It might be known for flamenco and bullfighting, but when it comes to unmissable landmarks, Spain is hard to beat. Taking a trip to this culture-rich country? We’ve rounded up the best landmarks in Spain for you to curate the trip of a lifetime.
From blockbuster landmarks in internationally renowned cities to rare gems still hiding off the beaten track, there are so many wonderful things to do in Spain. Holy sites and natural wonders, museums and parks (and even a cheeky winery!), this comprehensive guide of what’s what and where’s where in Spain will soon have you scouting some of the most sensational spots in the country.
Seville: Home to some of the best landmarks in Spain
When you think of Spain, you probably imagine dark, handsome matadors and skirt-twirling flamenco dancers – and nowhere in the country is this cultural archetype stronger than in Seville, the beating heart of Andalusia. This vibrant, historical city provides some of the richest sights and sounds for the most budget-friendly price tags. No list of things to do in Spain is complete without Seville, so slip on your dancing shoes, steel yourself for a veritable tapas feast, and be immersed in the city that was once the most powerful in the world.
The Cathedral of Seville is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain. And that’s not only because it’s the third-largest cathedral in the world, but also because it contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus: seafaring explorer, darling of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, and the man singularly responsible for bringing chocolate to Europe.
The cathedral (not unlike a certain other place that will remain unnamed!) was not built in a day. Take a walk along the eastern wall of the Seville Cathedral to see and appreciate the greatest hits of the architectural styles throughout its construction – the years 1401-1528, to be more exact.
This breathtaking cathedral, located in the center of Seville, is even more impressive on the inside than it is on the outside, making it one of the must-see landmarks in Spain.
The most cherished icon of the city’s Andalusian spirit is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral – La Giralda. Originally an Islamic minaret built sometime between 1184 and 1198, even the brutal force of the Spanish Inquisition couldn’t bear to destroy something so beautiful. Instead, the architect Hernán Ruíz was commissioned to design El Giraldillo (little weathervane), a four-meter-tall statue that sits at the top of the belltower to watch over the city. Its purpose was to reframe the building as Christian, but today La Giraldais a shining example of the city’s layered past. Each component is just a part of one history that begins all the way down in the building’s original foundations, made of stone from the Ancient Roman period.
Insider tip: Climb the 35 ramps inside La Giralda to see one of the most gorgeous vistas in the city of Seville.
During the period of the Al Andalus empire, Seville was one of the most cosmopolitan and religiously diverse cities in Spain. It had a near-even spread of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim inhabitants, all of whom relished their own architectural and artistic influences.
The Alcázar Palace is one of the greatest triumphs of Spanish design, capturing architectural features from the 11th up to the 17th century. Styles include Moorish, Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance, and Baroque, all of which are combined in one decadent palace and several opulent courtyards. It’s also recognized as one of the most beautiful filming locations in Game of Thrones (and one of the weakest storylines, but you didn’t hear it from us!).
Insider tip: Book your Alcázar Palace tickets in advance to skip the line and prepare to spend at least a few hours taking in this breathtaking landmark from every angle.
Barrio Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is one of the most romantic Andalusian neighborhoods you can encounter. Formerly the Jewish Quarter, this picture-perfect collection of cobblestone streets is punctuated with open-air piazzas that buzz with outdoor dining, spice shops, and live music.
There’s a magical ambiance to Santa Cruz that is even more pronounced when you hear some of the stories from its rich, colorful history. These beautiful streets are alive with the secrets of generations past which are best unlocked with a guided tour. Learn all about the famous gitana tobacco factory worker who inspired the musical Carmen, wander the streets where Doña Elvira rejected the famous Don Juan, and hear the heartbreaking tale of the beautiful but doomed Jewish converso, Susona.
Insider tip: Enjoy a taste of Seville’s famous orange wine at the iconic Taberna Álvaro Perejil in Santa Cruz.
While Seville center was, for no small length of time, the beating heart of European commerce, what lay just over the Guadalquivir river was a rugged side to the same coin. Barrio Triana is the historical home to the artists, ship workers, flamenco dancers, and ceramicists of the city – making it one of the most authentic pockets of Spain to this day, not to mention the perfect place to enjoy some of Seville’s most authentic tapas and culture.
Trianeros are a proud lot, and rightly so – the two banks of the river were not connected by a real bridge until 1852, which means that if you ask any staff member in one of Triana’s iconic bars, the odds are they will tell you: “Triana is not Seville!”
If you’re interested in catching a flamenco show, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place. This is what locals call the real flamenco – as raw and as real as it is romantic.
Insider tip: Visit Triana at the tail-end of July to catch la Cucaña, a midsummer competition featuring the neighborhood’s bravest souls, each competing to capture a flag posted at the end of a greased-up wooden pole.
Barcelona landmarks: A Modernist dream
Are there any 3 letters quite as iconic as BCN?
Renowned for its awe-inspiring convergence of art and architecture, thriving party scene, and sensational food, Barcelona is one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations, and with good reason: it’s home to some of the most famous landmarks in Spain.
Bask in the sun that feels like it might never set, dine at the Catalan customary dinner time of 10pm, and dance all night before making your way to some of the most impressive landmarks the city has to offer.
When the pioneer of Catalan Modernist architecture, Antoni Gaudí, designed the Sagrada Familia, nobody expected that it would become a centuries-long love letter from this visionary to his city.
Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882, but due to the sheer level of detail of the artist’s plan, it is not expected to be completed until 2026. This explains why the Sagrada Familia is considered a living piece of history – or, according to the more cynical, an extremely clever marketing incentive to make sure construction never ends!
Every single feature of this cathedral is ornate and perfectly curated, like any work of art. This makes the Sagrada Familia an exciting, and almost overwhelming experience that’s not to be missed. Book a skip-the-line ticket so you have enough time to savor every detail.
Insider tip: Need to sit down and digest what you’ve just experienced (and maybe a snack?). Check out our list of the 10 best restaurants near the Sagrada Familia!
Sant Pau: The Art Nouveau site
At the turn of the last century, visionary architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner posited a single question: if hospitals were not so stark and bleak, what would that do for the spirit of the patients?
With this in mind, he designed Sant Pau, a hospital that was as much about celebrating the Catalan Modernisme as it was about relishing the gift of life itself.
Today, Sant Pau is the world’s largest Art Nouveau complex, containing some 16 pavilions, tranquil gardens, a kilometer of subterranean galleries, and a historical archive of the site’s rich history as a place of healing (and, just as i Montaner intended, peace) for the patients who were treated there.
This UNESCO Heritage-listed site is a rare oasis in the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, making it one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
Designed by the indomitable Gaudí, it is a rainbow riot of mosaics and reptilian motifs, making it the perfect place to drink in the beautiful fever dream of the artist’s vision.
After making your grand descent down the park’s white marble stairways, luxuriating against the tessellated tiles like a lost mermaid and scaling a palm tree for a unique vantage point of Barcelona (okay, maybe don’t try that last one), you can visit the little gingerbread house where Gaudí lived for the last two decades of his life. Check out our ultimate guide on things to see when visiting Park Guell.
Insider tip: Get your Park Güell tickets from Tiqets and you’ll also receive a handy city guide to Barcelona’s best tourist spots, cultural experiences, day trips, bars, and restaurants!
Malaga: Sun, sand, and famous landmarks in Spain
Ask any Spaniard and they’ll tell you the same thing: all the beautiful people come from Andalusia. But make no mistake, the people aren’t the only beautiful thing about Málaga! This cosmopolitan coastal city offers laidback beach vibes, world-class shopping, and historical sites dating as far back as the times of the Ancient Romans.
Picasso’s birthplace museum
Celebrate the life of Málaga’s prodigal son by visiting the museum now located in his birthplace. The Museo Picasso Málaga is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain, showcasing some 285 original works donated by the artist’s family against the backdrop of his childhood home.
Drink in the ambiance of these hallowed halls, where some of Picasso’s greatest works are showcased alongside those of contemporary artists such as Miró, Christo, Bacon, and Bross. Discover the man behind the legend by examining the artifacts and stories from annals of his life.
Take a trip back in time at the Alcazaba. This magnificent Moorish fort sits high on one of the city’s coastal hills, making it the ideal location for soldiers in years gone past to watch over the city – and the sea – below.
Built from 1057 to 1063, the Alcazaba was the precursor to the better-known Alhambra in Granada. But don’t underestimate the Alcazaba as a result; this is arguably one of the important military forts still standing from Spain’s storied Hispanic-Arabic period.
Watch the city reveal itself to you by snatches as you ascend the (admittedly, a little steep!) hill, or take a more relaxed trip to the top courtesy of the elevator.
Insider tip: Make the most of your trip to Alcazaba by bundling your Alcazaba ticket with that of the ancient Roman amphitheater.
Centre Pompidou Málaga
After a leisurely stroll along Malaga’s bustling boardwalk, ease into the serene art gallery of Centre Pompidou Málaga. You can spot its entrance by looking for the sleek, modern glass cube, which is affectionately known as (yep, you guessed it), El Cubo.
Explore a magnificent collection spanning some of the most thought-provoking pieces of the 20th and 21st Centuries – including (as is the unwritten law of any gallery in Málaga), works from local legend, Pablo Picasso.
For those who relish the experience of falling in love with a new exhibit each time they enter a museum, Centre Pompidou Málaga’s rolling temporary exhibits, pop-up events, and live performances ensure no two visits are the same.
Madrid landmarks: Talk about timeless
With wide-sweeping boulevards and perfectly manicured parks, Madrid is a city akin to the Palace of Versailles. Everything is elegant, symmetrical, and stunning – and royal. Boasting some of Europe’s finest Baroque architectural landmarks and museums teeming with priceless works, Madrid is a true sophisticate’s city – complete with an abundance of down-and-dirty calamari sandwiches to prevent it from becoming pretentious.
Royal Palace of Madrid
For those of us with champagne tastes (but a tap-water budget), there’s no better way to dip your toe into the luxury life than with a trip to the Royal Palace of Madrid.
As the largest palace in Europe, the sheer enormity of the Royal Palace is almost overwhelming – and with 3,000 rooms, each more lavish than the last, you’re only human to find it staggering. Visit the Crown Room, where the crown jewels are so dazzling you won’t be able to help to gawk at them, and the weapons armory, which contextualizes the sheer might and reach of the former Spanish Empire.
Make the most of your visit by scoping out the priceless artworks peppered throughout the palace. With a collection featuring Caravaggio, Velázquez, Goya, and Sorolla, you’d struggle to find more stunning sights no matter which direction you look!
Bernabeu Tour & Museum
No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to the home stadium of the legendary Real Madrid: Bernabeu. This 85,000-seat stadium where football’s legends play and history is made is almost a sacred site for fans. Take a tour through the stadium – from the players’ dressing rooms all the way to the Presidential Box – and stroll through the attached museum, where all that glitters truly is gold!
Debate with your fellow visitors on the greatest Real Madrid player of all-time in front of the teeming trophy case – and try to forget that headband-wearing phase you went through in the early-00’s when Beckham (and only Beckham) kickstarted the trend.
Museum Triumvirate / Golden Triangle of Art
In the heart of Madrid, there is an unofficial sacred site well worth the pilgrimage: a holy trinity of world-class museums each within a 15-minute walk of one another.
La Reina Sofía is the hot spot for 20th-century art, housing some iconic works from Miró, Dalí, and – perhaps most famously – Picasso’s Guernica, which towers imposingly over the audience and strikes home the black-and-white senselessness of war.
Witness one of the most diverse collections of art – from contemporary art dating all the way back some seven centuries ago at the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Formerly the world’s largest private art collection, the Spanish Government knew a good deal when it saw one and bought the lot in the ’90s, much to the benefit of we, the public.
Rounding out the holy trinity is the Prado, one of the finest museums in the world and Madrid’s most visited attraction. Get the most out of this massive museum with this guide to the Prado Museum’s highlights.
Insider tip: Make the most of every moment in the Spanish Capital with our guide on how to spend 3 days in Madrid.
Camino de Santiago: Home to the incomparable pilgrimage and some of the best landmarks in Spain
For those with a passion for the great outdoors, history, or simply stunning landmarks, there is no better combination of all three than to walk the Camino de Santiago, the holy pilgrimage dating back to the Middle Ages.
With no shortage of routes available to reach the ultimate destination, the Camino de Santiago provides an opportunity for the enthusiastic traveler to seek out their ideal experience.
Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela
It might seem strange to start at the end, but trust us – there’s no better destination to center a trip around than the destination site of the Camino de Santiago: Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela. One of the most sacred and famous landmarks in Spain, this cathedral is said to house the remains of St. James and is one of the most remarkable architectural sites in the country.
Insider tip: Consider joining a guided tour – even if you don’t speak Spanish. Some of the guides know the cathedral better than the backs of their own hands and have a knack for pointing out remarkable details that even a seasoned pilgrim can miss.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
If your noble journey through history has got you in the mood to reintroduce a splash of modernity to your travels, look no further than the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, one of the boldest cultural creations of the 21st century.
This architectural wonder, designed by the incomparable Frank Gehry, is abundant with postmodern, pop art, and minimalist works from legends such as Andy Warhol and Rothko.
Finisterre & Costa da Morte
After completing the Camino de Santiago, celebrate with Galician octopus and a stroll along some of the most stunning, rugged landscapes you can find outside of the Irish coast. Thankfully, the region’s most beloved seaside towns are an easy day trip away.
Connect with the region’s seafaring history with a jaunt to the coastal town of Muxía and eat some of the finest seafood of your life against a stunning coastal backdrop. Then travel on to Finisterre – quite literally translated to “the World’s End”, which is home to the lighthouse at the end of the earth that once marked the end of the Camino de Santiago. This stunning landmark in Spain is a fitting way to end a day of walking.
Conclude your unforgettable time in Galicia with the scenic Cascada del Ézaro, one of Spain’s most beautiful waterfalls.
Insider tip: Bundle all three destinations into one unforgettable day trip.
Just as there is no Catholic Mass without the holy sacrament, there’s no voyage to Basque Country that’s complete without a taste of Txakolí. This famous Basque wine is served from a great height giving a new example to match the expression “don’t try this at home.”
Revel in this proud region’s history by visiting the port town of Getaria, renowned in the 16th century for its whaling traditions. Celebrate the legacy today with a taste of its famed anchovies. Don’t miss a visit to the award-winning Txakolí vineyards, where you can indulge in a glass (or several) of Spain’s most gravity-defying wine.
This nifty day trip is just a stone’s throw from San Sebastian, which is on the Camino de Santiago.
Now that you know what to do in Spain, time to grab your suitcase and go!
Puzzle over what landmarks in Spain to visit no longer. Whether your preference is to scope out the sights at the far side of an Andalusian sunflower field or admire stunning buildings across the lush verdant greens of Galicia, Spain is abundant with sights and sounds that will leave you awestruck, yet ready for more.
Whoever you are and however you like to travel, the land of tapas, flamenco, and football guarantees to please.