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The best Spanish city breaks


We’ve sold more beach holidays to Spain than any other country worldwide at Teletext Holidays since beginning our journey in travel 25 years ago, however Spain is also a fabulous place to go for a city break.

Spain is only a 2 hour flight to the majority of her airports from the UK and is a massively varied country in language, landscape, cuisine, culture and peoples so only visiting for the beach is to miss her great charm. 

Few countries can boast such diversity within their borders. Spain can offer lush green Celtic forests and rugged shores in beautiful Galicia and Asturias, head east from here and you’re at one of Spain’s most popular city breaks; Bilbao and the golden sands of San Sebastian on the wild Atlantic coast. Pop down the Med and you’ll run into Barcelona, Valencia, 

Alicante and Benidorm and surf the southern border of Spain for the golden, hot and sunny resorts of Malaga, Cadiz, Marbella and Nerja.

However, many argue the true gems and the real heart of Spain lies inland with the magnificence of resplendent, royal Madrid, Toledo and Cordoba, the enchanting and exotic 

Moorish cities of Seville, Granada or Ronda or even the northern Castilian towns of Isobel and Ferdinand like Burgos, Leon and Salamanca. Whether you’re looking for art, culture, sand, sea, heat, snow, mountains, wildlife or amazing food and wine there’s a city break in Spain for you.


Spanish city breaks for the foodie

There’s no city in Spain you could visit and not be impressed by the local cuisine, we are not listing Madrid as a foodie haven for example but truly some of the best restaurants reside in the capital and the Madrileño homely and heaty stews are some of our favourite dishes (try cocido madrileño). Seville could also easily make many people’s top five. Any 

Spanish city break will be full of amazing restaurants and meals.

Every region has so much to offer but to pick just 3 cities for food lovers in Spain we recommend San Sebastian, Barcelona and Valencia.

San Sebastian is home to the pintxo and is recognised in Spain as having some of the most diverse and avant-garde food scenes in the country. This tiny city has SEVENTEEN Michelin Star restaurants so whether you’re coming to San Sebastian to try some of the best food in the world at chi chi prices or want to experience the amazing (and cheap) bar hopping pintxo scene we can recommend San Sebastian as the top foodie destination in Spain.

Not far behind San Sebastian is Barcelona whose list of celebrity chefs with their trendy Born/Raval café’s continue to grow. Get off the main tourist drag and you’ll find some remarkable menu del dia options especially near the Port and Barceloneta, in the Raval, Gracia and San Antoni. Just like San Sebastian, you can pay top euro for some of the best Michelin star restaurants in the world or eat like a king at a €15 menu del dia local eatery.

Lastly, Valencia, for her authentic Paella gets special mention. Truly, you’ve never really enjoyed a Paella until you’ve had one in Valencia. This authentic recipe, for whatever reason, just can’t be matched around the rest of Spain and the UK versions are poor imitations. Neither the paella Valenciana nor paella de marisco can be bettered anywhere in the world and has to be the tastiest and most colourful dish in Spain.


Spanish city breaks for the art and history lover

For art and history lovers the cities to visit becomes much clearer, Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao although special mention here also goes to Granada, Seville, Toledo and Cordoba.

The spirit of Gaudi is writ large across the culture and architecture of Barcelona. Never has one city been so dominated by one artistic influence. You can find Gaudi’s buildings, parks and cathedrals throughout the city (and beyond into Spain) and the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and the Casa Batllo are essential visits on any trip to Barcelona. However, there are many other buildings where Gaudi has taken a hand also worth exploring; the Palau de la Musica and the Casa Mila are just two. More than these masterpieces, later buildings and current architecture throughout the city frequently proffer a nod to Gaudi giving a continuity and consistency of design that make this city so special.

Madrid, Spain’s capital, by virtue of this very fact contains a raft of artistic and historical artifacts and museums that would take months to fully explore. Home to the Spanish royal family and palaces that are open to visitors as well as their art collections, there is something at once grand and magnificent about Madrid. An embarrassment of riches and perhaps the best art collections in the world are housed at The Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums including works from national and international painters from Goya to Kandinski, Da Vinci to Picasso, ancient to modern. Any art student would be in heaven on a Madrid city break.

Bilbao is a city that only recently reached the consciousness of the international traveller and that’s wholly in thanks to its Gehry’s designed Guggenheim museum; the building is as much a work of art as any of the treasures contained within. However, don’t start and end your Bilbao visit here. This gritty, industrial Northern town is a bedrock of political activism with a large student population contributing to its vibrancy and start up culture. The city has many great bars and restaurants and nightclubs to explore too.


Spanish city breaks for the nature lover

Those who enjoy the natural world will also enjoy Barcelona whose position on the Med and proximity to the Pyrenees makes a sun and snow holiday possible. However, we feel that Gijon, the closest city to the Picos de Europa, Seville for its nature reserve for bird lovers of Parque Nacional de Donana and Lanzarote for it’s black sands and the other-worldly Timanfaya Natural Park are three of Spain’s bet hidden treasures for those who love the great outdoors.


With such a diverse countryside with sea, mountains, islands and plains and almost desert conditions around Madrid you will hard pressed not to find some natural feature not to fall in love with in Spain.

So this concludes our recommendations for a Spanish city break and you’ll notice that some cities make the list for a variety of reasons including history, cuisine and natural beauty, the cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Seville are our top selling city breaks for this very reason.

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