Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville are among the most popular cities in Spain. They’re unique in many ways and have many important sights to visit that make you want to return all the time.
However, visiting off-the-beaten-track and lesser-known destinations offer you a different side of Spain. You can fully enjoy places without crowds, discover more about the local culture and cuisine, and have a more authentic experience most times.
No matter which Spanish main city you’re travelling to, you can find hidden gem destinations if you explore its surroundings.
In this blog, I’m telling you about hidden gems in Spain that even many Spaniards don’t know about. I’ve compiled unique places for you to visit all around the country, including the Spanish islands.
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The Best Hidden Gems in Spain
Hidden gems in Northern Spain
Nearest biggest city: Girona
Cadaqués, located on the Cap de Creus peninsula, is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Catalonia.
This seaside town is so picturesque that it has attracted well-known painters like Piccaso and Salvador Dalí. Its whitewashed buildings, crystal clear blue sea and abundant green surroundings make a stunning landscape that seems to come straight from a postcard.
While visiting Cadaques, you can visit Salvador Dalí House and Museum, explore Cap de Creus National Park, wander the old town, and relax at one of its beautiful coves.
If you’re a foodie, another reason to visit Cadaques is its mouthwatering cuisine that combines products from the sea and land. If you love fish, Suquet de peix (fish and seafood stew) is a must-try!
It’s the perfect day trip from Girona, but you can also travel to Cadaques from Barcelona which will take you about 2 hours.
📌 If you’re planning a day trip to Cadaques from Barcelona, check out this full-day tour to Cadaques.
Nearest biggest city: Oviedo
Cudillero, situated in the green region of Asturias, is one of the prettiest hidden gems in Spain.
This little fishing village is characterised by its colourful and bright houses. But that’s not all, Cudillero is known for its dramatic cliffs and golden sand beaches.
Wander around its port, discover its picturesque streets, walk to the lighthouse, and go to the beach.
📌 Tip: Only 18 minutes by car from Cudillero, you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, Playa del Silencio. If you have the time, it’s a hundred per cent worth visiting.
Magdalena Peninsula (Santander)
Nearest biggest city: Santander
Santander is one of the most underrated Spanish cities. You won’t probably hear much about this city, but the truth is that it has so much to offer.
One of the hidden gems in Santander is Magdalena Peninsula, an inland peninsula not very far from the city centre so it’s an easy hike.
Once you get to the Magdalena Peninsula, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the sea and city, visit Palacio de la Magdalena (a former royal palace) and see marine animals like seals and penguins.
This is a must-see spot but especially if you love nature.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta (Barcelona)
Nearest biggest city: Barcelona
Barcelona is home to some of the most well-known and beautiful attractions like Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
However, if you explore beyond the city centre, you’ll find hidden gems in Barcelona. An example of this is Parc del Laberint d’Horta.
This is a lovely park that includes gardens and a maze. It’s a fantastic place for adults and kids. While adults get to discover the gems inside the park, children enjoy playing in the maze.
But you definitely don’t need to be a kid to go into the maze. Just have fun and let out the inner child inside you.
This is also one of the best spots to take photos in Barcelona. It’s unique and different!
📌 Tip: Go to the maze on a Wednesday to avoid paying a small entry fee.
Santillana del Mar (Cantabria)
Nearest biggest city: Santander
Santillana del Mar is one of the prettiest towns in Cantabria. Despite being a small town, it’s home to historical buildings and is full of charm which makes it a fantastic day trip from Santander.
One of the best things to do in Santillana del Mar is to wander its cobbled stone streets with stone buildings that look straight from a fairytale and take you back in time.
In addition to this, you can also visit some odd but interesting museums like Museo de la Tortura, which isn’t for everyone as it tells you about torture methods used during the Spanish Inquisition, and Museo Jesús Otero to immerse yourself in art.
Last but not least, while visiting Santillana, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the cave complex of Altamira, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Basque Country)
Nearest biggest city: Bilbao
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, located 40 minutes by car from Bilbao, is an islet that is worth visiting in a day. This is one of the most impressive hidden gems of Spain.
If you’re a fan of Games of Thrones and have watched season 7, you’re likely to recognise this place which is referred to as “Dragonstone.”
The islet is connected with the mainland by a man-made stone bridge, then it transitions into a path that has 241 steps and zigzags all the way to the top.
When you reach the top, you’ll see a church and there’s a legend that says that one of your wishes will come true if you ring the church’s bell three times.
Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is an incredible experience.
📌 Tip: Accessing San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is easy. You can either drive, get the coach from Bilbao or book this guided tour to Gaztelugatxe from Bilbao.
Extra hidden gems in Northern Spain
- Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos). One of the most mystical places in Spain.
- Islas Cies (Galicia). The perfect place for hiking and discovering unspoilt beaches.
- Laguardia (Álava). An enchanting hidden village in Spain known for its medieval atmosphere and high-quality wine.
Hidden gems in Eastern Spain
Nearest biggest city: Murcia
Only 30 minutes from Murcia, Cartagena is one of the lesser-known destinations in Spain. Despite this, the city has so many gems to discover.
Cartagena is a paradise for anyone who loves history. If you’re into visiting Roman and Carthaginian buildings, you’ll certainly love this city.
One of the top sights in Cartagena is the Roman Theatre and Amphitheatre, it’s the most impressive and best preserved Roman theatre in Spain. So if you only go to Cartagena for a day, and you don’t have much time, this is the attraction you can’t miss.
Other activities to add to your list include walking its lovely promenade, exploring the old town and visiting Batería de Castillitos.
La Laguna de Torrevieja (Alicante)
Nearest biggest cities: Murcia and Alicante
Have you ever heard about this pink lake in Spain? Probably not!
La Laguna Rosa or La Laguna de Torrevieja is located in Alicante, and it’s a natural wonder that you wouldn’t expect to find in Spain but in tropical destinations like Mexico.
The lake is inside the Nature Park of Lagunas de la Mata and Torrevieja, and here you can contemplate this eye-catching bubblegum pink lake, see flamingos and visit the interpretation centre to learn about this incredible place which is a big producer of salt too.
📌 Important to know: To access this place, you’ll need a car as it’s remote and there is no public transport from Murcia or Alicante that takes you there.
Nearest biggest city: Alicante
A less touristy destination in the Costa Blanca is Villajoyosa, a colourful coastal town between Alicante and Benidorm. Despite being close to these popular destinations for summer holidaymakers, Villajoyosa is completely different as it keeps its charm.
There are many things to do in Villajoyosa – from getting lost in the narrow streets of its old town and admiring its colourful buildings to visiting the chocolate museum and going to the beach.
It’s a hidden gem that you can visit all year round, but if you’re planning to visit it in the summer, go in late July to see the unique Moros y Cristianos festival that commemorates the battles and fights between Moors and Christians during the Reconquista period.
Extra hidden gems in Eastern Spain
- Benissa (Alicante). A medieval town which is one of the most interesting little known places to visit in Spain.
- La Cova Tallada (Alicante). One of the most scenic caves in the Costa Blanca.
Hidden gems in Central Spain
Cuenca (Castilla La Mancha)
Nearby biggest city: Madrid
Despite Cuenca not being a popular destination, this Spanish hidden gem is full of history and incredible attractions to visit. It’s the perfect day trip from Madrid as it’s only 1 hour and 40 minutes by car.
One of the best things to do in Cuenca is visiting Las Casa Colgadas, the hanging houses that are built on a rock overlooking the river. You can go inside, contemplate the beautiful interior and even have a meal at its Michelin star restaurant.
Other incredible activities you don’t want to miss are visiting Museo de Cuenca to discover more about the history behind this city, going to Cuenca Cathedral and enjoying the local cuisine (you can’t leave Cuenca without eating croquetas!)
Segovia (Castilla y León)
Nearby biggest city: Madrid
Segovia is one of the hidden gems in Spain worth visiting as this World Heritage City is home to many unique attractions.
Its most popular sight is its Roman Aqueduct, known as El Acueducto. This aqueduct was built in the second half of the 1st century during the Roman period, but it’s almost intact.
If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll be surprised to hear that there’s a fairytale castle (Alcazar of Segovia) just like the one in Cinderella! It’s believed that Walt Disney got his inspiration from it.
Wandering around the castle is a magical experience, but there are also other sights you don’t want to miss. For example, the Cathedral of Segovia, the Jewish Quarter, and the Segovia City Walls.
Nearest biggest city: Caceres
Have you ever heard of Plasencia? Likely, you haven’t just like many Spaniards.
This city is in Caceres in the region of Extremadura, and it’s known for its impressive medieval walls and old quarter. It’s a hidden gem in Spain that is worth visiting, especially if you love history, architecture and food.
There’s no visit to Plasencia without seeing the cathedral that has two parts: the old and the new cathedral. By looking at both, you can see the transition in architecture that goes from Romanesque to Gothic and Renaissance.
Wandering the old town is another must. Here you’ll find Plaza Mayor square where you can taste Plasencia’s traditional dishes like “migas” (breadcrumbs with sausage and bacon).
📌Tip: if you’re looking for accommodation in Plasencia, Parador de Cuenca is the best place to stay in the city.
Extra hidden gems in Central Spain
- Ciudad Real. This beautiful city has the Quixote Museum, a museum dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Spanish novel Don Quixote as well as other incredible buildings that are worth visiting.
- Talavera de la Reina. This hidden gem destination has stunning buildings like Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Prado, and it’s known for its ceramics.
Hidden gems in Southern Spain
Castillo de Colomares (Benalmadena)
Nearest biggest city: Malaga
Benalmadena, located in the Costa Del Sol, is known for its beaches and lively atmosphere as tourists choose it as a summer holiday destination.
However, if you explore Benalmadena Pueblo, you can find some hidden gems including Colomares Castle.
This monument in the shape of a castle is dedicated to the life and adventures of Christopher Columbus.
Despite its small size, it’s very impressive to see. Wander around the castle, learn about the history behind it, and enjoy its beautiful views of the coast.
There’s a small fee to enter the castle (4 euros), but it’s completely worth visiting.
📌 Tip: Explore the Buddha temple of Benalmadena. It’s the only temple of this kind in Southern Spain.
Nearest biggest city: Seville
Carmona is a beautiful town in the province of Seville, and it’s a unique place to visit in Spain as the town is built on a ridge and offers incredible views of the mountain landscape.
Another good reason to visit Carmona is the fact that it’s one of the oldest towns in Europe, so be prepared to see incredible historical buildings and pretty alleyways.
Some of the unmissable things to do in Carmona include seeing its fort, visiting its church (Iglesia de Santa Maria), wandering its square and streets, and visiting Santa Clara Convent where you need to get a torta inglesa, a delicious traditional cake elaborated in the convent.
📌 Tip: If you’re spending more than 2 days in Seville, head to this hidden gem. It’s only 30 minutes by car.
Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz)
Nearest biggest cities: Malaga and Cadiz
If you’re after hidden gems in Andalucia, Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the most unique places in the county.
Some parts of this town are built under cliffs, which were formed by the river, so you’ll be impressed by its peculiar structure.
Apart from this, this beautiful whitewashed town (Pueblo blanco) is worth exploring. Climb up the hills to encounter different viewpoints from which you’ll get stunning views of the town and its surroundings.
It’s a small town that you can visit in a few hours, so it’s a good idea to add another close town to your itinerary.
A popular combination is Setenil de las Bodegas and Ronda, another lovely white town with one of the prettiest bridges in Spain.
Isleta del Moro (Cabo de Gata-Níjar)
Nearest biggest city: Almeria
Isleta del Moro is a beautiful village in the Cabo De Gata-Nijar National Park.
This village is home to incredible crystal clear water beaches that are perfect for snorkelling.
But that’s not all, you can also go on a small hike to the top of its hill where you’ll enjoy incredible views of the sea and mountains.
Isleta del Moro is a small village, but it’s full of charm and a great place to start your adventure in Cabo De Gata-Nijar National Park which has other gems like Arrecife de las Sirenas.
Nearest biggest city: Jaen
Baeza, located 30 minutes from the city of Jaen, is a charming town that many people don’t know about.
It’s known for having some of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples of the Italian Renaissance in Spain, and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the best things to do in this town include visiting Baeza Cathedral and Jabalquinto Palace (Palacio de Jabalquinto) and wandering around the town centre where you’ll find the beautiful Fountain of St Mary among others.
Visiting Baeza is a great day trip from Jaen as well as a short weekend break to which you can add a visit to the amazing Sierras de Cazorla National Park.
Extra hidden gems in Southern Spain
- Mijas Pueblo (Malaga). This mountain whitewashed village is truly a gem. Not only is it incredible to wander its narrow streets but enjoy the breathtaking views of the coast.
- Osuna (Seville). This town is well-known for its baroque palaces and beautiful churches dating from the 16th to the 18 centuries.
- Arcos de la Frontera (Cadiz). It’s considered one of the most beautiful whitewashed towns in Andalucia.
Hidden gems in the Spanish Islands
If you’re looking for hidden gems in Mallorca, Soller is the perfect place to visit if you want an authentic experience on the island. It’s a very quaint town nestled down in the mountains of Mallorca.
The town isn’t home to many attractions, but it’s a great place to slow down and enjoy the tranquil and charming atmosphere.
Wander its cobbled stone street, go to Plaza de la Constitución to enjoy a meal while people-watching, or adventure yourself to go one of the scenic hiking routes in Soller.
Soller is the perfect day trip from Palma, but it’s also one of the most magical places to stay in Spain. You can find boutique hotels right in the town centre like Sóller Plaza Hotel or luxurious villas that offer stunning views.
📌 Tip: If you’re travelling from Palma to Soller, get the Tren de Sóller, a vintage train in which you can enjoy a unique railway journey with scenic views.
Sendero de los Sentidos (Tenerife)
An off the beaten path location in the north of Tenerife is Senderos de los Sentidos which consists of a charming hiking trail that you can do in the Anaga Rural Park.
The trail is called “Trail of the Senses” because it stimulates all of your senses. You see the beautiful green scenery, listen to the birds singing and smell the different vegetation.
There are actually three different routes that range from easy to difficult, and you can choose to do them with a trained guide or by yourself as it’s well signposted.
If you love immersing yourself in nature, you must visit Sendero de los Sentidos when you travel to Tenerife.
Barranco de las Vacas (Gran Canaria)
Spain is home to many incredible natural landscapes and Barranco de las Vacas is one of them.
Not many people know that they can find a very similar place to the US Antelope Canyon in Spain, and that’s Barranco de las Vacas.
As this is a hidden gem, and even many Spaniards don’t know about it, there are no entry fees to pay. You can just turn up and enjoy the unique rock formations and surroundings.
📌 Tip: It’s a very remote place so you’ll need a car to access this place. In addition to this, it isn’t clearly signposted, but you can write “Tobas de colores del Barranco de Las Vacas” on Google Maps and follow the instructions closely.
Extra hidden gems in the Spanish Islands
- Jardines de Alfabia (Bunyola). A historic house with beautiful gardens located in Bunyola, in the mountainside of Mallorca.
- Playa Guigui (Gran Canaria). If you’re looking for secret beaches in Gran Canaria, add Playa Guigui to your list. It’s a virgin beach surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.
These are only 32 of the many hidden gems in Spain you can find!
The best ways to discover these unique places are by asking the locals or expats who live in a specific city and getting a bit lost. Leave yourself a day in which you don’t follow an itinerary and you’ll be surprised by how many cute streets, beaches or buildings you come across.
Are you adding these hidden gems in Spain to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments.
If you have any questions about these hidden gems in Spain, email me or send me a DM on Instagram. I’d be very happy to help you.
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Top things to check before visiting Spain
- Book cheap flights to Spain with Skyscanner.
- Are you looking for the best accommodation for you? Book your accommodation with Booking.com
- Discover incredible activities you can do in Spain with Get Your Guide.
- Check out my guide for travelling to Spain for the first time.
- Book travel insurance for your trip, this is a must for any trip!
Frequently Asked Questions About Lesser-Known Destinations in Spain
What are the most beautiful hidden villages in Spain?
There are so many lesser-known villages in Spain that are worth mentioning, but these are some of the villages you can’t miss:
– Cudillero (Asturias)
– Mijas Pueblo (Malaga)
– Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz)
– Potes (Cantabria)
What’s the best way to discover hidden gems in Spain?
Ask the locals! Most locals will be able to tell you the most authentic places in that city or town.
However, you can also ask in tourism centres (just emphasize that you don’t want to visit touristy places) or look for hidden gems in apps (not all the “hidden gems” mentioned are hidden gems since many people may have already found about these places).
Do I need to rent a car to explore hidden gems in Spain?
The short answer is yes. There are a few places you can access by train, coach or even take a tour, however, accessing remote hidden gems are difficult or impossible by public transport.
In the case you find a public transport route, it’s likely that it takes you a long time to get to the place or it may involve taking different transports.
It’s worth checking all the hidden gems in Spain you want to visit, and then making a decision on whether you definitely need a car or not.