The Best Spanish Cities for Families to See the Real Spain

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Most families who go to Spain head to the tourist destination of the Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, or the Balearic Islands.

And while there’s nothing wrong with those destinations at all, sometimes it’s nice to see a different side to Spain and to have a more authentic Spanish experience.

In This Article – We’ll show you some of the best Spanish cities for families that aren’t your typical visitor hotspot. Let’s go!

Why Head to Spain?

Spain is a diverse and soulful country and because of this, it has become one of the most visited countries in Europe.

Most Spanish cities experience mild, sunny weather year-round and there are ample attractions to keep a family of all ages occupied.

Visit Cordoba with family

Though it’s not widely known, Spain is among the counties that have the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In total, there are 48, and many of them are in the cities we’re going to talk about in this article.

Another great reason to visit Spain as a family is the food. There are so many great options and things that even the least adventurous eaters will enjoy.

Keep on reading to find out about the best of Spain’s cities for your family.

1. Bilbao

Bilbao has a lot to offer young and old. Located in the north in the Basque Country, you get a real mix of Spanish and Basque here – in the language, the food, and the culture.

Bilbao is also one of Spain’s most modern cities.

There are futuristic buildings and modern skyscrapers as well as a rich, historical side. If your family loves art and architecture, Bilbao is not to be missed.

Visit Guggenheim Museum
Guggenheim museum (Bilbao)

If you do come here, the Guggenheim Museum is a must.

You will come across artworks by great artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, and Paul Cézanne, among others.

Bilbao is also home to the Euskal Museoa or Basque Museum in the older quarter of the city.

Here, you can explore the history of Euskadi – and it’s free for kids aged under 10!

2. San Sebastián

Just a little further along the coast from Bilbao is San Sebastián, which is also known as Donostia.

This is a popular destination for those who enjoy beautiful ocean views and sandy beaches.

San Sebastián Spanish city visit families
San Sebastián Monte Igueldo

It’s also well-known for its food and is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants.

There are lots of lavish hotels here but there is also something suitable for everyone too.

In Winter – The city does experience a lot of wet weather and so the best time to visit is the warmer summer months. It is, however, green all year round.

For the energetic, a climb up Monte Igueldo will give you stunning panoramic views and you’ll be able to see La Concha beach as well as the rest of the city.

San Sebastián is a more laid-back vacation destination but being only an hour away from Bilbao means you can combine a whole host of different activities with the family.

3. Toledo

If you want to see the real Spain, Toledo is a good place to go.

It’s not far from Madrid but is much more Spanish (and less international) in feel.

It is a place awash with nature and charm and is a great getaway destination for anyone who wants to escape busy city life while still having enough to entertain the kids.

Toledo is in central Spain, so you won’t find any beaches close by. However, there is lots to love about this hillside city.

Toledo cathedral Spain
Toledo cathedral

It’s well-known for its ancient building that make you feel like you’re going back in time.

The city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history.

It has also been referred to as the “City of Three Cultures” because it demonstrates a wonderful mix of Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish influence from its history.

One of the best ways of exploring the city is on foot.

There are lots of beautiful, cobbled streets, palaces, convents, churches, mosques, and synagogues to explore. Toledo Cathedral is also worth a visit.

It was built in the 13th century. Another fabulous piece of architecture is the 10th-century Mosque of the Christ of the Light.

4. Córdoba

Tucked away in Andalusia, Córdoba is a beautiful city that is widely known for its architecture.

It’s a very old settlement that has buildings dating back to the 1st century B.C.

It was once a huge city and among the largest in the world.

For several hundred years, it was the Caliphate of Córdoba’s capital, which controlled the majority of the peninsula.

Córdoba Spain visit families
Córdoba Castillo Almodovar del Rio

One of the most important buildings in the city is the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

This mosque is one of Córdoba’s oldest structures. It was built when the Moors were in charge of Al-Andalus. Its famous prayer hall was built from recycled columns from Ancient Roman times.

Córdoba is a tourist destination but not for the same reasons as other cities in the south of Spain.

It’s a great destination for families who want a holiday that gives a little more culture and history. It is often mentioned to be one of Spain’s most beautiful cities.

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As well as the Mosque, lovers of history and architecture need to check out the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos as well as Palacio de Viana, which is a Renaissance palace that has 12 beautiful patios.

Finally, if you’re a Game of Thrones aficionado then you need to check out the Roman Bridge as this featured in season 5 when Varys and Tyrion were entering the Free City of Volantis.

In season 7, the Castillo Almodovar del Rio, which is a castle 30km from Córdoba was used for High Gardens where the Tyrells lived.

5. Cádiz

Cádiz is a little gem of a city that few people outside of Spain know a lot about.

It’s a real beach-lovers paradise but has a totally different vibe from your typical southern Spanish city resort.

As well as the great beaches, your family can explore all of the city’s history.

Cádiz cathedral Spain
Cádiz cathedral

There are Old Town cobbled streets, ancient city walls and splendid plazas to explore.

One must-see is Cádiz cathedral. Here, you can climb the Levante Tower and see panoramas of the whole city.

Another great landmark is the partially excavated Roman amphitheater, which dates back to the 1st century.

There’s also a 17-century star-shaped fortress called Castillo de Santa Catalina to explore too.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wanting a family vacation in Spain that’s away from the typical tourist destinations, then anyone of these five cities would be a great place for the whole family.

Spain has so much more to explore than its bustling beaches, in these cities you get a lot of vacation for your money!

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