The Best Spanish Cities: Places To Visit In Spain 2017

Spain is filled with amazing cities. Here are the Spanish cities you should visit on your next trip to Spain.

Madrid

Perhaps I am biased because I lived here for six months, but the Spanish capital of Madrid is one of the nicest, most authentic cities in Spain. Being the third largest city in Europe, Madrid is filled with tons of activities, restaurants, and culture. It also offers some of the best nightlife in the world; visit the 7 story club, Teatro Kapital, or go bar hopping around some of Madrid’s cozy cocktail and shots bars. If you want to spend a few days in Madrid during your next Spain trip, check out my “One Weekend In Madrid” travel guide HERE!

Royal Palace of Madrid
El Palacio Real, or, The Royal Palace of Madrid
Templo de debod madrid
Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple that was gifted to Madrid in 1968.
Metropolis madrid night
The Famous Metropolis of Madrid building at night.

San Sebastian

Ask any Spaniard what there favorite place is to visit in Spain, and they will probably say the north. The north of Spain is completely culturally and environmentally different from other regions; its filled with rugged mountains, miles of evergreen trees, and picturesque beaches. San Sebastian was crowned the 2016 cultural capital of Europe, and for good reasons. Streets are FILLED with pintxos and tapas bars, and offer hundreds of traditional basque pintxos, which are essentially small Spanish snacks. Don’t be fooled, these bite sized goods are delicacies, and after loading up your plate with them, you will have an extravagant, 3 course meal! San Sebastian also offers great hiking opportunities, surfing, and one of the best beaches in Spain, Playa de La Concha

The Vega Brothers have a great video on San Sebastian, which you can watch here.

playa de la concha spain
View of Playa de La Concha in San Sebastian, Spain.
monte urgull jesus statue
The Jesus statue that sits on top of Monte Urgull in San Sebastian.

san sebastian spain

 

Granada

This Andalusian Gem offers Spain’s most popular site- the Alhambra, an ancient Moorish palace. The Alhambra alone is a reason to pay a visit to Granada; just be sure to book tickets far enough in advanced, as it sells out rapidly. I was lucky enough to find an open tour group just one day in advanced. However, if you plan on visiting in summer, it is best to book tours and tickets a whopping three months prior to your trip. Visit el Mirador de San Nicolas to view one of the best sunsets in Europe, and get a great view of the Alhambra. You can also go skiing on the Sierra Nevada, and hike up the gypsy mountain-cave neighborhood, Sacromonte. Oh, and be sure to get some of the best churros in Spain at Gran Café Bib-Rambla.

Alhambra granada spain
View from the Alhambra in Granada. One of the best places to visit in Spain.

 Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

dia de la cruz granada
Typical cross from Dia de La Cruz in Granada, Spain. This occurs every third of May.

sacromonte-granada-spain
Typical cave home in Sacromonte, Granada.

Valencia

Cuisine, Sunny Beaches, Art… Valencia is a culturally and historically rich city, located on the eastern coast of Spain. In my opinion, Valencia is one of the most interesting Spanish cities. It contains the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences, which includes the largest aquarium in Europe, an interactive science museum, futuristic statues, and more! You can also take a stroll in the old town, which has great restaurants, cathedrals, museums, and shops. Make sure you get PAELLA!!! This Spanish rice dish is typical of Valencia, and you can get some of Spain’s best paella here.

city of arts and sciences valencia spain
City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia , Spain.
plaza de la virgen valencia spain
Plaza de La Virgen in Valencia at night.
royal garden valencia spain
The Royal Garden of Valencia, Spain.

Barcelona

Who could leave out Barcelona? Probably the most popular of Spanish cities, Barcelona is one of the best holiday destinations in Spain. Sure, it can get packed with tourists, especially during the summer months, but it is a tourist destination for good reason. Visit Guadi’s Sagrada Famila and Park Güell, which are some of the most famous- and most photogenic- places in Spain. Eat some amazing tapas with cava (Spanish sparkling wine) to experience Barcelona like a native. I recommend La Xampanyeria, which is a typical Barcelonian tapas bar that has some of the best food and wine in Barcelona.

barcelona skyline spain
The beautiful Barcelona skyline.
park guell barcelona spain
From Park Guell, one of the most famous places in Spain.

 Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

sagrada familia barcelona spain
Inside view of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

55 comments

  1. Spain is just beautiful and you are lucky to have traveled to some of these cities. Barcelona is number one on my list too, and your photos confirm why. But I’ve always been curious about Valencia too! That museum and its architecture is breathtaking!

  2. Spain is a place I really need to revisit. I didn’t think of going because of the food, as I dont eat any ham or pork. I really like the suggestions, and the advise. Granada looks really nice and interesting as well. Thank you for this

    1. Although ham and pork are heavily used in Spanish food, there are so many amazing dishes that are completely vegetarian or made with different types of meat! Granada is beautiful. Your’e welcome, and thank you!

  3. I can’t believe I live so close to this beautiful country but have never been to these cities… that must change asap!

  4. I loved Granada, Seville and Madrid and definitely want to go to Valencia and Barcelona. Have heard so much about Basque country San Sebastian too. Spain is one place which never ceases to surprise!

  5. I was JUST in Madrid and LOVED it. I went to Barcelona a few years ago and really loved the art and architecture there. I’ll have to keep these places in mind for my next trip.

  6. Some great travel destinations on here! Of these cities, we’ve only been to Madrid… went to Sevilla instead of Granada, but hoping to make it back to Andaluscia for more one day! I’m always so torn on Barcelona, but it sure looks beautiful.

    1. Sevilla is a great city too! I was only there for a day, so I didn’t get to know it as well as some other Spanish cities. Barcelona is worth a visit, even though it is a bit touristy.

  7. This was a interesting post to read. Of the five cities you have mentioned, I would probably want to visit San Sebastian the most for its hiking. The other city that I have heard a lot about is Seville but this did not make this list as we all have our own favorites. Lovely informative post.

    1. San Sebastian is so beautiful. I really did enjoy Sevilla, but I didn’t have enough time to truly experience the city. Plus, My friend from Granada always says “Cordoba and Granada are better!” Haha!

  8. ALWAYS wanted to go to Spain and hopefully planning on going there sometime soon!!! Because of your post, I now want to see San Sebastian and Valencia! I wonder about the affordability in staying there long term?

  9. San Sebastian for nature, and Valencia for museums! These would be our ideal places, and hopefully, we would be able to visit in the coming years 🙂

  10. Wonderful write up of these cities. My family hosted an exchange student from Barcelona when I was in high school, and although I’ve traveled throughout Europe, I’ve never been to Spain. I would love to visit, and I think I’d want to spend time in the different regions, because I’ve heard they vary so much. Thanks for the information!

    1. Thanks Meg! That’s really interesting, I’m sure you learned a little about the Barcelona culture while she was living with you! Its true, Spain is so diverse, it almost feels like each region is a totally different country!!

  11. Spain is my favourite country. From your five cities I missed San Sebastain as it was in north and I was running out of time, so I did Seville. Very correct Barcelona is favorite amongst tourists for famous Park Guella and tapas. Beautiful information of Spainish cities.

  12. So far with Spain I only have family vacations to Gran Canaria as a kid to go by, so the amazing culture, food and history is all a mystery of me. Cities like Madrid and Barcelona look like a lot of fun, really wanna get there sooooooon!

  13. From the list of five cities in Spain I must visit I have only visited Barcelona and Madrid. I am visiting San Sebastian this fall so it was good to get a sneak preview of it here and I hope to get better weather than you got! I didn’t know it was the capital of culture in Europe last year. Another place I want to visit in Valencia, I hope one day to be able to visit and photograph the Arts and Sciene museum.

    1. You will love San Sebastian. Its a lot of people’s favorite city in Spain! I hope you do get better weather- however the rain did help cool it down a little. Valencia is lovely! I wish I had brought my better camera with me so I could shoot more at the city of arts and sciences.

  14. Your list on must visit Spanish cities is right on point! I have visited Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona, but yet to visit the rest two. I love all three cities, they are all so unique in their own ways, full of history, stunning architecture and the lively Spanish culture. Barcelona is one of my favourite among all, especially for Gaudi’s masterpieces.

  15. I have been researching a log about Spain off late as I am planning a trip here soon. Madrid is of course on top of the mind for the reasons you mentioned here. For a first timer like me Barcelona is also on cards. But I had not heard of the other 3 cities. San Sebastián sounds interesting. North of Spain sounds so much like North of India, my country. I am an outdoor person and I think I would love San Sebastián for the Treks and hikes it offers.

    1. Barcelona and Madrid are musts for a fist time in Spain. San Sebastian is one of the nicest cities that not as many people know about. If you get the chance, you should make a trip there. Its a 5 hour bus ride from Madrid.

  16. Great post! I live in Valencia so I’m super glad it’s mentioned here. I love it here! I’ve visited all of these apart from San Sebastian, definitely need to visit the north

  17. This is a great list, I’m always hearing such amazing things about San Sebastian, I totally want to go myself and eat everything in sight! Thanks for the reminder 😀

  18. I’ve visited Barcelona a couple of times this year and I’ve really fallen in love with the city. It just seems to have a bit of everything! I’d love to visit Madrid and Valencia! xo

  19. You didn’t list my favourite city – Seville – but I’ll forgive you because you have included Valencia which I also love. I enjoyed the rundown of your five favourites, none of which could be excluded from anyone’s list of places to visit in Spain, one of my favourite countries.

    1. I loved Seville too. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to spend enough time there to really become acquainted with the city. The Alcazar was amazing! I’m happy you enjoyed it, thank you!!

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