15 Things Everyone Should Do in Spain

in Country Guides, Sightseeing


Passion is the word which most comes to mind when asked to describe Spain. Hence most of the must-do activities in Spain are passionate – moving tours around great works of art, running with the bulls in Pamplona and seeing, or participating in, the flamenco dance. Here’s a list of 15 things that everyone should do in this unique country.

1. Go see Pablo Picasso’s Guernica painting

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica - Photo: Carlos V

Modern day Spain is still very much defined by the civil war which tore it apart in the 1930s. Picasso’s huge and troubling artwork captures the anguish of that time when Spanish Nationalist Forces asked the Germans and Italians to bomb Guernica. If you ever wonder why the enmity between Madrid and Barcelona is so strong, it is all summed up in the writhing faces and tortured animals that Picasso has painted in his Cubist style.

2. Visit the Golden Triangle of Art

Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía - Photo: raelala

Guernica is housed in the Museo Reina Sofia in the Madrid city centre, part of the Golden Triangle of art galleries and museums. Take time to visit them all as they contain some of the world’s foremost artworks.

3. Have fun at La Tomatina

La Tomatina in Buñol - Photo: manuesco1946

Never was a food fight so much fun. This annual festival is held in Buñol near Valencia and celebrates the ripening of the tomato harvest. Thousands of revellers get together in their worst clothes to throw tomatoes at each other. There is also music, fireworks and a paella cooking contest.

4. Attend the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

Running of the Bulls in Pamplona - Photo: int_aus

You would have to be crazy to want to participate, but equally crazy to miss the chance of seeing it. Brave Spanish men queue in the streets for a glorious chance to outrun huge wild bulls. The ‘encierro’ lasts nine days and with many injuries this is not for the weak of stomach.

5. Dance at the Sonar Music Festival

Sonar Music Festival in Barcelona - Photo: Fabio Mergulhao

Barcelona is one of the hippest cities in the world and the Sonar music festival is at the forefront of modern day electronic music production.

6. Explore Barcelona

Casa Batlló in Barcelona - Photo: MorBCN

When you are not getting down to the beats, take the time to wander around this incredible city. From the skeletal buildings of Art Nouveau architect Gaudí to the massive Camp Nou football stadium, Barcelona is unbelievably impressive.

7. Experience the Flamenco in Andalusia

A Spanish flamenco dancer - Photo: flamenco_cs

A Spanish flamenco dancer - Photo: flamenco_cs

Probably the most hypnotic dance form in Spain, the Flamenco is comprised of the Cante (song), Toque (guitar) and Baile (dance). The singing is melancholy with a lot of wailing, foot stamping and clacking of castanets.

8. Party in the Balearic Island of Ibiza

Sunset at San Antonio, Ibiza - Photo: ST33VO

Pivotal in the creation of dance music over the last two decades, Ibiza puts on a show like nowhere else. Not only are their incredible clubs like Manumission, Space and Pacha but Ibiza has amazing beach-side scenery where you can watch the sunset with a glass of sangria.

9. Visit the Alhambra in Granada

The Alhambra in Granada - Photo: La Vieja Sirena

Spain retains many beautiful buildings from the period of Moorish occupation and Alhambra is perhaps the finest of them. This old fortress has exquisite decoration, courtyards and gardens.

10.  Enjoy the Costa Brava

Cliffs near Aigua Blava - Photo: SBA73

Who could resist visiting the Rugged Coast? The Costa Brava gives an alternative to the crowded beaches in the south. This is a place for walking rather than sunbathing and is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

11. Walk the Way of St. James

One of the many routes of the Way of St. James - Photo: Nós da Montanha

After Italy, Spain has the second highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Among them is the Way of St. James pilgrim route in Santiago de Compostela. Among the most meaningful walks you will ever take.

12. Experience Cadiz

The beautiful city of Cadiz - Photo: Portiman!

Cadiz in the south west is the oldest city in Western Europe. The best time to go is for their world famous carnival in the spring when the streets are alive with all sorts of costumed groups.

13. Go to the Semana Santa Festival

A man wearing a capirote for the Semana Santa - Photo: ggmackem

The Semana Santa festival at Easter is also worth seeing with incredible candlelit processions. Málaga is one of the most exciting places to watch the festivities.

14. See Mount Teide

Mount Teide is the third largest volcano in the world - Photo: Axel

This towering volcano is Spain’s highest peak and is part of a large national park in Tenerife. At over 3,000 metres high you can even see the other Canary Islands in the distance.

15. Eat tapas and drink wine

A tapas bar in Barcelona - Photo: A@lbi

After all that you’ll need a breather so try Spain’s special tapas, small dishes of local delicacies like fried calamares, olives and cheeses. Best washed down with a good Spanish wine like Rioja.

Have you ever been to Spain? What would you recommend doing in this beautiful country? Make a comment and let everybody know!

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{ 16 comments }

Coleman Bell

you have forgotten Royal Palace of Madrid, visit to Toledo and El Escorial. Party in Madrid (best in Europe all year, not only in summer), Río Lobos Canyon (between Burgos and Soria) and a lot of place all over Spain… Spain is very large and it isn’t seen in three days, it takes time, long time but you will discover place that you wouldn’t think they could be in Spain… Spain is much more than Toros and Flamenco… in fact, the great majority of spanish people don’t like Toros nor Flamenco, they are only for foreigners peolple, not fo sapnish people… that’s why foreigners think here all we are toreros (bullfighters) and flamenco dancers
+1

Kike

Do you know that running bulls is a big torture for them? Do you know that theese bulls, after being tortured in the running, are tortured in the arena? This is the shame of Spain, BULLFIGHTING ABOLITION!!!

Javi

Basques and Catalans are spaniards because that´s what sais the Spanish Constitution, same as andalusians, people of Canarias, Galicia and so on. And that´s exactly why Spain is so joyful and interesting, because it has son many places and different people to discover.

Poochie

Helper, Fernando said it pretty clear, Madrid was also in the republic side. On the other hand Barcelona never was the capital of the republic, if I my memory does not fail, Valencia was the capital.

Lagartija, I recommend you not to call ignorant to anyone, what can you tell us about the English civil war, does this make you an ignorant?

lala

A lot of these things aren’t tipical. They are topics. People don’t like bullfighting, only to a minority of them. People like flamenco only in Andalusia. Cadiz isn`t beautifull. This city is old, colonial style, and it seems La Habana (Cuba). The saint week is only for catholics (and young people don’t pay attention to that). Ibiza is for foreign tourist. They drink and take cocaine until the fall on the ground. The that makes tourist really crazy are the tapas (a bit of food when you ask for a beer or a glass of wine) and the joy of life. People here in Spain are always making jokes and small meetings with friends.

jimmie

Hiii! just found in the net that a minority of only 27% of people participated in the referendums for the independence of Catalonia, all of them being independentist, the Basque country and Catalonia are ruled by unionist parties democratically elected, I think these facts shows what the majority of Basques and Catalans feel about Spain.

jimmie

No pasaran! was the slogan in isolated Madrid while being bombed by fascist army, the last city to fall under francoist terror, the so called Euskallerria in the north was an easy task being traditionalist and deeply catholic.

Dollys

I don’t think this page was intended to make comments about politics or if bullfighting shoud be banned, etc. etc. It was intended to recommend other things to do or visit IN THIS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, suggesting places of interest. Those mentioned here are some of the most important, could you suggest other places, perhaps not so well known. Thank you!

Luis

Javi, no eres mas tonto porque no entrenas. I mean, you’re soo silly…

Tiresome

You could also attend many music festivals to find out that FLAMENCO is NOT a SPANISH tradition. But as many other myths about my country this stupidity is so widespread that it has become a axiom. Spanish music and dances?: jota, muineira, zortxicos, sevillanas, sardana, bolero, habaneras etc. etc. etc. NOT FLAMENCO, you morons. As for bullfights… has never been a tradition in my area (Galicia), as in other areas of Spain.

SpanishWalker

helping:
Sorry man, you are complete wrong. Please, read more about basic History. Madrid was always in the Republican side, from the beginning until the end of the Civil War . In fact, Madrid and Barcelona were the last cities conquered by the Rebels led by general Franco.

In the other hand, to those who said that Catalonia and Basque Country don’t want to be Spanish… 15% or 20% of people asking for independence means that these regions want independence?? I don’t know what will happen in future, but now, independentism is a minority option.

Therefore, despite your personal feelings, would be a nonsense decision talk about tourism in Spain without mention Catalonia or Basque Country.

Traveler

Very useful tips! Great choice of things to do! Spain is one of my favorite travel destinations and all these things should be done during the visit.

flintstones

Where you say that the Costa Brava is an area for beach for walking “rather than sunbathing” – that is really not be true… You can sunbathe AND walk on the beaches of Costa Brava – they are just smaller, but a lot cozier, than in Costa del Sol. In fact, but the beaches rank as some of the best in the world. Calella de Palafrugell is my favorite place – small beautiful beaches (“calas”), breathtaking views, hidden walking paths by the sea, great food, and a very stunning pictoresque town.

noambit.com

Great suggestions!! The Alhambra has to be one of my favorite places in all of Europe. We’ve actually gone so far as to create the only downloadable audio tour for the site.
Although I’ll probably get some flak for suggesting it; attending a bullfight in Madrid is certainly a cultural experience that should not be written off. The crowds, the atmosphere, the cheap tickets.
I’d also recommend skipping the tapas bars in Barcelona for those in Granada. Buy a beer get a free tapas is the name of the game here and with each beverage the offering changes.

lisa

As a true lover of Spain and Spanish life, I would like to congratulate you on your choices!
I still have a few of these to tick off my list but the ones I have done were well worth it.
Great post!

Frequent Flyer

I realise that my suggestion isn’t very cultured but it is a blast of fun. Hit the water parks – Spain has got some of thee most fun water parks in Europe.

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