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There’s so much for first-time travelers to this enchanting country in southwestern Europe to see and experience—from bustling cities and quaint seaside villages to sun-soaked beaches and incredible clubs and restaurants, and so much more—that deciding where exactly to start can be overwhelming.
Here are some must-visit destinations for first-time visitors to Spain.
1. La Sagrada Familia
Designed by the famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a phenomenal attraction for first-time visitors. Under construction since 1882, the unfinished Gothic- and Art Nouveau-style basilica was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, and is slated for completion in 2026.
It’s one of the most unique and awe-inspiring works of architecture in the world, featuring intricately detailed sculptures, spectacular stained-glass windows, and towering spires. Visitors can even climb its towers for breathtaking panoramic views of Barcelona.
The city is renowned for its Mediterranean cuisine as well, so be sure to try some flavorful and mouth-watering tapas, paella, sangria, and much more—whether at one of its many Michelin-star restaurants, or by joining a local food tour.
Since you’re new to the country, either option will enable you to experience a wide assortment of the exceptional culinary delights Spain is so well known for until you discover your personal favorites!
2. The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid, also known as Palacio Real de Madrid, is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Its extraordinary architecture and interior design make it a must-visit for first-timers interested in the art, history, and culture of Spain.
Built in the 18th century, this is one of the largest royal palaces in all of Europe, taking design inspirations from Baroque, Neoclassical, and Rococo influences. Marvel at its throne room and staterooms, or enjoy a leisurely stroll through its gorgeous gardens to witness the sheer beauty of its many fountains, statues, and multi-colored flowers.
Admire the glorious Madrid skyline from the palace's balconies and pretend you’re a member of the royal family!
While in Spain’s capital city, you simply must visit some of its incredible nightlife areas—from the lively music and late-night lounges, clubs, and gastrobars of Princesa to the nonstop flamenco, belly-dancing, and DJ sessions of Lavapiés, Madrid is home to a melting pot of rhythms and flavors from around the world.
3. The Beaches of Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol in southern Spain along the Mediterranean coast is renowned for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.
Playa del Cristo is a small, family-friendly beach with calm waters, perfect for a relaxing swim. Playa de la Malagueta is a large and lively beach in the city of Malaga boasting plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shops to enjoy nearby. Playa de Burriana is a popular beach in the town of Nerja, known for its crystal-clear waters and perfect for fun water sports and activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
Take your pick—each of these will ensure your vacation is full of sun and fun!
4. The Alhambra
This fortress and palace complex in Granada is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
Built in the 9th century and converted into a palace in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Alhambra has a rich and storied history. Its stunning design features Islamic and Christian influences, with beautifully carved archways, intricately detailed tile work, and lovely courtyards to peruse. Check out the romantic and beautiful gardens of the nearby summer palace Generalife, with fountains, pools, and lush greenery artfully arranged in a series of eye-catching terraces.
The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the most important examples of Islamic architecture in the world—something first-time visitors will not want to miss.
5. The Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor in the heart of Madrid's historic center is a favorite hotspot for photographers and sightseers alike. This public square is a stunning example of Spanish Baroque architecture, with grand arcades, beautiful balconies and cobblestone streets, and ornate facades.
Built in the 17th century, the square has served a wide variety of functions, from hosting markets and festivals to bullfights and public executions. Presently it’s a popular tourist attraction for locals and visitors alike, home to numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops, as well as street performers and artists.
Whether stopping for a relaxing drink, snapping a few selfies, checking out a local event, or simply taking in the sights, a visit to the Plaza Mayor is not to be missed.
6. Park Güell
Park Güell is a unique public park located on a hill overlooking the city. Designed by Antoni Gaudí, it features many of his signature design elements, including colorful mosaics, spiral stone pillars, and undulating shapes.
Park Güell offers a peaceful and serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. Its main terrace is lined with long benches and covered in colorful tile work that draws the eye, while at its highest points visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city and mountains beyond.
The park is designed to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings, with winding paths, lush greenery, and quiet corners where visitors can relax and take in the tranquility of nature. Whether you are a fan of classic architecture, a nature lover, or just looking for a peaceful and relaxing escape, Park Güell is the spot!
7. Puerta del Sol
This public square in central Madrid dates back to the 15th century. One of the oldest and most popular areas of the city, it’s loaded with shops and boutiques, restaurants, street vendors, and much more.
Tour its famous landmarks, including the iconic sculpture El Oso y el Madroño, or “The Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree,” and its famous clock tower on the Casa de Correos—which conducts the official countdown for New Year's Eve celebrations in the region.
Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world in continuous operation, is nearby, so after gazing in amazement at all of Puerta del Sol’s many cultural attractions, be sure to enjoy an amazing meal steeped in the city’s rich and enchanting history.
From Castilian-style specialties such as suckling pig and roasted lamb to grilled shrimp, stewed partridge, and so much more—this legendary restaurant serves unforgettable feasts guaranteed to make your first-time visit to Spain a reoccurring trip! Its eclectic menu offers a varied selection of delicious meals for any palate, especially those new to Spain and its wide range of diverse flavors.
8. The Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower
These awe-inspiring examples of Gothic architecture provide an unforgettable glimpse into the unique culture and identity of the glorious city of Seville.
The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, Seville Cathedral was built in the 15th century on the site of a former mosque. Giralda Tower was originally the latter’s minaret, yet now houses the former’s bells.
Both have played significant roles in Seville's history and culture—their interior artwork and exterior design providing precious snapshots of the beauty and majesty of this special region.
InteleTravel Will Ensure Your Vacation in Spain Is Truly Unforgettable
Spain is a phenomenal destination for first-time visitors and frequent travelers alike, and the best way to ensure you get the most out of your vacation is by working with true travel professionals such as InteleTravel.
Our experienced and knowledgeable team of InteleTravel Advisors will help you achieve your dream vacation to Spain, and provide assistance every step along the way.
We’ll customize your ideal travel itinerary to your precise preferences, book all the various aspects of your trip, and will be available for help and support throughout your journey.
Contact InteleTravel today to plan the adventure of a lifetime!
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