Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Spain
The grandeur of a caliph’s palace, sybaritic sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, the staccato stamp of a flamenco dancer’s heels, the awed hush of pilgrims entering the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela after weeks of walking El Camino. you’ll find the soul of Spain in tourist attractions like these, which represent the country’s tumultuous history, rich culture, and enchanting natural beauty.
From the daylight playing endlessly off the “scales” of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum and therefore the throbbing street lifetime of La Rambla and Plaza Mayor to the forest of columns and Moorish arches disappearing into the silent expanse of Cordoba’s Great Mosque, Spain exudes a vibrant energy and a captivating blend of past and present. Plan your sightseeing adventures and things to try to do with our list of the highest tourist attractions in Spain.
- Note: Some businesses could also be temporarily closed thanks to recent global health and questions of safety.
1. The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Granada
No matter what proportion you’ve got read or what percentage pictures you’ve got seen of Granada’s Alhambra palaces, this Moorish pleasure palace will still take your breath away. The Nasrid dynasty’s royal palace is that the artistic highlight of Spain’s Islamic period when Al-Andalus — as they called Andalucía — represented the epitome of culture and civilization in Europe’s Middle Ages. Tourist Attractions in Spain
The Alhambra complex includes several buildings, towers, walls, gardens, and a mosque, but it is the indescribably intricate stone carvings, the fragile filigrees, the magnificent tile-lined ceilings, the graceful arches, and serene courtyards of the Nasrid palace which will haunt your dreams.
That said, the adjoining palace built for Emperor Charles V, even in its unfinished state is that the finest example of High Renaissance architecture in Spain. And Generalife’s terraced gardens offer a peaceful respite from the grandeur, and splendid views back at the remainder of the Alhambra.
2. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and Gaudi Sites Tourist Attractions in Spain
Antoni Gaudi took the style of architecture referred to as school a step further, even, some have argued, into absurdity. The fanciful and outrageous buildings he created in Barcelona became landmarks, the signature attractions of this Catalan city. Foremost is that the Sagrada Família church, officially the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família or the Holy Family Church of the Atonement. one among Europe’s most unconventional churches, it’s also unfinished, so as you look down from its tower, you’ll see the adding progress below. Tourist Attractions in Spain
You may search vainly for absolute straight lines in Gaudi’s Casa Milà, his last and most famous secular work; it resembles a bit of sculpture quite a functional building. make certain to ascend to its roof — the chimneys are said to possess inspired the image of Darth Vader from Star Wars.
Parc Güell overlooks the town from a hillside, the views, and gardens framed by fantastical creatures — salamanders, fish, an octopus — and styles in bright ceramic-chard mosaics. a fantastic towered house near the doorway is essentially covered in colored ceramics. Unlike most buildings, Gaudi’s appeal even to children and to adults who don’t care a thing about architecture, for one simple reason — they’re just plain fun to seem at.
3. The Great Mosque of Cordoba (Mezquita)
Once the principal mosque of western Islam and still referred to as the Mezquita, Cordoba’s mosque is one among the most important within the world and therefore the finest achievement of Moorish in Spain. In spite of later alterations that carved out its center to create a Catholic cathedral at its heart, the good Mosque ranks with the Alhambra in Granada together of the 2 most splendid samples of Islamic art and architecture in western Europe. Tourist Attractions in Spain
Building materials from Roman and Visigothic buildings were utilized in the development, which began in 785, and by 1000, it had grown to its present dimensions, its prayer hall with no fewer than nineteen aisles. regardless of where you stand or which direction you look, its rows of columns and rounded Moorish arches line up in symmetrical patterns.
Narrow, winding streets; small squares; and low whitewashed houses with beautiful patios visible from the road fill the old Juderia around the mosque, a Moorish atmosphere inherited from its past.
4. The Prado and Paseo del Artes, Madrid
The Prado alone ranks with the world’s top art museums for the riches of its collections. But add the Reina Sofia National Art Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and therefore the CaixaForum, right along Madrid’s mile-long, tree-shaded boulevard, and you’ve got what could also be the world’s highest concentration of priceless art treasures. It’s no wonder this is often referred to as El Paseo del Arte — Boulevard of the humanities. Tourist Attractions in Spain
After a 2007 expansion that doubled its exhibition space, the Prado added another 12 galleries in 2009 to deal with a set of works by Goya and other late 19th-century artists. The Prado has the world’s largest collection of Spanish art, a powerful continuum from 12th-century medieval works through the Avante-Garde movement of the first 20th century, and is particularly noted for its works from Spain’s golden age by El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya.
But its riches aren’t all Spanish; other highlights are the medieval murals and retablos, paintings by Flemish and Dutch artists (be bound to see the phantasy world of Hieronymous Bosch and works by Rubens and Brueghel), and Italian art (Botticelli, Raphael, Correggio, Titian, and Tintoretto).
Highlights of Reina Sofia’s impressive 20,000 works are Picasso’s Guernica and works by Miró, Dalí, Dubuffet, Braque, Serra, Calder, and Magritte.
5. Go Diving on the Molasses Reef & Explore Sunken Wrecks
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometers northwest of Madrid, was the summer home of Spain’s kings, and in 1563, work was begun here on an enormous complex, which might include a monastery, church, royal palace, mausoleum, library, and museum, all conceived as a monument to Philip II and his reign. The result’s a staggering collection of attractions, built around 16 courtyards, its rooms, and structures connected by 16 kilometers of corridors. At its core is that the church, the highlight of which is Herrera’s 30-meter-high retablo, made from jasper and red marble and approached by a flight of 17 steps. Tourist Attractions in Spain
Along with the vaulted and frescoed ceilings by Tibaldi within the rooms of the lower cloister, highlights of the monastery are the Panteón de Los Reyes (the Baroque vault of the Spanish kings) and therefore the library, a grand room also decorated by Tibaldi frescoes.
In the palace, make certain to ascertain the Bourbon Suite, where the state apartments of Charles IV are decorated with rare furnishings and 338 tapestries. Beyond are the art-filled private apartments of Philip II. the image Gallery below features a large collection of fine paintings, including works by Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Velázquez, and El Greco.
6. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
You really need to see this building to believe it — no photograph has ever done justice to the present symphony of shapes, so alive that they appear able to fly. American architect Frank Gehry used blocks of limestone and undulating sheets of titanium to show the notion of recent architecture on its ear. So thoroughly did he succeed that two new terms were born from it: “The Bilbao Effect” — the power of a city to show its fortunes around by constructing one world-class building — and “architourism,” an entire segment of the travel industry revolving around landmarks of up to date architecture. Inside the museum are traveling exhibitions and rotating displays of its own collections of recent art. Tourist Attractions in Spain
7. Seville Cathedral and Alcazar
La Giralda tower, Seville Cathedral, and therefore the Alcazar combine to make a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower may be a minaret, a “masterpiece of Almohad architecture,” consistent with UNESCO. The cathedral has more interior space than St. Peter’s in Rome and a 37-meter main altar of carved statues completely covered in gold. The monumental tomb of Columbus is held aloft by a quartet of larger-than-life figures. La Giralda, the symbol of Seville, began life as a minaret and is all that’s left of the city’s Great Mosque, destroyed to create the cathedral.
The Alcazar opposite was begun by the Moors in 712 and continued after the Christian re-conquest by King Pedro within the 1300s within the ornate neo-Moorish style called Mudejar. The rooms and salons are breathtaking, and therefore the gardens a joy to walk in, shaded by fragrant orange and lemon trees. Adjoining on the east is Santa Cruz, the previous Juderia (Jewish Quarter), an area of whitewashed homes, iron balconies, and flower-filled courtyards. Tourist Attractions in Spain
8. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The magnificent cathedral of Santiago (St. James) was built to deal with and honor the relics of the saint, and it’s been the goal of pilgrims since the center Ages, the culmination of their completing the famed Camino de Santiago. one among the outstanding monuments of Early Romanesque, the cathedral was built between 1060 and 1211, and despite the Baroque transformation of the outside within the 16th to 18th centuries, the inside remains within the purest Early Romanesque style.
You’ll see both of those periods at play as you enter the west front, through one of Spain’s most impressive church facades. Step inside to face the Pórtico de la Gloria, a part of the old west front now concealed by the 18th-century facade. This triple doorway is one of the most important and most luxurious collections of Romanesque sculptures within the world. Tourist Attractions in Spain
The focus of the inside is that the elaborately decorated Capilla Mayor, built over the Apostle’s tomb. within the center of the altar of jasper, alabaster, and silver may be a 13th-century wooden figure of the Apostle, richly adorned in precious metals and gems. On either side, narrow staircases initiate behind the figure in order that pilgrims can kiss the Apostle’s cloak – culminating their pilgrimage. during a crypt under the altar, the Apostle’s remains are during a silver casket.
9. Plaza Mayor, Madrid
The throbbing heartbeat of Spain’s vibrant capital city, Plaza Mayor has played a crucial part in Madrid life since the 16th century, when Philip II entrusted the task of designing it to his favorite architect Juan de Herrera, builder of the Escorial. it’s served because of the stage for ceremonial events — the proclamation of a replacement king, the canonization of saints, the burning of heretics — and public entertainment like chivalric tournaments and bullfights. The cafes reaching out onto its pedestrian-only stone pavement, and therefore the restaurants shaded under its arcades are Madrid’s front room, popular meeting places for Madrileños and tourists alike.
Tourist Attractions in Spain
10. Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia
When Valencia diverted the course of the river that had repeatedly flooded the town, it had been left with a broad, flat riverbed spanned by bridges. it had been upon this clean palette that the brilliant Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava created a wide-ranging ensemble of structures that became a magnet for aficionados of up-to-date architecture. Not only the buildings, but the museums, arts venues, and aquarium (by Félix Candela and therefore the only building not designed by Calatrava) form a series of tourist attractions that rank among Spain’s hottest. Europe’s largest oceanographic aquarium, L’Oceanogràfic, was inbuilt in the form of an aquatic plant with buildings dedicated to different aquatic environments from the tropics to the poles. Tourist Attractions in Spain
11. Costa del Sol Beaches
With the record as Europe’s sunniest place and mile after mile of white sands lapped by gentle seas, it’s no wonder that the Costa del Sol beaches are the goal of sun-starved northern Europeans trying to find sun-and-sand getaways. This popularity caused serious over-development initially, but the Andalucian government has not only put a stop to the present, but it’s also begun the method of razing the worst offenders and returning entire sections of the coast to natural landscapes, clean beaches, and attractive new buildings that are more consonant with their surroundings.
The beaches aren’t Costa del Sol’s only attraction for tourists. Revitalizing its hub city of Málaga has made this coast even more alluring to everyone. Yachtsmen love the smart marina of Puerto Banus, and avid golfers head west from Marbella’s old-world charms to Nueva Andalucia, referred to as Golf Valley for its quite 50 courses. a couple of steps from the beach in Marbella is that the old town of whitewashed houses and well-preserved remains of the Moorish Castillo.
Tourist Attractions in Spain
12. La Rambla, Barcelona
Strolling along La Rambla on a summer evening, you would possibly think that every single one among Barcelona’s inhabitants was there with you. It’s definitely the place to plan work on a summer evening or on a weekend. This tree-lined boulevard cuts a Green Line — not a really straight one — through the town center, stretching northwest from the Columbus Memorial near the port.
The section to the Plaça de Catalunya is lined with plane trees, its wide pedestrian zone flanked by a narrow road on all sides. along side its flower and bird markets, La Rambla features a number of book and newspaper stands, also as restaurants and cafes with open-air tables. Pavement artists, street musicians, living statues, and impromptu performers all increase its lively atmosphere.
Tourist Attractions in Spain
13. Toledo's Old City
Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture mingle and blend into a city that El Greco captured in one of his most famous paintings. High on a granite hill and surrounded on three sides by the deep gorge of the Tagus, it presents a shocking profile; approaching it from below is an unforgettable sight. Tourist Attractions in Spain
The layout of the town, with its irregular pattern of narrow streets and various blind alleys, reflects its Moorish past, and therefore the architecture of the Christian period is represented by the various churches, convents, and hospices. This makes the old city a sort of open-air museum, illustrating the history of Spain, and it’s been listed by UNESCO as a part of mankind’s cultural heritage. The Gothic cathedral is splendid, its interior richly decorated, and therefore the two synagogues within the atmospheric old Juderia are ornate within the Moorish style. While therein quarter, make certain to ascertain the church of San Tome for its El Greco masterpiece.
14. The White Towns of Andalucía
Poised like dabs of white frosting atop the steep crags of southern Andalucía, the White Towns aren’t just beautiful, they speak of this region’s long and interesting history. West of Gibraltar, mountains rise straight from the ocean, and among them hide these White Towns, each on its hilltop. Tourist Attractions in Spain
Most spectacular is Arcos de la Frontera, whose plaza beside the Gothic church ends vertiginously during a 137-meter cliff, affording views across a valley of olive, orange, and almond orchards. Its maze of winding cobbled streets leads past cafes and craft shops selling ceramics and pottery to a Moorish castle.
A total of 19 of those villages of Pieris rapae houses are within the area around the Grazalema Nature Reserve. Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra are two others worth seeing. an honest base within the region is Jerez de la Frontera, home of flamenco and Andalucian thoroughbreds. Watch these horses’ precision ballet at the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art, and for authentic flamenco, visit Centro Cultural Flamenco.
15. El Teide, Tenerife
The highest peak in Spain, this ancient — but still simmering — the volcano is additionally one among Europe’s top natural wonders. The Pico de Teide and therefore the Caldera de las Cañadas, a big crater , together form the Parque Nacional del Teide, at the middle of the island of Tenerife. In listing the park in 2007, UNESCO cited its natural beauty and “its importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.”
You can explore El Teide in several ways. you’ll drive or hike across the within of the caldera — the crater floor — 12 miles in diameter and a barren moonscape of colored rock formations that’s like driving into the middle of the world. you’ll climb El Teide’s cone, but a neater thanks to getting on the brink of the highest is by an eight-minute car ride. On a transparent day, views cover the whole archipelago and may reach North Africa — the closest land mass to the Canary Islands.
Tourist Attractions in Spain