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Spain is a country of endless travel opportunities and experiences, with things to see and do for everyone. From the bright lights and beaches of Barcelona to a hidden interior of wide open spaces and dramatic scenery; from lazy days soaking up the sun and sampling the exciting cuisine, to partying the night away on Ibiza, or perhaps even in a Flamenco club! Below we’ve listed 13 of the most popular things to do in Spain (listed in no particular order) to kickstart the imagination for your next adventure.
Construction of this breathtaking cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Family, first began in 1882 and still continues to this day. Legend has it that if Gaudi’s masterpiece of design is ever completed, the world will end, which is perhaps why it’s taking so long to finish! No trip to Spain is complete without a visit here. The cathedral is open daily, though restrictions apply during mass times. Be sure to dress appropriately and remember that some parts of the cathedral could be closed as construction continues.
- Good to know: You can buy tickets for the cathedral online. A basic ticket costs around USD 19*, with more expensive options for audio guides, and the chance to go to the top of one of the cathedral’s towers, also available.
- Suggested tour: Skip-the-line Sagrada Tour
Insider's tip: Purchase skip-the-line tickets as the normal queue can get very long and better purchase in advance (around 3 to 5 days before your trip) so you can reserve a spot. It's good to visit this famous attraction when the sun is not so high up (around mid-morning or before sunset) so you can see its rays pass through the stained glass windows. You will be in awe of the beautiful colors glow inside the basilica because of the natural light. To learn more about its history, you can purchase an audio guide for a self-guided tour. — by Ed from Dubai Travel Blog
El Caminito del Rey, also known as ‘the King’s little pathway’ is a walkway straddling the side of the El Chorro gorge near Ardales in the province of Malaga. This is not an experience for the faint-hearted! Adrenaline junkies can traverse the 3-kilometre walk along a 1-meter wide path, 100 meters above the gorge floor below. Originally built as a route for workers at the hydroelectric power plant nearby, it now attracts thrill seekers from around the world. The path was closed for four years, reopening in 2015, following several deaths. Now though, it is possible to traverse the Caminito far more safely, but the excitement remains. As far as points of interest in Spain go this must be amongst the most hair-raising!
- Good to know: Tickets for the walk can be reserved online and cost around USD 12*. Guided walks are available, and you will need to be physically fit with a good head for heights!
- Suggested tour: Caminito del Rey Day Tour from Costa del Sol
Insider's tip: Book a few days in advance to secure the desired time-slot. Best go early to avoid the midday Mediterranean sun and bring plenty of water! Watch videos of daredevils taking old pathway on YouTube to understand why this was one of the most dangerous paths in the world. If time permits, be sure to take a detour to the quaint town of Ronda that’s only an hour’s drive away. It has an 18th-century bridge spanning over a 120M deep gorge that could take anyone’s breath away! — by Winny Wu from Travel with Winny
Find out more things to do in Malaga.
For those with an appetite for adventure, a hike along one of the numerous Camino pilgrimage trails to the city of Santiago de Compostela is a must. These ancient routes have been traversed by pilgrims for centuries. However, you don’t need to be religious to enjoy the sense of achievement and adventure that comes from following these long-distance footpaths across Northern Spain. Whether you walk for weeks and cover the entire route, or just take a few days to hike along some of the trails, you’ll find the challenge a rewarding one; after all, you will be following in the footsteps of thousands who have gone before. Just follow the white shells which mark the route!
- Good to know: There are numerous ways to walk the Camino. The most popular is the ‘Camino Frances’ which begins at St. Jean Pied de Port just across the border into France. It’s a good option for first-timers being well signposted, with plenty of accommodation en route.
Insider's tip: One of the best tips I can give before taking on the challenge that is the Camino, is to train. It's obviously difficult to train yourself to walk over a half marathon everyday for a month, but the more walking you can do before hand, the better position you'll find yourself in for success on the trail. That said, the Camino is a very 'come as you are' experience, and you can take as much time as you need; it's not a race, and no-one on the trail treats it as one. So even if you're not overly fit, if you've got time, you'll be fine. The only expectations you should travel with is that it will be challenging ... and that it will rain (so pack wet weather gear accordingly). — by Megan Jerrard from Mapping Megan
If a guided tour is your cup of tea, then our all-arranged Camino tours are for you!
Authentic Spanish tapas are a very different experience to the pale imitations one finds at home. This traditional way of serving food, a word which literally means ‘cover’ or ‘lid,’ allows you to sample numerous little dishes, perhaps alongside a glass or two of traditional sangria. Almost every bar and restaurant in Spain will serve tapas. Whether it be calamari, patatas bravas, or churros, order several plates each, and enjoy the experience of sharing food the Spanish way.
- Good to know: The Spanish like to eat late. If you go out expecting a meal around 7pm you’ll be disappointed. Instead, opt for a Spanish siesta and go out to eat with the locals when the restaurants are at their busiest around 10pm.
A holiday in Spain need not centre on the beach, or the historic landmarks. If getting out and about in the great outdoors is more your thing then walking in the Picos de Europa will be an ideal adventure. This mountain range lies around 20 km from Spain’s northern coast. Highlights not only include the mountains, but also some of the deepest caves in Europe including Torca del Cerro descending to a depth of 1589 meters!
- Good to know: You can also join organized trips into the caves. When you are done exploring, sample the famous Cabrales cheese which this region is so well known for.
- Suggested tour: Walking the Picos de Europa
The Spanish love to party, and dancing is an integral part of many traditional celebrations. Spain’s national dance is the Flamenco, which originated in the southern parts of the country and has found itself exported as an icon of Spanish life. Across Spain you’ll find regular flamenco dancing laid on in bars and restaurants. Many will be more than willing to let a visitor try their hand (or feet) at it! Many of the larger hotels and resorts will offer lessons but more often than not its more fun to sit back and watch the professionals do their thing.
- Good to know: If you want to immerse yourself in the Flamenco culture, then head to Seville where you can find many places to see a live performance, along with plenty of places to learn it yourself.
Check out our collection of Flamenco tours if you’d like to see a live performance.
If the Spanish are known internationally as party people, then in Spain it is the residents of Bunol, near Valencia, who are best known for throwing a more unusual sort of fiesta! It’s essentially a giant food fight involving la tomatina (the tomato). Beginning the evening before with a paella fest, the following morning sees crowds take to the streets, tomatoes in hand! This is certainly a side of Spanish tourism not intended for those wishing for a sedate and peaceful time. But if throwing tomatoes at strangers is your thing, then this is the festival for you. Also, don’t forget an old set of clothes!
- Good to know: The festival takes place on the last Wednesday in August. Accommodation in Bunol is booked up months in advance so if you’re planning to stay be sure to book well ahead.
Check out these tours to La Tomatina 2018.
In the heart of Andalusia, Ronda is amongst the most picturesque town in Spain, and whilst its fame draws the crowds, its medieval heart retains an authentic Spanish feel. Perched atop of a mountain in Spain’s Malaga province, the town sits dramatically overlooking a deep gorge which separates the new and old town. Three bridges join the town together with the historic centre containing many points of interest to the visitor. Ronda is also known for the Corrida Goyesca, an annual bullfight held in the Plaza del Toros Ronda, the oldest bullring in Spain. Like it or not, the sport remains a central part of Spanish culture.
- Good to know: Ronda is a fantastic place from which to take photographs. There are several viewpoints scattered around the town, or visit the Cuenca Gardens for panoramic vantage points across the gorge and town.
- Suggested tour: Ronda Tour from Malaga
Insider's tip: Nestled among the hills of western Andalusia and surrounded by a seemingly endless number of olive groves, Ronda is a must in any Andalusian itinerary. This quaint little town is packed with culture, history and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The absolutely jaw-dropping Puente Nuevo is a must-see. Be sure to walk out onto the bridge and look down into the gorge below to get a true feel for the incredible height of this incredible structure and appreciate its true magnitude. Allow some time to relax in the beautiful terraced Jardines de Cuenca and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding hills, this is often overlooked by visitors to Ronda but should not be missed. If you’re looking for a little more action, don’t forget to check out the historic bullring in the centre of town. Join up to 5,000 spectators on fight-night inside the Real Maestranza, one of the most impressive and oldest bullrings in the country, or visit for a tour of the ring, which is widely touted as the home of modern-day bullfighting and a highlight of any trip to Ronda. — by Brian and Noelle from Wandering On
Malaga is both a city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, as well as the name given to this region of Spain. It’s here you’ll find the Spain so often seen in holiday brochures and adverts. The area is popular for its sun, sea and beaches, hence can become very overcrowded in the summer. Visit in the winter months of December, January and February for sunny climes and uncrowded beaches. Besides the beaches, you’ll also find the beautiful Cathedral of Malaga as well as the Picasso museum, and a vibrant mix of bars and restaurants to keep you occupied.
- Good to know: If life on the beach gets too ordinary then hire a car and make the journey out into the countryside where you’ll find the more traditional white washed villages and quiet picturesque countryside of this region of Spain.
If a beach holiday doesn’t peak your interest, you can join one of the many tours in Malaga.
The Spanish capital may not be on top of your list of city destinations in Spain, but spend a little time here and you are bound to come under its charms. Amongst many highlights is the ‘golden triangle’ of art museums consisting of the Museo del Prado, the Museo Nacional Centrode Arte Reina Sofia, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which between them house an astonishing collection of Spanish and European art, including Picasso’s Guernica. For art lovers, Madrid is a paradise. It also holds much for the visitor who takes a few days to explore its elegant and historic centre.
- Good to know: Visiting a museum each day in Madrid is ideal but may not be feasible. So, if you’re determined to see them all, join one of the numerous artistic tours of the city which will show you the highlights and often include all entrance fees.
Insider's tip: To adapt to the Spanish schedule — wake up early (8am), explore until 2pm and take afternoons to recover and get ready for the night. From 6pm on the streets are the liveliest. To get around Madrid I recommend to take the metro; it’s cheap and it brings you quickly to every sight.
If you have only 24 hours in Madrid, you need to visit Plaza Mayor, visit at least one museum like El Prado, explore the hipster neighbourhood of Chueca or Malasaña, have churros con chocolate in San Gines bar, tapas in La Latina neighbourhood and have dinner in the oldest restaurant in the world, El Botin. The suckling pig is their star dish! Eventually you’ll have the time to visit my favorite sight in Madrid: Templo Debod, an original Egyptian temple surrounded by a lush park offering beautiful views on Madrid and its parks. — by Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Take your pick from our list of Madrid tours.
Think Spain, and you do not automatically think of skiing, but take your winter break on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and you will find good snow conditions throughout the season, as well as far quieter slopes than the equivalent in the Alps. Try the resort of Bernasque in the Posets-Maladetas nature reserve for superb cross-country skiing or Masella, just 90 minutes from Barcelona, making it popular with families and day trippers.
- Good to know: If you want to combine sun and snow then choose to ski at the Sierra Nevada ski resort around an hour from Malaga, allowing you to spend the morning tanning yourself on the beach before driving the short distance into the mountains to hit the slopes — now that really is the best of both worlds!
This giant fortress in the city of Granada is a must-see on any visit to this part of Spain. Originally constructed in 889 A.D, the current structures date mainly from the 13th century, a complex of palaces and fortifications. Being strategically positioned to oversee the whole city, it offers fantastic views from the ramparts. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important historic destinations in Spain, and well worth a visit! Allow a day to see it properly.
- Good to know: Entrance to the Alhambra is around USD 19* per person and the fortress only opens fully between March and October so be sure to check before you travel. You might want to avoid visiting in the high summer months of July and August when the site becomes extremely busy, and the heat oppressive.
Insider's tip: Dedicate adequate time, both for queueing to get your tickets to enter and also for roaming the confines of the fortress. The gardens, quite so expansive, are so intricately groomed that almost every spot is picturesque. When you get to the rooftop, the rich blend of Moorish vernacular architecture is evident in the endless panoramic view of the Albaycin quarters. The intricate details of the artwork and carvings on the walls, pillars and ceilings are worth more than just a cursory glance — these are all stories to be unearthed. — by Isabel Leong from Bel Around the World
Check out our guide on things to do in Granada for more attractions and activities in Granada.
The Spanish islands are as diverse as the mainland. From the party atmosphere of Ibiza to the quieter and more relaxed La Gomera in the Canary Islands, Spain boasts some of the most beautiful islands in Europe. Many of them are popular with families and groups and there is no end of package tours and customized itinerary holidays available. Each island has its own unique flavour and whether you’re looking for a quiet family holiday or an all-night party you’ll find an island that’s just right!
- Good to know: The resorts of the Spanish islands can get very busy, but the interiors offer strikingly beautiful landscapes and a quieter, more relaxed pace of life. Hire a car, and head inland for some peace and a more authentic Spanish feel.
There are countless things to do in Spain, but this selection lists some of the highlights. Wherever you choose to travel, and whatever you choose to experience, you can be assured that Spain’s attractions will not disappoint!
Note: Prices listed are as of January, 2018.