Barcelona feels a bit surreal – appropriate, since Salvador Dali spent time here and Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí designed several of the city’s buildings. Stepping into Gaudí’s Church of the Sacred Family is a bit like falling through the looking glass – a journey that you can continue with a visit to Park Güell. Sip sangria at a sidewalk café in Las Ramblas while watching flamboyant street performers, then create your own moveable feast in this Travellers’ Choice Destination by floating from tapas bar to tapas bar.
Bilbao was best known as an important seaport and industrial city in northern Spain until the construction of an architectural marvel in the 1990s known as the Guggenheim Museum. Since then, this capital city of Vizcaya has experienced a boom in tourism, promoting economic growth and revitalization of its many hidden gems, making it one of the best places to visit in Spain.
One of the largest and most important cities in Spain, Valencia is located in the eastern part of the country in the region of Valencia. After several years of major construction and renovation, Valencia today is famous for its Fallas Festival and the City of Arts and Sciences architectural masterpiece.
Situated on the river Guadalquivir, southern Spain’s largest city has been home to Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro, and its Gothic cathedral is the resting place of Columbus. Muslim and Jewish art can be seen throughout the Reales Alcazares. It’s a contagiously romantic city whose celebratory ambiance pervades Seville’s winding streets and spills out of the bars and tapas parlors of Santa Cruz and Plaza Alfalfa. Make sure to climb the Giralda tower for a spectacular view of the city.
Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain, Granada is the capital of the Granada province. Granada offers a perfect blend of traditional cultures, an animated nightlife and spectacular attractions including the world famous Alhambra, a pinnacle of Moorish art that encapsulates Andalusian history and is one of the great architectural sights of Europe.
Madrid is the financial and cultural hub for Spain, and much of Southern Europe. There is a huge amount to see and do there, as well as excellent nightlife in terms of bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment. As the area has been inhabited since Roman times, there are also plenty of historical sites to explore and enjoy. At the other extreme, you can also visit the Bernabéu stadium, home of Spanish football giant Real Madrid. This is usually popular with the younger members of the family, and many of the older ones! For art lovers you are torn between the Prado Museum, with works from the 12th to 19th Centuries including Goya, Velasquez and Rubens, or you can go to the Reina Sofia Museum for art from the 20th Century and beyond. The Reina Sofia houses Picasso’s most famous painting Guernica, as well as key works by artists such as Salvador Dali – it gets incredibly busy but is a crucial place to visit!
From prehistoric caves to medieval ruins to a traditional fishing port, Llanes offers visitors a glimpse into the interesting history of Asturias. If you’re more of a beach bum than a history buff, there are plenty of sandy stretches, each with their own personality. There’s a constant stream of fiestas and festivals, making Llanes seem like a year-round celebration of food and culture.
Cordoba was once the premier city of the Western World, the greatest metropolis west of Constantinople, and the seat of Europe’s first university. Today, there’s a modern commercial center, but most travelers love strolling the town’s ancient cobblestone streets, peeking through gates for glimpses of lush flowers and beautiful tiled fountains.
San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian is the capital of the Gipuzko province, located in the Basque country of North Spain off the coast of the Bay of Biscay. This beautiful seaside city is well-loved for its excellent beaches and outstanding culinary tradition.
Perched on a mountaintop in central Spain, Toledo served as the Spanish capital until the 16th century. Because it was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims for many centuries, the city is sometimes called the “City of Three Cultures.” Today, Toledo is a popular destination for its wealth of historic art and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire.
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