The Best Towns And Cities In Spain To Visit This Year

Photo of Lucia Gonzalez
9 February 2017

Spain is Barcelona, Madrid, paella, tapas and sol y playa, but it is also those smaller – and sometimes unknown – towns and cities such as Tarragona or Cádiz, spoon dishes, pintxos or castells. Ready to get to know the hidden side of Spain? ¡Allá vamos!

View of The Cathedral | © Lucia Gonzalez


This maritime city fascinated the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Moors. Today, its white sand beaches and its yellow-domed cathedral will fascinate you. The impressive views from the Torre Tavira and the sunset from La Caleta, the most popular beach in the city, are not to be missed. Los Carnavales de Cádiz is one of the best-known carnivals in the whole country, apparently inspired by The Venice Carnival. The festival takes place over ten days in February, when festive costume local music groups take control of the city.

View of la Giralda, a tower attached to the Cathedral | © Destinia


The capital of Andalusia is mostly known for its high temperatures – in Summer 40°C is considered normal – and Triana, the most popular neighborhood situated on the west bank of the Guadalquivir River. However, it has more to offer. The Gothic Cathedral is outstanding and a contrast to La Giralda, a tower built in the 12th century by the Moors. La Giralda will offer you the best views of the city… after 35 ramps (they built ramps instead of stairs in order to be able to climb up on horseback). La Plaza de España is an outstanding and enormous square built in the 2oth century for the Ibero-American Exposition. It includes a great amount of tiled walls representing different Spanish regions. In April, Seville is all decked out for La Feria de Abril. On the first day, at midnight, the city is illuminated (el alumbrao) and during six consequent days attendees dance Sevillanas (Sevillian flamenco songs) and enjoy local food and drink in casetas. Bullfighting also plays an important role, lately leading to a nation-wide debate.

El Palmeral | © Palmas Mas


Despite its appearance as a mid-size town (almost 230,000 inhabitants) near Alicante, Elche has more history than many big cities. Elche (Elx in Valencian) attracted the Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moorish, and every culture left their imprints. El Palmeral, planted by the Carthaginians, is a huge orchard of over 200,000 palm trees. El Castillo de Altamira, built in the 15th century, hosts La Dama de Elche, a stone sculpture from the 4th century. However, it is just a replica; the original sculpture is exhibited in Madrid. In August, the whole region celebrates Los Moros y Cristianos, a typical festival commemorating the battles between the Moors and the Christians. In Elche, they recreate the Christian Reconquest with parades, dances and music.

Great views of the coast and the Amphitheatre | © Lucia Gonzalez


Always under the shadow of Barcelona, Tarragona is not one of the best known Spanish cities. However, it is a potential tourist destination thanks to its proximity to the coastline, as well as its Roman ruins. For instance, the amphitheater is well-preserved and near the beach, featuring a wonderful landscape. With regards to religious art, La Catedral is outstanding and features an unexpected cloister. If you want to have a look at some splendid views, then you can’t miss El balcó del Mediterrani. There, you can see the port, the amphitheater and la Platja del Miracle, one of the best-known beaches in the province. According to local custom, touching its railings gives good luck. The most important celebration in Tarragona is Santa Tecla. It takes place on the 23rd of September, when parades, fireworks, castells and local music fill the city with joy. Castells, also known as ‘human castles’ in English, are human towers built all over Catalonia during special occasions or festivals. Castellers can be of all ages, but the higher they go, the younger they are.

La Playa de la Concha, the icon of the city. | © Lucia Gonzalez

San Sebastián

Voted the European Capital of Culture in 2016, San Sebastián is a top-quality destination. Situated between France and Spain, it is known for La Playa de la Concha, a well-known white sand beach, which stretches out for a kilometer and a half; and The San Sebastián International Film Festival, the most important Spanish film festival, which takes place annually in September. The regional speciality, the pintxos, are small snacks similar to tapas, usually accompanied by a glass of wine.

La Plaza Mayor | © Lucia Gonzalez


La Universidad de Salamanca has gained an enviable reputation, attracting students from around the world. The façade of the university hides a surprise: a frog. People usually spend a lot of time trying to find it due to its small size. However, it is worth the effort as finding the animal is supposed to bring luck. Moreover, La Celestina, a renowned play written in 1499, is said to have taken place there. La Plaza Mayor, of Baroque style, is the icon of the city, and it is always crowded with students and tourists. La Casa de las Conchas is another important and original building, decorated with more than 300 shells, symbols of the order of Santiago. La Nochevieja Universitaria takes place in December every year, when students have to eat 12 sweets in order to celebrate the new year with their classmates before going back home.

The city centre | © ESN Murcia


Also known as ‘The Imperial City,’ Toledo used to be home to Muslims, Jews and Christians, who co-existed peacefully for almost two centuries. El Greco, a well-known painter that spent part of his life in Toledo, is the icon of the city. If you ever go to Toledo, you can’t miss his most famous painting El Entierro del Conde Orgaz (The Burial of the Count of Orgaz). Its city center is also outstanding, featuring beautiful structures like the Gothic Cathedral or the synagogue, la Sinagoga del tránsito.

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