The Prettiest Cities in Spain

Spain is a favorite destination in Europe of many travelers. Its beautiful architecture, beaches, food, and culture make it a no-brainer for many travelers. When visiting, it can be hard to decide where to visit, this guide to the prettiest cities in Spain will help you decide!

If you are looking for the prettiest cities in Spain, this guide written by a Spaniard includes them all, from famous cities like Barcelona and Madrid to lesser-visited but beautiful cities that have so much to offer. 

1. Madrid

The capital of Spain is on every list of the prettiest cities in Spain, and that is for a reason. The building’s architecture is impressive, the city is lively, and while being very cosmopolitan, it has stunning green spaces.

If this is your first time in Spain, Madrid is a great city to discover about Spanish culture. I am always amazed by the city’s number of museums and art galleries. For me, the Royal Palace is also a must-see.

You will enjoy Madrid’s architectural beauty and some of the most emblematic Spanish dishes, such as churros (the best in Chocolatería San Ginés) and tortilla (Spanish potato omelet).

If you are wondering which places you must see during your Madrid trip, here are my suggestions:

  • Museo Nacional del Prado (a must-visit for art lovers)
  • Museo Reina Sofía
  • Palacio Real de Madrid (one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid)
  • Gran Vía (a perfect shopping spot!)
  • Plaza Mayor (Madrid’s main square)
  • El Retiro Park

Although you don’t need to leave Madrid to see beautiful locations, I highly recommend going on a day trip if you have time. Toledo and Segovia are two unique destinations you can visit in one day.

2. Barcelona

Barcelona is among Europe’s most popular city breaks because of the array of activities for every traveler and the outstanding buildings by the famous architect and artist Antoni Gaudi.

It is one of those cities you can keep going back to. I have been to it twice and can’t wait to go back and continue exploring its beauty.

The most emblematic building in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia. Yes, it is touristy, but it is a must-see. The architectural details, impressive stained-glass windows, and history will amaze you. Make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointments!

Whether you plan to visit Barcelona for a weekend or four days, here is a list of the unmissable attractions:

  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Casa Batlló and Casa Milà 
  • Park Güell
  • Las Ramblas 
  • Barceloneta Beach and promenade

While those are the must-see attractions, if you are looking for photo spots, there are many across Barcelona. My favorites include The Kiss Wall, Casa Vicens (another less-known Gaudi building), and the Gothic Quarter.

Barcelona is definitely worth exploring, and if you have more time, you can go on fantastic day trips from Montserrat or picturesque coastal towns like Cadaques and Tossa de Mar.

Photo by V2F on Unsplash

3. Seville

Seville, located in the region of Andalusia, is undoubtedly one of the prettiest cities in Spain. The city is home to important UNESCO World Heritage buildings, is rich in culture, and has picturesque corners.

I love traveling to Seville because I always find something new to see and never get bored by the activity options. One thing I must admit is that visiting Seville in summer isn’t fun. Why? The weather is scorching, with temperatures reaching 104 °F. But if you visit during the summer months, I highly recommend booking a hotel with a pool.

Regardless of the time you visit Seville, there are some attractions you don’t want to miss, like the following:

  • Plaza de España (the prettiest square in Spain!)
  • Seville Cathedral and its Giralda Tower, which offers stunning city views
  • Alcazar of Seville (an impressive palace with Moorish architectural details)
  • Triana neighborhood, famous for flamenco
  • Setas de Sevilla (a must-visit viewpoint that is even more special at night)

In addition to these attractions, I wouldn’t miss trying the local cuisine. Half of my family is originally from Seville, and let me tell you, some traditional dishes are so good. If you are vegetarian, try the Spinach with chickpea stew, and if you love meat, go for the Oxtail Stew. 

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

4. Palma de Mallorca

Located in the Balearic Islands, Mallorca, alongside Ibiza, is one of the most visited islands. Palma de Mallorca is the main city on the island, and there are many reasons why I think you should see it.

Firstly, the center has many picturesque spots and buildings, such as its Cathedral. Secondly, the atmosphere and weather are fantastic no matter what time of the year you go. Last but not least, it is very close to quaint villages and some of the best beaches in Spain.

Many people associate Mallorca with parties and nightlife, but there is more beyond that. In fact, Magaluf is really the most touristy place for partygoers.

If you are looking for the best things to do in Palma de Mallorca, here are some of the best activities:

  • Visit Santa Maria Cathedral
  • Go to Bellver Castle
  • Explore the center
  • Try an ensaimada (a traditional Majorcan pastry) at Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo
  • Soak up the sun at the beach

You can visit Palma de Mallorca in two days, but I recommend renting a car and exploring beyond the city. There are other beautiful places to discover on the island, like Soller and Valldemosa.

5. Malaga

If you are looking for a beautiful city with a combination of sightseeing and beaches, you won’t regret visiting Malaga. It is becoming more and more popular, and I am glad that my hometown is getting known for things other than just the beach.

It is an easy and safe city to explore on foot as all the attractions are in Malaga Old Town. Plus, there are activities for all travelers, from visiting museums and art galleries to eating local dishes and engaging in water activities.

Although Malaga is a city you can visit any time of the year, I don’t recommend visiting it in summer if you want a cultural city break. Spring and autumn are the best times for sightseeing. However, if you are looking for events and beaches, come in the summer.

These are some of the sights I wouldn’t miss in Malaga:

  • Alcazaba de Malaga and Roman Theatre
  • Gibralfaro Castle
  • Picasso Museum Malaga
  • Malaga Cathedral
  • Malagueta Beach

I also encourage you to explore beyond Malaga City. Other fantastic towns nearby offer all sorts of experiences, including delicious food and wine and beautiful hiking trails like the famous Caminito del Rey.

6. Marbella

Only one hour’s drive from Malaga, Marbella has been nominated as one of the best European destinations in 2024.

It offers a different experience than Malaga. It is smaller and doesn’t have many attractions, but it is a lovely place to base yourself in the Costa del Sol. The extensive coastline is one of the highlights of Marbella. 

You can find beaches with excellent facilities and famous beach clubs like Nikki Beach and Ocean Club. But there are also more natural and developed beaches like Cabopino that make you feel disconnected from the city.

Another thing Marbella is famous for is Puerto Banus, considered one of the most expensive marinas in Spain.

If you are looking for the best activities in Marbella, these are some of my favorites as someone who constantly visits the destination:

  • Explore the picturesque historic center of Marbella
  • Wander Puerto Banus
  • Spend time at the beach
  • Watch the sunset from Embarcadero pier

Many travelers think Marbella is only an upscale resort town. While it is true that you can find some of the best 5-star hotels in Costa del Sol, there are also affordable holiday apartments, and you will find better prices off-season.

7. Valencia

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, but it isn’t as popular as Madrid, Barcelona, or even Seville. Nevertheless, this city in Eastern Spain is worth visiting because of its buildings, food, culture, and beaches.

Valencia is a big city but doesn’t feel as touristy as other Spanish destinations. It is also very easy to explore on foot or by bike and safe for solo travelers.

My favorite place in Valencia is the historic center. It isn’t huge, but it is packed with many sights not to be missed. There isn’t a trip to Valencia without visiting the following:

  • Valencia Cathedral
  • Serranos Tower
  • Silk Museum (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • City of Arts and Science

In addition to these main attractions in Valencia, I loved visiting its parks and gardens during my last visit. I especially liked Montfort Garden, a hidden gem not far from Valencia city center. 

If you are a foodie, Valencia is the best place to eat paella. It is actually the birthplace of the most famous Spanish dish, paella! The traditional paella has chicken and rabbit, and you can also sometimes find snails. However, if you don’t like any of these ingredients, order a seafood or vegetable paella.

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

8. Granada

Granada has to be one of the most romantic cities in Spain. Located in the south of Spain, Granada has always been influenced by the Moors, and you can appreciate this in its architecture, streets, and even food.

When someone mentions Granada, the first thing that comes to mind is the Alhambra Palace. It is the most impressive complex palace I have ever visited. It is a must-see, and you can spend half a day discovering its buildings and gardens. It is one of Spain’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so book your tickets in advance (months before you visit!). They sell out very quickly.

However, there are other fantastic activities to add to your Granada itinerary like:

  • Visiting Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel of Granada
  • Walking on Calderia Nueva Street, home to many independent shops
  • Watching the sunset from San Nicolás viewpoint
  • Exploring the Sacromonte Caves Museum

Granada is also a great city for foodies; I would even say it is the best place to enjoy tapas. I highly recommend eating at Los Manueles Reyes Católicos and trying the local sweets called Piononos at Ysla Bakery.

Photo by Eduardo Kenji Amorim on Unsplash

9. Santander

Santander is one of the most underrated Spanish cities I have ever visited. It isn’t the typical Spanish city break, so if you are looking for somewhere less touristy but beautiful, Santander is a fantastic option.

Located in the north of Spain, Santander offers a different landscape and weather than other Spanish cities. It is more green and more relaxed. However, it is an excellent beach holiday destination because it isn’t too hot, and activities like surfing are very popular in Santander.

If you wonder what to do in Santander, here are my top recommendations:

  • Visit Santander Cathedral
  • Contemplate art at Centro Botín (they also have a viewpoint where you can enjoy city and coastal views)
  • Explore the Magdalena Peninsula
  • Learn about Spanish royals at Palacio de la Magdalena (a beautiful palace in the shape of a castle)

During your trip to Santander, you might also want to visit other nearby cities like Bilbao and Oviedo or go on a day trip to Cabárceno Natural Park.

10. Puerto de la Cruz

Last but not least on the list of the prettiest cities in Spain is Puerto de la Cruz, a town on the gorgeous island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

It is the perfect holiday for anyone wanting to escape the cold weather in winter or have a fantastic family holiday in summer.

Puerto de la Cruz is famous for its dark sand beaches, Loro Park, and natural pools. However, it is also a very special place, and even well-known writers like Agatha Christie used to visit the city.

Some of the best sights in Puerto de la Cruz are:

  • Puerto de la Cruz Botanical Garden
  • Lago Martiánez
  • The old town and Las Ranillas neighborhood (home to many street arts!)
  • Playa Jardín

I also love that Puerto de la Cruz is an excellent base for fun excursions like El Teide and small towns like Icod de los Vinos and Orotava.

Discover the prettiest cities in Spain and immerse yourself in their stunning architecture, culture, and vibrant atmosphere from a local.
Discover the prettiest cities in Spain and immerse yourself in their stunning architecture, culture, and vibrant atmosphere from a local.

About the Author: Cristina Reina is the founder of My Little World of Travelling, a blog that gives local tips and advice on visiting Malaga and other Southern Spanish destinations. She loves helping other travelers explore her hometown and its surroundings and learning about Spanish culture.

Meghan

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