Spain is a gorgeous country. From the city to the beach, it has everything a holidaymaker could ask for. Head out from the major cities and you’ll find fairytale castles near Madrid and untapped Gaudí spots close to Barcelona – or go really off-map and explore the hidden gems of Galicia. Our team have rounded up their favourite spots… and you can share yours below too!
¡Vas a flipar! (You’ll be blown away!)
Soak up the vibe, in and out of Madrid
Capital cities always have a certain energy, and Madrid doesn’t disappoint. There’s something cool to do or see on every corner. Live like a Madrileño/a (a Madrid local) and explore every nook: spend days getting lost in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Pro tip: coffee lovers will want to bookmark this website. And you can even find your zen in outdoor yoga spots.
But what about getting off the beaten track?
With any extra time you manage to squeeze in, you should visit the stunning alcazar of Segovia. It’s straight out of Disneyland; except not made of plastic! It has historical importance for the monarchs of Spain and has seen renovation after renovation by various kings and queens. It started life as a Roman fort and was restored to its original glory in 1882.
Plus, Segovia itself is bursting to the seams with forts, medieval walls and Gothic churches – making it feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle. A perfect day trip to take a break, before getting back to your chic city life.
Be an Art Star in Barcelona
We love exploring Barcelona by foot or bicycle. It’s a city bursting with parks, cafes, and, of course, renowned for its amazing architecture; much of it designed by Catalan visionary, Antoni Gaudí.
The gorgeous La Sagrada Familia attracts over 3 million visitors a year (and for good reason), but back in 2013 another Gaudí gem was opened to the public: Torre Bellesguard. It used to be privately owned, but these days visitors are welcome. You can take a guided tour around the estate and learn about the history of Catalonia as well as gaining insights into the mind of an architectural genius.
Another art star who spent a lot of time in Barcelona is Picasso. Why not visit the Museu Picasso to find out more, and even have a bite to eat at his and Dali’s favourite restaurant? So avant-garde right now!
Make sure you order un cortado – a shot of strong Spanish coffee, topped with warm milk – to feel really artsy.
History Buffs Assemble in Salamanca
There’s a magical air in Salamanca and despite its historical heritage, it’s a very lively city!
It’s home to the oldest university in Spain (third oldest in the world!) and this intellectual atmosphere pervades the streets. You’ll overhear students chattering in cafes during the day and be part of a huge international crowd that throngs through the bars and nightclubs at night.
Salamanca is jam packed with historical sites: the Convento de San Esteban which took so long to build has influences from baroque to Gothic; the beautiful Plaza Mayor built in the 1600s, and the aptly named Old Cathedral built in the 12th Century.
If you’re looking for historic Spain, this is definitely a good starting point! Buen rollo (good vibes) all round…
Find Hidden Gems in Santiago/Galicia
We’ve mentioned getting off the beaten track in Madrid, artistic legacies in Barcelona and historic buildings in Salamanca – but if you’re looking for a real hidden gem, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Galicia. It’s something of a neglected region, unspoilt by tourist traps and selfie sticks.
In fact, the capital city of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, is so historic that it has become a popular pilgrimage spot. It’s said that the Biblical apostle St. James is buried there and attracts many worshippers.
Really interestingly, this unique region has its own language and a distinct culture. Galician is spoken by about 2.4 million people with close links to Portuguese and Castilian Spanish.