Plenty of visitors to Spain flock to the major tourist destinations like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. But the Spanish countryside is teeming with idyllic destinations as well. These 10 small towns may be off the beaten track, but they're well worth your time—and you'll come away with stories and experiences that few other travelers can claim.
Extremadura is one of the least touristy regions in all of Spain, despite being home to countless rural gems like the small city of Cáceres. With great museums, a charming historic center, stunning palaces, and some of the best tapas this side of Madrid, it's got something for everyone. As the capital of its province and one of the largest cities in Extremadura, this is one of the best Spanish countryside destinations where you can base yourself for several days and dig deep into the local culture.
Setenil de las Bodegas, Andalusia
Out of all the Spanish countryside destinations we've included here, the tiny town of Setenil de las Bodegas may be the most unusual. The reason: its setting. Many of its buildings were built right into the surrounding cliffs and mountains, parts of which overhang the streets in the town center.
The best way to enjoy this "town under a rock" is to start at the top of the hill and make your way down slowly into the heart of the pueblo. Stop to admire the view from the various miradores (lookout points) along the way. When you get down to the center of town, stop for a coffee and a local pastry at one of the cafes under the rock to refuel for the climb back up.
Chinchón, Community of Madrid
Spain's thriving capital may seem a world away from the quaint countryside, but there are some seriously charming small rural towns just a bus ride away from Madrid. Chinchón is only one of them.
With a stunning Plaza Mayor (which, while smaller than its better-known counterpart in Madrid proper, is just as impressive in its own way) and a clock tower affording jaw-dropping views of the town, Chinchón is the idyllic Spanish town of your dreams. When you get hungry, be sure to try the local specialties: artisanal pastries (in this case, similar to cream-filled donuts) and anise.
La Azohia, Murcia
Beach lovers, don't worry—we didn't forget about you.
The traditional fishing village of La Azohia, just a few miles down the coast from the larger city of Cartagena, is everything you could want in an off-the-beaten-path seaside destination. This quiet corner of the Mediterranean boasts golden-sand beaches surrounded by a rugged natural landscape. The town is quiet but features plenty of amenities, making it an excellent setting for a low-key beach escape.
Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha
If gravity-defying architecture and dramatic views are your thing, you'll love Cuenca.
As the capital of its eponymous province in Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca leans more towards "small city" than "rural village." However, its setting in the peaceful Spanish countryside gives it the ideal combination of an authentic small-town feel combined with plenty to see and do. Don't miss the famous casas colgadas, or "hanging houses" built right into the sides of the cliffs.
Getaria, Basque Country
There are a lot of breathtaking destinations in the Basque Country, but Getaria gives the rest a run for their money. The small town just down the coast from San Sebastian is famous for its anchovies and txakoli, a semi-sparkling white wine—both of which happen to pair beautifully together. It was also the hometown of fashion icon Cristóbal Balenciaga, and a trip to his memorial museum is a must for style lovers.
A medieval gem of a town in the Catalan countryside, Besalú seems frozen in time in the best possible way. Wander across the Romanesque bridge into the beautifully preserved old town and let yourself get lost in its winding backstreets full of stories to tell. As the former home of one of Europe's most thriving Jewish communities, the town is also full of nods to the religious tradition.
Tucked away into the Sierras Subbéticas mountain ranges outside the city of Cordoba, Zuheros is a bright collection of whitewashed buildings that will take your breath away even from afar. Whether you explore the town itself (don't miss the Moorish castle) or decide to take a hike through the surrounding mountains, this is one Andalusian town that can't be missed. Once you work up an appetite, be sure to try some of the delicious specialties from the province, such as salmorejo (a chilled tomato soup similar to gazpacho).
The red-hued buildings of Albarracín in eastern Spain stand in stark contrast to the whitewashed towns of the sun-baked south—and that's precisely why we love it. This gorgeous Spanish village is utterly unexpected in all the best ways, full of beautiful surprises around every picturesque corner. Come as a day trip from nearby Teruel, or stay for a few days and get immersed in small-town life.
Fisterra is a popular final stop for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago trail, but you don't have to hike several hundred kilometers to enjoy this pristine destination on the Galician coast. Here, you'll find some of the best seafood in the region (which is saying a lot), and be able to immerse yourself in the heart of one of Galicia's hardiest maritime towns. And of course, there's always the beach nearby.