Spain, renowned for its beaches and sunny climes, is the most beautiful country in Southern Europe. Being a country of diverse landscapes, it holds a strong position in the world’s tourism. It’s famous for its rich history, culture, festivals, architecture, foods, and drinks as well. In this travel guide, we’ve presented the list of the best places to see in Spain. Hopefully, this list will make most of your Spain vacations.
Moreover, we’ve also listed some famous Spain foods that are must-to-try foods there. Furthermore, following the list of foods, there’s also a list of some free and fun things to do in Spain. Apart from that, we’ve also recommended a way for less costly accommodation in Spain if you’re traveling on a budget. But, before you get to know about the top places to see in Spain, you should know the best time to visit Spain.
Best Places to See in Spain
The following places are the top-rated tourist attractions in Spain.
1. The Prado and Paseo del Artes, Madrid
The Prado is one of the top art museums in the world. The world knows this museum for its richest collection. It’s even known as El Paseo del Arte which means Boulevard of the Arts.
The Prado Museum was expanded in 2007 and it doubled its exhibition space. In 2009, The Prado added 12 galleries to a house of collection of works by the artists of the late 19th century. The world’s largest collection of Spanish art resides in The Prado.
Apart from the riches Spanish collection, The Prado also showcases the works of other artists. There are paintings by Flemish and Dutch artists, and there’s Italian art as well. The medieval murals and retablos are the other highlights of the museum.
2. The Great Mosque of Cordoba (Mezquita)
If you’re into exploring fine pieces of architecture, The Great Mosque of Cordoba will be one of the best places to see in Spain for you. The Cordoba’s mosque, still known as Mezquita, is one of the worlds’ largest mosques. A Catholic cathedral has also been built now in the center of the mosque.
The construction of the mosque began in 785 and it was completed by 1000. For the construction of the mos2ue, building materials from Roman and Visigothic buildings were used. The aisles in the prayer hall are no fewer than 19. The mosque’s rounded Moorish arches and rows of columns line up in symmetrical patterns, no matter where you stand or which direction you look.
Apart from admiring this magnificent piece of architecture, you can also explore the old quarter, Juderia, around the mosque. This area gives you a glimpse of the past Moorish atmosphere. There are small squares, low whitewashed houses that have beautiful patios, and narrow, winding streets.
3. The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Granada
The Alhambra, apart from The Great Mosque of Cordoba, is another splendid example of Islamic art and architecture in western Europe.
The Alhambra is a complex that includes many buildings, walls, towers, gardens, and a mosque as well. Its beautiful pictures are nothing as compared to viewing this beautiful place live. The Nasrid palace here is the most iconic one and also the artistic highlight of Spain’s Islamic period.
The subtly detailed stone carvings, the splendid tile-lined ceilings, the exquisite filigrees, the peaceful courtyards, and the graceful arches of the Nasrid palace will make your heart feel delighted. So, the Alhambra is one of the best places to see in Spain.
4. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
This modern piece of architecture will take your breath away. An American architect Frank Gehry designed this magnificent building. He used blocks of limestone and undulating sheets of titanium. This splendidly beautiful building is a museum that showcases its collections of modern art and there are traveling exhibitions as well.
5. Plaza Mayor, Madrid
If you’re looking forward to having great fun in Spain, visit Plaza Mayor. It’s one of the best places to see in Spain when you want to have a combined experience of exploring the beauty and having fun.
Architect Juan de Herrera, builder of the Escorial, designed Plaza Mayor. It has made the life of Spain’s capital city, Madrid, very vibrant. Public entertainments like bullfights and chivalric tournaments take place here. Moreover, this place has served the purpose of the stage for various ceremonial events. The burning of heretics, the proclamation of a new king, and the canonization of saints are a few ceremonial events to name.
The plaza’s cafés and restaurants serve you the delicious food of the world. You can even devote your whole day to this plaza, as there’s so much to watch and have fun with.
6. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
If you want to explore the magnificent buildings of Spain, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is one of them. The cathedral is one of the extraordinary monuments of Early Romanesque architecture. It was built between 1060 and 1211. Its interior is still in its perfect Early Romanesque style, despite the Baroque transformation of the exterior that took place in the 16th to 18th centuries.
The west front of the cathedral is interestingly worth exploring. Here’s the Pórtico de la Gloria, which is one of the most impressive church facades in Spain. This triple doorway is one of the world’s most splendid as well as largest collections of Romanesque sculpture.
7. Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa, Seville
The Plaza de España is a majestic and stunning semi-circular pavilion surrounded by colonnades. The reason for building it was the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 to celebrate the regions of Spain.
It’s also one of the best places to see in Spain. There are beautiful panels of colored tiles that are set overlooking the pool. These panels represent each of the provinces of Spain. Moreover, there are bridges for crossing the long pool. These bridges over the pool add to the serenity of the place. It’s a popular tourist attraction. Tourists visit this place to have a boating experience or to just stroll around the beautiful place to admire it.
Opposite central Seville, alongside the river, there’s a park stretched upon miles of gardens and lawns. There are horse-drawn carriages that take you there or you can rent a paddle car as well. In the park, there are flower beds, giant trees, gazebos, pools, and a man-made rock mountain with a waterfall. There’s also an archeology museum at the far end of the park. Despite being a small museum, it’s a museum with a rich history. Don’t go there on Sundays, as it’s a quite busy day there.
8. The White Towns of Andalucía
If you want to see a blend of natural beauty and history, the White Towns of Andalucía is a place for you. Perched on the top of mountains that rise straight from the sea, are the iconic White Towns with their long and interesting history.
Among the White Towns, Arcos de la Frontera is the most picturesque one. There’s a plaza beside the towns’ Gothic Church. This plaza offers its viewers glorious views of the valley of orange, olive, and almond orchards. There are cafés as well as craft shops that sell ceramics and pottery. You can buy gifts for your loved ones or yourself as well. And to make visiting Arcos de la Frontera a complete one-day tour, there’s also a Moorish castle in the town.
9. Toledo’s Old City
This city is a blend of Renaissance, Moorish, and Gothic architecture. Its stunning and iconic scenery makes it one of the best places to see in Spain. Surrounded on three sides by the deep gorge of the Tagus River, this city is perched high on a granite hill.
This city demonstrates Spain’s history and it won’t be wrong to say that it’s kind of open-air museum. That’s why UNESCO has listed this place as part of mankind’s cultural heritage. The towns’ layout, which comprises narrow streets and blind alleys, pictures the Moorish past. There are also several convents, churches, and hospices to represent the architecture of the Christian period. The pictures you’ll take while exploring this old city will be some of the most amazing pictures on your tour to Spain.
10. Beaches of Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria, the largest of the Canary Islands, is well-known for its golden sand beaches. Playa Ingles at Maspalomas is the largest beach. It’s also one of the most visited beaches in Spain. There are restaurants, cafés, shops, play parks, and many other amusements for kids and adults alike. Divers love to dive here as the water of this coast is warm and clear.
There’s also a wide protected area of gigantic dunes here at the one end of the beach. These gigantic dunes are one of the natural wonders of the archipelago. They are 12 meters high and as they seem to be repeatedly shifting as if the sea and the wind are shaping them. Apart from admiring their beauty, you can also enjoy camel rides here.
11. El Teide, Tenerife
It’s the highest peak in Spain and one of Europe’s top natural wonders as well. There are several ways to explore El Teide. If you want to have some adrenaline adventures in Spain, it’s one of the best places to see in Spain for you. Drive or hike across the inside of the caldera and feel as if you’re diving into the center of the Earth. Because the caldera, that is the crater floor, is 12 miles in diameter. You can also climb El Teide’s cone. But if you’re not that energetic and still want the full experience, there’s an easy way to do it too. You can get close to the top by cable car ride, which will take eight minutes.
12. Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia
The brilliant Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed these amazing buildings. The beauty of these buildings is eye-captivating and breathtaking. These buildings have become one of the top-rated places in Spain.
Apart from the beauty of the buildings, aquarium, museums, and art venues in them also attract tourists. The aquarium here is the only building that Santiago Calatrava didn’t design. Instead, Félix Candela is its designer.
L’Oceanogràfic here is Europe’s largest oceanographic aquarium. This aquarium was built in the shape of a water lily. Moreover, the buildings in this aquarium are a dedication to various aquatic environments from the tropics to the poles.
So, the above list of the best places to see in Spain will hopefully make the most of your tour to Spain. However, besides knowing the top tourist attractions, one should also know what traditional foods one mustn’t miss. So, we recommend the following list of Spain’s traditional foods in Spain.
The Best Time to Visit Spain
Though you can find something enjoyable in Spain at any time of the year, the best time to visit is late spring and early autumn. Because from April to May as well as from September to October, Spain is lightly crowded and temperatures are pleasant as well.
Top 5 Traditional Foods to Eat in Spain
1. Jamón Iberico
Jamón is one of the most eaten Spanish foods. Spanish also name it ‘cured ham’. Legs of ham are traditionally salted. Then, they are hung up to dry to preserve them through the long winter months. Almost every restaurant and bar in Spain serve this air-dried and ruby red-salted Spanish cured ham hangs. But, Museo del Jamón in Madrid is the best spot to enjoy Jamón.
2. Paella Valenciana
Do you have plans to visit Valencia’s stunning buildings, which are also the best places to see in Spain? If so, you can make your day tour to these buildings more enjoyable by eating Paella Valenciana there. This most-eaten Spanish rice dish is served in two varieties, seafood paella, rabbit, and chicken. It is a must-try if you want to experience the rich taste of Spain.
3. Patatas bravas
These ‘brave potatoes’, or as they call in Spanish Patatas Bravas, cubed-shaped shallow fried potatoes. A spicy sauce is added to the end. This simple, but spicy traditional Spanish dish is worth trying. You can find it in the menu lists of almost every restaurant and bar as well.
It’s a tomato-based Andalusian soup and it’s served cold. That’s why, in summers, it’s one of the most eaten Spanish foods. The traditional way of drinking this soup is drinking it from the traditional Spanish bowl. Though another traditional way of drinking it is directly drinking from the glass, it might seem bizarre to you. In most restaurants and bars, it comes as an appetizer.
It’s a Spanish omelet. Though there are other ingredients included in it as well, it’s mostly made with chorizo, peppers, and onions. Many bars and restaurants add potatoes for additional taste. Before adding potatoes to the egg mixture, they are diced and lightly fried. Then the mixture is fried on high heat. If you find yourself looking for some traditional breakfast to eat there, you should try Tortilla.
Being aware of the best places to see in Spain and the best traditional Spanish dishes to eat isn’t enough. You should also know about some free as well as fun things to do in Spain. So that you won’t have to compromise on having fun in Spain even when you’re budget is running low.
Top 5 Free and Fun Things to do in Spain
We recommend the following list of top free and fun things to do in Spain.
1. Eat Free Tapas in Spain
A tapa is a snack or an appetizer in Spanish cuisine. Tapas come as both hot (like battered, fried baby squids: chapitos) and cold (like mixed cheese and olives). Many cities in Spain offer free tapas. But, Granada is the city that offers the best free tapas. Almost every restaurant and bar there offers free tapas. It’ll be hard to find one that doesn’t offer free tapas. Some bars even serve tapas with free cold-drink while many cost for the drink. In Granada, tapas can be anything from small burgers to spicy Jamon (cured hams). For food lovers, it will be amazing to have fun eating free food.
2. Join Free Walking Tours
History lovers can have fun exploring Spain’s history for free. Many cities in Spain organize free walking tours. A city’s free walking tour focus on the different aspects of the city. So, you can explore most of Spain’s history and culture for free!
3. Free Things to Do in Madrid
Being the capital city of Spain, Madrid has one of the best places to see in Spain. Since Madrid is rich in tourists attractions, exploring this city can be costly. But, there are some free things to do in Madrid as well.
Retiro Park, Gran Vía, the Temple of Debod, and Metro Chamberí are some of the interesting touristic sites of the city. You can stroll there for free. Moreover, many museums in Madrid offer free entry on Sundays. So, be sure you don’t miss out on this chance of exploring history.
4. Free Things to Do in Barcelona
If fortunately, you’re going to stay in Barcelona, you should be pleased with this opportunity. Because there’s never any shortage of free and fun things to do in Barcelona. You may get tired of exploring the city for free, but the city never gets tired of giving you free opportunities.
- You can explore the Roman remains of Barcelona for free. The sites for exploring these Roman remains include the Roman city wall, Roman aqueduct, Roman Domus, Roman necropolis, Temple of Augustus, City History Museum.
- As the location of Barcelona is between the sea and the mountains. You can easily find a place to climb here. And thus, you can have a magnificent view of the city from a hilltop for free.
- If you luckily visit Barcelona in September during La Mercè Festival, you shouldn’t miss the Magic Fountain Show. Watching and marveling at the show is free!
- The city has its different local food markets such as Sant Andreu, Poble Nou, and Gràcia. You can wander around the food markets for free. The foods here might not be free, but they will be in your budget.
- The artists or people who have a passion for arts can discover the city’s street art for free.
5. Free Museum Entry in Spain
As Spain has a rich history and culture, you won’t do justice with Spain if you don’t visit most of its museums. Visiting most of the museums in Spain can be free as well. Almost every museum in Spain lets you enter for free on specific holidays. We have listed these holidays below so that you could have fun for free on your Spain tour.
- May 2: Public Holiday (in Madrid only)
- May 18: International Museum Day
- September 24: Public Holiday (in Catalonia only)
- October 12: Hispanidad Day
- December 6: Constitution Day
How to Get a Less Costly Accommodation in Spain?
Did you know that you could stay in Spain with less money in your pocket? Most probably you didn’t. It will be surprisingly pleasing for you to know that there’s a way to stay in Spain on a budget. The great way to stay in Spain on a budget is Couchsurfing.
But what is Couchsurfing? You may know about Airbnb in which the natives offer the travelers to stay in their homes. In return, the travelers have to pay the home rent for the amount of time they stay in the respective home. Couchsurfing in Spain is similar to Airbnb. There’s just this dissimilarity that in some cases the couchsurfers don’t pay anything in return except their potential friendship. Yes, Spanish people are this warm and kind to open their homes to travelers for free.
In most of the case, you have to pay the rent. In either way, Couchsurfing is a better option than staying at hotels which definitely will cost you a lot. You’d rather spend the money on exploring the best places to see in Spain than spend it on hotels rents.