Spain is a gorgeous, diverse country, with 50 provinces, 17 autonomous regions, and at least 5 languages. There are so many different and unique natural and architectural wonders, cultural heritage is very rich, and eating, drinking, and having fun is a very important part of a day in this amazing country. You must visit Spain at least once in a lifetime, and since there is so much to see, in this blog post we bring you the 5 most interesting cities in Spain.
Before we start, be sure to check out our Cultural Places platform and discover the amazing tours that will help you explore the world at your own pace.
Let’s explore some of its cities…
Madrid is the capital and the largest city of this beautiful country and the third-largest city in the EU, as well. It is packed both with modern and old architectural landmarks, parks, palaces, and museums – a true pleasure to explore.
When in Madrid, you must go to its main square Plaza Mayor – a centuries-old cobbled square that has seen everything from coronations to bullfights and beheadings. Enjoy the views of those amazing buildings and a great equestrian statue in its very center. While you’re there, sit in one of the nearby cafes or restaurants and enjoy people-watching, just like the locals do.
If you want to learn about the Spanish royal family, visit the Royal Palace (Palacio Real de Madrid), an official royal residence, that is today only used for official ceremonies. While you’re there, do not miss the Almudena Cathedral, which matches the Baroque exterior of the Palace. Also, visit Palacio de Cibeles that used to be the headquarters of Madrid’s post office until 2011 and today it is the home of Madrid’s City Council. It is an extraordinary building with an observation deck that gives you an amazing view of the city.
Madrid is known for its great food and nightlife. You have to explore Calle de Cava Baja that is a famous “tapas street” in Madrid for some amazing bites. Also, you must at least check out the oldest restaurant in the world – Sobrino de Botín that was founded in 1725. If you’re more into nightlife instead of fine dining, Madrid is a place for you. As a great cosmopolitan city, there are many clubs where you can have a great time.
Barcelona is one of our favorite cities in the world. Everything in Barcelona is perfect, the people, the streets, the food, the beaches… In Barcelona, you’ll eat the best Catalan food, have the best beach day, the craziest night out, and the most amazing city tour.
If you know anything about Barcelona it’s the magnificent architecture that is the legacy of genius architect Antonio Gaudi. His work kind of blends with nature and that is what makes it so special. You must explore Sagrada Familia – the Church of the Holy Family, Gaudi’s main work, the magnificent but unfinished cathedral.
Interested to read more about Barcelona’s architecture? Check out the blog on the following link: “Gaudí’s Barcelona: 10 Most Interesting Buildings in Barcelona”
There are a few houses that he designed, one of them is Casa Batlló who’s outside resembles the skeleton. Also, another thing that you have to see is Park Güell – a complex with extraordinary architectonic elements that are following the shape of nature. The Park also gives you an amazing view of Barcelona, you will simply love it.
Besides exploring Gaudi’s extraordinary work, there is a lot more to be seen in Barcelona, and you can read a bit more about it in one of our previous blog posts.
If you’re looking for a quieter and calmer place in Spain to visit, don’t go to Barcelona or Madrid – Granada is a place for you. Granada is the right destination if you want to experience the true spirit of Spain – the relaxed lifestyle, warm climate, spirited people, grand architecture, rich history, Flamenco shows, narrow streets lined with tapas bars.
Granada is set on the foothills of Sierra-Nevada and is home to the nomadic people Moors that left a huge impact on architecture in that part of Spain. The most famous landmark of Granada (and the most visited landmark in Spain) is the Alhambra palace, and a place you will definitely fall in love with.
While in Granada, you must wander through the streets of its oldest neighborhood – the former Arabic quarter of Albaicín. Its winding cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and jasmine-scented squares perches on the hillside the other side of the Darro River from the Alhambra. For the great view over the city and La Alhambra, and the best sunset-experience, visit Mirador de San Nicolás – the most visited viewpoint in Granada. After all the walking, visit one of the traditional Arab Baths, we went to Hammam Al Andalus, set in the heart of the Old Town, built over the ruins of Ancient Baths. You can enjoy their 5 pools, all different temperatures. Baths are decorated beautifully, there are mosaics and Arab lamps all over the place.
Seville, just like Granada and the whole of Andalusia region have always been an attraction for many different cultures – Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Christians, and when you walk through this city you can really feel the mix of all these cultures. There are a few really important and interesting landmarks in Seville, one of them is the Seville Cathedral, the largest gothic cathedral in the world, and the World Heritage Site. Right next to the Cathedral, you’ll see the Giralda bell-tower that used to be the minaret of a former mosque, it’s a bit hard to climb to its top, but the view is worth it. Another place you have to visit in Seville is the Real Alcázar – a palace complex that is still used by the Spanish royal family, built in the Mudéjar style (Moorish-inspired architecture for non-Islamic buildings).
These historic places are situated in Sevilla’s oldest neighborhood Santa Cruz, that used to be the Jewish neighborhood. Besides seeing those landmarks, you have to wander through its narrow, cobbled, colorful streets – don’t be afraid to get lost, there are tons of passages and they will all lead you to a new spot that you will love.
In case you didn’t know, Sevilla is the place where Flamenco was invented, so while you’re there you have to experience an authentic Flamenco show in the first Flamenco Museum in the world (Museo del Baile Flamenco) and learn a bit more about history and tradition of Sevilla.
Set on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba was the capital of Spain in the Roman and Moorish times. Even though it used to have 1 million inhabitants, today Cordoba is one calm city in Southern Spain with some of the best-preserved remnants of both the Moorish era and the reconquest of Spain. You must wander through the cobbled streets of the Jewish Quarter or the enigmatic ruins of the Medina Azahara just outside the city.
The top thing to see in the Jewish quarter is the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (Mesquita de Córdoba), which was first a mosque and later was turned into a church. Built between the 8th– 10th century, it is one of the earliest examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. Also, the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos with its great gardens is a must-see.
After you admire these gorgeous landmarks, keep exploring the Jewish quarter and its beautiful white homes with blue flower pots. Be sure to check out its beautiful Calleja de las Flores (little street of flowers), it is indeed fragrant and colorful at any time of year. The rest of the Old Town is also spectacular as it is one of the largest old towns in Europe and is, of course, protected by UNESCO. It is well-known for its patios, large interior courtyards that offered very much needed shade.
We can’t wait to go back to Spain and, hopefully, we made you at least consider visiting this extraordinary country. Trust us, you’ll want to move there when you experience its beauty.