With over 70 million foreign tourists visiting Spain in 2022, the world is well-aware of the wonders contained within this captivating country.
From pristine beaches to an exceptionally diverse cuisine, the staples of what makes Spain a great tourist destination are no secret.
But this Mediterranean marvel is far more than the beaches and parties of Ibiza or the old towns of cities like Seville. Even the most regular tourist haunts contain hidden delights if you dig deep enough, whether that means exploring Catalan culture in Barcelona or visiting Valencia during the biggest festival of the year.
There are plenty of off-the-beaten-path options too, whether you’re a foodie who wants to discover the best of Basque cuisine or an adventurer who wants to combine winter sun with dramatic volcanic landscapes.
Choosing where to go and what to see can be a daunting task in a country with such a dizzying array of things to do. To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the best below.
Discover arts, culture and history in the capital
Like many capital cities, Madrid is one of the main bastions of its country’s culture, where the most important parts of its history and traditions converge. The city exhibits many of Spain’s most famed cultural exports, from the proliferation of tapas bars to cosy flamenco venues, while also brimming with the best of the country’s museums, galleries and tourist sites.
To cover as much of this culture and history as possible in one visit, start at the National Archaeological Museum before visiting the two main art galleries, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, which house works from Spain’s most beloved artists, including Picasso, Dali and Goya. Leaving the Prado, you’ll be close to the Retiro park – a sprawling green space frequented by locals and tourists alike – and just 20 minutes away from the Plaza Mayor, the 17th-century square that is still a focal point of the city. Finish your tour with a walk around the Royal Palace, the largest in Europe.
From here, eat like a local at the glass-fronted Mercado de San Miguel – where plenty of madrilenos grab a quick lunch of mini paella, croquettes or empanadas – or the Sobrino de Botin, labelled as the world’s oldest restaurant by Guinness World Records.
Away from the…