Kirsten in Valencia, on one of the city gates

These are the Best Cities for a City Break in Spain

Published: 13 June 2019 Modified: 17 June 2019

Spain is second on the list with most popular tourist destinations on the planet. With over 80 millions tourists in 2017 they are only topped by France. Spain is on it’s way to take over the first position and to us that’s no surprise. We love Spain! Whether it’s a long holiday or only a city break to one of it’s cities, Spain will deliver when it comes to a great travel destination. This article is about the second of before mentioned holidays, so we will list our favorite cities to go on city break in Spain

Valencia: Our favorite

Valencia surprised us in a good way. Even though it’s Spain’s third largest city, it totally doesn’t feel this way. It’s compact city center is easily explored on foot. Most of the places of interest are within the city center, but not all of them. If you go outside the old town, rent a bike. Valencia is surrounded by a huge park, so you can get everywhere without coping with traffic lights and heavy traffic. Valencia’s public transportation is also well organized. The coast is pretty close, so it’s a nice city to combine for a sunny beach vacation.

Tips for a city break in Valencia

Kirsten next to a wall of with amazing street art
Bicycle tour in Valencia. Visit all sites on a bike on your Spanish city break
Museums in Valencia. A must visit on your city break in Spain
Street art in Valencia

San Sebastián

It’s not the most visited city of Spain since it’s so far north, but San Sebastián definitely deserves a place in the list of best Spanish cities to visit. The city doesn’t have an airport worth mentioning, so if you’re dependent on air traffic, it’s best to fly to Bilbao. From there it’s a short drive to San Sebastián and its beautiful bay. It’s small city center and the promenade along the beach are truly amazing. Eat pintxos on every street corner and drink wine with the locals. You’ll be in for a treat!

Read more in our article about San Sebastián

Tips for San Sebastián

Panoramic view of San Sebastián., an awesome place for a Spanish city beak
Pintxos in San Sebastián. Go on a food tour on your city break in Spain
Bridge between old and new San Sebastián
Kirsten looking out on San Sebastián. The city is an awesome destination for a city break in Spain

Bilbao: Basque Country’s biggest city

Another fairly unknown gem in Spain is Bilbao, Basque Country’s biggest city. The city is most known for the Guggenheim Museum, but it has more to offer; a pittoreske old city center and loads of places to eat pintxos. Combined with the stunning architecture makes Bilbao a great place to visit for a city break in Spain. It’s also a great place to use as a base in your visit to Basque Country. It has an international airport, making it the perfect location to stay in the area.

Read our extensive article on Bilbao

Tips for a Bilbao city break in Spain

Flower dog in front of the Guggenheim in Bilbao
Spider outside the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao
Outside the old town in Bilbao
Pintxos in Bilbao

Madrid: the capital

The capital is a great place to visit, especially during the summer months. Madrid is the largest city of Spain and it is indeed huge. If you want to explore the entire city, spending a week would be advisable. If you only have a few days to explore, be sure to visit La Latina and the historical center.

Tips for Madrid

Travelaar didn’t exist yet when we visited Madrid, so we’ll spare you the horrible photos;)

Barcelona: a perfect city and beach combo

Spain’s most popular city is definitely Barcelona. A trendy city combined with awesome food and a man made beach make it a relaxing city. The city playful and young which you can feel all throughout Barcelona. One of the most famous places of interest in Barcelona is Park Guëll which is designed by Gaudi. Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is also a place which can’t be skipped on your itinerary when visiting Barcelona. A short train ride takes you to the breathtaking monastery.

Tips for a city break in Barcelona

Segrada Familia, Barcelona
Park Guëll, Barcelona. One of the highlights of your city break in Spain
The beach of Barcelona. A good place to relax on your Spanish city break

Pamplona: the place to stay for your adventure in Navarra

Pamplona belongs to the lesser known city break in Spain. It’s famous for it’s running of the bulls tradition. Running of the bulls is a yearly event in July that’s held during the San Fermin Festival. It’s a small but vibrant city. Be sure to visit on a Tuesday as locals roam the streets to get tapas and wine for next to nothing. Pamplona lies in the autonome region of Navarra, in the north of Spain. While you’re there, you might as well visit Bilbao and San Sebastián, which are only about an hours drive away.

Read more about Pamplona in our article

Tips for Pamplona

Plaza del Castillo, Pamplona. Pamplona is one of the best places to visit for a city break in Spain
Plaza de Toros, Pamplona
Locals roaming the streets of Pamplona
Beautiful architecture in Pamplona

Tarragona: it has more to offer than just a day trip from Barcelona

Tarragona is a great day trip from Barcelona, but if you really love Spanish cities, we advise to at least spend the night in Tarragona. The city is littered with ancient roman architecture. Spend the day to go back in time and imagine yourself sitting in a Roman arena, watching gladiators and operas. At the end of the day wind down on one of the terraces to enjoy a cool beer and some pinchos.

Tips for Tarragona

  • Reus, which is counted as one of Barcelona’s airports is actually very close to Tarragona. Benefit of the cheap prices to this airport and book your ticket to Tarragona.
  • We stayed at Hostal Forum Tarragona, right in the center. It was basic, but the view was perfect! Another hotel on the square is Placa de la Font.
Main square of Tarragona.
Arena in Tarragona
The best dishes in Tarragona

Our Spanish cities we would love to visit are Seville, Malaga and Salamanca. We’ve heard many good stories about these cities, so maybe next year 😉

What’s your favorite place for a city break in Spain?

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City Break in Spain. Pinterest. Museums in Valencia

Erick - When your girlfriend (Kirsten) has the travel virus, it doesn't take long before you are infected as well. Traveling has become a big part of my life, just as Travelaar has. Web developer and translator for Travelaar.com and it's Dutch counterpart Travelaar.nl. Photo and video editing are also my tasks. My motto: Don't take life too seriously