Spain is located in south-western Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula which it shares with Portugal. It’s a popular travel destination for Europeans who pack the country’s beach resorts in summer. From the Costa del Sol to the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote, and the Balearics of Ibiza and Majorca, there’s a lot of choice!
But there’s more to Spain than simple beach holidays. The country offers a wealth of city break destinations, from the capital Madrid to Barcelona, Seville and Bilbao in the north. And there is a rich cultural history to uncover. This includes an Islamic history in the south, crowned by the Alhambra complex in Granada and the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba.
If you’re planning your first visit, our Spain tours cover all of these attractions, as well as nearby countries Portugal, Morocco, and even Italy. To help you decide which is the best trip for you, here is our guide to the best places to visit in Spain for first timers to the country.
Seville, the heart of Andalusia, offers a captivating blend of history, tradition, and vibrant festivals. It’s a popular city break destination for Europeans looking for a long weekend away, and it’s easy to see why. Visit the awe-inspiring Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Climb La Giralda tower for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Stroll through the enchanting narrow streets of the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, lined with charming courtyards and picturesque squares. To immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture, visit Seville during the world-famous Feria de Abril, where locals showcase their flamenco skills and traditional attire.
Barcelona is a must-visit destination that effortlessly combines modernity with tradition. Explore the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi, including the magnificent Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, a bustling street filled with street performers and lively markets. Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife, world-class cuisine, and beautiful beaches make it an ideal starting point for your Spanish adventure.
As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a city bursting with energy and cultural treasures. Immerse yourself in the world-renowned Prado Museum, home to masterpieces by artists like Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco. Indulge in delicious tapas in the vibrant neighbourhood of La Latina and explore the grandeur of the Royal Palace. Don’t forget to experience the lively atmosphere of a traditional Flamenco show, testament to Spain’s passion and soul. Or perhaps catch a football game at the Santiago Bernabeu, home to sporting royalty, Real Madrid. Each and every one of our Spain tours includes a guided sightseeing tour of the city’s main highlights.
Located in the heart of the Basque Country, Bilbao is a vibrant city renowned for its modern architecture, rich cultural heritage, and world-class cuisine. The iconic Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, is a true masterpiece. It showcases contemporary art in a visually stunning setting. Explore the charming streets of the Casco Viejo (Old Town), where you can immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere, sample pintxos (Basque tapas), and visit the impressive Santiago Cathedral. Don’t miss the chance to cross the scenic Zubizuri Bridge, stroll along the Nervion River, and soak in the unique blend of Basque traditions and cosmopolitan charm. Bilbao’s vibrant energy and artistic scene make it a captivating destination for first-time visitors.
Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is famous for the magnificent Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the stunning Nasrid Palaces and Generalife Gardens, marvelling at the intricate Islamic architecture and serene courtyards. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of the Albayzin neighbourhood, filled with whitewashed houses and charming tea houses. Granada’s Moorish heritage and breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada make it an unforgettable destination.
Valencia, located on the south-eastern coast of Spain, seamlessly blends history and modernity. Discover the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, a cultural and architectural complex showcasing the best of contemporary design. Stroll through the charming streets of the Old Town, visiting the iconic Valencia Cathedral and the vibrant Central Market. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the traditional dish of paella, originated in Valencia and known for its rich flavours. Overall, it’s a great city break destination and one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers to the country.
For those seeking a beach getaway, exclusive San Sebastian is a coastal gem in the Basque Country, on Spain’s north coast. Its picturesque bay, La Concha, offers pristine golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Indulge in the city’s culinary delights by exploring the countless pintxos bars, where you can savour a variety of delectable bite-sized creations. For panoramic views, hike up Monte Urgull to the iconic statue of Christ. Or take a leisurely stroll along the promenade to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
Costa del Sol
If it’s beaches that you’re after, then the Costa del Sol is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers. Located in the southern region of Andalusia, it’s a sun-soaked paradise that attracts visitors from around the world. With its stunning beaches, warm Mediterranean climate, and lively resorts, it’s no wonder this coastal stretch is a favourite among travellers. Relax on the golden sands of Marbella, Malaga or Fuengirola. Or indulge in water sports such as snorkelling and jet skiing. For a taste of luxury, head to Puerto Banus, known for its glamorous yachts and upscale boutiques. Along the coast, you’ll find charming coastal towns like Nerja, with its picturesque streets and the stunning Balcony of Europe viewpoint. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, outdoor activities, or vibrant nightlife, the Costa del Sol has it all
Spain’s allure for first-time visitors is undeniable, with its combination of fascinating history, diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and warm hospitality. From the architectural wonders of Barcelona to the rich cultural heritage of Seville, each destination offers a unique experience that will captivate your senses. So, pack your bags, prepare for a gastronomic adventure, and get ready to discover the best of Spain! Whilst here, it’s easy to pop across the border to Portugal too, home to iconic cities including Porto and Lisbon. And more adventurous travellers can cross the narrow Strait of Gibraltar by ferry to reach Morocco, the land of the Berbers!