A Guide To Spain’s Top Cities

The reasons to book a Spanish holiday are obvious to all – relaxation, experiencing the sparkling sunshine, the fine beaches, and the warm waters. But there is more to Spain than just endless days relaxing on a beach – you can enjoy a city break in Spain, and find out what urban life is like in Spain. Wherever you go, you won’t be that far away from the sea, and there will always be sun wherever you go!

Read on for more about the top cities of Spain…

Madrid
The capital city of Spain, and has endless attractions – so much so we haven’t room to fit them all in here! Nothing splits opinion like a visit to Madrid – after all, the hustle, bustle and fast pace of life appeal to many! The location of Madrid in the centre point of Spain makes it the perfect place to tour the whole country.

To get a feel for the city, head to Puerta del Sol, which is the main plaza of the city. One of the main things to do in Madrid is taking a trip to see the three main museums of the city – Muséo del Prado, Muséo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Muséo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The Prado hosts a fantastic collection of classical art and you could spend a week going through this place!

Madrid is well known for the quality of its nightlife – Malasaña & la Chueca offer great dance music for the under thirties age group. La Latina & Huertas offer great nightlife for the thirtysomethings!

In the warm evening why not take in a Real Madrid football game at the Santiago Bernabéu? Coached by the tactical genius that is José Mourinho, Los Merengues are the most successful football team in Spain and currently feature some of the world’s exciting stars in Ronaldo, Casillas, Ozil and Kaka and once featured in team line-ups through the years the legendary Zidane, Raul, Puskas and Luis Figo.

If football is far too mild for you and some bullfighting is your thing, why not take a trip to the Ventas Bullring – you are guaranteed some spell binding entertainment there!

For some chillaxing, why not check out El Rastro, the Sunday Morning Markets, or take a picnic lunch at the wonderful El Rétiro.

Barcelona
Probably the most popular place to take a city break in Spain, and during your visit there, you will see why! The Catalan city of Barcelona offers a wonderful array of tourist options, you will be spoilt for choice as to what to see and do!

The most famous area in Barcelona is the street called Las Ramblas – why not take a stroll along it and soak up the wonderful ambiance of this truly magical city. The buskers, the terrific architecture, shows and pretty shops/bars/restaurants make it such an interesting place to go to! La Boqueria Market is also worth checking out here, as is a trip up the Colon Monument, dedicated to the memory of Columbus the Explorer, where you will get a wonderful view of the city.

A walk around the Gothic Quarter just off Las Ramblas will take you to the proximity of the cathedral and Placa Reail. The alleys and narrow streets are worth checking out too, adding to the cosy atmosphere. The La Ribera area contains the Pablo Picasso Museum, well worth checking out. The Raval is another area that you can check out for the musical shops, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you are fond of heights take a trip up to the top of Montjuic that overlooks Barcelona from the southwest. The National Art Galley and The Joan Míro Foundacion is located here. You can get to Montjuic by foot or by cable car.

Barcelona is a city where you can take good day trips from: for example you can take in a worthwhile day trip to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figuéres and be prepare to be astounded by the work of this great artist.

No trip to Barcelona is complete with a visit to the awesome Camp Nou, home of 2009 Champions League Winners Barcelona FC. Be prepared to be dazzled by the football artistry of wizards such as Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa, who display their silken skills on the same pitch where Cryuff, Romario and Maradona once starred with honour.

Valencia
The third most populated city in Spain, Valencia is birthplace of the famous Paella dish! It is an emerging city, hence the hosting of the 2008 European Grand Prix.

The city has many tourist sights to consider visiting, including two festivals held throughout the year, Las Fallas that takes place in March, and La Tomatina in August. La Tomatina in particular is an astounding event, when locals pelt each other with ripe red tomatoes!

For the tourist, Valencia is pretty easy to get around, as all of the tourist activities are pretty much centrally located. The main square is La Plaza Ayuntamiento. Valencia Cathedral is located at the end of Plaza de la Reina. Shopping is a good pastime to engage in if you are tired of sightseeing – Valencia has a massive central market called El Mercado Central de Valencia. The Silk Exchange Market is also worth checking out – in remembrance of Valencia’s position as a major player in the silk trade.

Valencia has some wonderful museums that you could check out: El Muséo de Bellas Arts de Valencia features fine arts by the artists of Valencia. The City of Arts & Science Centre features many science exhibits that you may be interested in. Fans of modern art can check out the Valencian Institute of Modern Art. The Bullfight Art Museum is dedicated to artwork that depicts bullfighting. Jardi Botanic, the Botanic Gardens of Valencia contain thousands of plants.

Barrio del Carmen is the old town of Valencia where most of the nightclubs are located, and the nightlife is throbbing in Valencia!

Malaga
A visit to the southern Spain city of Malaga will guarantee you sunshine! Malaga boasts 300 days of sun every year. Not only is it blessed with brilliant beaches, it is the birthplace of the esteemed artist Pablo Picasso, and immersed in culture and has an exotic past due to the Moorish occupation of the area.

The most popular beaches are Las Acacias, El Palo and Playa de la Malagueta.

Some of the sights to explore in Malaga include The Museum of Fine Arts close to the Cathedral, which is where you can discover the works of Picasso for yourself. The Fundación Picasso, located in the historic quarter of the city, is where you will find where Picasso himself lived with his family.

Malaga’s most famous landmark is La Alcazaba, a military fortress that was constructed by the Moorish inhabitants in the 11th century. Its location gives a wonderful view of the city’s skyline and the sparkling sea. Castillo de Gibralfaro is located right next door to La Alacazaba. Malaga Cathedral is well worth checking out. Tivoli World is a good place for a family day out. Calle Larios is the main shopping thoroughfare in Malaga, so you can shop here to your hearts content.

Seville
This beautiful city is one of the most prominent tourist locations of Spain. It is the home of flamenco dancing and bullfighting and it possesses some of the most fantastic gardens and buildings in the whole country. One thing about Seville is that it gets very hot – July and August lead to huge temperatures!

Some of the most obvious sights include Seville’s Cathedral – which is a fusion of Muslim and Christian architecture. It is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. Together with this, the Giralda Tower is worth checking out. Seville is home to some wonderful relics of Moorish rule, including the wonderful Alcazar. It is composed of wonderful gardens and fortresses, while not as imposing as the majestic Alhambra in Granada, still most impressive in itself.

Seville is the spiritual home of flamenco dancing, and to get a true reflection of this pay a visit to the old gypsy quarter of Triana, where you will come across the best flamenco music bars. Also, take a visit to the Muséo de Flamenco to learn all about the history of flamenco. The Muséo Taurino gives you a run down of the history of bullfighting in Seville. The city is known as one of the birthplaces of bullfighting and the traditions are remaining strong.

Park Maria Luisa and Plaza España are other places to check out in Seville, for a bit of quietness and solitude. Seville has some quality nightlife, so check this out in Calle Betis. Barrio de Santa Cruz and Macarena offer wonderful architecture and wonderful tapas restaurants. If you are interested in architecture, take a trip to Seville’s Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) and marvel at the Renaissance and Neo-Classical styles.

Seville is a good place to base yourself for a day trip outside the city. Take in Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Tarifa and Cadiz.

Note that we have just picked five cities – remember that there are many more charming cities to check out in Spain!

Are you tempted enough to reserve your flight, book the rental vehicle and check out one or more of the top cities in Spain? For the very best in car rental, visit our Spain car hire page!

Have you been to Spain or are planning to go there? Have you other reasons that make Spain such a special place to visit? If you have any Spanish travel tips that your fellow readers should be made aware of please let us know in the comments section below.



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