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The 18 best places to visit in Spain

From the bars of Barcelona and beaches of Andalucia to small towns and wine regions, these are Spain’s essential destinations

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Millions flock to Spain every year to see the likes of Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. And while those top dogs are popular for a reason (they’re all fantastic), there’s so much more to this beautiful country than just its famous cities. 

So why not save some energy for the national parks, the cultural richness and fascinating history of this enveloping country while you’re here? You’ll find secret wineries, romantic castles, symbolic mountains and more, in a country that is as varied as it is fabulous. Here are the very best places to visit in Spain, according to our experts.

📍 The best things to do in Spain
🏖 The best beaches in Spain
😋 The best restaurants in Spain
🗺 The best city breaks in Europe

At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Best places to visit in Spain

At least once in their lives, everyone – yes, everyone – should visit Barcelona. The capital of the northwest autonomous region of Catalonia, this city is a cultural behemoth with museums, restaurants and nightlife options galore. It ain’t one of the most popular destinations on the planet for nothing, y’know.

Discover Barcelona:

📍 The best things to do in Barcelona
🌳 The best secret Barcelona parks and gardens
🎨 The best museums in Barcelona
🛏 The best hotels in Barcelona

Elegant, magnificent, glorious Madrid ticks every box you could want of a capital city. From the Prado to the Debod Egyptian temple, the Spanish capital is absolutely teeming with elite museums, classic attractions, continent-leading restaurants, blissful green spaces and much more. Whether you’re a seasoned Madrid veteran or first-timer, this city has enough stuff to see and do to fill several lifetimes. 

Discover Madrid:

📍 The best things to do in Madrid
😋 The best restaurants in Madrid
🍹 The best bars in Madrid


Over the past few decades Bilbao has transformed from being the industrial powerhouse of the Basque region into a dazzling cultural hub. The swish and flashy Guggenheim might get the most attention, but this northern city’s old town, markets, Nirvión estuary and delicious pintxos also ensure it’s one of Spain’s most distinctive and exciting destinations.

Discover Bilbao:

📍 The best things to do in Bilbao

Despite seeing an uptick in international visitors in recent years, the western coastal city of Valencia remains a criminally underrated Spanish destination. As renowned for its arts and sciences as it is for its foodie history and gastronomic innovation, Valencia is as exciting as contemporary Spain gets. And it’s all within reach of some of the country’s finest beaches! Dreamy.

Discover Valencia:

📍 The best things to do in Valencia
🏄‍♀️ The best beaches in Valencia


Sitting sun-scorched pretty much year-round, the southern city of Seville is a laidback, romantic sort of place. Boasting stately palaces, intimate courtyards, characterful bars and plenty of tasty (and cheap) tapas restaurants, Spain’s fourth-largest city enchants on several levels. Just remember your sunscreen.

Discover Seville:

📍 The best things to do in Seville


Centred around the majestic Alhambra palace – a massive fortress which sits high up on a hill mightily overlooking the city – Granada sees medieval and modern Spain clash in a very gritty, down-to-earth sort of way. Medieval Moorish architecture and ancient cave dwellings rub shoulders with buzzy student communities and rowdy tapas bars – it’s a captivating mix.

Discover Granada:

📍 The best things to do in Granada

The Canaries have been a well-established holiday destination for decades – so there’s a chance you might have dismissed them as package holiday fodder. But you couldn’t be more wrong. From Gran Canaria’s dazzling archaeological sites and Fuerteventura’s aloe vera estates to Tenerife’s stargazing and Lanzarote’s marvels of modernist architecture, these islands are packed full of surprises.

Discover the Canary Islands:

🌱 The best things to do in Fuerteventura
🎨 The best things to do in Lanzarote
🔭 The best things to do in Tenerife


Make no mistake: Majorca (or ‘Mallorca’, as the locals call it) lives up to its rep when it comes to sun, sand and surf. This place has over 300 beaches and coves – but it’s also got much, much more. The largest Balearic island, Majorca also boasts scenic hikes, picturesque stone villages, characterful markets and one-of-a-kind museums, to name just a few of its charms.

Discover Majorca:

🏖 The best things to do in Majorca
🛏 The best hotels in Majorca

Travellers’ usual mad dash to the resorts of Costa Blanca often means they overlook the city of Alicante – and that’s a crying shame! Alicante is alive with clifftop castles, fascinating museums, grand bazaars and maze-like neighbourhoods. It’s always, always worth a look.

Discover Alicante:

📍 The best things to do in Alicante


Sat in northern Catalonia on the confluence of four (yep, four) rivers, Girona is one of Spain’s most historically-rich cities, founded by the Romans well over a thousand years ago. The Girona of today is a well-preserved ancient city, from its gorgeous medieval walled quarter to its towering main cathedral.

Málaga is the capital and main hub on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol, but it’s one of Spain’s top cultural destinations, too. Take a break from the city’s magnificent beaches and turquoise waters and you’ll find an art hub home to the likes of the Museo Picasso and the only Centre Pompidou outside of France.


Beach spots don’t come much more legendary than Benidorm (yes, UK readers, it’s a real place and not just a TV show), but this is a particularly attraction-packed seaside town. Aside from the iconic Playa de Poniente, you’ve got natural parks, craggy rock formations, elegant restaurants and spirited tapas bars aplenty. In other words, there’s more than enough in Benidorm to keep you busy when you’re off the beach.

Discover Benidorm:

🏖 The best things to do in Benidorm

A short trip down the coast from Málaga, Benalmádena is a town primed for pleasure. Home to pristine beaches, well-equipped resorts and thrilling theme parks, here you’ll find the bustle of the Costa del Sol rub shoulders with mountainside tranquillity. Few places know how to kick back and relax quite like it.



Santiago de Compostela

The final stop of the centuries-old Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, Santiago de Compostela is as well-known for the baroque grandeur of its huge cathedral as it is for its rugged, wind-battered coastal landscape. Santiago is one of Spain’s less sunny spots, sure, but it’s also one of its most fascinating.  

La Rioja

Yes, wine. You knew we’d get here eventually. La Rioja is one of the world’s most famous wine-growing regions, known for its particularly fruity, aromatic vinos. And if you’re a big fan of wine? Well, you’d be silly not to pop into a few vineyards and wineries such as the Frank Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal or the vast and labyrinthine López de Heredia.



Most remarkable about the Extremedura city of Cáceres isn’t just its mishmash of cultures – it’s that somehow pretty much all of them have been preserved so well. From the Romans and Moors to the Goths (no, not those goths) and the Renaissance, Cáceres is a wonderful and fascinating hodgepodge. Mixed in amongst all that are Michelin-starred restaurants, Fluxus art museums and tonnes of fab churches and squares.


Ever seen a building quite like that? Thought not. Cuenca’s famous for its Hanging Houses ('Casas Colgadas'), which cling to the ravine cliffs of the Huécar river. And that isn’t the only attraction in Cuenca. In fact, the entire walled town is Unesco-protected and crammed full of spectacular churches, convents, palaces, castles and towers.

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