Top tourist attractions in Spain

 Heritage tourism in Spain - the best sites   - the alternative guide to Spain

For more detail see ►  Roman Spain
Moorish heritage
Walled cities
Natural heritage Churches & cathedrals Top Spanish museums Castles and fortresses

Top attractions

The Alcazar at Segovia
The  Alcazar in Segovia   Photo P.Maeyaert
   While Spain's top tourist attractions are undoubtedly its beaches, beyond the beaches, Spain has litterally thousands of heritage tourist attractions, spread throughout the country. Some are well-known and much visited, others - off the beaten track - are largely ignored by tourists passing by.
   These chapters of present the most important heritage tourist attractions in Spain, by category.  For information on the tourist attractions of specific regions of Spain, see regional guides.
  Spain has a cultural heritage that is unique among the countries of western Europe in many ways, but most significantly in so far as it is the only country of Western Europe whose heritage  has been significantly marked by the art and architecture of the Islamic world.
  Spain's heritage is the result of the intertwining of three main threads, classic European Christian culture, Islamic culture brought over from North Africa, and Jewish culture. Over the centuries,  Spanish art and architecture adopted exuberant styles, that can be seen in various forms today, from the arabesques of Granadan art to the lavish baroque and platresque styles of more recent centuries.

1. Spain's best tourist cities

    These are the most visited tourist cities in Spain: but they are just the icing on the cake. Some twenty Spanish cities contain or are themselves listed as UNESCO world heritage sites; the four below are on the tourist trail, other Spanish cities are less visited (see undiscovered Spain)....
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  • Barcelona (Catalonia) : Seaside city on the north Mediterranean coast. Famed for its bars and cafés, architecture and atmosphere.
  • Madrid (Region of Madrid) : Spain's capital, with a wealth of museums, palaces, monuments  and other attractions
  • Toledo (Castilla la Mancha) : less than an hour from Madrid - amazing historic city full of historic monuments and museums.
  • Granada (Andalucia) : former capital of Moorish Spain, a truly unique city, with its historic sites.

2. Spain's best classical antiquities

    Hispania was an important part of the Roman Empire, and Roman remains are to be found in many parts of Spain. The most important vestiges of Roman Spain can be found at.....
  • Merida (Extremadura) : - The most important collection of Roman remains in Spain
  • Segovia (Castilla y Leon) :  Roman aqueduct - still in use today.
        ► More details and more Roman  sites in Spain

3. Spain's Moorish heritage

    Eight centuries of Moorish presence in Spain profoundly marked Spanish culture, and gave Spain some of its most visited heritage tourist attractions.
  • Granada (Andalucia) : Granada's Alhambra is the most visited heritage site in Spain. 
  • Cordoba (Andalucia) : La Mezquita, or the old Mosque, is over 1000 years old, and was once the second largest mosque of Islam. 
        ► More details and more Moorish sites in Spain

4. Best Spanish Museums & Art Galleries

    Spain has some of Europe's great museums and art galleries, located in a number of cities across the country. While Madrid's Prado museum is a clear "first" in any list of Spain's best museums, the ordering of the runners-up is liable to be a matter of personal preference
  • The Prado (Madrid) : Spain's national museum, and one of the best in Europe. 
  • Museo-Hospital de Santa Cruz (Toledo, Castilla la Mancha) : A fine collection of classic Spanish art, including many works by Toledo's most famous painter El Greco.
        ► More details and more Spanish museums and art galleries 

5. Top Spanish castles and fortresses

    Centuries of conflict between Christians and Muslims in Spain have left a heritage of litterally thousands of castles and fortresses throughout Spain. Several of these are among Spain's major tourist attractions, and among the most impressive in Europe.
  • Alcazar (Segovia) : A fairytale castle built on the impregnable base of a Moorish fortress
  • La Mota (Medina del Campo, Castilla y Leon) : Massive mediaeval stone and brick fortress dominating the plains of Castile
        ► More details and more Fortresses and castles in Spain

6. Natural heritage - outdoor Spain

    Most of Spain is sparsely populated; the dry climate of much of the Meseta - the upland plateau that includes a large part of the country - has ensured that Spain has to this day thousands of square kilometers of unspoiled country - mountains, plateaux and plains. There are amazing landscapes to discover and explore throughout Spain. Here are some of the best areas -  a small selection of some of the best natural environments that Spain has to offer.
  • The Sierra Nevada and Alpujarras : Between Granada and the Mediterranean, Spain's highest mountain range, and the warm valleys between the Sierra and the coast. See Andalucia.
  • Extremadura, including part of the Gredos mountains, and vast expanses of prairie and savannah, along with remarkable boulder landscapes towards the Portuguese border. See Extremadura
  • The Spanish Pyrenees - in Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre. Dramatic and fairly arid mountainscapes, with Alpine-style pastures and uplands in the higher areas towards the French border.
  • The Picos de Europa  Cantabria and Asturias. The mountain range separating the north of the Spanish Meseta and the north coast. Plenty of opportunity for hiking and other mountain activities.  See Asturias

7. Other tourist attractions

    Just a couple of the hundreds more interesting and varied attractions that Spain has to offer.
  • Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos : Near Burgos, one of Europe's most magnificent Romanesque cloisters, with fabulous mediaeval sculptures.
  • Rio Tinto Mining park, Huelva province western Andalucia :  amazing lunar landscapes, mining museum and tour, 12 km. heritage railway
  • Catalonia Railway Museum at Vilanova i la Geltru, in Catalonia between Barcelona and Tarragona. See Trains in Spain
  • The Camino del Rey - southern Andalucia. Hair-raising historic walkway along the sheer vertical rockface of a narrow gorge. Recently entirely renovated and reopened to modern safety standards after years of neglect

► More topics:  Spain's finest cathedrals, walled cities, natural heritage areas 
Regions of Spain

The Mezquita / Cathedral in Cordoba


Albarracin - one of Spain's many ancient walled cities

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