Many people, when traveling, want something a world away from the ordinary tourist sites, party towns and more often than not, crowds. Spain is a treasure trove of hidden gems that are just waiting to be explored. Spain isn’t all about Madrid, Barcelona or the Islands. It is a paradise for foodies, nature lovers or wanderers alike.
For those who want to get off the beaten track and visit some of the most stunning places that Spain has to offer, we have compiled the perfect list for you.
Top Hidden Gems of Spain
Portbou is a stunning city sitting on the Spanish-French border and is relatively unknown due to its lack of tourist attractions. Usually, a stop off point for travelers moving on to other cities in Spain or France, this place really is a hidden gem. Time there can be spent relaxing on the beach or taking in the great street art and boutiques, or for the more energetic, a great place to hike.
The Walter Benjamin Trail will take you to some of the most spectacular views of the glistening, turquoise sea and mountain ranges in Spain. There is a hiking trail that will take you to the memorial of Walter Benjamin.
Swimming is perfect on the pebble beach and you will not find the crowds of other beaches in Spain.
After all this activity you will have worked up quite an appetite. Portbou offers some of the best, most authentic tapas you will find anywhere. Just wander around and you will find restaurants and bars everywhere offering this great Spanish delicacy.
Cuenca nestled in Castilla la Mancha has so much to anybody looking for something out of the ordinary. Cobblestone footpaths, the faint sound of running water takes you a million miles away from the bustle of Spain’s bigger cities.
You will find Hanging Houses that dangle in mid-air and which are traditionally wood carved, these will have you stopping in your tracks at the pure splendor of them. Adding to this scene are Saint Paul’s Convent, many churches and stone houses. This is a place which will make you feel that you have stepped into a storybook.
The food there is typically rustic and hearty. There are some incredible dishes and also some more unusual dishes for the less faint- hearted of us. If this is you, then you may want to try Morteruelo which is definitely an acquired taste!
Nerja is an enchanting mix of new and old. Yes, Nerja has perfect beaches but spending time hiking there is something that should not be missed. A five-kilometer stroll around Pico de Lopera not only offers spectacular views but it is a region which also has geographical importance.
The Nerja Caves let you explore stalagmites, concert halls, archaeological specimens and a cave which has fluted columns. Millions of years old and stretching over five kilometers, this is a great way to spend some time.
After you have watched an incredible sunset, it’s time to get out and enjoy some flamenco, tapas, and wine!
Jaen For something out of the ordinary, head to Jaen and visit the Villadompardo Baths. Dating back to the 16th century, this renaissance building is beautiful and the Arabic baths housed inside are the largest surviving baths in Spain. Definitely worth a visit for those wanting to explore something more unusual.
Chincon is located close to Madrid so is a great day trip. there isn’t a lot to do there which is perfect for those wanting to relax. You can spend the day people watching whilst sitting in the town plaza and marveling at the beautiful 15th and 16th-century houses surrounding the area. Famous for its aniseed liquor, take some time to sit back and enjoy a tipple with some amazing food.
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Gijon is located in the North of Spain and goes back centuries. This town is where there is a lot of exploring to be done without the hordes of tourists. Themed walking tours are a fantastic way to have a look around but if you would prefer to do it yourself then there is plenty to do.
The most symbolic building that you will find in Gijon is the Revillagigedo Palace. This is worth seeing as it was built using the remains of a medieval tower. Visiting Cabrales and learning how to make artisan blue cheese is a must for foodies and cheese lovers alike and sampling the freshly made cheese tops off a perfect visit.
The San Lorenzo Promenade is the hub of Gijon. Head out for a stroll, take in the sights, eat and enjoy!
Colmenar de Oreja
Colmenar de Oreja is a city which is only 45 minutes from Madrid but feels like it is a world away. This gem has it’s own local food and wine which alone is a good enough reason to head there. A must try are the Patatas Chulas; roast potatoes with garlic, parsley and lemon, simple but delicious. Cave stored wines are sold there at extremely reasonable prices and go well with the local cuisine.
You will still hear the ringing of the church bells there which reminds you that you are in a relatively untouched part of Spain. there is history everywhere there. An ancient coat of arms showing the symbol of the Inquisition can be found in Astro Street, Striking public fountains are to be found in the town square as well as a gorgeous 15th-century church.
If you manage to make it there during one of their fiestas you are guaranteed an incredible time; concerts, dancing till the early hours and food, there is something for everybody.
San Sebastian can boast a beautiful beach, historical and archaeological sites and has an abundance of things to do, yet surprisingly, it doesn’t attract the tourists as do the other bigger cities. there is great nightlife, fantastic gourmet food, an amusement park and plenty of bars.
For shoppers, there is an array of local boutiques as well as luxury stores where you can give your wallet a workout. Afterward, enjoy a spa and be pampered. Try out a thalassotherapy treatment which uses marine products and saltwater and is said to promote wellness.
Head down to the end of La Concha Bay and you will find Monte Igueld, which at 184 meters above sea level, offers you some incredible views over the Basque countryside and the from the observatory there are stunning views out into the bay.
La Concha Bay is a great place for jogging, cycling or just walking barefoot in the sand and you will find many locals doing exactly that as they go about their day. Afterward, stop by a cafe and people watch while enjoying coffee and a cake.
Checking out the local football team when there is a match on is a great way to mingle with the locals. It is taken very seriously by the elder folk in town as is the after match celebrations. Socialising, refreshments, and sport make for an enjoyable time.
Madrid Surprisingly, you will find hidden gems tucked away from the crowds in Madrid. Art galleries, tea houses, parks, museums, these are everywhere and many of them are out of the way of the usual crowds of tourists.
La Tabacalera is an Art Museum where you may find concerts, theatre event and fashion shows taking place. The corridors and entrances lead you into the unknown and once inside you will find amazing art and music. Art students abound and you may be met with some handing out leaflets of upcoming exhibitions, theatrical events, and performances. Take the opportunity to see what they have on offer.
Ojala is the place to go if you need refreshments and it is a surprise as you walk down the stairs and find yourself sitting on a picnic blanket on the sand right in the heart of the city! It has a beachy, rustic vibe with great lighting. A great place to take some time out and forget you are in the hustle and bustle of Madrid.
Temple of Debod
This temple in Madrid dates back to 2200 BC and given to Spain by Egypt. Not only fascinating due to its locations in the middle of a city but the temple offers panoramic views of the Royal Palace of Madrid. Inside the temple, you will see offerings and carvings of Egyptian Gods. This is a great place to spend some time away from the crowds, it is peaceful and a great place to spend an afternoon.
So there you have it. Spain has an untouched beauty, abundant history and things to do for people of all ages. Even in the main cities, you are able to find hidden gems in every corner. Take the time to mingle with the locals, try the authentic food and drink, take cooking lessons, visit galleries, museums and parks and you will be rewarded with some of the most magical memories you can imagine.