palma de mallorca cathedral

10 Best City Breaks in Spain You Should Add to Your List

If you’re looking for a city break in Europe, Spain is one of the best countries to do so because you’ll find a combination of culture, history, nature and food across the country.

Every Spanish city has something different to offer, so whether you love a relaxing beach holiday or discovering the history and culture behind a city, keep reading to find out about incredible city breaks in Spain and decide which one is best for you.

incredible city breaks in spain

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Best City Breaks in Spain You Should Add to Your List

Alicante

Located in the famous Costa Blanca, Alicante is an excellent city break in which you can combine exploring beaches with exploring beautiful streets and historic buildings.

You can easily explore Alicante in two or three days, and it’s also a good base if you’re planning to travel around the Costa Blanca region.

During your city break, make sure to visit the following attractions in Alicante.

Must-see attractions in Alicante

  • Castle of Santa Barbara – Located on the top of Mount Benacantil, this castle is one of Spain’s largest mediaeval fortresses and it has incredible views of Alicante’s coast.
  • Casco Antiguo – Known as El Barrio by the locals, the old town is one of the most beautiful areas in Alicante. Not only will you find picturesque streets but historic buildings and many tapas bars and restaurants.
  • Basilica of Santa María – Built-in Valencian Gothic style around the 14th century over the remains of a mosque, this is the oldest active church in Alicante.
  • Explanada de España – It’s the perfect place to go for a walk. This promenade is an iconic location in Alicante surrounded by palm trees, beautiful views of the port and a unique floor that consists of marble tiles forming a design with a wave effect mosaic.
  • Playa El Postiguet – This sandy beach is situated in the heart of the city which makes it a good beach to relax after a day of exploring Alicante.

If you want to discover other beautiful places near Alicante, then you want to check out Villajoyosa, a colourful coastal town only 30 minutes drive.

Barcelona

palau de la musica

If you’re looking for a short city break packed with activities, then Barcelona is your best choice. The city is home to outstanding buildings, such as the famous Sagrada Familia, Casa Battló and Casa Vicens Gaudí, that have unique elements of Gaudí’s architecture.

Visiting Barcelona is an incredible experience because no matter where you look, you’ll find beautiful buildings, fountains, alleys or unique sculptures. Although it’s a great city break, if you prefer to explore it at a slower pace, I recommend staying in Barcelona for at least four days.

It’s also good to know that Barcelona is more expensive than other Spanish cities. Although you can travel to Barcelona on a budget, you’re more likely to spend more money because of the higher prices on restaurants and accommodation.

If you’re spending a weekend in Barcelona, you’ll want to know about these interesting facts about Barcelona and some of the attractions you can’t miss.

Must-see attractions in Barcelona

  • Sagrada Familia – the most impressive building in the city. This architectural gem was started by Gaudí and has taken years to be completed.
  • Park Güell – the perfect place to get a panoramic view of Barcelona, and discover more architectural pieces from Gaudí.
  • Barcelona Cathedral – Located in the Gothic Quarter, this 13th-century cathedral is a must-see attraction. You can also go to the rooftop for great views.
  • Barceloneta Beach – Whether you’re visiting Barcelona in summer or winter, you must visit this beach. In the summer, it’s the central beach that most tourists go to, whereas in the winter, it’s a beautiful place to go for a walk.
  • Las Ramblas – Barcelona’s liveliest street in which you can see street performances and shop stalls.
  • Casa Batlló and Casa Mira – Designed by Gaudí, these two houses are worth visiting because of their unique architecture, especially on their rooftops.

📌 Related blog: 22 Most instagrammable Places in Barcelona You Can’t Miss

Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Many places located in Northern Spain are highly underrated, and this is the case with Bilbao.

If you’re looking for a weekend to indulge yourself in food and contemplate beautiful buildings and nature, then Bilbao is a great choice for you.

Gastronomy in Bilbao and the Basque Country is a big part of the culture. In Bilbao you don’t have tapas, but what’s called “pintxos”, small snacks that are eaten in bars and can have anything from meat to fish and seafood.

The difference between a “pintxo” and a tapa is that “pintxos” tend to be smaller and are ordered and paid for.

If you’re visiting Bilbao during the summer, discover the beautiful beaches of Las Arenas, Getxo and Plentzia which are relatively close to the city.

If you’re spending a weekend in Bilbao, you can’t miss the following attractions.

Must-see attractions in Bilbao

  • Guggenheim and Puppy – If it’s something you can’t miss during your city break in Bilbao is Guggenheim Museum. Even if you aren’t an art lover, the museum is worth visiting. Here you’ll find over 200 contemporary works, including the Puppy sculpture, that will blow your mind.
  • Old Quarter – The old quarter is one of the liveliest places in the city where you can enjoy “pintxos” in a tapa bar, explore historic monuments or do some shopping.
  • Bilbao Cathedral – Bilbao’s oldest building where you can contemplate the detailed and beautiful Gothic architecture.

Another incredible activity to do near Bilbao is visiting Gaztelugatxe, a small island that became very popular since its appearance in Game of Thrones which was referred to as “Dragonstone.”

Girona

river view of girona in spain

A less common but great city break is Girona. Most travellers tend to visit Girona on a day trip from Barcelona, however, this Catalan city has a special charm and beautiful sights to discover in two or even three days.

Must-see attractions in Girona

  • Passeig de la Muralla – There’s no better way to explore the city than walking Girona’s medieval city walls. From there you’ll get scenic views of Girona.
  • Dalí Theatre-Museum – An art museum dedicated to the life of the artist Salvador Dalí.
  • Cathedral of Girona – An incredible roman Catholic church that was built between the 11th and 18th centuries. What makes it unique is the variety of architectural styles you can see in its walls and façades.
  • Museum of Jewish History – This museum is a representation of the significant Jewish community of Catalonia.

If you have enough time, go on a day trip to Cadaqués, a whitewashed fishing village packed with history, architecture, scenery and amazing cuisine.

Granada

inside the alhambra in granada

Granada is a great city to choose for a weekend getaway. This Southern Spain city has unique monuments and buildings that you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition to this, if you’re a foodie who loves Spanish cuisine, you’ll be happy to know that Granada is considered one of the best places in Andalucia to have tapas.

If you love skiing, you want to check Sierra Nevada, located 31 kilometres from Granada. This ski resort is surrounded by traditional restaurants and hotels with incredible facilities such as spas and a heated outdoor pool with spectacular views of the mountains. Also, it has the largest ski slope in Spain!

If you’re spending one or two days in Granada, these are some of the attractions you can’t miss.

Must-see attractions in Granada

  • Alhambra – This outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of a palace and fortress complex with examples of detailed Nasrid architecture. It’s also the only preserved palatine city of the Islamic period.
  • Albaicín – A special neighbourhood with narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past, also considered World Heritage Site.
  • Royal Chapel of Granada – A building worth visiting which is the burial place of the Spanish monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs.
  • Granada Cathedral – A building that represents the great triumph of Christianity after the conquest of the city of Granada.
  • Corral del Carbon – A 14th-century historic building located in the Albaicin quarter.

Madrid

Madrid is one of the best Spanish city breaks for any culture lovers as it has a bit of everything – museums, famous landmarks such as Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, palaces and much more.

Ideally, you want to spend more than 3 days in Madrid to see everything the city has to offer, however, 2 days is great for anyone who wants to see the main attractions and sights.

If you’re spending 2 days in Madrid, here is a list of the must-see attractions.

Must-see attractions in Madrid

  • Gran Vía – This is Madrid’s main avenue and home to high street shops as well as the best entertainment spots in the city.
  • Palacio Real – The Royal Palace is where you can learn all about the Spanish monarchy and contemplate over 3,000 luxurious rooms, which have been personalised for each monarch.
  • Parque del Retiro – El Retiro is an incredible park in the heart of the city with plenty of activities to do such as renting a rowing boat to discovering interesting sculptures and fountains. When you visit it, you don’t feel like you’re in a bustling city at all.
  • Museo del Prado – This museum is considered the main Spanish national art museum. If you’re passionate about art, you must visit this museum where you can find some of the most incredible pieces of art in Europe.
  • Plaza Mayor – Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s main square where many important events happen, including the beautiful Madrid Christmas Market.

Malaga and Costa del Sol

muelle uno malaga

Malaga and Costa del Sol are well-known for their extensive sandy beaches, but there are other many reasons why you should choose this Southern Spain city.

Here you’ll find a wide range of museums, beautiful whitewashed towns, local cuisine in which fish and seafood are the main top ingredients, and outstanding and unique natural places such as the famous Caminito del Rey.

Malaga is a good city break because you can see the main attractions in one day and spend other days exploring must-see towns in Costa del Sol such as Nerja, Frigiliana and Marbella.

On top of this, you can find many free things to do in Malaga, which makes it the perfect getaway for you if you’re travelling on a budget.

If you’re spending one day in Malaga, these are some of the attractions you can’t miss.

Must-see attractions in Malaga

  • Alcazaba de Malaga – a Moorish fortress-palace with beautiful views of the port and city.
  • Gibralfaro viewpoint – the perfect place to enjoy the sunrise or sunset and take panoramic photos.
  • Malaga Cathedral – a Catholic church with Renaissance architecture.
  • Calle Larios – Malaga’s main street with numerous high street shops. It’s also here where all the cultural events (Christmas Lights, Easter week, etc.) take place.
  • Picasso Museum Malaga – an unmissable museum for art lovers and those who appreciate Picasso’s works.

📌 Related blog: How to Spend One Day in Malaga – Itinerary with Local Recommendations

Palma de Mallorca 

palma de mallorca cathedral

Who said Palma de Mallorca is only a summer holiday destination? Apart from the incredible beaches, you can find near Palma, the capital of the island has other things to offer all year round which makes it a great city break.

Mallorca is the type of city break you want to have if you love beautiful natural features, culture and food. 

If you’re travelling to Palma for a short getaway, these are unmissable things to do and see.

Must-see attractions in Palma de Mallorca

  • Plaza Mayor – This lively square is located in the centre of Palma. Here is where you’ll find plenty of bar and restaurant options, shops and street artists.
  • Palma’s Old Town – There’s no visit to Palma without exploring its enchanting Old Town with cobblestoned streets that will lead you to historical landmarks such as the Royal Palace of Almudaina.
  • La Seu Cathedral – La Seul is an outstanding 14th-century cathedral you must see as it’s the most emblematic building in the city.
  • Bellver Castle – One of the few circular Gothic-style castles in Europe that is worth visiting for its views of the port and city.
  • Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo – If you have a sweet tooth, I highly recommend visiting Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo, a cafe with the best ensaimadas (a traditional pastry from Mallorca) and hot chocolate.

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Mallorca, then you can’t miss the opportunity to visit Deia, an idyllic small coastal village.

Sevilla

plaza de espana in seville spain

Rich in history and culture, Seville is undoubtedly one of the top city breaks in Spain. The city is well-known for its Moorish and Gothic architecture buildings, flamenco dancing and, of course, food.

Although the city has many things to do in a weekend, it’s also good to know that it’s well-connected to other cities and towns in Andalucia, in case you want to explore more of Southern Spain.

You’ll enjoy visiting Seville all year round, except in summer when the temperatures reach over 40-celsius degrees when even the locals try to get away from the capital.

If you’re spending two or three days, here is a list of must-see attractions in Seville.

Must-see attractions in Seville

  • Real Alcázar of Seville – One of the oldest palaces in use in Europe that any Game of Thrones fan may recognise.
  • Cathedral of Seville – Considered a UNESCO World Site Heritage and the largest cathedral in the world. Interestingly, here you’ll find the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
  • La Giralda – It’s the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville which you must climb to get stunning views of the city.
  • Plaza de España – This square is a masterpiece you can’t miss – painted ceramic benches that represent all the provinces in Spain, a round canal with beautiful bridges and a lovely park.

Valencia

Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain which means you’ll find many things to do during your short city break, and one of the best things about this fantastic city is the fact that it’s very walkable.

It’s also the perfect getaway if you’re looking for a wide range of activities to do but you’re also travelling on a budget. Unlike Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia is an affordable city to visit.

So, what things shouldn’t you miss during your trip to Valencia?

Must-see attractions in Valencia

  • The City of Arts and Sciences – This cultural complex is considered one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. You can easily spend 3 or 4 hours exploring all the different parts of this building.
  • Old Town – Walking around the Old Town is a lovely experience because it’s lively and rich in history. As you walk through it, you’ll come across numerous monuments and important buildings.
  • Valencia Cathedral – This beautiful cathedral is worth visiting as it keeps one of the most important pieces of art from the first Spanish Renaissance.
  • Central Market – Are you looking for a culinary experience? If so, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit this lovely market where you can also book a guided visit to learn more about Valencia’s cuisine.

If you’re looking for some last minute holidays, Jet2 have a wide range of holidays – from winter sun destination to ski and Christmas Markets– to many of the Spanish destinations mentioned above.

Which city break in Spain would you like to do? Let me know in the comments below.

If you have any questions about travelling to Spain, email me or send me a DM on Instagram. I’d be very happy to help you plan your Spain city break and tell you more tips.

Safe adventures!

Cristina xx

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Frequently asked questions about travelling to Spain for a city break

Where is the prettiest place in Spain?

This is a very subjective question because depending on your holiday preferences, you’ll think a destination is more beautiful than other.

Southern Spain has some of the prettiest towns and villages in Spain, however, no matter where you go you’ll always find something unique in each Spanish destination.

Which Costa in Spain is best?

Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca are the most popular choices for locals and tourists. On these two coasts, you’ll find a wide variety of activities for all types of travellers – water activities like kayaking, great nightlife and beach clubs, and even hiking trails.

What is the best month to go to Spain?

The best month to visit Spain is late spring (May or June) because the weather is warm but not as warm as in summer when it can be difficult to explore certain places, especially in the south with an average temperature of 35-celsius degrees.

Also, spring is a good time to visit Spain because there are fewer crowds, and you can sometimes find good deals on flights and accommodation.

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13 Comments

  1. Love this list! Tops on my list of places to visit in Spain are Sevilla, Malaga, and Alicante. The others will be a bonus is there’s time.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you! I am glad to hear that my hometown, Malaga, is on your top list 🙂

  2. I’ve been to 8/10 of these locations and LOVE them. I can’t wait to visit the other two – and to return to Alicante

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      That’s great to hear!! I hope you go back to Alicante soon.

  3. Sarah Borg Barthet says:

    Amazing choices for city breaks!! Would love the opportunity to visit Seville one day!

  4. These are great city breaks. And useful since I will be going to Madrid soon. I hope.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks! Have a great time in Madrid 🙂

  5. Sevilla is on my list to visit! Love this quick and easy list you put together! It’s so helpful!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks!! Sevilla is such a great city. I cannot wait to go back.

  6. I’ve visited a few of these, but I would really love to visit Girona and Bilbao! Both are now on the list for my next trip to Spain!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m glad you’ve managed to visit some of these beautiful cities! 🙂 I hope you visit Girona and Bilbao next time.

  7. Christina says:

    Loved Barcelona!! I’d love to visit more of Spain. Great List.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Christina!

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