Best cities to visit in Spain
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The best cities to visit in Spain

Thinking of exploring another part of Europe? If so, Spain is bursting with unique cultural experiences. In this article, I share five of the best cities to visit in Spain to experience the country’s diverse culture. 

Spain, with its vibrant history, diverse regions, and passionate people, is a treasure trove of cultural experiences. From traditional flamenco dancing in Andalusia to modern science, tantalising foods to try, and even an avant-garde art scene in Barcelona, your time in Spain will be nothing short of immersive. If you’re ready to see the most authentic parts of the country – but still want to find all your retail therapy and fine wine – here’s my guide to five of the best cities to visit in Spain for a cultural break.

 

Quick tips for visiting Spain

Get this: an Alhambra and Nasrid Palaces tour in Granada on a small guided tour to experience some of Spain’s most impressive architecture.

Don’t miss: a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Barcelona. Experience all the very best landmarks that Barcelona has to offer in a convenient bus tour of the city.

Bucket list experience: a live flamenco show at the theatre. Experience dance, songs, and the passion of world-class performers.

Flights: find the cheapest flights to Spain with Skyscanner.

Stay: Find the most affordable hotels in Spain on Booking.com.

Málaga

Málaga, nestled along the sun kissed shores of the Costa del Sol, is often overlooked by first-time visitors to Spain. It is however, a captivating cultural hub that seamlessly marries history, art, and a vibrant local scene, as well as one of the best cities to visit in Spain. As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, Málaga serves an important role as a centre for artistic culture and local traditions. You’ll find the Picasso Museum, showcasing the artistic evolution of its famed native son. The gentle pace of life in this city is best enjoyed on two feet. You’ll discover historic treasures like the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, and the Roman Theatre, which offer a glimpse into Málaga’s rich past, while the modern Pompidou Centre adds a contemporary touch to its cultural landscape.

Málaga’s charming Old Town has narrow streets that lead to lively plazas and tapas bars, providing an authentic Andalusian experience. Málaga’s culinary scene, influenced by its coastal location, is delicious, with fresh seafood and traditional dishes filling the local markets. Beyond its reputation as a beach destination, Málaga invites visitors to explore its artistic heritage, historical landmarks, and vibrant atmosphere. Plenty of classy hotels and boutique B&Bs can be found in the city, but I think that booking a villa in Spain is the best way to explore the classic lifestyle.

Seville

The capital of Andalucía, Seville is a historic culmination of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. One of the best cities to visit in Spain, you’ll discover narrow, winding streets, set between magnificent religious buildings and palaces. It’s enough to keep any tourist intrigued by the sheer grandeur of this city! Seville gives off a passionate and flamboyant spirit, and when visiting, you must immerse yourself in the magical rhythms of traditional flamenco at small and intimate venues like the Tablao El Arenal. Explore the majestic Real Alcázar, a UNESCO World Heritage site blending Moorish and Christian architectural influences. It was first developed as a fort in 913 AD, and was also one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. Finally, don’t miss the historic Barrio Santa Cruz with its charming narrow streets, vibrant squares, and traditional tapas bars, providing an authentic taste of Andalusian culture.

Granada

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Granada is another city in the region of Andalucía. As well as being a city that tells tales of its Moorish past, it’s home not only to world-renowned establishments including the Universidad de Granada, but also to a rich history, culture, and fantastic entertainment spaces. You’ll find the Alhambra in the city, a beautiful palace and ancient Moorish fortress. Open for guided tours and free visits, it’s a testament to Granada’s architectural brilliance. When visiting, don’t miss the city’s important cultural centres including the Flamenco Museum which offers an insight to the city’s roots.

Wander through the Albayzín, a maze of narrow streets adorned with white-washed buildings and blooming bougainvillea. The Sacromonte neighborhood, known for its cave houses and flamenco performances, adds an extra layer of cultural richness to this enchanting city. Due to its southerly position in the country, Granada experiences hot, sunny summers – another reason why it’s one of the best cities to visit in Spain. Daily average temperatures average over 30°C from June to August, so it’s make sure to keep safe in the sun.

Valencia

In recent years, Valencia has confirmed its spot as one of the top cultural hubs in Spain. Located on the eastern coast of Spain, the city seamlessly blends futuristic architecture with a deep-rooted cultural heritage. The City of Arts and Sciences is just one area of the city that offers a unique cultural experience. A futuristic complex designed by Santiago Calatrava, it’s a visual spectacle housing an opera house, a science museum, and an aquarium. There are multiple festivals throughout the year too, like Las Fallas which reinforce Valencia as one of the best cities to visit in Spain.

Dive into the historic Central Market to savour Valencia’s culinary delights, including paella, a dish born in this region. The historic old town, with its medieval architecture and lively squares, completes the cultural panorama of Valencia. If you fancy getting messy, just an hour inland from Valencia, the small town of Buñol is host to La Tomatina, an incredible local festival with one objective: to throw tomatoes at each other! By the end of the day, the streets are painted red with pulp.

Barcelona

Lastly, no trip to Spain would be complete without a few days in Barcelona. Arguably the most iconic Spanish city for tourists and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is known for its bustling streets and Gaudí’s colourful gothic architecture. You’ll spot the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia and the surreal Parc Güell. It’s a haven for art and architecture enthusiasts. On every corner you turn, you’ll see a different architectural style – the city seamlessly blends traditional and modern Catalan culture.

If you’re staying in Barcelona for longer than a weekend, it’s worth getting to know the city well. Explore the historic Gothic Quarter, home to narrow medieval streets and the majestic Barcelona Cathedral. The city’s contemporary art scene is showcased in the striking buildings of the Raval district. You could hike to the top of Carmel Hill to stroll around Parc Güell but, if you’re visiting on a weekend, you might need to book tickets in advance. To stroll around the Sagrada Familia and wonder at the sunshine streaming through mesmerising stained glass, you’ll also need to book before you go.

Spain’s cultural hubs are like pages from a captivating story, each revealing a chapter of the country’s rich and diverse heritage. Whether you’re captivated by Gaudí’s whimsical creations in Barcelona, swept away by the flamenco rhythms in Seville, or enchanted by the Moorish wonders of Granada, each city invites you to be a part of Spain’s cultural tapestry. So, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders that these best cities to visit in Spain have to offer.


That’s my guide to the best cities to visit in Spain! Are there any others that you prefer? If you have any questions about visiting any of these cultural hubs, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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