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Favorite Cities in Spain

Planning a trip to Spain and Italy this fall with my adult son. I thought I wanted to go to Barcelona but hearing some negatives. Folks that have been to Spain tell me your two favorite cities.
Thank you,

Posted by
27362 posts

Barcelona and...Seville, I guess. It's hard to pick a #2 because Spain has so many fabulous cities. Lest there be any doubt, I have been to Spain relatively recently: Barcelona in 2016 and 2019; Seville in 2019.

Posted by
4574 posts

Depends on interests. There are many things about Barcelona to love. Though I had to change my plans in 2017, I would have spent 90% of my time near the Sagrada Familia and visited all the Mondernista architecture and museums. I have no interest in Las Rambles and those dense tourist areas. Any city will have areas of dense tourism, but they can be avoided...often by just moving a few blocks away. If the theft issue is your concern...again, you can work to avoid much as any major city.
I had more interest in art, gardens, green spaces and the complex religious history of Andalusia, so Seville, Granada, Cordoba were priorities, and I also enjoyed Madrid, Toledo and Segovia.

Posted by
12 posts

Have travelled throughout Spain over the years. We tend to like smaller cities and never stay less than four nights. Last fall (2022) we really enjoyed San Sebastián and Malaga.

Posted by
79 posts

That’s a tough one as depends on your interests. May of 2022 we really enjoyed Seville and it serves as a good base for day trips to Cordoba and south. Same for Malaga for access to ocean and hiking. Also good base for Easy day trips to Granada Gibraltar Rhonda etc. Enjoy!!

Posted by
11355 posts

Madrid and Sevilla. Too much stress in Barcelona watching my back, warnings from hotels and restaurants to be alert. And,I lived in NYC and Chicago and love cities.
Smaller cities in Spain I like, San Sebastián and Leon.

Posted by
3965 posts

How can we be sure our favorites are your favorites?
Perhaps our interests don't aline and our recommendations are just shots in the dark?
Could you give us any hints about what you like?
What are the things that most excites you about Spain?
Spain is a big country, it will also be helpful to know what part of Spain you will be visiting?
Will that be after Italy or before?
Have you looked what cities in Spain have good logistical connections with places you will visit in Italy?
How many days will you be on the ground in Spain?
From Sept, to Oct, to Nov in many regions of Spain can be vastly different weatherwise, when in Autumn will you be visiting?

You see there is so much more nuance to your seemingly simple question.

That said, I'd choose Tarragona and Cordoba, of course those are for my personal interests as I like smaller cities with specific histories and known cuisine, which may or may not be what you are looking for 😉

Posted by
5364 posts

Palma and Malaga.

I don't care much for Barcelona, it doesn't hold the same attraction as other Spanish cities for me and I really don't understand the attraction of La Rambla. I've never felt unsafe there yet equally I've not felt the same sense of relaxation and warm ambiance that I have in other Spanish cities.

Posted by
1996 posts

I’d have to say Madrid and Granada as they felt very Spanish. Barcelona felt like NYC.

Posted by
1550 posts

You will need to check historical weather data for fall. It's not always sunny and dry everywhere.

My favs: Santiago di Compostela and Salamanca.

Posted by
6738 posts

That’s like asking which of your children you like best. There are too many to list. Each is different and unique in its own way. Some of the places listed by others I don’t care for, but that’s a personal preference. I normally say that if you’re only going to visit Spain once in your life then you should see Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada, and Barcelona.

Posted by
990 posts

Zaragoza and Merida - but we are keen on Roman ruins. Both had a lovely relaxed vibe, friendly people and obvious money spent on amenities like parks and walking paths along very nice rivers.

Posted by
43 posts

Thank you all for your feedback! Our planning is in the preliminary stage and I’m looking for insight from others who have been there.

Posted by
1 posts

Barcelona is the only city I've been to so far in Spain (though not for long! I'll be doing 14 days in Spain in November), but for what it's worth I absolutely loved it. It's a beautiful city with great art and architecture. As someone whose favorite thing to do when travelling is gawk at pretty buildings, I can't imagine skipping it and I'm excited to be going back in the fall. Yes, pick pocketing is an issue there, but I didn't have a bad experience at all. On the contrary, I felt very safe roaming around alone at night. Just leave as much as you can back in your hotel safe and be mindful of where you keep your phone and you'll be fine. Millions of tourists visit Barcelona every year and the vast majority of leave without becoming a victim of theft!

Posted by
168 posts

If one's "two favorite cities" actually have to be large cities, I would say Jerez de la Frontera and Zaragoza. If I could choose two smaller cities or towns, the choice would be difficult, for I've visited several great ones, but just to answer the question I would cite Teruel and Caceres. (In Aragon and Extremadura respectively.)