Madrid or Barcelona? These cities have different character and attractions, and we generally recommend spending time in both places on a moderately-paced trip. But for travelers with less time to spend, Spain's two top cities provide a tough choice. Here are some important things to consider if you have to choose between Madrid or Barcelona.
Spain Travel Advice
Away from the entrance queues of the Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra, you'll find that Spain has retained its authenticity and warmth. Here are some quick tips to give you a jump-start on planning the perfect trip:
- When is the best time to visit? Generally, April-June and September-October offer the most pleasant weather with fewer crowds. July and August are the hottest months of the year.
- Where should you go? If you're heading to Spain for the highlights, you'll want to start with Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, and Seville. Not your first trip? Consider San Sebastián, Bilbao, Valencia, and Malaga.
- How many days do you need? While it's possible to see one city over a long weekend, we recommend at least 5 days if you really want to experience Spain.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Though just one country, Spain offers a lot of diversity in terms of culture, terrain, weather, activities, and gastronomy. This mix is what makes traveling to Spain so appealing. Still, it can also make it a little tricky to pack, especially if you plan to combine northern and southern cities, are exploring the country between seasons, or want to visit the islands. Our ultimate packing list for Spain will help you decide what to bring and what to leave behind.
Southern Spain is known for its charming Pueblos Blancos, "white villages," or "white cities." Often surrounded by mountains or forests or set atop dramatic hills, these hamlets are not only scenic but also full of unique history, culture, art, and gastronomy. Though Spain's official Pueblos Blancos route highlights 19 popular and picturesque villages, there are over 30 options, and this guide helps you choose the right village for you, your crew, and your interests.
With one of the longest and most popular coastlines in Europe and a siesta every afternoon, Spain practically insists on its visitors relaxing. Add in one of Europe's most sensual dances, flamenco, an abundance of that ultimate sharing food, tapas and some devastatingly beautiful architecture, gardens and produce-rich countryside, and it becomes clear why this is among Europe's foremost honeymoon destinations, too. Here are the top places to visit on a honeymoon in Spain, and the top things to do in each.
Seville has a rich cultural heritage, and flamenco is one of its most beloved traditions, a passionate and exhilarating art form that combines music, singing, and dance. With so many flamenco shows, deciding which is best for you can be challenging. Read on for tips on choosing the best flamenco show in Seville that suits your particular interests, whether combining the experience with dinner or enjoying a more intimate venue.
In northeastern Spain, the Costa Brava offers stunning beaches, picturesque landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage. How you plan your trip can make a significant difference in the quality of your vacation. From the medieval charm of Begur and other towns to the bustling city of Girona and the tranquil fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell, there are several options to consider when planning a Costa Brava excursion.
The Costa Brava is dotted with charming and historic coastal villages, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From medieval fortresses to picturesque fishing villages, the Costa Brava has something for everyone who wants to experience authentic Mediterranean life and escape the bustling city. Consider these options when deciding which coastal towns in the Costa Brava are best for you.
Costa Brava is home to over 300 miles of coastline, meaning you'll have plenty of beach choices, each offering its own charm and atmosphere. Whether you're seeking a lively scene, complete with restaurants and water sports, or a more peaceful, secluded setting for relaxing and sunbathing, you'll find several options on the Costa Brava.
Discover the rich history and culture of the Costa Brava with a visit to one of its charming medieval villages. Each village offers a unique experience that takes you back in time, from fortified castles to quaint cobbled streets.
With over 40 museums in Madrid—including the world-famous El Prado Museum—you might not know where to start when it comes to choosing what's right for you. Should you follow the crowds to the Prado, indulge your sports interest at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, or try something new at CaixaForum Madrid? Though there are many more to consider, we've broken down our picks for the top museums in Madrid to help you decide which experience is best for you.
When to visit Spain
A trip to Spain in January means you’ll have many of this nation’s hotspots mostly to yourself. You can travel the length and breadth of the country, from the Mediterranean coast up to the northern Basque region, without having to contend with oppressive crowds. Best of all, you can enjoy steep discounts on flights and hotels.
By February, Spain is still deep in winter, and the tourist crowds are sparse. Despite the often gloomy weather, there are regions like the Mediterranean coast that get little rain and avoid the chillier temps. Yes, there is sun to be had in Spain, even in February, and the lower ticket prices make it easy to book a quick winter getaway.
March in Spain is great for those who want the fun without the high prices. During this time, the cold weather is easing back a little, making visits to Spain's famous beaches a nice proposition. Above all else, you'll want to come for the great parties like the incomparable Fallas Festival in the historic city of Valencia.
April in Spain signifies the arrival of Spring when the sun is out, and the beaches are opening for business. As if that isn't enough, some of the biggest parties and holidays in the world occur during this month. The icing on this sweet Spanish "tarta" is that April falls in the shoulder season, so you can enjoy low prices on flights and hotels.
In Spain, May represents the last month of the spring low season before the tourist hordes descend on the country for the summer. This is the time to enjoy the beaches before they get too crowded and tour the streets of Madrid before it gets too hot. There are also some unique events and festivals during this month that range from controversial to pure party fun.
By June, the schools are out, and vacationers are following the siren's song to Spain. From the northern Atlantic shores to the golden Mediterranean coast, this month delivers on its promise of ideal weather. Grab your bikini or board shorts, because summer in Spain has arrived.
It's the middle of summer, which in Spain means both the party crowds and sunshine are out in full force. The only question is how exactly to spend your July holiday in this captivating country. Do you opt for sunbathing on the Mediterranean coast, island hopping, touring historic cities, or a bit of all three?
August represents the apex of Spain's tourist season, and it's also the nation's hottest month. Even if sun and sand are your goals, there are off-the-beaten-path beaches and historic towns that won't be as crowded as hotspots like Barcelona and Ibiza. And if you're coming specifically for big parties, not to worry: one of the wildest and messiest fiestas in Spain occurs at the end of August.
By September, the crowds start to thin out in Spain. And with the high summer temperatures beginning to abate, this is the perfect time to come for a great shoulder-season holiday. During this month, you can enjoy any activity you choose, be it sunbathing, road-tripping, museum-hopping, or simply eating and drinking your way through this gastronomic marvel of a nation.
As the calendar edges into autumn, Spain offers one last defiant burst of sunshine through October. This is the final month for travelers to do some sunbathing before the rains take over, yet the lighter weather means it's also great for walking tours of Spain's famous cities. Come, then, to Madrid, the Mediterranean coast, and the northern Basque country, and drink deeply of Spain's bottomless cup.
The weather may be taking a turn for the cloudy, but even November is a great month to visit Spain. What you'll miss on a beach holiday you'll make up for with visits to some of Spain's historic towns and cities. Andalusia, Madrid, the Basque Country, and the Mediterranean islands are awaiting your arrival.
In December, Spain's famous beaches are all but abandoned. Those in the know, however, can still plan a diverse adventure in this remarkable country. Whether you want to plan a ski holiday, walking tour of a historic city, or simply eat great food and browse Christmas markets, December in Spain has you covered.