What to Do in Spain
What to Do in Spain
Our Guide on What to Do in Spain
As one of Europe’s largest countries, it would take a lifetime to see and do it all in Spain. It truly offers something for everyone from art lovers and historic enthusiasts to foodies and outdoor adventurers.
If you like beautiful beaches, there are thousands of miles of coastline from the Mediterranean to the Asturian coasts that bring opportunities to soak up the sun, swim, windsurf, kayak, dive, and more. The dramatic mountain ranges provide countless opportunities for scenic hikes and winter skiing or boarding. In fact, if you plan it right you can even ski and surf in the same day.
You’ll want to spend plenty of time eating and drinking with the locals, as it’s all about living the good life here. Gastronomy plays a big part in Spanish culture and every region has its own unique and tasty culinary specialties along with local drinks.
This country is filled with both natural and architectural wonders, with Gaudi’s impressive work in Barcelona, the Alhambra Place in Granada, and Cordoba’s La Mezquita, a cathedral and mosque in one just to name a few. Then there are the opportunities to witness passionate flamingo dancing and join in lively festivals year-round. While some of the top spots to visit include Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and Seville, you’ll want to take time to explore its charming villages, some of which sit on hilltops while others are carved right into the cliffs.
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Best things to do in Spain
Below you’ll find a sample of guided tours and activities we offer across Spain. This is just the tip of the iceberg: using our first-hand experience and extensive local contacts we can cater to all manner of interests. Let us know what intrigues you most about Italy, and we’ll map out the perfect itinerary.
Be Awed by Gaudi’s Architecture in Barcelona
The magnificent architecture in Barcelona is one of its biggest draws, although you’ll find impressive buildings throughout the country. Here, the highlight is the work of Antoni Gaudi, including Parc Guell with its remarkable stone structures and fantastical works like a dragon with vibrantly colored tiling and a garden complex which features a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudi’s House. The Gaudi House Museum contains furnishings and objects that were designed by Gaudi himself. Sagrada Familia is one of his most famous buildings, fusing Gothic and Art Nouveau styles. While some consider it to be a ‘glaring example of waste’ others call is the greatest achievement in Catalan building with vivid colors, hyperboloids, and unconventional animal representations such as turtles, chameleons, and pelicans which are said to epitomize the architect’s belief that the divine and nature were inextricably linked. There are many other buildings worth checking out like Palau de la Musica.
Admire Barcelona’s Magnificent Works of Art
It would take weeks or even longer to explore all the art galleries and art museums in Barcelona. One of the top spots is Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, or MNAC. It showcases pieces representing Catalan art that spa all the way from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century. Museu Picasso, established by the Malaga-born artist’s lifelong friend whom he’d gifted many works, sits within five linked Catalan palaces. While Picasso was from the south of Spain, he chose Barcelona as the place for his namesake museum as he had apprenticed here during his early years. It’s renowned for housing one of the most complete collections of his works with over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and engravings. Fundaco Joan Miro is one of the largest museums in the world and showcases a collection of paintings and other works by the Spanish surrealist painter and his contemporaries.
People Watch on Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is a wide, shady boulevard that travels through the heart of Barcelona for nearly a mile from the large square called Placa de Catalunya to the waterfront harbor, Port Vell. The lively, tree-lined pedestrian promenade is the most animated artery in the city and one of the best places for people-watching in Spain. It’s also a place to watch street performances like human statues that transform themselves into famous figures from history or mythical creatures, a bicycling skeleton, and the more usual mimes, dancers, and musicians. Some of the best restaurants and cafes can be found in and around Las Ramblas, including terraces where you can see it all from above. It’s worth heading to the 165-foot-high Mirador a Colom with its crowning sculpture of Columbus. By taking the elevator to the top you’ll get a panoramic view of the city and Las Ramblas.
Explore Plaza Mayor in Madrid
The main square and geographic center of Madrid, Plaza Mayor is one of the most impressive plazas in Spain and a great place to start exploring the city’s history. The square itself has a tumultuous history that’s revealed in the scenes displayed on benches, including one that depicts the Spanish Inquisition as this was the very site where public trails were held, which often ended in death sentences. The Royal Palace, now a museum and used by the royal family only for state occasions, is a highlight. It contains nearly 3,500 rooms and is spread across more than 33 acres. A tour will bring you through the opulent interior, including the Hall of the Crown, the Royal Chapel, and Charles III’s bed chambers. Next to the palace is Sabatini Gardens which provides a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle as well as a fantastic view of the palace which towers above.
Catch a Flamenco Performance
You can’t leave Spain without catching a flamenco performance as it’s such a big part of Spanish culture. Many of the top performers come to Madrid to show off their skills in places like Tablao Flamenco Cardamomo and Café de Chinitas. Seville, known as the ‘City of Flamenco’ is worth traveling to for immersing yourself in flamenco culture. It’s home to many venues for authentic live performances like Casa de la Memoria which hosts nightly traditional shows incorporating singing, guitar, and dancing in an intimate environment. Casa del Flamenco is a gorgeous venue where the show is held on an interior patio of a building in the Santa Cruz neighborhood – it’s one of the few where no microphones or other amplification is used featuring a variety of flamenco singing, dancing, and guitar styles. Tablao Flamenco El Arenal has been called one of the world’s top venues for flamenco performances and also serves authentic Andalusian fare.
Explore Seville’s Iconic Landmarks
Seville boasts many awe-inspiring sights like the Seville Cathedral. One of the world’s largest churches at 124,000-square-feet, it was completed in the early 16th-century and houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. A guided tour will bring you to see La Giralda, the bell tower that stands 342-feet in height, considered one of the city’s most important symbols. It also offers a fantastic view over the city. The Alcazar is not to be missed. The UNESCO-listed royal palace has a fascinating history that is uncovered on a guided tour. Built by the Moorish rulers who occupied this area from the 8th-cenutry, it’s one of the finest examples of mudejar art that exists today. Its origins can be traced back to 712 AD, but most construction began in the 12th-century. Under the Catholics of Spain, elements of Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque design were added to the original Islamic structure.
See the Alhambra in Granada
Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Granada is most famous for the Alhambra, a stunning sight to see. Dating back to the late 9th-century, it forms the city’s medieval area, towering above the modern lower town below. The only preserved palatine city from the Islamic period, it’s made up of the palace, castle, fortress, and the enclosed town, which are spread across two adjacent hills. It’s considered one of the finest examples of Nasrid art in both architectural and decorative aspects. There are lots to explore here, including the grounds. The snow-capped Sierra Nevada provides a magnificent backdrop for the oasis of tall trees, flowers, and dancing fountains. Wander through tranquil courtyards and intricately decorated rooms with the most impressive expression of the Alhambra found at Palacios Nazaries, built in the 13th-century as the home of the Nasrid Dynasty of Sultans for 200 years.
Spend Time on Beautiful Beaches
There are many beautiful beaches to enjoy in Spain, with thousands of miles of coastline. That includes some of the best Mediterranean stretches in the Costa Blanca area where you’ll find lively beaches as well as more tranquil undeveloped spots, all with mesmerizing views of the clear blue water. Playa del Silencio in the north has consistently been voted the best in Asturias with its secluded feel, hidden behind the cliffs. The chic coastal city of San Sebastian in the northeast is home to La Concha Beach, one of the prettiest in all of Europe. The 130-foot-wide crescent of white sands enjoys a dramatic cityscape backdrop and stretches for nearly a mile along the serene Bay of Concha. It’s a great place to swim, paddle, or sunbathe. There are fantastic beaches in Barcelona too like Bogatell, a pristine, less-crowded favorite among the locals that ensures plenty of space for tossing down a beach blanket.
Eat Your Way Through Some of the World’s Best Foodie Scenes
Spain is renowned for its cuisine and some of its cities offer some of the world’s best foodie scenes. With its rich tapas culture and Mediterranean fare, including fabulous regional offerings, you’ll be spoiled for choice. San Sebastian was named one of Europe’s two cities of culture for 2016, located along the northeast coast as part of the Basque Autonomous Community. You’ll find everything from pintxos bars to Michelin-starred fare including local Basque favorites like Idiazabal cheese, hearty stews, and salt cod paired with Txakoli wine. Barcelona is another top foodie spot with local bodegas that serve wine straight from the barrel along with ham and cheese, markets with fresh local products, and Michelin star restaurants. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven with its many chocolate spots and there are plenty of beachside eateries serving high-quality seafood. As Spain’s capital, Madrid offers a little bit of everything from around the country.
Discover Fascinating History
Fascinating history can be discovered throughout Spain, including Ronda, one of the oldest and most beautiful in the country. Visitors can explore remains of settlements that date all the way back to the Neolithic Age and even evidence of human presence that dates back much earlier with outstanding examples of Paleolithic cave art in the Cave of Pileta. There are 13th-century baths that are considered to be the most well-preserved in Spain and its 18th-century bullring is one of the oldest and most impressive in the country. Albarracin, the capital of the mountainous Sierra de Albarracin Comarca, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with medieval architecture, including famous houses with wooden balconies that hang precariously over the narrow streets below. Besalu in the Girona province dates back to the 11th-century and is like a walking museum, with its highlight the 12th-century Romanesque bridge that crosses the Fluvia River.
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