Are you considering a vacation to Spain this year? Here are some of the most unique, authentic, and fun things to do in Spain for all travelers to enjoy. These one-of-a-kind attractions, mesmerizing sites, and beautiful cities are sure to make for an unforgettable trip.
Are you dreaming of a European adventure this year? Let me guide you through some of the most enchanting, vibrant, and unforgettable things to do in Spain. These cities, sights, and attractions are guaranteed to craft an extraordinary vacation experience.
Spain, known for its rich history, diverse culture, and delectable cuisine, is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. From the Flamenco dancers of Seville to the architectural wonders of Barcelona, Spain never ceases to amaze.
But what truly makes Spain an essential addition to any European itinerary is its blend of tradition and modernity. Also, the vibrant cities and tranquil countryside, and its sun-soaked beaches and snow-capped mountains. It’s clear to see why Spain is coined as one of the best places to visit in Europe.
From Barcelona to Bilbao, from the sun-drenched beaches of Costa del Sol to the historic charm of Toledo, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Spain. There truly is something for everyone. That makes it all the more important for you to know which places are best suited to your interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite Spanish attractions. Let’s dive in!
With a wealth of stunning architecture, delectable cuisine, and vibrant festivals, there are countless things to do in Spain that will appeal to every kind of traveler. Here are the Spanish sights and attractions you should know about:
Best Places to Visit in Spain
Are you ready to find out some of the best things to do in Spain? As I mentioned previously, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Spain. Keep reading to discover why it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe.
If you’re looking for unique and authentic Spanish experiences or simply desire to soak up the Mediterranean sun, Spain can accommodate your needs. Here are all the best places to visit in Spain that you should know about for your next vacation!
1. Explore the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
No visit to Spain would be complete without a stop in Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Catalonia. And in Barcelona, the one sight you absolutely cannot miss is the Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece of the famed architect Antoni Gaudí.
Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and, incredibly, it’s still ongoing. Despite this, it’s one of the most iconic and popular places to visit in Spain. Gaudí’s vision for this church was incredibly ambitious, with a design that includes 18 towers representing the 12 apostles. Virgin Mary, the four evangelists, and Jesus Christ.
The exterior of the Sagrada Familia is a marvel, with its intricate facades depicting the nativity, passion, and glory of Christ. But the interior is equally stunning. Gaudí designed the interior to resemble a forest, with columns branching out like trees and an abundance of natural light filtering through the stained-glass windows, creating a fabulous array of colors.
While the Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the highlight, don’t miss out on Gaudí’s other works scattered throughout Barcelona, such as Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà. Each offers a unique glimpse into Gaudí’s innovative and distinctive architectural style.
The Sagrada Familia is a true testament to human creativity and perseverance. It’s a must-see for any visitor to Spain and one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
2. Visit the Alhambra in Granada
The Alhambra, an ancient Moorish fortress and palace in Granada, is one of the most iconic places to visit in Spain. Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a testament to Spain’s rich and diverse history.
The Alhambra is divided into three distinct sections: the Palacios Nazaríes (Royal or Nasrid Palaces), the palace gardens of the Generalife, and the Alcazaba. Each offers a unique glimpse into the rich history and culture of Moorish Spain. The Nasrid Palaces are particularly noteworthy for their intricate stucco work, reflecting the height of Islamic art and architecture.
The Generalife gardens, with their lush greenery, beautiful fountains, and serene atmosphere, provide a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. The Alcazaba, the oldest part of the Alhambra, offers arguably the best views of Granada and the surrounding countryside.
Despite being the most visited monument in all of Spain, the Alhambra still offers tranquil corners where you can lose yourself among its beautiful gardens and courtyards, particularly if you visit outside of the peak summer months.
Whether you’re a history lover, architecture enthusiast, or simply enjoy visiting beautiful places, visiting the Alhambra is one of the best things to do in Spain. It’s not just a monument; it’s a journey back in time that offers a glimpse into a fascinating era of Spanish history.
3. Get Lost in Toledo’s Jewish Quarter
Looking for underrated places to visit in Spain? Look no further than Toledo, the capital of Castilla-La Mancha, a city steeped in history. Just a few kilometers from Madrid, Toledo is home to monuments from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures that are well worth a visit. But one of the most authentic ways to experience Toledo is by wandering through its Jewish quarter.
The Jewish quarter of Toledo is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, lined with historic buildings that whisper tales of the city’s past. As you meander through the winding lanes, you’ll come across the city’s two remaining synagogues, Santa María la Blanca and El Tránsito, both of which are now museums that offer a glimpse into the rich history of the Sephardic Jews in Spain.
Toledo is also known for its steel; swords have been forged in Toledo for over 2,000 years. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a traditional sword-making workshop and see the skilled artisans at work – it’s one of the best things to do in Toledo.
After a day of exploring, take a break at one of the local tapas bars and enjoy some Manchego cheese and a glass of local wine. Toledo is a city that beautifully blends cultures and traditions, and a visit to its Jewish quarter is a journey into the heart of its rich and diverse heritage.
4. Head on a Pintxos Bar Crawl in San Sebastian
San Sebastian, a culinary paradise nestled in the Basque Country, is one of the best places to visit in Spain for any self-respecting foodie. The city is renowned for its Pintxos bars, offering a unique and delicious take on traditional Spanish tapas.
Pintxos (pronounced ‘pinchos’) are small, flavorful bites served atop a piece of bread. The ingredients can vary wildly, from fresh seafood and cured meats to local cheeses and vegetables. Each bar in San Sebastian has its own specialty, making a Pintxos bar crawl an adventure in gastronomy and one of the best things to do in Spain.
As you hop from one bar to another, you’ll be treated to a symphony of flavors. Be sure to stop by Borda Berri, A Fuego Negro, and Ganbara, three of the city’s most acclaimed Pintxos bars. Each bite-sized delight is typically enjoyed with a glass of local wine, adding to the overall experience.
San Sebastian’s Pintxos bars offer a unique way to sample the region’s culinary offerings and immerse yourself in the local culture. It’s a gastronomic journey that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.
5. Visit the Prado Museum, Madrid
Madrid, Spain’s vibrant capital, is a city that pulsates with life and culture. At the heart of this cultural scene is the Prado Museum, one of the world’s most prestigious art museums and a must-visit for any art lover. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Spain, look no further.
The Prado Museum houses an extensive collection of European art from the 12th to the early 20th century. Its galleries are filled with masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in history, including Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Rubens, and Titian.
One of the museum’s most famous works is Velázquez’s “Las Meninas,” a complex and enigmatic painting that has fascinated art historians for centuries. Also, don’t miss Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” a powerful depiction of the Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies.
The building itself, designed by architect Juan de Villanueva, is a beautiful example of Neoclassical architecture. And the nearby Retiro Park, once the royal gardens, is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the museum’s vast collection.
The Prado Museum is a treasure trove of art and history, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Spain and Europe. Whether you’re an art aficionado or a casual visitor, the Prado Museum is a fantastic place to visit in Spain.
6. Soak up the Sun at the Costa del Sol, Andalusia
When it comes to the best things to do in Spain for families, the Costa del Sol takes the top spot. When it comes to beach destinations in Spain, few can compete with the allure of Costa del Sol.
Stretching along the southern coastline of Andalusia, Costa del Sol, or “Coast of the Sun,” is a sun-drenched paradise known for its golden beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant array of restaurants.
Costa del Sol is a string of coastal towns and resorts, each offering its unique charm. Marbella, with its luxury yachts, upscale boutiques, and exclusive nightclubs, is the playground of the rich and famous.
In contrast, Nerja, with its whitewashed houses and stunning Balcony of Europe viewpoint, offers a more traditional Andalusian experience. In my opinion, Nerja is one of the best places to visit in Spain, and one I recommend all to discover.
The beaches of Costa del Sol are the main draw, and there’s something for everyone. Families will love the calm waters and ample facilities of Burriana Beach in Nerja, while those looking for a lively atmosphere should head to La Malagueta Beach in Malaga.
Despite what its name might suggest, there’s more to Costa del Sol than just beaches. The region is also home to some fantastic golf courses, stunning marinas, and charming old towns. And let’s not forget the delicious Andalusian cuisine, with its fresh seafood, tapas, and the famous ‘pescaíto frito’ (fried fish).
Costa del Sol is one of the best places to visit in Spain for sun-seekers, beach lovers, and anyone looking for a taste of the good life. It’s a true gem of Spain and a highlight of Andalusia.
7. Embark on a Journey of Self Discovery at the Camino de Santiago
For a truly unique and authentic Spanish experience, consider embarking on the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. This ancient pilgrimage route, which has been traveled by millions of pilgrims since the Middle Ages. It offers a journey of self-discovery against the backdrop of Spain’s stunning landscapes. It’s a challenge that requires determination and dedication but is unquestionably one of the best things to do in Spain. A one that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The Camino de Santiago is not a single route but a network of trails, all leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the remains of the apostle St. James are said to be buried. The most popular route is the Camino Francés, which starts in the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and spans 780 kilometers across northern Spain.
Walking the Camino is not just about reaching the destination, but about the journey itself. It’s about immersing yourself in Spain’s rural landscapes, from the rolling vineyards of La Rioja to the lush green hills of Galicia. It’s about connecting with fellow pilgrims from around the world, sharing stories and experiences. And it’s about experiencing the warm hospitality of the Spanish people, who welcome pilgrims with open arms.
Whether you’re a spiritual seeker, an outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for a different kind of travel experience, the Camino de Santiago is a journey you won’t forget. If you’re planning on walking the entire route, plan your trip for around 35 days.
8. Flamenco Dance in Seville
If you’re looking to authentic things to do in Spain, there’s no better place than to visit Seville, the birthplace of Flamenco. This passionate and powerful art form, which combines singing, dancing, and guitar playing. It is an integral part of Andalusian culture and a must-experience on any trip to Spain.
In Seville, you’ll find numerous ‘tablaos’ (Flamenco venues), where you can witness the raw emotion and intensity of a live Flamenco performance. One of the most renowned tablaos is Casa de la Memoria, known for its intimate atmosphere and high-quality performances.
Many dance schools offer Flamenco classes for beginners, where you can learn the basic steps and rhythms. It’s a fun and interactive way to connect with Spanish culture, and one of the best things to do in Spain for couples.
Beyond Flamenco, Seville is a city that captivates at every turn. From the majestic Seville Cathedral and the stunning Alcázar Palace to the vibrant Triana neighborhood. And the picturesque Plaza de España, Seville is a city that promises to leave you enchanted.
Experiencing Flamenco in Seville is an authentic and unique journey into the heart and soul of Andalusian culture. It’s a must-do on any trip to Spain and a highlight of any visit to Seville.
9. Unleash your Inner Child at La Tomatina, Buñol
For a truly unique and unforgettable Spanish experience, plan your trip around La Tomatina, the world’s biggest food fight. Held on the last Wednesday of August in the small town of Buñol in Valencia. La Tomatina is a festival like no other and is one of the most unique things to do in Spain.
The origins of La Tomatina date back to 1945 when a group of young people started a tomato fight in the town square. The event was so popular that it became an annual tradition, attracting participants from around the world.
The rules of La Tomatina are simple: for one hour, participants throw ripe tomatoes at each other, turning the streets of Buñol into a sea of red. The tomatoes used are of a variety that’s not suitable for consumption, ensuring that no food is wasted.
Don’t worry, La Tomatina isn’t just tomato fights! The festival also authentic includes music, parades, dancing, and a paella cooking contest. It’s a week-long celebration of fun, camaraderie, and Spanish culture.
Participating in La Tomatina is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that promises to be messy, chaotic, and incredibly fun. It’s a must-do for adventurous travelers and a highlight of any trip to Spain.
10. Go Hiking in the Picos de Europa
There’s a wealth of places to visit in Spain for outdoor lovers, and one of the best is hiking in the Picos de Europa. This mountain range, which spans the regions of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile and León. It is a haven for hikers, with trails that offer stunning views of rugged peaks, deep gorges, and verdant valleys.
One of the most popular hikes in the Picos de Europa is the Cares Gorge trail, also known as the “Divine Gorge”. This 12-kilometer trail, carved into the side of the gorge, offers breathtaking views of the river below and the towering cliffs above.
The region is also home to charming mountain villages, where you can experience traditional Spanish culture and cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to try the local cider and Cabrales cheese, a strong blue cheese that’s a unique specialty of the region.
The Picos de Europa is also a great place for wildlife watching. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including chamois, deer, and the Cantabrian brown bear. And let’s not forget the impressive array of birdlife, including the majestic golden eagle.
Hiking in the Picos de Europa is a chance to immerse yourself in Spain’s stunning natural beauty and discover a side of the country that many tourists miss. It’s a must-do for any nature lover and a truly underrated place to visit in Spain.
11. Enjoy a Wine Tasting in La Rioja
Spain is one of the world’s top wine-producing countries. Andd there’s no better place to experience its viticultural riches than La Rioja. This region, located in northern Spain, is known for its high-quality wines, particularly its Tempranillo-based reds. If you’re a wine lover, this is one of the best things to do in Spain.
La Rioja is home to over 500 wineries, ranging from small family-run bodegas to large-scale producers. Many of these wineries offer tours and tastings. As such, it gives you the chance to learn about the winemaking process, explore the vineyards, and sample the wines.
One of the highlights of a visit to La Rioja is the chance to try aged wines. Unlike in other regions, where wines are consumed young, in La Rioja, it’s common for wines to be aged for several years or even decades. This results in complex and nuanced flavors.
The La Rioja region is also known for its stunning landscapes, with rolling vineyards, rugged mountains, and the winding Ebro River. Don’t forget to explore its charming villages, with their medieval churches and cobblestone streets promising to enchant every visitor.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a casual drinker, a visit to La Rioja is a unique chance to immerse yourself in Spanish wine culture. You’ll discover the passion and craftsmanship that goes into every bottle.
12. Explore the White Villages of Andalusia
For a taste of traditional Spanish life, head to the white villages of Andalusia. These charming villages, known as “pueblos blancos,” are scattered throughout the hills and mountains of Andalusia, their whitewashed houses gleaming in the Spanish sun.
Each village has its own unique charm, but they all share certain characteristics. Narrow, winding streets, houses adorned with colorful flowers, stunning views of the surrounding countryside, and a slow pace of life that invites you to relax and soak up the atmosphere.
One of the most picturesque white villages is Ronda, perched on a cliff and divided by a deep gorge. Its old town, with its Moorish architecture and cobblestone streets, is a delight to explore. Don’t miss the chance to walk across the Puente Nuevo, a bridge spanning the gorge. It’s easy to enjoy the stunning views of the village and the surrounding countryside. Ronda is one of my personal favorite places to visit in Spain. It’s beauty and charm resonate with me to this day!
Another must-visit is Mijas, located on the Costa del Sol. Known for its beautiful beaches and stunning sea views, Mijas is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. It combines a beach holiday with a taste of traditional Spanish life.
Exploring the White Villages of Andalusia is a chance to step back in time and experience a side of Spain that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. For anyone seeking an authentic Spanish experience, Andalusia’s White Villages are among the best things to do in Spain.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Things to Do in Spain
Looking for more information on the best things to do in Spain? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Spain:
What is Spain’s big attraction?
Spain’s biggest attraction is the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, this iconic basilica is celebrated for its intricate architecture, stunning facades, and towering spires. While it remains unfinished, the Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws millions of visitors each year. This makes it one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Its unique blend of Gothic and Art Nouveau forms showcases Gaudí’s innovative architectural style and vision.
When is the best time to visit Spain?
Spain is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to do. For beach holidays, the summer months (June to August) are ideal, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. For city breaks and cultural trips, spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November) offer milder weather and fewer crowds. If you’re interested in winter sports, the ski season typically runs from December to April.
What parts of Spain are worth visiting?
Spain is a country brimming with diverse attractions and regions worth exploring. Here are some parts of Spain that I highly recommend visiting:
- Madrid: The capital city is known for its world-class art museums, vibrant nightlife, and historic sites.
- Barcelona: Renowned for its modernist architecture, especially the works of Antoni Gaudí, including the iconic Sagrada Familia.
- San Sebastián: A coastal city famous for its gourmet experiences, beautiful beaches, and the International Film Festival.
- Balearic Islands: Comprising islands like Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca, they are celebrated for their beaches, sapphire-colored waters, and vibrant nightlife.
- Seville: The Andalusian capital boasts the Alcazar, the Cathedral, and the historic Santa Cruz neighborhood.
- Toledo: A medieval city known for its rich Christian, Jewish, and Muslim history.
- Granada: Home to the Alhambra, a stunning Moorish palace, and the historic Albaicín district.
- Santiago de Compostela: The final destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, known for its impressive cathedral.
Each of these Spain destinations offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. As such, this makes Spain a diverse and captivating country to explore.
What must I do in Spain?
You must visit the Alhambra in Granada, a stunning Moorish palace and one of Spain’s most iconic landmarks.
The Alhambra is not just a palace. It’s a sprawling hilltop fortress complex that overlooks the city of Granada in southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Built predominantly in the mid-13th century during the Nasrid dynasty, it stands as a testament to the grandeur and sophistication of Moorish architecture and design. Is this one of the must-sees in Spain? You bet!
Do I need to speak Spanish to travel in Spain?
While it’s always helpful to know a few phrases in the local language, it’s not necessary to speak Spanish to travel in Spain. In tourist areas and major cities, English is widely spoken. However, learning a few basic Spanish phrases can enhance your travel experience and help you connect with locals.
What is the currency in Spain?
Spain uses the Euro (€) as its currency.
What kind of activities can you do in Spain?
Spain offers a diverse range of activities for travelers, thanks to its rich history, varied landscapes, and vibrant culture. Here are some activities in Spain you should consider doing:
- Cultural exploration: Visit historic sites like the Alhambra in Granada, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the Royal Palace in Madrid.
- Art and museums: Explore world-renowned museums like the Prado in Madrid. Other top-notch museums include Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.
- Culinary adventures: Savor traditional Spanish dishes like paella, tapas, and churros. Attend a cooking class or go on a wine-tasting tour, especially in regions like La Rioja.
- Flamenco shows: Experience the passion of Flamenco in cities like Seville, Granada, and Madrid.
- Beach relaxation: Lounge on the beautiful beaches of Costa Brava, Costa del Sol, or the Balearic Islands.
- Hiking and trekking: Explore natural parks like the Picos de Europa or embark on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
- Water sports: Engage in activities like surfing in the Basque Country, snorkeling in the Mediterranean, or sailing in the Balearic Islands.
- Festivals: Participate in unique Spanish festivals like La Tomatina in Buñol, Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, or the Seville Fair.
- Biking: Cycle through cities or take on more challenging routes in the countryside.
- Historic villages: Discover the charm of Spain’s “pueblos blancos” (white villages) in Andalusia or medieval towns in Catalonia. These historic sites are next level!
What is the food like in Spain?
Spanish cuisine is diverse and varies by region. Some popular dishes include paella, a rice dish typically made with seafood or meat. Tapas, small plates of various dishes; and gazpacho, a cold tomato soup. Spain is also known for its excellent wine and olive oil. In my view, Spain has some of the best (and freshest) food in the world!
What is cool about Spain?
Spain captivates with its rich cultural attractions, from the Flamenco rhythms of Andalusia to the modernist wonders of Gaudí in Barcelona. Its diverse landscapes range from sun-kissed beaches to rugged mountains. While the cuisine, boasting delights like paella and tapas, is a gastronomic adventure. The country’s vibrant festivals, such as La Tomatina and the Running of the Bulls, showcase its spirited essence. Moreover, with legendary football clubs, world-renowned artists, and a unique blend of tradition and modernity, Spain offers a dynamic and enriching experience that resonates with travelers worldwide. This is one of the many reasons why I decided to live there!
Is Spain a safe country to visit?
Yes, Spain is a safe country to visit, with a low crime rate compared to other European countries. However, as with any destination, it’s important to take basic safety precautions, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and avoiding deserted areas at night.
Spain: Final thoughts on this vibrant country
Spain is a country that captivates at every turn. From its sun-drenched beaches and stunning landscapes to its vibrant cities and rich cultural heritage, Spain offers a wealth of experiences that promise to make your journey unforgettable.
Whether you’re exploring the iconic landmarks of Barcelona and Granada, immersing yourself in the traditional culture of Seville and the White Villages of Andalusia, or embarking on an outdoor adventure in the Picos de Europa, Spain is one of the best places to visit for any traveler. There are truly endless things to do and sites to see in Spain.
But perhaps what makes Spain truly special is its people. Warm, welcoming, and passionate about their culture, the Spanish people are the heart and soul of the country.Share tapas with locals in a bustling Madrid bar. Dance Flamenco in a Seville tablao. Or, walk the Camino de Santiago alongside fellow pilgrims. The connections you make with the people that will make your trip truly memorable.
So, are you ready to fall in love with Spain? Whether you’re planning your first visit or your tenth, I hope this guide has inspired you to explore this beautiful and diverse country. Buen viaje!