With its sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, World Heritage cities, incredible cuisine, and multi-faceted culture, few countries in the world can tick all the traveler boxes with such a diverse range of attractions as Spain. It is truly unique.
Given Spain’s long and storied past of Catholic monarchies, Muslim caliphates and New World conquistadores, one region can have a completely distinct character from the next. Here’s a rundown of the best places to visit in this standout Iberian destination.
Best city for visiting world-class art museums
The Spanish capital is a lively city blessed with year-round clear blue skies draped over its vibrant barrios (neighborhoods), architectural landmarks and famed art museums. There’s even an ancient Egyptian temple, the Templo de Debod, right in Madrid’s city center.
Art aficionados could spend days exploring Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art” composed of three globally renowned museums, the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which are home to some of the world’s most valuable art collections. They are situated along Madrid’s Paseo del Prado (Art Walk), which has recently been granted Unesco World Heritage status.
Planning tip: Madrid has a vibrant street culture that loves its wine-soaked tapas crawls. Cava Baja in the historic La Latina neighborhood is lined with quaint little bars and taverns, making it one of the best streets in the city to join locals hopping from one bar to the next to sample a selection of Iberian hams, charcuterie and cheeses.
Best for modernist architecture
Straddling the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees mountains, the Catalonian capital is a visually stunning metropolis that stands out for its avant-garde architecture, city beaches and a Gothic Quarter that stretches back over 2000 years.
No visit to Barcelona is complete without spending time at the Sagrada Família, the obra maestra of the illustrious Catalan architect and proponent of Modernism, Antoní Gaudí. His influence on the city is everywhere, and it’s worth taking time to visit his other architectural jewels, the Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Park Güell.
Another place where Gaudí has left his legacy is at the Plaça Reial, at…
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