Collectively looking at cities in Spain, they all form a magnificent cooking pot of modern, new trends, and traditional Spanish culture. From the history to nightlife to food and beaches, whether you want to visit or move to Spain, there is a wide choice. There are 50 cities of which Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia feature as the largest in Spain based on population count. However, in this article, rather than looking at size, we look at which cities feature the best places where foreigners travel and live, regardless of the time of year. We also look further into why they attract foreigners and list the best things to see and do while there.
8 of the Best Cities in Spain
1: The Best of Murcia
With a population of roughly 350,000 people, Murcia features highly on the Southeastern Iberian Peninsula of Spain. Nestled between the Sierra de Orihuela and the Cresta de Gallo Mountains, Murcia city offers delightful Mediterranean and river views. As part of Spain’s larger Costa Calida province, the name refers to the capital city and the region, of which La Manga and Mil Palmeras resorts are famous.
Murcia city brings a lot to the table, for tourists and anyone living in this great country. The mixture of Baroque and Gothic architectural styles in historical buildings features the highly famed Plaza Cardenal Belluga cathedral. The 18th century Palacio Episcopal Bishops Palace also stands out as a prominent day trip landmark of Spain. Expect variety and diversity on every corner, when it comes to the restaurant and nightlife scenes.
2: Malaga City on the Costa Del Sol
Meanwhile, with a population of just over 500,000 residents, Malaga city ranks as Spain’s sixth-largest city. This Urban landscape is known around Spain and the world for art, Picasso, gorgeous beaches, and copious amounts of sun. Sitting on Spain’s Andalusian coast, the city is 573 kilometres from Madrid, the largest city of Spain, but closer to other prominent places like Granada, Ronda, and Seville.
To visit Madrid, there is a fast speed train which takes just over 2 hours. Additionally, Malaga ranks highly as a tourist destination in Spain because of the airport with the same name. A must-see is the old city quarter, alongside Larios and Alcazabilla streets. Alternatively, for a wild shopping spree, head to Plaza Mayor.
3: Valencia Port City in South-eastern Spain
Sitting where the Turia river joins the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia port city is the third-largest urban landscape in Spain. The city of arts and scene; Valencia proudly boasts of an interactive museum, planetarium, aquarium, cinema, and oceanarium. Don’t lump Valencia in with the rest of Spain because the city stands out in Europe for style, culture and daily lifestyle. The 9 kilometres Turia Gardens is a popular place to relax, especially at weekends.
To go further afield, Alicante is two hours away on the high-speed train. Enjoy beautiful beaches like Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de las Arenas, or a walk among the Albufera wetlands park. However, one of our favourite places to soak up authentic Valencia vibes is the old town, boasting Spanish-style street cafes and ancient architecture in landmarks buildings like the La Lonja de la Seda and Cathedral. Highly favoured museums include fine Arts, bullfighting, history of Valencia, prehistory, and Fallas Museum. Don’t forget Valencia is home to original and genuinely authentic Paella, so take your tastebuds on a delicious journey.
4: The Spanish City of Alicante
Belonging to Spain’s beautiful Costa Blanca, Alicante port city refers to the main urban area and the larger region. Sitting a short distance from the famous Benidorm, one thing Alicante does well is a beach lined promenade promoting the laidback Spanish lifestyle. Prominent stretches of sand include Playa del Postiguet, Cabo de Huertas, Playa del Coco, El Campello, Playa de l’Almadrava, San Juan Beach and Albufereta Beach which is ideal for children.
Explore the old town district of Barrio de la Santa Cruz with narrow streets, bright colour houses, and terrific Mediterranean Sea views. Alicante does a marvellous job of accommodating everyone from young to old, yet the city earns fame for more than 18 golf courses in the surrounding areas. Water sports, such as scuba diving, snorkelling, and sailing, feature highly on the social agenda. An excellent place to explore is the old Alicante town district with cultural vibes and various architectural styles. Also, drop by the Maca Museum displaying notable works by Picasso, Chillida, and Dali, and visit Santa Barbara castle in Alicante city centre.
5: Experience Life in Elche – Spain
Belonging to Valencia, Elche has an impressive portfolio for expats and holidaymakers. Notably known for its many places of natural beauty, Elche Palm Garden stands out as a prominent attraction with more than 200,000 palm trees. Originally laid under Muslim rule, the heritage site gives off a north African vibe within an urban landscape.
Within the palm gardens’ boundaries, visit the museum, Huerto del Cura Monuments, the walkway, and the Huerto de San Placido. Most people arrive via a transfer from Alicante airport, yet Elche has two train stations and an excellent bus network. Other must-visit places include the Calahorra Tower, 15th-century town hall at the Plaza de Baix, Basilica of Santa Maria at the Plaza de Santa Maria and the Altamira Palace, a former house of nobility but now a museum. Do try the local Elche tapas made with bacon, almonds, and dates.
6: Seville City in Spain
As the capital centre of the Andalusia region, the name Seville refers to the city and province. Keeping in line with other cities, Seville belongs to the Iberian Peninsula. Seville is Spain’s fourth-biggest city; hence getting to know it properly will take some time. Yet, visitors and expats in Spain have a marvellous collection of delights to enjoy. Seville old town covering 4 square kilometres attracts people from all over the world thanks to its three UNESCO World Heritage sites; the Indies archive, Cathedral, and Alcazar palace complex.
Visit during the peak of summer, and high temperatures await. This would be the best time to visit the beautiful beaches such as Bolonia Cadiz, Punta Umbria, La Fontelina, Cala de Aceite, Canos de Meca and Matalascanas. As well as the typical tapas and Jamon, tuck into a variety of other delicious dishes of Seville such as squid, cuttlefish, dogfish, snails, lamb kidneys, and the fast-food sandwich version of serranito.
7: Welcome to Madrid – Spain
Madrid is a pure gem with more than 3 million residents and a status as Spain’s capital. Additionally, Madrid is the European Union’s second-largest city near the Iberian peninsula’s Manzanares river. Without a doubt, the city is Spain’s beating heart and offers up numerous cultural, modern, and historical attractions. Visit t Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, Royal Theatre and 1850 Opera House, Buen Retiro Park, National Library building and the Golden Art Triangle.
Despite being a magnificent urban landscape, Madrid goes big on green space, holding the most significant number of trees in Europe and the second highest in the world. Anyone in Madrid can easily reach green spaces within 15 minutes. Out of all green spaces, El Retiro next to Madrid Royal Botanical Park is the most visited. For one of the best nightlife scenes in Spain, head to La Latina, Malasana and Plaza de Santa Ana districts.
8: Travel to Barcelona
Sitting in north-eastern Spain, Barcelona belongs to the Catalonia region, and with a population of 1.5 million residents, Barcelona is one of the biggest Mediterranean cities. Sitting between the Llobregat and Besos Rivers and surrounded by the Serra de Collserola Mountain range, Barcelona was originally a Roman city. Yet, these days, Barcelona is one of Europe’s most extraordinary modern urban landscapes. Must-see sites in Barcelona are the Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domenech I Montaner sites which along with six other buildings, belong are UNESCO World Heritage landmarks.
To understand the importance of Barcelona to Spain, the airport handles more than 50 million air passengers every year. Other historic buildings in Barcelona are the Minor Basilica of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s city symbol, the Holy Cross Cathedral, Saint Eulalia, and Santa Maria del Mar’s gothic basilica. According to National Geographic, Barcelona has one of the top ten best city beaches in Spain and the world, and there is a variety of museums and green spaces to visit.
More About Spain
Regions of Spain: So, as you can see the cities in Spain are colourful, varied and each present something unique. To learn more about the country, read this article about the 17 various official regions and why they make Spain a wonderful country.