Destinations | Europe

7 beautiful Spanish cities you need to visit

30 Jan 2020 | Destinations, Europe, Spain

Those who have been following my blog for some time know that I’m completely in love with Spain. I visit the country almost every month, and I still can’t get enough of it. The list of wonderful cities in Spain is endless, and every Spanish city has its own charm.

What is it about Spain that attracts me the most? All the little things… I feel so much joy seeing oranges hanging casually in the trees, or from the siestas that bring a palpable calmness to the streets during the day. Everything is magical, from all the delicious tapas with a local twist in every city, to the beautiful squares covered with terraces packed with people enjoying a carjillo or sangria. Whenever I visit Spain, time and time again, I realise it’s okay to live life a bit slower and to take it all in, enjoying life with friends and family simply in the moment.

Planning a roadtrip in Spain, seeking a romantic getaway or looking for some time away with the kids? In this blog, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the most beautiful Spanish cities to tick off your Spanish bucket list – from flamenco in Seville and eating traditional paella in Valencia to sipping sangria in Barcelona. Read on to discover the best cities to visit in Spain.

 

** Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links which means that purchases made through these links reward Bey of Travel a small commission without any additional charge for the purchaser.** 

Barcelona

Barcelona is the ultimate location for a Mediterranean getaway. Spend a few dreamy days by the sea, enjoying great food and a welcoming climate, combined with unique things to do and see. Bask in the unique architecture of Gaudi at Park Güell, the Sagrada Familia or Casa Batlló. 

Want more reasons why Barcelona is one of the best cities to visit in Spain? There are parks, markets, and areas to explore on foot such as Montjüic, the Boquería market, the Ramblas, the hip Born district, the medieval Gothic quarter, the delightful seafront or the Art Nouveau masterpieces of Passeig de Gràcia. The city also offers nearly five kilometres of beaches! 

Barcelona offers plenty of other interesting options, too. Visit the Picasso Museum, enjoy the dazzling football of FC Barcelona, take a boat trip around the bay, or discover its alternative cultural spaces. Round off the day with delicious food and drink – the city is full of pavement cafés and restaurants, and cool bars and clubs for nights out enjoying a cocktail with friends.

In short, Barcelona offers it all. Colourful, gothic and contemporary Barcelona is pure eye-candy and will provide you with the most beautiful sights, no matter which direction you look.

Read more about Barcelona here.

Valencia

Valencia is a Spanish city worth taking your time over, exploring every detail and discovering hidden places you might miss on a first trip. 

The famous City of Arts and Sciences and the Miguelete tower are always great places to visit. But to see what really makes a city tick, you have to pause and enjoy the atmosphere in its sunny squares and markets, discover the legends behind the monuments, explore restored neighbourhoods like Cabanyal, or see the light of the Mediterranean suffusing the landscape in La Albufera.

You can’t help but simply fall in love with this city. It’s trendy, but without the mass tourism of Barcelona. Valencia lies by the sea and because of its pleasant climate, you can enjoy the beach almost all year round. (It’s where traditional Spanish paella originated – what’s not to love?!) 

Read all about the top things to do in Valencia here.

Bilbao

Bilbao is in northern Spain, in the heart of the Basque Country. It became world-famous due to the spectacular Guggenheim Museum. The collection of modern art is undeniably fascinating – but what really grabs the attention are the amazing titanium panels and the large-scale spider sculpture outside. There are plenty of interesting exhibitions to view, both at the Guggenheim and at other museums in the city such as the Fine Arts Museum.

The striking modern designs blend surprisingly well with the city’s historic centre, where you can stroll from bar to bar sampling delicious tapas or pinchos accompanied by the local wine, Txakolí. On the subject of food, head for La Ribera Market – you can buy fresh ingredients and have them cooked for you on the spot!

In the evening, there’s a lovely atmosphere in all the outdoor bars and terraces. To see Bilbao from a different angle, take a trip on the river Nervión on board a tourist boat.

You can find a list of things to do in Bilbao here.

 

Zaragoza

One of Europe’s great cities, known for the stunning Basilica of El Pilar and for its festivities held every October. 

Highlights of a visit to this wonderful Spanish city include a Moorish palace, a Roman forum, avant-garde bridges, a museum dedicated to the great Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, and of course, tapas in the district of El Tubo.

Large squares, spacious pedestrian areas, a huge city park, kilometres of bike lanes… Zaragoza is a beautifully spacious destination where it’s easy to feel at home. The city revolves around the large Plaza del Pilar, the setting for all the major celebrations. El Tubo, the quintessential district for tapas, is just 15 minutes from the iconic square. Throughout this area, there are also plenty of pedestrian streets full of places to shop – they include Alfonso I, the nearby Calle Don Jaime and Avenida del Coso.

Zaragoza stands next to one of Spain’s most important rivers, the Ebro. You can cycle along part of its banks, from the old town to the Agua Luis Buñuel Metropolitan Park. Along the route, you can admire the different designs of its bridges, from the historical Puente de Piedra stone bridge to the avant-garde Pabellón Puente pavilion bridge, created to mark the 2008 International Exhibition. Fancy something a little different? In the park, pay a visit to one of Europe’s largest river aquariums.

7 Spanish cities you need to visit

Madrid

While visiting Spain, spending time in Madrid is simply a must. During your stay, pay a visit to a museum on the Art Walk, with exhibitions of masters such as Renoir and Sorolla. I also strongly recommend a stroll around the liveliest areas while you’re there, like Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium, the trendy Chueca district, the Gran Vía with its theatres and shops, the historic Madrid de los Austrias, parks like Madrid Río and the Retiro, the exclusive Salamanca district, or the La Latina neighbourhood, a popular place for tapas. There’s also a lot of buzz around the gourmet food markets, such as the Mercado de San Miguel.

The Spanish capital is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Madrid is elegant and classy, overloaded with art, beautiful architecture and many lovely parks. The list of top things to do in Madrid is long, and the city is ideal for a memorable weekend abroad with the whole family.

Discover the best places to eat and find more cool things to do in my Madrid itinerary here.

Madrid

Malaga

Malaga is in Andalusia, on the southern coast known as the Costa del Sol. It’s a seaside town, full of light, and lovely to walk around. 

It is also remarkably rich in art and culture. It has outposts of the prestigious Centre Pompidou and the St Petersburg Russian Museum Collection, but above all, it’s the birthplace of Picasso, and you can visit his Museum House and the Picasso Museum. The Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Cathedral, the Roman Theatre and Gibralfaro Castle are also great cultural spots to visit.

Try some of the most-loved local experiences – sardine skewers or the tiny fried fish “pescaíto”, the sweet dessert wines, the fantastic beaches, or an evening out with tapas after a stroll around Calle Larios, Plaza de la Merced, and the old town. 

If you’re an early riser, how would you like to see the sun rise over the sea? If you’re more of a night owl, make sure you go dancing in the old quarter, or spend a relaxing evening around La Malagueta beach or Paseo de Sancha.

7 Spanish cities you need to visit

Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia, famous for its monuments and the culture of flamenco. Any visit must include the Alcázar, the Cathedral and the Giralda. The first two are World Heritage sites and the last is one of the city’s emblems, towering over the River Guadalquivir. 

If you’d like to experience everything in an even more picturesque fashion, we recommend a tour in a horse-drawn carriage or a boat trip on the river. You’ll want to have your camera with you in the gorgeous Plaza de España or in María Luisa Park! When you’re feeling peckish, try the tapas in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood – and go to a flamenco show in a tablao to experience its real popular culture. 

If you have a little more time, pay a visit to the Fine Arts museum or experience the avant-garde architecture of the Metropol Parasol. In the evening, pop by any of the pavement cafés and restaurants, including roof terraces with views of the Cathedral or the river Guadalquivir.

Seville is by far one of the most beautiful European city trips I have ever taken. Read all about the top things to do in Seville here.

What else is on my ultimate Spanish bucket list? I still have to visit Maska and Ibiza! I hope to squeeze in these locations next year into my schedule.

Do you have any further questions about this article? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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