El Tajo gorge in Ronda, Spain (Getty)

12 of the best places to holiday in Spain

Discover enticing cities, sleepy fishing villages, wild national parks and beautiful beaches on these cruises and tours around these amazing destinations in Spain

1. Cordoba, Seville and Ronda 

Discover Andalucia’s sun-soaked Mediterranean coast, cultural treasures, and charismatic cities on a tour of  the best Spainish cities. Visit all of the region’s world famous UNESCO World Heritage sites: the beautiful Royal Palace at Alhambra, Cordoba’s awe-inspiring mosque, the dazzling architecture of Seville – and much more. In Ronda, nature steals the show: the city is cleaved in two by a plunging gorge.

This is Spain for all the senses – with each day more spectacular than the last

But this slice of Spain offers much more than incredible sights: you’ll find white hilltop villages, feast in authentic tapas bars, and explore the cities’ atmospheric old quarters with their twisting cobbled streets. This is Spain for all the senses – with each day more spectacular than the last.  

You’ll love…

2. Mallorca and Barcelona 

Indulge in six-star style on an all-inclusive Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyage where you’ll visit Rome, Portofino, Barcelona, St. Tropez, Monte Carlo. Stay in one of the ship’s 350 opulent suites that come with private verandas and take your pick of six outstanding restaurants.

You’ll love…

Next departure: August 4th 2020

3. Porto and Salamanca

Wine tasting, gourmet cuisine, tree-lined landscapes… the treasures of the Douro River are yours to discover on a river cruise from Porto to Salamanca. Visit beautiful towns and monasteries along the way, including the ceramic-laden Lamego and the 12th-century walled village of Castelo Rodrigo. After crossing the border into Spain, you’ll enjoy a flamenco show and tour of Salamanca – a historic beauty with a fascinating past.

You’ll love…

4.  Andalucia

Venture into the heart of southern Spain to see some of its greatest Moorish cities, on holiday to Andalucia. Wander the elaborate Alcázar of Seville, see the magnificent architecture of Granada’s Alhambra Palace, and discover Córdoba’s world-famous Mosque-Cathedral. Don’t miss out on taking an evening walking tour through Cadiz’s old quarter, and wine tasting at El Puerto de Santa Maria.

You’ll love…

5.  Bilbao

You’ll be greeted by a delicious mash-up of silvery-ribboned modern builds (the Guggenheim) and patchwork alleys in the Basque country of Bilbao. In the middle of it all is the Mercado de la Ribera, an enormous riverside food market that’s a visual treat. Everything’s on sale: plump mushroom varieties, all kinds of jamón, and boat-fresh bounty such as chewy goose barnacles and blazingly pink prawns. The quality and diversity is sublime: this is Basque Country cuisine in microcosm.

Gastronomy runs through the veins of Getxo, a ritzy beachside town on the fringes of Bilbao that is still a humble fishing village at heart. Stroll along the gently curving boardwalk past ornate timbered villas and stone-faced mansions to the jumble of fishermen’s homes that still form the old port. When the sun warms the sands lining the Bay of Biscay, a frosty beer on a tree-lined terrace is a must; try Bar Arrantzale.

6.  San Sebastián

With more Michelin-starred restaurants per head than almost anywhere on Earth, San Sebastián tastes as good as it looks – all regal buildings, broad sands and warren-like Old Town. But the real stars of the show are the atmospheric bars for pintxos (Basque tapas). There are dozens; cut to the highlights on a bites-and-booze-filled evening tasting tour, featuring the likes of veal cheek and cheesecake.

Pottering in the verdant highlands to the southwest of San Sebastián, flocks of shaggy-haired Carranzana sheep produce milk for Idiazabal cheese. So obsessed are Basques with this hard, nutty number that they’ve dedicated a 95km hiking route to it, linking farms, dairies, medieval villages – and knockout mountain scenery. For an easy insight join a three-hour guided cheese farm tour, where you’ll see dogs herding sheep and eat Idiazabal ’til you’re stuffed.

Aubergines with pepper. San Sebastian, Spain.Getty Images

7. Rioja

With the sun shining on rolling vineyards and sleepy cobbled towns, Rioja is the wine region of your Insta-dreams. There are plenty of stellar wineries with tasting rooms – Baigorri, Ysios and Valdelana included – but in the pretty medieval town of Laguardia, don’t miss the tiny 18th-century El Fabulista. This stone-built winery still crushes its grapes with old-school equipment (feet included!) and its tipples come in at a bargain price.

Don’t just drink wine – bathe in it. At Frank Gehry’s bonkers winery-hotel – Marqués de Riscal, in Elciego – the spa specialises in vinotherapy, with treatments using posh beauty brand Caudalie. A Merlot body wrap tones the skin; a hydro-massage unclenches shoulders; and a Premier Cru facial even claims to magic away wrinkles.

8. Girona 

This medieval city on the banks of the Onyar river exudes Catalan confidence. It’s home to a competitive foodie scene (try superstar restaurant Celler de Can Roca); has a labyrinthine old quarter; and great shopping on La Rambla de la Llibertat.

9. Jerez de la Frontera

The poet Lorca’s city of gypsies, grief and musk is a maze of alleys, plazas and hole-in-the-wall bars fuelled by jamón, fino and the rattle of bulería rhythms. Rise early, visit a sherry bodega – Bodega Díez Mérito is the prettiest – then lunch and a siesta, followed by tapas with flamenco at one of the city’s tabancos (traditional bars). Start at El Pasaje, then follow your ears.

10. A Coruña 

Growing up so far from authority has given A Coruña a rebellious air. It has superb urban beaches, a thriving surf scene, grungy backstreets filled with unexpected shops, the world-class Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, a buzzing bar culture and some of the finest seafood Europe can offer – try anywhere on Calle Estrella.

A view of the Basilica-Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar next to the Ebro River.Getty Images

11. Zaragoza

Caesar Augustus, King Alfonso I and Goya all made their mark on Zaragoza, but they were eclipsed by the Virgin Mary, who appeared here to St James perched atop a jasper-stone pillar – which explains why Zaragoza is one of the holiest shrines in Spain. People-watch in the magnificent Plaza del Pilar and do go to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar to see, well, the pillar. Above all, explore El Tubo, the warren of medieval alleyways that provides some of the buzziest nightlife in Spain.

12. Oviedo

This cider-soaked city is said to be the country’s most romantic. Elegance, wit and a certain smugness (born of the fact that Asturias was the one part of Spain the Moors couldn’t take) characterise the city, a mix of medieval and modernist built for wandering hand in hand. Oviedo has no real must-sees, so no pressure, but does have a passion for nightlife, mainly around the lively Calle Mon.

Lighthouse of Cap de Formentor Mallorca (Getty)
Why Mallorca’s the best spot for a cycling holiday
Mallorca's a Mecca for pro cycling thanks to its predictable, pedal-perfect temperatures, smooth roads and mixed terrain.
night view of Placa Reial with restaurants in summer. Barcelona
Best speakeasy in Barcelona
The speakeasy craze has reached a whole new level. Park your cynicism at the (fridge) door, says Duncan Craig
night view of Placa Reial with restaurants in summer. Barcelona
Best places to eat in Barcelona
Barcelona's top markets, restaurants and must-try local delicacies – from tapas to cocktails and the finest olive oil
Volcanic landscape of Timanfaya Volcano Park on Lanzarote in Canary Islands.
6 of the best things to do in the Canary Islands
From surfing in Lanzarote to whale watching in Tenerife, you'll never be short of things to do in the Canary Islands