Sometimes when visiting a new country, it can be hard to choose between so many amazing areas and cities. Writer Veronica has done the hard work for us, rounding up her top 3 cities in Spain, and what to do while you’re there.
Spain is one of my favourite countries. It has beautiful beaches, great weather, amazing museums and old, intricate architecture. It is a country full of vivid people and delicious food.
I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel all over Spain, from big tourist filled cities to quiet hidden villages. After narrowing it down, I have decided that my top three favourite spots are the capital of Madrid, beachy Valencia and the cultural wonder, Seville. After visiting these places several times they have each found a way to cement themselves in my thoughts and become some of my favourite cities in the world. Here are some of the best things about each one:
As the capital of Spain Madrid might seem like an obvious choice – a large, metropolitan city mixed with centuries of art and beautiful streets. Unlike Barcelona, which is a lot more popular with tourists, Madrid is a place where you can immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and interact with the natives.
With its endless tapa restaurants and museums, there are always things to do here and there is something for everyone.
Best time to go: Spring and autumn are peak time to travel to the capital. Summer can get very hot during the day and temperatures can easily go up to 40℃. On the other side of the spectrum, winter is freezing and Madrid receives frequent snow.
How to get around: Madrid also has the best railways in the country. If you want to travel around to different cities, this is a great starting point. It also has a metro system that functions every day from 6am–2am
Where to go: The El Prado museum is the best art museum in the country, and it’s free to visit on an evening. If you’re not a museum fanatic then just walking around Madrid’s old town is entertaining and beautiful as well. At night, roaming the streets and going from one tapa bar to another is a lot of fun. Madrid is the true city that never sleeps. I have gone out a few hours before sunrise and the streets are still filled with people walking around.
Where to stay: If you’re traveling with a lot of people, renting an Airbnb is something that I highly recommend. You get to have your own apartment and it is usually cheaper if it is a large group. If you’re going only for a few days and you are with only a few friends, staying at hostels is the best option. There are some really good ones in Madrid for cheap prices like Hostal Rober and Hostal Ballesta.
Where to eat: Madrid has streets filled with cheap tapas bars but one of my favourites has to be El MiniBAR. The atmosphere here is always friendly and fun and the food and the drinks are cheap and delicious. Honestly though, it’s hard to find bad tapas in Madrid.
Tip: If you are under 25 you can get discounts in almost everything that has to do with tourism and transport, so remember to have you ID and your student card at all times.
This is my favourite city in the west. If you are craving the sun and the beach this is the place for you. It doesn’t get as crowded as some of the popular beach destinations like Barcelona or Benidorm and there is a lot more to do than just getting a tan.
Valencia has a really interesting architectural mix. The old town has roman ruins that are kept intact and the newer part has crazy architectural feats made by the best architect in Spain, Calatabra.
Best time to go: March, without a doubt, is my favoyrite month in Valencia. I have gone several times, in every season, and this is the best. The weather is great and the ocean is warm enough to take a swim. During this month there are also the annual fallas. A world known festival where the locals burn giant sculptures made of carton and the whole city celebrates. The sculptures can range from political figures like Donald Trump to superheroes like Spiderman.
How to travel: The bus system and tram are the best way to go.
Where to go: Malvarrosa beach is the prettiest and biggest beach, and best of all it never gets too crowded. Walking around the modern part of the city and seeing the quirky buildings is also really interesting.
Where to stay: Cheap and by the beach is not something that you are likely to find in Valencia but honestly, you don’t need to. There are amazing hostels in the old part of town that are a short walk or a bus ride away from the beach and you are still staying in a beautiful part of the city. I recommend Hostal Venecia or any of the Casual Valencia hotels that you can find throughout the city.
Where to eat: Besides the typical Spanish food Valencia also has really great Italian dishes. San Tommaso is my favourite restaurant. Everyone that works there is Italian and the pizza are amazing. I recommend the San Tommaso pizza with spicy salami, bacon, truffle and mushroom. They also give free limoncello at the end, which is a good touch. If you do end up craving Italian, make sure to make reservations at least a few hours in advance as this place gets really full.
Tip: If you’re interested in going island hopping, the Balearic Islands are only a short boat trip away.
The most important city in the south of Spain. With its mix of Spanish and Islamic influence, everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to look at. Seville is filled with guitar players and picturesque hidden plazas filled with flowers, and really is an inspiring place for anyone with a creative side.
Best time to go: You can go to Seville at any time… except summer. Don’t do that to yourself! It can get up to 45℃ and it’s sunny all the time. Any other time, the weather is great.
How to travel: Getting to Seville is easy with the bullet train from Madrid. To travel around the city, the best way is to walk from place to place since there is so much to see, but there is also an extensive bus system.
Where to go: The number one attraction is the royal Alcazar. It’s a beautiful palace that is over eleven centuries old. I spent all day there when I travelled because it so full of delicate and intricate details that I was so in awe of. Also, for any Game of Thrones fans, this is where the city of Dorne was filmed. Another landmark that you shouldn’t miss is the cathedral. It towers over everything in the city and it is breathtaking. This is also the burial place of Christopher Columbus.
Where to eat: The Street food in Seville is cheap and really good. The calamari, or any type of fried seafood, is the favourite form of tapas for the locals. My favourites are the desserts like Buñuelos, which are like little heavenly donuts, and the chocolate with churros.
If you’re looking for warm beaches, grand castles, or amazing food, Spain is the place for you! We’d love to see your travel photos so do tag us on Instagram!