The collection of 22 best cities in Spain worth visiting
The ultimate list of cities in Spain everyone needs to visit in a lifetime.
THE 22 BEST CITIES IN SPAIN TO VISIT
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The best cities in Spain that deserve a place on your bucket list:
Royal Madrid is one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
The Spanish capital is one of the most vibrant European capitals. It is the 5th largest European capital by population, following Istanbul, Moscow, Paris, and London.
Marvelous Madrid is a city of incredible history, rich culture, superb architecture, striking boulevards, beautiful palaces (there are 12 gorgeous palaces in Madrid), amazing parks (Retiro, Capricho Park, Royal Botanical, Sabatini Gardens, Parque Oeste..), fantastic rooftop bars, top-class restaurants, shops, and terrific nightlife.
Madrid is a paradise for shoppingholics, nightlife lovers, art enthusiasts, architecture admirers, gourmets, and bon vivants.
If you are looking for the best restaurants in Spain, you will find them in Madrid. Madrid restaurants offer food from all regions of Spain and food from around the world. Even the oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid. The Famous Sobrino de Botin restaurant was founded in 1725.
Besides that, Madrid is home to first-class museums (Prado, Reina Sofia Museum, Thyssen Museum, Museum of Romanticism, Wax Museum …)
To properly explore the city, you’d need at least a week in Madrid. Every Madrid barrio is a story for itself. The picturesque La Latina neighborhood is one of the most beautiful oldest neighborhoods in Madrid. Bohemian Malasana neighborhood is full of quirky bars and restaurants. The Party-friendly Chueca neighborhood is famous for its vibrant nightlife. Arty Barri de las Letras neighborhood is home to Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. Multicultural Lavapies neighborhood with chic bars and interesting street art is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Madrid. And, the upscale Salamanca neighborhood has the wealthiest homes in Spain and luxury shops for the finest shopping.
Madrid is one the best cities in Spain worth visiting for art, nightlife, shopping, and fantastic culinary scene.
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Sunny Barcelona in Catalonia is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain by population. But not less important, the Catalonian capital is a city of special charm and character. Barcelona with its historic sites and eccentric architectural masterpieces is one of the most unique cities in Spain.
Above all, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with a bustling beach, vibrant Las Ramblas main street, romantic Barri Gotic neighborhood, picture-perfect Park Guell, Gaudi’s masterpieces (Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia, iconic Boqueria market, and fantastic restaurants with international food and tasty local Catalan food.
Sagrada Familia is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain, along with the Cathedral of Seville, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Cordoba Cathedral, Alhambra in Granada, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Cave of Altamira, Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Roman Theatre of Mérida, City of Arts and Science in Valencia and Teide National Park in Tenerife.
Visiting Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and Park Guell is one of my most memorable experiences in Spain, I strongly recommend it to everyone.
Barcelona is one of the best European city breaks. Barcelona will suit your taste if you are after sun, beach, art, and great nightlife.
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Royal Seville is the capital of Andalusia.
Elegant Seville is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Magnificent Seville is a top tourist destination in southern Spain, and beyond.
Seville is one of the most famous cities in Spain for its beauty. The Andalusian capital has a sublime mix of Andalusian, Islamic, Gypsy, and Jewish cultures with a unique aristocratic vibe.
Seville is home to the Seville Cathedral (the world’s largest Gothic cathedral), the Alcázar of Seville (one of the most extravagant royal palaces in the World), the marvelous Plaza de Espana, and the interesting Metropol Parasol.
The capital of Andalucia is one of the best cities in Spain worth visiting. Today Seville is the popular starting point of the Camino de Santiago Via de la Plata route too.
Seville is one of the cities everyone needs to visit once in a lifetime.
READ MORE: Things to do in Seville, Spain
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Explore Seville cuisine and eateries: Check out the best Barcelona food tours
4. SAN SEBASTIAN
San Sebastian is arguably the most refined city in Spain.
San Sebastian in the Basque Country is a paradise for beach lovers, foodies, architecture fans, and outdoors enthusiasts.
Glamourous San Sebastian is celebrated for its picturesque setting facing the Biscay Bay, pristine white sand beaches, luxurious beachside mansions, and excellent Basque cuisine accompanied by innovative chefs.
Luxurious San Sebastian was a favorite holiday destination of Spanish and French aristocracy. The architecture of San Sebastian shows the splendor of the aristocratic days from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Queen Maria Cristina set up her royal summerhouse in San Sebastian during the Belle Époque era. Coco Chanel and Leon Trotsky enjoyed spending their holidays in San Sebastian too.
Beautiful San Sebastian tops the list of the best destinations in Spain for foodies. San Sebastian is a top culinary destination in the world with the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants per square meter in the world.
San Sebastian’s La Concha beach is voted the most beautiful urban beach in Europe. In addition, La Concha beach is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
So, it’s no surprise, that San Sebastian is a popular stop on the Camino del Norte of Camino de Santiago as well.
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Beautiful Valencia is one of the most popular beach cities in Spain.
Incredible Valencia is famous for its amazing City of Arts and Sciences complex. The complex is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
The City of Arts and Sciences complex includes several buildings: the Oceanogràfic,(Europe’s biggest aquarium), Hemisfèric (a digital 3D cinema), Umbracle (a garden), Science Museum (with interactive exhibitions related to science and technology), Palau de Les Arts (the Opera House), and Ágora ( an events’ venue).
If you are after the sun, beaches, and modern architecture, you’ll love Valencia.
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Bilbao, nicknamed ‘the city of the Guggenheim’, is the capital of the Basque country.
Bilbao is considered the creative capital of northern Spain. This Spanish city has a unique mix of modern avant-garde and traditional architecture.
Bilbao is cool and traditional at the same time. Bilbao is famed for the jaw-dropping Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, picturesque net of old streets called Las Siete Calles (The Seven Streets), Mercado de la Ribera Market (the largest indoor market in Europe), and the Casco Viejo neighborhood with the Cathedral of Santiago, the Plaza Nueva, and the Churches of San Antón, San Nicolás, and San Juan.
The capital of the Basque country is one of the best cities in Spain worth visiting.
Bilbao is one of the top must-see places in Spain.
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Glorious Granada is one of the most celebrated cities in Spain.
Picturesque Granada is located in Darro Valley in the foothill of the legendary Sierra Nevada in Andalucia.
Granada is home to the Moorish masterpiece of Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, the celebrated old Arabic quarter of Albayzin, and popular caves of the gypsy quarter of Sacromonte. Among other things, Granada is famous for delicious tapas offered traditionally for free in the bars of Granada.
Just to remind you, Alhambra Palace is the most visited site in Spain.
Granada with the Alhambra is one of the best cities in Spain worth seeing.
RELATED READ: Tips for Visiting Alhambra
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Lovely Cordoba is one of the most beautiful places in southern Spain.
Historic Cordoba was the capital of Moorish Spain. Cordoba is home to world-renowned Mezquita-Catedral ( a UNESCO World Heritage Site), mesmerizing Moorish courtyards full of stunning fountains and exotic flowers, trees, and aromatic plants, gorgeous Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers), old Jewish Quarter, and beautiful Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos palace with gardens.
If you would like to see one of the most charming cities in Spain, put Cordoba on your itinerary.
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The Old City of Salamanca is also a World Heritage Site.
Salamanca is home to the Salamanca University (one of the oldest European universities), the Baroque-style Plaza Mayor, the historical Casa da las Conchas built in Gothic and Renaissance-style with some Mudejar elements, fantastic Museo Art Nouveau y Deco, glorious Old Cathedral and New Cathedral, and elegant Roman Bridge.
Salamanca is a must-visit place in Spain for people who enjoy history, historical sites, and wonderful medieval architecture.
Amazing Toledo was the capital of Spain, before Madrid.
The old city of Toledo is renowned for its beauty. Spanish Toledo is a World Heritage City.
Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived peacefully in Toledo for centuries. They left an outstanding architectural heritage of over 100 historic monuments: churches, mosques, synagogues, and palaces in Toledo.
The Toledo Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece. The Franciscan Monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes is a must-see in Toledo, while the Jewish Quarter is one of the most picturesque areas of Toledo. El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum in Toledo provide a glimpse into the interesting history of Toledo and Spain. Besides that, the Alcázar of Toledo features a one-of-a-kind military museum.
Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain worth visiting.
Visiting Toledo on a day trip from Madrid is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid.
Toledo is only 30 min by train from Madrid. It takes only 1 h by bus from Madrid to Toledo too. Toledo is 1 h by car from Madrid as well.
Charming Cadiz is the oldest city in Spain.
Cadiz on the Costa de la Luz is one of the best beach cities in southern Spain. But, first of all, Cadiz is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
Cadiz is one of the best places to visit in southern Spain for great seafood, pretty beaches, and friendly people. For history buffs, let’s say that Cadiz was founded by Phoenicians 3.000 years ago and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe. Worth mentioning that the first constitution of Spain called La Pepa was established in Cadiz in the 19th century.
The prettiest sandy beaches of Cadiz are La Caleta beach, Santa Maria Del Mar beach, or La Victoria beach in Cadiz.
Cadiz is a popular stop on Andalusia road trip everyone should make in their lifetime.
Malaga in Andalusia is the capital of Costa del Sol.
Beautiful Costa del Sol is one of the sunniest places in Europe with the most amazing sandy beaches in Europe.
Costa del Sol is a synonym for sunshine, sandy beaches, and flavorsome Spanish food.
Malaga is one of the most vibrant beach cities in Spain. The capital of Costa del Sol is one of the best Spain vacation spots and one of the best cities in Spain for leisure and pleasure. Malaga is a paradise for museum lovers, beach enthusiasts, and foodies.
Malaga has more than 30 museums, among which Museo Pablo Picasso is probably the best known. Malaga is the birth town of Pablo Picasso. Malaga is known for the lovely 11th-century Gibralfaro Castle and Moorish fortress of Alcazaba, numerous Michelin star restaurants, traditional tapas bars, and upscale cocktail bars.
The capital of Costa del Sol is one of the best cities in Spain that deserves a visit.
READ MORE: Best things to do in Malaga, Spain
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Pamplona is the historic capital of the Kingdom of Navarre.
Beautiful Pamplona in the Navarre region is a popular stop on the famous Camino de Santiago Pilgrim’s Route.
Pamplona is probably best known for the San Fermin festival with running bulls. The festival is held from 6-14 July.
Lovely Pamplona is a beautiful medieval town, still partially surrounded by medieval walls. It has a 6th-century citadel, a Baroque town hall, and a Gothic cathedral.
Pamplona is also a famous culinary destination for fantastic pintxos.
Pamplona is close to San Sebastian. It takes 1 h and 30 min by bus from San Sebastian to Pamplona. Pamplona is 1 h by car from San Sebastian. And a train ride from San Sebastian to pamplina takes about 1 h and 45 min.
Pamplona is not far away from Zaragoza either. Pamplona is about 2 h by bus from Zaragoza, while a train ride from Zaragoya to Pamplona takes 1 h and 50 min.
Segovia is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Beautiful Segovia in the Castilla and Leon region is a World Heritage City, famous for its Roman aqueduct with over 160 arches, wonderful Gothic-style cathedral, and incredible Alcázar of Segovia castle.
Incredible Segovia is often visited on a day trip from Madrid.
Segovia is close to Madrid. Segovia is a 1-hour drive from Madrid. It takes only 1 h by train from Madrid to Segovia, while a bus ride from Madrid to Segovia takes 1 h and 20 min.
Ronda is the most spectacular and dramatic city in Spain sitting on the cliff above the El Tajo gorge in Andalusia.
Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting with the Plaza de Toro, the oldest bullring in Spain. Ronda is one of the most picturesque towns in Andalusia and one of those unforgettable must-see places in Spain. The impressive Puente Nuevo bridge over the gorge and Banos Arabes, one of the best-preserved Arab Baths in Andalusia, are sites not to be missed in Ronda.
Ronda has been especially loved by writers, artists, and alike. Just to say it, Ernest Hemingway and Alexander Dumas praised the beauty of Ronda.
Take a road trip in Andalucia and visit the beautiful Ronda. Read my Andalucia road trip!
16. JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
Jerez is the heart and the essence of Andalusia.
Jerez de la Frontera is the birthplace of flamenco and the hometown of Andalusian horses and sherry wine.
Jerez is the perfect place to indulge in authentic sherry wine and some extraordinary mouthwatering tapas bites in old sherry stores called ‘tabancos‘ where wines go directly from the barrels to your glass. Take ‘ruta de tabancos‘ for an authentic sherry experience in Spain! Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Spain in May when Feria del Caballo, the annual fair of flamenco, sherry wine, and Andalusian horses takes place.
Unquestionably, Jerez is one of the most authentic cities in southern Spain and one of the unique places to visit in Spain.
Jerez de la Frontera is close to Cadiz in Andalucia, southern Spain. It takes only about 40 min by train from Cadiz to Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez is also 1 h by bus from Cadiz. And, only 20 min by car takes from Cadiz to Jerez .
Gorgeous Girona is a medieval walled town located between Barcelona and Costa Brava in Catalonia.
It’s nicknamed the ‘City of the Four Rivers’. Girona has a beautiful old Jewish Quarter (one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe), a lovely baroque cathedral (the filming location of Braavos in Season 6 of Game of Thrones), charming River Onyar, hanging bridges, picturesque arcaded houses along the river, medieval walls walkway called the Passeig de la Muralla, and famous Eiffel bridge over the Onyar River (Eiffel made it before the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
Catalonian Girona is also a gastronomic paradise for fresh fish and shellfish. If you’d love to try fresh seafood in Spain, check out great Michelin star restaurants in Girona.
Girona is close to Barcelona. Girona is easily visited on a day trip from Barcelona. It takes only 40 min by train, and about 1 h and 15 min by bus from Barcelona to Girona.
Lovely Burgos in Castilla is located on the UNESCO Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela.
Burgos is a wonderful stop on the way from Madrid to Basque Country.
Burgos is known for the outstanding French-Gothic style Burgos Cathedral (a UNESCO site), royal Monasterio de las Huelgas with the tombs of many kings and queens, the Isabelline Gothic-style Cartuja de Miraflores monastery, and Arco de Santa María (former main gates to the old city).
Burgos is about 3 hours by bus and about 3 hours by train from Madrid.
Burgos is also 1 h and 45 min from Bilbao. It takes 2 h and 30 min by train from Bilbao you Burgos.
If you are visiting San Sebastian, Burgos is 3 hours by train from San Sebastian as well.
The Old City of Avila in Spain is a World Heritage Site.
It is called the ‘finest medieval remnant in Spain’. Avila is nicknamed the Town of Stones and Saints.
It’s probably best known for the impressive 2-km long medieval walls and as the hometown of Saint Teresa of Avila (a Catholic saint and mystic).
If you would love to see the ‘finest medieval remnant in Spain’, head to Avila.
Visiting Avila with the abovementioned Segovia on a day trip from Madrid is one of the most sought-after day trips from Madrid.
Avila is easily visited from Madrid. It takes 1 h and 30 min by train from Madrid to Avila. A bus ride from Madrid to Avila takes also 1 h and 30 min.
20. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
The Old City of Santiago in Galicia in Spain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s best known for the outstanding Cathedral of St James with the holy tomb of St. James the Apostle. Saint James the Apostle brought Christianity to the Iberian peninsula. St James the Apostle is the saint patron of Spain. The tomb in the Cathedral marks the end of the famous pilgrims’ route of the Camino de Santiago. The sensational Portico da Gloria, the main doors of the Cathedral are known as the greatest masterpiece of Romanesque architecture in Spain.
Santiago de Compostela in Spain is one of the most famous Christian pilgrimage sites, along with Jerusalem and Rome. But regardless of its religious importance, the Old City of Santiago is one of the most picturesque cities in Spain. The Old City has a wonderful mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassicist buildings.
Santiago de Compostela in Galicia is a must-see Spanish city.
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You might be surprised, but wonderful Zaragoza on the Río Ebro in Aragon is the fifth largest city in Spain.
Zaragoza is known for the outstanding Mudéjar architecture of Aragon. The remarkable Mudéjar architecture of Aragon is enlisted in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Some of the most spectacular sites of Zaragoza are Baroque Nuestra Señora del Pilar basilica, the 11th-century Moorish palace of Aljafería, and the 12th-century Cathedral of the Savior (or La Seo Cathedral).
Striking Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar is a landmark of Zaragoza. The basilica is dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a famous pilgrim site for Christians of all denominations.
Joyous ‘El Pilar’ festival is the most important annual festival in Zaragoza. It celebrates ‘La Virgen del Pilar’ who is called “Patrona de la Hispanidad” (the patron saint of all Hispanic people). The festival happens in the week of the 12th of October and it attracts to Zaragoza not only people from across Spain but also from Latin America. The population of Zaragoza increases three times during the’El Pilar’.
Gorgeous Zaragoza is a true hidden gem in Spain and one of the most beautiful and authentic cities of Spain.
Zaragoza is easily visited from Barcelona. It takes only 1 h and 20 min by train from Barcelona to Zaragoza. A bus ride from Barcelona to Zaragoza takes 3 h and 30 min.
Zaragoza is also easily visited from Madrid. It takes 1 h and 20 min by train from Madrid to Zaragoza as well. Buts, a bus ride from Madrid to Zaraagzoa takes 4 hours.
Beautiful Alicante is one of the most touristy cities in Spain.
It is located in the heart of Costa Blanca.
Alicante is one of the most beautiful beach cities in Spain. The city has a wonderful marina, colorful old town, cozy coffee shops, and great seafood restaurants.
Castle of Santa Bárbara, El Postiguet (the main Alicante beach), white sandy San Juan Playa (the most popular beach in Alicante), elegant La Rambla (the main street), marble tiled Explanda de Espana boulevard, and the Baroque style Santa Maria Basilica are the top places to visit in Alicante.
The fascinating Canelobre Caves, the largest and the deepest caves in Spain are only 20 km from Alicante.
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