If you’re planning a trip to Spain, then don’t forget to include these well-known and famous things in Spain into your travel itinerary and make the most of your visit!
On a recent trip to Seville, I was once again reminded why I absolutely love and adore Spain! A country is rich in historic landmarks, a vibrant culture, warm hospitality, sunshine, and don’t forget the delicious Spanish food and drink (One can never eat too many tapas in Sevilla!).
Whilst the country itself is expansive and changes region by region, one thing remains consistent. Regardless of whether you are visiting Barcelona, eating your way through Valencia, admiring gorgeous Madrid, or any other city or town for that matter, there are tons of amazing things that are well-known and popular in Spain.
That’s why I’ve collaborated with fellow seasoned travel bloggers to bring you 22 of the most famous things in Spain, to provide you with some inspiration for planning your next trip to beautiful Espanha!
- What Spain Is Famous For – 22 People, Landmarks & Things From Spain!
- Tapas – What Spain is Known For Foodwise
- Churros and Hot Chocolate
- Spanish Siesta
- Contemporary Artists Picasso and Miró
- Warm Spanish Hospitality
- Cider (Sidra) in Asturias
- Castells – Human Towers (in Catalonia)
- Spanish Beaches
- Things Spain Is Famous For – Mudéjar architecture
- Spanish White Villages
- Gaudi Architecture
- Camino de Santiago
- Spanish Sherry
- La Alhambra in Granada
- Spanish Plazas & Boulevards
- Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- Sangria – Famous Things In Spain
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Spain Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Ready to travel, check out our comprehensive packing list for your holiday to Spain, and make sure you’ve packed everything you need for your Spanish move or vacation!
What Spain Is Famous For – 22 People, Landmarks & Things From Spain!
Tapas – What Spain is Known For Foodwise
By Lavina from Continent Hop
When it comes to Spain and its food, the one thing that people worldwide can instantly think of is Tapas.
A tapa is nothing but a snack or an appetizer in Spanish cuisine and is mainly had as an accompaniment with drinks. Tapas is not just budget-friendly but many bars and restaurants have a massive variety of tapas thus visitors never fall short of options!
Also known as pinchos in some parts of the country, tapas are usually simple and made with the freshest of ingredients. Most people looking to try a variety tend to have a platter of different tapas so tapas can be had as a meal as well!
Visitors to Spain will be able to find tapas in almost every bar and restaurant in the country!
By Nicholas from The World Overload
One of the main things Spain is known for is its beautiful and relevant cathedrals. The detailed artwork, stained glass, and large statues make it all worth an extended look.
Historically, Spain has always been a dominantly Catholic country and culture throughout its history. You might have heard of the Spanish Inquisition in your high school history class. But do not let that dark period keep you from this wonderful experience if you are travelling through Spain. You will find that every metro city and small town has at least one major cathedral.
You will notice the architecture varies between the different cathedrals throughout the country but most focus on the gothic style. Of course, the one most known around the world is the UNESCO Heritage Site Sagrada Familia in the city of Barcelona.
Others you may want to visit as well are the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in Palma, Mallorca, and the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos in the city of Burgos.
No matter where you decide to go while travelling in the country, stopping to see these monuments that represent the country is well worth it.
Churros and Hot Chocolate
By Carley from Home to Havana
A sweet treat that is sure to win over any visitor to Spain, churros and hot chocolate is a typically Spanish treat that the country is now famous for. Typically consumed as a special breakfast treat, a plate of churros – most traditionally just slightly sweet – comes with a mug of hot chocolate, generally quite dense and almost pudding-like, perfect for dipping.
Make sure to head to the Carrer de Petritxol in Barcelona if you have the chance to visit this city while in Spain! This small winding street is in the Gothic Quarter, a great place to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors, and is home to some of the city’s oldest “granjas” – stores that specialized in dairy products, including the hot chocolate that pairs with churros. Here you’ll find several of the oldest churros and hot chocolate shops in the city.
By Pauling from Ukeveryday
Siesta is a well-known Spanish tradition, which is a short nap during the day. It is so famous in Spain that in 2010 the 1st National Siesta Championship took place in Madrid. Taking a nap after lunch is very common in warm countries and a Spanish town like Ador is no exception!
The main purpose of Siesta is to avoid extreme heat, but also to enjoy a long lunch with a family. Between 2 pm and 5 pm, some shops in Spain might be closed. This short nap is also a great way to be more productive during the day, but also have the energy to enjoy late Spanish nightlife.
Contemporary Artists Picasso and Miró
By Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Spain has a long and rich art history and development. While it’s not difficult to name a few well-known Spanish artists in different genres, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró are two of the most recognized painters in modern art history. Picasso is an equivalent of abstract art; Miró’s surreal style has drawn worldwide attention and recognition.
The works of these two great artists can be seen in many Spanish cities. Picasso Museum Malaga is an important place to learn about Picasso’s life, for being located in the hometown of the artist Picasso. Picasso Museum in Barcelona showcases works from different decades of Picasso’s career, including Science and Charity (1897) and Royan (1939).
Madrid’s Triangle of Art comprises of three of the most prestigious art museums in Europe: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Reina Sofía. In Museo Reina Sofia, you will find Guernica, one of the most important works of Picasso, and the Black and Red series, one of the best representations of Miró’s innovative style.
Warm Spanish Hospitality
By Inma from A World to Travel
In Spain, warm hospitality is taken to another level.
Spaniards are among the most passionate, active, and friendly individuals in the world. Known for their particular way of understanding life, personal satisfaction and quality time with friends and family are often put before work. And this does not mean that they are not responsible people or committed to the way they earn a living, just that different things are prioritized there than in other countries.
The best of all is that their enthusiasm is contagious, which is why there are many tourists and travellers who are attracted not only by the good weather and the innumerable cultural and scenic attractions of the country, decide to return to Spain again and again simply because they have fallen in love with the people.
Cider (Sidra) in Asturias
By Nina from Where In The World Is Nina
Asturians proudly pour cider, as they should! This is what the region is wildly known for and a typical product you’ll find almost anywhere you look. This Spanish drink should most definitely be top of your list when visiting Spain!
Overall there are about 22 varieties of apples grown in the region and they are often more on the sour side. Regardless if you like sweet or sour, or if you think you don’t like cider or not, trying the cider in Asturias is a must. It just might surprise you! The tastes vary but one thing always remains the same—the pouring!
Asturian cider is poured from a height, you’ll HAVE to order this drink while on your northern Spain itinerary to see it for yourself. Waiters hold your glass low and the cider up high so the pour creates bubbles and froth.
Don’t be confused when they only pour enough for a sip or two, as that’s the whole point. You’re supposed to sip it freshly poured to get the best taste. It’s a bit of a show and as someone who doesn’t usually like cider, absolutely delicious too!
Castells – Human Towers (in Catalonia)
By Claire from Why Visit Barcelona
Human towers known as Castells are famous in the region of Catalonia, and in 2010, castells were recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The tradition of building castells human towers was first documented in 1712, in the town of Valls near Tarragona, and it has now become a staple of any festival or special event in Catalonia.
The construction of a Castell requires a great deal of skill, strength and teamwork, with all castellers performing a vital part of the tower. The base of the tower is supported by a large group of castellers, who help to reinforce the strength and safety of the tower – and provide some protection should anyone in the tower fall.
The tower grows upwards, with slightly smaller castellers forming the next level until the peak of the tower when a child climbs up to the top and raises their hand before descending down the other side. It is an impressive sight to witness, and if you’re lucky enough to catch a castellers performance in Barcelona or anywhere else in Catalonia you are in for a real treat!
By Or from My Path in the World
Paella is probably the number one dish Spain is famous for, but in fact, this rice delicacy was born in the region of Valencia, and that’s where you’ll enjoy the most authentic versions of it.
The paella takes its name from the traditional pan it is cooked in, and its history traces back to the 18th-19th century when it was created by the farmers in the Albufera area, which is home to the region’s rice fields.
Amongst the versions of paella, you’ll find the Paella Valenciana (cooked with chicken and rabbit), Paella de Mariscos (cooked with seafood), and even a vegetarian paella, but if there’s one element that always has to be there, it’s the Socarrat – the rice at the bottom of the pan that gets roasted and extra delicious.
By Joanna from The World In My Pocket
One of the reasons people travel to the South of Spain every year is to play golf on one of the pristine competition courses dotted along Costa del Sol. There are over 70 golf courses located along the sunniest coast of Spain, which satisfy every type of golfer and any budget.
The golf courses around Marbella are some of the most prestigious in Andalucia, with well-kept greens and the most beautiful views, between the mountain and the sea. Many golfers come here several times a year to enjoy the golf courses but also the Spanish hospitality and the beautiful surroundings of Marbella.
Some of the most famous golf courses on Costa del Sol are Villa Padierna, Aloha Golf Club, Finca Cortesin and Marbella Golf and Country Club. If you are on a budget, check out Cabopino, Dona Julia, Miraflores or Atalaya Golf Courses.
By Linn Haglund of Andalucia Hiking
Spain is widely famous for its fantastic beaches. Especially the north and south are perfectly suited for surfing, but also other water sports are widespread. Bring your dry bag and GoPro and go for a paddle from the beach to beach along stunning coastlines or try wind- or kitesurfing. But also for the beach dwellers, Spain is amazing.
With thousands of beach bars dotted along the long beaches in places like Barcelona, Valencia, and Malaga, you don’t have to do much more than sip on your parasol drink and recharge your batteries if you are after a quiet vacation. Shopping and restaurants are right off the beach, and the many luxurious beach resorts make your vacation a dream.
For those looking for a more remote beach experience, there is a myriad of off-grid sand blown beaches that you will have to walk a bit to get to, but you might just get the entire beach for yourself. No matter what type of traveller you are, you will find a beach to love in Spain.
Things Spain Is Famous For – Mudéjar Architecture
By Isabelle from Issys Escapades
One thing that the south of Spain, in particular, is immediately recognisable for, is the unique Mudéjar style of architecture that pervades the region. Mudéjar is essentially a fusion between the building style of two cultures and time periods, where Islamic decorative styles have been introduced alongside the style used by the Iberican Christian kings from the 13th to 16th centuries.
Its origins are interesting.
In the 8th century, Muslims from the continent of Africa defeated the then-ruling Visigoths of Andalucia and brought in what is widely recognised as a golden age in Andalucian history. The region surged ahead in terms of modernity and religious inclusivity, while the rest of Europe remained with a foot stuck in the Dark Ages.
Great building works were undertaken, such as the mosque in Cordoba, the Real Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. Very fine, Moorish building techniques were used during construction and when the Christian monarchs came to power in later centuries, instead of knocking or destroying these structures they instead built onto them using the popular architecture of the day, such as the gothic style.
The final result was the unique, “Mudéjar” style that is now so distinct to Andalucia.
Spanish White Villages
By Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Southern Spain is known for its dreamy white villages which sit in the mountains and overlook the small bays of the coastline. Competa, Acebuchal and Frigiliana are just some examples of beautiful white villages in Andalucia.
Walk along the narrow alleyways, go shopping for local crafts and enjoy delicious tapas. Since most white villages are located in some sort of mountainous area there are always incredible hikes to enjoy with views over the tiny white houses below. Of course, there is also almost always a church square with local restaurants serving delicious food and drinks.
By Gabriel Glasier from Chef Travel Guide
Another of the most famous Spanish things foodwise is delicious Jamon! Ask any non-Italian chef which country has the best ham, and they will all say Spain.
Amongst food aficionados and world-class chefs, Spanish Jamon Iberico is coveted and celebrated along with the finest ingredients in the world.
Pata Negra pigs are raised in large open areas where they naturally forage for acorns. After 1.5 years the pigs are put down and their legs are salted, cured, and aged which takes up to three and a half years. The result is the most stunning hams in the world that can easily sell for well over 300 euros.
The best place to try Jamon Iberico is at a tapas bar where they skillfully slice the hams to order. To make sure you are getting real Jamon Iberico, look for the black tag hanging from just past the foot that signifies that it’s 100% Iberian acorn-fed and the highest quality produced.
By Laura from Laura The Explorer
It’s hard to pick one word to describe Gaudi’s architecture: dramatic, vibrant, majestic, organic, striking, breathtaking? There’s no denying that his original style has both moved and inspired the many people who visit his unique creations daily, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous things in Spain architecturally speaking.
The Catalonian architect’s designs, such as the Sagrada Familia Basilica, are so iconic that they’re recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site and are one of the things that Spain is now most well known for.
To check out some of these incredible structures of art, head to Barcelona where the majority of Gaudi’s creations are found. For the Sagrada Familia, tickets should be booked in advance to reserve a timeslot (I’d recommend around sunset, but the light changes beautifully throughout the day) as this popular attraction does book out. An unguided visit costs 26€, which contributes to the ongoing construction of the basilica.
Camino de Santiago
By Alya from Stingy Nomads
The Camino de Santiago in Spain is the most popular pilgrimage route in Europe and one of the best known in the world. There are several routes that start in different parts of Spain and Europe and end at the tomb of Apostle St.James in Santiago de Compostela.
The history dates back to the 9th century when King Alfonso II set on the first pilgrimage from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. Since then the route started gaining popularity. People used to start walking from their house wherever in Europe they lived and walk or ride a horse all the way to Santiago.
For some, it took many months to reach the tomb of St.James. Nowadays most pilgrims walk the Camino Frances which starts in the small town of St.Jean-Pied-de-Port in France on the border with Spain. Over 300 000 people from all over the world complete one of the Camino de Santiago routes every year.
By Gabriel Glasier from Chef Travel Guide
This sherry is not that terrible cooking wine that was used in home kitchens. Sherry is actually an incredible range of wines that have been fortified in their alcohol percentage with the addition of yeast. There are seven main styles of sherry that vary in complexity and style ranging from dry and crisp with a clean finish to very sweet with a deep raisiny flavour.
The eight varieties of sherry ranging from driest to sweetest are Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Manzanilla, Moscatel, Cream, and Pedro Ximénez.
The centre of the sherry universe is located in Andalucia in the southwestern area of Spain in the small city called Jerez de la Frontera. Sherry has been produced in Jerez in its many forms and variations for over 3000 years.
When visiting Spain, make sure to head to the south to visit Jerez and take a tasting tour of one of the sherry bodegas and grab a bottle or two to take home as the perfect Spanish souvenir!
La Alhambra in Granada
By Dan from Urban Abroad
La Alhambra in Granada is one of the most iconic landmarks and it is not hard to see why. This palace is the most important surviving trace of the Islamic rules in Granada and the Iberian Peninsula.
This landmark is a great addition to any Andalusia travel itinerary and visitors must purchase tickets well in advance, especially during the high season. Any tour around the grounds will reveal some of the most stunning courtyards with intricate design and details.
The palace is famous for its ‘Alhambra style’ which encompasses both the exterior and interior decoration. Visitors can reach the tower and outside gardens to get some of the most stunning views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Spanish Plazas & Boulevards
By Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones
Spain is known for its grand plazas and pedestrian boulevards. Historically, the ‘plaza mayor’ was a central space where you would find the town hall and markets, and where public events were held.
Today you’ll find plazas of all shapes and sizes when you visit Spain. Plazas might feature intricately patterned pavers, statues, or elaborate fountains. You’ll find many plazas hidden like courtyards between historic buildings.
You’ll also find a variety of pedestrian boulevards to explore in Spain. One type carves its way through a jumble of buildings, old and new – shops, churches, markets, and restaurants. At the other end of the spectrum are stately tree-lined boulevards which showcase iconic monuments — such as this promenade in Barcelona, which leads visitors to the majestic Arc de Triomf.
Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
By Alejandra from Tenerife Is
Carnival on the canary island of Tenerife is a gigantic event of international scope. It is one of the most spectacular events for which Spain is famous. After all, in terms of size, scope, and the number of people participating and attending it, this carnival rivals only the carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
The carnival begins with the election of the queen, which is the key event of the festival. Spain’s national television broadcasts the election of the carnival queen.
During carnival days, the island transforms into carnival processions, contests, and musical shows.
Grandiose daytime costume festivities are the official part of the carnival. All this, of course, is fun and great, but the most interesting thing happens at night: scenes for orchestras are built in the city centre, the streets are filled with a variety of stands, music of different genres sounds from everywhere, and locals together with tourists dance until morning.
Carnival in Tenerife is not only fun for young people. People of all ages participate, which is typical in Spanish society. There is a huge fair on the coast, where children can have a fun time, and the elderly can sit, drink something, and, of course, talk to each other.
Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife attracts about a million visitors – Spaniards from all over Spain and tourists from all over Europe come here to see and experience this colourful event.
Sangria – Famous Things In Spain
By Nina of Nina Out and About
When you ask people about Spain, one of the first things they’ll think of is sangria.
This alcoholic beverage is a staple across the country. It’s, traditionally, a mix of red wine, a spirit, and fresh fruit, that have been marinated in the wine for a long period of time.
On a hot day in Spain, sangria is the perfect drink.
Sangria dates back to the Romans, who would water down their wine since the water wasn’t safe to drink. They would add herbs and spices as a way to fight off the bacteria in the water.
However, the drink didn’t have an official name until its popularity in Spain, where it was named for its blood-like colour.
The drink gained fame worldwide at the 1964 New York World Fair when it was served at the Spanish Pavillion.
Now you can say cheers as you toast your sangria anywhere in Spain!
By Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Did you know that Spain is home to almost two dozen Moorish Alcazars and Alcazabas? The castles and fortresses were built between the 8th and 15th centuries, in the time of Al Andalus.
Today you can tour many of these historic palaces and castles, especially in Andalusia, Spain’s southern province. Visit the Alcazaba of the Alhambra in Granada, and Seville’s Royal Alcazar: both sites are included in the cities’ UNESCO World Heritage Site designations.
If you are visiting Madrid, take a day trip to Segovia, where you can tour the historic Alcazar of Segovia, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Madrid itself, the Royal Palace of Madrid is developed from the Alcazar of Madrid.
History and culture buffs will love visiting Spain’s Alcazars, for their splendid architecture, treasures inside, and, in many cases, their gorgeous gardens.