Picturesque beaches, towering mountains, rolling vineyards and some of the most elaborate architecture in the world. All of these wonders and more can be found in the country of Spain. Here’s a list seven beautiful Spanish destinations you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Perhaps we’re biased, but Madrid, often ignored in lieu of cosmopolitan Barcelona, has something for any style of traveler, whether it be tapas, flamenco, nightlife, wine, architecture, history, fashion or major sporting events. With its quaint, cobblestone streets leading to grandiose squares like the Plaza Mayor or the Plaza Cibeles, you’ll be in awe just roaming around. Plus, Madrileños are passionate about all things edible, so foodies can bask in numerous options for international and Spanish cuisine, food markets and food tours. Of course, we recommend doing one (or more) of the many different food experiences and tailored tours by Insider’s Madrid, like the gourmet tapas tour or a paella and sangria class.
San Sebastián, located in the Basque country is known for its famous seashell-shaped beach, La Concha. Beloved for its fancy pinxtos (these are similar to tapas and can sometimes be found “pinched” with a stick and placed on a baguette slice) dining scene and large number of Michelin-star restaurants, it’s also the last stop on the specialized Textile, Food and Fashion Tour led by Corazón. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills and wild beaches, and the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus statue on top of Monte Urgull keeps watch day and night over the city.
Also a stop on the Textile, Food and Fashion Tour tour, the Guggenheim Bilbao is one of the most intriguing art museums in the world. Designed by Frank Gehry, visitors come from around the world to see both the curved stone, glass and titanium exterior overlooking the Nervión River as well as inside of the museum, which features masterpieces by artists such as Willem Kooning, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol and Antoni Tàpies.
Santiago de Compostela
The final stop on the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago, known as the Way of St. James in English, Santiago de Compostela is a welcome site for weary travelers — ones who’ve been trekking for days or even those just getting off a Ryanair flight. The city’s magnificent Romanesque cathedral (which later added on Gothic and Baroque touches), towers above the rest of the city and is said to be the burial place of St. James the Great. The entire historic city center is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site, so grab your camera and spend the day wandering around.
This island, part of the Balearic archipelago, is best known for its party scene, but what many don’t know is that the island’s many hidden coves known as calas and secret beaches are some of the most stunning in the world. This is an island made for exploring — so rent a car and start your adventure. We recommend Cala Lentrisca, which you’ll have to walk through a small pine forest when the road ends in Urbanizació Es Cubells.
The gateway city to Spain’s famous Rioja wine region, this city was made for food and wine aficionados, just a short drive way from hundreds of vineyards. The city is beautiful in a different way, which stems from its very special manner in which both visitors and locals alike can dine: specialty tapas along the famous Calle Laurel. The long, winding street is lined with tapas bars — small bar-style ‘restaurants’ where you’ll often spot more people standing at the bar or around wooden wine barrels that sitting, chattering over one another while sipping a local Rioja variety or beer and their favorite tapa.
This Andalusian gem is one of Spain’s oldest continually inhabited cities, and its historic architecture mixed with its long stretches of sandy beaches that sparkle beneath the sunshine will ensure you never want to leave. The city boasts a few different cathedrals, an ancient Roman theater and an 18th-century watchtower. You’ll be able to see all these delights and more if you sign up for Corazon’s specialized New Year’s Eve Cádiz Tour.