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.
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
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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 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 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 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.
Contributed by Linn Haglund of Andalucia Hiking
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.
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
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, 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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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