The Seven Wonders of Spain

Spain is a country that needs no introduction to the world on why visit—north to south the country has long attracted visitors keen to hike in the Pyrenees and explore Asturia, experience the cosmopolitan charm of Barcelona and the otherworldly landscapes in the Canary Islands. And through it all—travelers and locals enjoy world-class tapas, seafood, and Iberian ham.

As a way to better understand the best Spain has to offer, I asked several travel bloggers and expats living in Spain to share their top must-see attractions in the country. With a country as large and diverse as Spain, naming just a few of the is a difficult task, but the results are in. This list is by no means definitive—it’s actually likely some of the places locals might say are the best places to visit in Spain, or even those places with the most natural or cultural significance.

This is simply intended as a starting point for a discussion of the greatest places to visit in Spain.

With that, I present to you The Seven Wonders of Spain!

Alhambra, Granada

Fountain at the garden of Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
A fountain at the garden of Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

One of the most significant chapters in the history of Spain was the Moorish conquest. From roughly the 8th to the 15th century, Moors controlled various parts of Spain and introduced elements of Arab and Islamic culture. One of the most significant examples of Moorish architecture remaining in Spain is the Palace Fortress of Alhambra located in Granada.

Used as the seat of government for the emirs of Granada, this beautiful place to visit was also used by Spanish rulers after the Reconquista in 1492. It has been used as the model for many examples of Moorish revival architecture around the world and it should be on any traveler’s bucket list when they plan a trip to Spain.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain—absolutely one of the Wonders of Spain.

Not only is the Sagrada Familia the most iconic image of Barcelona, it might very well be the most iconic image in all of Spain.

Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, construction of the church began in 1882 and still continues today. While the construction passed the midway point in 2010, taking 128 years to reach that point, completion is expected as early as 2026, thanks to modern advancements in construction.

Interestingly, construction is not funded from government or church sources—it comes completely from entrance fees and donations. It was dedicated as a basilica by Pope Benedict in 2010 and if you’re planning to visit during anything close to high season, book well in advance as Barcelona gets a lot of visitors and this is one of the most popular things to do in Barcelona.

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain
The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain.

If one entry on this list that stands apart from the others, it’s the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. It’s by far the most modern place on the list, and it stands apart from the other entries just like it stands apart on the skyline in the city of Valencia.

The City of Arts and Sciences sits in the former bed of the Turia River, which used to flow through Valencia. After the river was diverted because of flooding, the land was appropriated to various uses, including parks and walkways. Once a section was devoted to a collection of buildings dedicated to the arts and science. Designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, the site includes an opera house, a planetarium, a science museum, and an aquarium.

The facility opened in 1998 and is personally my favorite place in Spain.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is believed to be the resting place of St. James the Apostle. It’s also the destination for what is perhaps the greatest European pilgrimage route.

All over Europe, you can see scallop shells in churches marking the route of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). I have personally seen the symbol on churches as far north as Belgium and as far east as Prague.

The routes and the cathedral constitute three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Hiking the route to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral has exploded in popularity over the last several years, increasing from just 690 pilgrims in 1985 to over a 270,000 in 2010. 

Mt Teide, Tenerife

View of Mount Teide in Tenerife, Spain
View of Mount Teide in Tenerife, Spain.

Mount Teide is the highest point in Spain and lies in the center of the island of Tenerife in the truly unique Canary Islands. In addition to being the highest point in Spain, it’s also the third highest mountain in the world as measured from base to peak, following only Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

Mount Teide is an active volcano and its last eruption occurred in 1909. The area around the summit is a National Park and one of Spain’s 48 UNESCO World Heritage sites. The volcano is home to over 33 endemic species of plants, including the Canary Island Pine, and 70 endemic species of animals.

Roman Aqueduct, Segovia

Before Spain was Spain, it was the Roman province of Iberia. The Roman presence here lasted hundreds of years and saw many famous leaders from antiquity pass through the region. Perhaps the greatest remaining Roman ruin in Spain is the aqueduct in the city of Segovia.

Created in the first or second century, the aqueduct was created to transport water from the Fuente Fría river to Segovia, a distance of over 17 km (11 miles). It’s perhaps the greatest example of Roman water engineering still in existence in the world today. The aqueduct was used to carry water to Segovia until the 20th century, which is a testament to the abilities of the Roman engineers.

Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba

Mosque of Cordova at Night - Cordova, Spain
The Mosque of Cordova lit up in the night sky in Cordova, Spain.

I often think of the Cathedral/Mosque of Cordoba as the opposite of the great Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was a Christian church converted to a mosque, and in Cordoba a Muslim mosque was converted to a church.

Originally built in the seventh century as a Visigoth church, the building was converted to a mosque and expanded over several hundred years. After the fall of Cordoba in 1236, the building was converted back to a Christian church, which it has been used as ever since.

During its period as a Mosque, it was the center of Islamic religious life in Moorish Andalusia. Today it still remains the Roman Catholic cathedral for Cordoba.

Honorable Mentions

It’s impossible to encapsulate all that makes Spain truly unique in just a single list, so if you’re collecting a list of the best places in Spain for your next trip, these honorable mentions are truly special and deserve a spot as well.

Caldera de Taburiente National Park in La Palma, Spain
Thick fog covering Caldera de Taburiente National Park in La Palma, Spain.

Read Next: 18 Awe-Inspiring Photos of Churches in Spain

Discover the other articles in Wonders of the World series—including the Seven Wonders of Egypt.

28 thoughts on “The Seven Wonders of Spain”

  1. This is a great list! I absolutely love the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. It’s so beautiful in photos and even more captivating in person. Plus, walking through the old Turia riverbed to get there is an adventure in itself. Valencia will always hold a special place in my heart.

  2. Spain is definately one of my favorite countries. I love especially Andalucia with its moorish culture. A really nice place to stay at the coast of Andalucia is a village called Nerja. Check it out!

  3. Great Spain photos! The City of Arts and Sciences is amazing! I wish I was there to shoot more photos of it at night.

  4. My favorite cathedral is Sagrada Familia, but then I’m a big Gaudi fan. Glad to read the update about it’s completion in 2026. Should I make my airline reservation now?

  5. Love the site. I not long ago wrote an article about Barcelona. The City is amazing and has much to offer.

    Garry love the fact you take life by the balls and travel so much. Great site

  6. Great list! Few people travel to Spain to visit Córdoba and Granada. They don`t know what they’re missing! They’re wonderful!!

  7. Great list. I’m heading to Spain in a few weeks to walk el Camino de Santiago for a month and then look around for a month. This will definitely come in handy.

  8. I love Spain. It is such an awesome place to visit. I especially love the Basque region around San Sebastian. It is fantastic there.

  9. Wonderful post and gorgeous photos. Spain is high on my list when I backpack Europe. Now back to saving money to make that dream come true.

  10. Very nice list! I loved the Gaudi works in Barcelona! I need to return to Spain at some point to see more of the country. I only got to visit Barcelona & Ibiza.

  11. i want to visit spain so much. i like Alhambra palace, with all detail on walls… Alsa Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba look so interestly to, it has so detail structure…

  12. Awesome post, lived in Andalucia for 18 months, got to add the lakes at Ardales, dubbed “The Spanish Riviera” – beautiful!

  13. Gary, this is a very complete list with both landscapes and monuments -from North to South. You have been to many places in Spain already and you have been given very good advice.

    But there’s still a place (well, lots actually but we’ll leave it to one for today) that this list is missing…

    … la Giralda!

  14. Next time you are here you need to see Menorca and Costa Brava. Steer clear of the Costa Brava beaches and head to the calas (Catalan for small beaches) they are another world and in my opinion some of Spain’s best “architecture”. A visit to the calas in Menorca will change your life.

  15. Lovely pictures. Spain has never really appealed to me. I just associate it with package holidays. My dad loves it though and I would love the chance to go to Barcelona one day.

  16. Really great picks! I have yet to visit Spain but it is high on my list. Will definitely spend a while there next time I head to Europe.

  17. awesome Spain. I have never been here but with this post, I would love to visit Spain one day and do my own travel blog and photography.

  18. another wonderful article..i’ve been to some of these sights..i love spain! i wish i could travel often like you Gary..happy trip always and be safe!

Comments are closed.