The Absolute Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers

Planning your and wondering what are the best places to visit in Spain for first timers? I’ve got you covered!

Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, known for its beautiful coastlines, historic cities, and world-renowned culture.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

However, with so much to see and do across the country, it can be overwhelming to plan your first trip to Spain. Where do you even start exploring this vast and diverse country?

If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry! I’ve put together the ultimate list of the best places to visit in Spain based on your interests, budget, and more!

Table Of Contents

When is the best time to visit Spain?

Spring (March – May) and fall (September – November) are often considered the best times to visit Spain, as the weather is generally mild and there are fewer crowds compared to the busy summer months.

These seasons offer more comfortable temperatures, allowing you to explore cities, beaches, and natural landscapes with ease.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

In spring, you’ll find Spain coming to life with blooming flowers, green landscapes, and a fresh atmosphere.

Popular events during this season include:

  • Semana Santa (Holy Week): An important religious event that takes place in late March or early April, featuring incredible processions throughout the country.
  • Las Fallas: A spectacular festival held in Valencia in March, celebrating the arrival of spring with giant sculptures, fireworks, and music.

Fall is harvest time in Spain, so it’s an excellent opportunity to participate in various food and wine festivals.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

Some not-to-miss events include:

  • La Tomatina: This world-famous tomato-throwing festival takes place in the town of Buñol during the last Wednesday in August.
  • Wine harvest festivals: Discover and enjoy Spanish wine culture by attending grape harvest celebrations in various wine regions such as La Rioja, Catalonia, and Ribera del Duero in September and October.

If you’re a fan of warmer temperatures and wish to explore Spain’s beautiful beach towns, summer (June – August) is your best bet.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

Though it’s high season and you’ll likely encounter more tourists, you’ll be able to take full advantage of Spain’s gorgeous beaches and outdoor activities.

Keep in mind that the southern regions, including Andalusia, can experience extreme heat during this season.

Winter (December – February) can be an appealing time to visit Spain for those looking for a more low-key experience and lower prices on accommodations and flights.

While the northern areas might be colder with occasional snow, the southern parts still boast milder temperatures.

It’s important to note that some attractions and accommodations may have reduced hours or be closed during this season, but Spain’s holiday events and magical festive markets make up for it!

best places to visit in spain for first timers

In summary, consider these factors when deciding the best time for your Spanish adventure:

  • Spring: Mild temperatures, blooming landscapes, Semana Santa, Las Fallas
  • Summer: Warm weather, beach vacations, more tourists
  • Fall: Pleasant temperatures, food and wine festivals, La Tomatina
  • Winter: Lower prices, fewer crowds, holiday events, colder weather in the north

How to decide where to go in Spain for first timers?

Deciding where to go in Spain for your first visit might seem overwhelming, but don’t worry!

We’ve got you covered. When choosing your destination, consider the following aspects:

  1. Interests: Are you a history buff, a food lover, or an art enthusiast? Spain has something for everyone, so prioritize what interests you the most.
  2. Season: The weather can vary greatly from region to region and throughout the year. Research the best time to visit your preferred destinations, and make sure it aligns with your travel dates.
  3. Budget: Spain can accommodate budgets of all sizes, so determine how much you’re willing to spend on accommodations, food, and attractions.

Now that you have an idea of what you want from your trip, these are some of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers:

  • Barcelona: This bustling city offers a mix of culture, history, and beaches. Must-see sights include La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Las Ramblas.
  • Madrid: Spain’s capital city boasts a fantastic blend of historic charm and modern appeal. Don’t miss the Prado Museum, Retiro Park, and Plaza Mayor.
  • Seville: Known for its rich Andalusian culture, Seville is the perfect destination for first timers looking for a taste of traditional Spain. Explore the Real Alcázar, Seville Cathedral, and the vibrant Triana neighborhood. There are also many beautiful beaches near Seville.
  • Granada: Home to the breathtaking Alhambra Palace, Granada offers a fascinating mix of Moorish and Spanish history.

Keep in mind that each city has its own distinct vibe, so consider creating an itinerary that includes a mix of both cities and smaller towns so you can make the most out of your first visit to Spain.

For example, you might want to:

Base CityDay-Trips
BarcelonaGirona, Montserrat
MadridToledo, Segovia
SevilleCórdoba, Ronda

No matter what your preferences are, Spain has something for every first-time visitor. Enjoy the planning process and get excited for the adventure that awaits you!

Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers: Cultural Hotspots


Barcelona is definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

This vibrant city is home to some of the most stunning examples of Antoni Gaudí’s architecture, including the famous Sagrada Família church.

Dedicate a day to exploring Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà, showcasing Gaudí’s unique artistic vision.

Besides the Gaudí signature masterpieces, immerse yourself in Barcelona’s lively streets like La Rambla or the historic Gothic Quarter.


As Spain’s capital and cultural hub, Madrid is another of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers.

Start your journey at the Puerta del Sol, the city’s bustling central plaza. Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid to admire the grandeur of Spain’s past.

Don’t miss the vast collections of Spanish art in El Prado Museum, and place a visit to the more contemporary Reina Sofia Museum on your to-do list as well.

When you need a break, kick back at one of Madrid’s many tapas bars or take a walk through the picturesque Retiro Park.

Granada (one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers, in my opinion!)

Granada is an enchanting city home to the stunning Alhambra.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

This fortress-palace, built by the Moors who once ruled Spain, is an architectural marvel known for its beautiful tilework, carved stonework, and lush gardens.

  • Tip: Be sure to book Alhambra tickets well in advance!

After exploring the Alhambra, you can wander through the cobblestone streets of the historic Albaicín district, where you’ll find cafés, shops, and stunning views of the city.

Seville (another of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers for flamenco and Gothic splendor)

Last but not least, Seville is a city that effortlessly blends history and modernity.

Here, you’ll find the world’s largest Gothic cathedral – the Seville Cathedral – and its famous bell tower, La Giralda. Climb the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Of course, no trip to Seville is complete without experiencing the passionate art of flamenco dancing. Visit the Museo del Baile Flamenco for a flamenco show, or better yet, attend a live performance in a local tablao.

Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers: Beach Destinations

Costa del Sol: Sun and Sea Galore

The Costa del Sol is an incredible combination of stunning beaches, incredible weather, and vibrant local culture. It’s one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers if beach goodness is what you’re after.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

During your visit, you can spend your days soaking up the sun on the golden sand beaches, trying out delicious Spanish cuisine at chiringuitos (beach bars), and exploring charming coastal towns like Marbella and Nerja.

Pro tip: Don’t miss the stunning Cueva de Nerja, a network of fascinating caves.

Balearic Islands: Ibiza and Mallorca

The Balearic Islands offer a mix of vibrant nightlife, crystal-clear waters, and charming villages.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

Top spots to explore include Ibiza for parties that never end and Mallorca for stunning beaches like Es Trench.

Pro tip: For a more laid-back experience, escape to the scenic island of Menorca.

Canary Islands: Eternal Spring

For amazing weather and diverse landscapes, the Canary Islands are the choice:

best places to visit in spain for first timers
  • Tenerife: Home to bustling resorts, Mount Teide National Park, and picturesque villages like Masca
  • Lanzarote: Stunning volcanic landscapes, like the Timanfaya National Park, and beautiful beaches like Playa de Papagayo

Don’t forget to get travel insurance for your trip! As always, I recommend Safety Wing for great prices and coverage abroad. It starts at only $45 USD per month and will have you covered with everything you may need during your trip! Check them out here.

Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers: Historic Towns and Cities


Known as the City of Three Cultures, Toledo is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers who love history.

Here, you’ll find a blend of Jewish, and Christian cultures. During your visit, make sure to stroll through the narrow streets of the old town and visit the Alcázar, an imposing fortress that has been rebuilt several times.

Moreover, don’t miss the Toledo Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Other interesting attractions to check out include:

  • The El Greco Museum, dedicated to the famous painter.
  • The Santa María La Blanca Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in Europe.
  • San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, an impressive Gothic structure.

Córdoba: The Grand Mosque-Cathedral

Next, let’s head to Córdoba! The most iconic site in this Andalusian city is undoubtedly the Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque-Cathedral), which features a fusion of Muslim and Christian styles in the same building.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

While you’re there, also visit these spots as well:

  1. Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a fortress with beautiful gardens.
  2. Roman Bridge, an ancient bridge offering great views.
  3. Medina Azahara, the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab palace-city.

Salamanca: A Golden City

Salamanca is another of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers. It’s close to Madrid, incredibly pretty, and pretty small, so getting lost is tough here!

Known as the “Golden City” for the warm glow of the sandstone buildings. The stunning Plaza Mayor is an immaculately preserved Baroque square, perfect for an evening stroll.

Must-sees in Salamanca include:

  • University of Salamanca: The oldest university in Spain and one of the most prestigious in Europe.
  • Casa de las Conchas: A unique, shell-covered building.
  • Salamanca Cathedral: Actually two cathedrals, the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral, connected to each other.

Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers: Food and Wine Experiences

Tapas Tour: Sampling Local Bites

As a first-time visitor to Spain, a tapas tour to savor the local flavors is a must!

From bustling markets to cozy bars, you’ll explore the country’s mouthwatering bites one tapa at a time.

Be sure to try:

  • Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham)
  • Patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce)
  • Gazpacho (cold tomato soup)

Combine this tasteful journey with the “ir de tapeo” lifestyle, where you move from one bar to another enjoying tasty small plates and delicious drinks.

La Rioja: Savoring Spanish Wines

If you’re a wine lover, La Rioja is definitely another of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers.

This region boasts some of Spain’s finest vineyards and wineries, drawing in oenophiles from around the globe.

On your trip, be sure to:

  1. Book a guided tour to Bodegas Muga or Bodegas Marqués de Riscal
  2. Tantalize your taste buds with the region’s famous red wines
  3. Attend wine tastings to expand your palate and wine knowledge

Valencia: Home of Paella

Your visit to Spain would be incomplete without trying the iconic paella in its birthplace, Valencia.

During your visit, take a cooking class to learn the secrets of preparing authentic Valencian paella or simply visit local restaurants to savor this delicious dish.

Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers: Outdoor Adventures

Picos de Europa: Majestic Mountains

If you’re a mountain lover, Picos de Europa is a must-visit destination in Spain.

These majestic mountains offer a variety of outdoor activities, such as:

  • Hiking: With numerous trails for all levels, you can explore stunning landscapes, like the famous Cares Gorge.
  • Wildlife watching: Get your binoculars ready! You might spot impressive species like the Iberian wolf and even the occasional brown bear.
  • Adventure sports: Dare to try canyoning, paragliding, or even caving in this awe-inspiring region.

Camino de Santiago: A Pilgrim’s Trail

The Camino de Santiago is a classic and one of the best places to visit in Spain for many. In fact, many people come to Spain for the first time just to walk this trail!

best places to visit in spain for first timers

This ancient pilgrimage route has been traveled by millions over the centuries.

Here are some highlights of this unforgettable experience:

  1. Choose your route: With several paths to Santiago de Compostela, you can decide on the most suitable one for you (like the popular French Way or the coastal Northern Way).
  2. Discover charming villages: The Camino takes you through picturesque towns, giving you a glimpse of Spain’s rich history and traditions.
  3. Enjoy local cuisine: Treat yourself to mouthwatering regional specialties, like Galician octopus or Tarta de Santiago.

Costa Brava: Rugged Coastlines

If you love rugged coastlines, Costa Brava is another of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

This stunning coastline offers a delightful mix of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and vibrant fishing villages.

Check out these recommendations below:

  • Beach hopping: Visit beaches like Cala Estreta and Cala Roca Bona for crystal-clear waters and secluded spots.
  • Water sports: Try snorkeling, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding around places like Medes Islands.
  • Coastal hikes: Follow trails like Camí de Ronda or Cap de Creus to witness breathtaking panoramas.

Festivals and Events in Spain

La Tomatina

La Tomatina is a must-see event if you’re visiting Spain in late August. Held in the Valencian town of Buñol, this unique tomato-throwing festival promises a fun, messy time.

Just make sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting stained!


Spain is also home to several vibrant Carnivals. The best ones take place in Tenerife, Cádiz, and Sitges during February or March.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

You’ll experience lively parades, colorful costumes, and plenty of dancing, so don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Feria de Abril

Feria de Abril (April Fair) – Seville’s colorful week-long celebration in late April/early May.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

Expect traditional flamenco dancing, horse-drawn carriages, and delicious food.

Las Fallas

Valencia’s extravagant event (mid-March) that showcases massive artistic sculptures made of wood and papier-mâché.

best places to visit in spain for first timers

On the last night, they’re set on fire in an epic, fiery spectacle.

Semana Santa

For a more traditional experience, visit the Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations across the country, with the most prominent taking place in Seville, Málaga, and Granada.

These religious processions feature elaborate floats and incredible artistry, offering you a glimpse into Spain’s rich history and local traditions.

FestivalLocationTime of year
La TomatinaBuñolLate August
CarnivalsTenerife, Cádiz, SitgesFebruary or March
Feria de AbrilSevilleLate April/early May
Las FallasValenciaMid-March
Semana SantaSeville, Málaga, and Granada. March/April

How to Get Around Spain as a First Timer

Visiting Spain for the first time is an exciting experience, and getting around is easier than you might think.

Here are some tips to help you navigate Spain with ease and make the most of your trip.

Public transportation

Public transportation is convenient and available in most Spanish cities. Trains and buses are your best bet for traveling between cities.

The high-speed train known as AVE connects major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville.

For shorter distances or more remote areas, you can hop on local trains or buses.

Prices are reasonable, and you can book tickets in advance online or at the station.

Local buses and trams

For city travel, consider using local buses, subways, or trams.

Old tram in Canary Islands

You can find ticket machines or kiosks at most stops, making it easy to purchase single or multi-day passes.

Keep in mind, though, that public transportation schedules may be limited during the night or on Sundays and holidays.


When exploring narrow streets, historic districts, or small towns, walking is often the most enjoyable way to experience Spain’s charm.

Many city centers offer free walking tours, where knowledgeable local guides provide a great introduction to the area and its history.

Car rental

For more flexibility, consider renting a car.

Spain is home to picturesque countryside and coastal roads that are perfect for road tripping. However, be prepared for potential challenges, such as:

  • Driving on the right side of the road (opposite of the UK and Australia)
  • Navigating tight streets and limited parking in historic city centers
  • Toll roads (especially on major highways)

Travel Itinerary Suggestions

Here’s a list of must-visit places that’ll ensure you get the most out of your adventure, broken down by region:

  • Andalusia: Visit the impressive Alhambra in Granada, the stunning Mezquita in Córdoba, and the vibrant city of Seville, home to the magnificent Seville Cathedral.
  • Catalonia: Explore vibrant Barcelona, take strolls along Gaudí’s most famous masterpieces like La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Hit the beach by visiting Costa Brava. Don’t forget to walk down the bustling Las Ramblas.
  • Madrid: Spain’s capital offers the famous museums like Prado Museum, and Reina Sofia, indulge in culinary heaven at Mercado San Miguel, and party the night away at authentic flamenco bars.

Now, let’s get some details on how much time you’d ideally spend in each region:

Andalusia5-7 days
Catalonia4-5 days
Madrid2-3 days

As a first-timer, you’ll want to make sure you plan your trip efficiently.

Here’s a suggested itinerary to get you started:

  1. Day 1: Arrive in Madrid, explore the city center, and savor some delicious tapas.
  2. Day 2: Visit the major museums and attractions in Madrid.
  3. Day 3: Catch a train to Seville, explore the city, and attend a traditional flamenco show.
  4. Day 4: Discover the history of Granada and visit the famous Alhambra palace.
  5. Day 5: Take in the beauty of Córdoba’s Mezquita and explore the historical city.
  6. Day 6: Arrive in Barcelona, stroll along Las Ramblas, and visit the Gothic Quarter.
  7. Day 7: Dive into Gaudí’s world by visiting La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and other iconic landmarks.

Remember, this itinerary is just a starting point to help guide your trip planning.

Feel free to mix things up or add in some other of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers on our list based on your interests and the time you have available.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance for your trip! As always, I recommend Safety Wing for great prices and coverage abroad. It starts at only $45 USD per month and will have you covered with everything you may need during your trip! Check them out here.

FAQs About the Best Places to Visit in Spain for First Timers

What are the top must-see cities for a one-week trip to Spain?

For a one-week trip, some of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers include Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville.

These cities offer a mix of history, culture, and famous landmarks.

If you have extra time, consider adding Granada and Valencia to your itinerary.

What’s the ideal time of year to travel to Spain for great weather and experiences?

The best time to visit Spain is during the spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) months as the weather is pleasant, and there are fewer crowds.

However, the summer months can also be enjoyable if you don’t mind the heat and the bustling tourist season.

Barcelona is an excellent choice for the first stop on your trip.

Its diverse architecture, vibrant street life, and world-class art make it an ideal introduction to Spain’s rich culture.

What are some of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers that are hidden gems?

Hidden gems on your Spanish adventure might include the stunning coastal town of Cadaqués, the picturesque white villages of Andalusia, and the charming medieval city of Girona.

Don’t miss the lesser-known La Rioja wine region for a taste of Spain’s renowned wines.

Is Madrid or Barcelona better as a starting point for a Spanish adventure?

Both Madrid and Barcelona are fantastic starting points for your trip to Spain, depending on your interests.

Madrid, Spain’s capital, is rich in history and has several famous museums, whereas Barcelona offers a more eclectic mix of architecture and art.

Start in the city that calls to you the most.

What are some essential cultural experiences to have while visiting Spain?

While in Spain, immerse yourself in its culture by trying some of these must-have experiences: savoring tapas at a local bar, experiencing the passion of a flamenco show, visiting important historic sites like Alhambra in Granada, and joining locals for siesta and late-night dinners.

Moreover, don’t forget to check out a local football match and explore bustling open-air markets.

Best Places to Visit in Spain: Conclusion

Spain has so much rich history and natural beauty to offer visitors.

By focusing your first trip on some of these, you’ll get a well-rounded introduction to different aspects of Spanish culture and lifestyle.

Whether you’re interested in architecture, food, beaches, or nightlife, these are just a few of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers that should definitely be on your itinerary!