As the capital of Spain, Madrid is an absolute must-see. Home to over 3 million people, Madrid has just about everything you could imagine: beautiful shops and world-renowned museums, breathtaking mountains, classic parks, and rich and flavorful restaurants speckled all over the city. Just about the only thing Madrid doesn’t have is a beach since it’s the furthermost point in the Iberian Peninsula from any ocean, a conscious decision made over 500 years ago to protect the capital from invading armies. Must-sees: Retiro Park (Madrid’s version of Central Park in NY), Puerta del Sol, Templo de Debod (an Egyptian temple gifted to the Spanish government in 1972), Casa de Campo, Reina Sofia and Prado Museums, and last, but not least of all, Gran Via: arguably Madrid’s version of Times Square.
Located in the South-West corner of Spain in Andalucía, Granada is one of the oldest cities in all of Spain and, at one time during the height of the Moorish rule, was one of the main focal points of art and culture in the world. Conquered again by the Spanish in 1492, Granada has since remained a city of dazzling architecture and unique buildings due to its Islamic-Christian influence that spanned hundreds of years. Must-sees: The Alhambra.
Known the world over for its unique Antoni Gaudí architecture and designed spaces, Barcelona is a real gem. Whether you are a soccer fan, an architecture nerd, tourist or wander, Barcelona has something for you. Located on the North-East coast of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is not only home to remarkable architecture and feats of human ingenuity but also to simple and tranquil scenes that one encounters sipping a cold drink on a beach as they watch the sun set. Must-sees: Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Güell Park, Casa Milá, and Camp Nou Stadium where FC Barcelona plays.
4. Puerto del Rosario
Located on one of the 7 archipelago islands that make up the Canary Islands (yes, the Canary Islands are a part of Spain. Think of them as Spain’s Hawaii), Puerto del Rosario is the largest city on the island of Fuerteventura. The latest Star Wars movie was almost exclusively filmed on this island because of its extraterrestrial look and feel due to its volcanic and desert environment. Puerto del Rosario, and the entire island in general, are home to some of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches on the planet, as well as some of the clearest night skies around, explaining why one of the world’s preeminent observatories is located on the island. Must-sees: Lobo Island, Oasis Park, the sand dunes of Corralejo, and every beach such as Costa Calma.
Both city and municipality, Pontevedra is located in the North-West of Spain in the Autonomous Community (the equivalent of a state) of Galicia. Those visiting Pontevedra will find delicious seafood dishes such as Galician Seafood Rice (arroz marinero gallego) or Galician Octopus (pulpo a la gallega), as well as old cathedrals and medieval-era architecture that amazingly still stands today. Pontevedra is the perfect northern-coastal city getaway with picturesque beaches and local, fresh seafood. Must-sees: Leña Plaza, Church of the Virgin Pilgrimage, and the Monastery of Armenteira.
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