Spanish cities: characteristics and sights

Top 10 best cities in Spain – which is definitely worth visiting

Spain has a lot of interesting and beautiful cities, because everyone has definitely heard about Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia. But these are only the most popular cities that every tourist knows about, but you can see much more and sometimes better in Spain, if you know where to look

Spain – known for its rich culture and history, is an ideal place for a European vacation. Well TAM made a list of the best cities in Spain, which is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.

Each Spanish city has its own unique rhythm of life, its own traditions and holidays.

The most popular destinations that come to mind when planning a trip to Spain are, of course, the capital Madrid and Barcelona.

Madrid and Barcelona are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring Spain’s amazing cityscapes and urban environments. But most cities, such as Toledo and Donostia, are often out of sight for travelers. It is for this reason that they are ideal places to explore in order to gain the most authentic understanding of this European nation.

Travelling in Spain is very easy and quite cheap. All major cities are connected by rail, and even many small villages too. What’s more, you can book train tickets online without even leaving home.

For those who like to be super organized, you can prepare your trip months in advance before you go to Spain!

Well, now we present to your attention, a list of 10 must-see cities in Spain:

1. Madrid

The Spanish capital Madrid is a perfect place for a European vacation or a short weekend getaway.

Madrid is elegant and stylish, with richly decorated architecture and perfectly manicured gardens and parks.

For lovers of fine art, Madrid is a must-see.

The Prado House, filled with impressive works dating back to the 12th century, so it’s easy to see why art fanatics from all over the world flock to Madrid.

Buen Retiro Park is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The park, with its lush fountains and extensive greenery, is a great place to escape the busy and noisy center of Madrid.

2. Barcelona

Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain.

Located in the region of Catalonia, Barcelona offers a perfect blend of culture and history in a modern cosmopolitan metropolis.

Bright, colorful and memorable, Barcelona goes beyond photogenic and provides great city perspectives wherever you turn!

The home of the famous FC Barcelona. Urban soccer fans head to Camp Nou to watch the Barça boys work wonders on the field.

The nightlife in Barcelona is fantastic and don’t forget the works of Gaudi.

Bars and clubs line the streets and the music plays until the morning.

If you want to attend cool parties, be sure to head to Barcelona!

3. Seville

Seville is the third largest city in Spain and the capital of the Andalusia region.

The city is considered the birthplace of the classical flamenco dance and has become world famous for it.

If you want to learn this traditional dance or watch the professionals perform, head to the Triana neighborhood and watch history unfold!

Other key attractions in Seville include the Alcázar castle complex and the Gothic Cathedral of Seville.

The Alcázar Castle complex was built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty and has an interesting history.

Another must-see in Seville is the 18th-century bullring called the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, where for hundreds of years man has fought the beast in the ultimate test of strength and courage.

4. Bilbao

Only 350,000 people live here. Tourists often skip Bilbao when touring Spain, which is unacceptable because this small port city, tucked away in Northern Spain, is a great vacation destination.

This industrial city is surrounded by green mountains and rugged countryside.

Bilbao is the capital of the Basque Country in Spain and includes traditional Spanish architecture with tall skyscrapers in the center of the city.

The Guggenheim Museum is Bilbao’s most visited attraction, built in 1997 by Frank Gehry. The museum is a place where contemporary works are collected in a beautiful, undulating titanium building.

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5. Valencia

Valencia is located in the Mediterranean part of Spain. This vibrant city is a place of abundant culture and art.

The city has its own international airport, from which there are domestic flights, as well as flights to other European cities.

Valencia is considered a city of arts and sciences and is home to some impressive and futuristic buildings, such as an oceanarium, planetarium and interactive museum.

Since the city is located on the coast, it boasts beautiful beaches.

During the summer months, these coastal areas are filled with tourists, but it is worth remembering that Valencia can be visited all year round, as the temperature here is quite comfortable.

6. Granada

If you’re looking for a more sedate but still very authentic Spanish experience, take a closer look at Granada.

This laid-back city boasts spectacular views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Take a day trip out of the city and walk through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains for some fresh, clean air.

Then head back to town, and be sure to visit BoogaClub, a great place with wild parties and live music every night!

7. Salamanca

The old town of Salamanca was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Located in northwestern Spain, Salamanca is part of the region of Castile and Leon.

Salamanca has a very large international student population, making it a great atmosphere that instantly makes you feel at ease.

Many travelers recommend visiting Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells) and Plaza Mayor.

Salamanca’s new cathedral is a must-see!

8. Toledo

As we mentioned earlier, the big and beautiful Barcelona and Madrid may be in the spotlight, but smaller cities like Toledo are also worth a visit. This ancient city sits high on a hill overlooking the plains of Castilla la Mancha in the heart of Spain.

Toledo is a fortress city with a rich and varied past; there are many monuments and statues for the Arab, Jewish and Christian communities. There is much to explore in Toledo.

In Toledo, the Puerta del Sol as well as the Moorish Bisagra Gate are definitely worth a visit.

The Sol Gate is located in the old quarter, next to the lively Plaza de Zocodover.

9. Malaga

Located on the Costa del Sol, Málaga is a popular destination for European tourists. There are plenty of resorts and hotels, and the city boasts good clean beaches.

Many tourists often neglect the beautiful architecture and rich heritage of Málaga in favor of beach parties and water sports.

Whatever your reason for going to Málaga, rest assured that you will be greeted with a smile and great hospitality.

Like Valencia, Málaga has an international airport that regularly flies to many European destinations with a number of budget airlines.

10. Cordoba

Tucked away in southern Spain in the Andalusia region, the same region as Seville, Cordoba was a key city during the Roman Empire and an important Islamic center during the Middle Ages.

Cordoba is most famous for the impressive and ornate Mosque of La Mesquita, which was built as early as 784 AD!

La Mesquita has an interesting history. In 1236 it became a Catholic church with Renaissance influences, it was built in the 17th century.

Advice for those deciding to travel in Spain

CAR RENTAL

  • Travelers who want to see as much of Spain as possible can rent a car for the duration of their stay;
  • If you are over 21 and have a driver’s license, you can rent a car with no problem, and renting a car can be cheaper than taking the train;
  • If you decide to rent a car, the rental company can easily arrange to have your car delivered to the airport to pick you up;
  • Don’t forget to check whether the car is fueled or not!

BUS TRAVEL

  • Traveling by bus in Spain is also a great option;
  • For example, a bus trip from Madrid to Granada only takes four hours and they run two or three times a day, more often in season;
  • It is quite cheap to travel by bus, and it is a good way to see the Spanish countryside. Buses are sure to make stops for food and toilets. You don’t have to strategically dehydrate your body for a long trip;
  • Spain is a vibrant and hospitable country with passionate and caring people who are happy to host tourists and travelers;
  • Learn a little bit of the language before your trip, it will help you during the trip, and even if you make mistakes, the Spaniards will always appreciate your efforts.
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Editor’s Choice

As far as Good TAM is concerned, we love visiting Girona. If you’re going to Spain, be sure to add this city to your itinerary.

The old town is beautifully nestled on the Onyar River, surrounded by medieval walls.

Several seasons of Game of Thrones were filmed in Girona.

The city has many attractions such as the Jewish Quarter, the Cathedral, and the cobblestone pedestrian streets.

Whether you want to visit big, bustling cities or smaller ones, remember, Spain has a city for all occasions!

Spain

Spain – the most detailed information about the country with photos. Attractions, cities of Spain, climate, geography, population and culture.

Spain (España)

Spain is a state in Southwestern Europe. It is one of the largest countries of the European Union, located on the Iberian Peninsula and occupying more than 2/3 of its territory. Spain borders Portugal to the west, France and Andorra to the north, and Gibraltar and Morocco to the south. The state consists of 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities and is a constitutional monarchy.

Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The country is famous for its beaches and sea, cuisine and nightlife, a special atmosphere and friendliness of the locals. Interestingly, Spain is second only to Italy and China in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition, this is a country with great geographical and cultural diversity. Here you can find almost everything: from lush meadows and snowy mountains to swamps and deserts.

Spanish flag

Mallorca Island

Mallorca Island

Useful information about Spain

  1. The population is 46.7 million people.
  2. The area is 505 370 square kilometers.
  3. Official language is Spanish (in some autonomous communities the local dialect is also considered an official language).
  4. Currency is the euro.
  5. Visa is Schengen.
  6. Time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Spain is one of the 30 most developed countries in the world.
  8. In Spain, during the daytime, some stores and institutions may be closed (siesta). Some restaurants and cafes do not serve dinner earlier than 8-9 pm.
  9. Tips are included in the bill. If you like the food or service you can set aside 5-10% of the bill.

Geography and Nature

Spain occupies 80% of the Iberian Peninsula. It also includes the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and a very tiny part of the North African coast. The Iberian Peninsula is located in the extreme south-west of Europe.

The topography of Spain is extremely diverse. Mountains and plateaus play the main role. The country is one of the most mountainous in Europe. The largest mountain systems are the Pyrenees, the Cordillera-Betica, the Iberian, Catalan and Cantabrian mountains. The largest plain is the Andalusian Lowland, located in the south. In the northeast is the Aragonese plain. The highest peak of continental Spain is Mount Mulhacen (3,478 and). The highest peak is located on the island of Tenerife – volcano Teide (3718 m).

Tajo River in Toledo.

Tahoe River

The largest rivers are Guadalquivir, Tahoe, Duero, Ebro. Spain is known for its long coastline. There are several thousand beaches along the coast. The largest resorts are Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz, Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

Geographical features are very diverse in flora and fauna of Spain. The north of the country is similar to Central Europe, and the south resembles North Africa. In the north-west, there are broad-leaved forests, in the south – deserts and semi-deserts, and the coast is characterized by Mediterranean flora.

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Climate

Spain is one of the warmest, even hot countries in Europe. Although due to the topography can be found in several climatic zones. The dominant climate is the Mediterranean climate, which is maritime on the coast, and in the central part of the arid. In most parts of the country summers are dry and hot, winters are warm and wet. In central areas in the cold season frosts are not uncommon.

Mountains in Spain

Mountains in Spain

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Spain is in April-May and September-October. July and August are very hot in most areas. During the cold season it can be quite rainy.

History

In the third millennium B.C., the Tartess civilization existed on the territory of the modern Iberian Peninsula. But already in the second millennium B.C. the Iberian tribes came here and later mingled with the Celts. In ancient times the Pyrenees were called Iberia. The Iberians quickly settled in Castile and built fortified settlements. Around the same millennium, Phoenician and Greek colonies were founded on the coast.

According to the most popular theory, the name of the country comes from the Phoenician “i-spanim”, which translates as “shore of the darmans”. The Romans used the word to refer to the territory of the entire peninsula.

In the 3rd century, almost the entire Iberian Peninsula was subjugated by Carthage. In 206 Carthage lost control of the Pyrenees. Since that period, for nearly two centuries, the Romans have tried to subdue these lands. The last free tribes were conquered by Rome in 19 BC under Emperor Augustus. Spain was one of the most prosperous and important Roman provinces. The Romans built roads and fortresses here. By the end of the 1st century more than 300 cities were founded here, trade and crafts flourished.

Toledo is one of the oldest cities in Spain.

Toledo is one of the oldest cities in Spain.

In the 4-5 century the Germanic tribes entered the territory of Spain and were soon completely displaced by the Visigoths. Even earlier the first Christians appeared here. The Visigoths founded their kingdom here, with its capital in Barcelona, and later in Toledo. In the 6th century, the Byzantine emperor Justinian tried to bring Spain back under his empire.

In 711, Arabs and Berbers from North Africa, later called Moors, came to the territory of the Iberian Peninsula. Interestingly, the Visigoths themselves (or rather one of their factions) called for their help. In just a few years the Moors conquered almost all the Pyrenees and formed the Umayyad Caliphate. It should be noted that the Arabs were quite merciful, preserving the property of the people, language and religion of the conquered territories.

Albacete

Albacete

Around the same time the Reconquista movement arose, whose goal was to liberate the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims. In 718 the Moors were stopped in the mountains of Asturias. By 914 the kingdom of Asturias included the territories of Galicia and Northern Portugal. After the Umayyad dynasty ended in 1031, the caliphate collapsed. At the end of the 11th century the Christians took over Toledo, Madrid and some other cities. In the 12th century the Spanish Empire was proclaimed, which emerged after the unification of Castile and Aragon and existed until 1157. Thereafter, despite their separation, the kingdoms fought the Moors together. By the 13th century only the emirate of Granada remained on the Iberian Peninsula.

Despite the power of the Kingdom of Castile, the country was plagued by turmoil and unrest. Dominance belonged to knightly orders and powerful nobles. In Aragon, on the contrary, there were many concessions to the estates. In 1469 the dynastic marriage between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile contributed to the unification of the two kingdoms. In 1478 the Inquisition was established, prompting the persecution of Muslims and Jews. The year 1492 saw the conquest of Granada and the end of the Reconquista.

The old city in Spain

Ancient city in Spain

In 1519 the Habsburg dynasty came to power. In the 16th century Spain became one of the strongest powers in Europe. An absolute monarchy was established as the form of government. The Spanish kingdom took over Portugal and numerous colonies in South and Central America. Already by the middle of the 16th century constant wars and high taxes led to economic decline. During this period the capital of the kingdom was moved from Toledo to Madrid.

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In the early 18th century, with the death of Charles II, a war for the “Spanish Succession” broke out. As a result, the Bourbon dynasty reigned, and Spain became “pro-French. In 1808, a popular uprising broke out, leading to the abdication of the king. Subsequently, the French were expelled from the country and the Bourbon restoration took place. In the 19th century, Spain was plagued by turmoil and unrest. The state lost all of its American colonies. In 1931 the monarchy was overthrown and the civil war began, which was won by Franco. Francisco Franco established a dictatorship that lasted until 1975. Juan Carlos I of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty was crowned in that year.

Administrative division

Spain consists of 17 autonomous regions, two so-called autonomous cities, and 50 provinces.

Administrative divisions

Administrative division

  • Andalusia
  • Aragon
  • Asturias
  • Balearic Islands
  • Basque Country
  • Valencia
  • Galicia
  • Canary Islands
  • Cantabria
  • Castile-La Mancha
  • Castile and Leon
  • Catalonia
  • Madrid
  • Murcia
  • Navarra
  • Rioja
  • Extremadura

Population

The indigenous population is Spanish (Castilians), Catalans, Basques, Galicians, etc. Spanish is considered the official language. In the autonomies are often spoken in the language of the ethnic group or dialect. Almost 80% of the population is Christian, of which 75% are Catholics. Interestingly, the average life expectancy in Spain is one of the highest in the world. It is 83 years. Spaniards themselves are quite friendly, open and emotional. They are noisy and temperamental people. They are often unpunctual, a little lazy and irresponsible.

Spanish Streets

Spanish streets

Tips for dealing with Spaniards:

  • Spaniards are very patriotic about their country or autonomy. Do not bring up topics such as “is Catalonia Spain,” etc.
  • The vast majority of the population is Catholic, so words and actions that might offend the feelings of believers should be avoided.
  • Avoid talking about the colonial past and the Franco regime.
  • At lunch or dinner, Spaniards do not eat until all guests are seated. Nor do they leave until everyone has finished eating.
  • Close friends or good friends hug or kiss each other on the cheek when they meet. Otherwise they shake hands only.

Transportation

Information about transportation in Spain.

  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Palma de Mallorca / Costa del Sol
  • Gran Canaria / Elche
  • Tenerife South

Spain has an extensive network of high-speed trains that connect major cities. Rail service also includes long-distance trains and a network of commuter trains. A regular bus service operates between many cities. The largest cities are connected by expressways. Highways here are toll roads.

  • 120 km/h on highways and freeways,
  • 100 km/h on ordinary roads,
  • 90 km/h on the rest of the roads,
  • 50 km/h in built-up areas.

The blood alcohol level must not exceed 0.5 g/l. Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and all passengers.

The Beaches of Alicante

Beaches of Alicante

Spain is Europe’s second most visited country by cruise ships. Spain’s main ports:

  • Barcelona
  • Palma de Mallorca
  • Las Palmas
  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife
  • Malaga
  • Cadiz
  • Bilbao

Cities of Spain

There are hundreds of old and interesting cities in Spain. But the most popular are:

    – The bustling and vibrant capital, which will impress you with its modernist architecture, wide streets and squares, museums and vibrant nightlife. – The second largest city in Spain, the capital of Catalonia. It concentrates famous sights, masterpieces of Art Nouveau architecture of Gaudi. – It is a large industrial city.
  • Cadiz is considered the oldest city in Western Europe.
  • Granada – a stunning city in the south, surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada.
  • Cordoba – An ancient city with a rich Moorish heritage.
  • Toledo is an ancient capital with sights from many different periods. – The capital of Andalusia and one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
  • Valencia is one of the largest cities in the country. The place where paella was invented.
  • Alicante is the resort capital of the east coast and the Costa Blanca region.
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In the south of Spain in Andalusia you can find a lot of evidence of antiquity. Here is located Cadiz – one of the oldest permanently inhabited cities in Western Europe with the remains of a Roman settlement. Nearby is Ronda, a beautiful city situated on steep cliffs. The cities of Cordoba and Granada retain a rich Moorish heritage. Seville, the cultural center of Andalusia and all of southern Spain, has a dazzling collection of sites and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Cadiz

Cadiz

Crossing north through the plains of La Mancha into Central Spain is worth a visit to picturesque Toledo. It is the ancient Spanish capital and a beautiful ancient city located on a hill. Not far from the Portuguese border is Merida with its impressive Roman heritage. If you are interested in leisure and beaches, you should go to Alicante, Malaga, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

Tenerife

Tenerife

Popular tourist destinations:

  • Costa Blanca – 200 km of coast, beaches and charming seaside towns.
  • Costa Brava – a coast with a variety of seaside resorts.
  • Costa del Sol is a sunny coast in southern Spain.
  • Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands, famous for its clubs and discos.
  • Mallorca is the largest among the Balearic Islands.
  • Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range of the Iberian Peninsula with ski slopes.
  • Tenerife – Lush nature, volcanoes and excellent beaches.

Attractions

Historically Spain has been an important crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, North Africa and Europe. Thus, here you can find a fantastic collection of unique attractions. The country amazes with the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, historical and cultural monuments.

A tourist map with the most famous sights

Tourist map – the most famous sights

The most famous sights of Spain

  • Toledo Old Town.
  • Historical center of Salamanca.
  • Burgos Cathedral in the city of the same name.
  • Moorish heritage of Granada and Cordoba.
  • Architectural masterpieces of Gaudi in Barcelona.
  • The Gothic cathedral in Seville and Mudejar architecture.
  • Rock carvings in Altamira Cave
  • Historic centers of Cuenca, Merida, Caceres, Zaragoza, Ávila and Segovia.
  • The Romanesque churches of Lerida.
  • The ancient Roman walls in the town of Lugo.
  • Feria de Abril is the best fair in the Pyrenees. If you like folklore, flamenco and wine, you will definitely enjoy this event. It takes place in April and May.
  • Fallas is a festival in Valencia.
  • Dia de Sant Jordi – Catalan holiday.

Accommodation

Spain is an extremely popular tourist destination, so you need to look for accommodation in advance. When traveling here in high season, accommodation will cost more. Many cities, even small, are focused on tourism. Therefore it is not a problem to find accommodation for all groups of tourists and financial capabilities.

Cuisine

The Spanish love to eat, drink wine and are very proud of their cuisine. Spanish cuisine can be described as fairly light with lots of vegetables and a huge variety of meat and fish. It’s interesting that traditional cuisine doesn’t use a lot of spices, but relies entirely on the use of high quality ingredients and their taste. Meals of Spaniards are slightly different from ours. Their breakfast is light. Lunch is served at 13:00-15:00. Lunch is followed by a siesta. Dinner is late.

Paella

Paella

Traditional food and products: Paella, jamón, tapas, Chorizo (spicy sausage), Bocadillo de Calamares (fried squid), Boquerones en vinagre (anchovies with garlic), Churros (Spanish donuts), Empanadas Gallegas (meat pies), Fabada asturiana (stewed meat), various versions of gazpacho (soups), Tortilla de patatas (egg omelet with fried potatoes). The main alcoholic drink is wine, which is of very good quality here. The most popular non-alcoholic drink is coffee.

Interesting excursions

Málaga Roman, Moorish, Catholic

€150 per excursion

Málaga Roman, Moorish, Catholic

See the symbols of the city and get to know the local cuisine on a historical and gastronomic walk

Ecotour in the Catalan mountains

Eco-tour in the Catalan Mountains

Walking in the mountains of the Montseni to the waterfalls and the 11th century church of Aiguafreda de Dalt

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