I´m slowly making my way back to blogging with this short recap of my favorite places to go in Spain! While the travel world slowly adjusts itself to the new normal these days, my nearest getaway plans include lots of epic Spanish travel destinations across the Iberian Peninsula.
Favorite travel destinations in Spain
My travel vision
As someone who has already visited every province and major city in Spain, I’m often asked by friends and family to spill out my favorite places to go in Spain. But it’s often the most confusing moment for me as there are so many epic Spanish landmarks and hidden gems on my radar – how can I sum it all up in a few minutes?! Additionally, my suggestions may vary depending on the number of times a questioner has visited Spain himself/herself in the past.
I mean, you definitely go for the big names and cliche experiences during your first visit. But with every following trip, you start to dig deeper into the local culture and off-the-beaten-path Spain. You switch the tourist mode to the explorer mode and this is where the real adventures and authentic experiences are waiting for you.
If we, humans of the world, have one thing in common it´s our subjectiveness. Travels are no exception here. The most beautiful places on this planet often don’t live up to our personal expectations, while other lesser-known destinations surprisingly end up on the list of our all-time favorites. This is something we´ve already discussed in my San Francisco post, haven’t we?
But my point here is that my personal list of favorite places to go in Spain doesn´t match the lists of The most epic landmarks in Spain, The Best Fairytale Locations, The most beautiful places in Spain, or Top otherworldly Spanish landscapes. Let me put this straight: this post is simply a subjective collection of places that clicked with me and still make me gravitate back all the time.
While my list of international favorites often starts with the Greek Islands, Norway, and Switzerland, Spain always goes in a separate chapter for me. Cause you don’t forget your first “travel crush”. You just don’t.
So when I’m feeling nostalgic for the places I’ve already been to, this is where I’m eventually ending up spending my vacations or short weekend breaks.
My 8 Favorite Places to Go in Spain
If there was one city in Spain I could choose to keep on visiting for the rest of my life it would be Seville. As one of the main gems of the Spanish Province of Andalusia, Seville is both bursting with life and quietly charming. No matter what you´re looking for: a solo city break, a fun-infused trip with friends, a family vacation, or a romantic getaway in Spain – Seville always fits the bill.
For first-time visitors, Seville offers all the famous things Spain globally ranks for: expressive flamenco, delicious tapas, unique fiesta, gorgeous architecture, and iconic landmarks. Yet, for Spain travel aficionados there will always be tones of new places to discover, from restaurants to museums&events.
Moreover, you can also keep discovering the region via day trips, as there are so many stunning places to visit in Andalusia.
If I can speak for myself here, I’m never tired of visiting Seville despite the fact that it is actually quite well-established on the tourist track. While I have confessed to you on numerous occasions that crowds make me avoid Barcelona more than I should ( elbowing my way down La Rambla doesn’t really fit into my vision of a perfect vacation). That is to say, 16-32 million visitors every year does not make the impressive Gaudi architecture any less beautiful, but they kill the vibe for me. In the case of Seville, we’re talking about 2 million visitors every year, so perceiving the slight difference?
Another gem that appears on every list of the most beautiful places in Spain is Toledo. What I mostly love about this small town is its rich historical past, multicultural influence, and dazzling architecture. Not to mention that Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain and the stunning Museo del Greco is a must-stop for all art lovers.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Toledo is filled with picture-perfect locations and historical sites. Despite the fact that the city is quite small it has played an important role throughout Spanish history and even was a Spanish capital till 1561. Also, Toledo is often referred to as “the city of 3 cultures”, where Islamic, Christian, and Hebrew inhabitants lived side by side for centuries. This multicultural note can definitely be perceived through the city´s gorgeous architecture.
One way or another, Toledo has always been one of my favorite places to go in Spain due to its unmatched artsy atmosphere.
Tarifa is my personal “place of power”. But let me explain myself here.
In one of my older posts about Mexican Riviera Maya I’ve shared how I was reading Carlos Castaneda´s “The Teachings of Don Juan” on the plane. Well in the book, the author talks about “places of power”, locations where one feels naturally happy and strong. This is something we always evaluate while visiting new places, right? It´s not always the place itself being special, but rather making us feel something special.
Well, Tarifa is one of those unique places in Spain that energizes me.
Despite being known for some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, Tarifa has an absolutely unique geographical location, while sitting at the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. There is only 14 km separating Tarifa from Morocco, so you can enjoy the captivating views of the African continent.
Additionally, the tiny town of Tarifa houses lots of picturesque buildings, hipster cafes, and surfer shops. Aside from the active water sports and hiking in Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, in the summer months, Tarifa turns into an ultimate whale-watching destination.
The last time we visited Tarifa was in February, which was obviously the off-season. So, we literally enjoyed an inspiring walk along one of the vast white-sand beaches on our own. Afterward, we headed for lunch in one of the local restaurants La Pescaderia, where I tried probably the best tuna I´ve ever had.
Another popular activity in Tarifa, due to its proximity to Morocco, is a day trip to Tangier by ferry. That’s still on my travel bucket list though.
4. The Canary Islands
Another inspiring location for all the nature lovers and a huge influence in my hunt for the Spanish otherworldly landscapes is the Canary Islands. It´s a group of exotic islands in the heart of the Atlantic, located approx. 1000 km from the Spanish Peninsula and only 150 km from the African continent. Therefore, you can enjoy all the perks of technically being in Europe. Yet, stepping onto the unworldly volcanic landscapes of Lanzarote and Tenerife will make you feel like you´re traveling to the moon.
In my case, it’s a lot like some people might say “Paris is always a good idea” – well, for me “The Canary Islands is always a good idea”, especially cause the weather is great all year round, even when it comes to Christmas travels.
No doubt, the Canary Islands is one of the most epic Spanish travel destinations ever.
If you’re are looking for a vacation with a luxury feel – Marbella is the place to be. I love visiting Marbella because of its charming old town, trendy Puerto Banus, a large number of cool bars, trendy restaurants, chic beach clubs, and local shops. Everything in Marbella speaks for the expensive lifestyle and exclusiveness. But at the same time, every corner is vibrant and aesthetically pleasing.
Even the local El Corte Ingles has the biggest gourmet corner I’ve seen in Spain. You know that as a huge foodie I am, I can spend hours searching for local delicatessen.
So if you feel a need to splurge on yourself – set your eyes on Marbella. Not to mention, lots of iconic Spanish landmarks and beautiful places in Andalusia, you can visit as day trips, if based in Marbella.
6. Ibiza and Formentera
For those of you dying for the Caribbean vibes every once in a while – Formentera is the answer. If there’s one place in Spain made for romance it´s this tiny Balearic Island, not surprisingly so loved by international celebrities and soccer stars. Formentera is a lot like the magical blue lagoon in Cyprus, but much more private. An island has quite a limited number of hotels and less than 10000 residents. Therefore it´s one of the most exclusive top Spanish islands.
On Formentera, you can enjoy some of the best beaches in Spain. The island can be reached by ferry from Ibiza (also Valencia/Denia in the summer months). Read more about my last magical weekend in Formentera.
Nevertheless, if you’re traveling in the off-season, Ibiza also has a lot to offer here. Undeniably, in the peak season, this island is a lot about nightlife. However, Ibiza is a natural paradise all year round. So if you don´t have enough vacation days to lose on the Formentera transfer, Ibiza is the next best thing. Plus you have more secret gems in Ibiza as the island itself is bigger than Formentera.
7. San Sebastian
Spain’s Basque Country is one of the best dining destinations in the world, with 40 Michelin-starred restaurants over only 21 ooo square km. The city of San Sebastian is an absolute gem of the Basque country, one of the tops Spanish landmarks, and one of my favorite places to go on the Iberian Peninsula.
So, the foodie obsession in San Sebastian mainly rolls around its famous pintxos, diverse mini-bites all laid out in front of you. However, besides its unique and diverse food arena, San Sebastian is unapologetically beautiful.
What could possibly be more romantic than a long stroll at San Sebastian´s Bay of Concha, set amongst scenic mountains and swelling waves. The atmospheric Old Town with its quaint cobblestone streets and excellent pintxo bars never goes out of style.
The panoramic views of San Sebastian from Monte Igeldo, Monte Urgull, and Monte Ulia are simply to die for. San Sebastian gets a fair share of tourists in Spain – its allure is undeniable. No wonder historically, the Spanish monarchy used to spend their summers at Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastian.
This is mainly why San Sebastian is always present in most of my road trip itineraries across Northern Spain. Additionally, you can visit one of the most colorful villages in Spain, Hondarribia (only 23km from San Sebastian), or even cross a border to the charming French town of Biarritz.
8. The Spanish Pyrenees
Fresh mountain air, bird´s eye views, medieval villages with cobblestoned streets – the region of Pyrenees is another one of my favorite Spanish travel destinations.
I’ve already shared with you in my Huesca post an interesting idea that I’ve read somewhere: there´s a connection between our feelings and different elements of nature or landscapes we seek to explore. That is to say, the mountain-related trips and experiences help us to set new goals and embrace our future plans. Somehow this definitely works for me, as whenever I´m feeling ambitious and start dreaming of new horizons – I always set my eyes on the closest mountain region of the Spanish Pyrenees.