15 of the most beautiful villages in Spain
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In the age of socially-distanced vacations, it may be time to forgo some of Spain‘s greatest cities for something a little smaller: un pueblo. Many of the Mediterranean country’s villages — pueblos — are exceptionally beautiful. In fact, there are so many gorgeous Spanish villages, it was difficult to narrow down this list.
But we’ve selected 15 of the most stunning for you to have a calm and relaxing vacation. Some are in the mountains, some close to the seaside and some just a quick hop from a city like Madrid, Seville or Barcelona. Although many of these destinations are accessible by public transport (buses and trains), it may be best to rent a car in order to visit these villages with more ease.
1. Altea, Comunidad Valenciana
Take a break from the all-inclusive beach-and-beers fun in Benidorm to visit the sparkling seaside village of Altea. Just a 20-minute drive from Benidorm, this hilltop white village couldn’t be more different from the high-rises of its neighboring beach towns. Wander the rocky coastline, then walk up the steep steps to the old town. Make sure to admire the Church of the Virgin Consuelo — its blue dome brightly juxtaposed against the whitewashed walls is reminiscent of the Greek islands.
2. Albarracín, Aragon
Perched at almost 4,000 feet, the medieval walled village of Albarracín is pending UNESCO World Heritage status. The castle, main square and cathedral are the hot spots to see, but meandering the cobblestone streets and getting a little lost may be the best way to enjoy the village. Frequently referred to as the most beautiful village in Spain, Albarracín’s crumbling stone buildings and tiny alleyways don’t disappoint. Just come ready to climb and wear appropriate footwear.
3. Cadaqués, Catalonia
One of Costa Brava’s most picturesque gems, Cadaqués is located inside the Parque Natural del Cap de Creus, a nature preserve rife with hilly hiking trails and panoramic viewpoints. If the village looks vaguely familiar, it was used as a backdrop by artists such as Salvador Dalí (he was born and buried in the nearby village of Figures) and Joaquín Sorolla, known for his seascape artwork. While strolling the cobbled streets of the village is a joy in itself, the best way to see Cadaqués is from varying viewpoints, so put on your hiking boots and start climbing for an epic photo opp.
4. Alcalá del Júcar, Castilla de la Mancha
Home to a medieval castle and fortress, Alcalá del Júcar is perched on a hill overlooking the Júcar River and Gorge. Besides soaking up the traditional Spanish village atmosphere, make sure to explore the Cuevas del Diable, caves built into the side of the mountain rock. Even during the hottest of summer days, it’s a cool 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to cross the famous Puente Romano, a bridge that actually wasn’t built by the Romans, but is still a very special piece of historical architecture.
5. Tejada, Gran Canaria
Take a break from Gran Canaria’s epic beaches to head inland for a little village charm. Weave through the winding mountain roads inland to Tejada, where the white-walled, red-roofed homes and buildings sit amid the greenery of the island’s mountainous interior. Once you’ve checked out the village’s hot spots like the Abraham Cardenas Sculpture Museum or the Medicinal Plants Centre, head to the surrounding area to hike around Roque Bentayga, a towering rock formation.
6.San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Rioja
Wine-lovers should head to San Vicente de la Sonsierra, surrounded by vineyards in Spain’s most famous wine region, La Rioja. The 10th-century village features a few stone towers, a hilltop castle, a Plaza Mayor as well as more modern touches like a few colorful murals. For a little more action, head to the slightly larger, nearby town of Haro, which features a wine museum. Don’t miss tours and tastings at neighboring wineries like Bodegas Riojanes and Bodegas Contador.
7. Potes, Cantabria
Bathed in moss and surrounded by verdant countryside and mountains, the stone villages of Potes is famous for its arches and the Deva River, which runs right through the village center. After enjoying the picturesque old town, you’ll definitely want to explore the nearby outdoor landmarks, such as the nearby climbing spot and limestone peak Naranjo de Bulnes. And eating in the village is a must: plan to sample Cantabrian specialties like chickpea pies and stews as well as Cantabrian game.
8. Combarro, Galicia
It doesn’t get more traditional than Galicia’s fishing village of Combarro, located in the Rias Baixas area. Featuring the customary Galician architecture hórreos, which are homes set upon stilts, you’ll find over 60 of them throughout the village, many of which are used as granaries or for food storage. You’ll want to also keep an eye out for the cruceiros as you lap the villages. These are special granite cross landmarks. Make sure to eat as much seafood as possible — shellfish and pulpo gallego (Galician-style octopus doused with paprika) are especially revered in the region.
9. Setenil de las Bodegas, Andalusia
It’s not easy to pick the most beautiful village in Andalusia — Arcos de la Frontera and Mijas are strong contenders, among others. But Setenil’s unique geography makes it one of the most impressive. Besides its focal point, a hilltop castle that was once an Arab fortress, the white buildings are built directly into the cliffside rock, resulting in an original, cavelike structure that’s truly iconic. Make sure to visit one of the bars with outdoor tables set directly under the rock caves.
10. Hondarribia, Basque Country
One of the most colorful villages in Spain, Hondarribia spans the Spanish/French border. Enter through the Santa María gate to admire the walled, vibrantly colored village center. The sandy shores of Hondarribia Beach are just to the north. Wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss visiting some of the vineyards in the region which produce one of Spain’s most underrated wines, Txakoli. This is a very dry, slightly bubbly white wine with a low alcohol content — taste it and add on a tour at Hiruzta.
Related: These are the best beaches in Spain
11. Cudillero, Asturias
One of northern Spain’s most delightful fishing villages, Cudillero is bright and compact, backed by green hills and close to beautiful sandy beaches. Make sure to climb up to the Garita viewpoint to admire the village and the sea beyond. There aren’t heaps of activities to do in Cudillero, but that’s all part of its charm. Sit outside with a glass of sidra (the region’s famed apple cider) paired with Asturian cheese, chat with locals and enjoy the laid back ambience of the village.
12. Deia, Mallorca
A short distance away from one of Mallorca‘s other incredibly gorgeous villages, Valldemossa, Deia is set high in the Tramuntana hills overlooking the glittering ocean. Know for its thriving arts and music community, Deia is more than just a historic village, it’s also a place for creatives to feel inspired by the elements: the mountains, the sea and the beautiful stone buildings stacked along the hill. Despite its small size and population, there are a number of interesting art galleries and boutiques, as well as chic restaurants to check out during your visit.
13. Guadalupe, Extremadura
The highlight of tiny village Guadalupe is the monastery of the Virgin María de Guadalupe. The monastery features frescos from famous Spanish painters such as Zurbarán, and its museum has works from Goya and El Greco. The exterior of the monument is just as impressive, featuring a mix of architectural styles like Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance and Mudejar. Make sure to relax with a cold drink in the main plaza facing the famous Tres Chorros fountain.
14. Olite, Navarra
Spain is home to over 10,000 castles, so a small village with a castle is hardly a novelty in the country. But Olite’s castle is one to admire. Its many turrets and towers take you right back to the Middle Ages and adults will have just as much fun as kids exploring this extraordinary royal landmark. The castle was so iconic it even had hanging gardens and a zoo featuring lions, giraffes and camels in its heyday (the 15th century). The castle overlooks vineyards, so don’t forget to wine taste during your visit.
15. Buitrago de Lozoya, Comunidad de Madrid
Arrive at Buitrago de Lozoya, one of Madrid‘s most popular escapes in under an hour from the capital. The village is surrounded by the Lozoya River enclosed by Moorish walls. As you probably expect, Buitrago features a castle (a key feature of most Spanish villages) and a clock tower. There’s also a museum featuring works by Picasso. Hikers should head to the nearby Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Nature Reserve to hike or walk.
For more Spanish vacation inspiration here are some related articles:
- Which Canary Island should you visit?
- Ibiza, Mallorca or Menorca: How to choose the right Balearic Island for your vacation
- 5 lesser-known spots for a vacation in Spain
- Second Cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Madrid
- Second Cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Barcelona
- Top hacks for visiting Spain like a local
Spain has incredible beaches and lively cities — but don’t forget about the pueblos scattered throughout the county. Spanish villages emit a very special kind of small-town charm perfect for a relaxing vacation — and most feature landmarks like castles, cathedrals and clock towers just waiting to be explored.
Featured photo of Setenil de las Bodegas by Poike/Getty
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