20 of the best thingso do in Spa
เวลา:2023-01-21 08:34

From wine tasting in La Rioja to relaxing on the beaches of the Balearics, here are the top things to do in Spain © xavierarnau / Getty Images

20 of the best things to do in Spain

From the snow-dusted, ski-worthy Pyrenees to theglinting golden beachesof the south,Spainunfolds in a series of ever-changing landscapes, traditions, attractions, cuisines and even languages.

Its vast natural spaces are a dream foroutdoors lovers, while thecities, towns and villagesfizz with energy, cultural jewels and unstoppable gastronomy. But where to start? Whether youre keen to get stuck into dazzling architecture, cycle to a secret beach or spend your days tasting wines, tapas, or olive oils, here are 20 unmissable things to do in Spain.

From headlining grape-growing regions such asLa Riojaand the cava-making Peneds to Andalucas unmatched Sherry Triangle, Spains 70Denominaciones de Origen(Denominations of Origin) roll out a tantalizing line-up of wines. Many wineries here are now experimenting with unusual combinations, pushing forward sustainable production methods and working to recover rare ancestral grapes.

For the most exciting tours, seek out small, independent bodegas (some still run by their founding families) and track down lesser-known wine-making areas such as Galicias up-and-coming Ribeira Sacra, Catalonias cool Costers del Segre or the innovative El Hierro and Lanzarote DOs in the Canary Islands. Salud!

Planning Tip:Dont want to drive? Here are someother ways to travel around in Spain.

Spains capitalis one of Europes greatest cities for art lovers, with a clutch ofprestigious gallerieswhere youll meet such icons as PicassosGuernica(Centro de Arte Reina Sofa), Van GoghsLes Vessenots in Auvers(Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), and VelzquezsLas meninasand GoyasSaturno devorando a su hijo(Museo del Prado). More hidden thrills range from sketches by poet Federico Garca Lorca to mysterious works by Antoni Tpies. Pre-book tickets online and explore galleries first thing; some even offer out of hours tours before the doors officially open.

Planning Tip:Save some energy though  later on,one of the best things to dois join themadrileñosat buzzy tapas spots, elegant cocktail lounges, laid-back rooftop bars, heaving clubs and more. The party inevitably goes on into the next morning.

Hitting the beach is a national hobby here and youll inevitably fall in love with your own pocket of Spains 5470km-long (3400-mile) coastline. Leave the crowds behind by escaping to tranquil, hidden coves that can only be reached on foot, or by cycling and horseback riding. Head out hiking alongMenorcas pine-shaded Cam de Cavalls (a restored 14th-century path) to reach turquoise coves; ramble between wild, pebble-studded bays along the Costa Brava; walk to remote sugar-white strands on Andalucas breezyCosta de la Luz(also great for kitesurfing); and find protected nudist beaches in AlmerasParque Natural Cabo de Gata.

A deep love of fabulous food infuses Spains soul youll be grazing onpintxosinBilbaoandSan Sebastin, crowding into heavingGranadatapas bars, seeking out creative Michelin stars in Catalonia, digging into super-fresh Valencian paellas by the Mediterranean, getting to know the countrys 2022 Capital of GastronomySanlcar de Barrameda, and much more.

Planning Tip:For a deep dive into regional Spanish cuisine, join an expert-led food tour.Devour Tourshas switched-on guides in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and San Sebastin, whileAnnie Bs Spanish Kitchenruns fabulous tapas tours in Cdiz province (an Andalucian foodie hot spot).

A Modernisme tour with a Barcelona architect will take you beyond Park Gell © Gatsi / Getty Images

5. Admire Modernisme in Barcelona with an insider

Exploring Catalonias irresistible capital witha local architectinstantly brings life to the Modernista wonders created by Gaud, Domnech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look beyond the star acts (La Sagrada Famlia, Casa Batll,Park Gell), and dont miss Gauds floral-tiled first commissionCasa Vicens(in Grcia) and other lesser-known Modernista flourishes around LEixample and El Raval.

Planning Tip:Help combat Barcelonas much-discussed overtourism issues byvisiting outside high seasonand weekends, staying inofficial licensed accommodations, and supporting sustainably focused projects with local roots and powerful initiatives, as well asexploring the rest of Catalonia(from the heights of the Pyrenees to the rice-making Delta de lEbre).

Savouring a glass of crisp albariño with a platter of fresh-as-it-gets seafood is a distinctly Galician moment just one of many surprises in Spains beautifully green northwest corner. Roam well beyond Santiago de Compostela to uncover timeworn stone villages, centuries-old wineries, plunging valleys and over 1000km (620 miles) of wild, windswept coastline sprinkled with sublime beaches, particularly around the Illas Ces and theCosta da Morte.

Planning Tip:While summer brings the warmest weather, June and September are much quieter (always pack an umbrella!).

Finally stumbling into the glittering cathedral in Galicias capitalSantiago de Compostela, after trekking hundreds of miles along the fabled Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), is a magical moment. Travelers seeking a less-trodden path can swap the popular traditional Camino Francs for the wonderfully rewardingCamino del Norte (Northern Way) or Camino Primitivo. The 600km (373 mile) Norte meanders along and inland from Spains northern coastline from Irn, while the challenging 320km (199 mile) Primitivo from Oviedo is believed to be the original Camino, walked by King Alfonso II back in the ninth century.

Planning Tip:You can combine the two routes by following an alternative branch of the Norte to Oviedo, then linking up with the Primitivo.

Portugal-borderingExtremaduraplunges visitors into one of Spains least-touristed corners and is well worth a visit. The secluded Jerte, Ambroz and La Vera valleys reveal half-timbered houses, snow-topped mountains and spring cherry blossom, and theres outstanding birdwatching in the 180-sq-km (69-sq-mile) Parque Nacional de Monfrage from March to October. Also here are extraordinary monumental cities, includingCceres(with its glittering historical core), Trujillo (made wealthy by its high-profile conquistador families) andMrida(for some of Spains most important Roman ruins).

Wonder at Andalucas astonishing Moorish architecture © Matej Kastelic / 500px

9. Unravel the mysteries of Andalucas Moorish architecture

Spains eight centuries of Islamic rule produced some of its most spectacular architecture, particularly across Andaluca. The unmissable jewels of Moorish Al-Andalus are GranadasAlhambra, CrdobasMezquita-Catedraland SevillesReal AlczarandGiralda, but theres plenty more. Travel between Crdoba and Granada along the little-known Ruta del Califato (Route of the Caliphate), whose castle-topped villages mark the final medieval frontier between Christian and Islamic Spain; ramble around the majesticalcazabas(fortified palaces) in Almera and Mlaga; or head into Huelvas remote Aracena hills to uncover a rare, perfectly preserved Moorish-era mosque.

Spains varied climate means there areoutstanding hiking opportunitiesyear-round from Granadas snow-dustedSierra Nevada(perfect in July/August) and northern Spains jaggedParque Nacional de los Picos de Europa, to the cloud-brushing heights ofAragns Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido andCatalonias Parc Nacional dAigestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Along the coast, hit soul-stirringly beautiful trails such as the 200km-long (124-mile) Camiño dos Faros in Galicia or the cliff-top paths in Almeras Cabo de Gata.

Planning Tip:The north shines brightest fromJune to September/October(book accommodations ahead), while walking in Andaluca is best March to June and in September and October.

You may be lucky enough to spot a lynx in the mountains of Andaluca © Agami Photo Agency / Shutterstock

11. Spot rare wildlife in a remote natural wonderland

In recent years, major conservation efforts have brought several of Spains most beloved threatened species back from the brink of extinction, including the Iberian lynx, the Cantabrian brown bear and the majesticquebrantahuesos(lammergeier). Head out in Andalucas mountainous Parque Natural Sierra de Andjar for the chance to see a lynx, or venture to the remote Parque Natural de Somiedo in southwestAsturiasto (perhaps!) spy a brown bear.

If youve ever wondered where those liquid-gold Spanish olive oils come from, central Andalucas Mar de Olivos (Sea of Olives) is a hidden-in-plain-sight joy. Some of the worlds top-tier olive oils are produced among its 15,000 sq km (5790 sq miles) of rolling hills, craggy peaks and silent valleys, particularly across Jan and Crdoba provinces (where Priego de Crdoba in the Sierra Subbtica is the shining star). Stay in one of the regions peaceful rural hotels, some of which offer home-cooked meals using their own olive oils, and visit localalmazaras(olive mills) for tastings, tours and strolls among the olive groves.

Forget the dance-until-dawn stereotypes the four Balearics islands make up one of the Mediterraneans most blissful escapes, with a strong drive towardsresponsible tourismthat includes a ban on single-use plastics since early 2021. Whether you fancy seductiveMallorca, soothingMenorca, always-chicIbizaor barefoot-beachFormentera, you can stay in a stylish environment-firstagroturisme, learn about the islands artisan traditions (from cheese-making to basketry), get involved in beach clean-ups, and soak up the outdoors on hikes, kayak trips, horse-riding adventures and more.

Around 1000km (620 miles) southwest from mainland Spain, the eight sun-bathedCanariespack in everything from Atlantic volcanic beaches and eerily beautiful pine forests to hikes up the countrys tallest peak, 3715m-high (12,100ft) Teide.

Planning Tip:Picking just one island can be a challenge heres our in-depth Canary Islands guideto help you narrow it down.

Spains top surfing destinations are on the north coast © Ernesto Jos Rodrguez Mata / Getty Images

15. Go surfing and exploring along Spains green north coast

Some of Spains top surf beaches are hidden along the cliff-edged northern coastline, hugging the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. While here, discover stone-built villages, extraordinary galleries, ancient cave art, lively cities, local cider and spectacular mountain ranges too.

Sunny Andaluca is dotted with impossibly scenicpueblos blancos(white villages), with two main pockets inrural Cdizand GranadasAlpujarras valleys and while these make forfascinating road trips, a series of serene rural walking paths also track between them. Venture off on the long-distance GR7 in the remote eastern Alpujarras (Mairena and Trevlez villages are highlights), or lace up your walking boots in Cdizs Sierra de Grazalema, where Moorish castles, rarepinsapos(Spanish firs) and rust-roof villages await.

Experience the best of Spains flamenco in its birthplace, Andaluca © leonov.o / Shutterstock

17. Experience flamenco in its Andalucan heartland

There are flamenco shows all over Spain, but the most inspiring place to lose yourself in this soulful ancient art is its southern birthplace: the Cdiz-Jerez-Seville triangle. Hunt down events at localpeñas(flamenco clubs) and dont missJerezs livelytabancos, where fiery shows are served up alongside sherry poured straight from the barrel.

Planning Tip:If youve ever dreamed of learning to dance, this is the ideal place to pick up a few flamenco steps of your own.

Fancy slumbering away in a medieval monastery, a fairy-tale castle or a Renaissance palace? Book in at one of Spains 98 wonderfully atmosphericparadores, which revolve around sensitively converted buildings packed with centuries of history. Or hunt down a seductive independent stay with its own backstory: a chicly reimagined Modernista mansion in Barcelona, a Balearic farmhouse hidden down a dusty pine-scented track, an artily reimagined home in Cdizs Vejer de la Frontera. Many of Spains most exciting accommodation spots are attractions in their own right, fueled by inspired, creative design.

With itspioneering plans for achieving carbon-neutral tourismValencia(Spains third-largest city) is becoming a hot tourist favorite. In a short visit, you could be uncovering theCiutat Vellas market-fresh meals, intriguing museums and varied architecture, exploring Santiago de CalatravasCiudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, savoring seafood in El Cabanyal, cycling along the seafront and more.

Planning Tip:The Fallas de Valencia festival makes March an outrageously popular month to visit Valencia, but this sunny Mediterranean city is also aperfect autumn or winter escape.

Most Spanish cities unravel around a central plaza overlooked by a formidable cathedral, with styles stretching from Romanesque to Modernista. The countrys most architecturally and spiritually moving cathedrals include Len,ToledoSalamanca, Seville,Burgos, Granada,Segovia, Santiago de Compostela andPalma de Mallorca, as well as Barcelonas Sagrada Famlia.

Planning Tip:Climbing up a cathedral tower or joining one of an ever-growing number of rooftop tours is a fantastic way to find a fresh perspective on the city below.

This article was first published September 2021 and updated September 2022

Make the most of your time in Spain with Lonely Planets range of travel guides and phrasebooks. Be the architect of your own trip as you discover the best things to do in Spain through insider tips, suggested itineraries and handy maps.

Make the most of your time in Spain with Lonely Planets range of travel guides and phrasebooks. Be the architect of your own trip as you discover the best things to do in Spain through insider tips, suggested itineraries and handy maps.

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