Planning a vacation to Spain can be dizzying, especially if it’s your first time in this amazing, storied country. But not to worry — we’ll make it easy on you with our guide to the eight best places to visit in Spain for first-timers.
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The 8 best places to visit in Spain for first-timers
Below are our favorite places to visit in Spain for first-timers. These places aren’t listed in any particular order, and a perfect trip to Spain will include as many of them as possible.
1. Barcelona: the place to visit in Spain if you want a bit of everything
Historically significant with a laid-back, coastal-cool vibe, Barcelona is a special city. It’s the capital of Catalonia, the only region in Spain to remain relatively independent during the Moorish rule of the Iberian Peninsula, during the Middle Ages (also check out our Iberian Peninsula itinerary). As a result, the city’s architectural roots are unique among Spain’s top 15 destinations.
Beyond the cultural draw, visiting Barcelona with kids or for the exciting nightlife can be just as appealing for first-timers. From energetic dance clubs to unbeatable gastronomy, there’s something here for everyone. Our city guide to Barcelona covers the basics (though speaking with a Fora Advisor will give you even more details).
And don’t forget: an advisor can help you book the best places to stay in Barcelona (like the top boutique hotels in Barcelona), whether you’re visiting Spain with kids, alone or with your friend group.
2. Madrid: the place to visit for cultural immersion
As the cultural, business and government capital of Spain, Madrid is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first-timers due to the city's variety. The central neighborhoods are especially fun to visit because of the electric nightlife, amazing tapas and some of the best art museums in all of Europe.
Our local’s guide to the best of Madrid and LGBTQ-friendly guide to Madrid highlight the city’s top sights and tips, including great intel on where to stay in Madrid (like Madrid’s best boutique hotels).
3. San Sebastián: the best place to visit in Spain for first-time foodies
Declared one of Europe’s Capitals of Cultures in 2016 by the EU, San Sebastián is a beautiful beachfront town on Spain’s Atlantic coast, close to the French border and nestled in the Basque mountains.
The town is known throughout Europe for its incredible blend of Spanish and French cuisine. Budget-conscious travelers may enjoy our beach and food guide to San Sebastián, but if you’re pulling out all the stops, check out our San Sebastián luxury foodies’ guide, too.
The Parte Vieja is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first-timers who are looking for upscale wine-tasting opportunities. (And if you want the best wine-tasting Spain has to offer, check out our wine and tapas guide to La Rioja.)
4. Seville: flamenco, music & more
Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is the birthplace of flamenco. Along the city’s walkable stone streets, you’ll often see locals dancing to live music.
The city’s charming vibe makes cultural immersion in Seville a blast. And there are so many things to do in Seville for first-timers (and second-timers, and beyond…), from exploring the city’s musical history to enjoying some of Spain’s best gastronomy.
If you’re looking to explore the Andalusian countryside, the region is also one of the most unique places to visit in Spain.
5. Granada: gorgeous palaces & Moorish architecture
Granada is relatively close to Seville, so if you’re looking for seven days in Andalusia, you could potentially explore places during your first time in the country.
Granada is found at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Aside from touring the stunning Islamic palaces and structures here, Granada is a great place to enjoy Spain’s more outdoorsy side, especially if you’re into hiking and skiing.
Convinced? Kick off planning (and travel like a VIP) when you book with Fora.
6. Valencia: the best place to visit in Spain for first-timers who want perfect weather
The best of Valencia involves numerous idyllic beaches.
If you’re looking for a less crowded vacation to Spain, Valencia doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Barcelona or Madrid, but it’s just as gorgeous and as exciting to visit. You’ll find the city along Spain’s Mediterranean Coast, where the weather’s warm and picturesque all year.
7. Ibiza: a can’t-miss if you love a party
Ibiza is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, especially for those looking to dance the night away.
The vibe here is very different from mainland Spain. While Ibiza is not necessarily more energetic (the mainland is lively in its own way), the island is definitely the best place to visit in Spain for first-timers looking for a good party.
But you can absolutely visit Ibiza with kids, too. Many of the island’s beach resorts cater to a low-key (and age-appropriate) crowd. Your Fora Advisor can steer you toward the best spots (including the best clubs and beaches for a Spain bachelorette party).
8. Mallorca: for rest & relaxation
The Mediterranean Island of Mallorca is more family-friendly than Ibiza and caters to a wider group of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a beachside detox in Formentera or to explore the island’s ancient architecture, there are many things to do in Mallorca.
And if you’re staying in Barcelona, Mallorca is only a seaside escape away.
What’s the best place to visit in Spain for your first time there? Book with Fora.
Eager to jump into the best places to visit in Spain for first-timers? Connect with Fora to plan and book your first trip to Spain.
Looking for more first-time travel inspiration? Check out the best places to visit in Costa Rica for first-timers and our guide to your first time in Japan.