Top attractions to visit on a holiday to Spain
It’s not just 300 days of sunshine a year Spain offers. From undiscovered areas to popular tourist resorts, a holiday to this stunning country offers something for everyone. Soak up sun along the Mediterranean. Hike and be immersed in nature. Experience city life with authentic Spanish cuisine and culture.
Whenever and wherever you visit, make sure you don’t miss some of these amazing sights….
Mount Teide is the third biggest volcano in the whole world. Located in Teide National Park, (named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007), it’s a landscape like no other. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones, and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms an incredibly visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. It’s a must-visit on a holiday to Tenerife – and don’t forget to take your camera.
Plaza de Espana
Located on the banks of the River Guadalquivir, Seville is Spain’s most lively and colourful city. Famous for fabulous flamenco, delicious tapas, with a rich cultural and architectural heritage, its vibrant historic centre boasts some remarkable sites, including the cathedral and La Giralda tower, the vast and impressive Alcázar Palace and gardens, and the Santa Cruz quarter with its flower-filled balconies and secret, hidden courtyards. Plaza de Espana is also a lovely place to stroll and see the beautiful mosaic and ceramic works - or simply take a seat on a bench and watch the boats go by.
Royal Alcazar of Seville
A visit to the oldest European Royal Palace (that is still in use today) is an absolute treat when visiting Seville. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the Royal Alcázar of Seville is located near the well-known Jewish Quarter and is an impressive example of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Take some time to explore the incredible courtyards and halls of the palace, as well as the Patio de las Doncellas. Another stunning feature of the palace is the Royal Gardens, where you can enjoy a magical maze of orange trees. Whilst wandering it may well feel quite familiar - Alcázar has been featured in several films and TV series including Lawrence of Arabia and, more recently, Game of Thrones.
La Sagrada Família
Probably one of the most iconic buildings in the whole of Spain, the Sagrada Família is a must-see when in Barcelona. It is a Roman Catholic church and is one of incredible Spanish architect’s Antoni Gaudí most recognisable creations. Gaudi allegedly stated “My client is not in a hurry", and that statement has never been truer - construction began in 1892 with competition expected in 2023. Even though it’s still not finished, it is a remarkable architectural feat. The Museu Gaudí is also close by, which gives a background to Gaudí and the building of the Sagrada de Família.
If you love Gaudi’s architecture, the Casa Milà or La Pedrera is also worth a visit. Everything from the facade down to the smallest detail was envisioned by Gaudí. The rooftop also has a surreal sculpture park and it’s been alleged that some of the statues were even an inspiration for the costumes of the storm troopers in Star Wars.
Strolling the streets of a local market is a treat when on holiday. When in Barcelona, take a trip to the famous La Boqueria. A fantastic food market near La Rambla it’s a foodie’s paradise, with a wonderful variety of fruits, vegetables, meat and more. Plus, as Barcelona is a coastal city, there’s always a great selection of the freshest seafood to discover too.
Houses on the Onyar
Girona is a colourful and stunning city, known as the “City of the Four Rivers”. It’s truly a brilliant place, and, if you’re in Barcelona, makes a great excursion. Be sure to visit "Les Cases de l'Onyar" or Houses on the Onyar, an iconic landmark.
It’s easy to lose time in Park Güell, another one of Antoni Gaudí's magnificent works in Barcelona. A garden complex with colourful mosaics, you can spend hours walking around the park, taking in the scenery and especially the panoramic views of the city. The mornings are usually the best time to visit Park Güell as it is a little less crowded and the weather stays pleasantly warm. The afternoons can become crowed, so plan your visit to ensure the best possible experience in this very special place.
Caves of Nerja
If you’re travelling to Malaga in Andalucia, it may be worth planning an excursion to the Caves of Nerja. Stretching for almost 5-kilometres the Nerja Caves are a series of underground caverns that contain the largest stalagmite in the world, a towering 32-metre high column with a 13 by 7-metre base.They also have a long history which can be seen in the ancient paintings found within the caves themselves. Now believed to be just one entrance to a linked series of underground tunnels which extend many miles into the mountains between Nerja and Granada they’re are a stunning natural phenomenon and worth a visit.
The Royal Palace (Palacio Real)
The Royal Palace is the largest building in Madrid and the largest Royal palace in Western Europe. It is also the official residence of the King of Spain. Built on the site of the old Alcázar, the Moorish castle that was destroyed by fire in 1734, the old city wall around this area can still be seen. Madrid itself is a fantastic place. Founded in the 9th century the capital has a rich history, a thriving art and culture scene, not to mention delicious food and drink. Grab a coffee, take a seat in one of the beautiful plazas and soak up the authentic Madrid vibe.
The UNESCO listed monument complex of La Alhambra, with its magnificent palaces, patios and gardens, should definitely be on your bucket list when you visit Spain. Standing at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada it is one the best sights to see – essentially the jewel in Granada’s crown. Grenada as a city is also fascinating. Dating from prehistoric times, it developed as a city under Roman rule. The Arabs invaded the peninsula in the 8th century and Granada was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492. It's known for grand examples of medieval architecture dating to the Moorish occupation, and also makes a great base for a number of fantastic hikes in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Cordoba, in the Spanish region of Andalucía was a significant port city in Roman times, used for shipping wheat, wine and olive oil, to Ancient Rome. The city later became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, which was when the Great Mosque, or ‘Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba’ was created. It is also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and its structure is thought to be one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture. When Cordoba was re-taken by the Christians in 1236, the new rulers were so awed by its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its arches and columns. In 1984 it was declared a World Heritage Site and is a stunning monument to the two religions and cultures that have shaped Andalusia: Islam and Christianity. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Córdoba.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is an extensive network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. It's believed that Saint James, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, is buried in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and this is the end point of the famous Camino walking trails. The ancient city of Santiago de Compostela is a fantastic place to visit, especially the old town. With narrow streets, impressive buildings and pretty squares, it’s atmospheric and captivating, plus has countless restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the delicious seafood of Galicia.
Costa del Sol Beaches
Soaking up the sunshine on beautiful beaches is what Spain is famous for, and your holiday wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the famous beaches of the Costa del Sol. There are literally hundreds of beaches to be enjoyed along this coast, from quiet, hidden coves to trendy stretches of sand with fashionable beach clubs populated by beautiful people from all over the world. It’s also a great base from which to visit some of the best attractions in Andalucia!
Travel Department is delighted to partner with Reader’s Digest and offer readers exclusive discounts across any new 2023 or 2024 holidays. Click here to reveal the current money-off offers, or simply call 0203 966 0527 and mention Reader’s Digest to learn more about the savings available.
Offers are non-transferable, subject to availability, cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and have no cash value. All deposits are non-refundable.
Read more: How a guided tour can offer more
Read more: 7 Excellent reasons to take a river cruise
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
Loading up next...