The best things to do and places to see in Spain
Spain is so diverse that no matter how many areas you visit, you’ll feel as though it were a different country every time. A country diverse in culture and tradition, yet surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature. The verdant north of regions such as Galicia, Asturias and Catalonia provide action-packed adventures for nature lovers, whereas metropolitan hubs such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Malaga make for the perfect holiday where you can discover delicious food and impressive architecture all in the presence of exceptional weather.
Exploring Spain: winding cycle paths and scenic driving routes
Pick your favorite terrain and get lost on a Mediterranean cycling holiday in Spain. Like France, Spain is full of endless possibilities for cycling. Camino De Santiago is one of our top recommendations; a famous pilgrimage which many from all over the world undertake every year. This pilgrimage is also very sociable with hostels and hotels hosting trekkers and cyclists around the seasonal clock. If you’re planning on cycling solo, this is a good opportunity to make new friends on an old path.
Other fantastic cycling destinations in Spain include various trails in the Pyrenees, the TransAndalus trail in Andalusia which is the perfect way to tour the eight provinces of Spain’s most southern region.
The Balearic Islands also make for splendid views and scenery with the addition of crystal clear coastlines. Mallorca is a popular cycling destination, as well as more downbeat and off the radar Formentera.
Spain’s former railway tracks, “Vías Verdes”, are located all over the country and renowned for their verdant views. Vía de la Jara is a top choice amongst trekkers and cyclists wishing to explore the historic Toledo province.
Top Experiences: things to do in Spain
Whether you desire to let loose in a tomato fight in Buñol or celebrate Las Fallas in Valencia, there are thousands of things to do in Spain. Shopaholics should hit the sales in Madrid, whereas sailors should head for the Balearic Islands and spend a sailing holiday in clear blue paradise. If you’re looking for your next adventure or big trekk, why not try walking the Camino de Santiago or keep it urban and cycle Barcelona instead. And if you really want to jump into Spanish culture, take to the Basque Country and run with the bulls at San Fermín in Pamplona!
Sightseeing in Spain
Spain’s landmarks comprise of wondrous architecture and historic buildings which have hundreds of stories to tell.
Visit the Alhambra in Granada and walk amongst the ancient walls of the city as old as the 9th century. The bright blue sky and mountains surrounding this ancient complex really are the cherry on the cake to a such a historic and scenic sight.
Gaudí’s famous work can be viewed all over Barcelona, but predominantly in famous landmarks such as the Sagrada Família, Parc Güell and Casa Batlló. His world-famous work is visited yearly by millions who stand in awe at his brilliance, artistry and creation. After all, if entering the Sagrada Família doesn’t give you shudders, we really don’t know what will.
If you’re into museums, visit the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao where before even entering you are left questioning architecture and design. This iconic building is a statement of modern architecture with the contemporary art inside stealing the show.
Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences adds to our museum collection of must-sees. This innovative city of discovery has something for all with its spectacular architecture and variety of exhibitions and digital projections.
Spain’s capital, Madrid, features marvelous palaces and parks where you can absorb metropolitan city life at the same time as historic monuments and buildings. Gourmet restaurants, creative cocktails concoctions, stuff yourself silly with delicious delights served in restaurants and bars. The city buzz of Madrid will leave you itching to visit again.
Discover Spain by Interest: Spanish food and culture
The range of food in different regions is truly scrumptious. Of course, Spain’s renowned tapas mean you get to try a bit of everything within one sitting! Well maybe almost... Enjoy some homemade croquetas, sample different types of tortilla, prawns, various cured meats and gorge on cheese for days.
Horchata and paella are traditional in Valencia, although you will find yummy paella dishes on offer everywhere in Spain. While sangria is a nationwide beverage, sangria de cava is a Catalan take on sangria in a fizzy, fruity frenzy.
Festivals in Spain
Music festivals in Spain are numerous with Barcelona hosting Primavera, Sonar, Cruïlla and DGTL alone. One of the biggest international music scenes in Spain is the International Festival of Benicassim in Valencia, where Arenal Sound is also held. Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival is fairly young but already into its third edition, whereas DCODE festival is in full swing yearly, having started in 2011. UVA festival in Malaga and Bilbao BBk live are other great festivals to look out for, as well.
If you’d rather get in touch with Spain’s more traditional festivals, why not visit during San Juan to watch the fireworks and spend the shortest night of the year out on the town. Los Reyes shower parade goers with sweets and other goodies every 6 January while Giants parade Catalonia, Valencia and the Basque Country during annual events such as Corpus, Carnaval and Festa Major.
Shopping in Spain
Seaside markets, high street shop sales and designer details, shopping in Spain is perfect for all. Get lost in old book shops in Barcelona or visit small seaside villages and browse town markets. Madrid offers endless opportunities for hyperactive shoppers with plenty of high streets lined with retail stores.
Travel Tips: things to know before visiting Spain
Travelers should take into account that Spain comprises of several autonomous communities with diverse cultures, languages and traditions. Despite co-official languages such as Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Galician and Aranese being spoken in various autonomous regions of Spain, Spanish is the official language and spoken everywhere, meaning you can get around with your Spanish handbook just fine. Though who says you shouldn’t impress locals with some local language!
The Spanish climate varies from region to region. The north of Spain is generally associated as a much cooler and also rainier area, compared to areas such as Andalusia which can sizzle up to 40 ºC during the day in summertime. Autumntime in the south is mild and a pleasant time to visit for those who aren’t too keen on summer heat.
Cities to Visit in Spain
The ever-blue sky in Madrid has its own special shade according to Madrilenians. Visit Spain’s capital and spend your time gorging on delicious picnic food in its verdant parks and resting after a day sightseeing. Madrid is a lively capital, perfect for a city break with a mixture of history and culture, fabulous food, beautiful buildings and atmospheric night scenes.
Visited by up to 32 million a year, this Catalan capital is a travel magnet with its sandy coastline, wondrous buildings and historic center. Ponder the architecture marvels as you sip some sangria de cava (a must-try) and visit the bunkers in El Carmel to watch the sunset.
A verdant city with cycle paths and seaside, Valencia’s Las Fallas festival attracts locals and visitors from all around the world to celebrate the week long festival of fun, with a flaming finale. The City of Arts and Sciences is a must-visit, as well as the panoramic view from the beautiful cathedral.
One of Spain’s most beautiful cities, Seville’s cathedral is a top attraction, as well as other charming churches. The ideal location to experience your first flamenco show is in Seville, where the renowned sevillana flamenco dance originated. Visit during spring to catch the Sevillana festival.
Due to the Alhambra stealing the show, most people overlook that you can actually ski close by Granada. It might be difficult to imagine when the weather is so hot in the summertime, but the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada are perfect for skiing in the winter.
A small yet exciting city, Bilbao has made itself a cultural and artistic hotspot with its combination of medieval architecture and contemporary works of the Guggenheim. Stroll the river which flows through this charmingly compact city and walk wherever you please.