Exterior view of the immaculate architecture of Madrid, one of the best cities in Spain

18 Best Cities in Spain (in 2023)

It’s no secret that the cities in Spain are some of the most spectacular, adventure-packed places on the planet. From Northern Spain all the way to the south, there is an abundance of beautiful and diverse cities to explore.

Choosing which cities to visit in Spain is imperative. There are so many amazing places to travel in Spain, and you want to make sure you choose the right areas. Not to fear, though. After spending months wandering around the best cities in Spain, I’m going to make picking your next destination a breeze with this simple guide. 

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18 Best Spain Cities


Spain’s most-visited city is filled with world-class restaurants, nightlife, and cultural sites.

Aerial view of Barcelona seen from Turó de la Rovira
Views over Barcelona from Turó de la Rovira

🏠 Population: 5.6 Million | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Barcelona on Booking

There is a good reason why Barcelona has cultivated a reputation as one of the best Spanish cities – it is amazing. Barcelona is such a siren’s song for me that I’ve actually been considering moving there, so it should definitely be on your must-visit list. 

As the second biggest city in Spain, there are plenty places to stay in Barcelona. And of course, there are all the classic Barcelona activities like museums, urban beaches, excellent restaurants, and infamous sites like La Sagrada Familia. 

In addition, Barcelona hosts an array of lesser-known gems. One of my favorites is Turó de la Rovira, an abandoned Spanish bunker converted into a local viewpoint for watching the sunset.  

👉 Pro Tip: Barcelona makes a superb home base on a trip to Spain because it provides easy access to a ton of compelling day trips. Just check out all these amazing day trips from Barcelona less than 3 hours away from the city.


The country’s capital and biggest city in Spain features museums, markets, and green spaces.

View of the birds flying around the statue in the middle of the fountain in Retiro Park
The massive and beautiful Retiro Park of Spain’s capital city

🏠 Population: 6.7 Million | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Madrid on Booking

As the capital of the country and the largest metropolitan city in Spain, it’s only right that Madrid earns a high place on this list. For a major city, Madrid has an inviting allure of calmness that I really didn’t expect. Things in this central Spain city are organized and flow effortlessly.

Madrid provides a smooth experience for even inexperienced travelers. It’s extremely walkable and offers top-notch public transportation. Not to mention that the city is impeccably clean and simply stunning.

From snacking at all the delicious restaurants in Madrid to taking a boat out on the lake of El Retiro, there are a lot of charming things to do in Madrid. There are also many famous sites to see around the city, such as Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace of Madrid.


A museum-heavy coastal city that’s known as the creator of paella and other delicious Spanish specialties.

View of the people wandering around the colorful buildings on a street in Valencia
People wandering around colorful Valencia

🏠 Population: 838,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Valencia on Booking

Located on Spain’s southwestern coast, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and the ultimate Spain destination for foodies. Many of the famous dishes that everyone knows in Spain, like paella, were actually created right in Valencia. So, you won’t want to skip out on trying as many incredible Valencia restaurants as possible.

There are more reasons to visit Valencia than just the mouth-watering food, though. The coastal city of Valencia is a museum hub with greats like The City of Arts and Sciences complex and the Museum of Fine Arts Valencia. As a fan of wandering around a city’s green spaces, I was also fascinated by the sculpture-filled Gulliver Park and Valencia’s Albufera Natural Park.

For more, check out my guide to the top things to do in Valencia.


A charming city in the Andalusian region that’s famous for Flamenco dancing and photo-worthy architecture. 

A post with signages of the direction of tourist attraction in Seville
Signs pointing to Seville’s top tourist attractions

🏠 Population: 701,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Seville on Booking

The walled city of Seville is less internationally-renowned than Madrid and Barcelona, but that made it all the more magical to me as a traveler. Explorers who prefer calmer, smaller gems will appreciate Seville, too.

Personally, the restaurants in Seville had some of the best food that’s ever graced my plate. I visited Sal Gorda at least three times for dinner in just a couple of weeks because the risotto was just that good. 

The architecture of the city and its sites is just spectacular, like Plaza de España and the Walls of Seville. There are even three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in total across the territory and a lot of local history to dive into.

For more, check out my guide to the top things to do in Seville.


A seminal Spanish city with thousands of years of history and Roman ruins.

Overlooking view of Downtown Zaragoza with the Catedral del Salvador
The view looking out on Zaragoza from my Airbnb’s window with the Catedral del Salvador in the distance

🏠 Population: 739,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Zaragoza on Booking

History lovers will get a kick out of Zaragoza from the moment they step foot in the city. It’s one of those places where you can practically feel thousands of years worth of history in the air (2,000 years’ worth of history to be exact). 

As you can imagine, the city has built up quite a long list of impressive historic sites in that time, like Puente de Piedra, Catedral del Salvador, and the medieval Aljafería Palace. 

It’s one of the best cities in Spain for seeing Roman ruins, such as the ancient Roman Walls of Zaragoza and the Roman Theater of Zaragoza. The city offers a bounty of different museums and an aquarium that can be great for families with kids. Even if you’re just grabbing some local produce at the massive Zaragoza Market for dinner, it’s sure to be an experience. 


The capital of Costa del Sol and the hometown of Picasso is a hub for historic wonders and art.

Aerial view of the beachside architectural municipality of Malaga in Spain.
Views over Malaga and its famous bull-fighting ring

🏠 Population: 593,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Malaga on Booking

Now that we’ve gotten past all the big, well-known cities in Spain, it’s time to get into the meat of the country’s less famous destinations – like Malaga. Malaga’s claim to fame is as being the birthplace of the globally recognized painting genius Pablo Picasso. As such, the city is home to a lot of amazing art museums, like the Picasso Museum and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC).

There are other types of things to do in Malaga, too. The city is perfectly located right on the bright, sunny Costa del Sol, so there are plenty of outdoor activities. Adrenaline junkies will get their hearts pumping along the elevated Caminito Del Rey hike. Visitors who just want to chill out will have the opportunity at one of Malaga’s many beaches, like Playa la Malagueta and Playas del Palo. 


A quaint, beachy city in southern Spain with tons of outdoor activities to dive into.

The author Sky Ariella, overlooking the deep blue ocean from the viewpoint near Nerja, Spain
Me looking over the ocean from a viewpoint near Nerja

🏠 Population: 22,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Nerja on Booking

The tranquil city of Nerja in Southern Spain was a magical, fun-filled place for me. It might actually be one of my favorite cities in Spain, even though its small size might categorize it as more of a town. It’s literally right on the Mediterranean Sea and there are a lot of ways to appreciate this optimal location. 

During my time in Nerja, I went on a kayaking excursion into the ocean to see some of the gorgeous rock formations along the coast. You can also rent a private boat, go paddleboarding, explore the Caves of Nerja, or hike up to the Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo. Not to mention that there are over 10 different beaches in Nerja to relax on. 


A charming mountainous city in the south perfect for leisurely wandering and taking in the Spanish landscapes.

The author, Sky Ariella, smiling for a photo at the viewpoint in Ronda, Spain
Hanging at one of many gorgeous viewpoints in Ronda, Spain

🏠 Population: 33,900 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Ronda on Booking

Another one of the more idyllic, beautiful cities in Spain is Ronda in the mountain ranges of Andalusia. I’m a big mountain girl, so as soon as I saw pictures of Ronda, I rushed to check out this enticing white-drenched city. 

Ronda would definitely qualify as more of a sleepy town in my opinion. The entire area is surrounded by these jaw-dropping views, so it’s easy to stay entertained no matter what you’re doing. 

My favorite thing to do was simply walk around, find cool little alcoves of the city, and eat at all the extraordinary eateries. Specifically, the prix fixe dinner from Restaurante Casa Maria is a memory my tastebuds will never forget. Every single portion of the meal is crafted with such care, from the appetizers to the wine compliment. 


A famous Spanish city that’s known for its multi-styled architecture and incredible traditional tapas.

View of the Alhambra Palace of Granada from a distance at dusk
The Alhambra Palace of Granada

🏠 Population: 232,200 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Granada on Booking

Granada is a city of historical wonders and photogenic sites, often wrapped up into one package. Case in point: Granada’s famed Alhambra Palace is one of the best things to do in all of Spain. This single attraction alone often qualifies Granada as one of the most beautiful cities in the country. 

But that’s not all there is to Granada. The city is ripe with even more unforgettable attractions such as the Nasrid Palaces, the Cathedral of Granada, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Monastery, and the main scenic overlook, Mirador de San Nicolas.


A mecca for top-notch art and Spanish museums like the Guggenheim, the Basque, and the Museum of Fine Arts. 

Aerial view of the river in the middle of the colorful buildings in Bilbao Old Town
Views over Bilbao Old Town in the Basque Country

🏠 Population: 347,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Bilbao on Booking

Bilbao is a beautiful Spanish city in the northern Basque country with a varied list of activities to offer its visitors. Bilbao is quite an art-heavy city, so visitors who are big fans of museums will really appreciate this city in Spain. The most highly-regarded museum in the city is the Guggenheim (yes, that Guggenheim also has a version right in Spain). 

From the outside in, the Guggenheim Bilbao is truly a work of art in itself and absolutely perfect for people who appreciate ‘odd’ art. Even if you’re not entering every one of Bilbao’s museums, you can still sense the artsy presence around town. 

In fact, there are around 150 different large sculptures hidden around Bilbao, such as “The Puppy”, “A La Deriva”, and the giant 30-foot “Mama” spider. 


The ‘City of Three Cultures’ is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its extensive history and monuments. 

Aerial view of the medieval city of Toledo at sunset
Medieval Toledo

🏠 Population: 84,200 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Toledo on Booking

The ancient city of Toledo is called the ‘City of Three Cultures’ because it was influenced by its Christian, Jewish, and Islamic residents who all lived there together peacefully. This rich cultural heritage is a reason why the whole city is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With its interesting background, there are quite a lot of cultural sites to see when you’re spending time in Toledo. There is the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the Alcazar of Toledo, and the picturesque Puerta de Bisagra. 

If you’re a photographer like me, you’ll get some epic shots at 643-year-old San Martin’s Bridge and the panoramic Mirador del Valle, which is the perfect spot for sunsets. 


This Spanish city is lovingly called the Golden City for its distinctive architecture that seems to change hues as the sun hits it.

View of the Salamanca Cathedral reflecting on the water
Salamanca Cathedral

🏠 Population: 144,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Salamanca on Booking

There are a ridiculous number of gorgeous cities in Spain, but Salamanca still manages to stand out as something special among them all. Located in the western part of Castile and León, Salamanca is one of the best day trips from Madrid, only two hours away.

The Old City of Salamanca is so pristine and historically important that it earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site 35 years ago. There is no shortage of historic sites here, from the city’s version of the Plaza Mayor to the imposing Salamanca Cathedral. 

Even Salamanca University is quite a sight to behold as it is the oldest university in the Spanish-speaking world that’s still in operation today. 


A port city with many beaches that is believed to be the oldest standing city in Europe today. 

View of the illuminated waterfront buildings at the coastal city of Cadiz in Spain
The coastal city of Cadiz 

🏠 Population: 114,800 |📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Cadiz on Booking

It’s always interesting to lay eyes on a place knowing that it has thousands of years of history behind it. That’s the experience you’ll have when you visit the beachy, port city of Cadiz. Cadiz is actually thought to be the oldest city in Europe that’s still functioning to this day. It was founded all the way back in 1,100 BCE.

Beyond the years of history that you’ll discover in Cadiz, it can be a really relaxing destination for vacation thanks to its variety of beaches. Between the beaches of La Caleta, Playa de la Victoria, and Playa de Santa Maria del Mar, you’ll have no problems finding spots to relax in the sun in Cadiz. 

Once you’re done basking, there are plenty of delicious restaurants to try out in the city, like La Candela and Casa Lazo. 


A multi-faceted, exciting city with some of the best urban beaches, ocean-view castles, and an animated local marketplace.

View of the beachfront buildings at Alicante
A peek at Alicante

🏠 Population: 377,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Alicante on Booking

Alicante is a great destination for those who want to enjoy the beach while still experiencing the hustle and bustle of city life in Spain. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Alicante is home to some of the best beaches in Spain, such as Playa San Juan, Playa del Postiguet, and Playa lliure d’Alacant. 

Stop by Mercat Central d’Alacant for some snacks before spending all afternoon basking away on the Spanish shores. However, it’s not just all lazy beach days in Alicante. The city also totes lively public parks and a bunch of different Spanish museums, including the Archaeological Museum of Alicante and the Ocean Race maritime museum. 

One thing you must see when you’re visiting Alicante is the Santa Barbara Castle. Not only is it the most famous attraction of the city, but it also provides some of the best ocean views in the Valencian region. 


A medieval city on the gorgeous Costa Brava with a variety of ancient ruins to discover. 

View of the river in the middle of the colorful Girona cityscape
The Girona cityscape is one of the most beautiful Spanish cities

🏠 Population: 100,266 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Girona on Booking

The colorful escape of Girona is located right in the heart of the Catalonia region and is truly something special. No matter what time of the year you choose to visit, there is always stuff going on in Girona. Whether you visit the vibrant city’s museums, Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery, or its 829-year-old preserved Arab Baths, you’ll definitely be entertained.  

With that being said, the best time to visit Girona is during May when the Temps de Flors festival goes down. During this time, the city is awash with rainbows of flowers on every corner and down every street. It’s a striking experience for any type of traveler, but it’s an absolute must-see for photographers. 


A luxury resort town with miles of idyllic white sand beaches and a world-renowned nightlife scene.

Aerial view of the waterfront Marbella
Bird’s eye view over Marbella

🏠 Population: 141,463 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Marbella on Booking

There are so many different types of beach cities in Spain, but travelers on the hunt for a resort town should definitely check out Marbella. It’s situated in the southern Andalusian region of Spain and has all the good weather that comes with that idyllic location. Of course, the main attraction of Marbella is its sandy beaches, like Puerto Banús and the nearby Cabopino Beach.

When day turns to night, Marbella transforms from a luxurious beach spot to a party hub. There are a combination of clubs (Olivia Valere and Funky Buddha) and bars (Belvue Rooftop Bar and The Claddagh Bar) to get into. Dance the night away, but don’t forget to keep your wits about you because tourist hotspots are also often favorites for pickpockets. 

Palma de Mallorca

The capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca is filled with treasured pieces of history and picturesque beaches.

View of the docked boas and the illuminated buildings in Palma de Mallorca at dusk
The boats docking in Palma de Mallorca

🏠 Population: 480,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | Best Hotels in Palma de Mallorca | 👉 Browse Hotels in Palma de Mallorca on Booking

Mallorca is a Spanish island off the coast of Valencia with a lovely capital called Palma. It’s a favorite vacation spot for its close proximity to gorgeous beaches like Can Pere Antoni along the city center and Cala Major. There are also plenty of spots to indulge in an afternoon of shopping when you’re visiting Palma de Mallorca.

There are some really intense historic attractions scattered around this island city. The massive Gothic-style Bellver Castle and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina are both astonishing. For visitors with children, Palma offers a large aquarium and even boat tours. 

San Sebastian

A foodie’s paradise in northern Spain featuring 8 Michelin-star restaurants, beautiful beaches, and exhilarating outdoor activities.

Aerial view of the curling beaches of San Sebastian on a sunny day
The curling beaches of San Sebastian

🏠 Population: 187,000 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in San Sebastian on Booking

If you’re the type of traveler who’s constantly eating, like me, you’re going to want to book a ticket to the city of San Sebastian, Spain as soon as possible. San Sebastian is an abundantly scenic city on the northern coast of Spain with a lot of delectable food. This is a high-class dining destination that bears a whopping 8 Michelin-star restaurants, including Restaurante Akelare and Arzak. 

Between meals, the city is also home to lots of outdoor activities. The lengthy La Conch beach spans most of the city, so you’re always close to a beach day. The conditions at the city’s Zurriola Beach are ideal for surfing. Visitors who prefer dry land can opt for a hike up to Urgull Mountain Peak or to the top of Mount Ulia. 

FAQs About Cities in Spain

What is Spain’s capital city?

Spain’s capital city is Madrid. Madrid has a population of over 6.7 million, making it the largest city in all of Spain as well. It is one of the most popular cities to visit in the country. 

What are the major cities in Spain?

Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia are the major cities in Spain. While there are many different cities across Spain, these are the three largest and most well-known cities in the country. Each of them is very distinct from one another and attracts millions of visitors each year. 

What is the most visited city in Spain?

Barcelona is the most-visited city in Spain. Every year, more than 27 million tourists visit the city of Barcelona. In comparison, the capital city of Madrid receives only 6 million tourists every year even though it is the largest city in the country. Visitors are drawn to Barcelona for its wide variety of things to do, intriguing architecture, and top-notch food scene. 

What is the most walkable city in Spain?

Madrid and Barcelona are the most walkable cities in Spain. Both of these major Spanish cities are ranked in the top 50 most walkable cities in the world, with Madrid tied for 6th place as the most walkable. Madrid and Barcelona are very walkable cities because their main attractions are located less than a few miles from each other. The streets are very pedestrian-friendly and it’s extremely easy to get around the city streets on foot. 

👉 Read Next: Best Cities in Portugal


You’re all caught up in the best cities in Spain! Drop a comment and let me know which ones have piqued your interest the most. Don’t forget to read my guide to the best time to visit Spain before you go booking any flights, though. 

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