The Most Popular Cities to Visit in Spain

With so much information available about traveling to Spain, it can be difficult to narrow down which cities are worth visiting. There are several factors to consider when planning your trip, but probably the most important factor is the length of your stay.

If you plan on spending a week or more in Spain, starting in Madrid is a great plan of action to see many of Spain's must-see sights. You can then choose to spend your time by embarking on one of the many guided tours that begin in Madrid or exploring the surrounding cities of Toledo and Segovia on your own.

Depending on your tastes and interests, you may want to visit Seville or San Sebastian for excellent tapas, but for cheap tapas, visit Granada. For museums, Madrid should be your pick, and for a good city with a beach, visit Barcelona or San Sebastian.

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Barcelona is without a doubt the most popular city to visit in Spain. With its Gaudi architecture and the vibrant city life, you can always find something to do, any time of the year. 

Las Ramblas is a bustling street that is surprisingly popular with both tourists and locals alike, but if you're looking to avoid crowds, head to the no less beautiful Gothic Quarter.

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Madrid aerial shot
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Madrid gets mixed reactions from many visitors as some find the pace of life and diversity of the city incredibly exciting, while others are daunted by its size.

However, with no shortage of fun things to do, you will never get bored in this capital city, and due to its central location, it is easy to arrange several local day trips throughout your stay. For most tourists, the longer you spend in this capital city, the more likely you will end up enjoying it.

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Salamanca, which is located about two-and-a-half hours northwest of Madrid, is a beautiful university town with strikingly uniform sandstone architecture, as well as the quirky Casa de las Conchas, a seashell-covered 16th-century Gothic palace.

This city also has a gorgeous public square, Plaza Mayor, and the celebrated art museum, Casa Lis.

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Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela
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Santiago de Compostela is a popular destination for vacationers in visiting the shrine of apostle Saint James the Great in Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James).

The cathedral that houses the shrine is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Spain, and the bucolic countryside surrounding it is also well worth seeing.

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One thing is for sure: Seville is hot. Temperatures in this city in the summertime often reach 120ºF. Known for the Alcazar, a Moorish-Renaissance royal palace with stunningly beautiful gardens, the bell tower, Giralda, and the Maestranza, where bullfighting is still practiced.

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The Mezquita (mosque) in Cordoba is the city’s main attraction, but the area around it is equally appealing, in particular, the Jewish quarter, which is full of irregular streets like Calleja del Pañuelo.

The Calhorra Tower, a medieval fortified gate, the Museo Julio Romero de Torres, and the Royal Stables of Córdoba all draw crowds in each year.

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Valencia is a lot smaller than you would expect from the third most populated city in Spain, but it still has enough charm to keep you busy for a couple of days. Don’t forget to try the Paella Valenciana, as Spain's most famous dish was invented here. 

L'Oceanogràfic, a large aquarium housing over 500 different species, is also a major attraction, as well as the Bioparc which lets its furry residents roam free.

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The city center of Granada

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Granada is amazing the number of cool things to do that you can fit in such a small city. With its Moorish Alhambra fortress, the free tapas and Moroccan tea houses, you won’t want to leave.

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San Sebastian

A person surfing in San Sebastian

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San Sebastian has one of the nicest beaches in all of Spain and even better pintxos (tapas).

Pack your swimsuit and head to La Concha beach, or stay out of the sun at San Telmo Museao.

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Overhead of Malaga from rooftop
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Malaga's fame stems from two things: its airport and being the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Sadly, Picasso spent little time here, so you won't find much homage to the late artist, but given its location, it is easy to take a day trip from Malaga.

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Cathedral of Valladolid
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Another airport city (Ryanair flies here).

Valladolid is well connected to the rest of the region. So, you can hop on a train or bus and see one of the many cities in the area (such as Madrid, Leon or Salamanca).

Valladolid is in the Ribera del Duero wine district. You can get good Ribera del Duero, but this wine is one of the most popular types in Spain and you can get it in almost any bar in the country.