Spain is a festive, historical country filled with rich culture. Yet, travel lovers leave much of this country unexplored. While Barcelona and Madrid are excellent cities to visit, they are also expensive, crowded, and full of tourist traps. Instead of running out of cash fast in the big city, try spending a few nights in lesser-known places. From Bilbao’s art culture to Benasque’s natural wonders, there are many underrated towns to visit on your Spain trip. Spain’s sleepy towns may just surprise you.
For the Artist: Bilbao
Home to the Guggenheim, as well as many other art museums, Bilbao is Spain’s cultural hotspot. The Guggenheim Museum’s shimmering, post-modern architecture alone is incredibly beautiful, and many people travel to Bilbao just to gaze at the impressive building. However, the artwork that lies inside is even more spectacular.
From metallic sculptures to bright paintings to eclectic, mixed-media projects, the Guggenheim houses an excellent collection of artwork. However, its different, ground-breaking exhibitions year-round are what continually usher in art and travel lovers. Bilbao is home to more than the Guggenheim; the city’s ‘old town’—Casco Viejo—is filled with quirky shops, busy flea markets, and colorful architecture sure to make your Spain trip special.
For the Quirky Traveler: Jerez de la Frontera
If locals could use one word to describe Jerez de la Frontera, it’d probably be ‘quirky’. The charming town is famous for three things: horses, wine, and flamenco. You would be amiss if you didn’t sip on aged sherry in Bodegas Tradicion, one of Jerez de la Frontera’s many wineries.
Bodegas Tradicion doesn’t try to infuse their wines with fake flavors like caramel or sulphites. Instead, they focus on putting out high quality, fully aged wines. This tactic agrees with many wine critics, who claim Bodegas Tradicion to be one of the greatest wineries in all of Spain.
If you aren’t into wine, there is plenty more to do in Jerez de la Frontera. From Centro Andaluz de Flamenco, which plays Flamenco videos and houses Flamenco resources, to magnificent horse shows—check local listings for dates and times—Jerez de la Frontera is the perfect quirky city to stop at on your Spain trip.
For the Nature Enthusiast: Benasque
Situated in a valley and surrounded by the highest peaks in the Pyrenees Mountains, Benasque is the perfect travel destination for nature lovers. In Benasque, there is an endless amount of outdoor activities to do.
If you’re a hiker at heart, the city has many different hiking trails to offer, ranging from easy to difficult. For a relaxing walk, take the day to walk a 6-mile loop that goes through Benasque and two neighboring towns, Cerler and Anciles.
For a more challenging hike, trek the 5-mile loop that swirls around the valley. At various points during the hike, you’ll encounter all-encompassing views of the quaint town below. Check out Banasque hiking trail websites for specific location details. After your hike in the Pyrenees, top off your Benasque, Spain trip with a view of the sunset over the city’s snowcapped mountains.
For the Beach Bum: Lekeitio
Fishers and swimmers should be on the lookout for Lekeitio on their Spain trip. Now, Lekeitio is known for its gorgeous, crystal clear beaches. During low tide at Isuntza beach, travel lovers can even walk on a concrete wall to nearby island San Nicolas.
While Isuntza is the most popular beach in the Spanish fishing town, there are many more underrated ones awaiting beach bums. Karraspio beach is the longest of Lekeitio’s beaches. Here, a sandbar connects Karraspio and San Nicolas, allowing beachgoers to pass to and fro during low tide.
During high tide, La Salvaje beach does not exist. Yet, during low tide, travel junkies can soak in the rays and admire the view on its hot, wet sand. No matter which beach you choose to visit—or if you choose to go to all of them—Lekeitio is sure to make a beach bum’s Spain trip brilliant.
For the Partier: Salamanca
If you’ve come to Spain for lively tapas bars and rowdy discos, look no further than Salamanca. Salamanca is Spain’s underrated party central, as it’s home to the University of Salamanca. During the school year, this college town is filled to the brim with local and international students.
While it can be useful to learn from the students where the best nightlife is, partying with college kids can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. Visit during the summer, and you will find yourself surrounded by a more mature crowd with just as many party opportunities.
During the day, visit Plaza Mayor for its local markets and unique restaurants. At night, eat—and drink!—at one of the many affordable tapas bars Salamanca has to offer. On your Spain trip, spend at least one night dancing at a disco and drinking at a local bar in Salamanca. You won’t regret it.
Spain has much more to offer than Barcelona and Madrid. From Salamanca’s party life to Lekeitio’s luxurious beaches, the country is home to a plethora of sleepy cities waiting to be explored. We hope you stop by these underrated cities on your next Spain trip!