Best City Breaks In Spain – Planning a holiday in Spain? Read our expert guide to the best cities, including advice on Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Malaga and information on how to get there. Annie Bennett, travel expert in Spain.
A weekend in one of Spain’s great cities can’t help but lift your spirits. Even if you have been to Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia several times, there is always something new to discover. You can find more information about these cities in our expert destination guides.
Best City Breaks In Spain
You might think that Madrid already has more than its fair share of world-class museums, but a huge building is being built behind the Royal Palace to house the magnificent art collections amassed by Spain’s monarchs during the centuries. It overlooks the river, whose banks have been renovated, thus creating a new recreation area in a forgotten part of the city. Cocktail bars, coffee shops and vintage boutiques are popping up in previously run-down parts of the city centre, injecting new energy into the city even in these recessionary times.
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Something similar is happening in Valencia, where the Ruzaf area is being taken over by creative young people with new galleries, shops and bars. In Seville, the narrow streets of the Soho Benita district are lined with independent shops. Barcelona is still one of the most popular choices for a city break. Antonio Gaudí’s architecture never ceases to amaze people and the crowds that always gather around Park Güell, his hypnotic creation, meant that an entrance fee had to be introduced to control numbers. But people keep coming back to the city for the street life, not to mention the shops and beaches. What could be better than spending an invigorating morning in a museum, followed by an afternoon by the sea and then an evening wandering the shops and bars?
Malaga: the city has undergone significant renovation in recent years, with the opening of new museums, shops and restaurants.
Málaga has just celebrated the 11th anniversary of the Picasso Museum, which has been an important catalyst for the renewal of the city in recent years. The opening of the Carmen Thyssen Malaga museum two years ago right in the center of the city led to the beautification of the area with many new shops and restaurants. The famous center for contemporary art has also revived its nearby neighborhood, which has been renamed Soho and has become a center for artists.
Brittany Ferries departs from Santander: the company sails four times a week from Portsmouth to Bilbao and Santander.
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Of course, Malaga is also by the sea and is surrounded by lively city beaches with restaurants and bars along the coast. The cities with associated beaches are actually one of the great advantages of Spain. Fundación Botín, a large new cultural center designed by Renzo Piano, opened in 2014 on the coast in Santander, Cantabria, which has first-class beaches as well as an excellent shopping center and lively nightlife. La Coruña in Galicia also has excellent city beaches. Go around the 24th of June and experience the festivities in San Gwann, when it seems that the entire population descends on the beach and dances the night away around the fire. Of course, you don’t need an excuse to party anywhere in Spain.
Plaza La Cibeles in Madrid: Hop into the Spanish capital for a city break at any time of the year.
We encourage you to disable your ad blocker for the site so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. With an abundance of attractions, including rich culture, famous cuisine and beautiful architecture, Spanish cities are still among the most popular in the world. But when it comes to alternative city breaks, Spain has much more to offer than just Madrid and Barcelona,
With vaccines still rolling out and hopes for summer holidays still rising, 2021 will undoubtedly be the year to step out of your travel comfort zone and visit places off the list tourist standard.
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We’ve rounded up six of our favorite alternative city break spots in Spain, from admiring the architecture in Bilbao to soaking up the sun in Almeria, to help you plan a European vacation like no other.
Although Bilbao is undoubtedly best known for its football team, its art scene and architecture are undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions of the city, located near the north coast. The outstanding monument of the city is the charming Guggenheim Museum, whose metal structure fluidly combines soft, sloping lines with the raw industrialism of Bilbao’s history.
In addition to its fascinating art scene, Bilbao is also known for its cuisine with three Michelin star restaurants calling the city home. In typical Basque style, small plates are the main star in Bilbao, and the proximity to the ocean means that seafood features prominently on most menus. Bilbao is also close to the famous Rioja region, which means that the supply of wines is plentiful.
Located on the south coast of Spain, Malaga is often overlooked in favor of nearby glitzy Marbella. However, as the largest city on the Costa del Sol, it has a lot to offer. As you would expect from the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, Málaga has a rich artistic scene, with around 30 museums, including the Museo Picasso and the Center Pompidou.
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And as one of the oldest cities in Spain, Málaga has many historical elements to boast about, from the ancient cobbled streets of the old town to the Roman amphitheater located in the heart of the city. When you tire of sightseeing, head to the waterfront of Muelle Uno, a waterfront shopping district that features the city’s only Michelin star restaurant, José Carlos García, as well as an abundance of shops.
Located in the north of the country just two hours away from Madrid, Salamanca has something to offer all travelers. History is the main attraction of Salamanca, whose old town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ornamental buildings and monuments can be found throughout the city, including two beautiful cathedrals; the elder goes back 12 years
As well as being a haven for history buffs, Salamanca has many other attractions that make it an ideal alternative stopover in Spain. Food is a special focus, with the fresher air allowing a rich selection of cured meats and cheeses.
Despite being the fifth largest city in Spain, Zaragoza (also known as Saragossa) is successfully off the tourist track. The city is full of history, with many must-see sights such as Basílica del Pilar, La Seo Cathedral and the Aljafería Palace – one of the best examples of Mudéjar architecture in Spain.
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For a truly authentic look at Spanish culture, visit in October, when the city’s famous Festas del Pilar celebrations take place in honor of Spain’s patron saint, the Virgin of the Pilar. However, the city is not just about sightseeing: foodies looking for an alternative city break in Spain will also be happy to discover that the Zaragoza region is a hot spot for black truffles.
The Andalusian city of Almeria has managed to fly under the tourist radar, especially compared to nearby Seville and Granada, making it an ideal choice for travelers hoping to discover an alternative city in Spain. Due to its location in the Mediterranean, Almeria is generally a good destination for a winter break in a city where there is no rain and temperatures are low even in the winter months. Those looking to combine a city break with a relaxing beach holiday will be pleased to know that the Almeria coast is home to some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches.
Nestled between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay, Oviedo is a must-visit city for an alternative stay in Spain. As in most Spanish cities, food and drink play an important role in the culture of Oviedo. The region is best known for its cider production and selection of blue and goat cheeses – none of which should be missed on a culinary tour of the city. You will find that when you order the famous cider, Oviedan’s waiters will pour the drink from a great height to oxygenate the liquid, a trick unique to this part of the world. There is also a lot of art in Oviedo, as the city’s Museum of Fine Arts has one of the best permanent collections in the country. Madrid and Barcelona are no longer a secret for you, but what about Marbella, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Malaga, Seville? Discover the best places to visit in Spain.
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The destination is a magnet for golfers, because it has the highest density of golf courses in Spain. There are 14 golf courses in the municipality, including eight golf clubs with 18 holes, one with 27 holes, two with an 18-hole course and a layout of nine holes, and three nine-hole courses.
A gastronomic tour of this culinary Andalusian city that can satisfy every desire – along with views and atmosphere.
With three Michelin star restaurants