A Local’s Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Spain

Spain is one of the most visited countries in Europe, and there is no doubt why. Travelers can enjoy different activities and attractions, from visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and well-known art galleries and museums to seeing incredible landscapes and indulging in delicious tapas.

With so many options, it is challenging to choose your Spanish destination, but this list of the best places to visit in Spain, from a local, can help!

Seville: A Budget-Friendly City Break

Plaza de Espana Seville, Spain
Photo Credit: [@AnibalTrejo/DepositPhotos]

Seville is one of the most vibrant cities in Southern Spain. The capital of Andalusia will certainly not disappoint. You can enjoy a budget-friendly city break while visiting emblematic buildings and eating delicious tapas.

When visiting Seville, you can’t miss Plaza de España, a beautiful square built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929; since then, it has become one of the most visited squares in Spain. Its architectural styles and atmosphere make it an unmissable spot in Seville.

In addition to Plaza de España, other important buildings for those who love history and culture are the Cathedral of Seville, one of the oldest in Spain, and the Alcazar of Seville, a stunning palace with gardens.

For gorgeous panoramic views of the city, head to Setas de Sevilla. This viewpoint is incredible, but even better at sunset.

Malaga: Walkable and Well-Connected

Malaga, Spain
Photo Credit: [@sepavone/DepositPhotos]

If you are looking for a vacation that combines sightseeing and relaxation, Malaga is one of the best places to visit in Spain.

Although it used to be seen as an airport city, it has become increasingly popular among travelers as there is so much to do in this Andalusian city.

The city is ideal for a city break because it is walkable and well-connected. Plus, you can enjoy many cultural activities for free.

During your visit to Malaga, explore the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro fortress complex, the Cathedral, and the Picasso Museum. If you visit Malaga in late spring or summer, you can also enjoy its beaches. La Malagueta Beach is only a few minutes walk from the city center.

Last but not least, don’t forget to try Malaga’s delicacies. Some of its traditional dishes include ajoblanco (cold garlic and almond soup), espetos de sardinas (grilled sardines), and ensalada malagueña (a potato salad with cod, oranges, and hard-boiled egg).

Madrid: Enjoy Museums, Art Galleries, and Dining

Madrid, Spain
Photo Credit: [@SOMATUSCANI /DepositPhotos]

Of course, the capital city of Spain has to make the list. Madrid is one of the best places to visit in Spain for culture lovers. It is home to the country’s most important museums and art galleries, El Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum.

However, if you aren’t into history and art, you will also love Madrid for its food scene. The city has plenty of eateries to enjoy classic Spanish tapas or local dishes like bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich) and huevos rotos (broken eggs).

Madrid nightlife is also worth mentioning; there are many unique speakeasy bars, fantastic nightclubs, and rooftop terraces with great views.

Barcelona: A Cultural Hub with Great Nightlife

Parc Guell, Barcelona
Photo Credit: [@fazon1/DepositPhotos]

Who hasn’t heard of Barcelona? It is a bucket list destination, and there are many reasons Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Spain. La Sagrada Familia is just one of them. This architectural masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi is one of Spain’s most important buildings.

However, Gaudi has many other impressive buildings across the city. For example, Park Güell, Casa Vicens, and Palau Güell are worth visiting.

On top of these cultural activities, Barcelona has a vibrant nightlife scene. In the evening, you will see many people enjoying a meal with their families and others heading to nightclubs with friends.

Overall, Barcelona has many things to do, so you can easily spend more than three days here. Plus, there are many lovely excursions you can take from Barcelona too. 

Cordoba: An UNESCO World Heritage City

Cordoba, Spain-Mosque Cathedral
Photo Credit: [@sepavone/DepositPhotos]

When someone mentions Cordoba, the first image that comes to mind is Mezquita de Cordoba, its Mosque-Cathedral, and it is undoubtedly the most emblematic building in the city.

Its Mosque-Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a building with lots of history behind it. One of the reasons it is so important is the representation of different religions.

Other important locations across Cordoba are Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and the historic center, home to several museums and Cordoba’s Synagogue.

If you are planning a visit to Cordoba, the best time to visit it is spring, especially in May, when you can attend its courtyard festival, where locals decorate their patios with beautiful flower pots and other decorations. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they tell a story.

Bilbao: Delicious Basque Cuisine

Bilbao, Spain
Photo Credit: [@maxxyustas/DepositPhotos]

Bilbao is an exciting city in the Basque Country, in northern Spain.

You can easily spend a weekend visiting its most famous museum, Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. It’s easy to get lost for hours viewing important art pieces, its impressive Gothic Cathedral, and its historic center.

Bilbao is also a good city break for those who love food. Instead of tapas, you will find pintxos in Bilbao. These bite-sized snacks normally contain a small piece of bread with meat, fish, or vegetables. The best place to enjoy pintxos is La Ribera Market.

In addition, there are incredible day trips from Bilbao. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is one of the most popular excursions. It became famous for its appearance in the Game of Thrones series.

Valencia: Perfect for History Lovers

Valencia, Spain
Photo Credit: [@karnavall/DepositPhotos]

Valencia is one of the largest cities in Spain, and one of the best Spanish city breaks.

The city is home to many interesting buildings and attractions. The old town of Valencia is one of the top locations for history lovers. The impressive Cathedral of Valencia, the Turia Fountain, and the Basilica are here.

Another unmissable place to visit in Valencia is Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciènces. This cultural and leisure complex will give you a futuristic feeling. The Science Centre, the 3D cinema, and L’Oceanografic are some of the best attractions inside the complex.

Valencia is also famous for paella. This popular dish originated in Valencia, so you will find the most authentic paellas here. Classic paella is made with chicken and rabbit, but you can also have other versions made with seafood or vegetables.

Marbella: A Luxurious Coastal Resort Town

Marbella, Spain
Photo Credit: [@ aciero/DepositPhotos]

Marbella is a coastal resort located in Costa del Sol, Malaga. Although many travelers think that Marbella is all about luxury, this is a misconception.

Besides visiting the luxury port of Puerto Banus, you can enjoy many activities in Marbella, from exploring Marbella’s Old Town and relaxing at its blue flag beaches to going on scenic hiking trails.

It is the perfect destination for couples and travelers who want to have a good time, as there is a party side too. Marbella has many amazing beach clubs, including the famous Nikki Beach Marbella.

Another fun activity for either couples or friends is to take a boat trip in Marbella. Many include paddleboards and scuba diving equipment if you’re looking for adventure. But a sunset cruise is worth checking out if you prefer a more relaxing experience.

Tenerife: A Family-Friendly Getaway

Puerto de Santiago, Tenerife, Spain
Photo Credit: [@Balate Dorin/DepositPhotos]

If you are looking for an island destination, Tenerife is one of the best places to visit in the Canary Islands. It is a popular destination for all types of travelers, but especially families.

Despite being an island, Tenerife has so much to see and do. Whether you love beautiful green landscapes, golden sand beaches, or cultural activities like visiting museums, Tenerife is for you.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital, but other lovely towns and villages are worth adding to your list. Masca Village, for example, must be on your list if you are after hidden gems. It is referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Spain.”

Regardless of the area you choose to stay, visiting El Teide volcano is an unmissable experience in Tenerife. It is the only volcano in Spain. You can take a scenic hike, enjoy the views from a cable car, or stargaze in the evening.

Santander: Natural Landscapes and Laid-Back Vibes

Santander, Spain
Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]

Santander is one of the most underrated cities in Spain. It is the perfect city for those who want a more laid-back vacation.

One of the reasons to visit Santander is its natural landscapes. The city is home to golden sand beaches perfect for surfing in the summer months, but also a short drive from gorgeous hiking trails.

You can visit historical landmarks in the city like the Cathedral, Botin Museum, and Palacio de la Magdalena, a former royal palace on a small peninsula overlooking the Cantabrian Sea.

If you are a foodie, Santander has delicious dishes, such as rabas (fried squid), and local products like cheeses and desserts. Sobaos pasiegos and Quesada are a must-try for those who have a sweet tooth, as they are delightful.

Featured Photo Credit: [@SOMATUSCANI/DepositPhotos]


A Local's Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Spain
Cristina Reina

Cristina Reina is the blogger behind My Little World of Travelling, a travel blog that helps travelers discover hidden gem destinations and have more authentic experiences in her hometown, Malaga, and the rest of Spain.