Let us start by saying that condensing the whole of Spain into a list of the top 10 most beautiful cities is certainly a challenge indeed, as the beauty of Spain is not to be underestimated. ✨
Just run your finger across a map of Spain and you will surely trace over innumerable beautiful places, including many colourful and historic cities. 🌍
Whichever fascinating cities you choose to live in or to visit in Spain, you will not be disappointed; all have fascinating remnants from the past scattered around the old quarters of the city, whilst the more recent urban architecture surrounding them keeps up with contemporary aesthetic standards. ⛲️
The Iberian peninsula has something to offer for all kinds of travellers/expats: 15 National Parks with luscious landscapes for nature lovers, 48 World Heritage Sites for culture geeks, and with around 90% of Spain’s perimeter being coastline, there countless beautiful beaches for the summer holiday tourists. 🏖
“What are the most beautiful cities in Spain?” is no doubt a highly subjective question, so we have resolved to list in alphabetical order 10 of our favourite Spanish cities so that you can choose the best – or, better yet, visit each city one by one and decide for yourself! 🇪🇸
A multicultural melting pot marked by Modernist architecture. With its streets strolled by the likes of Gaudí, Picasso, and Miró, there is a palpable sense of artistry in the air. While this cultural creativity lives on, Barcelona has also more recently become an economical hotspot buzzing with techy start-ups. The Catalan capital sits smugly between mountains and coastline, providing a balmy climate and giving tourists and locals the best of both worlds.
You will not be surprised to learn that Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain!
Jumping down south, we have Córdoba: where Islam meets Christianity as can be observed in the city’s main attraction, the Mezquita-Catedral. The Moors ruled the city for 300 years before being conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236, and within this time succeeded in leaving an ever-lasting mark on the city. You will be humbled by the ornateness and extravagance of the architecture.
Insider tip: don’t miss the beautiful Cordoban patio festival that takes place in May.
We don’t really need to sell Granada to you – the Alhambra speaks for itself. Make sure you free up your day to visit this monumental palace as the average guided tour can take up to 3 hours! If your legs are still working after this, you should definitely take a trip up the winding paths of the charming neighbourhood of Albaicín to reach some breathtaking panoramic views.
As with all of these beautiful cities, Granada is best seen on foot!
Couldn’t leave out the capital now, could we? Madrid is a dynamic, fast-paced urban jungle where you can find the Royal Palace and 2 world-class art galleries: the Reina Sofia and the Prado. Nightlife is certainly not lacking in this city and every few blocks you will find a glowy rooftop bar – we recommend the Círculo de Bellas Artes. You can always soak up the sun and soothe your hangover the next day in the Parque de El Retiro…
Salamanca is home to the third oldest university in the world! So you can expect to be transported back in time by the striking medieval architecture and emblematic blonde sandstone that gives the town its nickname as the “Golden City”. Salamanca is famous across Spain as the setting for one of the country’s most renowned pieces of classical literature, the anonymous picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes.
Let’s head to the north coast of Spain into the Basque country where San Sebastián lies sandwiched between golden stretches of beach and luscious hillsides. It the 2nd city in the world with the most Michelin stars so you will certainly eat well when you visit! You do not have to pay much to enjoy great food, however, as typical Donostiarra pintxos can be tasted at almost every corner, and – if you’re lucky – you might just manage to reserve yourself a mouth-watering slice of Nestor’s infamous tortilla.
Segovia is an ancient Roman city in the Castilla y León region with an impressive aqueduct that dates back to around 100 A.D. You can even order a beer from just metres away and marvel at this historic city from the comfort of a traditional Spanish bar. If you’re into Hogwarts-style turrets and towers, you cannot miss entering Segovia’s imposing fortress, the Alcázar. A Segovian speciality is cochinillo – suckling pig – and there is no better place to savour this delicacy than in the award-winning José Maria where the meat is so tender that it is cut with the side of a plate!
Warning: do not visit if you are afraid to fall in love. The capital of Andalucia will enchant you with its awe-inspiring Regionalist architecture from Aníbal González the sweet aroma of orange blossom that perfumes the city. It is home to the largest Gothic cathedral in the world but its grandest emblem is the Plaza de España that symbolises a postcolonial embrace extended to Latin America… Sevilla is characterised by a gypsy flair and you can catch an impromptu flamenco performance almost anywhere. The vibrant Feria de Abril is your chance to don a flamenca dress yourself!
If you visited Madrid, you have absolutely no excuse not to take (at least) a day trip to Toledo which is just a stone’s throw away: 1 hour by car. If you’re looking for a jam-packed historic city, then Toledo is for you. with buildings that bear the influence of 3 different cultures that allegedly coexisted in peace – Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If you’re a fan of art, you’ll be thrilled to learn that you can find works of Renaissance painter El Greco dotted about the city (as well as in the Museo del Greco, of course).
Here we have the futuristic-looking City of Arts and Sciences just outside the centre of Valencia where you can learn about the world through interactive exercises, see opera, visit an aquarium, and much more! Its modernity contrasts sharply with Valencia’s historic centre in which you can find the Chapel of the Holy Grail. Yes, that’s corrected, it is possible that Valencia houses the legendary Holy Chalice! And, if your religion of choice is food, there is excitement for you, too. Check out the Mercado Central: one of the oldest markets still used today in Europe.
In conclusion, there is beauty hiding in every corner of Spain and choosing a winner for the title of “most beautiful city in Spain” is impossible. There is far too much competition and diversity to be able to pick – just narrowing it down to the top 10 cities was hard enough!
So, which is the best Spanish city in your opinion? Did we include your favourite? Tell us down below.