Spain

TRAVEL GUIDE

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Spain—the name alone evokes images of feisty flamenco dancers, packed tapas bars, silver-green olive groves, and Mediterranean beaches. From Madrid to Sevilla to Barcelona to San Sebastian, the country appeals to travelers of all types: To architecture buffs, it’s the land of Calatrava, Churriguera, and Gaudí. To gastronomes, it’s the cradle of modernist cuisine (hola, Adrià brothers and Juan Mari Arzak) and ground zero for paella, saffron, Rioja wine, and acorn-fed ibérico ham. Even if you haven’t been to Spain, you’ve probably imagined it, whether through Goya’s paintings, Paco de Lucía’s guitar ballads, Almodóvar’s films, or Cervantes’s Don Quixote.

Yet while you can still find vestiges of la antigua España in Spain today, don’t be fooled by the age-old tropes: Spain is a modern, forward-thinking country with stunning hotels and agroturismos, cutting-edge galleries, bumping nightclubs, and a burgeoning restaurant scene that goes far beyond tapas and tabernas.

Madrid and Barcelona, rival cities with deep and sometimes conflicting histories, are non-negotiable stops on any tour of the Iberian Peninsula. The former boasts a bevy of world-class museums including the Prado—one of the best in the world with priceless Goyas, Velázquezes, and El Grecos amassed by royals through the ages—and the Reina Sofía, which houses Picasso’s Guernica and a stunning cocktail bar with UFO-shaped sofas and sheeny red ceilings. It’s also Spain’s cultural nerve center with a never-ending rotation of concerts, plays, sporting events, and art exhibitions, plus sundown-to-sunup nightlife to satisfy even the most debaucherous revelers.

Barcelona appeals to all the senses: There’s wine to be swirled and pristine seafood to be gobbled, passageways to be explored and paintings to be pondered. The ancient and avant-garde intermingle in the Catalan capital, where you can find Roman ruins, Moderniste apartments, and high-fashion boutiques in the span of a few blocks. Within arm’s reach are Girona, Figueres, and Cadaqués, charming beachside towns you can retreat to if Barcelona’s tourist hordes jangle your nerves.

Due southwest in Andalusia, Moorish citadels and gardens are a reminder of Spain’s rich Islamic past. Granada’s Alhambra fortress-palace complex, with its impossibly ornate arabesques, and Córdoba’s mosque-cathedral, with its millennium-old arches, are the region’s undisputed crown jewels, though it’s almost as famous for its sherry, flamenco, beaches, and palpable sense of alegría.

Every food lover should make at least one pilgrimage to the Basque Country, the autonomous region on the French border with more Michelin stars than it knows what to do with. But it’s not all tweezed-and-foamed fare here: The Basques are also famed for their pintxos, one-bite wonders similar to tapas but more elaborate, and down-home sagardotegiak (cider houses), which open their doors from January to May when the local cider is at its sour best.

West of the Basque Country lie Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia, the misty, Celtic-influenced regions that are arguably the newest frontier in Spanish travel. Go for the Camino de Santiago or for the ski slopes atop the Picos de Europa; stay for the exceptional albariño wines and soul-satisfying cuisine (we’re looking at you, cachopo, Cabrales, and Galician-style octopus).

But Spain doesn’t stop at the Portuguese and French borders, it continues out to sea with scattered exclaves and islands. The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) draw partiers and back-to-nature types alike with their vibrant beach scene and secret calas (inlets), while the Canary Islands, flung off the Saharan coast, are a real-life paradise with moonlike landscapes and year-round temperatures hovering in the low 80s.

The more you get to know Spain and its patchwork quilt of cultures, cuisines, and traditions, the more you realize you don’t know it at all—and that’s what makes it so thrilling to visit again and again.

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Barcelona

Between the infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau...

Madrid

Madrid, the Spanish capital since 1561, is Europe's city that never sleeps. A vibrant and increasingly international metropolis, Madrid has...

Mallorca

Saddle-shape Mallorca is more than five times the size of Menorca or Ibiza. The Sierra de Tramuntana, a dramatic mountain range soaring to nearly...

Seville

Seville's whitewashed houses bright with bougainvillea, ocher-color palaces, and baroque facades have long enchanted both sevillanos and travelers...

Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. Its standout feature is the volcanic peak of El Teide (also known as Mount Teide or Monte Teide...

Bilbao

Time in Bilbao ("Bilbo" in Euskera) may be recorded as BG or AG (Before Guggenheim or After Guggenheim). Seldom has a single monument of art...

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has three distinct identities: Its capital, Las Palmas (pop. 379,000), is a thriving business center and important shipping and...

Granada

The Alhambra and the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs are the pride of Granada. The city rises majestically from a plain onto three hills, dwarfed...

Palma

If you look north of the cathedral (La Seu, or the seat of the bishopric, to Mallorcans) on a map of the city of Palma, you can see around the...

Lanzarote

With hardened lava fields, black and red dunes, and treeless mountainsides, Lanzarote's interior is right out of a science-fiction movie (literally...

Menorca

Menorca, the northernmost of the Balearics, is a knobby, cliff-bound plateau with some 193 km (120 miles) of coastline and a central hill called...

San Sebastian

San Sebastián (Donostia in Euskera) is a sophisticated city arched around one of the finest urban beaches in the world, La Kontxa (The Shell...

Cordoba

Strategically located on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River, Córdoba was the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain, and its old quarter,...

Ibiza

Tranquil countryside, secluded coves, and intimate luxury lodging to the north; sandy beaches and party venues by the score to the south; a...

Santiago de Compostela

You don’t need to be a pilgrim to enjoy this medieval city, which is one of the most popular and beautiful in all of Galicia. Wander down the...

Valencia

Valencia, Spain's third-largest municipality, is a proud city with a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene, quality museums, and spectacular...

Las Palmas

Las Palmas is a long, sprawling city, strung out for 10 km (6 miles) along two waterfronts of a peninsula. Though most of the action centers...

Malaga

Málaga is one of southern Spain’s most welcoming and happening cities, and it more than justifies a visit. Visitor figures soared after the...

Toledo

The spiritual capital of Castile, Toledo sits atop a rocky mount surrounded on three sides by the Río Tajo (Tagus River). When the Romans arrived...

Eivissa (Ibiza Town)

Hedonistic and historic, Eivissa (Ibiza, in Castilian) is a city jam-packed with cafés, nightspots, and trendy shops; looming over it are the...

Fuerteventura

Some of Fuerteventura's towering sand dunes blew in from the Sahara Desert, 96 km (60 miles) away, and indeed it's not hard to imagine Fuerteventura...

Girona

At the confluence of four rivers, Northern Catalonia's Girona (population: 97,000) keeps intact the magic of its historic past; with its brooding...

Salamanca

Salamanca's radiant sandstone buildings, immense Plaza Mayor, and hilltop riverside perch make it one of the most majestic and beloved cities...

Pamplona

Pamplona (Iruña in Euskera) is known worldwide for its running of the bulls, made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel The Sun Also...

Mahon (Mao)

Established as the island's capital in 1722, when the British began their nearly 80-year occupation, Mahón still bears the stamp of its former...

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez, world headquarters for sherry, is surrounded by vineyards of chalky soil, producing palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes that have funded...

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Although Tenerife's busy capital is smaller, quieter, and less attractive than Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, it has its share of worthwhile attractions...

Vitoria-Gasteiz

The capital of the Basque Country, and the region's second-largest city after Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz might be Euskadi's least "Basque" city...

Ciutadella

Ciutadella was Menorca's capital before the British settled in Mahón, and its history is richer. Settled successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks...

Costa Teguise

A green-and-white complex of apartments and several large hotels, Costa Teguise is a typical ’80s resort that some would say is past its heyday...

Marbella

Thanks to its year-round mild climate and a spectacular natural backdrop, Marbella has been a playground for the rich and famous since the 1950s...

Cadiz

With the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, Cádiz is a bustling town that's been shaped by a variety of cultures and has the varied architecture...

Segovia

Medieval Segovia rises on a steep ridge that juts above a stark, undulating plain. It's defined by its ancient monuments, excellent cuisine...

Puerto de la Cruz

This is the oldest resort in the Canaries, and sadly, cheap mass tourism and urban sprawl have all but drained it of local charm and island...

Zaragoza

Despite its hefty size (population 680,000), this sprawling provincial capital midway between Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, and Valencia is a detour...

Santander

One of the great ports on the Bay of Biscay, Santander is surrounded by beaches that can often be busy, but it still manages to avoid the package...

Ronda

Ronda, one of the oldest towns in Spain, is known for its spectacular position and views. Secure in its mountain fastness on a rock high over...

Caceres

The provincial capital and one of Spain's oldest cities, Cáceres is known for its UNESCO-protected old town and lively tapeo. The Roman colony...

A Coruña

One of Spain’s busiest ports, A Coruña is often (mistakenly) overlooked by travelers. While the weather can be fierce, wet, and windy, it does...

Oviedo

Inland, the Asturian countryside starts to look picture-perfect. Gently rolling green hills, and wooden, tile-roof hórreos strung with golden...

Úbeda

Úbeda's casco antiguo (old town) is one of the most outstanding enclaves of 16th-century architecture in Spain. It's a stunning surprise in...

Trujillo

Trujillo rises up from the boulder-strewn fields like a great granite schooner under full sail. From above, the rooftops and towers are worn...

Tarragona

Tarragona, the principal town of southern Catalonia, today is a vibrant center of culture and art, a busy fishing and shipping port, and a natural...

Leon

León, the ancient capital of Castile and León, sits on the banks of the Bernesga River in the high plains of Old Castile; today it's a wealthy...

Alicante

The Greeks called it Akra Leuka (White Summit) and the Romans named it Lucentum (City of Light). A crossroads for inland and coastal routes...

Vigo

Vigo's formidable port is choked with trawlers and fishing boats and lined with clanging shipbuilding yards. The city’s gritty exterior gives...

Ávila

In the middle of a windy plateau littered with giant boulders, with the Sierra de Gredos in the background, Ávila is a walled fairy-tale town...

Puerto del Carmen

Most beach-bound travelers to Lanzarote wind up in the sandy strands of the Puerto del Carmen area, the island’s busiest resort. The small fishing...

Cuenca

The delightful old town of Cuenca is one of the most surreal looking in Spain, built on a sloping rock with precipitous sides that plunge to...

Gijon

The Campo Valdés baths, dating back to the 1st century AD, and other reminders of Gijón's time as an ancient Roman port remain visible downtown...

Fuengirola

Fuengirola is less frenetic than Torremolinos. Many of its waterfront high-rises are vacation apartments that cater to budget-minded sunseekers...

Corralejo

Most people visit this part of Fuerteventura for its magnificent sand dunes. Corralejo, a small port town, has one street of tourist restaurants...

Baeza

The historic town of Baeza, nestled between hills and olive groves, is one of the best-preserved old towns in Spain. Founded by the Romans,...

Arrecife

Although Arrecife houses one-third of Lanzarote's population (146,000), it exudes a leisurely island energy, unlike bustling Santa Cruz or Las...

Cartagena

Don’t be put off by Cartagena’s outskirts, which house chemical plants and mining machinery; plunge straight into the old town near the port...

Logroño

A scrappy industrial city of 153,000, Logroño has a lovely old quarter bordered by the Ebro and medieval walls, with Breton de los Herreros...

Almeria

Warmed by the sunniest climate in Andalusia, Almería is a youthful Mediterranean city, basking in sweeping views of the sea from its coastal...

Torremolinos

Torremolinos is all about fun in the sun. It may be more subdued than it was in the action-packed 1960s and '70s, but it remains the gay capital...

Laguardia

Founded in AD 908 to stand guard—as its name suggests—over Navarra's southwestern flank, Laguardia is situated on a promontory overlooking the...

Soller

All but the briefest visits to Mallorca should include at least an overnight stay in Sóller, one of the most beautiful towns on the island,...

Cambados

This breezy seaside town has a charming, almost entirely residential old quarter and is the center for the full-bodied and fruity Albariño,...

Llanes

This beach town is on a pristine stretch of the Costa Verde. The shores in both directions outside town have vistas of cliffs looming over white...

Merida

Mérida has some of the most impressive Roman ruins in Iberia. Founded by the Romans in 25 BC on the banks of the Río Guadiana, the city is...

Plasencia

Rising dramatically from the banks of the narrow Jerte River and backed by the peaks of the Sierra de Gredos, this town was founded by Alfonso...

Burgos

On the banks of the Arlanzón River, this small city boasts some of Spain's most outstanding medieval architecture. If you approach on the A1...

Jaca

Jaca, the most important municipal center in Alto Aragón, is anything but sleepy. Bursting with ambition and blessed with the natural resources...

Vielha

Vielha (Viella in Spanish), capital of the Vall d'Aran, is a lively crossroads vitally involved in the Aranese movement to defend and reconstruct...

Estepona

Estepona is a pleasant and relatively tranquil seaside resort, despite being surrounded by lots of urban developments. The beach, more than...

Denia

The stretch of coastline known as the Costa Blanca (White Coast) begins at Dénia, south of Valencia. Dénia is the port of departure on the Costa...

Getaria and Zumaia

Getaria (Guetaria in Castilian) is known as la cocina de Gipuzkoa (the kitchen of the Gipuzkoa province) for its many restaurants and taverns...

La Laguna

Known colloquially as "La Laguna," this university town was the first capital of Tenerife. It was planned and built in a Renaissance style in...

Jaen

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Jabalcuz, Jaén is surrounded by towering peaks and olive-clad hills. The modern part of town holds...

Carmona

Wander the ancient, narrow streets here and you'll feel as if you've been transported back in time. Claiming to be one of the oldest inhabited...

Antequera

The town of Antequera holds a surprising number of magnificent baroque monuments (including some 30 churches)—it provides a unique snapshot...

Huesca

Once a Roman colony, Huesca would later become the capital of Aragón, until the royal court moved to Zaragoza in 1118. The town's university...

Puigcerda

Puigcerdà is the largest town in the valley; in Catalan, puig means "hill," and cerdà derives from "Cerdanya." From the promontory upon...

Pontevedra

At the head of its ría, right where it joins the sea, Pontevedra is a delightful starting point for exploring the Rías Baixas. Its well-preserved...

Santa Eularia des Riu

At the edge of this town on the island's eastern coast, to the right below the road, a Roman bridge crosses what some claim is the only permanent...

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca is Lanzarote's newest resort. Tourists come for the white-sand beaches at Punta de Papagayo, which can only be reached by driving...

Mijas

Mijas is in the foothills of the sierra just north of the coast. Long ago foreign retirees discovered the pretty, whitewashed town, and though...

Siguenza

The ancient university town of Sigüenza dates back to Roman, Visigothic, and Moorish times and still has splendid architecture and one of the...

Mundaka

Tiny Mundaka, famous among surfers all over the world for its left-breaking roller at the mouth of the Ría de Gernika, has much to offer nonsurfers...

Formentera

Environmental protection laws shield much of Formentera, making it a calm respite from neighboring Ibiza's dance-until-you-drop madness. Though...

Tarifa

Tarifa's strong winds helped keep it off the tourist maps for years, but now it is Europe's biggest center for windsurfing and kiteboarding...

Cazorla

Unspoiled and remote, the village of Cazorla is at the east end of Jaén province. The pine-clad slopes and towering peaks of the Cazorla and...

Murcia

Murcia is a busy commercial center with a charming old quarter, plenty of tapas bars, and a lively cultural scene. A particular highlight on...

Benasque

Benasque, Aragón's easternmost town, has always been an important link between Catalonia and Aragón. This elegant mountain hub, with a population...

Benalmadena

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Astorga

Astorga, where the pilgrimage roads from France and Portugal merge, once had 22 hospitals to lodge and care for ailing travelers. Though the...

Guadalupe

Guadalupe's monastery is one of the most inspiring sights in Extremadura, and its story begins around 1300, when a local shepherd uncovered...

Nerja

Nerja—the name comes from the Moorish word narixa, meaning "abundant springs"—has a large community of expats, who live mainly outside town...

Cangas de Onis

The first capital of Christian Spain, Cangas de Onís is also the unofficial capital of the Picos de Europa National Park. Partly in the narrow...

Haro

Haro is the wine capital of La Rioja. Its casco viejo (old quarter) and best taverns are concentrated along the loop known as La Herradura ...

Pollença

This is a pretty little town, with a history that goes back at least as far as the Roman occupation of the island; the only trace of that period...

Besalu

Besalú, the capital of a feudal county until power was transferred to Barcelona at the beginning of the 12th century, remains one of the best...

Luarca

The village of Luarca is tucked into a cove at the end of a final twist of the Río Negro, with a fishing port and, to the west, a sparkling...

Arcos de la Frontera

Its narrow and steep cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and finely crafted wrought-iron window grilles make Arcos the quintessential Andalusian...

Camprodon

Camprodón, the capital of its comarca (county), lies at the junction of the Ter and Ritort Rivers—both excellent trout streams. The rivers...

Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar has developed a thriving tourism industry based on the famed cave art discovered 2 km (1 mile) north of town—and the town...

Puerto de Santa Maria

This attractive if somewhat dilapidated little fishing port on the northern shores of the Bay of Cádiz, with lovely beaches nearby, has white...

Cadaques and Around

Spain's easternmost town, Cadaqués, still has the whitewashed charm that transformed this fishing village into an international artists' haunt...

La Rioja Alta

The Upper Rioja, the most prized subregion of La Rioja's wine country, extends from the Río Ebro to the Sierra de la Demanda. La Rioja Alta...

Tossa de Mar

Christened "Blue Paradise" by painter Marc Chagall, who summered here for four decades, Tossa's pristine beaches are among Catalonia's best...

Lugo

Just off the A6 freeway, Galicia's oldest provincial capital is most notable for its 2-km (1½-mile) Roman wall. These beautifully preserved...

Yaiza

Yaiza is a quiet whitewashed village with good restaurants. Largely destroyed by a river of lava in the 1700s, it's best known as the gateway...

Begur and Around

From Begur, go east through the calas or take the inland route past the rose-color stone houses and ramparts of the restored medieval town of...

Costa Calma

As you continue south along the coast from Matas Blancas, the beaches get longer, the sand gets whiter, and the water gets bluer. ...

Calpe (Calp)

Calpe has an ancient history, as it was chosen by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Moors as a strategic point from which to plant their...

Figueres

Figueres is the capital of the comarca (county) of the Alt Empordà, the bustling county seat of this predominantly agricultural region. Local...

Mt. Teide

The dormant volcano of El Teide, Spain's highest peak, looms large on the horizon no matter where you are on the island, and its (often snowcapped...

Llivia

A Spanish enclave in French territory, Llívia was marooned by the 1659 Peace of the Pyrenees treaty, which ceded 33 villages to France. Incorporated...

Ribes de Freser and Vall de Nuria

The small town of Ribes de Freser is the starting point of the famous cremallera (cogwheel) train, which connects passengers with Núria, a...

La Seu d'Urgell

La Seu d'Urgell is an ancient town facing the snowy rock wall of the Sierra del Cadí. As the seat ( seu ) of the regional archbishopric since...

La Vera and Monasterio de Yuste

In northern Extremadura, the fertile La Vera region sits at the foot of the Gredos mountains, which are usually snowcapped through June. With...

Ainsa

Wander through the uninspiring outskirts of Aínsa’s new town until the road turns sharply upward toward one of Aragón’s most impressive walled...

Alquezar

As though carved from the rock itself, Alquézar overlooks the Parque Natural Sierra y Cañones de Guara and is one of Aragón’s most attractive...

Ribadesella

The N632 twists around green hills dappled with eucalyptus groves, allowing glimpses of the sea and sandy beaches below and the snowcapped Picos...

Potes

Known for its fine cheeses, the region of La Liébana is a highland domain also worth exploring for other reasons. Potes, the area's main city...

Montilla

In the countryside around Montilla, hills are ablaze with sunflowers in early summer near the vineyards of the Montilla-Moriles D.O. Every fall...

Deia

Deià is perhaps best known as the adopted home of the English poet and writer Robert Graves, who lived here off and on from 1929 until his death...

Almuñecar

This small-time resort with a shingle beach is popular with Spanish and Northern European vacationers. It's been a fishing village since Phoenician...

Taull

Taüll is a town of narrow streets and tight mountain design—wooden balconies and steep, slate roofs—that makes an attractive base for exploring...

Sant Feliu de Guixols

The little fishing port of Sant Feliu de Guixols is set on a small bay; Moderniste mansions line the seafront promenade, recalling a time when...

Hondarribia

Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía in Spanish) is the last fishing port before the French border and a wonderful day trip from San Sebastián. Lined with...

Zuheros

At the northern edge of the Subbética mountain range and at an altitude of 2,040 feet, Zuheros is one of the most attractive villages in the...

Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera

Blink and you miss it: that's true of most of the small towns in the island's interior and especially so of Santa Gertrudis. It's not much more...

Betancuria

Betancuria (pop. 839), set in the fertile center of the island, was once Fuerteventura's capital and has several historical monuments. Its quiet...

Estella

Once the seat of the Royal Court of Navarra, Estella (Lizarra in Euskera) is an inspiring stop on the Camino de Santiago. ...

Doñana National Park

The jewel in Spain’s crown when it comes to national parks, and one of Europe’s most important wetlands, Doñana is a paradise for wildlife in...

Valldemossa

The jumping-off point for a drive up the spectacular coast of the Tramuntana, this pretty little town, north of Palma, is famous for the vast...

Priego de Cordoba

The jewel of Córdoba's countryside is Priego de Córdoba, a town of 23,500 inhabitants at the foot of Monte Tinosa. Wander down Calle del Río...

Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

Catalonia's only national park is a dramatic and unspoiled landscape shaped over 2 million years of glacial activity. Hikers can reach the park...

Roncal Valley

The Roncal Valley, the eastern edge of the Basque Pyrenees, is notable for the sheep's-milk cheese of the same name and as the birthplace of...

Almagro

The center of this noble town contains the only preserved medieval theater in Europe. It stands beside the ancient Plaza Mayor, where 85 Roman...

Casares

The mountain village of Casares lies high above Estepona in the Sierra Bermeja, with streets of ancient white houses piled one on top of the...

Setcases

Although Setcases ("seven houses") is somewhat larger than its name would imply, this tiny village nestled at the head of the valley has a distinct...

The Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve

The southeast corner of Spain is one of the country’s last unspoiled wildernesses, and much of the coastline is part of a highly protected nature...

Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

This great but often overlooked park was founded by royal decree in 1918 to protect the natural integrity of the central Pyrenees. It has expanded...

Alarcon

This fortified village (population: 148) on the edge of the great plains of La Mancha stands on a high spit of land encircled almost entirely...

Aracena

Stretching north of the provinces of Huelva and Seville is the 460,000-acre Sierra de Aracena nature park, an expanse of hills cloaked in cork...

Roncesvalles (Orreaga)

Roncesvalles (often listed as Orreaga, its name in Euskera) is a small village and the site of the Battle of Roncesvalles (or Battle of Roncevaux...

Villafranca del Bierzo

After crossing León's grape-growing region, where the funky, floral Bierzo wines are produced, you'll arrive in this medieval village, dominated...

Betanzos

The charming, slightly ramshackle medieval town of Betanzos is still surrounded by parts of its old city wall. An important Galician port in...

Altea

Perched on a hill overlooking a bustling beachfront, Altea (unlike some of its neighboring towns) has retained much of its original charm, with...

Pasajes de San Juan

Three towns make up the commercial port of Pasaia (Rentería in Spanish): Pasai Antxo (Pasajes Ancho), an industrial port; Pasai de San Pedro...

Puerto del Rosario

Fuerteventura's capital, Puerto del Rosario, has suffered from an image problem for a long time. It used to be called Puerto de Cabra (Goat...

Sepulveda

A walled village with a commanding position, Sepúlveda has a charming main square, but the main reasons to visit are its 11th-century Romanesque...

Lorca

If you are touring the region, it’s worth a short detour to get a glimpse of Lorca, an old market town and the scene of some of Spain’s most...

La Manga del Mar Menor

The advance of rocks and sand from two headlands into the Mediterranean Sea transformed what was once a bay into the Mar Menor (Smaller Sea...

Sanlucar de Barrameda

This fishing town has a crumbling charm and is best known for its langostinos (jumbo shrimp) and manzanilla, an exceptionally dry sherry ...

O Grove

O Grove throws a famous shellfish festival the second week of October, but you can enjoy the day's catch in taverns and restaurants year-round...

Sitges

The fine white sand of the Sitges beach is elbow-to-elbow with sun worshippers April–September. On the eastern end of the strand is an alabaster...

Fisterra

There was a time when this lonely, windswept outcrop over raging waters was thought to be the end of the earth—the finis terrae. In fact,...

Salardu

Salardú is a pivotal point in the Vall d'Aran, convenient to Baqueira-Beret, the Montarto peak, the lakes and Circ de Colomers, Parc Nacional...

Olot

Capital of the comarca (administrative region) of La Garrotxa, Olot is famous for its 19th-century school of landscape painters and has several...

Baena

Outside the boundaries of Subbética and surrounded by chalk fields producing top-quality olives, Baena is an old town of narrow streets, whitewashed...

Muxia

A small fishing village far off the beaten path, surrounded by the stunning rocky cliffs and virgin beaches of the Costa da Morte, close to...

Beget

The village of Beget, considered Catalonia's més bufó (cutest), was completely cut off from motorized vehicles until the mid-1960s, when a...

Espot

Espot is in the heart of the valley, along a clear stream, next to the eastern entrance of Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. ...

Baztan Valley

Tucked neatly above the headwaters of the Bidasoa River, beneath the peak of the 3,545-foot Gorramendi Mountain that looms over the border with...

Viveiro

The once-turreted city walls of this popular summer resort are still partially intact. The Semana Santa processions, when penitents follow...

Puente la Reina

Puente la Reina (Gares in Euskera) is at the junction of the two Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes from northern Europe, one passing through...

Garachico

Garachico is one of the most idyllic and historic towns on the islands, and it's well worth a quick visit. It was the main port of Tenerife...

Morro Jable

The old fishing port of Morro Jable, at the southern tip of Fuerteventura, has a long stretch of golden sand. Many more miles of virgin coast...

Albufera Nature Park

South of Valencia, Albufera Nature Park is one of Spain's most spectacular wetland areas. Home to the largest freshwater lagoon on the peninsula...

Ourense and La Ribeira Sacra

Despite the uninspiring backdrop of Ourense’s new town, Galicia’s third-largest city has bubbling thermal springs and an attractive medieval...

Huelva

When you've had enough of Seville's urban bustle, nature awaits in Huelva. From the Parque Nacional de Doñana to the oak forests of the Sierra...

Calella de Palafrugell and Around

Up the coast from S'Agaró, the C31 brings you to Palafrugell and Begur; to the east are some of the prettiest, least developed inlets of the...

Baiona

At the southern end of the AP9 freeway and the Ría de Vigo, Baiona (Bayona in Castilian) is a summer haunt of affluent gallegos. When Columbus...

Santa Maria de Poblet

This splendid Cistercian monastery, located at the foot of the Prades Mountains, is one of the great masterpieces of Spanish monastic architecture...

Mazagon

There isn't much to see or do in this coastal town, but the parador makes a good base for touring La Rábida, Palos de la Frontera, and Moguer...

Comillas

This astounding pocket of Catalan Art Nouveau architecture in the green hills of Cantabria will make you rub your eyes in disbelief. The Marqués...

Ribadeo

Perched on the broad ría of the same name, Ribadeo is the last coastal town before Asturias. The views up and across the ría are marvelous—depending...

Agua Amarga

Like other coastal hamlets, Agua Amarga started out in the 18th century as a tuna-fishing port. These days, as perhaps the most pleasant village...

Padron

Padrón grew up beside the Roman port of Iria Flavia and is where the body of St. James is believed to have washed ashore after its miraculous...

Villaviciosa

Famed for its cider, Villaviciosa also has a large dairy and several bottling plants as well as an attractive old quarter. The Habsburg emperor...

San Vicente de la Barquera

This is one of the oldest and most beautiful maritime settlements in northern Spain; it was an important Roman port long before many other shipping...

Elantxobe

The tiny fishing village of Elantxobe (Elanchove in Castilian) is surrounded by huge, steep cliffs, with a small breakwater that protects its...

Santes Creus

Sitges, with its beach and its summer festivals of dance and music, film and fireworks, is anything but solemn. Head inland, however, some 45...

Tui

The steep, narrow streets of Tui, rich with emblazoned mansions, suggest the town's past as one of the seven capitals of the Galician kingdom...

Axpe

The village of Axpe, in the valley of Atxondo, sits in the shadow of 4,777-foot Monte Anboto—one of the highest peaks in the Basque Country...

Alcala la Real

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Bellver de Cerdanya

Bellver de Cerdanya has preserved its slate-roof-and-fieldstone Pyrenean architecture more successfully than many of La Cerdanya's larger towns...

Fornells

A little village (full-time population: 500) of whitewashed houses with red-tile roofs, Fornells comes alive in the summer high season, when...

Ripoll

One of Catalonia's first Christian strongholds of the Reconquest and a center of religious erudition during the Middle Ages, Ripoll is known...

La Rabida

La Rábida's monastery is worth a stop if you're a history buff. It's nicknamed "the birthplace of America" because in 1485 Columbus came from...

Alcudia

Nothing if not strategic, Alcúdia is the ideal base for exploring Mallorca's north coast, with the 13-km-long (8-mile-long) beach from Port...

Sant Joan de les Abadesses

The site of an important church, Sant Joan de les Abadesses is named for the 9th-century abbess Emma and her successors. Emma was the daughter...

Sort

The capital of the Pallars Sobirà (Upper Pallars Valley) is the area’s epicenter for skiing, fishing, and white-water kayaking. The word sort...

El Toro

The peak of El Toro is Menorca's highest point, at all of 1,555 feet. From the monastery on top you can see the whole island and across the...

Cova des Coloms

There are caverns and grottoes all over the Balearics, some of them justly famous because of their size, spectacular formations, and subterranean...

Muros

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Italica

Neighboring the small town of Santiponce, Itálica is Spain’s oldest Roman site and one of its greatest, and it is well worth a visit when you...

Lluc

The Santuari de Lluc, which holds the Black Virgin and is a major pilgrimage site, is widely considered Mallorca's spiritual heart. ...

Vilalba

Known as Terra Cha (Flat Land) or the Galician Mesopotamia, Vilalba is the source of several rivers, most notably the Miño, which flows down...

Fuente Vaqueros

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San Lorenzo de El Escorial

An hour from Madrid, San Lorenzo del Escorial makes for a leisurely day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the Spanish capital. The medieval...

Noia

Deep within the Ría de Muros y Noia, the compact medieval town of Noia is at the edge of the Barbanza mountain range. The Gothic church of ...

Tahiche

Only one thing makes Tahíche a destination rather than a drive-through town between Arrecife and the north of the island: the former estate...

Blanes

The Costa Brava (Wild Coast) begins at Blanes with five different beaches, running from Punta Santa Anna on the far side of the port—a tiny...

Burguete (Auritz)

Burguete (Auritz, in Euskera) lies between two mountain streams forming the headwaters of the Urobi River and is surrounded by meadows and forests...

Bermeo

The charm of Bermeo is easy to miss if you don't park and walk from the old town to the port. Before the town became synonymous with the commercial...

S'Agaro

S'Agaró is an elegant gated community on a rocky point at the north end of the cove. The 30-minute walk along the sea wall from Hostal de...

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

A recent Game of Thrones filming location, this solitary stone hermitage clings to a rocky promontory over the Bay of Biscay. A narrow, 231...

Covadonga

To see high alpine meadowland, some rare Spanish lakes, and views over the peaks and out to sea (if the mist ever disperses), take the narrow...

Montserrat

A popular side trip from Barcelona is a visit to the dramatic, sawtooth peaks of Montserrat, where the shrine of La Moreneta (the Black Virgin...

Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña

South of the Aragonese valleys of Hecho and Ansó is the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, a site connected to the legend of the Holy Grail and...

O Cebreiro

Deserted and haunting when it's not high season (and often fogged in or snowy to boot), O Cebreiro is a stark mountaintop hamlet built around...

Pajara

Pájara, the administrative center of the southern peninsula of Jandía, has a two-block strip of boulevard and pretty wrought-iron street lamps...

Moguer

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Ripoll

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Leboreiro

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Martinet

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Icod de los Vinos

Attractive plazas rimmed by unspoiled colonial architecture and pine balconies form the heart of Tenerife's most historic wine district. A 1...

Guadix

Today, Guadix—and the neighboring village of Purullena—is best known for its cave communities, though this was an important mining town as far...

Santa Fe

Santa Fe (Holy Faith) was founded in winter 1491 as a campground for Ferdinand and Isabella's 150,000 troops as they prepared for the siege...

Aragues del Puerto

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Alta Ribagorça Oriental

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Laredo

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Bielsa

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San Jose

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Mollo

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Ojen

For a contrast to the glamour of the coast, drive up to Ojén, in the hills above Marbella. Take note of the beautiful pottery and, if you're...

San Roque

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Pastrana

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Salobreña

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Aranjuez

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Riotinto

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Castro-Urdiales

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Roncesvalles

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Écija

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Frigiliana

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Calahorra

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La Rioja Baja

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Lesaka

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Lekeitio

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Llessui

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Matalascañas

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Mondoñedo

Founded in 1156, this town was one of the seven capitals of the kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to early 19th century. The cathedral, consecrated...

Barcelona

Between the infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau...

Madrid

Madrid, the Spanish capital since 1561, is Europe's city that never sleeps. A vibrant and increasingly international metropolis, Madrid has...

Seville

Seville's whitewashed houses bright with bougainvillea, ocher-color palaces, and baroque facades have long enchanted both sevillanos and travelers...

Bilbao

Time in Bilbao ("Bilbo" in Euskera) may be recorded as BG or AG (Before Guggenheim or After Guggenheim). Seldom has a single monument of art...

Granada

The Alhambra and the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs are the pride of Granada. The city rises majestically from a plain onto three hills, dwarfed...

Palma

If you look north of the cathedral (La Seu, or the seat of the bishopric, to Mallorcans) on a map of the city of Palma, you can see around the...

San Sebastian

San Sebastián (Donostia in Euskera) is a sophisticated city arched around one of the finest urban beaches in the world, La Kontxa (The Shell...

Cordoba

Strategically located on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River, Córdoba was the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain, and its old quarter,...

Santiago de Compostela

You don’t need to be a pilgrim to enjoy this medieval city, which is one of the most popular and beautiful in all of Galicia. Wander down the...

Valencia

Valencia, Spain's third-largest municipality, is a proud city with a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene, quality museums, and spectacular...

Las Palmas

Las Palmas is a long, sprawling city, strung out for 10 km (6 miles) along two waterfronts of a peninsula. Though most of the action centers...

Malaga

Málaga is one of southern Spain’s most welcoming and happening cities, and it more than justifies a visit. Visitor figures soared after the...

Toledo

The spiritual capital of Castile, Toledo sits atop a rocky mount surrounded on three sides by the Río Tajo (Tagus River). When the Romans arrived...

Eivissa (Ibiza Town)

Hedonistic and historic, Eivissa (Ibiza, in Castilian) is a city jam-packed with cafés, nightspots, and trendy shops; looming over it are the...

Salamanca

Salamanca's radiant sandstone buildings, immense Plaza Mayor, and hilltop riverside perch make it one of the most majestic and beloved cities...

Girona

At the confluence of four rivers, Northern Catalonia's Girona (population: 97,000) keeps intact the magic of its historic past; with its brooding...

Pamplona

Pamplona (Iruña in Euskera) is known worldwide for its running of the bulls, made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel The Sun Also...

Mahon (Mao)

Established as the island's capital in 1722, when the British began their nearly 80-year occupation, Mahón still bears the stamp of its former...

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez, world headquarters for sherry, is surrounded by vineyards of chalky soil, producing palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes that have funded...

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Although Tenerife's busy capital is smaller, quieter, and less attractive than Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, it has its share of worthwhile attractions...

Vitoria-Gasteiz

The capital of the Basque Country, and the region's second-largest city after Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz might be Euskadi's least "Basque" city...

Ciutadella

Ciutadella was Menorca's capital before the British settled in Mahón, and its history is richer. Settled successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks...

Costa Teguise

A green-and-white complex of apartments and several large hotels, Costa Teguise is a typical ’80s resort that some would say is past its heyday...

Marbella

Thanks to its year-round mild climate and a spectacular natural backdrop, Marbella has been a playground for the rich and famous since the 1950s...

Cadiz

With the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, Cádiz is a bustling town that's been shaped by a variety of cultures and has the varied architecture...

Segovia

Medieval Segovia rises on a steep ridge that juts above a stark, undulating plain. It's defined by its ancient monuments, excellent cuisine...

Zaragoza

Despite its hefty size (population 680,000), this sprawling provincial capital midway between Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, and Valencia is a detour...

Puerto de la Cruz

This is the oldest resort in the Canaries, and sadly, cheap mass tourism and urban sprawl have all but drained it of local charm and island...

Santander

One of the great ports on the Bay of Biscay, Santander is surrounded by beaches that can often be busy, but it still manages to avoid the package...

A Coruña

One of Spain’s busiest ports, A Coruña is often (mistakenly) overlooked by travelers. While the weather can be fierce, wet, and windy, it does...

Ronda

Ronda, one of the oldest towns in Spain, is known for its spectacular position and views. Secure in its mountain fastness on a rock high over...

Caceres

The provincial capital and one of Spain's oldest cities, Cáceres is known for its UNESCO-protected old town and lively tapeo. The Roman colony...

Oviedo

Inland, the Asturian countryside starts to look picture-perfect. Gently rolling green hills, and wooden, tile-roof hórreos strung with golden...

Trujillo

Trujillo rises up from the boulder-strewn fields like a great granite schooner under full sail. From above, the rooftops and towers are worn...

Úbeda

Úbeda's casco antiguo (old town) is one of the most outstanding enclaves of 16th-century architecture in Spain. It's a stunning surprise in...

Tarragona

Tarragona, the principal town of southern Catalonia, today is a vibrant center of culture and art, a busy fishing and shipping port, and a natural...

Leon

León, the ancient capital of Castile and León, sits on the banks of the Bernesga River in the high plains of Old Castile; today it's a wealthy...

Alicante

The Greeks called it Akra Leuka (White Summit) and the Romans named it Lucentum (City of Light). A crossroads for inland and coastal routes...

Vigo

Vigo's formidable port is choked with trawlers and fishing boats and lined with clanging shipbuilding yards. The city’s gritty exterior gives...

Ávila

In the middle of a windy plateau littered with giant boulders, with the Sierra de Gredos in the background, Ávila is a walled fairy-tale town...

Puerto del Carmen

Most beach-bound travelers to Lanzarote wind up in the sandy strands of the Puerto del Carmen area, the island’s busiest resort. The small fishing...

Corralejo

Most people visit this part of Fuerteventura for its magnificent sand dunes. Corralejo, a small port town, has one street of tourist restaurants...

Cuenca

The delightful old town of Cuenca is one of the most surreal looking in Spain, built on a sloping rock with precipitous sides that plunge to...

Gijon

The Campo Valdés baths, dating back to the 1st century AD, and other reminders of Gijón's time as an ancient Roman port remain visible downtown...

Fuengirola

Fuengirola is less frenetic than Torremolinos. Many of its waterfront high-rises are vacation apartments that cater to budget-minded sunseekers...

Baeza

The historic town of Baeza, nestled between hills and olive groves, is one of the best-preserved old towns in Spain. Founded by the Romans,...

Logroño

A scrappy industrial city of 153,000, Logroño has a lovely old quarter bordered by the Ebro and medieval walls, with Breton de los Herreros...

Arrecife

Although Arrecife houses one-third of Lanzarote's population (146,000), it exudes a leisurely island energy, unlike bustling Santa Cruz or Las...

Almeria

Warmed by the sunniest climate in Andalusia, Almería is a youthful Mediterranean city, basking in sweeping views of the sea from its coastal...

Cartagena

Don’t be put off by Cartagena’s outskirts, which house chemical plants and mining machinery; plunge straight into the old town near the port...

Torremolinos

Torremolinos is all about fun in the sun. It may be more subdued than it was in the action-packed 1960s and '70s, but it remains the gay capital...

Cambados

This breezy seaside town has a charming, almost entirely residential old quarter and is the center for the full-bodied and fruity Albariño,...

Laguardia

Founded in AD 908 to stand guard—as its name suggests—over Navarra's southwestern flank, Laguardia is situated on a promontory overlooking the...

Soller

All but the briefest visits to Mallorca should include at least an overnight stay in Sóller, one of the most beautiful towns on the island,...

Jaca

Jaca, the most important municipal center in Alto Aragón, is anything but sleepy. Bursting with ambition and blessed with the natural resources...

Merida

Mérida has some of the most impressive Roman ruins in Iberia. Founded by the Romans in 25 BC on the banks of the Río Guadiana, the city is...

Burgos

On the banks of the Arlanzón River, this small city boasts some of Spain's most outstanding medieval architecture. If you approach on the A1...

Llanes

This beach town is on a pristine stretch of the Costa Verde. The shores in both directions outside town have vistas of cliffs looming over white...

Plasencia

Rising dramatically from the banks of the narrow Jerte River and backed by the peaks of the Sierra de Gredos, this town was founded by Alfonso...

Vielha

Vielha (Viella in Spanish), capital of the Vall d'Aran, is a lively crossroads vitally involved in the Aranese movement to defend and reconstruct...

Denia

The stretch of coastline known as the Costa Blanca (White Coast) begins at Dénia, south of Valencia. Dénia is the port of departure on the Costa...

Estepona

Estepona is a pleasant and relatively tranquil seaside resort, despite being surrounded by lots of urban developments. The beach, more than...

Getaria and Zumaia

Getaria (Guetaria in Castilian) is known as la cocina de Gipuzkoa (the kitchen of the Gipuzkoa province) for its many restaurants and taverns...

Jaen

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Jabalcuz, Jaén is surrounded by towering peaks and olive-clad hills. The modern part of town holds...

Carmona

Wander the ancient, narrow streets here and you'll feel as if you've been transported back in time. Claiming to be one of the oldest inhabited...

Antequera

The town of Antequera holds a surprising number of magnificent baroque monuments (including some 30 churches)—it provides a unique snapshot...

Huesca

Once a Roman colony, Huesca would later become the capital of Aragón, until the royal court moved to Zaragoza in 1118. The town's university...

Pontevedra

At the head of its ría, right where it joins the sea, Pontevedra is a delightful starting point for exploring the Rías Baixas. Its well-preserved...

La Laguna

Known colloquially as "La Laguna," this university town was the first capital of Tenerife. It was planned and built in a Renaissance style in...

Puigcerda

Puigcerdà is the largest town in the valley; in Catalan, puig means "hill," and cerdà derives from "Cerdanya." From the promontory upon...

Santa Eularia des Riu

At the edge of this town on the island's eastern coast, to the right below the road, a Roman bridge crosses what some claim is the only permanent...

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca is Lanzarote's newest resort. Tourists come for the white-sand beaches at Punta de Papagayo, which can only be reached by driving...

Mundaka

Tiny Mundaka, famous among surfers all over the world for its left-breaking roller at the mouth of the Ría de Gernika, has much to offer nonsurfers...

Siguenza

The ancient university town of Sigüenza dates back to Roman, Visigothic, and Moorish times and still has splendid architecture and one of the...

Mijas

Mijas is in the foothills of the sierra just north of the coast. Long ago foreign retirees discovered the pretty, whitewashed town, and though...

Haro

Haro is the wine capital of La Rioja. Its casco viejo (old quarter) and best taverns are concentrated along the loop known as La Herradura ...

Formentera

Environmental protection laws shield much of Formentera, making it a calm respite from neighboring Ibiza's dance-until-you-drop madness. Though...

Benalmadena

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Cazorla

Unspoiled and remote, the village of Cazorla is at the east end of Jaén province. The pine-clad slopes and towering peaks of the Cazorla and...

Nerja

Nerja—the name comes from the Moorish word narixa, meaning "abundant springs"—has a large community of expats, who live mainly outside town...

Benasque

Benasque, Aragón's easternmost town, has always been an important link between Catalonia and Aragón. This elegant mountain hub, with a population...

Tarifa

Tarifa's strong winds helped keep it off the tourist maps for years, but now it is Europe's biggest center for windsurfing and kiteboarding...

Astorga

Astorga, where the pilgrimage roads from France and Portugal merge, once had 22 hospitals to lodge and care for ailing travelers. Though the...

Guadalupe

Guadalupe's monastery is one of the most inspiring sights in Extremadura, and its story begins around 1300, when a local shepherd uncovered...

Murcia

Murcia is a busy commercial center with a charming old quarter, plenty of tapas bars, and a lively cultural scene. A particular highlight on...

Cangas de Onis

The first capital of Christian Spain, Cangas de Onís is also the unofficial capital of the Picos de Europa National Park. Partly in the narrow...

Arcos de la Frontera

Its narrow and steep cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and finely crafted wrought-iron window grilles make Arcos the quintessential Andalusian...

Tossa de Mar

Christened "Blue Paradise" by painter Marc Chagall, who summered here for four decades, Tossa's pristine beaches are among Catalonia's best...

Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar has developed a thriving tourism industry based on the famed cave art discovered 2 km (1 mile) north of town—and the town...

Cadaques and Around

Spain's easternmost town, Cadaqués, still has the whitewashed charm that transformed this fishing village into an international artists' haunt...

La Rioja Alta

The Upper Rioja, the most prized subregion of La Rioja's wine country, extends from the Río Ebro to the Sierra de la Demanda. La Rioja Alta...

Puerto de Santa Maria

This attractive if somewhat dilapidated little fishing port on the northern shores of the Bay of Cádiz, with lovely beaches nearby, has white...

Camprodon

Camprodón, the capital of its comarca (county), lies at the junction of the Ter and Ritort Rivers—both excellent trout streams. The rivers...

Luarca

The village of Luarca is tucked into a cove at the end of a final twist of the Río Negro, with a fishing port and, to the west, a sparkling...

Besalu

Besalú, the capital of a feudal county until power was transferred to Barcelona at the beginning of the 12th century, remains one of the best...

Pollença

This is a pretty little town, with a history that goes back at least as far as the Roman occupation of the island; the only trace of that period...

Yaiza

Yaiza is a quiet whitewashed village with good restaurants. Largely destroyed by a river of lava in the 1700s, it's best known as the gateway...

Mt. Teide

The dormant volcano of El Teide, Spain's highest peak, looms large on the horizon no matter where you are on the island, and its (often snowcapped...

La Seu d'Urgell

La Seu d'Urgell is an ancient town facing the snowy rock wall of the Sierra del Cadí. As the seat ( seu ) of the regional archbishopric since...

Figueres

Figueres is the capital of the comarca (county) of the Alt Empordà, the bustling county seat of this predominantly agricultural region. Local...

Calpe (Calp)

Calpe has an ancient history, as it was chosen by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Moors as a strategic point from which to plant their...

Lugo

Just off the A6 freeway, Galicia's oldest provincial capital is most notable for its 2-km (1½-mile) Roman wall. These beautifully preserved...

Llivia

A Spanish enclave in French territory, Llívia was marooned by the 1659 Peace of the Pyrenees treaty, which ceded 33 villages to France. Incorporated...

Deia

Deià is perhaps best known as the adopted home of the English poet and writer Robert Graves, who lived here off and on from 1929 until his death...

Ribes de Freser and Vall de Nuria

The small town of Ribes de Freser is the starting point of the famous cremallera (cogwheel) train, which connects passengers with Núria, a...

Potes

Known for its fine cheeses, the region of La Liébana is a highland domain also worth exploring for other reasons. Potes, the area's main city...

Begur and Around

From Begur, go east through the calas or take the inland route past the rose-color stone houses and ramparts of the restored medieval town of...

Alquezar

As though carved from the rock itself, Alquézar overlooks the Parque Natural Sierra y Cañones de Guara and is one of Aragón’s most attractive...

Costa Calma

As you continue south along the coast from Matas Blancas, the beaches get longer, the sand gets whiter, and the water gets bluer. ...

Ribadesella

The N632 twists around green hills dappled with eucalyptus groves, allowing glimpses of the sea and sandy beaches below and the snowcapped Picos...

La Vera and Monasterio de Yuste

In northern Extremadura, the fertile La Vera region sits at the foot of the Gredos mountains, which are usually snowcapped through June. With...

Ainsa

Wander through the uninspiring outskirts of Aínsa’s new town until the road turns sharply upward toward one of Aragón’s most impressive walled...

Montilla

In the countryside around Montilla, hills are ablaze with sunflowers in early summer near the vineyards of the Montilla-Moriles D.O. Every fall...

Hondarribia

Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía in Spanish) is the last fishing port before the French border and a wonderful day trip from San Sebastián. Lined with...

Roncal Valley

The Roncal Valley, the eastern edge of the Basque Pyrenees, is notable for the sheep's-milk cheese of the same name and as the birthplace of...

Almuñecar

This small-time resort with a shingle beach is popular with Spanish and Northern European vacationers. It's been a fishing village since Phoenician...

Betancuria

Betancuria (pop. 839), set in the fertile center of the island, was once Fuerteventura's capital and has several historical monuments. Its quiet...

Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera

Blink and you miss it: that's true of most of the small towns in the island's interior and especially so of Santa Gertrudis. It's not much more...

Sant Feliu de Guixols

The little fishing port of Sant Feliu de Guixols is set on a small bay; Moderniste mansions line the seafront promenade, recalling a time when...

Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

Catalonia's only national park is a dramatic and unspoiled landscape shaped over 2 million years of glacial activity. Hikers can reach the park...

Estella

Once the seat of the Royal Court of Navarra, Estella (Lizarra in Euskera) is an inspiring stop on the Camino de Santiago. ...

Taull

Taüll is a town of narrow streets and tight mountain design—wooden balconies and steep, slate roofs—that makes an attractive base for exploring...

Zuheros

At the northern edge of the Subbética mountain range and at an altitude of 2,040 feet, Zuheros is one of the most attractive villages in the...

Priego de Cordoba

The jewel of Córdoba's countryside is Priego de Córdoba, a town of 23,500 inhabitants at the foot of Monte Tinosa. Wander down Calle del Río...

Valldemossa

The jumping-off point for a drive up the spectacular coast of the Tramuntana, this pretty little town, north of Palma, is famous for the vast...

Almagro

The center of this noble town contains the only preserved medieval theater in Europe. It stands beside the ancient Plaza Mayor, where 85 Roman...

The Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve

The southeast corner of Spain is one of the country’s last unspoiled wildernesses, and much of the coastline is part of a highly protected nature...

Puerto del Rosario

Fuerteventura's capital, Puerto del Rosario, has suffered from an image problem for a long time. It used to be called Puerto de Cabra (Goat...

Setcases

Although Setcases ("seven houses") is somewhat larger than its name would imply, this tiny village nestled at the head of the valley has a distinct...

Casares

The mountain village of Casares lies high above Estepona in the Sierra Bermeja, with streets of ancient white houses piled one on top of the...

Sepulveda

A walled village with a commanding position, Sepúlveda has a charming main square, but the main reasons to visit are its 11th-century Romanesque...

Roncesvalles (Orreaga)

Roncesvalles (often listed as Orreaga, its name in Euskera) is a small village and the site of the Battle of Roncesvalles (or Battle of Roncevaux...

Alarcon

This fortified village (population: 148) on the edge of the great plains of La Mancha stands on a high spit of land encircled almost entirely...

Pasajes de San Juan

Three towns make up the commercial port of Pasaia (Rentería in Spanish): Pasai Antxo (Pasajes Ancho), an industrial port; Pasai de San Pedro...

Aracena

Stretching north of the provinces of Huelva and Seville is the 460,000-acre Sierra de Aracena nature park, an expanse of hills cloaked in cork...

Lorca

If you are touring the region, it’s worth a short detour to get a glimpse of Lorca, an old market town and the scene of some of Spain’s most...

Sitges

The fine white sand of the Sitges beach is elbow-to-elbow with sun worshippers April–September. On the eastern end of the strand is an alabaster...

Villafranca del Bierzo

After crossing León's grape-growing region, where the funky, floral Bierzo wines are produced, you'll arrive in this medieval village, dominated...

La Manga del Mar Menor

The advance of rocks and sand from two headlands into the Mediterranean Sea transformed what was once a bay into the Mar Menor (Smaller Sea...

Altea

Perched on a hill overlooking a bustling beachfront, Altea (unlike some of its neighboring towns) has retained much of its original charm, with...

Sanlucar de Barrameda

This fishing town has a crumbling charm and is best known for its langostinos (jumbo shrimp) and manzanilla, an exceptionally dry sherry ...

Betanzos

The charming, slightly ramshackle medieval town of Betanzos is still surrounded by parts of its old city wall. An important Galician port in...

O Grove

O Grove throws a famous shellfish festival the second week of October, but you can enjoy the day's catch in taverns and restaurants year-round...

Beget

The village of Beget, considered Catalonia's més bufó (cutest), was completely cut off from motorized vehicles until the mid-1960s, when a...

Olot

Capital of the comarca (administrative region) of La Garrotxa, Olot is famous for its 19th-century school of landscape painters and has several...

Salardu

Salardú is a pivotal point in the Vall d'Aran, convenient to Baqueira-Beret, the Montarto peak, the lakes and Circ de Colomers, Parc Nacional...

Huelva

When you've had enough of Seville's urban bustle, nature awaits in Huelva. From the Parque Nacional de Doñana to the oak forests of the Sierra...

Fisterra

There was a time when this lonely, windswept outcrop over raging waters was thought to be the end of the earth—the finis terrae. In fact,...

Baena

Outside the boundaries of Subbética and surrounded by chalk fields producing top-quality olives, Baena is an old town of narrow streets, whitewashed...

Morro Jable

The old fishing port of Morro Jable, at the southern tip of Fuerteventura, has a long stretch of golden sand. Many more miles of virgin coast...

Espot

Espot is in the heart of the valley, along a clear stream, next to the eastern entrance of Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. ...

Puente la Reina

Puente la Reina (Gares in Euskera) is at the junction of the two Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes from northern Europe, one passing through...

Baztan Valley

Tucked neatly above the headwaters of the Bidasoa River, beneath the peak of the 3,545-foot Gorramendi Mountain that looms over the border with...

Muxia

A small fishing village far off the beaten path, surrounded by the stunning rocky cliffs and virgin beaches of the Costa da Morte, close to...

Albufera Nature Park

South of Valencia, Albufera Nature Park is one of Spain's most spectacular wetland areas. Home to the largest freshwater lagoon on the peninsula...

Viveiro

The once-turreted city walls of this popular summer resort are still partially intact. The Semana Santa processions, when penitents follow...

Garachico

Garachico is one of the most idyllic and historic towns on the islands, and it's well worth a quick visit. It was the main port of Tenerife...

Ourense and La Ribeira Sacra

Despite the uninspiring backdrop of Ourense’s new town, Galicia’s third-largest city has bubbling thermal springs and an attractive medieval...

Mazagon

There isn't much to see or do in this coastal town, but the parador makes a good base for touring La Rábida, Palos de la Frontera, and Moguer...

Tui

The steep, narrow streets of Tui, rich with emblazoned mansions, suggest the town's past as one of the seven capitals of the Galician kingdom...

Santa Maria de Poblet

This splendid Cistercian monastery, located at the foot of the Prades Mountains, is one of the great masterpieces of Spanish monastic architecture...

Santes Creus

Sitges, with its beach and its summer festivals of dance and music, film and fireworks, is anything but solemn. Head inland, however, some 45...

Calella de Palafrugell and Around

Up the coast from S'Agaró, the C31 brings you to Palafrugell and Begur; to the east are some of the prettiest, least developed inlets of the...

San Vicente de la Barquera

This is one of the oldest and most beautiful maritime settlements in northern Spain; it was an important Roman port long before many other shipping...

Agua Amarga

Like other coastal hamlets, Agua Amarga started out in the 18th century as a tuna-fishing port. These days, as perhaps the most pleasant village...

Ribadeo

Perched on the broad ría of the same name, Ribadeo is the last coastal town before Asturias. The views up and across the ría are marvelous—depending...

Villaviciosa

Famed for its cider, Villaviciosa also has a large dairy and several bottling plants as well as an attractive old quarter. The Habsburg emperor...

Elantxobe

The tiny fishing village of Elantxobe (Elanchove in Castilian) is surrounded by huge, steep cliffs, with a small breakwater that protects its...

Padron

Padrón grew up beside the Roman port of Iria Flavia and is where the body of St. James is believed to have washed ashore after its miraculous...

Axpe

The village of Axpe, in the valley of Atxondo, sits in the shadow of 4,777-foot Monte Anboto—one of the highest peaks in the Basque Country...

Baiona

At the southern end of the AP9 freeway and the Ría de Vigo, Baiona (Bayona in Castilian) is a summer haunt of affluent gallegos. When Columbus...

Comillas

This astounding pocket of Catalan Art Nouveau architecture in the green hills of Cantabria will make you rub your eyes in disbelief. The Marqués...

Alcala la Real

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Ripoll

One of Catalonia's first Christian strongholds of the Reconquest and a center of religious erudition during the Middle Ages, Ripoll is known...

Alcudia

Nothing if not strategic, Alcúdia is the ideal base for exploring Mallorca's north coast, with the 13-km-long (8-mile-long) beach from Port...

La Rabida

La Rábida's monastery is worth a stop if you're a history buff. It's nicknamed "the birthplace of America" because in 1485 Columbus came from...

Sant Joan de les Abadesses

The site of an important church, Sant Joan de les Abadesses is named for the 9th-century abbess Emma and her successors. Emma was the daughter...

Sort

The capital of the Pallars Sobirà (Upper Pallars Valley) is the area’s epicenter for skiing, fishing, and white-water kayaking. The word sort...

Fornells

A little village (full-time population: 500) of whitewashed houses with red-tile roofs, Fornells comes alive in the summer high season, when...

Bellver de Cerdanya

Bellver de Cerdanya has preserved its slate-roof-and-fieldstone Pyrenean architecture more successfully than many of La Cerdanya's larger towns...

Italica

Neighboring the small town of Santiponce, Itálica is Spain’s oldest Roman site and one of its greatest, and it is well worth a visit when you...

Lluc

The Santuari de Lluc, which holds the Black Virgin and is a major pilgrimage site, is widely considered Mallorca's spiritual heart. ...

Muros

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Noia

Deep within the Ría de Muros y Noia, the compact medieval town of Noia is at the edge of the Barbanza mountain range. The Gothic church of ...

Vilalba

Known as Terra Cha (Flat Land) or the Galician Mesopotamia, Vilalba is the source of several rivers, most notably the Miño, which flows down...

El Toro

The peak of El Toro is Menorca's highest point, at all of 1,555 feet. From the monastery on top you can see the whole island and across the...

S'Agaro

S'Agaró is an elegant gated community on a rocky point at the north end of the cove. The 30-minute walk along the sea wall from Hostal de...

Burguete (Auritz)

Burguete (Auritz, in Euskera) lies between two mountain streams forming the headwaters of the Urobi River and is surrounded by meadows and forests...

Fuente Vaqueros

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Blanes

The Costa Brava (Wild Coast) begins at Blanes with five different beaches, running from Punta Santa Anna on the far side of the port—a tiny...

Tahiche

Only one thing makes Tahíche a destination rather than a drive-through town between Arrecife and the north of the island: the former estate...

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

A recent Game of Thrones filming location, this solitary stone hermitage clings to a rocky promontory over the Bay of Biscay. A narrow, 231...

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

An hour from Madrid, San Lorenzo del Escorial makes for a leisurely day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the Spanish capital. The medieval...

Bermeo

The charm of Bermeo is easy to miss if you don't park and walk from the old town to the port. Before the town became synonymous with the commercial...

Montserrat

A popular side trip from Barcelona is a visit to the dramatic, sawtooth peaks of Montserrat, where the shrine of La Moreneta (the Black Virgin...

Cova des Coloms

There are caverns and grottoes all over the Balearics, some of them justly famous because of their size, spectacular formations, and subterranean...

Covadonga

To see high alpine meadowland, some rare Spanish lakes, and views over the peaks and out to sea (if the mist ever disperses), take the narrow...

Llessui

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Matalascañas

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O Cebreiro

Deserted and haunting when it's not high season (and often fogged in or snowy to boot), O Cebreiro is a stark mountaintop hamlet built around...

Lekeitio

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Martinet

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Guadix

Today, Guadix—and the neighboring village of Purullena—is best known for its cave communities, though this was an important mining town as far...

Écija

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Santa Fe

Santa Fe (Holy Faith) was founded in winter 1491 as a campground for Ferdinand and Isabella's 150,000 troops as they prepared for the siege...

Castro-Urdiales

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Riotinto

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Alta Ribagorça Oriental

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Leboreiro

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Lesaka

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Aragues del Puerto

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La Rioja Baja

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Calahorra

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Mollo

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San Roque

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Ripoll

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Moguer

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Mondoñedo

Founded in 1156, this town was one of the seven capitals of the kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to early 19th century. The cathedral, consecrated...

San Jose

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Roncesvalles

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Bielsa

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Pastrana

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Salobreña

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Pajara

Pájara, the administrative center of the southern peninsula of Jandía, has a two-block strip of boulevard and pretty wrought-iron street lamps...

Ojen

For a contrast to the glamour of the coast, drive up to Ojén, in the hills above Marbella. Take note of the beautiful pottery and, if you're...

Aranjuez

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Frigiliana

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Laredo

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Icod de los Vinos

Attractive plazas rimmed by unspoiled colonial architecture and pine balconies form the heart of Tenerife's most historic wine district. A 1...

Andalusia

Gypsies, flamenco, horses, bulls—Andalusia is the Spain of story and song, simultaneously the least and most surprising part of the country...

Canary Islands

A historic way station between the Old and New Worlds, the Canary Islands have been influenced over the centuries by African, European, and...

Bilbao and the Basque Country

Situated in the crook of the Iberian Peninsula between Spain and France on the Bay of Biscay, the Spanish Basque Country (known as “Euskadi...

Galicia and Asturias

Spain's westernmost region is en route to nowhere, an end in itself. This magical, remote area is sure to pull at your heartstrings, so be prepared...

Ibiza and the Balearic Islands

Could anything go wrong in a destination that gets, on average, 300 days of sunshine a year? True, the water is only warm enough for a dip May...

Castile–Leon and Castile–La Mancha

Madrid, in the center of Spain, is an excellent jumping-off point for exploring, and the high-speed train puts many destinations within easy...

Catalonia, Valencia, and the Costa Blanca

The long curve of the Mediterranean from the French border to Cabo Cervera below Alicante encompasses the two autonomous communities of Catalonia...

Costa del Sol and Costa de Almeria

With roughly 320 days of sunshine a year, the Costa del Sol well deserves its nickname, "the Sunshine Coast." It's no wonder much of the coast...

The Pyrenees

Separating the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of the European continent, the snowcapped Pyrenees have always been a special realm, a source...

Extremadura

Rugged Extremadura a nature lover's paradise, so bring your mountain bike (or plan on renting one), hiking boots, and binoculars. The lush Jerte...

Maspalomas and the Southern Coast

One of the first places in Spain to welcome international tourists (starting in 1962), Maspalomas remains a beach resort with all the trappings...

The Murcia Coast

The Murcia Coast is markedly different from the surrounding coastal areas of southeastern Spain. Here you see the curious Mar Menor, an inland...

The Costa Brava

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Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas

The sunniest (and most woefully tacky) tourist area on Tenerife is the southwestern coastline, where high-rise hotels are built chockablock...

The Axarquia

The Axarquía region stretches from Nerja to Málaga, and the area's charm lies in its mountainous interior, peppered with pueblos, vineyards...

Jerte and El Valle del Jerte (Jerte Valley)

Every spring, the Jerte Valley in northern Extremadura becomes one of Spain’s top attractions for its riot of cherry blossoms. Unsurprisingly...

Hecho and Anso Valleys

The Ansó Valley is Aragón's western limit. Rich in fauna (mountain goats, wild boar, and even a bear or two), it follows the Veral River up...

Central Highlands

This part of the island has the most otherworldly geography: a drive up the winding mountain roads to the top and then down the other side takes...

Grazalema and the Sierra de Grazalema

The village of Grazalema is the prettiest of the pueblos blancos. Its cobblestone streets of houses with pink-and-ocher roofs wind up the hillside...

The Alpujarras

A trip to the Alpujarras, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, takes you to one of Andalusia's highest, most remote, and most scenic...

The Sierra Nevada

The drive southeast from Granada to Pradollano along the A395—Europe's highest road, by way of Cenes de la Vega—takes about 45 minutes. It's...

The Highlands

The rivers forming the seven main valleys of the Ebro basin originate in the Sierra de la Demanda, Sierra de Cameros, and Sierra de Alcarama...

Vallferrera and Cardos Valleys

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Vall d'Aran and Environs

The Vall d'Aran is at the western edge of the Catalan Pyrenees and the northwestern corner of Catalonia. North of the main Pyrenean axis, it...

The Guadalhorce Valley

The awe-inspiring Garganta del Chorro (Gorge of the Stream) is a deep limestone chasm where the Río Guadalhorce churns and snakes its way...

Around Ronda: Caves, Romans, and Pueblos Blancos

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