Spain is one of the most culturally and geographically diverse countries in the world. From the sun-drenched, flamenco-infused south to the rolling green north, everywhere you go in Spain has its own unique story to tell.
And while everyone knows about the popular hotspots—Madrid, Barcelona, Seville—Spain has so much more to offer as well. Here are some of the best places to visit in Spain that should be on your radar. Some you may have heard of and others may be new, but they all offer something you won't find anywhere else.
Cíes Islands (Galicia)
However, you can't just hop on a ferry and make your way out to this breathtaking archipelago on your own. Only 2,200 visitors are allowed to access the islands every day to preserve their natural beauty. There are no cars, no hotels, and just a few essential restaurants. For the most part, it's just you and nature.
Picos de Europa National Park (Asturias & Cantabria)
Picos de Europa was Spain's first national park, earning the prestigious designation more than a century ago. It's home to stunning views and some great hiking, as well as the tallest mountains in the Cantabrian range.
With its rolling, verdant hills and craggy sierras, this park is probably a far cry from the image of Spain's landscape you may have in mind—and that's precisely why it's so incredible to see in person.
Getaria (Basque Country)
Picturesque scenery aside, the town is also home to some of the best local gastronomy in the region. Freshly caught Atlantic anchovies and crisp txakoli wine are staples of the local diet and must-tries for anyone visiting. And if you're into fashion, don't miss the Balenciaga Museum—the famous fashion designer hailed from Getaria.
Wine Country (Navarra)
When you think of Spanish wine regions, La Rioja might be the first that comes to mind. However, don't count out Navarra, either.
Often overlooked in the Spanish wine world in favor of its big-name neighbors Rioja and Ribera, those in the know are warming up to Navarra. Archaeological evidence shows that the Ancient Romans were producing wine here, and the tradition still holds active even today. Book a vineyard tour and get to know Spanish wine's best-kept secret for yourself.
Haro (La Rioja)
Another fabulous destination for wine lovers, the town of Haro in nearby La Rioja helped put the region on the international map. It's perhaps best known for the annual wine festival that takes place in early summer, but if you can't make it to the yearly event, it's still a great destination at any time of year. The friendly, small-town feel makes it a great home base for exploring one of Spain's most iconic wine regions.
In the tiny village of Albarracín, Moorish and medieval cultures converge.
The picturesque pueblo in Aragón's Teruel province has long been recognized as one of Spain's most beautiful small towns. The red-hued buildings look especially magical at sunset, and its winding streets provide endless opportunities to explore. When you get hungry, stop at a local restaurant to tuck into a hearty plate of local cuisine.
Pyrenees Mountains (Catalonia)
With a lush, green landscape dotted with villages that look straight out of the Alps, look no further than the Catalan Pyrenees.
Easily accessible from some of the region's largest cities, including Barcelona, the mountains are perfect for hiking, skiing, or simply just exploring Catalan culture in a traditional village. Base yourself in one of the larger towns, such as Puigcerdà or La Seu d'Urgell, and explore from there.
Ávila (Castilla y León)
Though small in size, the medieval town of Ávila in central Spain is packed with history and culture. Its marvelously preserved city walls are nothing short of impressive, as is its selection of religious history destinations (it was the birthplace of the famous St. Teresa). Even if you're not religious, you can't help but admire the beauty of its churches, chapels, and monasteries.
Albacete (Castilla-La Mancha)
Albacete is the perfect destination for travelers craving a big city vibe as well as something that's a bit off the beaten path. As the largest city in Castilla-La Mancha, it's a lively destination that doesn't draw many tourists—and they don't know what they're missing. Come for the awe-inspiring architecture; stick around in the evening for a lively dining and nightlife scene that rivals more popular destinations.
Foodies, this one's for you. The coastal town of Gandia is home to one of Spain's most delectable traditional dishes, fideuà. Similar to paella but made with noodles instead of rice, it's at its best here in its hometown.
But that's not all—Gandia is an easygoing, welcoming city that's perfect if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of nearby Valencia. It's also home to some of the region's best beaches, both in terms of scenery and amenities.
An off-the-beaten-path town in the off-the-beaten-path region of Extremadura, Trujillo is the idyllic Spanish pueblo of your dreams. Dominated by a castle on a hill and full of winding streets that you could spend hours wandering, it's the kind of place you might not think to visit on your own—but will be so glad you did. Be sure to try some of Extremadura's famous cured meats, such as ham and chorizo, while in town.
The sun-baked region of Murcia in the southeastern corner of Spain is often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbor Andalusia, but it shouldn't be. The city of Cartagena, in particular, encapsulates all the classic charm of southern Spain without nearly as much influence from the tourism industry.
The city is compact and easily walkable, with architecture ranging from ancient ruins to spectacular art deco designs. And of course, the city's access to the beach doesn't hurt.
Whitewashed buildings, incredible food, and access to both the mountains and the beach—what more could you want? Mojácar is one of the most stunning villages in the province of Almeria, and a must on any Andalusian itinerary.
There are two halves to the whole that make up Mojácar: pueblo (the town itself) and playa (the assortment of buildings down near the beach). Start in Mojácar pueblo, getting lost in the endless maze of white streets, and take the afternoon to relax on the beach.
La Palma (Canary Islands)
As the northernmost and arguably the most rugged of the Canary Islands, the island of La Palma (not to be confused with the city of La Palma de Gran Canaria) is a natural paradise that combines stunning mountains and volcanoes with breathtaking beaches. And that's just out in nature—head to one of its charming towns for a unique vibe that's almost reminiscent of Latin America.
Formentera (Balearic Islands)
While most people are heading off to Mallorca, Menorca or Ibiza, few make it to the tiny paradise that is the fourth inhabited Balearic Island: Formentera. While the island does have a tourism industry, it feels much more relaxed and authentic than its more famous counterparts. Go to the beach, of course, but don't forget to explore its stunning white villages or natural landscapes, either.