decide. 😝
From the Plaza Mayor, The Royal Palace and the thousands of restaurants, it’s easy to see why so many people love this city.
12.) See the House of Shells in Salamanca
Perched between Madrid and the border of Portugal, Salamanca is a city that’s close to 1,000 years old. Steeped in history, it’s the perfect place to see some truly gorgeous Spanish charm. Make sure to make a stop at the House of Shells, a gothic palace that is adorned with all sorts of carved shellfish!
Also, try some of the cities baked goodies too, you’ll want to fill your boots in yummy pastries, I guarantee!
13.) Discover Santiago de Compostela
The capital of the Galicia region, Santiago de Compostela is quite different from the southern cities of Spain. Make sure to visit the incredible Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and grab a delicious bite to eat at the rather long named, Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos, where you’ll sit beneath the gorgeous stone arches. Make sure to book in advance!
14.) See the Guggenheim in Bilbao
This historic industrial city has had something of a revival in recent years, thanks to the likes of the Guggenheim Museum that sits proudly in the city itself. Spend a few days exploring it’s gorgeous exhibitions and visit some of the smaller towns surrounding the city itself where you can grab some yummy pintxos!
15.) Walk the promenade of San Sebastián
Nestled on the Bay of Biscay, this Basque Country town is one of the region’s most famous places to visit. Famously known for its lovely Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta beaches it was once the holiday spot of the rich and royal. Nowadays, anyone can, of course, enjoy this city.
For a delicious restaurant, head over to Arzak and grab yourself some grub that is all produced locally, with love. ❤️