A trip to Spain should be on your list if you’re looking for a vacation destination rich in history, culture, and stunning landscapes.
From the vibrant city of Barcelona to the charming streets of Granada and the wonderful beaches of the Costa del Sol, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful European country.
But with so many incredible places to choose from, planning your trip to Spain can be daunting. That’s why I’ve put together the ultimate itinerary to help you make the most of your time.
In this guide, I’ll take you through ten must-see locations that will give you a taste of everything Spain offers. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or beach lover, this itinerary has you covered. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare for an unforgettable trip to Spain!
- Know the best places for a trip to Spain
- Madrid – The vibrant heart of Spain
- Barcelona – The cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia
- Seville – The city of Flamenco
- Granada – Home of the magnificent Alhambra Palace
- Valencia – The birthplace of Paella
- San Sebastian – The culinary capital of Spain
- Malaga – The gateway to Costa del Sol
- Toledo – A mix of three cultures
- Cordoba – The city of the Great Mosque
- Bilbao – The modern city with a rich heritage
- Tips for your next trip to Spain
Know the best places for a trip to Spain
Madrid – The vibrant heart of Spain
Madrid is a place that’s full of life and energy. The capital city is home to some of the most famous museums in the world, including the Prado Museum, which has an impressive collection of works by Spanish artists like Velazquez and Goya. Another must-see attraction in Madrid is the Royal Palace, a stunning building still used by the Spanish royal family.
If you’re a foodie, then Madrid won’t disappoint. The city is known for its delicious tapas; you can find them in every bar and restaurant. If you have a sweet tooth, San Ginés’s churros with hot chocolate are a must-try! You can find many other city tips in my 2-day guide to Madrid.
Also, regarding nightlife, Madrid is one of the liveliest cities in Europe. It’s home to some of the best clubs and bars in the world, and you can party until the early morning hours. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, head to the Malasana neighborhood, where you’ll find plenty of hipster bars and cafes.
Barcelona – The cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia
Barcelona is the vibrant capital of Catalonia, a region of Spain with its own unique culture and language. This vibrant city is famous for its stunning architecture, delicious food, and lively nightlife.
One of the most well-known landmarks in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, a magnificent basilica designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudi. The building is still under construction after over 100 years and is one of Spain’s most visited tourist attractions.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll want to visit the Picasso Museum, which has an impressive collection of works by the famous Spanish artist. Another attraction in Barcelona is Park Guell, a stunning park filled with colorful mosaics and unique sculptures. You can spend hours wandering through the park, admiring the beautiful views of the city.
When it comes to food, Barcelona is known for its delicious tapas. You can find tapas bars all over the city, serving everything from traditional Spanish dishes to modern fusion cuisine. Like in Madrid, it also has a lively nightlife scene. If you want to check it out, head to the Gothic Quarter, where you’ll find plenty of bars and clubs.
Seville – The city of Flamenco
Seville is the capital of Andalusia, a region in southern Spain known for its rich history and unique culture.
The town is famous for its flamenco music and dance, which you can experience in one of the many flamenco shows throughout the city.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to visit the Alcazar of Seville, a stunning palace used as a filming location for Game of Thrones. Gorgeous gardens and elaborate mosaics fill this historic building.
Last but not least, another special place in Seville is the city’s Cathedral, one of the largest in the world.
As for food, you can taste delicious Andalusian cuisine and traditional pastry like Pestinos.
Granada – Home of the magnificent Alhambra Palace
Granada is a city in Andalusia famous for its incredible architecture and history.
Here, you can find the Alhambra Palace, one of the most famous landmarks in Spain. This monument graces the city with its stunning example of Islamic architecture, featuring intricate mosaics, exquisite gardens, and breathtaking views.
History buffs will want to visit the Albaicin neighborhood with narrow streets and traditional houses. Another must-see attraction in Granada is the Cathedral, a beautiful building that has been standing since the 16th century.
When it comes to food, one of the most famous dishes in Granada is the Tortilla del Sacromonte, a delicious omelet made with meat and vegetables. If you’re looking for something sweet, try the Piononos, a classic pastry filled with cream.
Valencia – The birthplace of Paella
Valencia, located on Spain’s east coast, is famous for its gorgeous beaches and delicious food. The city is the birthplace of Paella, a traditional Spanish dish made with rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood. You can find Paella in every restaurant in Valencia, but the best place to try it’s in the Albufera Natural Park area, where it was first created.
Suppose you’re a fan of science and technology. In that case, you’ll want to visit the City of Arts and Sciences, a stunning complex of futuristic buildings designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s home to a planetarium, an IMAX cinema, and an interactive science museum.
Regarding nightlife, Valencia is home to some of the best clubs in Spain and a thriving bar scene. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, head to the Ruzafa neighborhood, where you’ll find plenty of trendy bars and restaurants.
Another must-visit attraction in Valencia is the Central Market, a vibrant and bustling place that showcases the city’s culinary delights. Wander through its lively aisles with colorful stalls offering fresh produce, local delicacies, and regional specialties.
San Sebastian – The culinary capital of Spain
San Sebastian, located in the Basque Country, is a region of Spain renowned for its culture and language.
The city is famous for its culinary scene, with more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other city worldwide. The pintxos, a type of tapas served on small pieces of bread, is one of the most famous dishes in San Sebastian.
If you’re a fan of nature, then you’ll want to visit Monte Igueldo, a stunning mountain that offers captivating views of the city and the sea. Another must-see attraction in San Sebastian is La Concha Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain.
And since we’re talking about beaches, San Sebastián is also recognized among surfers and should be included in your trip to Spain. With several popular surfing spots, such as Zurriola Beach, San Sebastián is known for its consistent breaks and lively atmosphere.
Regarding nightlife, the Spanish city has a lively bar scene, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Head to the Gros neighborhood, where you’ll find many trendy bars and cafes.
Malaga – The gateway to Costa del Sol
Malaga marks the gateway to the Costa del Sol on the south coast of Spain. The city earns recognition for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.
One of the most notable attractions in Malaga is the Picasso Museum, which has an impressive collection of works by the well-known Spanish artist.
Make sure you stop at the Alcazaba of Malaga, a stunning palace built in the 11th century. The monument is a beautiful example of Moorish architecture, with intricate mosaics and exquisite gardens.
When it comes to food, Malaga is known for its delicious fish and seafood. The Espeto, a type of grilled sardine served on a stick, is one of the most famous dishes in Malaga. If you’re looking for something sweet, try the Borrachuelos, a traditional pastry filled with sweet wine.
Toledo – A mix of three cultures
In central Spain, Toledo is famous for its rich history and culture. The city is known as the “city of three cultures” because it was home to Christians, Muslims, and Jews for many years. The Alcazar of Toledo, a stunning palace used as a military academy and a museum, is one of the most prominent local attractions.
Art fans will want to visit the El Greco Museum, which has an impressive collection of works by the famous Spanish artist. Another must-see attraction is the Cathedral of Toledo, a beautiful building from the 13th century.
When it comes to food, Toledo marvels with its delicious marzipan, a sweet pastry made with almonds and sugar. You can find marzipan in every bakery in town, but the best place to try it’s in the Santo Tome neighborhood.
Cordoba – The city of the Great Mosque
Cordoba, a city in Andalusia, boasts the Great Mosque, a stunning building that has served as both a church and a mosque throughout its history. The mosque is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture, with detailed mosaics, gorgeous archways, and beautiful gardens.
You’ll also want to visit the Alcazar of Cordoba, a stunning palace that served as a filming location for Game of Thrones. With stunning architecture, the building showcases beautiful mosaics and gardens.
Regarding food, Cordoba is known for its delicious Salmorejo, a cold soup made with tomatoes and bread. Also, try the Cordobes, a local pastry filled with sweet potato and cinnamon.
Bilbao – The modern city with a rich heritage
Situated in the Basque Country, Bilbao is known for its modern architecture, vibrant culture, and rich heritage.
The city is home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a stunning building designed by the architect Frank Gehry, filled with contemporary art collections.
You’ll also want to visit the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which has an impressive collection of works by Spanish and European artists. Another must-see attraction in the city is Casco Viejo, the old town of Bilbao, with its charming streets, historic buildings, and lively atmosphere.
As for food, Bilbao welcomes you with delicious Basque cuisine. Pintxos are a must-have, and if you’re looking for something sweet, try the Pantxineta, a traditional Basque pastry filled with custard cream and almonds.
Tips for your next trip to Spain
Now that you know the best cities and places include in your trip to Spain, take note of a few tips that you should keep in mind before you head off:
✓ Research and plan ahead: Familiarize yourself with the country’s culture, customs, and attractions. Create an itinerary that includes must-see destinations but also allows for flexibility and exploration.
✓ Check travel requirements: Ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months remaining. Depending on your nationality, you may also need to obtain a visa. Research the specific requirements well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications.
✓ Learn some basic Spanish phrases: While many people in Spain speak English, it’s helpful to know a few essential words in Spanish. This can enhance your interactions with locals and make your experience more immersive.
✓ Pack appropriately: Consider the season and weather conditions when packing your clothing. Spain has a diverse climate, so pack a mix of lightweight and warmer clothing. Remember essentials like comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a power adapter for your electronic devices.
✓ Stay hydrated and embrace siesta: Spain can get quite hot, especially during summer. Stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle with you. Also, adopt the local custom of the siesta, where shops and businesses often close in the afternoon for a break. Use this time to relax, take a nap, or enjoy a leisurely meal.
✓ Stay safe and be aware of scams: Like in any other destination, be cautious of your surroundings, particularly in crowded tourist areas. Keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of common scams targeting tourists. Use reputable transportation services and avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas at night.
✓ Respect local customs and etiquette: Familiarize yourself with Spain’s cultural norms and traditions. For example, it’s common to greet with a kiss on the cheek, avoid wearing beachwear in public areas, and be mindful of noise levels during the siesta hours.
CURRENCY: The currency used in Spain is the Euro (€). Having cash on hand for small purchases is advisable, but most places widely accept credit and debit cards.
LANGUAGE: The official language of Spain is Spanish (Castilian). Tourist areas have varying degrees of English spoken, but learning a few basic Spanish phrases facilitates communication.
TIME ZONE: Spain is in the Central European (CET), UTC+1. During daylight saving time (the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October), Spain follows Central European Summer Time (CEST), UTC+2.
TRANSPORTATION: When traveling to Spain, you have multiple transportation options to get into the country. The most common and convenient way is flying into one of Spain’s major international airports, such as Madrid-Barajas Airport or Barcelona-El Prat Airport. These airports have excellent connectivity with numerous international destinations, making it easy to reach Spain from around the world.
Additionally, Spain has an extensive network of high-speed trains, such as the AVE, which provide fast and comfortable connections to major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia. If you prefer a more leisurely journey, consider renting a car and traveling by road, enjoying the scenic routes.
WEATHER: Spain has a diverse climate due to its geographical location. The northern regions experience a cooler and more humid weather, while the south has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers. The central areas have hot summers and cold winters. It’s advisable to check the weather conditions for your specific destination and pack accordingly.
SAFETY: Spain is generally a safe country for travelers. However, it’s always wise to take basic precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings, avoiding isolated or poorly lit areas at night, and being aware of common scams targeting tourists. In case of an emergency, dial the national emergency number 112.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: Having travel insurance that covers medical expenses in case of illness or accidents is recommended. Spain has a high standard of healthcare, and you can find public and private hospitals throughout the country.
TIPPING: Tipping is less common or expected in Spain than in some other countries. However, it’s appreciated for exceptional service. In restaurants, leaving a small tip (around 5-10% of the bill) is customary if you are satisfied with the service.
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