Spain is a vast and varied country, and you can’t cover all of it in a single trip. Our Grand Tour concentrates on Spain’s major cities and outstanding sights, while our other suggested routes focus on two fascinating regions, one in the south, one in the north. Each itinerary will take a packed two weeks to cover; with only a week to spare you can cover part of one, and get a flavour of the whole country or one of the regions that make Spain special.
The vibrant capital is at the heart of all that makes modern Spain tick, from world-class art collections to a buzzing café society and a wild nightlife.
With time for just one side-trip from Madrid, it has to be the old rock-bound capital of Toledo, the home of El Greco and packed with magnificent buildings.
You could spend weeks exploring Andalucía – but for a taster, Seville combines gorgeous buildings with a vibrant flamenco and tapas scene.
The rapidly changing city of Valencia – cultural hub of the east, not to mention the spiritual home of paella – makes a natural break on the journey up the long Mediterranean coast.
Leave Spain – as the locals would have you believe – for the cool Catalan capital, with its Art Nouveau architecture, designer shops, and stylish bars and clubs.
The two-hour side-trip towards the French border is made with only one destination in mind – the extraordinary Teatre-Museu Dalí.
This handsome city sits at the heart of the Rioja region, and while it’s only small there’s nothing modest about its superb tapas and wine bars. From here, you could detour along the northern coast.
Re-live Spain’s Golden Age in the capital of Castilla y León, whose majestic Plaza Mayor has no equal.
The most beautiful city in Spain, its buildings fashioned from a honey-coloured stone that glows as the sun sets.
This transport hub is the obvious place to start, but it’s also worth lingering for a day to enjoy this vibrant coastal city.
Sited astride a towering gorge is the queen of Andalucía’s white towns.
The essence of all things andaluz, with a stunning cathedral, Moorish Alcázar and atmospheric old quarter.
A must-see destination, featuring one of the world’s greatest Moorish buildings, the Mezquita, at its heart.
5 Baeza and Úbeda
These twin Renaissance architectural jewels are filled with a wealth of monuments in honey-tinted stone.
6 Cazorla Natural Park
A stunning array of wildlife inhabits the rugged mountains, gorges and forested valleys of Cazorla. See Parque Natural de las Sierras de Segura y Cazorla
Overlooked by the seductive Alhambra, the historic city of Granada is one of Spain’s most compelling attractions.
The Costa Tropical’s main resort has great beaches and plenty of places to eat, drink and dance the night away.
Revitalized by the success of its Guggenheim Museum, the energetic city of Bilbao is set amid the spectacular green hills of the Basque Country.
2 San Sebastián
This elegant seaside resort boasts one of Europe’s best city beaches; its superb cuisine is at its most affordable in the pintxos bars of the old quarter.
An intriguing destination, which comes alive during the bull-running of July’s San Fermín festival.
4 Santillana del Mar
Often hailed as Spain’s prettiest village, Santillana is an exquisite medieval ensemble with some gorgeous hotels.
5 Picos de Europa
Just a few kilometres back from the sea, the snowy peaks are interspersed with lush meadows and ancient settlements, and offer superb hiking.
Delightful seaside towns dot the Asturian coast, but bustling little Llanes, close to superb beaches and soaring mountains, is perhaps the finest of all.
Ravishing little Visigothic churches pepper the hills here – though you’ll have to tear yourself away from the city’s cider-houses to see them.
8 The Rías of Galicia
The fjord-like estuaries that slice into Galicia cradle dramatic scenery and splendid beaches, with the wild Rías Altas in the north and the busier, gentler Rías Baixas to the south. See The Rías Altas
9 Santiago de Compostela
For over a thousand years, this magnificent cathedral city has welcomed footsore pilgrims; its historic core, bursting with bars and restaurants, remains irresistible.
Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners
Planning your trip to Spain
Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.
The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain
From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid
One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, Madrid has a lot to take pride in. Indeed, its inhabitants, the Madrileños, are so proud of their …
An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Madrid
A trio of world-class art galleries, an atmospheric historic core, the most successful club in the history of football and some of the best tapas, bars and nigh…