Spain is one of those countries that’s totally incredible to explore on a road trip. It’s not just because it’s got a heap of beautiful beaches, amazing cites and historic towns, but also because it’s so dramatically different depending on what region you’re in. Plus, by exploring some of the best places to see in Spain, you’ll get to see this diversity first-hand!
Not only that, but there’s also then the difference in languages, like Catalan and Basque which are so different from Spanish. That’s even before we got onto mentioning the differences in food. The list does go on and on.
After exploring so much of the country, I wanted to share some of the very best places to see in Spain that you should include on your next trip. They’re so incredible to see and really easy to explore if you’ve got a car, too.
Located in Andalusia, Almeria is the place to come if you love unspoilt and deserted beaches. Plus, it’s got hundreds of years of history with places like the Almería Cathedral and the ancient Alcazaba that once protected the city.
To add to that it is also one of the warmest spots in all of mainland Spain and a perfect place to situate yourself for a few days exploring the beaches and coastline.
2.) The Sierra Nevada
This gorgeous mountain range features Spain’s highest peak, the Mulhacén and is one of the best places to see in Spain if you love the great outdoors.
It’s also one of the best places to see in Spain that’s relatively easy to access from the bigger cities, too. For instance, you can easily fly into Malaga and drive across to the mountain range itself.
Oh, also, If you enjoy snow then don’t miss a trip to some of the ski slopes, here. In fact, it’s the most southerly skiing area in all of Europe. Just make sure to wrap up warm, it’s much colder once you get high up!
3.) Santiago de Compostela
Now, for me, the big draw of Santiago de Compostela is its UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. It’s totally gorgeous and one of the best places to see in Spain when exploring the north-west of the country.
The city is also famous as an important pilgrimage site for Christians as well as for its toothsome tapas that you’ll gorge on after a long day exploring. Well, this is what I usually do! 😉
Also, the city is a great base to explore more of this rural and totally dramatic region of Spain around the Atlantic Coast.
4.) The Costa Brava
Okay, so the Costa Brava of Spain is probably one of the most well-known spots to visit if you want some sun, sea and sand.
Plus, it’s in easy reach of cities like Barcelona and Girona, too.
Now, if you fancy driving the coastal routes (and having lots of little stops) then the Costa Brava is a great region to start. Not only does it have a whole mix of sandy beaches and natural parks, but it’s also got the gorgeous scenery head for Montseny Natural Park which have some incredible hikes.
Also, for some coastal trails, pop over to Cap de Creus and also see the Salvador Dalí House-Museum in Portlligat, too. Finally, if you have time, see the castle of Sant Joan in Lloret De Mar that’s right on the coast.
Pamplona is the capital of the province of Navarre and is known for the more infamous Running of the Bulls festival. This is held in July and does cause some controversy so make sure you read up on all the research before participating.
That being said, Pamplona is one of the best places to see in Spain when travelling around the Basque regions. Once here, make sure to explore Castle Square, see the impressive cathedral and stop off at the Citadel of Pamplona that’s around 500 years old.
Known for its main cathedral (which is another of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Site), Toledo has a whole range of places to see that are totally stunning.
Toledo is a much more relaxed city compared to places like Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it out. You can easily spend a few days strolling the city and exploring the many Moorish, Jewish and Christian influences that have shaped the city.
Just be sure to stop off at the Alcazar of Toledo. It overlooks the whole city and is probably the most famous of all the places in Toledo.
After exploring the Sierra Nevada mountains, make sure to drive across to Granada. It’s one of the best places to see in Spain and it’s totally gorgeous.
For me, the most impressive part has to be the Alhambra! The Alhambra is a magnificent display of Spain’s Moorish history that’s too stunning to miss when on a road trip across Spain.
Now, the best way to describe the Alhambra is that it’s a mix of Intricately designed Moorish architecture, beautiful gardens and a fascinating history (built by a Sultan in the 11th century).
Not only that, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and right next to the other protected sights of Generalife and Albayzin.
Just be sure to book your tickets before you arrive. There’s a limited number for certain buildings and they tend to sell out in the height of summer.
Perched within Andalusia, Cordoba is one of the best places to see in Spain that has a long Roman and Moorish heritage to explore.
After arriving, head to La Mezquita or the Great Mosque that still stands in the city. Afterwards, head across to Salinas for some of their pork cheeks. It’s a totally relaxed and informal little place that serves up some of the tastiest tapas.
There are so many incredible things to do in Seville. It’s the kind of city that’s amazing to visit for a good few days, especially by foot.
Perched on the River Guadalquivir (yeah, I struggle with pronunciation, too), Seville is known for the Torre del Oro, the Alcazar and the stunning Plaza de Espana.
Also, if it’s more modern architecture that takes your fancy, stroll along the top of the Space Metropol Parasol. It’s become a totally iconic part of the city.
Known as the ‘town of stones and saints’, Avila is kind of a missed gem by some visitors to Spain.
That being said, it’s one place you really shouldn’t miss whilst exploring the best places to see in Spain. This is especially true when you’re driving between Madrid and Salamanca. It’s a great place to stop for a day or overnight visit and well worth a little gander.
After arriving, make sure to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral that dates back to the 11th century; it’s stunning. Oh, and be sure to stroll the city walls, too.
I know I keep going on about UNESCO sites, but Spain is just full of them! Especially in cities like Salamanca that are lovely to explore.
After spending some time exploring the cathedrals and the Casa de las Conchas, make sure to spend your evenings in the historic centre of the city. You see, Salamanca is a university city (so you can count on a good night here).
There are lots of small restaurants and tiny little bars that make it a totally great place to spend an evening with wine, tapas and plenty of people.
Around a 90-minute drive from the centre of Seville, Cadiz is a coastal city that’s well worth a visit when heading down towards Gibraltar and back up to Malaga.
Less visited by travellers, Cadiz has an old-world charm and is one of the more chilled spots to visit that’s away from the crowds.
Cadiz is filled with local markets to gorge and grab a tipple, which is epic on a weekend! Also, be sure to stop off for the views at Torre Tavira and the history at Castillo de Santa Catalina. They’re both stunning.
13.) San Sebastian
The jewel of the Basque Country, San Sebastian is an amazing seaside city that’s perfect if you’re a real foodie. Plus, it’s particularly known for its tasty and fresh seafood, too.
Now, although it can be a little more expensive than some of the surrounding cities like Bilbao, it’s well worth a few days staying here to stroll and ramble the area.
After arriving, be sure to grab plenty of pintxos and a famous drink from the region, Kalimotxo. It’s made up of red wine and cola and is pretty popular when you’re in the north.
Also, the whole northerly coastal route is just so dramatic and beautiful to see.
No trip to Spain would be complete without a visit to Barcelona! It’s one of the most iconic cities in Spain and an incredible place to spend a long weekend (or even longer).
After exploring all the best things to do, make sure to stop off at some of the tastiest restaurants in the city and watch the sunset from Tibidabo, too. It’s stunning.
Oh, and as Barcelona is home to so many epic buildings by Gaudi, make sure to plan your time well to see as many as possible. They’re one of my favourite things about the city. Not only that, but there are also so many free things to do in the city, too.
Plus, depending on what time of year you visit, you might even catch the La Merce festival that happens each year.
Sometimes, Valencia gets a little overshadowed by its bigger siblings of Barcelona or Madrid, but it really shouldn’t. It’s one of the best places to see in Spain that’s a perfect mix of old and new!
There’s a whole heap of amazing spots to see, starting with the Cathedral and the Holy Grail and the City of Arts and Sciences that’s pretty cool.
Afterwards, head over to Mercado Central that’s filled with some tasty coffee and foodie spots, too.
Now, if you’ve got time, you can also plan a hot-air balloon ride from the city and fly over the Sierra Mariola. Just be prepared for a sunrise wakeup (around 5 am) to catch the incredible views.
Nestled right in the heart of Spain, Madrid is epic city to visit for a long weekend of exploring.
Once here, be sure to pop into the Prado Museum and take a stroll around the palace and surrounding gardens. It’s a gorgeous area; we loved it!
If you are staying overnight, check into Hotel Urso which we loved. Oh, and be sure to see the ancient Egyptian Temple of Debod that was gifted by Egypt to Spain.
The city ‘split apart by the gods’, Ronda is as dramatic as it sounds! Not only that, but it’s also one of the best places to see in Spain that’s really easy to explore in a day or two.
Set atop a hill and separated by a deep gorge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic city and it’s totally stunning to see.
Make sure to head out onto the trails that take in the views of the bridge, explore the historic bullring and weave your way through the cobbled streets. It’s totally gorgeous.
For some, Malaga is a place that people fly into and carry on elsewhere, all without spending much time in the city itself. Though this is a mistake and it’s a great place to start or end your road trip to Spain as the airport is really well connected to other European cities, too.
Once here, make sure to explore the birthplace of Picasso and the Roman and Moorish ruins, too. It’s totally gorgeous and easy to visit before driving north to Ronda, too.