“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Lao Tzu
Most people would love to go on a big trip. Why not visit the Iberian peninsula? From the Mediterranean coast to the Portuguese border, plenty of tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to destinations in Spain. Whether you do a pilgrimage to Santiago de la Compostela or just fancy travelling to Spain to learn Spanish, here are the most beautiful cities in the country and where you should go when you visit Spain.
In the heart of the country, Madrid is the centre of Spain. As a capital city, it’s full of big streets and traffic jams. Fortunately for you, it’s also home to beautiful parks like El Retiro Park. You can also discover great museums like the Prado, where you can see works from Dalì, Goya, and Velasquez, as well as the Reina Sofia museum where you can see Picasso’s Guernica. Like most other countries in the world, the capital of Spain is top of the list of places to visit in the country.
If you head to Barcelona in the height of summer, you’ll probably find more tourists than locals. For the most part, visiting Barcelona outside of summer is a good way to avoid crowds and sweltering heat. While Barcelona is next to the sea and has a beach, it’s still very hot in the summer. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the city streets, the Sagrada Familia, and Catalan art. With Barcelona being in the heart of Catalonia, there's a lot to differentiate it from the other cities in Spain. For one, both Catalan and Spanish are spoken in the region so get used to seeing words you didn't come across in your Spanish lessons. Secondly, the Catalan region has its own culture, history, art, and identity, giving you something new to discover if you think you've seen everything Spain has to offer.
Seville is certainly one of the first cities people think of when talking about Spain. As the capital of the region of Andalusia, this is one of the most beautiful cities with its Moorish architecture such as the Royal Alcazar. After visiting the Plaza de España, head over to the archaeological site Italica or the María Luisa Park. What better way to enjoy the sunshine in the south of Spain. Finally, there’s nothing better than spending the evening in a tapas bar or watching a flamenco show. If there was a single city that could represent what most people think of when they think of Spain, Seville would be it.
Cordoba is another city in Andalusia that had a tumultuous history. It was an important city in the Roman Empire before becoming an Islamic city in the Middle Ages. You can see its history represented by its most famous building, the Mezquita, which was built in 784. There are also Byzantine influences in this building. The interesting thing about this building is that it was originally a mosque before becoming a Cathedral. If you're heading to visit the Mezquita, you should definitely make your way via the Calleja de las Flores, arguably the most famous street in all of Cordoba. With the Plaza de la Corredera, Viana Palace, Plaza de la Tendillas, you won’t be bored walking around Cordoba. This is a beautiful city that really deserves more attention than it often gets.
In the heart of Spain, Salamanca is a treasure trove of architectural delights. Its sandstone buildings make the city look like its made of gold and resulted in the city being nicknamed The Golden City. These buildings are particularly impressive when viewed either during sunrise or sunset. Spending a few days or weeks in Salamanca is a great way to get the most out of this city’s student vibe. You’ll find one of the country’s oldest universities here. Both Spanish and international students spend their evenings having a drink at the Plaza Mayor. Salamanca is listed as a world heritage site and is an unmissable destination in Spain.
If you love paella, you’ll love Valencia. In fact, you’ll find the best paella in all of Spain here as that's where the dish was originally created. Of course, paella isn’t the only reason to go to Valencia, though. The city is famous for the City of Arts and Sciences. The city is also home to a mix of small streets, modern western architecture, and the Mercado Central where you can find local produce. Similarly, the city is famous the Fallas festival, when local artisans craft magnificent floats before burning them at the end of the festival. Only the floats that are deemed worthy of Fallas Museum are spared from the flames. Make sure you include a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences in your travel budget.
Girona isn’t Spain’s most famous city but its historic charm makes it one of Spain’s most beautiful. This town has plenty of great places to walk around. You should definitely see the “Tapestry of Creation” in the cathedral at the top of 90 steps. You can also enjoy the view from here. The city is most famous for its historic ruins that line the streets. Roman city walls, Gothic churches, the blend of eras makes walking around Girona like travelling through time.
As a town that was home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Toledo has earned its name as The City of Three Cultures. This mix of cultures also means that you can visit synagogues, cathedrals, churches, mosques, and also Roman buildings. It’s the difference between all these things that makes Toledo so fascinating to visit. With so many architectural and artistic wonders, you really have to spend several days in Toledo. Tourists visiting Madrid often take some time out to make their way to Toledo and they're rarely disappointed. Find out more about accommodation in Spain.
Don’t forget that the Canary Islands are also part of Spain. In the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are a popular destination for foreign tourists. Las Palmas is arguably one of the most beautiful cities. It’s famous for being a destination visited by Christopher Columbus as he set off on his journey to India. We recommend that you visit the Casa de Colón, a museum dedicated to the man. Just like any other big city, though, Las Palmas is sometimes too busy to enjoy. Try to visit outside of the busy periods to really make the most of the city and its beaches. Improve yourself with a Spanish lessons London here on Superprof.
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca, on the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, is not just a city for parties and nightclubs. While these are all very popular, there is another way to enjoy the city if you head out of the centre. The old town (Casco Antigo) has its quiet spots where you can find charming small streets by the sea. Don’t forget to visit the breathtaking Gothic Santa Maria Cathedral while you're there, too!
Medieval cities always draw in crowds of people looking to learn more about the age of knights. Both adults and children can enjoy Granada. This Andalusian city is home to plenty of monuments including the world-famous Alhambra. The Albaicín neighbourhood is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see Granada’s Arab and Catholic history in its streets. As you walk around the city, you can enjoy Medieval, Renaissance, and Western architecture. Granada is also a great place to attend exhibitions, festivals, and concerts, too. Find out more about Spain's best monuments.
Malaga is a popular destination for foreign tourists and Spaniards looking to enjoy the sun all year long. However, the beautiful Spanish beaches aren’t the only reason to visit the city. In Malaga itself, you can also enjoy museums, especially those dedicated to Picasso since he was born in the city. While the coastline around Malaga has been welcoming tourists from all over the world, the city itself is also starting to become a popular destination for tourists looking to see an authentic Spanish side to the Costa del Sol. The combination of typical beach getaways and cultural tourism make Malaga an ideal place to spend excellent vacations! That said, there are also plenty of beautiful villages in every corner of Spain, too. Whether you're in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalucia, or in Ibiza, there are plenty of places to visit. Before you go to Spain, you might want to learn some Spanish (or Catalan). Just do a quick search for Spanish tutors on Superprof and you'll find the right teacher for you in no time!
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