18 Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers

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No matter if you’re a first-time visitor or a Spanish native, the country is home to some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Whether you’re dreaming of sandy beaches and azure waters or you’d rather explore ancient ruins, there is an abundance of amazing places to visit in Spain that cater to every taste.

That’s why it’s no surprise that so many people want to visit this country with each passing year.

In this blog post, we have listed some of the most popular destinations in Spain as well as lesser-known places worth visiting if you have time on your hands.

If you’re one of those people who can’t get enough of new places and culture, then pack your bags and get ready to explore the best places in Spain for first-timers.

Introduction to Spain

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country located in southwestern Europe and has a rich history that dates back to the 3rd century BC.

There’s so much buzz about this destination with its red-roofed terraces, white-washed gabled houses, and steep cobblestone streets.

And coming to this magical place will be a dream come true for any wanderlust traveler.

It is also home to some of the most beautiful places in the world, such as the bustling city of Madrid, the vibrant city of Barcelona, the historic city of Seville, and the charming city of Granada.

Spain is a great choice for first-time visitors due to its inexpensive living costs, beautiful weather, and friendly locals.

With so much on offer, let’s get into the nitty-gritty and see what gems you can uncover during your trip.

Best Places to Visit in Barcelona

When it comes to European cities, Barcelona is hard to beat. The city has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for culture, history, good food, or just a place to relax by the Mediterranean.

For first-time visitors, Barcelona is an especially attractive destination because it’s relatively easy to get around and there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

One of the best ways to get orientated is to take a leisurely stroll down Las Ramblas, the city’s central boulevard.

Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without spending some time at the beach.

The city’s beaches are world-famous for their golden sand and clear blue waters, making them the perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing.

So if you’re looking for a European destination that has it all, be sure to add Barcelona to your list!

 

1. Park Güell

Make a beeline to Park Güell, one of its most popular tourist spots in Barcelona.

An iconic park designed in the 1900s by famed architect Antoni Gaudí, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the most notable works of Catalan Modernisme architecture.

The lush green gardens, the imposing statues, and the romantic architecture make it an absolute must-see for any first-timer.

Not to mention, the park offers stunning views of the city and the sea, and it is also a great place to people-watch.

And of course, no visit here would be complete without taking a photo with the famous lizard statue.

If you can spare a few hours, make sure to visit Park Güell!

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

2. Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is a famous Roman Catholic Church located in the heart of the city.

Designed by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, construction initially started in 1882 and is still an ongoing project to this very day.

That’s 140 years in the making with an estimated completion year of 2026!

However, the project was later taken over by some of his assistants after the architect passed away.

As far as the architecture is concerned, the Sagrada Familia is regarded as one of the most stunning buildings in the world.

It’s also one of the most photographed landmarks in Barcelona. If you want to see it in its complete form, you better hurry up and visit soon!

3. Casa Batllo

The Casa Batllo is another iconic building designed by Antoni Gaudí.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built between 1904 and 1906, and was home to the Batllo family.

The architecture of this building is quite unique in that each floor has a different shape and size.

Additionally, the facade is covered with colorful tiles inspired by Spanish Art Nouveau design.

Despite being over a century old, the Casa Batllo is still as stunning as ever.

4. Girona

Girona is a walled city steeped in history that’s located in the Catalonia region, about an hour’s drive from Barcelona.

Although it is often overlooked by most travelers, those who take the time to explore its charming streets are richly rewarded.

Take a walk along the banks of the River Onyar and explore picturesque, colorful houses that hang just over the water’s edge.

Or venture into the city’s maze of narrow streets before stopping for a bite at one of its many cozy eateries.

Whatever you choose to do, the local culture and history come alive as you wander through this vibrant city – it’s one of the most photogenic places in the country and is guaranteed to leave you speechless!

Gothic Quarter Barcelona
Gothic Quarter

5. Gothic Quarter

Spain is a land of many wonders, but none more so than Barcelona. Part of the Ciutat Vella district, the Gothic Quarter is one of the best places to start off your trip exploration.

Located in the center of the city, it’s the oldest part of Barcelona and this area is bursting at the seams with history – a must-see for architecture buffs!

The Gothic Quarter is also home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Barcelona.

Placa Reial is an open plaza that’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy a cup of coffee and partake in one of the many outdoor events that are held here regularly.

Within walking distance is La Rambla; a beautiful avenue that runs perpendicular to the coast and is packed with cafes, boutiques, and restaurants.

Don’t forget to wander around and take in the sights and sounds of this charming neighborhood – you won’t regret it!

6. Casa Mila

Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, is a must-see structure in the city. Designed by Antonio Gaudi, this building was constructed between 1906 and 1912.

The facade resembles an open-air quarry with its stone blocks neatly lined up to form huge slabs that make up most parts of this masterpiece’s exterior; it won’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before!

Once you get inside, you’ll see that the stone quarry theme continues throughout the whole building, with undulating walls and twisting staircases.

The highlight of a visit here is definitely the roof, where you’ll find a series of whimsical chimneys, as well as incredible views over Barcelona.

Casa Mila is truly a unique experience and not to be missed when visiting this amazing city.

Best Places to Visit in Madrid

First-time visitors to Madrid will be blown away by the stunning architecture, the vibrant nightlife, and the delicious food.

The Spanish capital is brimming with world-famous museums, Michelin-starred restaurants, and chic boutiques.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Madrid is also home to beautiful parks, lively nightlife scene, and friendly locals.

But Madrid is more than just a pretty city – it’s also a place with a rich history and culture.

From the Royal Palace to the Prado Museum, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about Spain’s past.

And of course, no visit to Madrid would be complete without taking in a flamenco show.

With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Madrid is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

 

7. Puerta del Sol

In Madrid and not quite sure where you are? Just take a look around.

If you see a large group of people congregating in a semi-circular plaza, with streets radiating outwards in every direction, then congratulations! You found the Puerta del Sol.

A plaza of historical significance, Puerta del Sol has been at the center of Madrid since medieval times.

What’s so special about this place? It’s where all the roads in Spain used to converge!

The square is also close to many restaurants and shops, so it is a perfect place to grab a snack or drink as well.

So, whether you’re looking for a place to people watch, or you’re simply trying to orient yourself in this vibrant city, the Puerta del Sol is definitely the place to be.

Puerta Del Sol Madrid
Puerta Del Sol

8. Royal Palace

A visit to Madrid is not complete without a stop at the Royal Palace. Though its origins date back to the ninth century, it still stands today as an imposing reminder of Spain’s rich history.

The palace was built as a fortress to protect the Muslim kingdom of Toledo from Christian invasions, and it still serves as the official residence of the Spanish monarchy till this very day!

The palace is only used for special events but it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid.

From the ornate architecture to the art and sculptures by some of Spain’s greatest artists, the palace is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Spain.

9. Prado Museum

With an unparalleled collection of Spanish art by famous artists like Picasso and Goya, it’s no wonder that this neo-classical style museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

If you love art, plan to spend most of the day here – Prado Museum is home to thousands of paintings from the 11th to 18th centuries and you definitely don’t want to rush.

Instead, take your time and enjoy the masterpieces at your own pace.

And if you want to learn more about the great masters and their art, there’s nothing better than taking a guided tour.

The sheer number and quality of the paintings on display at Prado Museum is sure to keep you entertained for hours on end.

So if you find yourself in Madrid, be sure to check out this gem of a museum.

Plaza Mayor Madrid Spain
Plaza Mayor

10. Plaza Mayor

One of Madrid’s most iconic landmarks, Plaza Mayor is a must-see for any first-time visitor to the Spanish capital.

Built in the early 1600s, this public square is visually intriguing with its uniformity in design and architecture – this rectangular plaza has been witness to history as well!

With an area measuring approximately 13,000 meters square – or about as large as two soccer fields put together – this landmark has been a central location for centuries.

Lying just off Calle Mayor with easy access to many attractions such as Puerta del Sol, it’s a great place to spend the day.

If you’re visiting Madrid, be sure to add Plaza Mayor to your itinerary.

11. Reina Sofia Art Museum

With an impressive art collection, the Reina Sofia Museum is one of the most visited places in Spain.

The museum is named after Queen Sofia, the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who abdicated in 2014.

One piece of art that you absolutely can’t miss? Picasso’s “Guernica.” This painting will make your jaw drop in awe as you see this masterpiece in person.

The museum also has a collection of paintings by surrealist painter Salvador Dali, as well as a number of works by other important Spanish artists.

But the museum isn’t just a haven for famous paintings – it also has a number of sculptures, including those by renowned artist Joan Miro.

The museum is located near the Puerta Del Sol and Plaza Mayor, which makes it an easy stop on your Madrid itinerary.

Best Places to Visit in Granada

If you’re looking for a vacation that’s equal parts beautiful and delicious, look no further than Granada.

The Andalusian town is known for its stunning Moorish architecture, lovely weather, and, of course, its incredible food.

First-time visitors will want to start their trip with a wander through the town’s winding streets, taking in the imposing Catedral de Granada and stopping to snap photos of the colorful buildings.

After working up an appetite, head to one of Granada’s many restaurants for a taste of the local cuisine.

And be sure to save room for dessert – Granada is also famous for its rich pastries and cakes.

With its combination of natural beauty and culinary delights, we think it’s pretty fair to call Granada the “Pearl of Andalusia.”

 

12. Alhambra

Granada’s Alhambra is undeniably impressive – the main attraction in Granada and a captivating complex that combines both palace and fortress.

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fortified palace is decorated with beautiful mosaics, which provide a glimpse into the influence of Arab architecture on Spain.

An exceptional example of Islamic art from the Middle Ages, a visit to the Alhambra is a full-day affair, but it’s a truly magical experience that should not be missed.

Sierra Nevada Grenada Spain
Sierra Nevada

13. Sierra Nevada

It’s true what they say, Granada has two things going for it; snow-covered mountainsides with crystal clear blue skies and its beaches right next door.

With quality slopes at Sierra Nevada, all levels of skiers will be happy here and you can work on that sun-kissed tan right after.

Who said you can’t take advantage of the best of both worlds? Nonsense, you’re sure to have a holiday to remember.

Take part in this Sierra Nevada safari tour to see for yourself!

14. Granada Cathedral

If you’re looking for a truly breathtaking experience, the Granada Cathedral is a must-visit.

Located in the heart of Andalusia, the cathedral is an imposing sight, with its towering spires and ornate facade.

But it’s not just the exterior that is worth admire; the interior is just as stunning, with its soaring ceilings, beautiful stained glass windows and sumptuous altar.

Even if you’re not a religious person, it’s impossible not to be impressed by this magnificent building.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the cathedral, or simply enjoy the view from the outside.

Either way, the Granada Cathedral is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Best Places to Visit in Seville

Located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, Seville is known for its vibrant atmosphere and picturesque architecture.

The city center is home to landmarks such as La Giralda and the Alcázar palace complex, while the neighboring Barrio Santa Cruz district is filled with narrow streets and colorful houses.

Visitors can also enjoy the city’s many tapas bars and Flamenco clubs.

The Alcázar, for example, is a beautiful palace that was built by the Moorish rulers of Seville in the 11th century.

The Giralda, on the other hand, is a towering minaret that was once part of a mosque. Nowadays, it is one of the symbols of the city.

With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Seville is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations.

 

15. Plaza de Espana

Spain is a country with a rich history and culture, and there are many interesting places to visit. However, one of the most impressive destinations is the Plaza de Espana in Seville.

This grand plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition (World Fair), and it features a beautiful Spanish Renaissance design.

The plaza is full of vibrant colors, intricate details, and stunning tilework, making it an Instagrammer’s dream.

Surrounded by a moat with numerous bridges crossing over it, you can take a boat ride around the reflecting canal or simply enjoy the view from one of the numerous benches.

There are also several impressive buildings nearby, including the Palacio de San Telmo and the Torre del Oro.

Whether you’re looking for culture, history, or just a great photo opportunity, Plaza de Espana is sure to impress.

16. Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral is awe-inspiring, towering above the city center with its impressive scale and abundance of important artifacts and treasures, including the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, UNESCO has recognized this landmark as a World Heritage Site.

From the outside, the Cathedral is an imposing sight, but it is inside where the real beauty lies.

The vast interior is filled with stunning works of art, from stained glass windows to carved wooden altars.

Even if you’re not religious, a visit to Seville Cathedral is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Seville Cathedral Seville Spain
Seville Cathedral

17. Real Alcazar

Real Alcazar is a must-visit for first time visitors for many reasons, chief among them being that it is one of the most unique and beautifully preserved palaces in Europe.

Situated in the heart of the city, the Alcazar was built by Moorish rulers in the 11th century and has been used as a royal palace ever since.

What sets the Alcazar apart from other palaces is its mixture of architectural styles – from Mudéjar to Renaissance – which come together to create a truly one-of-a-kind building.

In addition, the Alcazar boasts beautiful gardens, courtyards, and fountains, making it an oasis of calm in the midst of Seville’s bustling streets.

Given its rich history and stunning architecture, it’s no wonder that Real Alcazar is one of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions.

18. Barrio de Santa Cruz

If you’re visiting Barrio de Santa Cruz for the first time, there’s one thing you absolutely must do: take a stroll through the picturesque streets.

Also known as Seville’s Jewish quarter, this quaint neighborhood is famous for its beautifully-preserved buildings and cobblestone paths.

The beautiful architecture and plants that line the streets create a charming atmosphere that is unique to this area; wander through its narrow alleyways is like stepping back in time.

But the Barrio de Santa Cruz is more than just a pretty face; it’s also a great place to people watch and soak up the Spanish culture.