From a shimmering Mediterranean coast to buzzing cities and serene countryside, Spain is home to some of the world’s most beautiful places. The country’s breathtaking natural landscape offers vast volcanic vistas, pine-covered islands, and blissful beaches.
You’ll also find remarkable manmade landmarks, from eye-popping modern architecture and sprawling Gothic churches to ancient towns and medieval castles.
Explore Spain’s incredible diversity on the mainland and among the islands, from the volcanic Canary Islands scattered across the Atlantic to the sun-drenched Mediterranean vacation spots of the Balearics.
Here are 14 of the most beautiful places in Spain to visit.
Maspalomas Beach, Gran Canaria
A golden Sahara-like landscape on the south coast of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, Maspalomas Beach is one of the prettiest places in Spain. What makes this designated nature reserve stand out? The roughly 1,000-acres of undulating dunes that peak and dip, a shimmering brackish lagoon, and shady palm grove.
To preserve the dunes, authorities have set out strict guidelines on where visitors can wander. Stroll the five-mile track to admore the ripples of sand contrasting with the deep-sapphire blue of the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Visiting here is one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria, as its endless sands offer excellent swimming and surfing, too, year round.
Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Barcelona is filled with beautiful landmarks, though the unfinished Sagrada Familia is arguably the city’s star attraction.
Designed by revered Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the build of this towering Spanish church began in 1882 and gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984, along with some of the city’s other Gaudi-designed buildings, including Park Guell and Casa Mila.
Upon completion, which is projected for 2026, the church’s will feature a total of 18 impossibly tall, skinny spires, representing the 12 apostles, the Four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. Organic shapes, wavy forms and bright colors adorn the facades and the interior.
There’s plenty to admire from the outside of this iconic Spanish landmark, but it’s well worth stepping inside, too; you’ll have the illusion of being in a man-made forest of tall, slender trees, light filtering through the stained glass windows in pools of brilliant color.
Gaudí’s tomb lies in the El Carmen Virgin chapel, located in the Sagrada Familia’s lower ground level, where you can pay tribute to this iconic architect.
Royal Alcázar, Seville
The extraordinary Royal Alcazar in Seville is a complex of walled palaces and courtyards—including the Stucco Palace, with its Hall of Justice, the Mudéjar Palace, and the Gothic Palace—lying in the center of this vibrant, sun-drenched city in the heart of Andalucia.
Developed over hundreds of years by the Moors, who ruled Andalucia from the eighth century, the Royal Alcázar of Seville is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Spain, earning UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987, along with Seville Cathedral and the Archive of the Indies. The Spanish royal family still uses parts of the palace to this day.
Wander through the delightful gardens adorned with sculptures and tranquil fountain-filled ponds that make this one of the most romantic places in Spain. The courtyards are just as impressive, with beautiful mosaic tiles and intricate arches. Look out for the palace’s magnificent Renaissance tiled altar, made by Francisco Niculoso Pisano in 1504.
Cathedral of Murcia, Cartagena
Built on the site of a former mosque, the elaborate Cathedral of Murcia took 73 years to build and was completed in 1465. With a Gothic and Renaissance interior, and an elaborate Baroque facade, like many of Spain’s gargantuan historic buildings, the Cathedral of Murcia has been added to over the centuries and features characteristics from several different periods.
The honey-colored Cathedral is the darling of the city of Cartagena. Visit the museum, set inside the old cloister that predates the cathedral, to view archeological remains and religious objects that have been uncovered during various stages of renovation works.
Atalaya Castle, Alicante
The imposing sandstone Atalaya Castle gazes out over the town of Villena, a 40-minute drive from Alicante. With emerald-green cypresses dotted around the three-story, double-walled fortress, guarded by a central turreted tower, the solid Atalaya Castle is a sight to behold.
Constructed during the Almohad Empire, Atalaya Castle was originally built as a refuge for the Muslim population of the town at the end of the 12th century. It has since been resided in by princes and powerful dynasties. Look out for the graffiti on the walls of the fortress’s cells, a reminder of the castle’s role in the Germanías War, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the Peninsular War.
Once you’ve admired the Spanish castle, it’s worth roaming the narrow winding streets of Villena. The city’s characterful traditional houses are painted in a rainbow of colors.
Old Quarter, Bilbao
The Old Quarter of Bilbao, with its winding cobbled streets and beautiful balconied buildings, is one of the prettiest places in Spain. The historic center of this Basque Country city, snuggled between the grand Plaza Nueva Square and the Estuary of Bilbao is famous for the “Seven Streets”.
This medieval heart of the city lies south of Bilbao’s neo-Gothic cathedral and is buzzing with boutiques and galleries. Filled with quaint cafes, tasty pintxos bars, and quirky stores, the Old Quarter has a wonderful ambiance especially during fall in Spain, whether you’re here to snack or shop.
Europe’s largest indoor market, Mercado de la Ribera can also be found in Bilbao’s Old Quarter. Art Deco touches adorn this sprawling, 1929-built market hall.
You’ll find all sorts of land and sea produce sold inside here, including Biscayan orchard fruits and vegetables, fresh-off-the-boat fish, artisan bread, cheese, cured meat, mushrooms, pickles, and preserves.
The hilltop town of Mijas, one of Andalucia’s “pueblos blancos”, or white towns, is among the prettiest places in Spain thanks to its traditional whitewashed buildings, vibrant bougainvillea and pops of blue from bright ceramic pots that adorn every house.
The town sits 1,280 feet above sea level, overlooking the resort of Fuengirola, just a 30-minute drive from Malaga. Because it’s set back from the coast in the hills, Mijas enjoys a sense of being off-the-beaten-track. The town is filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars, and the galleries and boutiques stock locally made ceramics, art, linens, and items such as olive oil and lavender-scented perfume.
Stroll the terraced, cobbled streets to reach one of the lookout points for hypnotic views of Mijas’ terracotta rooftops, the forested Sierra de Mijas mountain range, and the azure water of the Mediterranean in the distance. Once you’ve shopped and explored, take a break in a sun-dappled courtyard and refuel with a selection of local tapas.
Seville Cathedral, Seville
Dominating the city’s skyline, Seville Cathedral is one of the most beautiful places in Spain. Construction of the cathedral began in 1401, lasting until the following century when it was finally completed in 1506. Over 500 years later, Seville Cathedral remains the largest Gothic cathedral and one of the largest churches in the world.
Admire some of the 80 side chapels split between two rows and the 137-foot-tall central nave. Step inside the nave to gaze at the central altarpiece—a breathtaking work of art featuring more than 200 figures of saints.
If you can tear your eyes away, visit the cathedral’s elaborate bell tower, the Giralda, which predates the main church as the former minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville, which once stood on this site. Inside the tower, ramps spiral up to the top, originally designed to accommodate horses, not pedestrians.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
It was only fitting that the landmark Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, housing works by some of the world’s most prominent contemporary artists, would take on a groundbreaking, modern form itself.
Opened in 1997 next to Bilbao’s Puente La Salve Bridge, by the Nervion River, the museum was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s modern aesthetic features a mound of galvanized titanium and glass, all curves, cliffs and jutting prows, the shimmering tiles resembling the scales of a fish.
As one of the best museums in Spain, the art is pretty extraordinary, too. Check out the spindly, 30-foot-tall spider installation, “Maman”, by artist Louise Bourgeois. The bronze, marble, and stainless steel sculpture greets visitors at the entrance to the museum. Inside, there’s a large, light-filled atrium with views of the river and changing themed exhibitions, from Russian to Chinese to Basque Country art.
Alhambra Palace, Granada
The 13th-century Alhambra Palace is a sublime example of Moorish architecture in Spain. Located west of Granada, the fortress palace, built from warm, red sandstone, sits on a hilltop, elevated above the surrounding towns and surrounded by a fragrant, green forest of horse chestnuts, hackberries, laurels, and poplars. A backdrop of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains completes the picture of one of the most beautiful places in Spain.
Every inch of the palace is exquisitely tiled and carved; the attention to detail is incredible and almost overwhelming. Wander around the cool, leafy courtyards and explore the Alhambra Museum, located on the south wing of the Palace’s lower level.
Dedicated to Moorish culture and art, the museum is split into several exhibition rooms covering a range of themes. Afterward, take in the serene beauty of the Generalife gardens, with a soundtrack of whispering mountain breezes and splashing fountains.
La Laguna, Tenerife
A must-do in Tenerife is to visit San Cristóbal de la Laguna, one of the prettiest places in Spain. Just six miles from the island’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, San Cristóbal de la Laguna is a designated World Heritage Site. If you roam the city’s attractive streets, you’ll soon understand why.
The charming city—one of the earliest cities to be established in the Canary Islands—features pastel-colored traditional houses with stone porticoes and gorgeous leafy courtyards. La Laguna’s 16th-century town plan even formed a blueprint for subsequent Spanish colonial towns in the Americas, including Old Havana in Cuba.
Discover the city’s Santa Catalina and Santa Clara monasteries, the ornate Leal Theater, and the Museum of the History of Tenerife. You’ll find plenty of tapas bars here for snacks after your visit, from spicy patatas bravas to creamy croquettes.
Read: Best Beaches in Tenerife
La Seu Cathedral, Palma de Mallorca
Le Seu, Palma’s grand cathedral, is impossible to miss. Flanked by lofty palm trees, this hulking Gothic masterpiece dominates the sweep of the Bay of Palma. The cathedral was completed in 1601 and has been added to during various renovations over the centuries.
Take a walk around the outside of the cathedral to fully appreciate its dazzling beauty. Check out the dizzying, 114-foot nave, the elaborate altar, and gigantic stained-glass windows. The main door and south door are particularly impressive, featuring sculptures by Gothic artist and architect Guillermo Sagrera.
Aficionados may recognize the hand of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who was commissioned to work on the restoration of the cathedral in the early 20th century. While Gaudí never put his proposals into practice after falling out with the Bishop at the time, the stark Crown of Thorns chandelier that hangs over the altar is the work of one of his disciples.
City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
The City of Arts and Sciences is built on the former riverbed of the River Turia that snaked through the city before it was diverted away from the center. This futuristic complex of curvy, light-filled buildings, reflected in shimmering pools, showcases the work of Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava (who also designed The Oculus in New York) and Félix Candela.
Surrounded by neatly manicured gardens, the City of Arts and Sciences offers plenty to see, including the Hemisfèric, an IMAX cinema; the Umbracle vantage point; the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum; the Oceanogràfic aquarium; the Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts, which is dedicated to opera, and the Ágora concert space.
If you only have limited time, focus on one or two of the attractions. The Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium housing 500 marine species, and the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum are a good start. Stroll over the stunning Calatrava and Candela-designed Assut d’Or Bridge, which crosses the former riverbed between the Science Museum and the Ágora. Stop for a picnic or an ice cream and take in the view of these extraordinary buildings.
A world away from the black-sand beaches and whitewashed resorts of Lanzarote, in the center of the island, you’ll find the stark Timanfaya National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the most beautiful places in Spain.
The lunar-like, undulating landscape of Timanfaya is the work of centuries of volcanic eruptions, the last one occurring roughly 300 years ago. Rippling, ochre-tinged sand dunes and black volcanic plains are dominated by the spine of the Montañas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains.
Timanfaya offers some of the best things to do in Lanzarote, from hiking to riding a camel, an otherworldly experience against the backdrop of the multi-colored dunes. Watch the park rangers perform their tricks; water poured into a hole in the ground erupts seconds later with a whoosh, as a steaming geyser.
At the park’s Diablo Restaurant, the food is cooked theatrically, steaks sizzling over a grill powered by geothermal heat from the ground. Try a Canarian favorite, boiled potatoes with the islands’ popular spicy mojo sauce, washed down with a glass of white wine, produced nearby in La Geria.
If you’re tempted to discover more about the most beautiful places in Spain, discover our luxury cruises to Spain that visit destinations including Barcelona, Malaga, Palma, and Bilbao.