Spain is one of the most cultural and historic countries that you could choose to visit in Europe, but it’s not all just about the cliche sun, sand, sea, sangria, and siestas that you hear about, rather, this is one of the most surprisingly diverse destinations in the world.
From the cultured streets of Madrid to the touristy climes of Barcelona, we’ve put together some of the most beautiful places in Spain to inspire you to travel across this spectacular country.
Enjoy the holiday islands of the Canaries or Mallorca, uncover ancient Moorish in Granada, or soak up the Basque traditions and heritage in Pamplona. There’s a lot to see and even more to do.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Spain (Travel Guide)
21 Most Beautiful Places in Spain
Madrid is the understated capital of Spain, and it’s a cultural feast the likes of which few other cities in the country can match.
For some reason though, Madrid is often left out of many tourists’ travel plans, with people preferring the sunny avenues of Barcelona or the coastal climes of the southern coast to the often chaotic streets of the capital.
In Madrid, you can see the elegant sight of the Royal Palace, where inside the huge walls of Europe’s largest palace, you can find a treasure trove of paintings and artwork.
If you love football, then catching an action-packed game at the Bernabeu Stadium to see Real Madrid in action is a must, while you can also just sit back in a square, watching the world go by as you enjoy the local cafe culture of Madrid.
Plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places in Spain with our 3 Day Madrid Guide.
Our top recommended tours in Madrid:
- Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour
- Madrid Historical Walking Tour with Food Tasting and Dinner
- Old Town Madrid Gourmet Tapas and Wine Tasting Walking Tour
- Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Barcelona is one of Spain’s most iconic cities, but just remember, this is one of the busiest destinations for tourism in the world and you’ll need to be ready to deal with the crowds at all the beaches and attractions.
There’s a good reason for the crowds though, and it shouldn’t deter you from visiting, because Barcelona really does have it all.
Start your day on Las Ramblas, as you take in the famous, tree-lined boulevard that leads to the coast. Pop into the huge, sprawling La Boqueria Market to overindulge in local eats, before hitting up all the Gaudi sights in the city, from the still under construction Sagrada Familia to the unusual Casa Mila.
Again, if you are a football fan, then watching Barcelona play at the Nou Camp is an unmissable experience.
Plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places in Spain with our 3 Days in Barcelona Guide.
Our top recommended tours in Barcelona:
- Priority Access: Best of Barcelona Tour Including Sagrada Familia
- Tapas and Wine Experience Small-Group Walking Tour
- The Complete Gaudi Tour: Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Park Guell & Sagrada Familia
- Barcelona Half-Day Bike Tour
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In recent years, Seville has become the rising star of Spanish tourism, because it’s one of the best places to visit in Spain. Why it’s taken so long for Seville to emerge on the tourist scene is a mystery, because the city has always had an incredible amount to offer visitors.
Seville is one of the largest cities in the country and it’s home to one of the best-preserved Old Towns in Spain. The city dates back to Roman times, but in the historic architecture, you can find influences from the Moorish period, as well as Castillian too.
Seville was at the center of Spain’s Empire and grew rich from the wealth brought back from the New World. Make sure you visit the iconic Plaza de Espana, the huge Alcazar – the Royal Palace – and the Archive of the Indies, which stored the history of the Spanish conquests in the Americas.
Our top recommended tours in Seville:
- Private Monumental Seville Walking Tour
- Flamenco Show at Tablao Flamenco El Arenal in Seville
- Alcázar of Seville Early Access with Optional Cathedral
- Triana Gourmet Tapas Tour in Seville
4. Lloret de Mar
Found along the Costa Brava in Catalonia, this resort town is halfway between Barcelona and Girona and offers great beaches and a laidback lifestyle to holidaymakers.
It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain if you are looking for sun, sea, and sand, as you’ll find bucket loads of all three in Lloret de Mar.
It’s a small place, and aside from the ruins of a medieval castle and a few museums and galleries focusing on local history and art, the real reason to visit is for the coastline, with many long, sandy beaches found within easy walking distance of the center.
If you love nightlife, then you’ll easily find yourself hanging out in Lloret de Mar to enjoy the busy bars that are open until late.
Our top recommended tours in Lloret de Mar:
Lleida is a hidden gem in the Pyrenees, found in the mountains of northern Catalonia, close to the border with France.
Lleida can trace its origins back to the first Roman invasions of Hispania, and there’s plenty of history waiting to be discovered here, and few other tourists around to get in the way of your sightseeing.
More than this though, Lleida makes for a great base from which to explore the Pyrenees, and if you are the outdoor type, then this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain.
In winter, you can take to the nearby ski slopes for some winter sports, while the rest of the year, the rugged countryside offers excellent hiking.
Pamplona is a city that’s well known for its infamous Running of the Bulls festival, an event immortalized by the writer Ernest Hemingway in his Spanish novels. While the Fiesta is a once in a lifetime event to be part of, there’s much more to the city than just this one festival.
This is the heart of the Basque region of Spain, and you’ll find the culture, language, and politics to be very, very different from anywhere in the country.
The Old Town has a well-preserved string of Medieval walls surrounding it, you can visit the Museum of Navarra to learn more about the history, and you can eat some of the best Basque-influenced food in Spain.
Our top recommended tours in Pamplona:
- Bull Run from a Balcony & Pamplona City Tour
- Pamplona Wine tasting Travel Package
- Pamplona Wellness Travel Package
Bilbao might be under-visited, but it’s the largest city in northern Spain. Bilbao is another Basque hub, being also the largest city in Basque Country, and you’ll find this to be a cultural delight waiting to be explored.
Historically, Bilbao was always a bustling port on the Bay of Biscay, but the real draw today is the excellent Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, which has seen the city rise to cultural prominence within Spain.
As well as this, you can soak up the Basque culture, watch the most famous Basque football team, Athletic Bilbao, play at their home ground, and enjoy the authentic local food and drink.
Our top recommended tours in Bilbao:
- Bilbao Classic & Modern
- Bilbao Private City Tour with Hotel Pick-up
- Private Tour: Guggenheim Bilbao Museum
8. Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are a classic holiday destination, and they are definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain. The collection of small islands are found way out in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Morocco than they are to the Spanish mainland.
Aside from the food and language, the islands are very different from the Spanish mainland too.
The Canaries are known for their volcanic scenery, with black sand beaches mingling with white sand beaches along the coast, and epic mountain peaks in the interior.
If you are looking to adventure by day and relax in the evenings, then either Tenerife or Gran Canaria are perfect, offering both action-packed activities and excellent resorts.
Our top recommended tours in the Canary Islands:
- Tenerife 3-Hour Luxury Sailboat Tour with Bath and Food On Board
- 3 Volcanoes Guided Walking Tour from Lanzarote
- Mt. Teide and Masca Valley Tour in Tenerife
- Gran canaria tour with Rum tasting
Island lovers won’t want to miss out on visiting Mallorca, one of the best places to visit in Spain. The largest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, Mallorca has something for everyone.
Party lovers will want to head to the infamous clubs of Magaluf, while those looking for a relaxing beach getaway will find plenty of secluded holiday resorts and a lot of white sand and bright sunshine.
The underrated city of Palma has a lot of historic attractions to visit, while there are even a few surviving remnants of prehistoric settlements found across the island, as well as Roman ruins and Moorish architecture.
Plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places in Spain with our Mallorca planning guide.
Our top recommended tours in Mallorca:
- Palma de Mallorca Bike Tour with Optional Tapas
- Mountains, Villages, and a Hidden Beach Day Tour from Palma
- Mallorca in One Day Sightseeing Tour with Boat Ride and Vintage Train
- North Of Mallorca Highlights: Guided Day Tour
If you are interested in seeing first hand the Moorish legacy prevalent in Andalucia, then Granada is one of the best places to visit in Spain. The charming city is home to some of the best-preserved examples of Moorish architecture, much of dating it dating back hundreds of years before the Reconquista.
The Alhambra Palace is the highlight of any trip to Granada, built by the Moors in the medieval era and surrounded by pleasant gardens. You can explore the Arab Quarter, explore the old bazaars and immerse yourself in the local history.
Valencia is found on the Mediterranean Sea, in the south-east of Spain, and it’s a wonderful city to visit if you are looking to experience a more unique side of the country.
Valencia is known by many as the futuristic city because it’s the site of a hypnotic skyline complete with modern designs and spaceship-like buildings. The old town though is resplendent with history, while in Valencia, you’re never too far from a beach or a great local restaurant either.
Our top recommended tours in Valencia:
- City of Arts & Sciences Tour with Rooftop Wine Tasting and Tapas
- Authentic Valencian Paella Cooking Class
- Valencia Private Walking Tour
- Valencia: Food Walking Tour Including Mercado de Colon Visit and Wine Tasting
Malaga is one of the largest cities in Andalusia, but most people breeze through the airport on their way to the beach resorts along the nearby Costa del Sol.
If you don’t hang around though, you’re missing out on one of the best places to visit in Spain, and revitalized Malaga is slowly seeing the resurgence in tourism it deserves.
Walk through the old streets of the city to explore one of the most ancient settlements in Europe, as Malaga dates back almost 3000 years. This was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and you’ll find plenty of art and culture to soak up when you’re not enjoying the local bars and restaurants.
Our top recommended tours in Malaga:
- Malaga Segway Tour
- Malaga Tapas and Wine Tour
- Malaga City Private Walking Tour including Alcazaba Fortress
- Malaga Tapas Walking Tour
Located in the province of Huesca, Ainsa is a medieval hilltop village whose rugged buildings and 17th-century castle are hewn from uneven stone and hold La Peña Montañesa for a backdrop.
The oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain, Cádiz sits on a peninsula along the Costa de la Luz, and features stunning coastal city views along with Roman relics and the cupola of Cádiz Cathedral.
15. Santiago de Compostela
Famously known as the final destination for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia, and its standout feature is its Gothic cathedral, a World Heritage Site and reputed burial place of St. James.
Also in the province of Huesca, Alquézar is a tiny village with a population of 301 built on a limestone outcrop of Eocene age – i.e pretty old. The local area features ancient limestone caves with prehistoric paintings.
17. Baix Emporda
Just a day trip from the bustle of Barcelona, Baix Emporda is replete with medieval villages, shimmering beaches, and lush rolling hills. Be sure to stop by the town of Begur and wander the Moorish streets.
18. Santillana del Mar
Commonly known as the town of three lies—it’s neither a Saint (Santi), nor flat (llana), nor by the sea (Mar), Santillana del Mar’s name is actually derived from Santa Juliana whose remains are held in the Romanesque Colegiata, a Benedictine monastery.
Situated at the confluence of the Huerva, the Gállego, and the Ebro River, Zaragoza is famous for its folklore, gastronomy, and the baroque 17th century Pilar Basilica. Be sure to visit the Cathedral of Teruel, featuring the World Heritage inscribed Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon.
20. Salamanca, Castile y Léon
Castile y Léon is Spain in its most bare and natural form, with wide-open plains and towering mountains. It is also home to the pre-Roman city of Salamanca, whose Old City is a World Heritage Site and features a 12th-century cathedral and stunningly varied architecture.
Sitting in the hills of Cadiz province, Grazalema is a small town made up entirely of pueblos blancos, which stand out starkly with the surrounding rock-strewn mountains.
With plenty of hiking trails in the local area, there is no shortage of stunning views if you like walking.
Recommended Multi-Day Spain Tours:
- G Adventures Spain & Portugal on a Shoestring: Take an incredible 10 days to experience the best travel highlights of Spain and Portugal: art, culture, food (hello tapas!), and nightlife. Leave the typical big tour bus behind and reach these unforgettable destinations by train. All aboard for some serious (and life-changing) city-hopping through Iberia.
- G Adventures Discover Moorish Spain: Discover the history and romance of Andalucia on this eight-day trip to five amazing cities, with plenty of free time to discover them. Explore Madrid’s famous museums, walk the cobblestoned streets of El Greco’s Toledo with a local historian, take a flamenco lesson in Granada, and embrace the region’s Moorish spirit in Granada and Córdoba. Some 1,300 years in the making, the fascinating culture of Moorish Spain will be sure to leave you wanting more.
- G Adventures Best Of Southern Spain: With some destinations, you always have to compromise on something, whether it’s the cuisine, history, or just things to do. Luckily, in southern Spain, there’s no such thing. This tour covers the major highlights of Andalucia (southern Spain): the ornate palace of Alhambra in Granada, Córdoba (an architectural mainstay of Islamic culture), and the Andalucian capital of Seville, home of flamenco dancing. Pair it all up with time in Madrid and Barcelona, and you’ll never run out of fun things to do, eat, or see.
- G Adventures Classic Spain: In Spain, a country that’s filled with flavor, artistry, and passion, there’s no such thing as going halfway. Start in the south, where the Andalucian capital of Seville will introduce you to the most firey of dances — the flamenco. Head north and get a taste of Spain’s Basque and Catalan provinces: vibrant Barcelona, unhurried San Sebastián, Logroño’s famous cuisine, cosmopolitan Madrid, and the mighty Pyrenees. Each region of Spain has its own distinct character, style, and language to offer. Get it all here.
More on Spain:
- 6 of the Best Hikes in Spain
- 10 Things to Do in Ibiza Besides Drinking and Partying
- The Best Madrid Restaurants and Museums
- 12 Easy Day Trips from Madrid
- 10 Best Day Trips from Barcelona That are Worth the Trip
- The Best of Costa Brava Spain
- Hiking Camino de Ronda From Lloret to Tossa