Spain Travel Guide

No country deserves a spot in your European travel plans more than Spain. Few countries in the world elicit more joy than Spain. Visiting offers everything you’d expect on a Europe trip. And then some.

Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe, Spain settles the soul. As you wander about Spain, you’ll indulge in world-class Spanish cuisine. You’ll walk through cavernous churches & opulent palaces. Along the way, you’ll discover a country whose influence on European culture and the Western world can’t be played down.

Not sure how to get started planning your trip to Spain? Get your bearings with this quick & easy Spain travel guide…

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When to go to Spain

Spent time roaming around other parts of Europe? The weather in Spain is, perhaps, as glorious as you’ve always imagined. Well, almost.

Spain is known for its blue skies & warm temperatures. But there’s probably more variation in Spanish weather than you’d expect. On top of that, not every month of the year is perfecto for visiting Spain.

Frigiliana, Spain

The best time to go to Spain is in the spring and the fall. Unless, you’re from Mercury or Venus, the summer months in Spain can get extremely hot. To the point of discomfort. Popular tourist destinations in central Spain like Madrid and Toledo get hit particularly hard with the heat. (And our recommendation to avoid summer comes without even taking crowds into account. Oh, yes; beware of those pesky tourists.)

The shoulder months of April/May and September/October are great alternatives. In these months, you’ll still enjoy warm temperatures and lovely, sunny days. But you’ll get to do it with a fraction of the summer tourist crowds. (To be sure, you still will be far from wandering Spain alone.)

Where to go in Spain

If there’s one thing that’s not going to cause much difficulty, it’s figuring out where to go in Spain. However you plan your itinerary, Spain won’t disappoint.

Rooftops in Ronda, Spain

The best places to visit in Spain will change how you see Europe forever. Wherever you go in Spain, your perfect vacation plans are never far away.

You can frolic on white-sand beaches. (With bass pumping the background if that floats your boat.) You’ll stroll through medieval towns shadowed by towering fortresses & mountains. You’ll enjoy wash down mouth-watering tapas with some of the world’s finest wine. It’s all within the realm of possibility in Spain.

Looking for quick ideas on where to go in Spain? Check out these travel resources:


No travel destination in Spain attracts interest more than Barcelona. If Madrid is the cultural heart of Spain, Barcelona is its touristic nervous system.

Yes, the Catalonian city gets hectic. It’s especially busy in summer, when the entire world seems to conspires to visit at the same time. It’s all worth it though. The cultural high you’ll get in roaming the streets of this unique city is unrivalled.

Park Guell in Barcelona

Wandering through Barcelona dazzles the senses as much as in any place on earth. Unlike Madrid, Barcelona does flex its muscle with grand monuments. None is more superlative than La Sagrada Familia. The church is so epic & monumental that it’s yet to be finished almost 140 years after its ground-breaking.

Besides its biggest attractions, Barcelona surprises with simpler charms. Wander through the Gothic Quarter. Soak up the sun on Barceloneta Beach. Or elbow through the crowds for queso de cabra (goat’s cheese) and jamón (ham) at La Boqueria.

Ready to plan your trip to Barcelona? Get started with these resources:


Madrid is often shadowed by its more popular hermano, Barcelona. But the Spanish capital is the quintessential place come to grips with the soul of Spain.

Unlike many European capitals, Madrid doesn’t have a single attraction or monument that begs travellers to swoop in. Madrid isn’t European tourism on overdrive. Rather, it’s an authentic urban experience as compelling as any on the continent.

One Day in Madrid

Artists like Velázquez, Picasso, and Dalí once called Madrid home. All the while, their works spread from the Spanish capital to change the world of art as we knew it.

Unsurprisingly, Madrid is home to world-class museums & art galleries. It also features (more than) a smattering of impressive architecture. Madrid’s architectural palette speaks to the city’s broad elegance and historical importance.

For many though, the real reason they fall in love with the Spanish capital is its food & drink. Madrid is a city that knows that the true path to happiness lies through the stomach. Nibble on some tapas at a small local bar with a glass of fine red wine in hand. Soon, you’ll be be further down the road to full elation than you ever thought possible in just one trip.

Ready to plan your trip to Madrid? Get started with these resources:


The heart of Andalusia beats in Seville (Sevilla). Even if you loved Spain’s two other biggest cities, the eclectic city of Seville might trump them all. Seville could very well be the city that forever transforms your image of Spain.

Plaza Espana in Seville

In many ways, Seville feels like a departure from a usual European travel destination. Sure, it’s chock-loaded with usual continental charms. From Baroque & Gothic churches to cobblestoned medieval laneways, it’s all here. But Seville twists in a different direction with its Moorish influences. The Real Alcázar and Casa de Pilatos are some of Spain’s finest examples of Mudéjar architecture. They echo architectural styles in North Africa and the Middle East more than Mediterranean Southern Europe.

Even without history and good looks to back it up, Seville’s vibe never ceases to dilute the happiness. After a day of exploring its historical delights, be sure to pop into a tapas bar for a bite and a drink. Also carve out time to get a taste of flamenco, the famous Spanish dance art that found its roots in the area.

Ready to plan your trip to Seville? Get started with these resources:


One of Spain’s most coveted tourist attractions sits in the heart of Granada. It shouldn’t be surprising that Granada cracks nearly every first-time Andalusia travel itinerary.

Granada’s main draw is the majestic Alhambra. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s most impressive places to visit. Set to a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Moorish palace is among Europe’s most magical sights. (No easy feat in Europe!)

Cityscape in Granada

What surprises visitors most, though, is Granada’s bustling and “lived-in” feel. The city is often an unexpected favourite among travellers visiting southern Spain.

Granada fuses the liveliness of urban life in Spain with its Moorish influences. The city has an exotic flavour unmatched on the European continent. Want to experience it? Walk through the Albayzin, Granada’s historic Arab quarter. You’ll soon feel as if you’ve hopped over the Mediterranean to North Africa or the Middle East.

Granada’s unique flavour doesn’t stop at its Islamic-influenced architecture, palaces, or towering churches. For foodies, this Andalusian city delivers. Granada is full of traditional tapas bars, flamenco lounges, cafés and restaurants. They give plenty of credence to the idea that Spain is one of the world’s top places to eat & drink.

Ready to plan your trip to Granada? Get started with these resources:


Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia delivers a wallop that might strike you as unexpected. The smaller, yet more popular, cities of Seville & Granada take up space on most Spanish travel itineraries. Don’t let that stop you from adding Valencia to the mix!

One Day in Valencia

Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia delivers a wallop that might strike you as unexpected. The smaller, yet more popular, cities of Seville & Granada take up space on most Spanish travel itineraries. Don’t let that stop you from adding Valencia to the mix!

Most Spanish destinations are most known for their historical attractions. Valencia challenges that stereotype. Instead, the city’s modern side steps up in a big way. Leading the way is the futuristic Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. The complex is the poster child for Valencia’s progressive attitude.

Of course, visitors keen on old traditional Spanish charms will also find them in Valencia. And in spades. Valencia’s old town, Ciutat Vella, is full of historical eye-candy. Wander the streets to discover its lovely churches and historic buildings like the Silk Exchange.

Along with its historical & modernist architecture, Valencia has a delightful beachfront. It’s also home to one of Spain’s liveliest food & drink scenes. Valencia is, after all, the birthplace of paella, Spain’s most famous dish! Add Valencia to your trip to Spain to see what all the fuss is about.

Ready to plan your trip to Valencia? Get started with these resources:

Other places to go in Spain

San Sebastian

One of the biggest surprises for travellers visiting Spain is San Sebastian. The seaside Basque city is fringed by white-sand beaches and verdant hills. Today, San Sebastian’s handsome good looks still draw in new fans as much as they did for Spanish royalty and dignitaries in centuries past.

One Day in San Sebastian

San Sebastian’s coastal setting is spectacular. But the city’s recent claim to fame is as Spain’s defacto culinary capital. Travellers visit San Sebastian for its seaside pleasures, blissful architecture, and festivals. Many unexpectedly leave with its delicious Basque flavours emboldened upon their tastebuds.

Ready to plan your trip to San Sebastian? Get started with these resources:


Although often overshadowed by nearby San Sebastian, Bilbao deserves travellers’ attention. For anyone visiting Basque Country, spending time in Bilbao is a must. The city is one of the best bases for exploring one of Spain’s most underrated regions.

Bilbao’s most famous landmark is the Museo Guggenheim. The museum draws art & architecture lovers in from around the globe. But there’s more to this lovely Basque city than its eccentric buildings and dashing classic European good-looks.

Things to Do in Bilbao

Like many of the top destinations in Spain, Bilbao takes its food & drink seriously. The city is one of the centres of the Basque culinary world. It combines Iberian Peninsula flavours with influences from French gastronomy. As you roam through the city’s Old Town, you’ll find no shortage of intimate restaurants and pintxo bars to tackle your newfound cravings.

Aside from its architecture and food, Bilbao, in many ways, represents the heart of the Basque nation. The region’s curious ancient culture is showcased throughout the city. You’ll find it in Bilbao’s museums and its performing arts halls.

The buzz of Bilbao too much to handle? Discover the natural attractions that lie just beyond. You’ll find Basque Country’s finest scenery within a quick jaunt of the city centre. Enjoy the region’s meandering green hills and pristine coastline punctuated by towering cliffs.

Ready to plan your trip to Bilbao? Get started with these resources:


Seeking out a dash of luxury while visiting Spain? You’ll love spending time in Marbella. The seaside resort town is hemmed into the Costa del Sol by the magnificent Sierra Blanca mountains. Marbella is the defacto Spanish coastal playground for dignitaries, celebs, and other well-to-dos.

Port in Marbella, Spain

The action in Marbella centres around the flashy Golden Mile and yacht-peppered marina. Away from its luxury resorts, golf courses, and seafront, Marbella is surprisingly charming. Like any Spanish tourist destination worth its salt, Marbella’s Old Town (Casco Antiguo) is stunning. It reflects the Andalusian design aesthetic to a tee.

Wander around and suss out the area’s ancient history, and who knows? This glitzy resort town might become your guilty little southern Spanish pleasure.

Ready to plan your trip to Marbella? Get started with these resources:


Malaga is best known as the gateway & main transport hub for Spain’s Costa del Sol. But don’t let that fool you: Malaga is a surprisingly interesting Spanish city. Although often overlooked for other towns & cities in Andalusia, Malaga is worthy of a few days on your itinerary.


There’s plenty to love in Malaga. The city is home to plenty of cultural attractions and an upbeat bar & restaurant scene. Several great museums & unmissable ancient sites count among the city’s attractions. Like other Spanish destinations, the historical centre of Malaga is delightful & walkable. The area fuses traditional Andalusian architectural stylings with modern European ones.

Malaga is often labelled as the sunniest & warmest winter destination in continental Europe. It’s the perfect place to escape gloomy and cool winter weather. You’ll enjoy a quick dash of sun and history—along with indulging in tasty (and budget-friendly) food & drink.


Mallorca (Majorca) is the undisputed king of Spain’s Balearic Islands. The Mediterranean island is one of the most popular destinations in Spain. Thanks to its sunny skies, picture-perfect beaches, and blissful sea breezes, it’s a favourite European escape.


In many ways, Mallorca is Spain in miniature. Besides its famous seascapes, Mallorca is chock-loaded with ton of cool places to see. It’s home to historical mountain towns, vineyards, and olive groves. In other words, everything that travellers visiting Spain would expect.

The Balearic capital of Palma gets much of the attention. Heading further inland reveals Mallorca’s lesser-known charms though. You can hike between hillside villages and enjoy local wines to sea or mountain views. Either way, Mallorca is the Mediterranean escape you’ve always dreamed of.

Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the Balearic Islands on the Mediterranean Sea. Often shortened to Palma, the city is a surprisingly spectacular urban destination. And in Spain, where there’s no shortage of incredible cities, that says a lot!

Palma de Mallorca

The main attraction of Mallorca is its beaches. But Palma makes a great case for seeking out the island’s cultural treasures.

The top point of interest in Palma de Mallorca is the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (La Seu). The church dominates the cityscape from every direction. In its shadows, you’ll discover the historical heart of Palma. The old town teems with innumerable bars, restaurants, churches, and art galleries.

All this adds up to Palma being a fantastic introduction to Mallorca. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple days before exploring the island’s lesser-known charms.


Ibiza is the bad-boy of the Balearic Islands. It’s become famous around the world for its hard-partying ways and as a destination for getting a little crazy. (We’re talking Britney Spears, shaved head crazy here.)


Ibiza hits its peak in summer. In summer, tourists descend upon the small island to go clubbing alongside a world-class line-up of DJs. Top performers who visit Ibiza in summer include David Guetta and Armin van Buuren.

Not into the all-nighters of Ibiza Town or Sant Antoni? The island is home to a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They prove with grace that there’s more to Ibiza than excessive cocktail consumption and hangovers.

Ready to plan your trip to Ibiza? Get started with these resources:


The magnificent Canary Islands hang out off the northwestern coast of Africa. The island of Tenerife is the biggest, most popular and handsomest of the bunch.

Among travellers, Tenerife is most famous for its beaches. They ring around the entire island. The beaches range anywhere from perfect golden sands to black. The latter is thanks to Pico de Teide, a dormant volcano. Pico de Teide is also the tallest mountain in Spain.


Most tourists stick to Tenerife’s coastal resorts. There’s plenty more to explore on the island though. The mountainous interior of Tenerife centres around Teide National Park. The park provides some of the best hiking in Spain.

Off the tourist trail elsewhere on the island, you’ll discover plenty, too. Wander around to uncover mountain villages and age-old towns hidden among tropical forests.


If you’re planning a trip to Andalusia, don’t leave Cordoba off your itinerary. Cordoba is one of the top places to visit in Andalusia. The city has a rich history dating back over a thousand years. Its story is reflected in the ageless beauty of the streets of its Old Town.


Cordoba was once the capital of Moorish Spain. At the time, it was the most important cultural centre & largest city in Western Europe. At the heart of Cordoba’s historical centre is the indescribable Mezquita. This mosque-turned-cathedral is one of Spain’s most spectacular architectural treasures.

Besides marvelling at the Mezquita and the Alcazar, you’ll love wandering the atmospheric streets of Cordoba. Stop along the way to enjoy a relaxing glass of tinto de verano and tapas.

What to eat in Spain

Although it doesn’t get the press of Italian food, Spanish cuisine is one of Europe’s best. Wherever you find yourself in Spain, dishes take a unique spin. They toss together unique cooking methods and local ingredients. The taste profiles are unlike any other on the continent.

While trotting around Spain, be sure to try out some of these must-taste Spanish foods:

  • Paella: Even if your idea of adventurous eating is seeing the different ingredients used at the local McDonald’s, I beg of you: Set aside your biases. Try a plate of paella. This quintessential Spanish food is nothing short of brilliant. It consists of rice and various ingredients like prawns and peppers. This one is a game-changer.

Paella in Valencia, Spain

  • Jamón Ibérico: I’m bound to offend a few vegans here. Sorry. (Not sorry.) Jamón ibérico is one of life’s truest pleasures. This dry-cured ham is available at nearly every tapas joint in Spain. Tasting its salty goodness will uplift your day.
  • Gazpacho: This famous cold Spanish soup is served in a variety of ways. It usually consists of a blend of tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, cucumber, and vinegar. Yum!

Transportation in Spain

Getting there

By air

There are several international airports in Spain with flights arriving from Europe and beyond. The most common gateways include:

  • Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD)
  • Barcelona International Airport (BCN)
  • Malaga Airport (AGP)
  • Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI)

Renfe Train in Spain

By train

Spain is well-connected to the rest of Europe by rail. The Spanish high-speed AVE trains connect to other European destinations. Most travel via Madrid. Popular train routes into Spain include:

  • Paris-Madrid (9h48m)
  • Lisbon-Madrid (10h6m)
  • Marseille-Barcelona (4h32m)

Getting around

By train

The best way to get around Spain is by rail. The high-speed rail network, AVE, sped things up in recent years. It reduced travel times between the top destinations in Spain significantly.

Popular train routes in Spain include:

  • Madrid to Barcelona (3h)
  • Madrid to Malaga (2h30m)
  • Madrid to Seville (2h30m)
  • Madrid to Granada (4h30m)
Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.