Planning a vacation to Spain can be dizzying, especially if it’s your first time in this amazing, Old World country. But worry no more: we’ll make it easy on you with our guide to the eight best places to visit in Spain for first-timers.
The 8 best places to visit in Spain for first-timers
No time to waste! Here are our favorite places to visit in Spain for first-timers. Keep in mind: these places aren’t in any particular order, and any 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 an uber-chill vibe, Barcelona is a special city in Spain. 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 (speaking of: check out our Iberian Peninsula itinerary), so the city’s architectural roots are unique among Spain’s top 15 destinations.
Beyond the buildings though, visiting Barcelona with kids or for the exciting nightlife can be just as appealing for first-timers. From energetic dance clubs to incredible gastronomy, there’s something here for everyone. Our city guide to Barcelona covers the basics (though speaking with a Fora travel advisor will give you the full scoop).
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 because there’s so much 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 info on where to stay in Madrid (like Madrid’s best boutique hotels) and beyond.
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 Sebastian is a beautiful beachfront town on Spain’s Atlantic Coast, close to the French border and nestled within the Basque mountains.
The town is known throughout Europe for its incredible blend of Spanish and French cuisine. Budget travelers may enjoy our beach and food guide to San Sebastian, but if you’re pulling out all the stops, check out our San Sebastian luxury foodies’ guide.
The Parte Vieja is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first-timers looking for upscale wine-tasting opportunities. Of course, 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, and along the city’s walkable stone streets, you’ll often see locals dancing to live music with friendly vendors scattered throughout.
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.
Sidenote: if you’re looking to explore the Spanish countryside, Andalusia is one of the most unique places to visit in Spain.
5. Granada: gorgeous palaces & Moorish architecture
Granada is actually pretty close to Seville (well, relatively speaking). So, if you’re looking for seven days in Andalusia, you could potentially hit up both places for 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 you’ll find here, Granada is a great place to enjoy Spain’s more outdoorsy side, especially if you’re into hiking and skiing.
6. Valencia: the best place to visit in Spain for first-timers who want perfect weather
The best of Valencia involves a lot of pristine 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 exciting to visit. You’ll find the city along Spain’s Mediterranean Coast, where the weather’s warm and picturesque all year long.
7. Ibiza: a can’t-miss if you love to party
Ibiza is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, especially for those down for dancing the night away.
The vibe here is way different from mainland Spain: we won’t say Ibiza is more energetic (because the mainland is lively in its own way), but the island is definitely the best place to visit in Spain for first-timers who want to party.
That being said, 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 towards the best spots (and give you great ideas, like 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 much wider group of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a beachside detox in Formentera or to explore the island’s ancient architecture, there are so many things to do in Mallorca.
Bonus: 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? Ask a Fora Advisor.
Eager to jump into the best places to visit in Spain for first-timers for real? Fora Advisors can help you personalize your trip (with free upgrades and perks too!).
They’ll work with you to learn your interests, travel style and more – so they can recommend the things you absolutely can’t miss on your first time in Spain. Plus, it costs the same as booking directly.