Visiting Spain is truly an experience of a lifetime. Whether you’re heading to soak up the sun on the coast in Barcelona or you’d rather explore beautiful cities like Seville, this Spain bucket list has got you covered. Here are the 39 best things to do in Spain that you won’t want to miss out on!
If you’re ever taken a Spanish language or culture class, chances are you’ve heard about Tomatina!
Tomatina is a legendary festival that encompasses running through the streets and chunking tomatoes at each other. It is so uniquely Spanish, and a must-do bucket list item!
The tradition takes place in a city called Buñol and has existed since 1945. It is held around the end of August every year, and consists of locals and tourists alike, taking to the streets and having a food fight. After the fight, which lasts about an hour, you can eat, drink, and party in the streets until the festivities die down.
The easiest way to get to Tomatina is by arranging transport from Valencia. There are buses, trains, or you have the option of renting a car. I took a bus that included the price of the entrance. The entrance by itself will cost you 10 euros (about $15 USD). Alternatively, you can reach Buñol from Barcelona, even if it takes a little bit longer.
Be sure to wear clothes that you can throw away later because you WILL get soaked in tomato juice! This should definitely be on your Spain bucket list.
To learn more about Tomatina, check out this post.
Traveled by Jori from The Tejana Abroad
Rioja Alavesa Wine Tasting
Spain might be famous for its vibrant tapas bar scene, but the truth is that those beautiful little tapas bites are only really there to help you drink more vino. Yes, the food makes the wine taste better (as the wine makes the food taste better), but really it’s there to help stop you from getting too giddy. For travelers in search of the ultimate vino-fuelled adventure in Spain, there’s nowhere better than the mighty Rioja Alavesa wine region, the smallest sub-region of the iconic Rioja wine world. Nuzzled away in the Basque Country – Spain’s most famous foodie destination – this tiny enclave boasts the highest elevation in the region and is protected from the winds by the mighty Sierra Cantabria. This unique microclimate results in what many claim to be the finest Tempranillo vines on earth.
Tour the famous wineries with Thabuca Wine Tours – or “wine palaces” as they should really be known – like Baigorri Bodega, Ysios Bodega, and the avant-garde Marqués de Riscal Bodega, which was designed by Frank Gehry. Stay in one of the wineries’ onsite hotels so you can enjoy wine tasting sessions from dusk till dawn, or check into a historic apartment within the walls of the medieval town/village of Laguardia. You’re guaranteed to drink and eat like a king in Rioja Alavesa, but be warned you’ll likely put on a few pounds too!
Recommended by Ben Holbrook from Driftwood Journals
Camino de Santiago
Whilst it might not be the easiest thing to tick off your Spanish bucket list, it might well be the most rewarding. Every year, thousands of pilgrims walk the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain. There are 7 official routes, all varying in length and starting at different points.
The most popular of these is the French Way, traditionally beginning in St. Jean Pied de Port. Expect the journey from this point to take anywhere between a month and 40 days to walk, however, if you are short on time you can start closer to the finish point of Santiago de Compostela. The easiest way to get to St. Jean is via train from Paris and for those who want to walk in the other direction, planes fly direct to Santiago de Compostela from all over Europe.
Although costs will vary depending on the level of accommodation you opt for, (not to mention how partial you are to a glass of Spain’s finest Tinto!), you can expect to pay somewhere within the region of €25-€40 per day. There are pilgrim specific hostels and restaurants which can help you keep costs down.
Experiencing Spain on foot showcases a whole other side of the country and really allows you to soak up the culture. Throughout your journey, you will get to meet locals and pilgrims alike, each with their own fascinating stories to tell. The Camino de Santiago is also home to some of Spain’s finest cities, including Pamplona, Burgos and León.
If you’re adventurous, be sure to add this to your Spain bucket list!
Recommended by Sheree from Winging the World
Tapas is a huge part of Spanish culture and something that you absolutely must do at least once when you visit Spain.
Tapas are small portions of food which are traditionally eaten between meals, with a drink. Whenever you go for a drink In Spain, have a look if there are any tapas available. If you’re in the mood for a big meal, you could just order lots of tapas. But, what the Spanish do is have one or two tapas to share and then move on to another bar for one or two more. It’s like a pub crawl with snacks!
Traditional tapas dishes often involve meat and fish, but if you’re a vegetarian you’ll still have plenty of options. Vegan tapas can be tricky, but if you’re lucky there will be one or two things to tempt you.
Some of the most popular tapas dishes are:
- Jamon bellota (sliced ham)
- Boquerones (anchovies)
- Patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce)
- Patatas alioli (potatoes in a creamy garlic sauce)
- Tortilla (potato omelette)
- Calamari (squid)
- Albondigas (meatballs)
- Croquetas (meat and mashed potato in breadcrumbs)
For the best tapas in Spain, you want to avoid the touristy places if you can. Tapas bars are often located together on a ‘tapas street’, so find out where that is and then look out for little bars that don’t have any signs written in English. Eating tapas is truly one of the must-do things on this Spain bucket list!
Recommended by Jenni from Cruise Mummy
See a Flamenco Show
Flamenco shows are a must-see attraction for someone visiting Spain. It is a Spanish folk art deeply embedded in Spanish culture. It emerged in the 19th century in a city located in the South of Spain, Andalusia, from cultural miscegenation of different tribes: Gypsy, Arab, Jewish, and Christian Spanish. Flamenco is internationally acclaimed today, as in the past few decades, the art is practised around the world in either performance shows or by the teaching of it in dance schools. UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
Flamenco is called an art because it is composed of three elements, the singing, the dancing, and the sound of the guitar, in order of importance. The art started using only two instruments, the singing, and the dancing, accompanied by “palmas,” which means Spanish clapping. Through the years, Flamenco has developed from its original form. The embodiment of the guitar and the extensive use of footwork. The phantasmagoric colourful dresses and jewelry of the women performing, the embroidered silk shawls, the bullfighting men outfits, and the flowers decorating women’s hair are also part of the art of Flamenco.
Flamenco shows last between one to two hours are held in tablaos. Tablaos are special venues where Flamenco shows and only are held. Those emerged in Andalusia in the 1960s and now are around everywhere in Spain. These venues serve drinks and tapas, while some of them, mainly focused on tourists, also offer Spanish meals. This is the best cultural experience to add to your Spain bucket list.
Recommended by Elena from Passion For Hospitality
Castells in Barcelona
If you’re visiting Spain, a local experience you have to add to your bucket list is the castells. A castell is a Catalan tradition regularly found in Barcelona and Tarragona. Castell means castle, but this one is made of people. Participants dress all in white and wear a coloured sash indicating what group they belong to.
The Castellers create a wide human base and then begin climbing to create levels of people. The castell is not completed until a seven-year-old climbs to the top, blows a kiss, and then descends the opposite side. Watching the Castellers is an exciting and unique experience. There are no safety measures so that the crowd will be right at the base, and there are no mats to catch the Castellers if they fall.
The best time to see castells is in winter and spring. The biggest competition in Barcelona is held during the Festes de Santa Eulália. All the Barcelona teams gather in Plaça Sant Jaume and are judged on their towers’ height and complexity. Some of them are even five levels high. It’s a thrill to experience this strange tradition. There’s always music, and the crowd claps and cheers when a seven-year-old completes a castell.
If you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, there is always a risk of one of the castells collapsing. Luckily the human base they create is so large that any falls are caught by the people below (it’s still scary to see).
Recommended by Bliss from Travel For Bliss
Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium
Without any shadow of a doubt, Madrid is one of my favourite cities throughout all of Europe. A beguiling combination of history, stunning architecture, edgy districts and an incredible food scene.
Despite all of this it is arguably most known as home to the world’s most successful and glamorous football team – Real Madrid. Any visit to this fabulous city is incomplete without a trip to their Santiago Bernabéu Stadium to catch a game in the company of their raucous supporters.
The ‘Bernabéu’ is located in the north of the city and is easily accessible via the city’s metro system or via one of the City Bus Tours. Arrive early and you can combine a match with a tour of the stadium, trophy room and other areas behind the scenes. Even for non-football fans, this is a hugely interesting and fascinating way to spend a couple of hours.
Unsurprisingly tickets to see Real Madrid are not the easiest to come by or the cheapest, especially for the big games against the elite of European football. Aim for a fixture against a lesser-known team in Spain’s La Liga and try the team’s website first of all. If you’re still unsuccessful don’t be afraid to try a ticket resale site. I’ve used this method a couple of teams and obtained great seats close to the action for no more than £100 each.
Trust me the sound of the crowd as the team enters the stadium and when the ball hits the back of the net will stay with you for a very long time. A true memento of your time in Madrid.
Recommended by Paul from The Two That Do
Drinking Cider in Asturias
One of the fun things to do in Spain is to drink cider in Asturias, Spain’s northern region.
Asturias is situated in what Spaniards call “green Spain,’ a lush, verdant region of emerald green fields and thick forests, very different geography from Spain’s hotter and drier areas.
The capital city of Oviedo is a cultural powerhouse with museums, theaters and galleries throughout the city. Oviedo is also one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in Europe, home to prehistoric caves, pre-Romanesque Asturian Kings’ palaces, Medieval towns and contemporary art.
Asturias is famous for its cuisine, especially the Fabada Asturiana, a thick stew of beans, veggies and potatoes with chunks of sausage. The most fun part of a typical Asturian mean, however, is to drink cider.
So, what’s so exciting about drinking cider? Asturian cider is lightly alcoholic. It is poured from about six feet (about 2 meters) in the air into a glass in order to aerate the beverage. The person pouring is an expert and can manage the feat without spilling a single drop. These pouring events frequently take place in traditional Asturian restaurants accompanied by musicians entertaining the patrons who are encouraged to participate in the singing.
The Asturian cider drinking is the Spanish equivalent of a rip-roaring good time.
Traveled by Talek from Travels With Talek
One of the best museums in Spain is also the most mind-blowing and fun: the Dalí Theatre-Museum has the single largest art collection of one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, Salvador Dalí. You’ll know when you’ve reached the Dali Theatre-Museum when you spot the building’s roof, which is topped with gigantic eggs and golden Oscar-like statues, and its walls adorned with croissants.
The surrealist artist converted this former municipal theater in Figueres, Spain, into his own theatre-museum bearing his name. It houses the most diverse works of Dalí and is where you can get inside the creative, peculiar mind. The Dali Theatre-Museum is an experience: it has many rooms, corridors, and staircases leading you to Dalí’s weird paintings, wacky sculptures, fun mechanical devices, three-dimensional collages and stereoscopic images.
If you’re expecting to see Dali’s most famous art pieces, they won’t be here, but the collection is still stellar. My personal favorite: the pixelated image of Abraham Lincoln, “Lincoln in Dalivision,” a lithograph created in 1976 before digital pixelated images became a huge thing. For more fun, climb up a staircase and peek through a glass: there you’ll see furniture arranged in the face of Mae West. The museum can be easily squeezed in as a day trip from Barcelona. To get there, take the RENFE train, which takes almost two hours. The ticket entrance fee is 13€.
Recommended by Justine from Latitude 41
The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain
The city of Arts and Sciences is located in Valencia, Spain, and is the most important tourist attraction. This cultural and architectural gem attracts people worldwide to marvel at all the interesting and compelling sights. Not only this, it is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain, making it a Spain Bucket List must visit.
There are so many amazing things to do in Valencia, and visiting here is at the top of the list. The City of Arts and Sciences spans just under 2 kilometers and is home to six unique buildings waiting to be explored. The first building is the Oceanografic, which is Europe’s largest aquarium. Then to Prince Felipe Museu of Sciences, a hands-on museum that is educational and fun for all. This area is also home to L’Menisferic, an audiovisual space, and Palau de Les Arts, an opera venue! Finally, there is the Agora, an event space, and the Umbracle, an open air space that is the perfect tropical feeling photoshoot spot.
Entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences buildings ranges from free to upwards of 20 euros per person. The best way to get here is by renting a bike and biking through the park!
Recommended by Samantha Karen from Sam Sees World
Modernisme Architecture in Barcelona
Barcelona is a great city in many ways, but for me, the most iconic and unique thing about Barcelona is its architecture. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the city expanded, connecting the Old Town Barcelona with surrounding towns, creating a new district called Eixample (meaning Expansion, subtle…). We (I am from Barcelona) were lucky enough that this happened at the highest peak of Modernisme, the Catalan art nouveau. This means that many of the buildings in this district were built following this new architectural movement consisting of getting rid of straight lines, using nature patterns, colorful tiles… And many remain to this day.
Heard of Antoni Gaudí, the architect of icons like Sagrada Família, Parc Güell, La Pedrera, etc.? He was the most known modernisme architect, and his legacy is still a symbol of the city. But he was far from the only one! Other architects like Domènech i Muntaner, Puig i Cadafalch, and many more have left a trail of stunning modernist buildings all around the city. Some of my favourites are Hospital de Sant Pau, Casa Comalat (in the picture, left), Casa Batlló (in the picture, right), Casa Vicens, Casa de les Punxes, and Palau de la Música Catalana. Discover the most iconic modernisme building in Barcelona by following this route through Modernisme in Barcelona. There are many beautiful cities globally, but I think Barcelona is the most unique due to modernisme architecture.
Recommended by Guillem from Feast of Travel
Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is one of the biggest singing fountains in Europe and Barcelona’s largest ornamental fountain which is absolutely worth putting as one of your bucket list items.
You will enjoy the spectacular fully lighted water acrobatics show with different types of modern music. These lights generate over 50 types of shades and hues.
To get there we took a metro green line L3, Zona Universitaria, from Vallcarca stop to Placa Espanya. It takes 15 minutes on the metro and 10 minutes to walk.
We have arrived at 7:15 pm and in one hour it looked like this.
We were lucky to get the best spot and stock ourselves with beer and sandwiches in the nearest kiosk. Starting from 8 pm, you will have to wait at least half an hour in a queue to get a snack, drink or enter the bathroom, so come early. Time flies!
Many people who came after 8:30 pm tried to sit on the top of cement rails filled with plants and flowers totally ruining the environment. But be careful, there are police and guards walking around.
Pro Tip: The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc normally operates on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. In summer, they include Sundays too. It always lasts for an hour, but the showtime depends on the season, so be sure to check the schedule.
Recommended by Ana from Parenthood 4ever
There are few buildings in the world as awe-inspiring and beautiful as the Mezquita (mosque-cathedral) in Córdoba. With a history as long as the city itself, the Mezquita is one of Moorish architecture’s finest examples in the world. Córdoba is in the Andalucia region of Spain and easily reached from Seville or Malaga by car. Mezquita tickets cost €10.
The original mosque, built by the conquering Moors in 786, has been incredibly well preserved. Seamlessly joined with the cathedral, the mosque’s typically symmetrical Moorish architecture is decorated with highly intricate tiling and gold leaf. Each ancient wooden door is surrounded by ornate stone arching in many different designs. The mosque has been extended and renovated repeatedly over the centuries, with the distinctive red and white double arches being an iconic addition to the famous building.
During the Spanish Reconquista in 1146, the conquering Christian army entered Córdoba, and holy mass was celebrated in the mosque by the King of Spain. The building officially became a cathedral, and many chapels, the transept, choir, and bell-tower were added. The Gothic and Renaissance designs demonstrated the diligent religiosity and power of the Spanish monarchy. Everywhere you look, there are skillfully painted ceiling frescos and never-ending marble floors, nowhere more so than in the sanctuary of Parroquia del Sagrario.
In 1597, the courtyard used for ritual purification before Muslim prayer gave way to a garden, the charming Patio de los Naranjos, where orange trees and palms provide welcome shade from the hot Spanish sun.
Recommended by Izzy & Phil from The Gap Decaders
Stroll Through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter & Spot Fakes
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is one of the top tourist spots in the city. It’s considered to be the old heart of Barcelona. But there’s more than meets the eye.
The fact is that there indeed was a historical quarter from medieval times, but since its streets were too narrow and parts of the quarter looked rather unappealing at the onset of the 20th century, it was greatly modified.
Barcelona hosted the World Expo in 1929, which was a highly prestigious event. Some parts of the Gothic quarter were renovated and preserved, some torn down to allow for a wider street and some completely rebuilt.
When you stroll to the main sight in the Gothic Quarter, to the beautiful El Pont del Bisbe, you’ll see a prime example of that. The bridge connecting two buildings has two nonfunctional gargoyles that were added to add to the Gothic appearance.
Vía Laietana used to be a narrow street full of Roman houses. The wide boulevard you can see nowadays was created in the early 20th century. While most houses were demolished, a nobleman’s house was moved to another location – next to the Reial Major palace. The house is called Casa Padellàs and currently houses Barcelona’s Museum of History.
There are many more examples of structures in the old Gothic Quarter that look Gothic but, in fact, don’t come from the Gothic era. If you have a free afternoon in Barcelona and are interested in history, you can definitely spot a few more.
Recommended by Veronika from Travel Geekery
No visit to Spain is complete without visiting the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia, undoubtedly the country’s most visited landmark. This enormous Roman Catholic basilica towers over the city, boasting gothic towers and flying buttresses, as well as colorful stained glass windows that stream light into the church. Designed by Spanish Catalan architecture Antoni Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia has been in construction since 1882. Over the years, the church survived fires, war, and vandalism – Gaudi even died and was buried there. Today, it is estimated that the basilica will be complete by 2026, meaning it will have taken longer to build than the pyramids!
In the meantime, visitors can continue to visit and admire its beauty. You can explore the Sagrada Familia at your own pace or take a guided tour. You’ll be amazed to learn about how Gaudi designed this structure before modern computer programming, as well as how nature inspired his design.
The basic adult ticket price is 20€, for students, it is 18€, while children under 11 are free. You’ll want to book online in advance, as spots fill up quickly. We recommend visiting around sunset when the evening light streams through the glass windows, showcasing the Sagrada Familia just as Gaudi intended.
Recommended by Natasha from the Great Ocean Road Collective
Real Alcazar and Cathedral of Seville
Seville is one of the prettiest cities in Andalucía, featuring a myriad of stunning architecture and picturesque cobbled streets. Although there is so much to see in the city, two places that need to be on your Seville bucket list are the Real Alcázar and the Cathedral of Seville. Both landmarks are listed as UNESCO heritage sites.
Start the day at Real Alcázar. Originally this was built as a fortress when Seville was under Islamic rule. Seville eventually fell under the Christians’ power, and the building became the residence of Spanish Kings. The building still features an abundance of Islamic influence known as the Mudéjar architectural style. Leave plenty of time to explore this site, wandering from room to room, taking in the intricate lattice structures which stretch between the pillared courtyards and colourful tiles. The gardens are also impressive, filled with fountains, fragrant flowers, a large arched wall-walk, and peacocks wandering about.
The second must-see landmark in Seville is the gigantic Cathedral of Seville and the Girladar. This is the biggest cathedral in the world by volume. It’s also said this is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus.
Like with the Real Alcazar, the gothic style cathedral was built during the Christian reign. It’s on the site of an old Mosque. Originally, the Christians used the mosque as their church from 1248; it was then knocked down and re-built into what we see today, construction finished in 1506. All that remains today of the mosque is the towering Giralda and the courtyard of oranges. The views of the Old Town of Seville are stunning from the 35th floor of the Giralda, don’t forget your camera!
Recommended by Becki from Meet Me In Departures
Santa Barbara Castle
One of the most interesting attractions in all of Spain is Santa Barbara Castle. It’s an enormous, fortified citadel that was built atop Mount Benacantil in the city of Alicante. Visitors to the castle love the panoramic views of Alicante that you can enjoy from the site. The stunning sight of the Meditteranean coastline and the sea is unforgettable, and it’s a popular place to visit at sunset if you’re lucky enough to visit on an Alicante city break.
The historical importance of the castle is another reason it belongs on your Spain bucket list. Mount Benacantil has been inhabited for thousands of years, and Bronze Age, Roman, and Moorish remains have been unearthed at the ancient castle site.
The first fortifications date back to Moorish rule when the Spanish peninsula was controlled by Arab peoples. Alicante was captured by Castilian forces on 4 December 1248. The battle was won on the feast day of Saint Baraba, which gave the castle its current name. Both Alicante and its mighty castle were captured and recaptured many times before Spain was eventually unified. Each time it changed hands, it was rebuilt and is incredibly well-preserved as a result.
Since 1963 the castle has been open to the public, and it’s a must-see attraction in Alicante. Guided tours are available inside the castle, or you can book one of the countless tours available from the city center of Alicante. You can hike there yourself or take one of the funiculars built into the mountain for €2 each way.
Recommended by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting
Natural Landmarks & Outdoor Adventures
Hike Through Mount Gibralfaro
The hiking routes in Malaga are diverse, and you won’t even know when you will find yourself from mountains to beaches in a few minutes. One such hike for experiencing beauty is a route through Mount Gibralfaro. It is a short, easy and varied route covered between beautiful mountain landscapes offering awe-inspiring views of the city, the cathedral, Gibralfaro, and the Alcazaba.
Situated in the vibrant city of Malaga, Mount Gibralfaro is a 130-meter peak walk in the Montes de Malaga mountain range. You can experience the views of sprawling cities, paired with the sparkling Mediterranean. If you want to enjoy the beauty of nature and want to disconnect from the chaos of city life for some time, this hike should be on your bucket list.
Arrive at the eye-gazing viewpoint and witness the beautiful sunset from your tent. Have a small picnic to regain your hiking energy and mark the moments to treasure in your memory. Watching the orange sunset, you can relish your hike by having delicious food. You don’t have to give it a long thought on what to eat in Malaga, as the place is home to varied tastes. It is indeed a wonderful place to have the best tapas.
Just pack your bags and go on this short hiking without paying any penny to anyone. It just costs you a perfect plan, hiking gear, and the enthusiasm to reach there. It is a must-visit site to become surrounded by beguiling history.
Recommended by Paulina from Paulina On The Road
Road Trip Through the Pyrenees
Spain is quite possibly my favorite country in the world, and one of the main reasons I say that is because I’ve recently completed a 10-day road trip through the wondrous Pyrenees! This mountain range serves as a natural border between Spain & France and offers some of the most incredible landscape views you’ll find in the country!
What makes this trip a bucket-list item is that travel costs in Spain (especially once you leave the major cities) are quite affordable. You’ll need a car to complete this road trip (obviously), and I’ve found Spain to be one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe for renting a car. But fair warning – you’ll need to be able to drive a manual transmission.
A road trip through the Pyrenees will take you through picturesque towns, mountain villages, ski resorts, and so much more! One of my top recommendations for this road trip would be to stay at a few incredible Parador Hotels along the way. It’s a government-owned chain that has some spectacular hotels on this route (castle hotels). If those are a bit too expensive for ya, I’d recommend looking into some of the best Airbnb Spain rentals along this route! There are some really awesome and affordable stays for sure!
I’d also recommend adding the small town of Bielsa to your list! There is some spectacular hiking that isn’t TOO hard of a climb, and you’ll be blown away by the 360-degree mountain views.
While Spain is a rather large country with lots to explore, I know that if you add a Pyrenees road trip to your bucket list, you’ll absolutely fall in love with the country!
Recommended by Dave from Jones Around the World
Mount Teide, Tenerife
Reaching the top of Spain’s highest mountain should be on all bucket lists for this stunning country. Looming dramatically in the centre of Tenerife, Mount Teide stands at 3,718m with expansive views out across the whole island and even beyond. Standing on the summit and watching the sunset is one of the best things to do in Tenerife.
Although you can hike up from the valley, it’s easier to take the cable car and alight just below the summit. Once at this upper station, there are three hiking trails to choose from, two that take you to impressive viewpoints (about 20 minutes each) and one that ascends directly to the top of the peak. The latter can only be done with a pre-booked hiking permit, and places are limited each day to help preserve the natural environment, but the other two are free to roam along. Do bear in mind that ascending quickly by cable car means you won’t be acclimatised to the altitude, so even walking a short way can leave you out of breath. Take it slowly and have plenty of water with you as there’s no shade. The best way to reach Teide is by car, and there is plenty of parking along the road if the car parking area is full. Alternatively, a visit can be easily incorporated into a day tour from any of the coastal resorts. Try and book cable car tickets (which cost €27 for a return) in advance to avoid queueing!
Recommended by Heather from Conversant Traveller
Andalusia Road Trip
Going on a road trip in Andalusia is a must-have on your Spain bucket list. You can travel through this region by public transportation if you only want to visit big cities and towns. Still, if you want to see the region’s iconic white-washed villages and discover its hidden gems, you must explore it with a car.
The first highlight of this road trip is Granada. Home to Spain’s most visited attraction, the Alhambra, this city is irresistibly enchanting, and strolling through its streets and squares is a magical experience.
Another big city worth visiting in Andalusia is Seville. With some of the most remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country like the Cathedral and Alcazar, delicious food, and jaw-dropping flamenco shows, you can easily spend 2-3 here.
A place that sometimes gets overlooked when planning a trip to southern Spain is Cadiz. It’s actually the oldest city in Europe, and its landmarks, as well as its maze of streets and squares, are packed with charm.
As for the white villages (‘Pueblos Blancos’) of Andalusia, there are dozens you can add to your itinerary. From Mijas to Frigiliana to Zahara de la Sierra to Juzcar (which is now a blue-colored village), there’s no shortage of beautiful places to visit.
Traveled by Or from My Path in the World
Cala de Enmedio
Spain has plenty of bucket list locations to visit, whether you’re in the north or the south, but many of them are very touristy, which doesn’t appeal to many people. This is why Cala de Enmedio is the perfect oasis in the southern Spanish province of Almería to go to.
This stunning, secluded beach is located in the heart of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park and is a bit of a hike to get to – which makes it all the more fun! To access one of the best beaches in Almería, you need to take the dirt road towards Cala del Plomo and park along the side of the road just before you come to this beach. There’s a path leading up through the hills (which is actually a goat path), and you’ll need to follow that for about 25 minutes.
You’ll eventually come out onto a flatter and wider path, which opens up into Cala de Enmedio. I would recommend having Google Maps ready before you get to the path because a signal can be hard to find. This cove is a virgin beach since there are no services available, but its fine sand and gorgeous white cliffs make it worth the short hike. Since it’s off the tourist trail, you’ll find that it’s one of the less busy beaches in southern Spain – a bonus! It’s been featured in The New York Times for its beauty, but you have to see it in person to appreciate it.
Traveled by Krista from Krista the Explorer
Scenic Mountain Drive to Zahara de la Sierra
The mountain drives in Andalucia’s Parque Naturale de la Sierra de la Grazalema are scenic with views of turquoise lakes, green forests and hills, tortuous roads, and spectacular sunsets.
The perfect base to enjoy these drives is a little picturesque village called El Bosque or a small town called Ubrique. Both these bases are just over an hour’s drive from Seville and Cadiz.
We found the drive from El Bosque to the rugged Grazalema mountains and further on to Zahara de la Sierra simply amazing. There are several Miradors (lookouts), particularly Puerto de Las Palomas and Puerto de los Acebuches. With the glistening blue lake below and a panoramic view, the Zahara de la Sierra is a stunning location.
The road descends to the water reservoir – Zahara el gastor – through several curves and hairpins. Puerto del Boyar provides a unique view of layered mountains in different shades against the setting sun.
You could either take an easier route by following A roads or the more challenging CA roads.
Apart from scenic drives, the Zahara area also offers hiking opportunities with different levels of difficulty.
For the more adventurous, there are two other scenic drive choices: one to the historic city of Ronda and another to Cortez de la Frontera and further to Gaucin. These are all great to add to your Spain bucket list.
Recommended by Jan from Leisurely Drives
Caminito del Rey Hike
Adventure out onto a wooden boardwalk bolted to the cliff face more than 100 meters above the Guadalhorce River Gorge. Caminito del Rey in Southeast Spain near Malaga should be at the top of any adventure lovers Bucket List. Once known as the most dangerous hike in the world, this path is not for the feint of heart.
The Caminito del Rey hike is almost 8km (5 miles) in length. The one-way path will take about 3 to 4 hours. Hikers are outfitted with safety helmets after the 30-minute walk to the start of the parking area trail.
Visitors are required to wear comfortable walking shoes (no sandals allowed). Sunscreen and water is advised.
There is a limit to the number of hikers allowed on the trail each day, and it is highly recommended to book in advance. ($11.55 Euro per person with shuttle transfer)
The Caminito del Rey walkway was first built in 1901 but was rebuilt in 2015 for safety purposes. The original path was built for workers to maintain the hydroelectric power station and translates to ‘The King’s Little Path.’ The old crumbling path remains in place under the new walkway.
Enjoy breathtaking canyon views and an adrenaline rush. Afterward, the shuttle takes hikers back to the Bar Kiosko Restaurant to enjoy a bite and a beverage near the parking area.
Be sure to add a Caminito del Rey hiking adventure to any Spain Bucket List.
Recommended by Carol from Is This Even a Road
Pink Lake in Torrevieja
If you are looking for places to add to your Spain bucket list, consider visiting Torrevieja Pink Lake. Laguna Rosa in Spanish, this salt lake gets bubblegum pink color from algae and bacteria that flourish in salty areas.
You can visit the lake as a day trip from Alicante or the neighboring towns of Torrevieja. The best way to get to the lake is to rent a car. It is also possible to take public transportation, but you’ll need to do a fair amount of walking as nothing goes directly to the lake.
Visiting Pink Lake in Torrevieja is absolutely free. However, as the lake is relatively big, there are several entrances on Google Maps. To get closer to the lake to dip your toes in the water, try the one from Via Verde de Torrevieja and Calle Munera. The shore here is clearer for you to walk closer to the water compared to other entrances that are mostly covered in bushes.
According to some sources, bathing in the lake is forbidden and might involve a big fine if caught. Other sources say it’s allowed. Just be mindful and attentive to the signs and surrounding area.
Recommended by Red Fedora Diary
Maspalomas Sand Dunes in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is located on the Atlantic Ocean 1350kms from mainland Europe and only about 150kms off the northwestern coast of Africa. Due to its ideal geographic location, the island enjoys 365 days of sunshine, which is the topmost reason to visit Gran Canaria any time of the year.
Talk about Gran Canaria; the first thing pops up in mind are Maspalomas sand dunes that stretch for 1000 acres and are a protected nature reserve since 1987. Maspalomas is a perfect mix of desert and oasis and consists of sand dunes, lovely stretch of beach, palm grove and a lagoon, making it a perfect ecosystem for flora and fauna.
Playa del Ingles is a buzzing beach with watersports facilities located aside from the sand dunes. Maspalomas is separated into different zones that suit the families and nudists. Close to Maspalomas sand dunes is Faro Maspalomas, a 120-year-old lighthouse and a prominent monument in Gran Canaria. It is believed that Christopher Columbus began one of his voyages from here. Don’t forget to walk along the Maspalomas coast during sunset.
There are many resorts dotted around Maspalomas, making it a much-sought destination in Gran Canaria. With shimmering beaches, stunning sand dunes, and gorgeous mountains up north, Gran Canaria is a compelling choice for holiday makers.
Be sure to add this fun outdoor landmark to your Spain bucket list.
Recommended by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple
One of Spain’s most unique places is the red river Rio Tinto (translated to red river), running through the little mining village of Minas de Riotinto. Situated in the middle of the Huelva region in Andalusia, this is one of the most underrated day trips from Seville. The impressive red river gets its color from the high iron and heavy metal levels in the water. Surprisingly, there is hardly any oxygen in the water here, and highly acidic, but some bacteria still survive off the iron in the water even in this hostile environment.
An iron and potassium sulfate called Jaosite was found here and on Mars. This environment is actually that unique that, apparently, NASA has tested space robots and suits here. Is there a connection to outer space? From Minas de Riotinto, you can get the old mining train that now hosts tours for tourists where you can learn all about the mining in the area, you can visit the train cemetery with old rusty trains, and the largest open-pit mine in Europe, Corte Atalaya.
It is not the easiest destination to get to by public transport, so it is recommended to go by car. That way, you can see more of the surrounding area, too, if you have the time.
This is a super unique place to add to your Spain bucket list!
Recommended by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
Cities & Towns
If you are planning a trip around Andalucia, you must include at least two days in Cadiz, one of the most beautiful cities in the South of Spain. With a fantastic historical old town, Cadiz is the oldest city in Europe, founded around the 8th century BC, by the Phoenicians.
Walking around Cadiz’s old centre reveals architectural gems such as palaces dating from the 16th century and medieval passages still standing from the 13th century.
Despite being so old, Cadiz is a lively city, with tapas bars, restaurants, and cafes where you can enjoy the local cuisine. Compared with other places in the region, such as Malaga or Sevilla, you will be surprised to notice that Cadiz’s prices are so much lower. One of the best places to experience the soul of Cadiz is in the fish market. Here, in the morning, you can buy the freshest fish and seafood, which was still swimming in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean the night before. In the afternoon, you can enjoy the same fresh fish cooked by the restaurants on the side of the market. There is everything here, from grilled cod to prawns in pil-pil sauce, from fresh sea urchins to giant oysters, from hot fish croquettes to fried cod.
Cadiz is one of the most beautiful places to add to your Spain bucket list.
Recommended by Joanna from The World in My Pocket
The small, beautiful, and historic city of Segovia is a popular day trip destination from Madrid. With a visible history that dates back to the days of Ancient Rome, Segovia is one of the most interesting and photogenic cities in Spain.
Personally, I was drawn to Segovia by the famous Roman aqueduct. The nearly-2000-year-old remnant of Roman glory is a mainstay for any bucket list of Spain. It is remarkably well-preserved and an impressive, imposing centerpiece of Segovia.
The allure of Segovia isn’t all ancient, though. The city has other historical landmarks in the 16th-century massive cathedral and the stately, medieval alcazar. Segovia is, positively, one of the most visually appealing cities I have ever seen. What makes the city even more attractive is the food. Segovia is famous for suckling pig, roasted leg of lamb, and pastries only found here.
Reaching Segovia from Madrid is simple and fairly cheap. It takes 1-2 hours by train, depending on whether you take the slow or high-speed line, and costs about €12-25 (round trip). The aqueduct is free to peruse, the cathedral costs €3 and the Alcazar €8. Personally, I recommend splurging on the food.
Segovia is worthy of a place on any Spain bucket list. The visible history is incredible. The local food is unique and delicious. And the city itself is the photogenic postcard kind of pretty that is ideal for a day trip from Madrid.
Traveled by John Paul from The Hangry Backpacker
The seaside town of Marbella is a well-known and much-loved holiday destination in the South of Spain, yet located just an hour away by car is the mountain top city of Ronda – a city equally as beautiful and a day trip not to miss when holidaying in Marbella!
Favoured by well-known figures, including Ernest Hemingway, Ronda is a quintessential Spanish town known for its three bridges overlooking the canyon, and for being home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. Of the three bridges, the most famous has to be the Puente Nuevo – a bridge that offers incredible views of the El Tajo canyon, as well as the perfect opportunity for some gorgeous photography. The area is particularly stunning in the springtime, when flowers are in bloom and fill the canyon floor. For the best viewpoints of the bridge and the canyon, be sure to visit Balcón del Coño and Mirador de Aldehuela, the latter being named after the architect who built both the Puente Nuevo and the Real Maestranza bullring.
Although the Real Maestranza bullring is the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, Ronda is thought to be the home of modern-day bullfighting. Whilst it may not be to everyone’s taste, travellers can enter the bullring which features a museum and guided audio tours, with the price of entry under €10. Alternatively, we recommend stopping at a local bar to sip on some tinto de Verano (which loosely translates to red wine of summer) in the sunshine whilst soaking in the picturesque scenery.
This is truly one of the most beautiful places to add to your Spain bucket list.
Recommended by Sarah from Dukes Avenue
Located just off Formentera’s tip, the smallest Balearic Island in Spain, S’Espalmador is an untouched gem. It’s privately owned but opens for the public to visit, and as it’s uninhabited, it remains largely in its natural state. There are no roads, services, or beachside bars on this petite island! But that makes it all the more special to visit. Spend the day lying on the picture-perfect beaches, swimming in the calm, clear water, or walking along the dirt trails that criss-cross the island.
It’s an easy day trip from Formentera or Ibiza, but you’ll need to take everything you need with you for the day – and remember to bring it all back again. From Formentera, head to the main port where a ferry will deliver you the short distance in around 30 minutes, stopping at the beautiful Ses Illetes Beach (one of the most beautiful beaches in Formentera) on the way.
If coming from Ibiza, you can catch a ferry from the port in Ibiza Town directly to S’Espalmador, but be aware that sailings are less frequent. Private sailing tours are also available. Whichever way you decide to travel, you won’t regret a trip to this little slice of paradise in the Mediterranean Sea! If you’re looking for a unique place to add to your Spain bucket list, this is it!
Recommended by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Valencia is one of the best places to visit in Spain. It’s a beautiful coastal city with a warm Mediterranean climate, palm-lined beaches, and gorgeous green spaces. Valencia is a large Spanish city, yet it remains walkable and well connected by local bus lines.
Valencia is home to several incredible historical landmarks like the famous Silk Exchange – named a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can also explore the stunning Venice Cathedral, which is rumored to have the real holy grail. Other important landmarks include the Serrans Gate, Plaza of the Virgin, and the Basilica of the Virgin.
Although, there are three things that Valencia is truly famous for and they are: 1) the City of Arts and Sciences 2) beaches and 3) paella!
The City of Arts and Sciences is Valencia’s futuristic, ultra-modern museum campus. It’s a photographers paradise! Many may recognize this location from HBO’s Season 3 of Westworld. Many of the scenes that season were shot in Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences.
Valencia is also popular among students, backpackers, and travelers for its beaches. They offer pristine white sands, gentle waves, and warm waters. You also find plenty of nude or topless beaches in Valencia if that’s your thing!
Finally, Valencia is known as the birthplace of paella! You know — it’s a traditional rice dish simmered in a cast iron pan. The bottom rice gets crispy and local seafood gets added into the mix. This is often seasoned with saffron and other local herbs. It’s a delicacy best enjoyed with a glass of Rioja wine.
Traveled by Valentina from Valentina’s Destinations
Logrono is the main city used to explore Spain’s most famous wine region, Rioja. A three-hour drive from Madrid might not seem too far to travel, especially on a short holiday. That would be a mistake.
In addition to being centrally located to explore Rioja, Logrono is one of Spain’s most underrated food cities. The city’s food has been influenced over the centuries by travelers on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Today, the epicenter of Logrono’s culinary scene is Calle Laurel and its pinchos bars. Like tapas, pinchos, as they are referred to in northern Spain, are small bites of food served on a skewer or a stick.
Running through the center of Logrono, Calle Laurel is lined with pinchos bars serving up a wide range of mouth-watering pinchos. While many of the pinchos bars are open during the day, Calle Laurel comes alive at night. The proximity and density of pinchos bars on Calle Laurel makes a pinchos crawl easy to execute. And if there’s any doubt, do what the locals do. A couple of pinchos to keep an eye out for are setas, grilled mushrooms cooked in garlic, and served with a prawn on top.
As well as the “huevo explosion.” A quail egg wrapped in a thin pastry and deep-fried. As the name indicates, when you bite in, the egg explodes. While it’s possible to enjoy pinchos and tapas throughout Spain, there’s something special about Calle Laurel in Logrono that makes a must add for any Spanish bucket list.
Recommended by Eric from Food and Drink Destinations
The World Heritage city of Ávila in Spain is adored for its formidable medieval walls, an intact fortified medieval ring around the old city. The protective walls are called Murallas, and they are considered the finest city defenses in the world. This part of Spain was re-conquered from the Moors to stand as a mainstay against the Caliphate, and the 3 meters thick walls were built to protect the town. So, the first of the things to do in Avila is to do the City Walls Tour. The walls are very thick, and you can walk on top of them. You can get excellent views down into the town from the walls and spectacular views across the surrounding vast countryside.
Thousands of tourists visit Avila every year because of its connection with Saint Teresa. The historic town has one of the oldest religious buildings, the Cathedral of Avila, which is touted as one of the best architecture for Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance. The cathedral also has a museum that houses a large collection of artifacts such as tapestries and embroidered pieces. Another museum, the Museum of Oriental Art, has displays of exotic Asian art. The collections include some stunning ivory carvings, ceramics and metalwork, and a room of exotic animals. Don’t forget to have some Yemas de Avila, the popular local dessert.
Visit a vantage point called The Four Post. Gazing down at the city from this point makes Ávila look like something out of an imaginary book or fantasy movie.
Located at around 100 KMs by road, one can reach Avila from Madrid by either train or bus. The buses run every 1 or 2 hours.
Recommended by NISHA & VASU from Le Monde, the Poetic Travels
Day Trip – Montserrat from Barcelona
If you’re going to be spending any time in Barcelona, make sure that you plan for a day trip to escape the noise and the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and take a relaxing one to two-hour train trip to the very majestic and serene Montserrat Monastery high up in the mountains.
At the Placa Espanya station, hop on the R5 train to either Aeri de Montserrat, where you will take the cable car up the mountain, or to Monistrol, where you will take the funicular or cogwheel train. Both options offer stunning views. We recommend that you go up the mountain one way, e.g., by cable car, and come down the mountain the other way, e.g., by cogwheel train.
Situated at the top of a unique rocky outcrop is the Benedictine Monk retreat, and monks still live here. The Montserrat Monastery dates back to the 10th century and has very special religious significance in Spain. You will find plenty to see in and around the basilica, the church, the museum, the chapel, and if you’re lucky, you might get to hear the renowned Escolania de Montserrat, which is one of the oldest choirs in the country and entirely composed of 14 years olds. Spanish pilgrims also come to visit the Black Madonna wooden statue in the basilica, which is said to have healing powers.
And if you’re in need of some exercise, there are plenty of choices of walks, hikes, and mountain and rock climbing around the monastery. Be sure to add this to your Spain bucket list!
Recommended by Maureen Spencer from “So Many Places! So Little Time!”
If you’re looking for something a little different from Barcelona and Madrid’s main cities for your bucket list, look no further than the Pueblos Blancos, a collection of white-washed towns and villages nestled into the hillsides and valleys of Andalucia.
Built around important fortresses between the Christian and Moorish territories, these villages are renowned for their impressive hilltop locations, winding cobblestone streets, stunning churches, and castle ruins. They also feature white-washed, terracotta-roofed houses, and spectacular surrounding landscapes.
While there are literally dozens of towns that could be classed as Pueblos Blancos in the region, the main villages worth visiting are Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Ronda, and Setenil de las Bodegas.
Arcos de la Frontera is one of the larger Pueblos Blancos and is a national historic monument with a grand 15th-century church at its heart.
Grazalema is a much smaller settlement situated within the Sierra de Grazalema National Park known for its hiking trails and the textile industry.
Zahara de la Sierra is nestled into the side of a cliff, with a huge 13th-century Moorish fortress standing proud above the town. Viewing this town from afar is truly breath-taking, and the meandering streets within Zahara de la Sierra are beautiful too.
Ronda is a town known for the three bridges (the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), Puente Viejo (Old Bridge), and the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge)) that span the vast Rio El Tajo gorge.
Last but not least is the magical Setenil de las Bodegas, a settlement famed for its wineries that essentially grew out of the area’s cave network. Houses here are built-in and around the caves, with some whole streets having cave-rock roofs!
Recommended by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
Go Back in Time in Fairytale Seville
Spain is not short of stunning cities, but among them, there’s one that always stands out in our minds: Seville, an incredibly charming city in the South of Spain. This is an absolute must on any Spain bucket list. Stepping into Seville’s historic center feels like going back in time to a fairytale town: the majestic plazas, colorful buildings, and the uniquely narrow Spanish balconies.
There are many places you need to visit in the city, but the Alcázar and the Cathedral are two attractions in Seville you absolutely can’t miss. The Real Alcázar of Seville is a Unesco World Heritage Site and Europe’s oldest palace in use. This monument stands out for its wide array of styles, including some of the world’s best examples of the mix of Islamic and Catholic culture. The Seville Cathedral is another iconic attraction in the city, with its Gothic style and Giralda Tower, which offers some of the city’s best views.
Visiting these attractions is easy as long as you plan and book online. Prices are affordable and very much worth the visit: general admission to the Alcázar costs 12,5€ and the Cathedral 10€.
Nonetheless, you can visit the most magical part of the city without spending a cent: the Plaza de España seems straight out of a Disney movie, with its colorful tiles, boats by the water, and small bridges. Try to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds!
Recommended by Maria & Rui from Two Find a Way
A travel highlight and a real insiders tip for a perfect Spain bucket list is the beautiful coastal town Villajoyosa. This colorful and still quiet place is located on the Costa Blanca, i.e., on the White Coast, not far from the main tourist hot spots Benidorm, Alicante, and Calpe. The colorful townhouses and the many beaches around make this place so unique along the Spanish coast.
Villajoyosa is located directly on the sea, which gives this town an extra portion of charm. Directly in front of the old town is the main beach Playa la Villajoyosa, a beautiful sandy beach which is just perfect for swimming and relaxing. Just behind there is the picturesque seafront promenade, with its many colorful little houses, where you can find countless cozy restaurants and cafes. During a stroll through the alleyways, you will also pass some chocolate stores. No wonder the delicious chocolate of Villajoyosa is another attraction that shouldn´t be missed on any trip! The best places for a tasting are in the Valor Chocolate Museum and the Chocolates Clavileño.
Getting to Villajoyosa is easy, either by plane to the nearest international airport 50 km away in Alicante. After that, you can easily take the public bus, the train, or the cab to get there.
Recommended by Martina from PlacesofJuma
Now, get planning your next trip to Spain and work your way through this Spain bucket list! Whether you get through everything or only a few, you’ll truly have a blast on your Spain vacation.