Of all the European destinations you can visit while traveling through Europe, Spain ranks right near the top of the most popular alongside France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. There are a variety of reasons to visit this amazing country, the most impressive being its diversity.
In reality, Spain consists of several distinct regions with unique traditions, dialects, and cuisines. In fact, one of the most difficult things for travelers is deciding on which places to visit in Spain. Ultimately, where you visit depends on your specific tastes, interests, and time frame.
Set on a hill high above the central Spanish plains of the Castilla-La Mancha region you can find the ancient city of Toledo. This impressive town, located about an hour’s drive south of Madrid, is famous for medieval Christian, Jewish, and Arab monuments in the town’s old, walled quarters.
Toledo is like an open-air museum and was home to the El Greco, the world-renown Mannerist painter. Must-visit monuments are the Mudéjar style Sol Gate and Moorish Bisagra Gate that lead onto Toledo’s old quarter. The town’s best known and very lively meeting place is the Plaza de Zocodover.
Toledo’s historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city’s glorious past shows at every turn. Toledo’s Cathedral Primera is probably the best-preserved example of Spanish High Gothic architecture.
In the Spanish province of Malaga, you can discover the mountaintop city of Ronda. The town is considered to be the birthplace of one of Spain’s oldest traditions, bullfighting. Ronda boasts Spain’s oldest and most legendary bullring (Plaza de Torros) that was built in 1785 and is one of the town’s major attractions and most recognizable landmarks. The bullring is wonderfully restored and houses a nice bullfighting museum as well.
Ronda is a beautiful historic, thriving city of just over 35,000 residents that mostly live outside of the city’s historic center. Ronda is set dramatically high above the El Tajo gorge which separates the town’s new district (built in the 15th century) from the old historic center that dates back to the days of Moorish rule. Puente Nuevo, an impressive stone bridge, spans the gorge in the city center and from here, you can enjoy the most spectacular views.
While Madrid might seem like just another large, crowded European city, it continues to attract travelers from all around the world for a variety of different reasons. Many come to see the Museo del Prado and the Palacio Real, two iconic Spanish landmarks. Others come for a more urban version of the famous Spanish nightlife that the smaller towns have to offer. Madrid is also a great place to meet fellow travelers and brainstorm ideas for where to head next.
Besides being Spain’s capital, Madrid is also considered to be the country’s art capital together with Barcelona. You can discover the city’s famous “Golden Triangle Art Route” that boasts many of the world’s most stunning masterpieces in a relatively small area. Madrid boasts the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía National Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, all located within this area. Here, you can enjoy a wonderfully complete tour that highlights so many aspects of the history and the evolution of painting.
Of all the places to visit in Spain, Barcelona is probably one of the most impressive. The city holds a much more relaxed pace than Madrid, yet features a wide array of exciting things to do. Set on the coast of Catalonia, Barcelona is teeming with art deco architecture, punctuated by the one-of-a-kind creations of Antonio Gaudi. Many visitors find themselves completely absorbed by the ambiance of Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter.
However, other areas of the city, like Montjuic and the Barceloneta, deserve a visit for those with enough time. Make sure to allow yourself several days to fully explore the city and see everything that makes it what it is. Check out also this post about AquaVera Waterpark in the southeastern Almeria region.
Seville usually finds its way to the top of almost every traveler’s itinerary of places to visit in Spain. Beautiful, historical towns in Spain number in the hundreds, but Seville is completely packed, giving it the air of an open museum. The Cathedral of Seville towers over the city, as the Giralda Tower looks on, a reminder of the Moorish influence on Spain’s history. This is definitely one place that you don’t want to miss.
Granada is another very popular destination and to truly get a sense of the cultural legacy of Spain, you should plan on making a stop here. The city houses La Alhambra, a vast complex of multi-purpose buildings built by the sultans of the 14th century and added to over the centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is enough of a reason to make a stop here, but the low-key atmosphere, lesser-known venues, and the world-famous tapas provide plenty of other things to do in the meantime.
The Camino Del Santiago de Compostela
If you’re looking for more physical activity while traveling in Spain, then the Camino de Santiago de Compostela is definitely for you. This medieval pilgrimage route runs from central France to Spain’s border with Portugal. This is an ambitious hike set out from more distant points all over Europe, and if you’re pressed for time you can start and exit at any point on the route, which runs through northern Spain.
These are just a few of the most popular places to visit in Spain. There are many more worthwhile places to explore. If you’ve got time to spend, make sure to ask around and you won’t have any problems finding more off the beaten path destinations. No matter where you decide to visit, Spain is one place that will always leave you wanting more.