When you think of southwest European country of Spain, chances are you’re only familiar with Barcelona. Although this culturally-rich destination is an amazing place to visit, it is not all that Spain has to offer. There are tons of charming towns and vibrant cities that should be included on your Spanish travel itinerary.
Your best bet for an adventure is to fly into one of Spain’s major airports, rent a car in Barcelona or Madrid and start exploring. Here are 5 under-the-radar destinations in Spain for all of you adventurous travellers out there.
Santillana del Mar
As soon as you arrive in Santillana del Mar you’ll feel like you stepped back in time about 500 years. This charming medieval town hasn’t changed much over the past 5 centuries and there are only about 4,000 people living here. Not to mention it is located on the northern coast, so you have stunning views of the Cantabrian waters.
Even though it is commonly referred to as the “Old City of Salamanca” the vibe in Salamanca is far from old. Since it is home to one of the oldest universities in the world the people living here tend to be quite young.
The area is filled with trendy restaurants and fun bars, which is an interesting contrast to the historic architecture throughout the city. Flying into and renting a car in Madrid is the easiest way to get to Salamanca. It is just a short drive from there – about 2 hours – so make it your first stop in Spain.
After you stop in Salamanca head north to Burgos. It is one of the more traditional cities so you’ll get a real feel for Spanish culture. There are plenty of historic sites to keep you busy for weeks on end. One of the perks of Burgos is its proximity to other nearby towns and cities in northwestern Spain; you can easily make a day trip to Bilbao, Vitoria, or Valladolid from Burgos.
If you’re a lover of wine, you’ve probably already included the northern wine country of La Rioja on your itinerary. While you’re exploring La Rioja, be sure to stop in the capital of this region: Logroño. It is a charming little city with tons of tapas restaurants and friendly people. In addition to delicious food, you’ll find no shortage of robust red wines through Logroño.
Jerez de la Frontera
Flamenco-style dancing is a important aspect of Spanish culture, and the best place to experience it is in Jerez de la Frontera. You can even sign up for a flamenco lesson to learn the basics. This area is also famous for some of the best sherry in Europe; the literal translation of “Jerez” means sherry.
This city isn’t known as a common tourist destination, so you can easily explore the streets as the locals would do. Just because tourists don’t often travel to this southwestern Spanish destination doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera. You’ll find everything from medieval castles to charming local markets.