Spain is undoubtedly one of the best countries in the world to visit, with a great mix of coastal and city culture to explore. But if you are looking for adventure and locations off the beaten path that offer something different to the most popular cities then here is my list of some of the best places to visit in Spain that you might not have heard of:
Gaztelugatxe, Basque Country
The name is hard to pronounce but once you get there you won’t forget it. Located on the coast 35 km east of Bilbao, this tiny island is accessed on foot, crossing a causeway to climb more than 200 stone steps to reach the small 10th century chapel perched on the summit. The incredible views both at the top and on the journey itself make the climb well worthwhile.
Justo's Cathedral, Madrid
There are more than 90 cathedrals in Spain, but to see a truly unique one, you only have to travel 24km from Madrid to the town of Mejorada del Campo. The story behind it is as interesting as the building. Designed and constructed due to the determination and faith of one man, Justo Gallego Martinez, who started building it in 1961, and is still going 59 years later, at the grand age of 95. It is essentially the poor man’s Sagrada Familia, hand-crafted from recycled/donated building materials, and includes an altar, underground crypt, central ceiling dome, turrets, and rather quirky stained glass and mural paintings.
Costa Quebrada, Asturias
You will be spoilt for choice by the amazing beaches in Asturias, and the surrounding coastline near Llanes offers some of the best. There are numerous little coves, bays and beaches to explore, all with their own charm and features. Playa de Toro has rock formations jutting out of the sand, Playa de Torimbia is a wineglass shaped cove and Playa de Gulpiyuri is a small sinkhole beach that is actually slightly inland of the coastline but the sea still enters through the caves and tunnels in the rocks.
Vixia Herbeira, Galicia
Vixia Herbeira is one of the highest cliff tops in Europe and offers incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and natural Galician It is a whopping 621metres high, and accessible by car along steep and curvy mountain roads. There is observation deck that lies at the site of an XVII century sentry box. Inland of the lookout point there is also a rather impressive wind farm, which looks particularly surreal if you happen to arrive when coastal fog has descended.
Campo del Moro, Madrid
Not many people I know who live in Madrid actually know of this place, it seems to be a well-guarded secret. It’s essentially the back garden of the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. You can walk down extended lawns and enjoy the sights and sounds of the peacocks, or roam the outer gardens down pathways dedicated to specific plants or trees, there’s also a small but charming cork cabin and the more elaborate Queen´s chalet, among other things. Discover more interesting parks in Madrid.
Frigiliana in southern Spain may be a small village, but it is regarded as one of the most beautiful and well preserved in the country. Perched in the hills 6km from the beaches of Nerja, and 70 km from Malaga it is like stepping onto a film set. Enjoy getting lost in the Mudéjar, old Moorish quarter, with its winding cobbled streets and quirky white cottages with tiny blue doorways. The Moorish influence of ceramic tiles and mosaic decorations, and an abundance of plants and flowers makes it one of the best places to visit in Spain. And after a hard day wandering the steep streets, relax and enjoy the view from mirador restaurants overlooking the town.
El Bosque Encantado, Madrid
El Bosque Encantado is a short walk from the town of San Martin de Valdeiglesias, 74km to the west of Madrid, and is a landscaped botanical garden with a difference. There are various zones and pathways to follow to find fairy tree houses, spiritual pools and peaceful resting places, with sculpted hedges designed with different themes such as dinosaurs, music, along the way.
Cape Finisterre, Galicia
Also referred to as ´the end of the world´in Roman times, it is the final destination of the famous Camino de Santiago for many pilgrims. It is located 80km from Santiago de Compostela but if you don’t have time to do the whole Camino you can join at the quaint seaside town of Fisterra and make your way to the Cape Finisterre lighthouse and onward to the rocky peninsular for stunning views of the ocean and nearby beaches. And who wouldn’t want to walk to the ends of the earth to see an unspoiled view of the sunset over the ocean.