The best cities to visit in Spain
Spain is generally thought of as a beach destination, thanks to its miles of coastline along the Mediterranean. But with their endless excellent attractions, the cities in Spain offer full immersion in Spanish cultures both traditional and modern.
What makes Spain’s cities unique?
Spanish culture is colorful and diverse, with each region celebrating its own heritage, history, cuisine, and even their own languages in parts. Spain’s cities are well connected, so traveling between them is fantastic, and many have incredible ancient buildings and brilliant modern art galleries.
The top cities in Spain to include in your trip itinerary
Spanish cities are so diverse, it can be difficult to narrow down your choice. However, there are a few destinations that are essential for a Spanish adventure.
Visit Madrid, Spain's splendid capital
The Spanish capital is located right in the center of the country, surrounded by thickly-forested mountain ranges. Highlights include the vast Prado Museum and the historic Plaza Mayor where cafes bustle at weekends. Sports fans can take tours of the two soccer grounds in the city, the homes of Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid, and foodies will love the San Miguel Market, where fine wines from across Spain and great tapas can be sampled.
Get the best of both worlds in Barcelona
On the eastern coast of Spain in semi-autonomous Catalonia, Barcelona is a dynamic city with exceptional art, architecture and a few brilliant beaches. Take a stroll down the Ramblas boulevard, or visit the striking Sagrada Familia cathedral, designed by famed architect and artist Gaudi.
Explore Bilbao and the Basque Country
Located on the northern Atlantic coast, Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, an area of Spain with its own unique culture, language and cuisine. The city's Guggenheim Museum is home to a superb collection of modern art, housed within a breathtaking futuristic building designed by Frank Gehry. Take the funicular railway up Mount Artxanda to get the best view of the Guggenheim and the rest of Bilbao.
Meet the Moors in Seville
Seville has a very distinct character thanks to its connection with the Arabs. Much of its architecture dates back to the time of the Moors of North Africa, such as the Alcazar. The vast royal palace is filled with colorful tiles and shaded courtyards.
Sample paella in Valencia
Valencia is thought to be the home of paella, a traditional Spanish dish that’s often enjoyed along the coast. Alongside great food, though, this city has fun in droves. Spend time at the City of Arts and Sciences, a museum complex packed with interactive exhibits, before heading to a flamenco club to see the passionate dance performed by locals.
Tips for planning a city break in Spain
Spain's cities are served by a network of high-speed AVE trains, although there is also a good selection of domestic flights for longer journeys. Southern cities like Seville can be very hot in the summer, so you might prefer to travel in spring or fall.