Top 20 of the most beautiful cities in Spain

Top 20 of the most beautiful cities in Spain

Spain is also known for its beautiful, romantic and architecturally stunning cites – perfect for independent travel. From all our collective trips over the years here our Top 20 of the best and most stunning cities in Spain (in no particular order)…

Valencia – a beautiful and elegant port city

Valencia - best cities in Spain

Spain’s third-largest city is also home to a mix of modern and ancient architecture. The port city is located on Spain’s southeastern coast, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a very easy-on-the-eye city – which dates back to as early as 150BC – has a compact orientation with gorgeous Gothic, Baroque and Roman architecture.

It’s also famous for its futuristic architecture, for example, the jaw-dropping The City of Arts and Sciences is a very popular attraction. Designed by the wonderfully exuberant Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it’s the pinnacle of modern architecture in Spain.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Valencia

Granada – a unique Spanish city known for its extraordinary Moorish architecture

Granada - most beautiful cities in Spain

Easily one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, Granada is famous for its ancient Moorish Alhambra Palace and beautiful Eastern-style architecture. Located in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s set in gorgeous natural surroundings – when you’ve finished exploring the museums and art galleries head out of town to enjoy a walk in the nearby mountains.

One of the main highlights of Granada is Alhambre the sprawling hilltop fortress complex home to royal palaces, serene patios, and pretty pools hailing from the Nasrid dynasty. Also don’t miss dining on an exquisite meal at the famous bar and restaurant Totes y Amigos Bar.  

Hotels and Airbnbs in Granada

Madrid – Spain’s elegant capital known for its charming boulevards and lovely parks

most beautiful cities in Spain

The Spanish centrally located capital often gets overlooked in favour of the more popular Costas, but spring and autumn are the perfect times to explore this historic gem. Soak up the beautiful architecture, shop ‘til you drop in the designer boutiques, dance to traditional flamenco music and wander through the spectacular botanic gardens.

As well as being known for being home to a fine collection of European art (including Goya and Velázquez) as well as being a gourmet hub, so make sure you sample the local tapas while you’re there!

Hotels and Airbnbs in Madrid

Palma – Majorca’s gorgeous capital and resort city

The alluring Mallorcan capital has recently come into its own, thanks to a multi-million-pound facelift. With a new collection of art galleries, museums and a handful of swish boutique hotels, Palma is a newly trendy travel destination. Take a stroll (or a Segway ride!) down the landscaped promenade to the Portixol marina.

The newly gentrified port area is home to a number of great eateries, swanky bars, hip beach clubs and of course more choice of tapas bars than you’ll know what to do with.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Palma

Cuenca – a spectacular mountain city perched on a limestone spur

The overhanging house in Cuenca city

Founded by the Moors in 1557 this is one of the most striking towns in Spain. Located in the mountains of east-central Spain in a truly spectacular position above the Júcar and Huécar rivers, Cuenca is a beautiful fortified town which has been amazingly well preserved – so much so it has been given world heritage status.

The town is a superb example of a medieval city but its location makes it really stand out from the crowd – it rests on the steep sides of a mountain and the Casas colgadas, (meaning “hanging houses”) are built right up to the cliff edge.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Cuenca

Barcelona – the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region known for its unique art and architecture

Park Guell Barcelona on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Casa Batlló Barcelona on GlobalGrasshopper.com

There’s a reason why Barcelona (the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region) is so popular with mini breaks and stag groups. It’s one of the liveliest cities in Spain, with a string of year-round festivals as well as a vibrant nightlife scene – and it also has one of the most famous stadiums in the world. But this atmospheric city is also great for couples, thanks to the fantastic shopping, restaurants and luxury hotels.

It also boasts stunning architecture in the form of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – a masterpiece of design that is yet to be completed. Visit in summer, so that you can follow up a morning in the city with an afternoon spent on the very popular local beach.

San Sebastian – a beautiful coastal resort town on the Bay of Biscay

San Sebastian Spain

Few places on earth hold the allure that San Sebastian, Spain does. This coastal city attracts visitors from all over the world. Not only are visitors attracted to San Sebastian’s location, just 20 km from the Southern French border, but they are also drawn to the pristine beauty of the ocean.

San Sebastian’s coastal location allows for the freshest seafood, an array of high-end water activities, and has made the city a haven for private yachts coming into port. Attractions in San Sebastian include beaches, ancient architecture and the unique Basque language, the oldest language spoke in Europe.

Hotels and Airbnbs in San Sebastian

Salamanca – a historic and pretty Spanish city known for its ornate sandstone architecture and important university

Salamanca Spain

This is a lively university city that many tourists seem to pass by. It is undoubtedly beautiful with a medieval charm, a mix of Plateresque and Renaissance styles and one of the grandest squares in Spain. The city was for four centuries the seat of one of the world’s most prestigious universities and now the still-thriving student population gives Salamanca a youthful, happy vibe. Choose from one of the many great bars, cafés and restaurants on offer to sample some of the city’s ‘joie de vivre’ for yourself.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Salamanca

Seville – a romantic city famous for its exquisite architecture and flamenco dancing

Seville - one of the prettiest cities in Spain

The birthplace of Flamenco is unlikely to be anything less than beautiful and romantic. This popular stunning Spanish city (the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region) is also home to a Gothic superb cathedral and tower, La Giralda, and also the famous Royal Palaces with their gorgeous Mudejar architecture (pictured above).

As well as its fine cuisine, the Southern Spanish city has a large community of artists, writers and composers giving Seville a free-spirited, bohemian feel.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Seville

Ronda – a unique city set dramatically above a deep gorge

Ronda - the most beautiful cities in Spain

Located in Malaga, Ronda is consistently known as being one of the prettiest cities in Spain home to a laid back cafe culture and a truly spectacular gorge. Puente Nuevo is an expansive 300 feet gorge. In 1973, a bridge was built over the gorge so tourists could get a better view of how deep it actually goes.

Ronda is one of the few cities in Spain that has resisted modernization, so when you visit the city, you are visiting an area that maintains its historical significance.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Ronda

Bilbao – incredible architecture, fine food and stunning landscapes

Bilbao City Spain

Bilbao is another overlooked beautiful Spanish city. Although it’s officially in Spain (it’s a port city in northern Spain), the Basque country residents are pushing for their own independence. In many schools, lessons are even taught in Basque, not Spanish.

The architecture is a wonderful mix of the old and the new and Doña Casilda Iturrizar park is particularly special with an impressive dancing water fountain. The gothic St James’ Cathedral is a must-see, and for art lovers, the impressive Guggenheim is seen as an image of modern Bilbao.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Bilbao

Santiago de Compostela – famous for its religious connections and the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the gorgeous capital city of Galicia Spain’s northwest, is a fertile region with an Atlantic coastline. The beautiful Spanish city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beautiful cathedral and ancient city centre. The main square is dominated by the cathedral which is easily one of the most impressive in Europe. It is a huge building smothered in Baroque swirls, statues and stalagmites.

There are also many other fine examples of architecture dotted throughout the city. Make sure you also visit the San Martín Pinario Monastery, the baroque Benedictine monastery of the XI century and the Gelmírez Palace which is a great example of Romanesque civil architecture.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Santiago de Compostela

Girona – a charming relaxed city in Catalonia region known for its medieval architecture and walled Old Quarter

Girona Main Square on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Beautiful Girona

An under-the-radar city in Spain Girona is located in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region. History is everywhere in Girona. From a distinct Roman foundation, being conquered by the Moores, and the Franks, before finally falling under the rule of Barcelona, the history of battles and past peoples can be seen at every turn.

Some of the most visited places in Girona include the Girona Cathedral, The Museum of Jewish History, and the Arab Baths. It’s a charming but laid back place but there is far too much beauty to see in Girona in simply one day, so plan your trip wisely so you see every spectacular aspect of this ancient, yet modern city.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Girona

Tarragona – a picturesque port city known for its ancient Roman ruinsTarragona - the best cities in Spain to visit

Spain is an ancient country full of historic significance and Tarragona (a stunning port city in northeastern Spain’s Catalonia region) follows the historic model beautifully. Opportunities for embracing history in Tarragona, Spain are seemingly everywhere. Tarragona is one of the classically Mediterranean locations where you can truly embrace the culture and laid back spirit.

Coastal restaurants such as Cocula and De Vins draw in tourists and locals alike with exceptionally crafted and authentic Spanish cuisine. Ancient ruins and attractions such as Pont del Diable and Murrallas del Tarragona give visitors a glimpse into Tarragon’s historic past.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Tarragona

Alicante – a fine port city on Spain’s southeastern Costa Blanca

Alicante city Spain

Relaxation is a part of any holiday, but so is excitement and luckily both can be found in Alicante! A port city on Spain’s southeastern Costa Blanca, here you’ll have a chance to soak up the sun and relax during the day and enjoy the electric nightlife of the city.

Alicante is a unique area in Spain as the city is lovingly watched over by Castillo de Santa Barbara, a 16th-century fortress castle that remains every vigilant and watchful over this thriving city. Visiting Castillo de Santa Barbara is a welcomed activity for tourists as it offers the absolute best view of Alicante.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Alicante

Zaragoza – a stunning historic city with a mix of Mudéjar-style, Islamic, Gothic and Moorish architecture

Zaragoza city in Spain

The wonderful capital of northeastern Spain’s Aragon region with an enviable location on the Ebro River is easily one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. There are historic significance and modern amenities throughout Zaragoza, making it among the country’s most attractive cities for tourists to enjoy. Small souvenir shops offer trinkets to bring back to loved ones while the numerous tapas restaurants dotted throughout Zaragoza will give you fuel for your days spent shopping and exploring.

Although Zaragoza is not all just about shopping and gastronomic experiences, it’s also home to many fine examples of unique and Moorish architecture. Don’t miss the spectacular baroque Nuestra Señora del Pilar basilica which overlooks the river and has beautifully patterned domes, the Mudéjar-style landmarks which combine Islamic and Gothic influences and the include the Aljafería, a stunning 11th-century Moorish palace, and the 12th century very impressive Cathedral of the Savior.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Zaragoza

Cadiz – an ancient port city in the Andalucia region which stands on a peninsula

Cadiz Spain - lovely Spanish cities

Cadiz, the ancient port city in the Andalucia region of southwestern Spain is one of Europe’s oldest cities on record. Not only does Cadiz hold this significant attribute, but is also known as a modern, urban island as the city is almost entirely surrounded by water.

This densely populated area maintains its classic ancient architecture and small fishing ports while offering a significantly modern aspect to tourists and locals. Due to its water-rich location, bridge construction has been a big part of the culture and Puenta de la Constitcion de 1812 is an example of a beautifully constructed bridge linking the city to the mainland of Spain.

It’s also home to 100 watchtowers, including the famous Torre Tavira, which was originally used for spotting ships. Positioned elegantly on the waterfront is the 18th-century Cádiz Cathedral which features domes and baroque and neoclassical style architecture.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Cadiz

Ourense – a pretty Spanish city known for its hot springs

Ourense Spain

A city that’s often overlooked by its more well-known rivals, Ourense can be easy to pass by. This pretty city is not one of Spain’s largest cities, but it is certainly among the most beautiful and elegant. Visitors that find themselves spending time in Ourense have the opportunity to enjoy one of nature’s most amazing wonders – the Ourense Thermal Springs. Check out the  Burga de Abajo, a neoclassical fountain with thermal waters and the city’s medicinal baths.

Other highlights include the 12th-century Ourense Cathedral, the iconic Ponte Romana bridge and Nova, a Michelin star restaurant with a cool, modern atmosphere.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Ourense

Cordoba – an under-the-radar but fascinating Spanish city

Cordoba Spain

Located in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, this stunning Spanish city remains mostly under the tourist’s radar. Although it’s one of the oldest cities in all of Spain and maintains that old-world feel, while offering the nightlife and modern amenities that travelers want.

The Centre of Cordoba tends to be where most visitors head to as it’s one of the most traditional parts of the city. It’s has a very significant history as it was once an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. One of its highlights includes La Mezquita, a very impressive mosque dating from 784 A.D.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Cordoba

Melilla – a beautiful and elegant Spanish city located on the northwest coast of Africa

Melilla Spain

This city is a bit of a wildcard due to its location, it’s an autonomous city located on the northwest coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco. Melilla’s location offers an amazing adaptable cross-border commerce market and the population is almost completely divided between Berber Muslims and Spanish Christians.

Perched along the Mediterranean coastline, Melilla has a population of over 72,000 and was originally occupied in 1497. By far the most visited attraction is the largest, the wall surrounding Melilla has been recently restored and features elevators in the structure to bring tourists to the top for an epic view of the city and the surrounding areas.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Melilla

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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

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