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7 best places to visit in Spain 2023 - art, architecture, food and music

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Spain is a very beautiful, very famous country. Known for its sunny beach destinations, Spain is loved by many. However, Spain has so much more to offer. Rich in culture, food and architecture, Spain's beaches might lure you in, but the following destinations will convince you to return, time and time again. Browse this list for our favourite places to visit. Don't just come for the beaches, delve into Spanish culture by visiting these destinations. You won't regret it.

1. Córdoba
Pronounced: Cor (roll the r) - doh-bah
Where: Southern Spain

One of the most unique cities of Spain, Córdoba is a fusion of cultures. There is nothing like the hybrid Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba. A mix of a mosque and a cathedral it is a beautiful mosaic of cultures and it shows.

For a seasonal visit, join the festivities of the Feria de los Patios. The festival of patio flowers. A wonderful and vibrant celebration of Spring. What better way to kickstart the sunny days, than to see houses and streets transformed into a flowery paradise.

Córdoba is home to the largest old-town in Spain. The whole of its older district is UNESCO protected. In fact Córdoba has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, with 4! The barrios (neighbourhoods) are known for its pebbled alleyways of its old Jewish Quarter and the famous bar area of San Pablo among many others.

A city brimming with learning and knowledge, Córdoba was home to over 80 libraries and learning facilities. A lot of these still exist and can be seen throughout the area.

Food is always a big part of Spanish culture, and Córdoba definitely delivers. Check out the Mercado Victoria Food Hall for 20 plus cuisines including a rich Andulusian palette of seafood.

2. Bilbao
Pronounced: Bill-ba-oh
Where: North Central Spain

The basque city of Bilbao has become a great area of culture and art. Most famously Bilbao is known for its Guggenheim museum, a museum filled with contemporary art. With a focus on the modern lifestyle, Bilbao is a bustling and contemporary city.

Take a ride on the Funicular de Artxanda for a fun tour of the city all the way up to the Mount Artxanda. Beats a tour bus any-day and you get to witness the wonderful scale of the city and the mountain.

Another fun tour is the Riá de Bilbao, a ride down the Bilbao river that stops at many of the most famous tourist attractions of Bilbao

Bilbao prides itself for its Basque cuisine, in particular, its pintxos. Visit Plaza Nueva in the Old Town, Casco Viejo for some light tasty snacks and some good drinks. Try out the Pinxto de tortilla, the Bacalao al Pil-Pil and Txangurro which is served in a crab shell for that added authentic feel.

Travel to Plaza Nueva on a Sunday and you will witness a wonderful local market, where locals come together to sell antiques.

3. Madrid
Pronounced: Mah-drid
Where: Central Spain

Next up is Madrid. The capital of Spain. Best known for its football club Real Madrid. However, the city has a lot more to offer.

Madrid is home to the largest palace in Europe - The Palacia Real. Used to be home to Spanish monarchs of old, now it is used for heads of state to meet. The building is beautiful and massive stretching out to a grand total of 135,000 square metres. It looks like something out of a painting.

Speaking of art, Madrid holds two of the most famous galleries - Prado and Reina Sofia, home to the art of famous artists Goya and Picasso among many others.

It's not just art and history. For those who like to party, Madrid holds amazing summer music festivals, hosting genres of all kinds. Check out the Mad Cool festival. Take a break from the beach and get your groove on.

With beautiful parks, like the Retiro park and the Madrid Rio, Madrid has the perfect balance of metropolitan and nature. Take a break from the sights and lounge on the grass.

4. Barcelona
Pronounced: Bar-thi--lona
Where: North-east of Spain

Located on the north-east coast of Spain, Barcelona is a beautiful city. Lined with unique and historic Moorish architecture, the cultural diversity runs strong throughout the cities beautiful architectural designs.

Barcelona's Barrios (neighbourhoods) are full of distinct and memorable buildings. Walk through the gothic barrios, the Eixample District and El Ravel Neighbourhood and stumble upon artistic foundations at every turn.

See if you can spot the famous Casa Amatler and the Edificio Alhambra. Make sure to visit Guadi's buildings. You will question whether you are in Spain or the Middle East with these vibrant and culturally intertwined structures.

Join a bus tour for the La Sagrada Familia, witness the absolute fairytale that is the biggest yet unfinished church in the world. Pulled straight out of Disney, this building inspires. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a must see.

5. Valencia
Pronounced: Bah-len-thee-a
Where: Eastern Spain

Valencia is famous for its arts and sciences, so much so that it has a City of Arts and Sciences in its city, yes, you read that right. Looking like something out of a sci-fi movie, the City of Arts and Sciences is home to the Museu de les Ciéncies Príncipe Felipe - an interactive museum in the shape of a whale skeleton, L' Hemisféric - a planetarium and laserium, L'Umbracle - a walkway of indigenous plants and L'Oceanográfic - the largest open air oceanographic aquarium in Europe.

These are just a few of the amazing features of the City of Arts and Sciences. The list goes on to include bridges, plazas, cinemas and an opera house. There is nothing like it, step into this sci-fi Spanish city and be prepared to be wowed.

Although every district and city of Spain is renowned in its own way for its food. Valencia is the birthplace of Paella, that should tell you how good the food is here. Paella is a staple of Spanish cuisine. Fans of Ramen should consider Fiduá. Pizza lovers should check out Cocas and those who want to try something more adventurous treat yourself to All-i-pebre. A cool and refreshing cocktail Agua Valencia dates back to 1959 and has been a hit ever since.

For a touch of tradition, Valencia's Old Town is the perfect place to visit. Consisting of 5 Barrios (neighbourhoods) there are a range of destinations including the Silk Exchange and the Central Market among others. Bookworms out there will appreciate visiting the most famous Spanish author, Miguel Cervantes’ memorial located in Plaça de l’Encarnació in the Old Town.

For a mix of young and old, innovation and tradition, visit Valencia.

6. Seville
Pronounced Se-bi-ya
Where: Southern Spain

The fourth largest city in Spain, famous for being a historical treasure trove. Seville is a great tourist destination for any history fanatic. Seville's Archeological Museum is not only a hidden treasure itself, placed behind a beautiful pavilion, but it also holds ancient artefacts such as the Treasure of El Crambolo.

History lovers will also adore the Seville Cathedral; a wonderful example of Spanish architecture. Built between 1402 and 1517, this Cathedral even holds the sarcophagus of Christopher Columbus.

Barrio Santa Cruz's winding cobbling streets lead tourists straight to it. This barrio (neighbourhood) is filled with pretty houses, shading trees and tiled benches. Dotted with small plazas lined with orange trees like the Plazas Doña Elvira and Santa Cruz, amid a maze of alleyways, streets and lanes - you will be charmed by the calm and quiet life of the Santa Cruz barrio.

Seville is also renowned for its flamenco culture. The city holds many flamenco events and you can often hear the music ringing from inside restaurants, bars and houses. It is so heavily celebrated, the city even has its own museum Museo del Baile Flamenco Sevilla, celebrating everything Flamenco. Give it a visit and see how you will be swayed by the flamenco rhythm.

7. Granada
Pronounced: Grah-nah-da
Where: Southern Spain

Famous for its tapas, and a place where drinks always come free with food! Granada is off to a generous start.

Located at the foot of the Seirra Nevada mountains, Granada is surrounded by mountainous terrain, a stark contrast to the rest of sunny southern Spain. In winter these mountains become snow-tipped, leading you to wonder whether you are in Switzerland or Spain.

Within Granada resides The Alhambra, the fortress of the Nasrid Dynasty and the last Islamic Kingdom in Western Europe. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, every surface of the palace is laced with intricate Islamic patterns.

Leading on from this is the Generalife, translated to Gardens of Paradise - The largest and best preserved Moorish gardens in all of Spain. Located right next to The Alhambra, both sites are so massive it takes 15 minutes to walk to each.

Another beautiful Granada garden is the Carmen de los Martires, known as one of the most beautiful gardens in Granada it is also the biggest garden in Granada.

Granada offers fun and quirky things to do incorporating its surroundings. For instance, ever thought of attending flamenco in a cave? Well now you can, Granada offers many cave events, flamenco being one of its most popular. Check out Zambra Maria la Canastera for authentic music and dance, in the most unique destination, a cave.

So there we have it, 5 of our best places to visit in Spain and why. Give Spain a go, we have more than just the sun and beaches. Delve into the rich culture of Spain and come away feeling richer. Like I said before, Spain is a place to be revisited over and over. Discover it today and feel free to share with us your anticipated places and pictures of your trips @olespanishforeveryone on Instagram!

Written by Amber Francesca Carvalho

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