Spain

What to do in Spain: Top 30 things to do 2018

What to do in Spain

You want to visit Spain during your next vacation but you still do not know what to see or where to go?

Well, that’s good!

Our guide to things to do and see in Spain will allow you to get an idea of ​​the country and plan your travel itinerary.

For each place, I will tell you the essentials of the region , which will allow you to discover what are the best places to visit and cities to see in Spain.

So, what to do in Spain? Go now to discover the most beautiful cities and places of interest of the Iberian Peninsula!

Visit Spain: the must-sees

1. Barcelona

The mythical city of Barcelona , capital of the Catalan region, is the most visited of Spain . Its assets are not lacking: it has to offer superb beaches, numerous museums, a beautiful historic center, a lively nightlife, as well as tapas bars not to be missed.

Do not miss the crazy monuments built by architect Antoni Gaudí!

Do not miss it during your visit to Barcelona:

  • The Sagrada Familia
  • Park Güell
  • Casa Milà and Casa Batlló , 2 buildings designed by Gaudí
  • The Gothic Quarter
  • La Rambla , emblematic avenue of Barcelona
  • Montjuïc Hill , where the Botanical Garden of Barcelona is located, as well as the Olympic facilities of the 1992 Olympic Games.
  • Camp Nou , legendary stadium of FC Barcelona
If you love thrills, take the opportunity to go to the theme park Port Aventura , 1h30 from Barcelona.
View of Barcelona from Guell Park

2. Madrid

Capital of Spain, Madrid is a must because of its lively and highly charged atmosphere that will delight many. Personally, I loved to stroll the evening in the alleys lined with restaurants, nibble tapas in different bars, mingle with the Spanish youth who gathers on the main squares. Madrid does not miss places to discover, here are the ones that I consider the most interesting!

  • The Palace of Cybele , for its magnificent architecture
  • The Plaza Mayor of Madrid
  • The Royal Palace of Madrid 
  • The Prado Museum
  • The sublime Retiro Park , one of the best landscaped in Europe!

If you want to visit Madrid, I have written a complete guide to the city, you can read it here: What to do in Madrid? Top 20 things to discover

If you are visiting Madrid for a few days, do not miss a day trip to the sublime monastery of Escurial , 45km from the city.
the Palace of Cybele, in my eyes the most beautiful building of Madrid!

3. Seville

Located in the heart of Andalusia, Seville is a destination of choice for your tour in Spain! The city enjoys a pleasant climate all year long, of a particular cultural richness and an exceptional environment, between sea and mountains. Enjoy its warm atmosphere, discover its friendly inhabitants and enjoy the warmth of the South!

Must see in Seville:

  • The Spanish Steps
  • Seville Cathedral and Giralda
  • The Alcazar of Seville , a marvel of architecture, as well as its gardens.
  • The bullring of the Real Maestranza de Caballería in Seville
  • The Torre del Oro (Torre del Oro), on the banks of the Alfonso XIII canal

All information and tips to visit Seville are in our article: The 15 things to see in Seville

The Spanish Steps, in Seville

4. The El Torcal Nature Reserve in Antequera

Considered one of the most beautiful landscapes in Spain, the El Torcal de Antequera reserve contains impressive rock formations, worthy of a miniature Grand Canyon. Created by millennia of erosion, these natural sculptures are really worth seeing.

The surrounding landscape is wild, and the man walking among these eroded rocks feels the power of nature and receives a good dose of humility. And with a little luck, you will even meet some ibexes who are frolicking in this preserved landscape.

5. Santiago de Compostela

Famous all over the world, Santiago de Compostela is the last stop of the famous pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of people get on their way, on foot, on horseback or by bike, to this mythical destination.

Once there, you will discover an incredible cultural and historical richness, which has earned the city to be a World Heritage Site. Do not miss :

  • The cathedral , very impressive
  • The medieval historic center
  • The typical narrow streets that crisscross the city
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

6. Cordoba

Also located in Andalusia, Cordoba is my favorite city in Andalusia! The most famous monument of the city is the Mezquita , an amazing mix between a mosque and a cathedral. Change of scenery guaranteed! Its different architectural styles will interest enthusiasts, and its dozens of colorful arches will appeal to all the family.

Cordoba is a pleasant city where you can stroll, and its old center is full of remarkable monuments. To do in Cordoba:

  • The Mezquita , also called Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
  • The historic center
  • The tower of Calahorra, its famous Roman Bridge and the bridge gate
  • The Alcázar of the Christian kings of Cordoba , which has a beautiful garden
  • The Roman Temple of Cordoba
The visit to Cordoba is very good on a day from Seville, the 2 cities are only 40 minutes by express train! The ticket costs around 30 euros round trip. If you want to visit Cordoba , I recommend you to read our complete guide to the city, with detailed maps and tips: What to do in Cordoba?
The arches of the Mezquita, Cordoba

7. Zaragoza

Zaragoza is one of my favorite cities in Spain. It is a city not very touristy, off the beaten track, which makes it fun to discover. Built on the banks of the Río Ebro, Zaragoza reveals its charm at sunset, with its romantic bridge and its basilica worthy of a children’s fairy tale. A must see:

  • The Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar
  • The fortified palace of Aljaferia
  • The old fortifications of the Roman era
View of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar basilica in Zaragoza

8. The Roman vestiges of Merida

It is the largest Roman archaeological site in Spain. Faithful representative of this era, the site of Mérida , which takes its name from the city of the same name, can be visited thanks to a pass sold 12 euros. You will have access to the huge amphitheater, the ruins of a 2000-year-old theater, and all the other buildings,giving you a good idea of ​​the way of life of the Spaniards under Roman rule. The site is so well preserved that it’s almost like …

The National Museum of Roman Art of Mérida is also worth visiting!

The Roman theater of Merida

9. Toledo

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toledo is a charming city located south of Madrid. With its air of frozen city in time, Toledo has a rich architectural heritage, influenced by many civilizations. The result is a special atmosphere, varied and original buildings, and a particularly open-minded population. To do in Toledo :

  • The Alcázar of Toledo
  • The Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo
  • The Monastery of St. John of the Kings of Toledo
  • The Santa María la Blanca Synagogue
View of the Alcazar of Toledo

10. The coastline of the Ríis Baixas

The Baixas Rías represent the succession of valleys separated by the sea that make up the coastline of northwestern Spain. The region is not well known to tourists, but the landscape is exceptional!

It is necessary to have a car to enjoy the Rias Baixas, otherwise access to the most beautiful corners may not be obvious. To do absolutely: stay in the corner until dusk, the sunset light on the ocean offers great opportunities for photos. The 5 Rías that make up the Rías Baixas are:

  • Ría de Corcubión
  • Ría de Muros y Noya
  • Ría de Arosa
  • Ría de Pontevedra
  • Ría de Vigo

11. Valencia

Valencia is one of the Spanish cities most visited by the French, and also one of the cheapest in terms of airfare to get there (you can get by with a return ticket to 20 € in low season). The city seduces thanks to its architecture mixing the old and the modern, and thanks to its relaxed atmosphere.

Places of interest not to be missed in Valencia:

  • The Plaza de la Virgen
  • The city of arts and sciences including the Oceanogràfic , an amazing architecture oceanarium!
  • The Barrio del Carmen
  • The  Turia Gardens , a public park amenagé in the old bed of the River Turia
  • The Torres de Serranos
  • Valencia Cathedral

12. Ordesa and Mont-Perdu National Park

This park, located in the Pyrenees mountain range, between Spain and France is easy to reach and really worth a visit! Lovers of nature and hiking will feast with its dozens of kilometers of marked trails, in a breathtaking landscape.

Located at the foot of Mount Lost , the Ordesa National Park is full of canyons, peaks, valleys and waterfalls (such as the “Cola de Caballo” waterfall), making it one of the most beautiful parks in the world. the peninsula. And wildlife is not left out either!

13. The Segovia aqueduct

Perhaps you have already heard about the Segovia aqueduct , built by the Romans in the first century AD. This building impresses with its 800 meters long and 20 000 blocks of granite used to build it. This is the largest Roman remnant in Spain , and it must be admitted, it is very photogenic!

If you go to Segovia, do not miss out on its historic center and the beautiful monuments that make it up, such as the Alcazar of Segovia or the magnificent cathedral.

the Segovia aqueduct

14. The Caminito del Rey

Notice to thrill seekers: the Caminito del Rey is a vertiginous trail to discover the most beautiful gorges of Spain . His particuliarity ? The footbridges are set directly on the side of the cliffs, which means that one walks just above the void.

The landscapes are breathtaking and, even if I’m dizzy, the experience remains one of my best memories in Spain! Formerly known as the most dangerous path in the world, the Caminito del Rey can now be discovered safely, thanks to the renovations made.

The Caminito del Rey is easily accessible by car from Ronda , (50 min) Antequera (50 min) and Malaga(1h)

15. The Picos de Europa National Park

This national park was among the first to be created in Spain. It is made up of three main rock masses, and offers dozens of hiking opportunities in a landscape worthy of a movie.

Do not miss the observation of the Naranjo de Bulnes peak , which lends itself well to photography, and if you have to make a single hike, go for the Ruta del Cares, which will take you to discover magnificent gorges.

16. Ronda

The peculiarity of this city is to be cut in half by a ravine with a depth of 130 meters. Located 100 km from Málaga , the city of Ronda is worth a visit, at least to photograph this unusual arrangement! When you cross the  Pont Neuf , which separates the two halves of Ronda, you will have an incredible panorama of the surrounding valley. Take time to get lost in the streets of this charming city, you will not regret it!

All information to visit Ronda are on our article: What to do in Ronda ?

The white village of Ronda

17. Valladolid

Known for its great architectural diversity, Valladolid will delight lovers of beautiful monuments. Influenced by many civilizations, the city has created an image of its own. If you have time, there are dozens of churches, palaces, squares, parks and monuments of all kinds that you will have the opportunity to visit. Places of interest of Valladolid:

  • The National Museum of Sculpture located in the magnificent Collège Saint- Grégoire
  • The Royal Palace of Valladolid
  • The Cathedral of Valladolid
To do in the surroundings of Vallodolid : the castle of Peñafiel , on the heights of the city of the same name. Quite little visited, it is definitely worth a look.

18. Natural Cabo de Gata-N í jar

To visit the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Park in Andalusia, stay at least two nights in the nearby city of San José . You will have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful beaches almost deserted, and admire the turquoise color of the sea Attention, summer, it is hot, very hot! This nature park is located in one of the driest regions in Europe, and has served as a backdrop for a number of spaghetti westerns in the 1960s! This is one of the most exotic places to see in Spain.

19. Montserrat

The massif of Montserrat is located in Catalonia, about sixty kilometers. Its rare geological formations, which each year attract specialists to study them, already make it a place apart. But the place is especially known to the general public for the Abbey of Monserrat , which enjoys a magnificent panorama of the surrounding valley.

Abbey of Monserrat

20. Granada

Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, thanks to its famous Alhambra, appearing on all the postcards of the city. Located in Andalusia, the heart of the city beats to the rhythm of the South: it is good to live, the inhabitants are smiling, and the monuments are not lacking. An excellent choice for a trip to Spain! Among the main attractions:

  • The Alhambra, of course, must-see among the must-see, with in particular: The gardens of the Generalife, the palace of Charles V and the Nasrid palaces
  • The viewpoint of San Nicolas , which offers a breathtaking view of the city
  • The basilica of San Juan de Dios , very richly decorated (I had never personally seen so much gilding!)
  • The historic center of Granada with its narrow streets and monuments
The Alhambra of Granada

21. Cadiz

Located on the west coast of Andalucia, at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz is not a tourist town at the base, but its historic center, its small port and its 2 forts overlooking the ocean. have really enjoyed! To see in Cadiz:

  • San Sebastian Castle
  • The castle of Santa Catalina
  • The Roman theater of Gades
  • The Cathedral of Cadiz
  • The monument of the 1812 constitution
  • The central Mercado

When you arrive in Cadiz from the mainland, you will certainly pass by the bridge of the Constitution of 1812 , opened in 2015, whose architecture is worth a look!

To discover Cadiz, I invite you to read my article: Visit Cadiz, the 12 things to do and see absolutely

walk to San Sebastian Castle

22. Bardenas Reales

The desert of Bardenas Reales , classified world reserve of the biosphere by UNESCO is the ideal place to spend a weekend especially if you live near the border Pyrenees with Spain. It will take you only 2h30 drive from Bayonne for example to be totally out of the way! On nearly 42,000 hectares, you can admire a landscape of rocks entirely shaped by erosion.

Do not forget to visit Castil de Tierra , a gigantic fairy chimney, emblem of the desert. Many hiking trails are available to you but you can also travel by bike, motorcycle or car. And for fans of series, know that scenes from the season 6 Game of Thrones have been shot.

Castil de Tierra, in the desert of Bardenas Reales

23. The Natural Park of Sierra de las Nieves

This is the last natural park in this top of things to do in Spain. Located between the cities of Málaga and Ronda , Andalusia, do not miss a visit if you visit them. The Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park is home to several mountain complexes rich in vegetation and wildlife. Dominated by Pico Torrecilla, which rises to 1919 m, this park offers many hiking opportunities, in an enchanting landscape of pine forests.

If you want to go to the Sierra de las Nieves on your next trip to Spain , you can download the tourist guide in PDF (in English and Spanish).

24. Antequera

Not far from Málaga and the aforementioned park, the city of Antequera has many unknown treasures: several baroque churches, a vast and beautiful main square, small parks scattered throughout the city, and other monuments to discover. To see in Antequera:

  • The Alcazaba overlooking the city and the Arco de los Gigantes that can be seen by going there.
  • The Colegiale of Santa Maria la Mayor of Antequera
  • The church El Carmen , which is worth it for its superb interior

But what gives Antequera its particularity is the set of prehistoric dolmens discovered on the outskirts of the city. They are not commonplace in Spain!

Antequera

25. Avila

Listed as World Heritage since 1985, the city of Avila is known for its impressive wall built in the Middle Ages to defend the city from the attacks of the Moors. 2500 m long and with no less than 88 towers, the Avila wall goes around the city and is incredibly well preserved.

Enjoy the medieval atmosphere prevailing in Avila, with the air of a medieval village.

Located 1h30 from Madrid by car, the city can very well be visited on a day.
The wall of Avila

26. Burgos

The city of Burgos is known because it is here that the Cid was born. Although having been largely modernized under the dictatorship of Franco, Burgos still counts with several monuments which are worth the detour. Among them are the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Burgos , considered one of the most beautiful in Spain (and the 3rd largest). It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city has bet on the greenery, you will have the pleasure of wandering in its medieval center, dotted with parks and green spaces of all kinds.

The Cathedral of St. Mary of Burgos

27. The Balearic Islands

Finally, to finish this top, I will now talk about some of the Spanish islands not to be missed, starting with the Balearic Islands

Mallorca

Mallorca is the largest of the Spanish islands, and it is also one of those that attracts the most tourists each year. This island paradise brings together a multitude of breathtaking landscapes: the turquoise sea, white sand beaches, dense forests, mountains for hiking … Everyone will find his account. The cities to discover on the island of Mallorca:

  • Valldemossa
  • Soller
  • Palma
  • Alcudia
  • Pollenca

Minorca

Like the little sister of Mallorca, Menorca is less known and more expensive to access. Better preserved than its neighbor, it will delight lovers of nature and tranquility. Its beaches are beautiful and often deserted, its coast offers many opportunities for water activities of all kinds, and its villages are charming. Do not miss places of interest:

  • The playa of Binigaus
  • Cala Mitjana
  • The village of Fornells
  • The city of Alaior

Ibiza

Although this island is now a rather bad reputation as a party island, alcohol and lust, it has a lot to offer. Stay away from the overcrowded South coast of young Europeans who come to have fun, and you will discover the true face of Ibiza .

It is an unspoiled island, whose 210 km of coastline lined with beaches ensure everyone a relaxing moment appreciable. Explore its coastal paths, discover its typical villages, and take the time to discover the old Ibiza, the one that is listed as a world heritage site.

The island of Formentera , 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza, is also to see!

28. Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands . Conquered by the Spaniards more than 500 years ago, this island has several heavenly beaches, Mount Teide , the highest in Spain, natural parks, a zoo, volcanoes … Its mild weather all year round makes it one of the most ideal destination during the winter. But beware of the price of airline tickets, which can go from single to triple depending on the time of booking!

29. Lanzarote

Lanzarote is the most exotic of the Canary Islands. Its lunar landscapes will surprise you for sure, I personally really felt like discovering another world!

Its lands are covered with black ashes, vegetation is almost non-existent, only a few species of succulents remain. Lanzarote is famous for its wine, made from vines grown in a curious way. A must see:

  • The cueva de los Verdes , a tube of lava that you can visit
  • Timanfaya National Park
  • The Chinijo archipelago and its natural park
  • The Cactus Garden

30. Gran Canaria

Like its sisters, the island of Gran Canaria attracts thousands of tourists each year, who come to enjoy the exceptional climate of the region. The range of possible activities is quite similar to the one proposed by Tenerife  : many paradisiacal beaches, charming villages, lively music at night in some bars, discovery of volcanoes, and countless hikes

Desert on the island of Gran Canaria

So, what are you planning to do in Spain?

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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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