The sights of Spain. What is worth seeing?
A list of must-see sights in Spain. Compilation of interesting places and sights with photos and descriptions by cities and regions. Useful information: prices, how to get there, Spain sightseeing maps.
Spain is a country with a rich history and culture. It ranks third in the number of cultural heritage sites of UNESCO – only China and Italy have more. Many of them can be seen on their own, as well as part of excursion groups.
There are also many beautiful and interesting places, where tourists like to go on their own. Let’s start with the capital.
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Sightseeing in Spain on the map
A beautiful metropolitan city that combines old buildings with new neighborhoods and business centers. Its main place is the Puerta del Sol – “Gate of the Sun”. Tourists recommend visiting the Golden Triangle of Art in Spain’s capital. Tourists often recommend visiting the Golden Triangle of Art in Spain’s capital city: the Prado National Museum (€14), the Art Center of Queen Sofia (€8), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (€10). Also visit the Royal Palace with its silk and porcelain rooms.
Getting to almost any point of interest in Madrid is quick and cheap by metro. Buses with comfortable cabins and air conditioning are also popular. Fare in the above urban transport costs 1 euro.
Toledo is located in the center of the country and has a collection of Christian, Arab, and Jewish architecture. It was founded by the Iberians and Celts, then conquered by the Romans and Arabs. Then came the Inquisition. From each culture and faith left its buildings. In this city, tourists are advised to visit the must-see attractions in Spain:
- The medieval and rebuilt after 1936, the Alcazar fortress;
- the cathedral;
- Socodover Square;
- El Greco House Museum, Museum of the Inquisition, and Santa Cruz.
Toledo can be reached from Madrid by train in half an hour, the ticket costs about 20 euros. Buses run every 30 minutes from Plaza Eliptica to the old city for 10 euros.
(Photo: pixabay.com / alfcermed)
It is an autonomy in northeastern Spain with its own dialect (not like any European language and necessarily studied in local schools), ethnicity and three provinces. The largest cities are Bilbao and San Sebastian.
In Baskonia come hikers and mountaineers – there are many national parks and very beautiful cliffs near the coast of San Sebastian . In Salinas de Anyana there are still working salt mines, where the mineral is extracted by ancient Roman technology. A unique bridge transporter architect Palacio (a pupil of the Eiffel himself) since 1983 connects Portugueseete and Las Arenas. And on the river Guernica you can take a gondola ride – the boats leave at intervals of 8 minutes. Segura will surprise you with ancient mansions, and the village of Vera de Bidasoa with historic stone structures from the 16th to 19th century.
(Photo: Jose Castanedo / flickr.com / License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Is a major industrial and port city in Basconia. Here, medieval architecture is surprisingly combined with ultra-modern buildings. If you are interested in unusual sights in Spain, Bilbao has a lot to see:
- The Guggenheim Museum of titanium plates, glass and waterfalls. It is surrounded by unusual sculptures (metal spider and flower terrier), admission costs 6-10 euros (children pass free);
- Alondiga Bilbao cultural and entertainment center ;
- Isozaki Towers .
In the Old City there is a beautiful Gothic-style Cathedral of Santiago, also the churches of Sant Antoni and San Nicolas open their doors to tourists. The city has a unique glass bridge Subisuri (Campo Volantine) over the river Nevión. The creation of the architect Santiago is made in a futuristic style and allows you to quickly get from the hotels to the famous Guggenheim Museum. The Archaeological Museum is open with artifacts from the Roman, medieval and modern periods (1.5-3 euros).
From the airport in Bilbao you can take a bus to the Central Bus Station for 1.45 euros or a cab for 25 euros. In the city itself there are shuttle buses for 1,25 euros, metro (1,6-1,9 euros), high-speed streetcars (1,5 euros) and a funicular (0,95 euros).
During its history the city has burned down several times, while the ancient monuments of architecture have survived. The ethnographic museum of San Telmo and the port aquarium, made in the form of a palace, represent the history of Basque culture. It will also be interesting to visit the Baroque church of Santa Maria del Coro and the neo-Gothic church of St. Vincent. From the Plaza de la Constitución, where bullfights are now held, one can see the ancient library, the palaces of Ayete and Miramar . The town has a beautifully landscaped promenade, La Concha, with balustrades and lanterns.
(Photo: peteropaliu / flickr.com / licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Occupies the north of Spain and is famous for winemaking. It is divided into 3 zones, the largest of which is considered Rioja Alta. There are a lot of vineyards and light and aged wines are produced here. A wine festival is regularly held in Jaro with tastings of the heady beverage.
In this area visit the narrow cobbled streets of Logroño, temples, cathedrals, historical and art museum. The Puente Piedra stone bridge, which connects the center with the old neighborhoods, stands out for its architecture. Separately, there are excursions to the Cantabrian mountains with caves where beautiful crystals grow, there are underground rivers and waterfalls. And San Vicente de la Barquera is among the top most beautiful Spanish towns. People come here to see the mountain scenery, the royal castle and to try a variety of seafood dishes – they are prepared in all the city restaurants and cafes along the waterfront.
You can get from Santander Airport by bus for 2.5 euros. A cab from the terminal will cost 15 euros.
(Photo: Jimmy G / flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0 license)
Santiago de Compostela
Not sure what to see from the sights in Spain? Tourists in reviews advise to go to the capital of Galicia and the city where St. James completed his pilgrimage – Santiago de Compostela. Believers from all over the world come here for paraphernalia, to lay their hands on the relics and visit the famous cathedral of the same name. In the city there is a large number of buildings, which belong to UNESCO: Palacio Rajoy, a Benedictine monastery San Martino Pinario, a beautiful cathedral, the XII century church of Santa Maria Real do Sar, the first royal hotel in the world Ostal de los Reyes Catholicos.
There is a tourist train through the city, which has an audio guide. The ticket costs 5-8 euros and the tour takes 45 minutes. There are cheap buses for 0.55-1-€. You can rent a bike for 40 euros, or pay a cab driver almost as much, to take him comfortably to the right place.
The airport is situated 11 km from the town; you can get there by bus for €3, or by cab for €20. Intercity flights from Madrid cost up to 55 Euros (8 hours journey time), from Barcelona up to 90 Euros (17 hours journey time). You can also go by train from Madrid for 41-62 euros.
(Photo: Trevor.Huxham / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)
Navarra is a northern province of Spain. There are many castles and beautiful monasteries, historical buildings with high stone walls, towers and suspension bridges – there is something to see in this province of Spain for lovers of architecture. Popular places include:
- Palacio de Olita , built in the Gothic style;
- Javier Castle, which looks like a fortress;
- an old winery with a tasting room.
Interesting facts about cities in Spain
It is the capital of the northern region of Navarra (in the VIII century the kingdom of the same name). In this city in the second week of July from 6 to 14 the famous running of the bulls – San Fermin Festival is held. And the animals are released directly into the streets, along which you can rent a house and watch the extreme show from a safe distance. Also during this period in the streets of the city are organized bright festivities, in which adults and children take part.
The Gothic cathedral from the beginning of the 16th century with its 50 m high towers and the largest bell in Spain is worth a visit. It is also worth visiting the royal palace with a beautiful throne room and the old archive building, where the national historical documents are kept.
The best way to get to Pamplona from Madrid or Barcelona airports is by shuttle bus up to 40 euros. The AVE fast train takes about 3-4 hours and costs 23 euros.
(Photo: VaqueroFrancis / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)
An island resort that attracts fans of diving, rock climbing and fun beach activities. The island with a highly developed infrastructure has beautiful beaches with white fine sand and clear water. However, those who are tired of rest and entertainment can find a lot of interesting things to do: the old town of Valldemossa, the sights of the capital of Palma de Mallorca (the palace of Almudaina, Belver Castle, the cathedral).
You can get there by plane from Madrid or Barcelona to Palma, the central city on the island. There is Son San Juan Airport, from which there are cabs (20 euros) and shuttles (3 euros). It takes 4 or 8 hours to reach by sea from Barcelona by passenger catamaran or ferry, respectively. Tickets cost from 40 euros.
Palma de Mallorca (Photo: unsplash.com / @furbee)
This is the island where all tourists under the age of 20-22 try to go in Spain. The trendiest and coolest youth hangouts take place here. Also on the island there are churches and cathedrals, museums and beautiful natural parks. And most importantly, the beaches. Here Cap Blanc aquarium is built in a real cave, the cathedral of Our Lady of the Snows, as well as a museum of contemporary art MACE.
You can get to the island from Barcelona or Madrid by plane or ferry. Buses run from the airport to the city for 3.5 euros.
What must see a tourist in Spain? The hustle and bustle of Barcelona with its beautiful Gaudi creations. It deserves its own article, so read about what to see in Barcelona in a few days.
A word of advice: beware of pickpockets in Barcelona, especially on the Ramblas.
(Photo: pixabay.com / Patrice_Audet)
Hot Andalusia was once ruled by the Moors, so there’s a lot of Oriental architecture here. The famous Alhambra in Granada is a red fortress on a hill with shady gardens and patios. Tickets there are 5-14 euros depending on the type. You can buy in advance on the official website or at the ticket office on the day of the visit.
This region of Spain is better to see on your own – many cities and attractions are easily accessible by trains and buses. Visit Seville with its Alcatraz fortress, colorful Cordoba, Malaga and Cadiz.
The temperature in the Canary Islands is always optimal – neither hot nor cold. This is why pensioners and families with children love to rest here. Tenerife is a perfect place for hiking and exploring national parks, relaxing on the beach, wine tasting and discovering the local specialties.
Spain Attractions: Top 25 Places to See
Spain is a beautiful and diverse country. It has everything for a rich and unforgettable vacation: huge beaches, lots of entertainment, beautiful European architecture and even ski resorts. Every year, Spain is gaining more and more popularity among Russian tourists. The most popular tourist destinations of Spain are Barcelona, Canary Islands, Madrid, Seville and some other famous places. Here are the most important and most famous tourist attractions of Spain, which should see every visitor to this beautiful country.
The best places in Spain
The Alhambra (Granada)
A large architectural and park complex located in the east of Granada. It is a whole complex of palaces and parks with a rich history and stunning views. The main development of the Alhambra was during the Muslim dynasty. Over the period of its existence, the ensemble has been actively developing, replenishing itself with new constructions. Today the Alhambra includes numerous towers, palaces, halls, several squares and even a full park, the road to which goes through the Pomegranate Gate. The Alhambra is a World Heritage Site and is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions.
2. Sagrada Familia Cathedral (Barcelona)
The Sagrada Familia is the most beautiful temple in Spain and one of the most beautiful in the world. The construction of this building began in 1882. The main architect was Antonio Gaudi. The architectural style of the church is Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau. The cathedral is still under construction today. When finished, it will have 18 towers. The central tower of the temple is 170 meters high. Sagrada Familia has a rich interior decoration. It uses different geometric forms and the most unusual architectural solutions.
3. Royal Palace (Madrid).
The main attraction of Madrid, the Royal Palace is deservedly one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. This majestic architectural structure serves as the official residence of the kings of Spain. Construction of the palace was carried out from 1738 to 1764. The palace has a luxurious interior decoration, which includes frescoes by great artists, luxurious crystal chandeliers, large tapestries, furniture of different styles, etc. The Royal Palace in Madrid consists of many halls, each of which has its own features. This is simply a must-see place to visit in Spain!
The Alcázar in Segovia
The Alcázar in Segovia is not only an important landmark in Spain, but also one of the 10 most impressive castles in the world. This stunning fortress has witnessed many historic events: its rooms were the resting place of Alfonso X the Wise, Isabel I the Catholic was crowned here, and the castle chapel was also the site of the marriage between Philip II and Anne of Austria.
5. Mesquita in Cordoba
The Cordoba Mosque is one of the most important monuments of Islamic architecture in Spain and the most emblematic example of Umayyad Spanish-Muslim art. Its construction began in 785 and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the historic center of the city. It is now a Catholic cathedral, known as the Córdoba Cathedral Mosque.
6. Sacromonte Abbey (Granada)
One of the best known and most beautiful sights in Spain that must be seen in Granada is the Abbey of Sacromonte. It was erected on top of Mount Valparaiso. Until the beginning of the XX century the abbey was completed and expanded. Today it consists of three parts – an abbey, a seminary and a collegiate church. Each of these structures has its own noteworthy places. In the abbey there is an interesting museum with a rich collection of paintings and tapestries. A wonderful place is the patio. Its decoration is magnificent: arches decorated with stucco, galleries with columns and a large fountain in the center – all this attracts crowds of tourists.
7. Gothic Quarter (Barcelona)
Gothic Quarter is an ancient district of Barcelona and one of the most attractive places of this beautiful Spanish city. You can say that it is the birthplace of Barcelona. The layout of the streets here is the same as in all medieval cities – intersecting, winding and very narrow mostly pedestrian streets. In the Gothic quarter amazingly old buildings, preserving the spirit of the Middle Ages, coexist next to the buildings of the last century. This is a major tourist magnet!
The neighborhood is famous for its large number of architectural and historical buildings, ancient temples. One of the most famous is the Cathedral. The architecture of its facade simply fascinates visitors.
The beautiful plazas of the quarter are worth special attention:
- Plaza Nova was founded in 1355. Fragments of ancient walls are still preserved here.
- Royal Square. All the buildings, including the Royal Palace, were built in Romanesque and Gothic style. It was here that King Fernando received Christopher Columbus after his voyage to the Americas.
- The Plaza de San Jaume. It now houses the main administrative buildings, the City Hall of Barcelona and the Parliament of Catalonia.
Walking from one historical structure to another, suddenly you find yourself in a cozy square. In the Gothic Quarter there are many. Here you can relax, listen to street musicians, sit in a cozy cafe. Among the attractions of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is one of the most popular.
8. Prado Museum (Madrid).
There are not a few sights in Spain for art lovers, but the Prado Museum, one of the most visited museums of fine arts in the world, deserves special attention. Now in the spacious halls of the Museo del Prado the visitor can admire the best paintings of the Spanish school, world masterpieces, sculptures and decorative art. In the permanent exhibition there are more than 7 thousand paintings, thousands of sculptures. Among them you can see the works of Rubens, Rafael, Durer, Titian, Goya and other great masters, who left their mark on the art.
9. Park Guell (Barcelona)
Park Guell is the most unusual and beautiful park in Spain and a favorite destination for many travelers. It’s a masterpiece by the great Antonio Gaudi, who was able to turn Guell’s failed industrialist project into a garden city. What are just two houses at the entrance, giving the impression of gingerbread houses. The main staircase is decorated with fountains, animal figures and, of course, the symbol of Barcelona – a mosaic salamander. The “Hall of a Hundred Columns”, decorated with a mosaic of colored glass, is impressive. In the central part of the park is the famous winding bench decorated with collages of shards of ceramics and glass. While relaxing here, you can admire the opening views of the city.
10. Alcázar in Toledo
This is one of the most beautiful castles in Spain and the main attraction of Toledo, proudly towering over the entire city. You can see it from everywhere, no matter what part of Toledo you are in. The grandeur of the austere architecture of the Alcázar is stunning. Throughout its history this beautiful Spanish building has been destroyed and burned down several times, and rebuilt just as many times. What ever happened within these walls. It was once home to the kings of Castile. After that, in the 17th century it was the state prison. Located on the highest point of the city, the Alcazar was an ideal place for defense during the war. Today, the palace houses the Army Museum and the regional library.
11. the Las Ventas arena (Madrid)
Plaza del Toros Monumental de Las Ventas is the full name of the first largest bullfighting arena in the whole country. Besides bullfighting all kinds of festivals and holidays are held here. Capacity of the arena is more than 23 thousand spectators. Built almost a century ago, the building of the Arena Las Ventas is striking for its interesting architecture in the neo-Moorish style. The walls are made of red masonry, the arched entrances in the form of a horseshoe horse are decorated with tiles. In the square in front of the arena there are two sculptural compositions.
Another attraction of the arena was the bullfighting museum opened in 1951. Visitors here can see many unusual exhibits, right down to the heads of the slaughtered bulls and the blood-soaked costume of the dead matador.
12. Alcázar Palace in Cordoba
What is a must-see in Spain are the numerous palaces and fortresses. One of these beautiful sights is located in the ancient city of Andalusia – Cordoba. The history of the ancient historical complex begins with the times of the Roman Empire. Alcazar in Arabic means “palace”. But originally the fortress was a defensive bastion, and only in 1328, during the reign of King Alfonso XI, it was transformed into a residence of kings.
The architecture of the Alcázar in Córdoba combines features of Arab and European cultures. The palace building is a regular square, topped with four towers. Each of these towers has its own name and purpose. The Alcázar’s unquestionable adornment is its stunning gardens with fountains and ponds. This fortress was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is a tourist hot spot in Spain.
13. The Walls of Avila
The 11th-century Romanesque fortress walls in the city of Avila are among the most important historical sites in Spain. Their dimensions are: 2,537 meters in total length, 12 meters in height, 88 towers, 9 gates and three gates.
There is some disagreement about the date of construction of the walls, but all unanimously agree on their artistic and historical importance. Ávila is the best preserved medieval fortress city in Spain and possibly all of Europe. The old city and city walls have been declared World Heritage Site.
14. Escorial Monastery
The Escorial Monastery is a palace complex, a basilica and a monastery. The palace was the residence of the Spanish royal family, the basilica is the burial place of the kings of Spain, and the monastery is the current residence of the monks of the Order of St. Augustine. It is one of the most unique sites of Renaissance architecture in Spain and Europe. Its construction in the second half of the sixteenth century was initiated by King Philip II. This, as they call it, “the eighth wonder of the world”, certainly deserves to be part of the list of the best tourist sites in Spain!
15. Plaza Mayor (Madrid)
Plaza Mayor is on the list of the best attractions in Madrid, and it is also one of the two main squares in the city that every tourist visits. Its appearance dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. Plaza Mayor has a very rich history. In the beginning it was just a market square outside the city limits. Later there were military parades, and knights’ tournaments, and even the Inquisition trials. The first equipped place for bullfighting was also the Plaza Mayor. Today this beautiful square is especially popular with visitors from Spain and locals. The square is bordered by many arches with cafes, restaurants, and stores. It is always lively.
16. Montserrat mountain (Barcelona)
Montserrat is a picturesque mountain range, located 50 km from Barcelona. The area is famous for its catholic temple which is located on the top of the mountain and bears the same name. Next to the monastery there is a natural complex which is under special protection of Spain. The mountains of Montserrat have spectacular views and rich flora. There are more than 1,500 species of plants. A walk through this natural complex is sure to be very exciting and memorable.
17. Mount Tibidabo (Barcelona)
Tibidabo is one of the parts of the Collserola mountain range. The height of the mountain is 512 m. It is the highest point of the whole of Barcelona. It offers beautiful views of the city, which is why it is so popular with tourists. On one of its slopes is the picturesque Tibidabo Park, which has an observation deck and the oldest attractions in Europe. At the top of the mountain is the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, which was built between 1902 and 1961.
18. Aquarium of Barcelona
This structure is located in the area of the Old Port of Barcelona. It is a highly sought-after destination for visitors and residents alike. Today the Aquarium of Barcelona has a well-deserved title of one of the largest aquariums in the world. Its dimensions are amazing. It consists of 35 individual aquaria, with more than 5 million liters of water. Each aquarium is home to a different aquatic species. In total, there are about 11 thousand sea creatures in the aquariums. The main attraction of the building is a huge oceanarium, through which a transparent pipe 80 meters long. A visit to the Barcelona Aquarium will be a great experience for both adults and children.
The Spanish Village (Barcelona)
A great option for people who want to visit Spain’s main attractions without leaving Barcelona. The Spanish Village is a complex that contains exact replicas of famous Spanish sites: temples, palaces, monasteries, castles, etc. On the territory of the village there are copies of buildings in reduced and natural size. Each structure was built with the same materials as the originals. This museum was built in 1929 by famous Spanish architects.
20. Teide National Park (Tenerife)
The largest and most popular nature reserve in the Canary Islands. Visit this natural Spanish landmark is a must for every tourist of the island of Tenerife. The total area of the park is 18.9 hectares. The main object of the reserve is the volcano Teide and its majestic crater. Teide is a mountainous area, so tourists can see incredible contrasts. Sub-tropics reign in the lower areas, while at the peaks there is snow and a completely different nature appears. Teide Park is located at 2,000 meters above sea level.
21. Cathedral in Seville
This is the largest and one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It was built between 1401 and 1519. The temple consists of the main chapel and five side chapels. One part of the cathedral preserves many ancient treasures: paintings by famous artists, precious items, church relics and much more. It is in the Seville Cathedral that the tomb of Christopher Columbus is kept. This is a must-see in Spain.
22. La Seu Cathedral (Palma de Mallorca)
One of the majestic Gothic cathedrals in Spain. It was built on the site of a destroyed mosque in honor of the liberation of Mallorca from the Moors. The height of the Cathedral is 121 meters, width – 55 meters. The construction of the cathedral was carried out over more than ten years, so its appearance was influenced by many architectural styles: classical Gothic, late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Mannerism. The restoration of the cathedral was led by Antoni Gaudi from 1904 to 1914.
23. City of Ronda
Ronda is the most beautiful city in Spain, located in the province of Malaga. The city is characterized by stunning views, many sights and small cozy streets. Ronda literally hangs over an abyss, being located at the very edge of a precipitous hill. This is one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the city. Here you can see ancient weapons, ammunition, and other ancient relics. The city has many cozy cafes where you can eat traditional snacks and enjoy the quietness of the European streets.
24. Vila Velha Fortress (Tossa de Mar)
One of the largest and most important fortresses on the coast, the main attraction of Tossa de Mar. More than 800 years ago a full-fledged city of the same name stood here. A winding stone path leads to the top of the fortress. This place has a rich history and beautiful views. From the fortress walls offer a stunning view of the sea and the nearby beach.
25. Plaza de España (Seville)
The main park ensemble of Seville, located in the southern part of the city. Made in the Neo-Mauritanian style with elements of Art Deco. It was built in the 1920s. On the square there are many old buildings and several museums. The main attraction of the square is the central fountain, designed by famous Spanish architects. Plaza de España has a stunning view both during the day and at night.