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Top 10 Things to Do in Spain

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Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

From exploring Moorish heritage to basking in Basque Country sunshine on golden beaches, the top 10 things to do in Spain offer cultural immersion, adventure, and relaxation.

Each region is famous for distinct experiences, be it San Sebastian’s czulinary pursuits or southern Spain’s cross-continental cultural activities. Exploring them, you could spend the day unraveling history in museums and admiring art in contemporary galleries, while in the evening, you could fine dine on Mediterranean beaches, savoring tapas, pintxos, and other local treats.

Bringing iconic things to do to the forefront of your travel plans and sharing surprising additions worthy of our top 10 recommendations, let these ideas guide your Spanish experiences.

Overview
  1. 1. Experience Historic Spain at Ancient Sites
  2. 2. Discover Spanish Tapas and Pintxos Culture
  3. 3. Savor Spain’s Eclectic Wines
  4. 4. Sample Authentic Spanish Olive Oil
  5. 5. Admire Spain’s Artistic Masterworks
  6. 6. Let the Passion of Flamenco Guide You
  7. 7. Cycle Spain’s Countryside and Coastlines
  8. 8. Trace Spanish Heritage in Cultural Districts
  9. 9. Prepare Traditional Spanish Cuisine
  10. 10. Take in Exceptional Surrealist Architecture
  11. Experience the Top Things to Do in Spain

1. Experience Historic Spain at Ancient Sites

Dome of the Mosque of Córdoba in Spain.

Dome of the Mosque of Córdoba in Spain

In Spain’s contemporary cities, ancient districts and neighborhoods steeped in history await travelers eager to step back in time.

From Celtic settlements to Roman aqueducts, megalithic tombs to medieval lanes, grand mosques to Moorish places, Spain’s ancient sites and hallmark historic locations preserve bygone traditions and century-old landmarks. From Granada in Andalusia to Barcelona in Catalonia, you can uncover the history of revered sites.

Spain’s extensive history will capture your imagination in towns and cities that remain connected under a united Spain. Spain Tours & Vacations for Seniors are particularly popular with history buffs visiting the Roman Baths of Toledo, Montserrat Monastery, and beyond.

Best Historic Sites in Spain: Mezquita • Alhambra • Cordoba Roman Bridge • Montserrat Monastery • Seville Cathedral

2. Discover Spanish Tapas and Pintxos Culture

Spanish tapas bar.

Spanish tapas bar

Spanish cuisine is famous for its simple recipes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients, most recognizable in tapas or pintxos. Experiencing the flavor of Spain through these is one of the top things to do on culinary tours of the country.

Tapas and pintxos are essentially the same thing, bite-sized Spanish snacks one can enjoy while sipping sangria or touring chic bars lining promenades. What separates the two is their destination of origin, with pintxos traditional to northern Spain and popular in the Basque Country. On Northern Spain Tours you can indulge in pintxos and may find subtle differences to the culinary creations found in southern Spain.

Spanish tapas and pintxos culture takes inspiration from the Mediterranean Sea, local climate, and diverse landscape, highlighting differences from traditional Spanish cuisine in the use of ingredients, preparation methods, and the ways of enjoying the snacks at bustling bars.

Best Places for Tapas or Pintxos: San Sebastian • Valencia • Madrid • Girona • Granada

Learn more: Top 7 Things to Do in San Sebastian

3. Savor Spain’s Eclectic Wines

Vineyards in La Rioja, Spain.

Vineyards in La Rioja, Spain

Spain’s unique climates and topography make it a fantastic destination for wine tasting and culture. The nation’s deep connection with wine stems from its Roman history, while the landscape offers fantastic opportunities for growing different types of grapes to achieve diverse flavors.

Spain’s millennia of wine production and consumption have informed the country’s relaxed pace, as people enjoy the pleasure of a slow glass under the sun or on a rainy evening. Food & Wine Tours in Spain offer a great escape from the bustle of daily life and immerse you in the simple pleasures of wine regions exuding character in atmospheric locations.

Charming towns with enchanting scenery are known for producing specific wines and offering insight into the distinctive regions' histories and flavors. From La Rioja to the Ribera del Duero, you will be spoiled for choice with estates, tastings, and pairings.

Best Wine Regions in Spain: La Rioja • Valencia • Andalusia • Catalonia • Ribera del Duero

Learn more: Best Time to Visit Spain for a Wine Tour6 Best Wine Regions in Spain

4. Sample Authentic Spanish Olive Oil

Sea of olive trees in the Andalusia region of Spain.

Olive groves in the Andalusia region of Spain. Photo courtesy of Lolo Vasco/Turismo Andaluz

Olive-oil tasting in Spain is more than a taste of a cooking ingredient. It represents a cornerstone of Mediterranean culture. While other countries in the region are also famous for their olive oil, Spain is the world’s largest exporter of extra-virgin olive oil, with its own take on the quintessential culinary component.

Olive oil Tours of Southern Spain in places like Cordoba explore the tradition that dates back to the arrival of the Phoenicians. Tours plunge you into the fragrant groves to learn more about the harvest, crop, and milling at the hands of a local expert, before sampling what is considered Mediterranean Gold.

The soil of Spain’s famous olive-oil regions injects distinct character into each pressing, making the celebrated oil as particular as wine in terms of how its unique flavors are shaped across the country.

Best Places for Olive Oil: Cordoba • Malaga • Jaen • Tarragona • Sierra de Segura

5. Admire Spain’s Artistic Masterworks

The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain.

The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain

Spanish art, as seen in museums and galleries across the country, is one of the most important collections of cultural heritage because of its diversity, history, and evolving aesthetic.

Art samples in Spain date back to the Palaeolithic age, with cave paintings that led to Phoenician works, Greek influences, and the mastery of techniques displayed during the Renaissance. Spain’s art is interconnected with its history as works represent the culture of a particular time period, resulting in the preservation of artistic legends.

Cities like Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Malaga, and Seville represent the broad standard of Spanish art and its influences. Historical works provide a greater context to modern marvels, from the Prado to the Guggenheim museum. Fine art, Picasso’s evolution, and the remarkable aesthetics of Moorish geometric art reflect Spain’s layered history, one that informed, but did not limit lavish artistic traditions.

Best Places for Art: Madrid • Bilbao • Barcelona • Malaga • Seville

Learn more: 9 Best Museums in Spain and Where to See Them

6. Let the Passion of Flamenco Guide You

Flamenco performance in Spain.  Photo © Lolo Vasco/Turismo Andaluz

Flamenco performance. Photo courtesy of Lolo Vasco/Turismo Andaluz

Spain is synonymous with passion and flamenco is the embodiment of Spanish expression. At its core, the dance explores the diverse folkloric traditions of the south, but the flamboyance thereof has come to represent the soul of the nation.

As an essential part of the culture, flamenco blends artistic expression in dance, song, and guitar, earning a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity designation. More than an expression, flamenco also tells a story that can only be understood through a connection of movement and music.

Spain’s most famous art form is not just a dance. It will capture your senses with song, movement, and the flash of its costumes. Whether an authentic display in an intimate hall or a demonstration in a larger stadium, experience flamenco as a show or private class for a passionate Spanish experience perfect for Spain Tours for Couples.

Best Places for Flamenco: Madrid • Barcelona • Granada • Seville • Cordoba

7. Cycle Spain’s Countryside and Coastlines

Windmills on the hills of the La Mancha countryside in Spain.

La Mancha countryside in Spain

The diversity of Spain’s landscape makes it a bucket-list destination for enthusiastic cyclers and those wanting to enjoy a safe, but gorgeous bike tour of the countryside and coastlines.

The countryside, from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Rioja Valley's vineyards, represents the broad range of scenery that will captivate you during a cycling tour or bicycle excursion. You can pedal through Spanish-Arab cultural regions or follow a pilgrimage route decorated with old-world architecture to find the best of Spain at the pace you set.

There is no doubt that Spain has some of the best cycling destinations in Europe, with smooth roads, abundant sunshine, green countryside, and a beautiful coastline providing fabulous scenery from Andalusia to Costa Brava. Iconic windmills, Moorish palaces, and whitewashed towns offer a rich connection to local culture, and these are best experienced at a slower pace on a cycling excursion.

Best Places for Cycling: Costa Brava • Camino de Santiago • Andalusia • La Rioja • Basque Country

8. Trace Spanish Heritage in Cultural Districts

The  medieval castle, Alcazar of Segovia, in the city of Segovia, Castile and León region, Spain

Alcazar of Segovia in Segovia, Spain

In Spain, contemporary culture stems from diverse traditions brought to the country by Jewish, Muslim, Roman, and Catholic communities. During your tours, visit cultural districts and neighborhoods to explore how heritage shapes modern Spain.

The number of historic civilizations that have landed on the Iberian Peninsula has fed the frenzy of artistic representation, culinary customs, and architectural wonders across Spain. These are represented in the likes of Carthaginian remains and Phoenician settlements, with an impetus on the return of the Catholic kingdom in the 15th century.

Spanish heritage in cultural communities and districts reveals more than just the past. It shows how and from where the preserved traditions of contemporary culture come. The regions across the country share modernity, but their customs, whether in the cuisine or daily routine, are visible in the remains of the past.

Best Places for Heritage: Granada • Seville • Toledo • Asturias • Segovia

9. Prepare Traditional Spanish Cuisine

Spanish paella cooking over open fire.

Spanish paella cooking over open fire.

Food is an essential part of Spanish culture and a cooking class lets you prepare and indulge in the unique flavors of a town or region in a more traditional fashion than tapas or pintxos tasting.

Spain has an eclectic mixture of cultures and traditions that shape the overall culinary culture between the Bay of Biscay and the Strait of Gibraltar. Traditions focus on locally-grown fruits and vegetables, seasoned sausages, and seafood, with specialties like gazpacho, cod fritters, or paella highlighting the simplicity of local ingredients.

Spain is a country shining with regional recipes and cooking classes on Spain Food & Wine Tours give you a hands-on experience focused on specific flavors. Your cooking class will promote the seasonality of ingredients spanning the Mediterranean and shaping traditional tapas or avant-garde dishes of Spain’s beloved foodie destinations.

Best Places for Cooking Classes: San Sebastian • Valencia • La Rioja • Barcelona • Granada

Learn more: 7 Best Places for Food and Wine in SpainTop 5 Food and Wine Things to Do in Spain

10. Take in Exceptional Surrealist Architecture

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, designed by Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona, Spain

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, designed by Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona, Spain

Spain can go from being a country known for classic art to an image of the avant-garde that erupted in the 1920s. The likes of Antoni Gaudi and Salvador Dali represent the distinctive surrealist styles that turn landscapes and cities into fairytale architectural destinations.

The architecture of Spain now represents a richer heritage, as culture shifted once more through the ages, pushing the envelope of artistic expression, whether on canvas or as part of the skyline. Surreal art was an experiment, with Spanish artists focusing on movement and finding different forms of expression that now inspire the world.

The different regions in Spain showcase art and architecture’s impressions on their surroundings and reflect how the latter shaped art in cities, most notably seen on Antoni Gaudi tours during Barcelona Itineraries & Vacation Packages.

Best Surrealist Architecture in Spain: La Sagrada Familia • Casa Batllo • Casa Mila • Park Guell • Church of Colonia Guell

Experience the Top Things to Do in Spain

Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain

Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain

With so many wonderful activities and things to do in Spain, a personalized itinerary will allow you to select the best options for you and you can explore ideas with our Spain Tours & Vacations.

You can also visit our Spain Travel Guide for inspirational and informative content to prepare yourself for your tour of Spain, or the 10 Best Places to Visit in Spain, Best Time to Visit Spain, and more.

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