Spain's Best Tapas Cities

  • 01 of 10

    Where Can You Get The Best Tapas in Spain?

    Tapas and beer toast Tourists in Barcelona eating tapas in a typical restaurant in the Barri Gotic. On the table a travel guide of Spain and a smartphone.
    ••• piola666/Getty Images

    Everyone who visits Spain wants to go for tapas. Spain's unique tapas culture is the envy of the world. Nowhere else do bar hopping and eating go so well together.

    Introduction to Tapas

    Tapas is a plural term, so you should really be asking 'What are Tapas'. A 'tapa' is not a type of food, but a way of eating it. There are a number of explanations for the origin of tapas: What is Tapas? (And What it is Not)

    There is more to Spanish food than just tapas. Read more about Spanish Dishes.

    Where Can You Get Good Tapas in Spain?

    Unfortunately, not every city in Spain is conducive to a night of tapas. On the following slides you'll find my list of the best cities for tapas.

    Some cities are very famous for tapas: Seville, Granada and San Sebastian are obvious choices. In fact, a Seville-Granada Short Break is one of the best ways you can spend your time in Spain.

    See also: Where You Can Get Free Tapas in Spain

    But where else should you go?

    Note that tapas culture varies around Spain. Some cities pride...MORE themselves on their classy gastronomy while others stay loyal to the tradition of giving a simple, free tapa with every drink. 

    The first city in my list might surprise you.

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Logroño: Tapas in Wine Country

    Tapas bar in Logroño
    ••• Tapas bar in Logroño. Damian Corrigan

    Two streets dedicated to tapas and fine wine in the heart of Spain's most famous wine region.

    Is the Tapas Free?

    No.

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Logroño

    The best two streets in Spain for tapas are in Logroño: Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan. Both streets have had a makeover in the last couple of years, with the old simple 'tapa+drink' deals replaced with some of the fanciest tapas you'll see anywhere in Spain.

    See also: 

    Best Tapas Bar in Logroño 

    Any of the bars on Calle Laurel.

    What Else is There to Do in Logroño 

    Visit the wineries! Read more about Wine Tours in Spain.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    San Sebastian: City of Gourmet Tapas

    Gourmet tapa, or 'pintxo', in San Sebastian
    ••• Gourmet tapa, or "pintxo," in San Sebastian. Damian Corrigan

    San Sebastian is fast becoming the foodie city destination in Europe. It appears in my list of Must-See Sights in Spain: City by City for its tapas scene.

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    No

    How to Get the Best Tapas in San Sebastian 

    The streets of old town San Sebastian are full of excellent tapas bars. Only here they're called pintxos. One particularly good street to look out for is Calle 31 de Agosto.

    Many bars have cold tapas out on display. Sometimes they'll give you a plate and you serve yourself, other times you'll have to point to what you want. Follow the example of other guests in the bar.

    But better still are the bars with freshly cooked tapas, which will normally be displayed on a blackboard. 

    See also:

    If you don't speak Spanish or you find the process of ordering tapas in a busy bar a little daunting, you have two good alternatives.

    One is to take a San...MORE Sebastian Tapas Tour, where a tour guide will take you from bar to bar and do all the ordering for you. They'll be able to advise you on what to order and can give you insights into the tapas culture of San Sebastian. 

    The other option is to get the San Sebastian Food Pintxo Passport. This gets you a little booklet, much like a standard travel passport, which gets you a set drink and pintxo/tapa in a series of bars. You don't get a flesh-and-blood guide to show you around and you still have to go to the bar yourself, but the Pintxo Passport does the talking for you (the bar will be expecting them). You also get a lot more food and drink your for buck with the Passport.

    Best Tapas Bar in San Sebastian 

    There are loads of excellent bars, but Borda Berri is perhaps my favorite. For the best bar-top selection, go to Zeruko. For classic seafood and patatas bravas, go for La Mejillonera.

    What Else is There to Do in San Sebastian? 

    San Sebastian has a beach, one of the best city beaches in Europe. There is good surfing nearby, and Bilbao with its Guggenheim modern art museum is not far away. Read more about Visiting San Sebastian

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Granada: The Best City for Free Tapas in Spain

    Fried fish tapas in Granada
    ••• Free fried fish is a common tapa in Granada. Damian Corrigan

    Is the Tapas Free?

    Yes! Granada is the best city in Spain for free tapas. 

    See also:

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Granada 

    In most bars in Granada, you'll get a good-sized portion of food with your drink. The touristy bars might even give you a hamburger and fries, albeit a low-quality one.

    Typically, tapas in Granada is a 'get what you're given' affair. In some places they'll give you whatever they happen to have cooked up recently, in others there'll be a hierarchy of dishes. The more drinks you buy, the better the quality of dishes you receive. In other bars, there's actually a menu and you can choose what you want.

    With so many tapas bars in Granada, a single session of bar-hopping is not enough. I would start with Elvira, bar hopping by yourself.

    Best Tapas Bar in Granada 

    Calle Elvira in the center is the most popular street for free tapas, with Bodegas Castañedas just off Elvira on Calle de Almireceros as...MORE one of the best in town. Avoid Calle Navas, where I found most bars to be quite stingy with their offerings. Up in the Albaicin there are a few good places too.  

    What Else is There to Do in Granada

    The Alhambra is perhaps the most spectacular sight in Spain. Read more: Things to Do in Granada.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Seville: The Best Tapas in Andalusia

    Fried cheese tapas in Seville
    ••• Fried cheese tapas in Seville. Damian Corrigan

    Seville and San Sebastian vie for the position of 'best gastronomy in Spain'.

    See also: How to Visit Seville and Granada on One Short Break

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    No.

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Seville 

    Seville's tapas bars tend to be quite spread out around the city so it takes a little research to find the best places in town. The best areas are Plaza los Terceros, Paseo Catalina and the area between Avenida de la Constitucion and the bullring. 

    Best Tapas Bar in Seville 

    Catalina Bar de Tapas is my favorite place in Seville.

    What Else is There to Do in Seville 

    Loads. Check out 50 Things to Do in Seville

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Leon: Free Tapas in North-West Spain

    Leon-style Morcilla, a type of black pudding
    ••• Leon-style Morcilla, a type of black pudding. Boca Dorada/Creative Commons

    Heading northwest from Madrid, Leon is your best bet for tapas.

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    Yes!

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Leon 

    Leon is undoubtedly Spain's second best city for free tapas, after Granada. All round the Barrio Humedo part of town there are bars and cafes with free tapas. Less touristy than Granada, you won't get hamburgers and fries here. But you will get to try some local delicacies, like cecina (beef ham, much like a beef jerky) and morcilla.

    Though the Barrio Humedo is the most famous area of town for tapas, you should also check out the Barrio Romantico and Barrio de Eras for more nibbles.

    Best Tapas Bar in Leon 

    Hard to say! Some famous ones in Barrio Humedo include Bar La Bicha and Bar Miche, both in Plaza de San Martín.

    What Else is There to Do in Leon

    The cathedral is famous (it reminds me of a lego church!). There's also a Gaudi building, Casa Botines, and great day trips to Astorga and the Valporquero caves. You could also combine a trip to Leon with one to Oviedo. Read...MORE more about How to Visit Oviedo and Leon on One Short Break.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Malaga: Good, Cheap Tapas All Over the City

    Tapas served in a bar Fried anchovies and ham croquettes with marinated red peppers served as tapas in a local restaurant
    ••• Fried anchovies and ham croquettes with marinated red peppers served as tapas in Malaga. Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    Sometimes. 

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Malaga 

    The free tapas thing in Malaga is a new trend among low-quality bars. The better places charge. Malaga's center is quite compact and nicely walkable (much of it is pedestrianized) so have a wander! 

    Best Tapas Bar in Malaga

    The center of Malaga is full of tapas bars, all frying up fresh fish for the hungry masses. I suggest the Quitapenas group of bars for reliable pescado at a good price. Read more about Eating and Drinking in Malaga.

    What Else is There to Do in Malaga 

    Malaga has a beach, and its position on the south coast makes it the city where you sunbathe longer than in any other place in Spain. It's also a great place to for some day trips. Read about the Best Day Trips from Malaga.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Madrid: Tapas in the Capital

    Tapapies: Lavapies Tapas Fair in Madrid MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30: A tapa of Salmorejo is served on the bar at a Tapas Bar during the Tapapies Fair on October 30, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.
    ••• A tapa of Salmorejo is served on the bar at a tapas bar in Madrid. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

    The Spanish capital, so of course it has tapas.

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    Sometimes.

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Madrid

    Madrid is Spain's biggest city. There are tapas bars throughout the city's barrios, some aimed squarely at tourists, some very much a place for locals. 

    The most famous street for tapas is Cava Baja in the La Latina part of town. Another easy place to bar hop is between Puerta del Sol and Plaza Santa Ana. 

    For free tapas bars, check out this great list. For sheer quantity of free food, El Tigre in Chueca is an institution.  

    Best Tapas Bar in Madrid 

    I have a soft spot for La Ardosa, with its fantastic tortilla and salmorejo (a kind of thick gazpacho). For good wine and cold cuts, Stop Madrid is great. 

    See also: 13 Best Madrid Restaurants That Won't Break the Bank

    What Else is There to Do in Madrid 

    So, so much! Check out my 100 Things to Do in Madrid.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Barcelona: Catalan Tapas Bars

    Quimet & Quimet tapas in Barcelona
    ••• Quimet & Quimet tapas in Barcelona. Boyko Blagoev/Creative Commons

    Spain's second city also has plenty of tapas, but you'll have to look. 

    Is the Tapas Free? 

    No.

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Barcelona

    It can't really be said that Barcelona is brimful of tapas bars, but a city of this size will always have a few good places.

    To be honest, I've always found looking for tapas in Barcelona to be quite frustrating. A good way to avoid this is with a guidebook. You can also combine your tour with a flamenco show:

    For an insight into classic Catalan food, check out this Small-Group Gourmet Barcelona Tapas Tour.

    Best Tapas Bar in Barcelona 

    Quimet & Quimet has developed quite a following in recent years. For cheap seafood, try Bar Celta in the Gothic Quarter.

    What Else is There to Do in Barcelona 

    See 100 Things to Do in Barcelona.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Jaen: Free Tapas in Olive Country

    La Manchega tapas bar in Jaen
    ••• Jaen is another city where the tapas comes for free. According to the photographer, these two glasses of wine and the tapa cost 1.20€. Juan Fernandez/Creative Commons

    Is the Tapas Free?

    Yes!

    How to Get the Best Tapas in Jaen

    Like Granada, Jaen is a great place to get a tapa with your drink for free. You don't usually have a choice in what you're given, so order your wine or beer and look forward to something tasty!

    Best Tapas Bar in Jaen 

    Good tapas bars in Jaen include Restaurante Casa Córdoba and Alcaudon.