Spain is the 2nd most visited country in the world in terms of tourists with 83 million vacationers choosing the Iberian nation as their destination of choice each year. Among its most popular hotspots are its major cities, with millions of visitors discovering and enjoying their unique charms all year round.
To introduce some of the most popular destinations to experience in Spain this article looks at Spain’s most visited cities and explains how to get ready to visit the Iberian peninsula before arriving in the country. Find out just why so many tourists visit Spain’s cities and what each location has to offer on a tour around the country.
Madrid: Spain’s Heart and Soul
Spain’s capital city is of course also one of its most visited. It is not only at the geographic center of the country but is also at its cultural heart. Madrid is located high up on the central Meseta of the Iberian Peninsula and is one of Europe’s highest capitals at an altitude of 646 meters above sea level.
This huge metropolitan center is punctuated throughout with green spaces, museums, opera houses, and theatres. It also offers some of the best nightlife and food culture within the country.
Barcelona: Iberia’s Tourism Capital
Barcelona has a little of everything. It offers a vibrant mix of Spanish and Catalan cultural influences, beautiful beaches and tall imposing mountain landscapes. It is also one of the sporting capitals of the country, as home to one of Europe’s most successful football teams: FC Barcelona.
The city grew into the tourist magnet it is today following major investment and development work following the 1992 Olympic Games. Since then it has become a major destination for city breaks, cruise passengers and art, and technology lovers. With its location just next to the Costa Brava, this is the perfect starting point for a scenic beach break.
Palma de Mallorca: Island Majesty
Just off Spain’s east coast is the Balearic island of Mallorca. Palma, it’s capital and the largest city in the Balearics offers sun, sea and stunning architecture.
The city is often a jumping-off point for visitors heading to one of the many resorts found on Mallorca. However, it has plenty to offer on its own, with its ornate cathedral, the historic Royal Palace of La Almudaina and Castell de Bellver attracting thousands of tourists each year.
Seville: The Southern City of Culture
Seville is the capital of Andalusia, Spain’s biggest and most culturally distinct region. This spectacular city is the home of many traditions considered uniquely Spanish, such as flamenco dancing, siestas, and bullfighting.
There’s a huge amount to see and do here. There are historical landmarks such as the Cathedral and its famous bell tower La Giralda and more modern attractions such as the 20th Century Plaza España and Parque Maria Luisa.
Granada: The Jewel in Andalusia’s Crown
Whilst Seville is the center of Anduluz culture, one of the region’s greatest treasures lies further inland in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada is one of the best places in the country to explore Moorish architecture, the remnants of the country’s 800 years of Muslim rule from 711 AD to its final decline and disappearance in 1492.
One of the most impressive examples of this is the Alahambra, a Moorish fortress, and palace that was a stronghold in the region until the end of the Catholic reconquest. The modern city also has much to offer visitors, especially in terms of dining, where Tapas dishes are complimentary with a glass of wine or beer.
What to Know Before Traveling to Spain’s Cities
Spain is a relatively easy country to visit as a tourist. At present, more than 60 nationalities can travel to the Iberian nation visa-free and only need to present a passport on arrival. However, this is soon to change as the EU rolls out its brand new Electronic ETIAS visa waiver.
From the end of 2022, it will be necessary for citizens from these countries to apply online for an ETIAS prior to traveling to Spain. Once approved, this will be valid for 3 years and will allow multiple short trips of up to 90 days each to the European Schengen zone of 26 countries.
Spanish cities have much to offer on a trip to Southern Europe. Each destination presents its own unique experiences and provides everything a tourist could hope to enjoy on a European break.