Spain is one of the most visited countries in Europe, and while its best-known spots are popular for a reason, it’s full of hidden gems too. Culture Trip has rounded up the best of both: From buzzing cities to quaint mountain villages, here are the top 15 places to visit in Spain.
Sun, sea and a soaring rocky peak make Alicante a prime coastal destination in Spain. But while many foreign tourists fly into the city’s airport and then leave for resorts further along the coast, Alicante is worth exploring in itself. The port city has a buzzing city beach with the dramatic Mount Benacantil as a backdrop; this rocky peak’s summit is home to Santa Bárbara Castle. Stroll by the city’s marina in the evening and then check out some tapas bars in the old town.
Spain’s second city is an eternal favourite with visitors due to its stunning Mediterranean location, iconic architecture and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Go gaga for Gaudí at the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, and check out some of the architect’s lesser-known works such as Casa Batlló. Make the trip up to Mount Tibidabo for sparkling views across the city to the sea beyond; rollercoaster lovers should visit the Tibidabo Amusement Park, opened in 1905, while the mountain is also a great place to cycle or hike.
This elegant city on the Basque Country coast is a must for foodies; the pintxo – a Basque version of tapas that usually includes delicious morsels balanced on crusty bread – is the city’s gastronomic calling card, and the bars of the Old Town lay out their pintxos on the bar tops so you can see everything on offer. The city’s Concha Beach is a beautiful, shell-shaped cove popular with families, while the nearby Zurriola beach is great for surfing.
The home of paella is a great place to sample what is perhaps Spain’s most famous dish. Head to a beachside restaurant, enjoy the rice dish for lunch (Spaniards never tend to eat the heavy dish for dinner) and wash it down with some Agua de Valencia, a potent local cava cocktail. Explore Valencia’s old town and don’t miss the incredible, spaceship-like Valencia City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic complex in the city’s former river bed that holds an aquarium, IMAX cinema, opera house and science museum.
When you think of Spain, you may well think of dry landscapes and sun-soaked beaches, but the northwestern region of Galicia looks more like Ireland than the typical Spanish stereotype. Its landscapes are lush and green, and the Celtic influence is strong: Galicia is full of myths and legends. The Romans considered its western Cape Finisterre cliffs to be the end of the world. Explore the region’s wilder reaches by visiting the Cies Islands, an archipelago nature reserve that is part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park.
Whether you like hiking, skiing or quaint mountain villages, the Spanish Pyrenees are the ideal destination for you. Timbered houses and hearty local food are on offer, while Spanish ski resorts are a great alternative to the busier and pricier resorts in the Alps.
The White Isle is famous for its clubs, but its natural beauty is underrated. Away from the mega-clubs, Ibiza is home to little fishing villages and quiet beaches, and in recent years it has become a popular destination for yoga and relaxation retreats. So whether you want to party all night or chill and rejuvenate, Ibiza is a great summer holiday destination.
Spanish wines are becoming more and more popular, and none is more well known or loved than Rioja. The region of the same name is home to hundreds of Spanish vineyards, many of which offer tours and wine tastings. Logroño, the capital of the region, is a great base and home to must-try tapas bars centred around Calle Laurel and its surrounding streets.