Spain is known for its stunning cities, beautiful beaches, and picturesque towns. However, if you are researching a trip in the country, the same names will probably crop up time and again — all places filled to the brim with tourists. Even experienced travelers end up visiting the most famous landmarks and attending the most popular events.
But Spain is a diverse country, scattered with hidden gems that most people never even hear about, let alone see for themselves. The following are what we consider the best cities to visit in Spain.
The Best Cities to Visit in Spain
Located in northern Spain on the Ebro River, Logroño dates back to Roman times when it was a commercial port. Structures still remain that show the city’s different eras of history, including the Bridge of Mantible, the Catedral de Santa María de la Redonda, and a fountain — Fuente de la Gran Vía — which depicts royal figures who have a connection to the area. The city is best known for its Rioja wine and tapas, with more than 50 tapas restaurants spread over four blocks near downtown. For more info, check out this excellent travel post by blogger Cat Gaa from her Sunshine + Siestas blog.
This city in Andalusia has a little piece of everything, from the Mediterranean coast and distant mountains to a rich cultural appeal. Just Landed recommends checking out the 16th-century cathedral, the gold mines of Rodalquilar, and the Alcazaba castle. If you arrive in the second week of August, you can also attend a traditional festival with entertainment, food, drinks, music, and fireworks. Travel blogger Molly at Piccavey has a fantastic guide to the city on her blog.
Known as the City of a Thousand Sieges, Girona has withstood numerous attacks throughout its centuries of existence, explains Escape Here. If you are interested in history, this place is a must-see. You can visit walls dating from the Roman period, Moorish baths, Gothic-style churches, and the Girona Cathedral, which features an 11th-century tapestry depicting theological scenes. Nomadic Matt offers some additional recommendations in this blog post.
4. Santillana del Mar
Although not a coastal town as its name would suggest, Santillana del Mar is just a short drive from the sea in the north and provides a idyllic spot for travelers looking to stay away from the crowds. The town is surrounded by hills and fields, its cobbled streets decorated with centuries-old houses and churches. Don’t leave without visiting the Museum of Altamira, which contains replicas of the nearby cave paintings. Blogger Christine (Christine in Spain) has some gorgeous photos of the town on her blog!
The largest city in Asturias, Gijón is perfect for those who like to explore the outdoors with its hidden coves,beaches and fishing village, says Skyscanner. Gijón is also a great source of culture, home to 13 libraries, several museums (including the Railway Museum of Asturias and the Museum of Asturian People), and the annual Gijón International Film Festival.
The main city in the region of Murcia in southeast Spain, all the main sights are within walking distance of one another, including charming narrow streets, the baroque Catedral de Murcia, several churches, and the River Segura. Murcia is also the perfect place to enjoy Spanish culture and excellent food, such as local sweet meat pies and tapas. Travel and food blogger Lauren Aloise at Spanish Sabores has a great post here about what to explore in Murcia.
Staying off the beaten track by going to one of the above best cities to visit in Spain gives you a great opportunity to practice your Spanish with locals. Whereas in the big tourist cities there are plenty of English speakers, in these places you may need to rely on your Spanish skills to survive! Knowing some common phrases can help, but having a better grasp on conversational Spanish can do wonders for your confidence as you’re traveling around the country.
Need some extra help before your trip? Find a Spanish tutor in your area and brush up on your skills!