1. Madrid, 2. Barcelona, 3. Valencia, 4. Granada, 5. Ibiza, 6. Córdoba, 7. Seville, 8. Bilbao. Spain offers beautiful landscapes, history, gastronomy, and architecture at every turn, from the breathtaking Mediterranean coastline to the mountainous Basque Country. While Toplist encourages visiting every nook and cranny of this magnificent country, these are the top 8 places in Spain you need to visit in 2022.
Madrid is Spain’s capital and serves as a showcase for the country’s rich heritage. There are royal palaces, marching soldiers, changing of the guards, and hundreds of museums to visit, making it an ideal vacation location. No visit to Madrid is complete without visiting all three of the city’s major museums. The Prado Museum (formally known as the Museo Nacional del Prado) houses the Spanish royal collection of art, while the Reina Sofia Museum, located close, displays modern classics like as Pablo Picasso’s moving Guernica. The adjacent Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, meantime, exhibits Old Masters alongside the greatest of contemporary art.
Madrid is also a classic European strolling metropolis, with green spaces such as Buen Retiro Park and large, pedestrian-only boulevards such as the famous Gran Via. From casual tapas tasting cuisine to cutting-edge, Madrid has it all!
- Best time to visit: Fall (September to November) or Spring (March to May)
- Location: Madrid, Spain
In comparison to Madrid, the second-largest city in Spain provides a completely different travel experience. Its coastal location lends it a more resort-like atmosphere, complete with warm, sunny weather on most days of the year. It is located on the country’s northeast coast, near the Mediterranean Sea, and appears to have a much more modern, progressive vibe than Madrid and other Spanish cities.
Barcelona’s must-see tourist attractions include the city’s massive Sagrada Familia modern cathedral and the Joan Miro museum, which was conceived by the iconic artist himself before his death. Other attractions in Barcelona include the city’s nearly three miles of beaches and La Rambla, a massive, tree-lined, pedestrian-only street. It is recommended that you ride the funicular (incline railway) to the top of Tibidabo, a local mountain with a beautiful church and amusement park. In addition, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside.
- Best time to visit: From April to July
- Location: Barcelona, Spain
Valencia is a port city with a long history of sea trade with other countries in the world, particularly with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It is located on the country’s southeastern coast, on the Mediterranean Sea. There are some nice beaches to enjoy as a coastal city. Albufera Park, a beachside wetlands reserve with numerous hiking trails, is another outdoor attraction worth visiting.
There are numerous museums in the city. The Museum of Fine Arts (Museu de Belle Arts de Valencia) is a must-see for its excellent collection of Spanish masters by artists such as El Greco and Goya. There’s also a large, Gothic-style cathedral in the medieval center of the old city along with remnants of the old city walls. When you’re hungry, go to the city’s Mercado Central, a massive Art Nouveau-style market hall (completed in 1914) featuring food booths and cafés (along with souvenir shops and other tourist-type businesses).
- Best time to visit: From April to May
- Location: Valencia, Spain
Granada, home to the magnificent Alhambra Moorish hilltop castle and fortress, is another dynamic Spanish attraction. The Alhambra castle complex is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture. The Albaicn is a restored Moorish ancient town with narrow streets and most structures originating from the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries. It’s a fantastic tourist attraction because you can see both ancient and modern Spain in one location.
Granada is also close to Sierra Nevada, Europe’s best southern ski resort area. The big resort, located 42 kilometers (26 miles) outside of Granada, features over 100 runs served by 17 lifts and two cable cars. Because of the high elevation, the ski season can extend from late November until early May. The sun-drenched beaches of Málaga are only 164 kilometers (102 miles) away. This means you may ski in the morning and relax at the beach in the afternoon (or vice-versa).
- Best time to visit: between January and May
- Location: Granada, Spain
The resort island of Ibiza is one of the top holiday places in Spain for couples. It is roughly 100 miles off the coast of Spain. Ibiza is the largest of the Balearic Islands, a group of mainly resort islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Mallorca, Menorca, and Formentera, Spain’s other three major islands, are also famous tourist destinations. Ibiza is known for its fine sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, as well as its dazzling white buildings, fortified churches, and the spectacular curtain walls of Dalt Vila, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ibiza is also famous for electronic music, beach parties, and large dance clubs, but it also has a number of wonderful family resorts and a variety of interesting activities to see and do for children. It is an excellent location for singles, couples, and families because it has something for everyone. Portinatx in the north, San Antonio in the west, and Santa Eulalia in the east are all resort regions on Ibiza.
- Best time to visit: From June to August
- Location: Ibiza, Spain
This ancient city is in the Andalusian region of southern Spain, allowing you to delve into Spain’s history from several thousand years ago when it was a part of the Roman Empire. Córdoba was a major Roman city, and many ruins and preserved Roman sites remain, including a 16-arch bridge spanning the Guadalquivir River.
Córdoba was a major Islamic center during the Middle Ages and has some incredible architecture from that time period, with the city’s large mosque being the highlight. The mosque, known as La Mezquita, was built in the eighth century and later converted into a Christian church in the 13th century. Cordoba has a plethora of museums. The Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba exhibits the history of the city (and Spain) dating back thousands of years. An added attraction, the museum is on the site of Cordoba’s ancient Roman theater. The theater has been excavated and can be visited on the museum’s basement level.
- Best time to visit: From April to May
- Location: Córdoba, Spain
Seville is a beautiful and fascinating city in southern Spain, as well as an example of the country’s living history. It’s a little city full of Roman ruins, Moorish constructions and palaces, and Gothic churches from the time of Castilian domination (the period when Spain was ruled by kings and queens). Islamic history and culture are especially rich here, as the city was the capital of the ruling Moorish dynasty for most of the time it was under their control.
Seville is also the home of flamenco dancing and the related musical style, thus music and dance are both taken extremely seriously here. Santa Cruz is another famous tourist destination, with the city’s massive Gothic cathedral and the Real Alcazar royal castle complex. The palace, which was erected for the city’s Islamic rulers, is a true piece of living history, as it is used by the current Spanish royal family when they are in town.
- Best time to visit: From March to May
- Location: Sevilla, Spain
This city in northern Spain is the capital of the Basque Country, which may feel like a separate country. Although it is a part of Spain, it is officially considered an “autonomous community.” The language (also known as Basque) spoken here is distinct from that spoken in other parts of Spain, as is the cuisine, music, and overall culture. The incredible curvy, titanium-clad Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997, putting this once gritty industrial port city on the world tourism map as a must-see in Spain.
The eating scene in Bilbao staggers the imagination. Here you’ll find Michelin-starred eateries, buzzing pintxo bars and long-running family-run restaurants all offering a different take on Basque cuisine. Whether nibbling one’s way through the cafes around the Plaza Nueva or taking in the glistening food halls of the Mercado de la Ribera, the cobblestone alleys of the old town offers countless pleasures for foodies. A fresh crop of appealing cafes and low-lit wine bars are also places not to be missed!
- Best time to visit: From June to Mid-September
- Location: Bilbao, Spain