“I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!”, said George Orwell.
Spain, truly, is a country that endears itself to all. Be it its historical extravaganza, mesmerizing beauty, plethora of colourful festivals, or the beautiful fun-loving people – the most beautiful cities in Spain ensure that there is never a dull moment during a traveler’s time here. They are picturesque, like right out of a romantic’s dream.
Let’s glide from no 17 to no 1 exploring enigmatic wonders; the most beautiful cities in Spain.
17. Bilbao – Modern architecture at its best
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In stark difference from other Spanish cities, Bilbao stands out for its modern architecture. This old port city’s claim to fame is the Guggenheim Museum, which is a colossal titanium structure that houses some spectacular modern art. Don’t forget to try a plate of pintxos with your drink while you are in Bilbao.
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16. Valencia – The best of the modern and the historic
Believed to be the birthplace of Paella, Valencia beautifully fuses contemporaneity with the archaic. The structure that draws most people is the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. There are many areas in the city dedicated to sports which are idyllically surrounded by trees and plants. The beach, of course, is an added attraction.
15. Huesca – Musician’s paradise
Huesca is a charming city in the Aragon region, very close to the Pyrenees. Apart from the regular dose of old churches and castles, this city is also known for its musical activities. El 21 is considered to be amongst the country’s best concert venues. While there, do not forget to taste the Somontano wines and Pollo al chilindron (a chicken and peppers dish). The Fiesta Mayor is also a colorful festival to watch out for.
14. Jerez de la Frontera – Home of Flamenco and sherry
Want to feel like a Spaniard? You could head straight for Jerez. It’s a lovely 3000 year old town with cobbled streets, numerous old castles and ruins, medieval churches, and plenty of wine cellars to taste its wine making history. And if you are into horses, don’t miss the most entertaining annual 500 year-old Feria del Caballo (the Horse Fair).
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13. Logrono – Marry Rioja wine with Tapas
This lovely Spanish city has been, historically, a pilgrimage stopover in the journey to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela and definitely comes in the list of must see cities in Spain. It is renowned for its delectable Spanish cuisine (sampled in the Tapas tasting streets) and the famous Spanish Rioja Wine.
12. Santillana del Mar – The town of three lies
In case you are wondering what the three lies are: it is neither a Saint (Santo), nor flat (llana), nor is it by the sea (Mar) as implied by its name. But it surely is one of the prettiest and best cities to visit in Spain.
11. Burgos – Great food, great monuments
On the banks of the river Arlanza and Duero, Burgos is a historical delight among the best cities to visit in Spain. The Cathedral of Burgos is a magnificent monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also famous for its blood sausages, which can be sampled at any of the amazing eateries around the town.
10. Malaga – The homeland of Picasso
The birthplace of Pablo Picasso, this beach city is a lovely place to relax. It has a vibrant bohemian culture, the SOHO district being its hub. Malaga also has its fair share of old fortresses and churches: Alcazaba and the Baroque Cathedral.
9. Pamplona – Bull running, anyone?
Pamplona is famous mainly due to the wild and adrenalin-rich San Fermin, the running with the bulls festival. But there is more to Pamplona – there are old historic churches, the Museum of Navarra showcasing exquisite Roman artefacts, and Renaissance paintings complemented by some lovely parks.
8. Seville – Orange trees, bull fights and the Alcazar
Next in the list of most beautiful cities in Spain is Seville – the capital of Andalusia. It boasts of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Reales Alcázares palace, the Cathedral (containing the remains of Christopher Columbus) and the General Archive of the Indies. This vibrant city can assault your senses with a riot of colours and the fragrance of orange blossoms.
7. Consuegra – The distant windmills beckon
Windmills miles on end framed against the blue Spanish skies is an enduring image of Consuegra. Apart from these superbly preserved windmills there is an old castle alongside to wander around. Consuegra is also famous for saffron and one can witness the radiantly lit windmills during the Saffron festival in October.
6. Cuenca– Home of the Casas Colgadas
Cuenca is also known as the Eagle’s Nest where Spain’s first Gothic Cathedral was built. Apart from its historical significance, this walled city derives its uniqueness from the amazing “hanging houses” (casas colgadas), perched precariously on cliffs overlooking the Huecar river gorge.
5. Cordoba – The land of picturesque patios and courtyards
Truly a beautiful city to visit, the artistic patios are a sight to behold. This was one of the greatest cities in the world and there still exists fragments of that distant past: the palace fortress and the Great Mosque.
4. Segovia – Disney’s Inspiration
This pretty city is just north of Madrid and the legend has it that it was founded by Noah’s son or Hercules himself. Irrespective of the truth of the fable, it’s a city that inspired the Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Do you need any more reasons to visit this city?
3. Granada – A dip in Moorish history, Alhambra
Situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, Granada is famous for the fabled citadel and the palace of Alhambra in the list of most beautiful cities in Spain. One magical sight is that of the Alhambra glowing red in the setting sun as seen from the Mirador de San Nicolás. Of course some free tapas and scintillating night life won’t do you harm!
2. Madrid – “From Madrid to heaven, with a little hole to still see it”
As succinctly put by many: “If you are in Madrid, you are from Madrid.”
Madrid is definitely among the most beautiful cities in Spain. It’s nightlife is legendary, be careful lest you get swept away by the jolly crowd on the streets, all set to dance away the night. It is also known for its astounding museums, the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza being the crème. The essence of Madrid is cosmopolitan.
1. Barcelona – Gaudi’s city where the party never ends
Home to some of the top tourist attractions of Spain, the colorful Catalan capital flaunts architectural marvels, like Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and the famous Sagrada Familia church. It is a bustling beach city with a glittering nightlife and lively shopping options.
I won’t be surprised if half way down the list, some of you might have already started packing your bags. Carry on, live life, live in Spain.
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