Flamenco, and jamón ibérico, sangria, Moorish romance you can’t fake. Spain overflows with all the elements for an exotic European vacation. After you’ve explored Barcelona’s beaches and San Sebastian’s tapas bars, it’s time to head to these destinations the most underrated on the Iberian peninsula. Let find out about These Most Underrated Places in Spain.
THESE MOST UNDERRATED PLACES IN SPAIN
The gray mountaintop city of Ronda is often overlooked by tourists for its whiter whitewashed villages or popular nearby coastal cities like Marbella and Malaga, but it’s recommended to head inland to get to the town. This spectacular town perched precariously on the edge of a deep canyon.
You’ll find stunning views over Puente Nuevo, a beautiful bridge located 400 feet from the Guadalevín River and connecting the old and new towns of Ronda. Interested in extending your day trip. Get out of bed at Hotel Enfrente Arte, a sweet 12 rooms hotel with a fun, bohemian atmosphere. That is one of These Most Underrated Places in Spain.
The Andalusian coast feels most authentic in Almuñécar, a seaside village about an hour and a half east of Malaga along the coast. Even more, laid back and inviting than the seaside town of Nerja, just half an hour away, Almuñécar’s old town sprawls across the top of a hill originally settled by the Phoenicians.
The Castillo de San Miguel, flanked by its original city walls, is the town’s most important historic site, but your afternoon will also be well spent strolling the nearby barrio San Miguel, was filled with narrow streets, whitewashed buildings, and cozy bodegas on secluded squares.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
Another Andalusian town in southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera offers many of the vibrant cultural touches you’ll find in places like Granada and Seville flamenco music, endless tapas bar albeit in a more relaxed setting. You’re in the Sherry Triangle, so tasting the spirits and sweets straight from the barrel at the local pubs here is a must.
Another highlight is Alcazar de Jerez de la Frontera, a former Moorish palace in the center of town and home to a spectacular park. Be sure to make reservations for dinner at the Michelin-starred La Carbona, located inside a former sherry bodega bistro, for high-end specialties like sherry kebabs and red almadraba tuna tartare. As for where to stay, we recommend Los Jandalos for its great café and spa atmosphere.
Spain hardly wants whitewashed villages slanting down the hillside, but Gaucín, just an hour’s drive from the crowded Costa del Sol, stands out for the views of Gibraltar and North Africa you’ll find from its most beautiful dens.
The verdant scenery you get here from the coast offers hiking opportunities in this Andalusian mountain region, where birds are often seen migrating back and forth between Europe and Africa. Sample wine at Enkvist Wines, owned by a Swede, then enjoys a plate of paella at the outdoor table at Terral Gaucin. That is one of These Most Underrated Places in Spain.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a glass of rioja, you’ll love to make a pilgrimage to its natives in Logroño, the utterly charming yet underrated capital of Spain’s La Rioja province, located a few miles from La Rioja. Bilbao about 90 minutes south.
When you’re not touring the nearby wineries, enjoy pinchos tapas, crawling past the many pubs along the town’s winding alleys. Your best bet. Start on Calle del Laurel, the main dining spot known as la zona de pinchos.
All the romance of the Moorish era can be felt and seen in Cordoba without facing the tourist crowds that flock to Granada, about two hours southeast. Here, instead of the Alhambra, it’s all about Mezquita, Cordoba’s grand mosque masterpiece whose dramatic interior combines Roman with Islamic architecture flourishing, from its cypress-lined courtyard and orange to the archways and striped minarets sure to take some time to soak in the hammam and indulge in a variety of local specialties including Salmorejo, the local like gazpacho if you can. After all, you are in the heart of Andalusia.
Travel about an hour south from Madrid’s busy streets and you’ll come to the quaint town of Toledo, the spiritual heart of Spain in the arid plains of Castilla La Mancha in the famous Don Quixote language. The town’s well-preserved medieval center is intimate enough to be explored on foot and is full of atmospheric fun spots like Adolfo, which is best known for Toledan specialties such as marzipan and perdiz a la Toledana partridge stew.