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Top Things You Absolutely Must Do in Spain

Top Things You Absolutely Must Do in Spain

Passionate, sophisticated, and devoted to “living the good life”, Spain is a sunny and colorful destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list!

From dancing the night away and eating paella, to enjoying a glass of wine (or two) and plates of tapas till late into the night, or just admiring the amazing architecture, Spain has a never-ending collection of attractions for even the most experienced traveler!

And, best of all, Spain is a destination open for you to travel to now! Currently, vaccinated travelers can enter Spain from Canada with no restrictions, and unvaccinated visitors from Canada can enter Spain with a negative COVID-19 test result.

So, is it time to start planning your amazing getaway to Spain? If so, read on to learn about our top recommendations of the ‘Top Things You Absolutely Must Do in Spain”!

must see cities in spain

Admire Barcelona’s Beautiful Architecture

No trip to Spain would be complete without a day or two in Barcelona! Barcelona is a captivating seaside city with endless culture, renowned architecture, and a world-class nightlife scene.

Highlights

  • Discover Gaudi’s unique and iconic architectural style, such as the infamous La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and more!
  • Enjoy delicious tapas. These “small bites” are served with drinks in bars and is considered a culinary signature of Barcelona.
  • Visit the historic Gothic Quarter. From the famous pedestrian street known as Las Ramblas to the Mediterranean seafront, the Gothic Quarter earned its name from the architecture popular during that time.
  • Barcelona is one of the world’s fashion centers! Fashionistas will love Barcelona’s world-class boutiques and charming, tree-lined shopping streets.
  • Foodies and wine enthusiasts can also find an abundance of Michelin-rated restaurants run by cutting-edge chefs.
  • Casa Batlló, located in the heart of the city, is an architectural masterpiece designed by Antoni Gaudí.

must see cities in spain

Check Out These Amazing Spain Tours

 

Visit Seville

Seville is one of the most beautiful cities in southern Spain. It’s widely known for its entertaining flamenco shows, delicious cuisine, and Mudejar, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture.

Highlights

  • The Alcázar castle complex is one of the city’s most enchanting and popular historic monuments. It is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Seville Cathedral, another UNESCO world heritage site, is a must-see when visiting Seville.
  • La Giralda is the belltower opposite the Cathedral. There are 25 bells in the Giralda and they are rung during important holidays and events.
  • Plaza de España, along the entire perimeter of the beautiful plaza, is a canal which you can travel by boat – a truly romantic experience!

must see cities in spain

Eat at the World’s Oldest Restaurant

Sobrino de Botín can be found in the center of Madrid and has been welcoming guests since 1725. That makes it officially the oldest restaurant in the world! The restaurant has notably served Mozart and Clint Eastwood, and it has also been mentioned in an Ernest Hemingway novel! It’s one of the best please to experience in Spain as a tourist. The restaurant is very popular and always fully-booked weeks in advance, so make sure you plan ahead and book a reservation!

Fun Fact

The name “Sobrino” comes from the Spanish word for “nephew”. It’s also believed that the flame in the oven has been burning continuously since the restaurant first opened.

must see cities in spain

Visit the Canary Islands

This Spanish archipelago off the coast of Northwestern Africa boasts haunting volcanoes, sandy coves, and stunning beach resorts.  There are plenty of activities to fill your days, such as dolphin-watching, visiting the Timanfaya National Park, sailing, or hiking.

  • In Teide National Park, Tenerife sees the third highest volcano in the world! Taking a trip inside the immense crater is definitely a destination highlight.
  • Relax on the beautiful golden sand beaches of Gran Canaria. It’s one of the island’s liveliest beach scenes at any time of day or night. Find beaches covered in bright umbrellas and backed by a promenade lined with restaurants, cafés, shops, and attractions.
  • Dolphin and Whale Watching: the Atlantic Sea off Tenerife is known for its whales and dolphins, and a whale-watching cruise is a must-do! Many cruises include a stop at a secluded bay for swimming or snorkeling.
  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of Tenerife and is a lively and attractive city, marked by some outstanding architectural attractions like the Auditorio de Tenerife, an opera house overlooking the sea. Santa Cruz has manyy other fascinating cultural highlights, including the Museum of Fine Arts and more.

must see cities in spain

Spend a Couple of Days in Madrid

Madrid is one of those cities you have to experience at least once because of its gorgeous weather, delicious tapas, great shopping, and vibrant nightlife. If you’re looking for more cultural and local activities, some of the main things you can do in Madrid are:

  • Visit the Museo del Prado. Truly a world-class museum, the Prado Museum has a collection of more than 8,000 paintings and 700 sculptures! Perfect for any art lover.
  • Wander through Plaza Mayor, an important gathering place in Madrid. The cobblestone square is a pedestrian area, surrounded by cafés and restaurants shaded by its arcades. In the evenings, the square has a lively ambiance and is a popular hangout spot for both tourists and locals.
  • Visit the Royal Palace. This extravagant palace is the Spanish version of Versailles, a royal court designed to impress. However, unlike Versailles, which is now a museum, the Royal Palace of Madrid is still the official residence of the King of Spain and continues to be used for official State events.
  • Explore El Rastro, the largest flea market in Madrid. It is a bustling shopping area in the city center that’s open every day of the week and stands out for its jumble of specialist shops, typical bars, historic sites, and interesting places like the Museum of Popular Art.
  • Catch a flamenco show. Flamenco is probably Spain’s most famous art form and is a great way to experience Spanish culture.
  • Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid, and use it as a starting point to explore the city’s cultural treasures, including the Royal Palace and Prado Museum.

must see cities in spain

Visit the Alhambra

The name Alhambra comes from Arabic and signifies ‘red castle’ or ‘vermilion’, due to the color of the tower walls, which happens when the light of the sun catches a golden tone.

Located in Granada, one of the most charming cities in Spain, Alhambra is located on top of the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro, to the west of the city of Granada. The castle became a military fortress with a view over the whole city and in the 13th century, Alhambra became a royal residence for the first king of the Nasrid dynasty. It is a must-see for anyone who is visiting Granada!

Travel Tip

You can be turned away at the castle even with a ticket. The Palace is the most popular landmark in Granada. Missing your time slot or showing up late may result in denied access. Tickets to the Alhambra sell like hotcakes and some people buy their tickets months in advance!

must see cities in spain

Soak Up the Sun in Ibiza

With over 5,000 miles of coastline, Spain has some of the most beautiful and diverse beaches in the world. There are loads of great options when it comes to catching some rays!

Highlights

  • Ibiza is the party capital of the world! You can party during the day or wait for nighttime clubbing; either way, there are dozens of places you can party here.
  • The weather is perfect all year round. Ibiza boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, so you can plan your holiday whenever you want and still enjoy the beach!
  • There are plenty of amazing dive spots around the island, the most notable one being the Cala d’Hort Marine Nature where you might bump into a few dolphins.
  • Enjoy other watersports such as jet-skis, parasailing, water-skiing, snorkeling, stand-up paddling, kayaking, and more.
  • Relax and one of the amazing spas on the island and indulge in a yoga class, pamper yourself with anything from peels, facials, mani-pedis, and a variety of massages.

must see cities in spain

Visit the World Heritage City of Salamanca

Any history buff should have the following UNESCO World Heritage site on their bucket list. The Old City of Salamanca is one of the oldest university towns in Europe, located northwest of Madrid. Salamanca’s historic center still has a significant number of Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, Moorish, and Renaissance monuments, which is the main reason many tourists visit each year.

Fun Fact

The University of Salamanca dates back to 1218 and is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest university in all of Europe.

must see cities in spain

Conquer the Picos de Europa

This is one of Spain’s most underrated tourist attractions for nature lovers. This mountain range is located in northern Spain and extends about 20km. If you’re a seasoned hiker or a photography enthusiast, the Picos de Europa National Park will amaze you with dramatic scenery and some of the best hiking trails in the country!

Highlights

  • Diverse walks and hikes in Spain’s oldest national park
  • Visit traditional mountain villages in the valleys of Green Spain (a lush natural region in Northern Spain)
  • Interesting wildlife like Chamois, Golden eagles, and Griffon vultures
  • View the famous mountain peak Picu Urriellu
  • Try tasty regional dishes such as Cabrales blue cheese and sparkling Asturian apple cider

must see cities in spain

Discover the Wine Region of Rioja

With 60,000 hectares of vines spread over three provinces, Rioja might be vast — but if you know where to go, it can make for an unforgettable getaway full of wine tasting and lush greenery.

Indulge in easy winery-hopping by heading to Haro Train Station Wine Quarter and find the highest concentration of century-old wineries on the planet!

Fun Facts

In September this region holds the Haro Wine Festival, or if you want to get involved with people throwing over 100,000 liters of red wine at one another, arrive June 29 for the Batalla del Vino, or ‘wine battle’!

must see cities in spain

Visit The Beautiful Beaches in the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago located in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. This beautiful group of islands is an autonomous community of Spain and is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, vibrant nightlife, and rich cultural heritage. 

Highlights

  • The Balearic Islands consist of four main islands:
    • Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is known for its beautiful beaches, historic towns like Palma, and the Tramuntana mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    • Ibiza is famous for its world-renowned nightlife, Ibiza is a party destination with stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a lively atmosphere.
    • Menorca is known for its tranquillity and pristine landscapes, including secluded coves, rolling hills, and charming villages.
    • Formentera is a smaller, less developed island with a relaxed vibe, Formentera is known for its idyllic beaches and crystal-clear waters.
  • The Balearic Islands boast diverse landscapes, from sandy beaches and turquoise waters to lush forests and rugged mountains. The Tramuntana Range in Mallorca is a hiker’s paradise, offering breathtaking views and hiking trails.
  • The islands are famous for their beautiful beaches, Cala d’Or and Cala Agulla in Mallorca, Cala Salada in Ibiza, and Cala Macarella in Menorca are just a few of the stunning beaches you can explore.
  • Each island has its own unique cultural heritage, with historical sites and charming old towns. Palma de Mallorca’s Gothic Cathedral and Ibiza’s Dalt Vila (Old Town) are notable cultural attractions.
  • The Balearic Islands provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Menorca’s Camí de Cavalls coastal path is a popular hiking trail.
  • Enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on seafood, olive oil, and fresh produce. Try local specialties like paella, ensaimada (a sweet pastry), and sobrasada (a cured sausage).
  • Experience traditional festivals like Sant Joan in Menorca, La Beata in Ibiza, and Sant Sebastià in Palma, which showcase local customs, music, and dance.

The Balearic Islands offer a diverse range of experiences, whether you’re seeking a lively party scene, a relaxing beach getaway, outdoor adventures, or cultural exploration. With their natural beauty and cultural richness, these islands are a must-visit destination for travelers.

must see cities in spain

See the Beautiful City of Bilbao in the Basque Country 

The Basque Country, located in the northern part of Spain and southwestern France, is a great place to explore with a rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and unique attractions. Here are some of the best things to know about the Basque Country, with a focus on its main attraction, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, its unique architecture, and beautiful buildings:

Highlights

  • The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is undoubtedly the main attraction and a beautiful landmark of the Basque Country. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this iconic museum is not only a world-class art institution but also a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. The museum’s innovative and unique architecture has earned it international acclaim.
  • The Basque Country is home to numerous other beautiful buildings. In Bilbao, the lively city is an architectural gem with a blend of historic and modern structures. The Casco Viejo (Old Town) is a prime example, showcasing charming, centuries-old buildings and narrow streets.
  • Explore traditional Basque architecture in villages and towns like San Sebastián, a coastal gem known for its stunning La Concha Beach, world-class cuisine and charming Old Town (Parte Vieja), which is famous for its narrow streets and vibrant atmosphere. It’s a must-visit destination for foodies and beach lovers alike.
  • Basque cuisine is renowned worldwide. Explore pintxos (Basque tapas) in San Sebastián or indulge in Michelin-starred dining experiences. Many of these restaurants are housed in beautiful historic buildings.
  • While the architecture and cultural attractions are remarkable, the Basque Country also boasts stunning natural landscapes. The Pyrenees Mountains offer hiking and skiing opportunities, and the rugged coastline provides picturesque views and excellent seafood.

must see cities in spain

Experience the Coastal Charm of Costa Del Sol 

Costa del Sol, located in the southern region of Spain along the Mediterranean coast, is a popular destination known for its stunning Mediterranean beaches, famous places, major cities, and coastal charm. Here’s an overview of Costa del Sol, highlighting its most beautiful places, major cities, and opportunities for day trips:

Highlights

  • Costa del Sol is renowned for its extensive stretch of Mediterranean beaches, boasting golden sands and crystal-clear waters. The region enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
  • Costa del Sol is dotted with major cities and towns that offer a range of experiences.
    • Marbella is one of the most famous towns along the Costa del Sol. It’s known for its upscale resorts, glamorous nightlife, and charming Old Town (Casco Antiguo).
    • As the capital of the Costa del Sol, Malaga is a major city and a cultural hub. It offers a blend of historic sites, museums (including the Picasso Museum), and beautiful beaches along the La Malagueta promenade.
    • In addition to Marbella and Malaga, other notable cities include Fuengirola, Torremolinos, and Estepona.
  • The picturesque coastal town of Nerja is famous for its stunning Balcony of Europe (Balcón de Europa), a promenade with the best views of the sea and surrounding cliffs.
  • While not directly on the coast, Ronda is a day trip worth taking from Costa del Sol. It’s known for its dramatic gorge, Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), and historic charm.
  • Costa del Sol is a great base for day trips to nearby attractions. Consider visiting Gibraltar to explore the iconic Rock of Gibraltar, or take a scenic drive to the white villages (pueblos blancos) in the mountains.

must see cities in spain

Hike the Camino de Santiago

Hiking the Camino de Santiago, often referred to as the Way of St. James, is a popular and rewarding pilgrimage journey in Spain. Hiking the Camino de Santiago is an unforgettable experience, offering a mix of physical challenge, cultural exploration, and personal reflection. Whether you’re seeking a spiritual journey or simply an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of northern Spain, the Camino provides a remarkable adventure. Here’s an overview of what you can expect when hiking this historic trail:

Highlights

  • The Camino de Santiago consists of several different routes, but the most famous one is the Camino Francés, which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, and ends at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in northwest Spain. Other routes originate from various points in Spain, Portugal, and even as far away as Rome.
  • While many people undertake the Camino for religious or spiritual reasons, it has become a popular trek for people of all backgrounds seeking self-discovery, adventure, or a break from daily life.
  • The Camino de Santiago is known for its diverse terrain, including flat plains, rolling hills, and steep mountains. The difficulty of the trail can vary depending on the specific route chosen. Most paths are well-marked and maintained, making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels.
  • Many hikers obtain a “Pilgrim’s Credential” (Credencial del Peregrino) at the start of their journey. This document is used to collect stamps from various stops along the way and serves as proof of completing the pilgrimage. It’s also required to stay in some of the pilgrim accommodations.
  • The Camino offers stunning natural landscapes, picturesque villages, historic towns, and beautiful churches and monasteries. Highlights along the route include the Pyrenees, the wine region of La Rioja, and the charming city of Burgos.
  • Pilgrims have a range of accommodation options, including albergues (hostels), guesthouses, hotels, and campsites. Albergues are specifically designed for pilgrims and are often the most affordable option.
  • One of the unique aspects of the Camino is the sense of community among pilgrims. You’ll meet people from all over the world, and it’s common to form lasting friendships during the journey. Many pilgrims gather at communal meals and share stories and experiences.
  • The culmination of the Camino is reaching Santiago de Compostela, where pilgrims traditionally attend a pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral and receive the Compostela certificate as recognition of their journey.
  • Some hikers choose to continue their journey to the “end of the world” in Finisterre or Muxía, which adds extra kilometers to their adventure. These places have additional spiritual significance.

How Long Does the Hike Take?

The time it takes to hike the Camino de Santiago can fluctuate widely, contingent on various factors such as your chosen route, starting location, walking speed, and whether you intend to complete the entire path or just a portion of it. For instance, the renowned Camino Francés, spanning around 800 kilometres from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, generally takes around 4 to 6 weeks to finish, with daily walks averaging 20 to 25 kilometres. Similarly, the Camino del Norte, running along Spain’s northern coast and of similar length, typically takes a comparable amount of time. On the other hand, shorter routes like the Camino Portugués or Camino Primitivo may be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. Some pilgrims opt for even shorter segments or day hikes to suit their schedules and preferences, adding further variability to the duration.

must see cities in spain

Visit Santiago de Compostela

Visiting Santiago de Compostela is a remarkable experience, with the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela being the city’s crowning jewel. This cathedral is definitely worth visiting and is one of Spain’s most famous landmarks and holds deep spiritual significance as the final destination for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Its unique design and historical importance make it a beautiful building and a must-visit landmark.

Highlights

  • The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the city’s most iconic and spiritually significant landmark. It serves as the final destination for pilgrims completing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
  • The cathedral boasts a unique design that blends Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles. 
  • The cathedral holds deep historical and religious importance. It has been a place of pilgrimage for over a thousand years and is believed to house the remains of St. James (Santiago), one of the apostles of Jesus.
  • The cathedral’s exterior and interior are beautifully adorned with ornate decorations, sculptures, and artwork. 
  • Attending the daily Pilgrim’s Mass at the cathedral is a unique experience. Pilgrims from all over the world gather here to receive blessings and certificates of completion. 
  • One of the cathedral’s most famous traditions is the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a massive thurible suspended from the ceiling. It is swung during special occasions, releasing fragrant incense throughout the cathedral.
  • Beyond the cathedral, the Old Town (Casco Antiguo) of Santiago de Compostela is a charming maze of cobblestone streets, quaint plazas, and picturesque alleys.
  • The cathedral stands proudly in Obradoiro Square, a lively and bustling hub in the heart of Santiago de Compostela. It’s a central gathering place and offers stunning views of the cathedral’s grand facade.

must see cities in spain

Exploring the famous landmarks of Spain is an extraordinary experience that offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Spanish culture, history, and natural beauty. To truly appreciate the best places this vibrant country has to offer, timing is key. Whether you’re strolling through the awe-inspiring streets of Barcelona, savoring the delectable cuisine in San Sebastián, or marveling at the architectural wonders of Seville, choosing the best time to visit enhances the charm of these famous Spanish landmarks. The best way to soak in the essence of Spain is to embrace its diverse regions and immerse yourself in its unique traditions.

So plan your journey wisely, and get ready to discover the countless treasures that make Spain an unforgettable destination. Whether you’re drawn to the rich history, the bustling cities or the serene countryside, Spain welcomes you with open arms year-round, promising memories that will last a lifetime!


When you’re ready to plan an exciting adventure to Spain, Our TierOne Travel Consultants are here and ready to help you plan. Give us a call to plan your dream getaway at the best possible price – we’ll make sure you don’t miss any bucket list item for that destination!

One call; endless experiences!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous

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