20 Must-Visit Attractions in Spain

Nowadays, the Royal Palace in Madrid is only used used by the Spanish royal family for state occasions
Nowadays, the Royal Palace in Madrid is only used used by the Spanish royal family for state occasions | © Mo Peerbacus / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jessica Jones
11 September 2020

Spain is one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, welcoming over 83 million visitors in 2019. While many are attracted to the country’s sun, sea and sangria, there is much more to the country than its (amazing) beaches. We take a look at some of Spain’s must-visit attractions.

Sagrada Família

Building, Church
Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona Spain
© iam_os / Unsplash
Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí began work on the Sagrada Familia in 1883 and it remains unfinished to this day. His other-worldly design, featuring his signature mosaics and modernist flourishes, is due to be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

The Alhambra

Building
View of Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain in Europe
© Rudolf Ernst / Alamy Stock Photo
The magnificent Moorish fortress sitting on a hill above Granada is one of Spain’s most-visited tourist sites for good reason. Its beautiful mosaics, marble fountains and intricate detailing are some of the best-preserved examples of Islamic architecture in the world.

The Golden Triangle of art

Art Gallery, Museum

Madrid’s golden triangle of art museums holds some of the world’s most famous works. From the Spanish masters of the Prado to Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica in the Reina Sofía and the eclectic collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza, you can’t leave Madrid without discovering its rich artistic heritage.

Guggenheim Museum

Museum, Building
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain, Europe
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Frank Gehry’s design for Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum has quickly become a classic of contemporary architecture since it was inaugurated in 1997. Gehry called upon the city’s industrial and seafaring heritage in the design of the museum, a giant, curved, boat-like structure made of titanium and glass.

Seville Cathedral

Cathedral, Mosque
Beautiful courtyard  of Real Alcazar palace in Seville, Spain. A unesco world heritage site
© WorldTraveler / Alamy Stock Photo
It is the largest Gothic church in the world, and has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1987, along with Seville’s Alcázar palace, originally built by the city’s Moorish kings. The Alcázar is renowned as one of the best examples of mudéjar architecture in Spain and is still used today by the royal family as their Seville base, making it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

City of Arts and Sciences

Building, Cinema, Museum, Opera House, Aquarium, Concert Hall, Architectural Landmark
A dried-out river bed in Valencia was given a new lease of life by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava when he built the City of Arts and Sciences, a cultural and entertainment complex comprising a series of domed glass buildings housing a planetarium, science museum and an open-air aquarium that is the largest in Europe.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Building, Historical Landmark

The largest royal palace in Western Europe is a great example of Baroque architecture and, unlike other European palaces, is not protected by a huge gate; you can walk right up to it. Nowadays, it is only used by the royal family for state occasions (they live in the more modest Zarzuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid), but it is open to the public.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral
Map View
The end point for the thousands of pilgrims who embark on the Camino de Santiago each year, Santiago’s cathedral is said to hold the remains of St James. Expect jubilant scenes in the square in front of the cathedral, as walkers take the very last few steps of their long journey.

Balearic Island

Natural Feature
Map View
Sailing boats in Cala Vadella, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Whether it’s laid-back Menorca, family-friendly Mallorca or hedonistic Ibiza, Spain’s Balearic Islands are a popular holiday destination for all ages. From partying the night away in Ibiza’s clubs to cycling around Mallorca and lazing on the islands’ incredible beaches, however you prefer to spend your holidays, the Balearics are the perfect location.

Pyrenees

Natural Feature
Map View
Morning in Sierra de Tendenera, Pyrenees mountains, Spain.
© Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo

Separating Spain from the rest of Europe, the mighty Pyrenees stretch nearly 500km (311mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea. A great place for hiking and other sporting activities, they are one of Spain’s most beautiful natural wonders.

Atmosphere:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly
These recommendations were updated on September 11, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.