With its beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan cities, Spain is the perfect destination for any type of traveler. We’ve partnered with family and lifestyle blogger Kirsten Maxwell from Kids Are A Trip, who has lived in and traveled through Spain many times. Here she shares some of her favorite Spanish cities that need to be on your travel radar.
Spain is a country that can’t be described in one word … or even 10. There are as many diverse cities as there are villages, beaches and mountain getaways, and everything in between. It’s hard to choose favorites, but if I must, here are my picks for the five cities you’ll want to explore.
Girona is a walled city in Catalonia, about 45 minutes north of Barcelona and 30 minutes to the coast of Costa Brava. This medieval city embraces the Catalonian heritage. There is a lovely walkable downtown with many highlights. Be sure to visit the old Jewish quarter (El Call) and take in the views down the Onyar River. Game of Thrones fans won’t want to miss the Girona Cathedral (known as the Free City of Essos in the series), and just wandering the winding city streets. Consider taking a walking city tour to fully understand the history and visiting the art museums. There are great restaurants throughout the city serving up tapas and Spanish wines.
Ronda is a unique village dramatically perched high above the El Tajo gorge. It is worth a visit to view the city’s three bridges and marvel at the architectural skill it took to accomplish these feats. The tallest of the three, Puente Nuevo, rises 390 feet over the base of the canyon. The town is home to the oldest bull ring in Spain, and its Arab baths are some of the best preserved in Europe. Enjoy dining at one of the town’s many restaurants with a view, and savor regional dishes washed down with a glass of the local Crianza wine.
Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, picturesque Granada attracts visitors from around the world to see its Moorish palace, the Alhambra. The Alhambra is no ordinary fortress. It is a massive complex built atop La Sabica Hill by Arab kings who ruled the area in the 13th century. It can easily take a day to explore the various buildings with its ornate courtyards and gardens. Granada’s Cathedral is worth a visit to see the ornate decor and tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The Albaycin and Sacramonte are the old Arabic neighborhoods worth exploring with a guide (easy to get lost) and taking in a flamenco guitar show or seeing the gypsy caves. Head out for tapas in the evening in one of the town’s many squares. Perfect for people watching and soaking up the Andalusian culture.
The sunny southern Spanish city of Seville (or Sevilla as it is known in Spain) effortlessly blends the new with the old. Charming cafés, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone town squares add to the charm of the historic Santa Cruz quarter. This is the home of flamenco, the Alcazar, and marmalade oranges (yes, they taste better here). Visitors typically head straight for the Alcazar (another Game of Thrones destination), the Royal Palace of Sevilla. Originally a Moorish fortress, the complex has transformed over the years into the architectural wonder of today which features Mudejar, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. A walk through its courtyards and gardens transports visitors to another time and place. Other beautiful sites in the city include the historic La Giralda bell tower, where visitors can climb the winding ramps for a breathtaking view. No visit would be complete without a boat ride in the canals of the Plaza de España.
Those who have visited San Sebastián are often at a loss of words to describe the stunning seaside paradise. A longtime fashionable destination for international travelers, the city is now a magnet for foodies and chefs. Its promenade overlooks one of the most stellar city beaches in the world. Its central location in Basque country makes it the perfect spot for day trips to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the vineyards of Rioja. Since food is of the utmost importance, you’ll want to partake in many meals of pintxos (pronounced peen-chows) from the various bars around town.
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