8 Destinations You Must See in Spain and Portugal

  • Bunnik Tours
  • 15 Nov 23

Whether you’re sipping port in Porto or marvelling at the iconic Sagrada Família in Barcelona, each city in Spain and Portugal invites you to savour its unique flavours, sights, and sounds.

Alhambra Palace, Granada by Adobe Stock

Alhambra Palace, Granada by Adobe Stock

If you’re looking to plan your trip to the Iberian Peninsula, we’ve compiled a list of destinations you must see in Spain and Portugal! Capture the essence of this remarkable region on our Northern Spain & Portugal small group tour, and read on for more inspiration!




Must-Visit Cities in Spain

From the spirited rhythms of Flamenco echoing through ancient streets to the architectural marvels like the Sagrada Família and the Alhambra, Spain is a treasure trove of experiences. Its sun-drenched beaches, world-class cuisine, and the warmth of its people add to the allure. Whether wandering through the narrow alleys of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, savouring tapas in Madrid, or marvelling at the Alcazar in Seville, Spain beckons travellers with an irresistible blend of tradition and modernity.


Stunning Seville

Must see places in Spain and Portugal: the Real Alcazar in Seville
Real Alcázar by Adobe Stock

Must see places in Spain and Portugal: achitectural detail of the Real Alcazar in Seville
Real Alcázar by Dennis Bunnik

Seville is a beautiful and vibrant city in the south of Spain, the capital of the Andalusia region. It has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, influenced by the Moors, the Catholics, the Jews and the Romans. Seville offers many attractions and activities for visitors, from historical monuments to lively festivals.

One of the most famous attractions in Seville is the Real Alcázar, which is today home to the Spanish Royal Family. Originally constructed as a fortified complex by Muslims in the 10th century, it underwent various expansions and renovations by different dynasties and rulers over the centuries. The stunning palace complex showcases the Moorish style of architecture and features exquisite gardens, courtyards, fountains and halls, decorated with intricate tiles, carvings and paintings. The Alcázar is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a filming location for the TV series Game of Thrones.

Explore the majesty of the Real Alcázar yourself on our Spain small group tours.


Majestic Madrid

Must see places in Spain and Portugal: Madrid Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor, Madrid by Dennis Bunnik

Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is a vibrant metropolis with a unique charm. Once the richest and most powerful city on Earth, today, its world-class art museums, historic sites like the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor, and sprawling green spaces like Retiro Park make it a hub of culture and history.

Madrid is home to two of the world's most renowned art institutions. The Prado Museum is a treasure trove of classical European art featuring masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco, while the Reina Sofia Museum is a contemporary art hub known for its iconic masterpiece, Picasso's "Guernica."

Beyond these artistic gems, Madrid offers a plethora of attractions. Its royal palace, Palacio Real, is a beautiful baroque structure with some 3,000 rooms, making it one of Europe's largest castles. Although the royal family no longer lives here, the Palacio Real still serves as the king and queen's official residence, a venue for state ceremonies, and a place for tourists to get a peek into the fascinating royal history of Spain.

Visit the Palacio Real on our Spain & Morocco small group tour.


Beautiful Barcelona

Must see in Spain and Portugal: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
La Sagrada Família, Barcelona by Adobe Stock

One of the world's most stylish and cosmopolitan cities, Barcelona is on the cutting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style and music. The city features buildings by the genius and eccentric Antoni Gaudí, significant art collections of Picasso and Miro, and the exuberant locals will enchant you.

One of the most iconic landmarks of Barcelona is the Sagrada Família, the unfinished masterpiece of the architect Antoni Gaudí. This stunning basilica combines Gothic and Art Nouveau elements in a symphony of intricate sculptures, stained glass windows, and soaring towers. Another must see in Spain and Portugal is Gaudí’s modernist masterpiece, Casa Batlló. Its distinctive façade, undulating shapes, and vibrant colours make it a standout example of Gaudí's unique and imaginative style in the early 20th century.

The city's heartbeat pulses through Las Ramblas, a tree-lined pedestrian mall that leads to the historic Gothic Quarter. As the sun sets, Barcelona's dynamic nightlife awakens with a myriad of options, including bars, clubs, restaurants, and theatres. The lively Las Ramblas, adorned with street performers and flower stalls, promises unforgettable nights in this captivating city by the sea.

Explore the cutting-edge style of Barcelona on our Northern Spain & Portugal tour.


Grand Granada

Must see in Spain and Portugal: Alhambra Palace in Granada
Alhambra Palace by Marion Bunnik

Must see in Spain and Portugal: Generalife Gardens
Generalife Gardens by Adobe Stock

Granada is one of the pearls of southern Spain, visited by tourists from all over the world. Located in the eastern part of the Andalusia region with a spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is a must see in Spain and Portugal. With its rich history and Moorish influences, the city boasts some breathtaking landscapes and steep, narrow streets where one could easily lose themselves within the numerous hidden nooks.

In Granada you can find one of Spain’s most famous attractions, Alhambra Palace. The Moorish citadel was so named for its reddish coloured walls (it translates to Red Castle in Arabic) and is located strategically on top of a hill with views over the city. Throughout its long history, the palace has served multiple purposes. It was used as a fortress during the 9th century and then became a Royal residence during the 13th century. During its time as a Royal residence, many buildings were added to the complex such as a Mosque (later the site was turned into the current Church of St Mary), public baths and patios. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a legacy of Moorish art and architecture, adorned with intricate Islamic geometric patterns, delicate stucco work, and captivating tile mosaics.

A short stroll away from the main Alhambra buildings are the Generalife Gardens, the tranquil 14th century summer gardens of the Kings of Granada - a place where they could escape the official affairs of the palace.


Must Visit Cities in Portugal

Portugal has it all; a cosmopolitan capital, the sun-drenched beaches of the Algarve, mediaeval hilltop towns, colourful fishing villages, the vine-filled valley of the Douro and wild remote mountains. A wealth of delicious cuisine, intriguing history and cultures, and stunning scenery awaits, and the magnetic combination draws travellers in from all over the world. Portugal's proximity to Spain enhances the travel experience, allowing you to delve into the unique identity of the Iberian peninsula, comparing the cosmopolitan allure of Barcelona with Lisbon's historic charm.


Brilliant Braga

Must see in Spain and Portugal: Bom Jesus Do Monte, Braga, Portugal
Bom Jesus Do Monte, Braga by Angela Compagnone

Braga, a city nestled in the north of Portugal, boasts a remarkable architectural heritage steeped in a history that spans millennia. Its origins can be traced back to the Carthaginians in the 3rd century, marking the city as one of the oldest in the country. The city has borne witness to the various civilisations that have left their mark, from the Roman occupation to the Baroque period.

In the heart of the city stands the Sé de Braga, a magnificent Romanesque cathedral dating back to the 12th century - the oldest in Portugal. Founded by the parents of the first king of Portugal, the cathedral has witnessed various modifications over the centuries, resulting in a fascinating blend of styles. Nearby, the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary is set on a lush hillside. It's famous for its Baroque staircase with a unique zigzag design that leads to the church at the summit, providing breathtaking views of the city.

Beyond its architectural splendours, Braga has a vibrant cultural scene, festivals, and is known as the religious centre of Portugal.

Visit Braga on our Treasures of Portugal short tour.


Captivating Coimbra

Must see in Spain and Portugal, Coimbra University

Must see in Spain and Portugal, Interior of Coimbra University
Coimbra University by Zoe Francis

Nestled at the base of a steep hill, where it meets the River Mondego, lies the charming city of Coimbra. Once the capital of Portugal, Coimbra is now best known for its illustrious university, one of the oldest in Europe. This dynamic city is abundant with history and tradition, with its narrow, winding streets, medieval buildings, and enchanting old town adding to its unique atmosphere.

Coimbra University was first established in Lisbon in 1290 by King Dinis, before moving permanently to Coimbra in 1537 where it now stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The campus features an array of notable buildings, including the Biblioteca Joanina (the Joanine Library) and a magnificent Baroque library housing some 56,000 volumes dating back to the 15th century.

Besides the university, there is much to see - from 12th-century cathedrals, Roman ruins and castles. You’ll also find a lively nightlife with many bars playing live music, some in centuries old chapels and exquisitely ornate buildings.


Perfect Porto

Must see in Spain and Portugal: Porto from the Douro River in Portugal
Porto, Portugal by Zoe Francis

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is a historic and vibrant metropolis on the steep north bank of the Douro River. It is famous for its port wine, stunning architecture and the Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Porto is also a city of azulejos, the glazed ceramic tiles that adorn many buildings, churches, and fountains. Porto’s history predates the Roman occupation – in fact, Portugal took its name from the town.

UNESCO-listed Ribeira district is a must see in Spain and Portugal, a historic treasure with narrow, colourful streets winding down to the Douro River. The buildings that line the streets and waterfront are an exquisite tapestry of colours, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped Porto’s history, from the Roman occupation to the Baroque period. One of the most striking features of Ribeira are the six bridges that span the Douro River, the most iconic of which is the Dom Luís I Bridge. Ribeira is not just a visual delight; it's a vibrant hub of local culture, offering plenty of restaurants and bars where you can savour Portuguese cuisine and immerse yourself in the city's lively atmosphere.

Stepping out to the countryside surrounding Porto you will find the Douro Valley, one of the most picturesque and renowned wine regions in Portugal. Following the course of the Douro River, you’ll find terraced vineyards adorning steep hillsides and plenty of wineries.

Explore Porto in depth on our Treasures of Portugal short tour.


Lovely Lisbon

Must see in Spain and Portugal, Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal
Jerónimos Monastery by Zoe Francis

Must see in Spain and Portugal, Belem Tower in Lisbon, Portugal
Belém Tower by Zoe Francis

Must see in Spain and Portugal: iconic yellow tram on the streets of Lisbon in Portugal
Lisbon by Dennis Bunnik

Vibrant and bustling, Lisbon’s hodgepodge of historical periods and cultures is a major source of its charm. From its incredible architecture to its picturesque cobblestone streets, its friendly people and so much more, a visit to this city is a must!

The magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, situated in Lisbon’s Belém district, is one of the city’s most visited and cherished attractions, and it’s easy to see why. Dripping in intricate and ornate details, soaring arches and maritime motifs, this extraordinary architectural masterpiece is one of the foremost examples of the late Portuguese Gothic Manueline architectural style. Constructed in the 16th century to honour the legendary voyages of Vasco da Gama, the monastery is a testament to the ambition of Portugal's Age of Discovery, and is a must see in Spain and Portugal.

Experience the vintage trams as you traverse the city’s hills, passing restored medieval facades, wonderful art-nouveau buildings, black-and-white mosaic sidewalks (known as calcada), fine museums and plenty of modern shops.

Explore the iconic Jerónimos Monastery on our Portugal small group tours.


Plan your trip to see the stunning must-see locations in Spain and Portugal in 2024

Picture yourself on a journey across the Iberian Peninsula, amidst Barcelona’s architectural masterpieces and the history of Coimbra. Imagine cruising the Douro River in Porto and marvelling at the tiny details of the Jerónimos Monastery. You can visit all the destinations you must see in Spain and Portugal on our range of small group tours.

Contact our friendly Travel Specialists today to make your dream Spain & Portugal trip a reality!


Frequently asked questions

How many days do you need in Spain and Portugal?

While you could easily spend a month exploring these countries, a minimum of 14 days is recommended to thoroughly explore Spain and Portugal. This duration allows you ample time to visit major cities and a selection of smaller towns, ensuring a more relaxed and comprehensive experience without feeling overly hurried.


Should you do Spain and Portugal together?

Travelling to both Spain & Portugal together is a great idea thanks to the geographical proximity of the two countries. We offer a range of small group tours that visit both Spain and Portugal including Spain, Portugal & Morocco and Northern Spain & Portugal.


What is the best month to visit Spain and Portugal?

The best time to visit Spain and Portugal is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is mild, and tourist crowds are less overwhelming. These seasons offer pleasant temperatures for sightseeing and outdoor activities without the intense heat of summer.


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