Cities & Regions Spain


From the map of Spain above, you can see that Spain is divided into 17 regions (not including Ceuta and Melilla on the African continent). Each region of Spain has its own distinctive cuisine, language and traditional festivals. Unknown to many, Spain is an extremely diverse country packed with a plethora of varied attractions and heritage. You can easily spend a week venturing from the futuristic Catalonia region to the sun-kissed Costa del Sol and then head north to ski in the snow-capped regions of Cantabria and Asturias.

Madrid

The community of Madrid, right smack in the heart of the country, is one of the country’s most developed regions. Madrid is both Spain’s financial and cultural capital, most famous for its gastronomical and historical heritage. Explore Madrid’s main squares, visit the Palacio Real or take a bike tour around the city. One of the most popular things to do is sign up for the free Madrid walking tour. The best place to stay is the city’s old center, so be sure to find hotels in Madrid’s historic quarters. What’s best about Madrid is its central location – once finished exploring the city, head out to the surrounding cities such as Toledo, Segovia or El Escorial. These beautiful cities make for excellent day-trips from Madrid and are definitely worth a visit.

Andalucia

Stretching all across the southern coast is Andalucia, the birthplace of flamenco, bullfighting and many of the country’s cultural traditions. With varied landscapes spanning from tumultous moutains to sprawling beaches, Andalucia also has a collection of amazing beaches along Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz, as well as the second highest peak in Spain, the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Many of the Andalucian cities are tourists’ hotspots, especially in summer. Cultural travelers are huge fans of artwork and architectural marvels in Granada, Cordoba and Seville, while beach lovers flock to the shorelines of Malaga, Cadiz and Almeria. Some of the essential sights in this region include the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Cordoba and visiting small towns along Costa del Sol.

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Catalonia

To the east is the region of Catalonia, with Barcelona as the Catalonian capital famed for its beautiful city beach, nouveau food and contemporary art. Stroll along its main street La Rambla, check out the Boqueria market, and then head to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral or Parc Guell to admire the work of Gaudi. Enjoy the views of the city and then dance the night away in one of the nightclubs. Fancy watching soccer matches? Then why not come during the season and enjoy Barca’s victories together with the locals. You can also easily take day-trips from Barcelona; other Catalonian cities are just a hop and jump away. Head up to the coastal city of Tarragona and stroll along its Archaeological Promenade and Roman Praetorium, or catch a 1-hour bus to Girona where beautiful riverside cafes and bars await.

Basque Country

Basque Country, located in the northern regions of Spain, is one of the most interesting areas for its autonomous culture, in particularly its Euskera language. Today it is one of the most industrialized regions of Spain. It is made of three main cities: San Sebastian, Vitoria and Bilbao. Bilbao is best known for the Guggenheim Museum, its unconventional, metallic exterior itself a reason to visit. Another crowd-drawer is the charming coastal town of San Sebastian, famed for its pintxos, cider and Playa la Concha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. But don’t forget to bring your raincoat to protect yourself of the“txirimiri”, the typical very fine rain.

Galicia

In the north lie the temperate region of Galicia — offering a starkly different side to Spain that few tourists see. Galicia is also known as the “land of the 1000 rivers”. Those rivers cross all the region from the mountainous inland to the coast, where they form the characteristical “Rias”. Dotted by undulating mountains and craggy shorelines, the region is best known for its unparalleled natural beauty. Most people also know it for the staging ground of el Camino de Santiago – the religious pilgrimage route that leads to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. These days, the route is walked by thousands of curious active travelers in search for adventure and faith. From Santiago de Compostela, take a few days out to see the coastal towns of A Coruña and Vigo, both littered with charming fishermens’ villages and seafood restaurants.

Balearic Islands

The group of Balearic Islands receives over 300 days of sunshine each year, pulling in crowds from all over Europe. In summer, the populations on these islands usually triple. As you can expect, these islands depend largely on tourism to survive. The world’s most famous party island, Ibiza is crowded with tourist and famous DJs all summer (from June to September), with San Antonio packed full of backpackers and party people. For a quieter setting, head out to Mallorca or Menorca where thousands of empty, turquoise beaches line the coastlines. If you’re looking to travel on a budget and get away from the tourist crowd, visit the islands during low season and you’ll find yourself having the beach all to yourself.

Canary Islands

Located closer to the African continent than Europe, the Canary Islands’ incredible weather all year round attracts tourists like magnet. The variety of activities to do on these islands is beyond your imagination: lounge on the beaches, climb a volcano, scuba dive or even kitesurf at the beach. The region is made up of 7 larger islands (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro) and a few smaller ones (Alegranza, Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste and Lobos). Flights from Madrid or Barcelona to these islands are very affordable, especially if you manage to book them in advance.