Amazing Hidden Gems in Spain

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Europe, Spain

14 incredible off-the-beaten-track places in Spain that you have to add to see with your own eyes. Explore these hidden gems in Spain during your next trip!

While visiting Spain, most flock to bustling cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada. However there are many great off-the-beaten-track places all over the country. These hidden gems in Spain are the perfect secret places for everyone that wants to explore less-touristic cities and historic sights.

Ultimately, every traveler in Spain is bound to find amazing places if you dare to leave the touristic centers. However, it can take a while to find the very best of them. Therefore I asked fellow travelers and bloggers to share their favorite hidden gems in Spain.

Map of hidden gems in Spain

Discovering Hidden Gems in Spain

Spain is great and I love many of its bigger cities, like the fabulous Sevilla with its great architecture and food. However, it is usually the secret places that appeal to me the most. After all, they allow us a glimpse of a different side of the country and its history. Exploring the hidden gems in Spain enables travelers to gain a deeper understanding of the heart of the country.

Therefore I can only encourage everyone to explore Spain beyond Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona. Roam the streets of the touristic cities for a few days and then leave them behind to venture off the beaten path. You will not regret it!

Secret Places in the Valencian Community

Sagunto

About 30 minutes up the coast from Valencia you find Sagunto, a small city that boasts a spectacular and ancient hilltop castle. Sagunto has a deep, rich history that’s evident all around. With a population of only just over 65,000, it’s a small city with that typical, historical Spanish charm.

One of the Hidden Gems in Spain: Sagunto

There are two major sights here. The first is the castle, which is so prominent you can see it from the train on the Barcelona–Valencia line. The castle has an incredible history, with Hannibal’s army from Carthage laying siege to it 2200 years ago. The complex is pretty vast, and it is a moderately easy walk up from Sagunto’s city center.

Halfway up the hill to the castle is the other major sight, the old Roman theatre. The theatre has been restored in recent years, now seats 8,000 people, and is used occasionally for events. Both sights can be visited for free and are easily combined with a stroll around town and a nice, Spanish lunch in one of the local restaurants.

If you are looking for a charming Spanish town filled with history that’s still a bit of a hidden gem, then Sagunto should be on your list.

Sagunto has a train station and regional trains run frequently between Valencia’s central train station (Estación del Norte) and Sagunto. This makes Sagunto one of the best day trips from Valencia.

Explored by Sanne Wesselman from Spend Life Traveling

Villajoyosa

Villajoyosa is a real travel highlight and an insider tip for exploring the most hidden gems in Spain. This colorful city is located in the middle of the Costa Blanca, on the so-called White Coast of Spain, and therefore not far from the main tourist hot spots Benidorm, Alicante, and Calpe. Especially the colorful townhouses, the lovely old town but also the many beaches around, make this place so unique along the Spanish coast.

The colorful old town of Villajoyosa is located directly on the turquoise blue sea, which gives this place an extra portion of charm. Directly in front of the old town is the main beach Playa la Villajoyosa, a beautiful sandy beach. It is just perfect for swimming and relaxing. If you want to have a swim then this is the best spot for you! Just behind it, there is the picturesque seafront promenade, with its many colorful little houses. Here you can find countless cozy restaurants and cafes.

Beach in Villajoyosa, Spain

During a stroll through the alleyways, you will also pass some chocolate stores. That’s not a surprise, because the delicious chocolate of Villajoyosa is world-famous and another attraction that shouldn´t be missed on any trip! The best places for a tasting, which can actually be quite romantic, are in the Valor Chocolate Museum and the Chocolates Clavileño.

Getting to Villajoyosa is easy to organize! By plane to the nearest international airport 50 km away in Alicante. After that, you can easily take the public bus, the train or a cab to get there.

Visited by Martina & Jürgen from Places of Juma

Hidden Gems in Andalusia

Acebuchal

Acebuchal is a tiny town located in southern Andalusia about 30 minutes from the beach town Nerja. The Costa del Sol attracts a lot of seasonal tourists, but Acebuchal lies hidden away in the mountains so not a lot of visitors reach it. Therefore it is one of the best hidden gems in Spain. Its remote location is not the only thing that makes this small town special. It actually lay abandoned for more than 50 years and was only restored in the early 2000s.

Achebuchal, Spain

At one point more than 200 people lived in Acebuchal until it was almost completely destroyed in the Spanish civil war. Decades later descendants of former residents decided to bring the town back to life and rebuild some of the ruined buildings.

Today, Acebuchal is more prosperous than ever and is home to a restaurant and even some guest houses.

You can reach this hidden gem in Spain by car or on foot if you’re up for the hike. It takes around 2 hours to walk one way from the nearby town Frigiliana and having lunch at the restaurant is the perfect way to rest before you make your way back. You’ll love the incredible nature of the national park and the beautiful scenery that surrounds this unique little town.

Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Acinipo

The Roman ruins of Acinipo are one of the hidden gems of Andalucia, nestled between popular destinations such as Ronda or Sevilla. Acinipo is believed to have been built sometime in the 9th century BC, which by the 5th century BC became a wealthy strategic point between Cordoba, Sevilla, and the Iberic coast.

Visiting the ruins of Acinipo is free of charge, and even so, you won’t find many tourists here. As you enter through the gates, you will find a very passionate man looking after the site, who will tell you all about its history.

The oldest structures at Acinipo are the prehistoric “cabanas”, dating from the Prehistoric Age. Each hut had a small fireplace, to cook on and heat in the winter. Inside the round circles, the archaeologists have found amphoras with traces of salted fish, which means that the city was well connected with the coast.

Ruins of Acinipo

The most preserved building in Acinipo is the Roman amphitheater. This was built at some point in the 1st century and had a capacity of around 2,000 people. It sits at the highest part of the old city and has amazing views over the landscape around it. The seating area is carved directly in the limestone hill and it’s not hard at all to imagine how beautiful it must have been to see a performance here. Other buildings which you can see at Acinipo are the Domus and the Roman Baths. 

Explored by Joanna from x

Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most charming white villages in Andalucia yet overlooked by many. Sitting dramatically on the top of a steep cliff between Seville and Cadiz, the whitewashed village makes a perfect day trip from either. But if you really want to dive into the Andalusian village life, you should spend a couple or three days there.

The main drawing point, other than the location, is the Minor Basilica of Santa Maria de la Asuncion that is actually built on top of an Arab mosque. It was declared a national monument in the first part of the 1900s.

On the same square as the basilica, Plaza de Cabildo, you can get a tour of the Town Hall. Next to it, you can see the Ducal Castle, which might seem tempting to visit, but it is actually private property and not open for tourists.

The square also features one of the stunning viewpoints in Arcos de la Frontera, the other one being Abades Viewpoint at the other end of the village. While there are a number of convents and churches worth seeing in the whitewashed village, the charm is much of walking the narrow streets, sitting down at a bar for a drink, and people watch to soak in the village life.

It isn’t very easy to get there by bus, so the best way to visit the village is by car. There is a lot of parking along the streets before entering the historic center.

Contributed by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers

Cazorla

Cazorla is situated in the outskirts of Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park in Jaen. As one of the lushest and wildlife-rich natural parks in southern Spain, there is no doubt this is a dream destination for outdoors lovers. There is so much to do straight from the village.

You can head out on multiday hikes or shorter hikes like the mesmerizing river and waterfall hike, Rio Cerezuelo. But Cazorla is also known for all the hermitages and castles surrounding the village. The main fortress is Castillo de la Yedra where you can get free guided tours throughout the day. From the fortress, you can take the steep hike up to the ruins of Castillo de las Cinco Esquinas that overlook the village and endless olive groves beyond it.

The tourist office in Cazorla is situated in the ruins of the old church, Iglesia de Santa Maria. You can enjoy the views from the watchtower or go on a guided underground tour under the church.

Though there is enough to do in the village and walking from the village to spend a week or two, there are a lot of fascinating things to do around the natural park, so the best way to go there is by car so you can get the most out of the stay. However, there are the odd buses from Jaen and Granada.

Contributed by Linn Haglund of Andalucia Hiking

Italica

Italica is located 15 minutes from Seville in Santiponce Spain. The site at Italica was established in central Spain in 206BC as a settlement for The Roman General Scipio’s soldiers, who were at war with Hannibal as he made his way towards Rome. This bustling city was once home to the 5th largest Roman amphitheater in the Empire. 

The amphitheater at Italica held 25,000 Romans during its time. They cheered and geared the gladiatorial games. Included in these spectators were the Roman Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius who were born in Italica. It is a large site that will take a few hours to explore by foot featuring ancient Roman roads, sculptures, housing foundations, ruins, and more.

As of late, the Italica amphitheater has come back into focus thanks to the part it played in Game of Thrones. Italica was the setting for the meeting between John Snow, Queen Cersei, and the Mother of Dragons. It also features in the last episode of Game Of Thrones when Bran was made king of the 6 kingdoms. Italica is truly a must-visit for history lovers that visit Seville. Those wanting to see more can visit the Seville Archaeological Museum. It has a fine display and objects from Italica including a famous marble statue of Trajan.

The easiest way to visit Italica is to catch a taxi from Seville. After all, it is only 9 kilometers away. Alternatively, you can catch a bus that drops off out of the front of Italica. The bus back to Seville can be quite infrequent. The entry price is only 2 euros.

Explored by Mark from Wyld Family Travel​

Nerja

Nerja is a pretty white-washed building town located in Costa del Sol, Malaga, in Southern Spain. Although Costa del Sol is a very popular spot for tourists, Nerja is still a hidden gem that needs to be on your list.

A must-see location in Nerja is Balcón de Europa, a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea. At the side, there are two incredible beaches, Calahonda to your left and Caletilla to your right, where you can enjoy a relaxing day.

Alternatively, it’s worth spending some time walking around the small streets that connect to Balcón de Nerja. You’ll find lovely independent shops where they sell handmade souvenirs and clothes, the beautiful El Salvador church, and plenty of restaurants to taste traditional Spanish dishes such as paella or typical food from Malaga such as grilled sardines, salmorejo (a tomato cold soup that is similar to gazpacho) and fried fish.

Another highlight of Nerja is Cuevas de Nerja, an impressive 5km series of caverns that are considered the best in Spain. If you’re planning to visit the caves, it’s highly recommended you book in advance to avoid any disappointment.

Apart from all these amazing places to visit, you can also snorkel, canoe, and hike in Nerja and its surroundings. These are summer activities that are very popular among locals.

To get to Nerja is quite simple, you can drive for 45 minutes on the road via A-7 or take a coach from Malaga bus station located next to María Zambrano station near the city center.

Recommended by Cristina Reina from My Little World of Travelling

Secret Spots in Catalonia

Cadaqués

Cadaqués, the pearl of Costa Brava, is a small picturesque fishing village that has drawn artists from all over the world. Spain’s hidden Mediterranean village, Cadaqués is situated along the Spanish coast, two hours from Barcelona. Once considered the artist’s capital of Spain, Cadaqués has attracted several artists like Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and Salvador Dalí, who made nearby Portlligat his home for over 50 years. 

Although bus service from Barcelona is available, the way to this hidden Catalonian region is best enjoyed on a road trip. The winding roads through the famous untouched landscape of the Cap de Creus National Park are one for the books. One of Spain’s most captivating villages, Cadaqués is a tight quarter of whitewashed homes with blue shutters and pink bougainvillea cascading from their balconies.

Cadaqués in Spain during the Blue Hour
Cadaqués during the blue hour

This region will be reminiscent of beautiful Greek villages but with little to no crowd. One can find many brightly painted wooden boats resting on the rocky beaches after hauling in the day’s catch. The breathtaking landscape with stunning beach views with few people around is a welcome change compared to the overcrowded touristy beaches of Spain.   

To experience Cadaqués’ picture-perfect settings, visit between May and September when the entire coast looks like a Dalí painting. Don’t miss a visit to the Salvador Dalí’s house, a 20-minute walk from the center to this world-famous museum. Cadaqués is full of amazing cafes and restaurants that are bustling at night and serve amazing seafood and paella. Walking through the quaint narrow cobblestone streets lined with local boutiques, one can realize that this town has changed very little over the past hundred years. It has a vibe that is absolutely magical!

Explored by Sunetra from Globetrotting Su

Sitges

If you are packing your baggage for Spain, Sitges is well worth considering. This small city is an actual gem at the Costa Dorada. The complete summertime season and autumn is a remarkable time in your experience to Sitges.

You can effortlessly combine Sitges with a metropolis experience in Barcelona. In much less than an hour, you could be in the small coastal city if you catch a train from Barcelona. Additionally, this hidden gem in Spain is only 25km away from Barcelona airport.

3 Things to do in Sitges:

Go shopping! – The vintage streets will captivate you and invite you to stroll through them with all their small boutiques. They are a dream for everyone that loves shopping.

Eat Tapas. – During every trip to Spain you need to consume tapas at least once. Be it aioli, patatas bravas, chopitos, or the Pa amb tomaquet (toasted peasant bread with grated garlic, tomato, and olive oil) – all of them are pinnacles of the Catalan cuisine and you should taste them and more. There are endless options. Sitges even has the yearly tapas festival!

Visit the Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla – After you’ve tasted the scrumptious Spanish tapas, you should take a stroll at the seashore of Sitges. At the end of the seashore, you will discover the picturesque Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla perched on a rock.

Recommended by Tristan from Traxploria

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is a small medieval fishing town in Catalonia, Spain that has been named one of the best-hidden gems to visit in Europe. The town is known for its beautiful beaches, ancient history, and incredible views. 

If you are looking for a beach-filled destination, hot summer sun, sand, and seafood then Tossa de Mar is the place to go. Located on Spain’s Costa Brava, this quaint little village is full of charm and culture. Whether you are an avid surfer or just enjoy lounging in the sun, there are plenty of options for fun activities to do while visiting here.

It offers amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea and some of the most picturesque beaches you will ever see. Some of the best things to do whilst in Tossa de Mar include: bathing in the sun at one of its beautiful beaches, exploring its cobblestone streets, exploring the historical ruins of Vila Vella, and Muralla de la Vila Vella, the beautiful Medieval walled town nearby, and wandering the ruins of ancient gothic churches. 

You could also explore the beaches of Cala Morisca, Cala Salionç, Platja de Canyelles – great for snorkeling – Cala Pola, or Cala Llevadó. If you are looking for an escape from your busy life this summer, Tossa de Mar is the perfect solution.

Recommended by Alice from Adventures of Alice

Spain’s Hidden Gems in Galicia

Allariz

Allariz is a great location for a trip to Spain with a difference. This town is located at the very top of the country in beautiful Galicia with the nearest big town being Ourense.

This is a very different area of Spain to that most visited by most tourists – away from the busy beaches and well-traveled towns. You can get here by flying into one of the region’s three airports or from the UK take the ferry to Santander and drive down. The area is also well connected with train links. It feels like a quiet corner of the country though and is most known for its thermal waters.

Allariz is such a pretty place with a tranquil river bubbling through the center – perfect for bathing in the summer months or winter stroll when it’s too cold to get in. Whatever the weather it’s a good place to enjoy the renowned thermal pools and one of the main hotels in the area, the OCA Allariz has some gorgeous ones you can enjoy as a resident or pay to use.

If you’re visiting the area on a family holiday to Spain they also have times when children are able to use the pools. This is such a beautiful Spanish town to visit and the area almost has an alpine feel to it. Allariz is somewhere that gets under your skin and however long you come for won’t be long enough.

Explored by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels

Spain off the beaten path: Murcia & Castilla-La Mancha

Cartagena

Cartagena is a hidden gem situated in the south-eastern part of Spain. The town is a dream destination for every history buff. Falling in the province of Murcia, it is a small town but with a lot to discover. It is a hidden gem of Spain because of the undiscovered museums, forts, and more.

The town has 10 buildings of interest, 12 historical museums, too many monuments, and four churches. There is a lot to see and do. Travelers get to explore and know about the most fascinating history of the town, which is the greatest of all the towns in Spain. Cartagena has seen several great civilizations and cultures.

There are some highlights that excite travelers about the place. One of them is the Roman Theatre that was built between the fifth and first centuries BC. Cartagena theatre is a clear picture of Roman architecture. It was undiscovered for many centuries and was gradually restored and rediscovered. Military Museum is another gem of the city that has the largest collections of artillery in Spain.

Apart from this, there are a bunch of things to do in Cartagena that include visiting the Palacio Consistorial that is one of the most picturesque buildings in the city, learning the city’s history at the Archaeological Museum, exploring Castillo de la Concepcion, discovering Naval Museum and more.

After exploring all the museums, travelers can spend a calming afternoon at Cala Cortina. It is the only beach in the town that lies four kilometers. The surrounding of the beach offers facilities like great restaurants, bars, kids’ play areas, toilets, and a picnic area.

Bridge in Allariz, a secret place in Spain

Travelers can take a flight to Murcia and a bus or train from there to Cartagena. It is a 45-minute bus trip from Murcia to Cartagena.

Hidden Gem in Spain discovered by Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Cuenca

Located in the heart of Spain, Cuenca is one of these cities that no one knows about. Thanks to its gorgeous architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and culture, Cuenca is today considered one of the most beautiful and unique cities in Spain. Not far from Madrid, just one hour away by car, Cuenca becomes the perfect city escape from the big metropolis like Madrid and Valencia. 

Even if it’s small, there are so many things to do in Cuenca Spain from the Gothic and breathtaking Cathedral, the ancient wall, the famous San Paul Bridge, and the UNESCO Site Las Casas Colgadas.

 San Paul Bridge in Cuenca, which is one of the hidden gems in Spain

The “Casas Colgadas” are a complex of hanging houses constructed on the rock facing the river Huécar. They are a must-see while exploring this hidden gem in Spain.

If you want to know more about the history, there is a museum inside Las Casas Colgadas as well as a restaurant where you can grab some tapas. Its fascinating history, the local’s way of life, and the magnificent architecture make Cuenca the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination in Spain.

How to get there: If you plan to visit this hidden gem in Spain from Madrid, you should rent a car. The journey to Cuenca will take around 1 hour. Alternatively, the trip by train is a bit longer and it will take around 3 hours. The train to Cuenca departs from Madrid Atocha. 

You can reach Cuenca from Valencia as well. The journey will take 4 hours, but thanks to the beautiful landscapes, time will fly.

Hidden Gem in Spain recommended by Alessia & Toti from Italian Trip Abroad

Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures

Will you visit these hidden gems in Spain?

I love exploring Spain and all its hidden gems and let me tell you that all secret places listed here are on my list if I haven’t already explored them. I cannot wait to plan those trips.

More about Spain

If you are making plans for your next Spain trip, you might also want to check out these Spain Travel Guides:
Spain’s Best Affordable City Trips
Things to do in Gran Canaria
Beautiful Pink Lakes

Which Secret Place in Spain is your favorite one?

Have you already visited some of these hidden gems in Spain or do you know other off-the-beaten-path destinations?
Let me know in the comments down below!

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Steph Kloeckener

I am the founder of A Nomad's Passport and a solo traveling digital nomad, photographer, and writer. Originally from Germany, I have lived in several countries around the world. My goal is to explore every country in the world while promoting ethical and sustainable traveling. And of course to write as many destination guides, itineraries, road trip guides, and content about scuba diving.

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