Spain is a top destination among solo travelers, which isn’t surprising. Its cities are safe and walkable and have a wide range of things to do – from visiting impressive architectural and historical buildings to tasting the local cuisine, which, by the way, varies from region to region.
If this is your first time heading to Spain, this guide will help you choose the destination for you and all the essential things you should know before starting your adventure in this diverse country.
The best places to travel solo in Spain
The capital of Andalusia is packed with culture – from incredible Moorish-style buildings and pretty squares to delicious local food and traditional events.
Seville is generally safe for solo travelers, but it’s worth keeping an eye on your belongings when visiting its attractions.
Alcazar of Seville is, without a doubt, the prettiest palace in the city. Explore its rooms decorated with Nasrid architectural details, wander its gardens, home to peacocks and lovely flowers, and learn the history behind the building.
Other must-see places in Seville are the famous Plaza de España, Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower, and Casa Pilatos.
If you are a foodie like me, you don’t want to miss out on trying local dishes. Garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach) is my favorite and a great option for vegetarians too. Other popular dishes are oxtail stew and huevos a la flamenca Gypsy eggs).
And let’s not forget about flamenco! Seville is the birthplace of flamenco, so there is no better place to enjoy a live flamenco performance.
Where to stay in Seville: Hotel One Shot Palacio Conde de Torrejón 09
Barcelona is the most popular city break in Spain. What’s not to love about Gaudi’s architecture and lively atmosphere? While it is a fantastic destination to visit on your own, you must be cautious about pickpocketing in main areas like Las Ramblas.
During your time in Barcelona, head to La Sagrada Familia, which is the most emblematic building in the Catalonian city, and Park Güell. Make sure to book your tickets in advance as these are very busy attractions.
Don’t miss Barcelona’s main attractions, but you might also want to visit lesser-known places like Casa Vincens (another fantastic creation by Gaudi) and the Horta labyrinth.
Where to stay in Barcelona: H10 Metropolitan
Madrid is the perfect city break for solo travelers who love immersing themselves in history, art, and culture. The city is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in Spain, like Museo del Prado and Museo Reina Sofia.
A must-see historical building in Madrid is the Royal Palace. Each room is decorated to perfection. You will be amazed by the grand chandeliers and other elements, including the ceilings. You can spend quite a few hours there.
Another incredible place to visit is El Retiro Park. It is an oasis in the middle of a cosmopolitan city. The park is home to monuments, fountains, and important buildings while offering a tranquil escape from the city center.
A visit to Madrid isn’t complete without trying some of the delicacies. For me, churros is the number one thing to try in Madrid. Yes, you can find them anywhere else in Spain, but churros in Madrid are very good. The best place to have them is Churrería San Ginés, a few minutes from Plaza de España.
If you love savory, then a good dish to try is huevos rotos, often translated as broken eggs. It consists of fried potatoes, fried eggs, and Serrano ham. The combination is delightful.
Regarding safety, Madrid is safe during the day; however, you might want to skip wandering Madrid alone at night, especially in quiet streets.
Where to stay in Madrid: Hotel Soho Boutique Opera
Malaga is one of the best places for solo female travelers. This beautiful city in Southern Spain has plenty of things to do.
What I love the most about Malaga is the combination of good weather, beaches, and culture. Many travelers think Malaga and the rest of the Costa del Sol are all about the coast and sun, but let me tell you that Malaga offers many other things.
As a solo traveler, you will feel safe walking around the city center, and you can visit all of Malaga’s main attractions on foot.
Some of the unmissable attractions in Malaga you shouldn’t miss are the Alcazaba, the Cathedral and, if you’re into art, the Picasso Museum; by the way, Picasso was born in Malaga!
If you spend more than one or two days in Malaga, I highly recommend visiting the whitewashed towns. Most of them are less than an hour’s drive, and they provide a different experience from the city.
Frigiliana and Mijas Pueblo are my favorites. Their white painted and cobblestone streets decorated with flowerpots are very picturesque.
Alternatively, you can visit the whitewashed old town of Marbella or Estepona.
Where to stay in Malaga: Room Mate Valeria
Tenerife has always been a popular hotspot for families. However, its reputation is changing, and many solo travelers and digital nomads head to Tenerife.
It is the largest island in the Canary Islands, and you can find all sorts of activities – from spending your time soaking up the sun at its golden or black sand beaches to seeing El Teide and exploring its natural parks.
Tenerife is a very safe island, and although it is easier to explore it by car, it has good transportation.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital, but Puerto de la Cruz and smaller towns like Garachico are packed with historical buildings and culture.
Also, if you love hiking, Tenerife is a paradise. One of the best hikes is the one that leads you to Masca, a village located in the mountains. It is the most unique place on the island.
Where to stay in Tenerife: Occidental Santa Cruz Contemporáneo
Santander is one of the most underrated places in Spain. This Northern Spain city is perfect for solo travelers who prefer a quieter atmosphere.
The city has fewer historical buildings than other Spanish destinations but also has beautiful golden beaches and is next to scenic green landscapes.
One of my favorite places in Santander is Palacio de la Magdalena, a former Palace and royal summer residence. It’s in the Magdalena Peninsula, overlooking the crystal-clear sea.
The city also offers fantastic day trips to other Northern Spain destinations.
For example, you can visit Bilbao, explore quaint towns like Santillana Del Mar, or go on a hike to Saya-Besaya Natural Park.
Where to stay in Santander: Hotel NH Ciudad de Santander
Related read: Road-tripping Northern Spain in a vintage motorhome
Another Andalusian city that needs to make it to the list is Granada. Walking around Granada is stepping back in time as its Moorish architecture is present across the city.
The Alhambra Palace is the most symbolic historical complex in Granada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can spend a few good hours exploring its palaces and gardens.
However, there are other attractions you don’t want to miss either—for example, Granada Cathedral and San Jerónimo Monastery.
But that isn’t all; Granada is one of the best destinations to eat tapas. They are affordable and delicious, too.
Where to stay in Granada: Palacete 1620, Premium Suites
How to get around Spain
Transportation on Spain’s mainland is generally good. Unlike countries like the USA, cities and towns are relatively close to each other, so you don’t need to spend many hours driving to get to places. Plus, you don’t even need to rent a car.
Of course, renting a car in Spain will give you more freedom. You don’t need to worry about timetables, and despite being good, some places aren’t well-connected by bus or train.
However, traveling by train in Spain is easy and comfortable. If you head to Madrid or Barcelona, you can pretty much get the train to other fantastic destinations.
Buses are also safe, and most of them include the basics you might need: WIFI and comfortable seats and toilets. The only downside is that traveling from one destination to another will take you more time.
If you decide to rent a car, motorways are in good condition, and Spaniards drive on the right-hand side of the road like in many other countries, except the UK and Malta.
The best thing about driving in this country is the freedom and opportunity to visit more Spanish remote places. Who doesn’t love visiting hidden gems?
If you want to visit the Spanish islands (whether it’s the Balearic islands or the Canary islands), you will need a car because it isn’t always easy to move around with public transport.
The best time to visit Spain
There is never a wrong time to visit Spain; however, you might want to choose different months or seasons depending on your travel preferences.
For example, if you don’t like crowds and are always looking for ways to save money, visit Spain during the off-season. Early spring and late autumn are fantastic times to sightsee and travel on a budget.
If you want a vibrant atmosphere, don’t mind the heat, and love the beaches, visiting coastal cities in the summer is for you.
Also, Spain isn’t the most popular destination for the Christmas holiday. Still, it is perfect for immersing yourself in the Spanish culture, from celebrating Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) to eating 12 grapes for luck on New Year’s Eve and seeing the Three Kings Parade.
Related read: What is Spain famous for?
What to pack for your holiday to Spain
There is this misconception that Spain is a warm destination. The truth is Spain has different climates, so you really need to check the temperatures before you start packing.
Southern Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Balearic Islands tend to be warm. However, the temperature difference between day and night is significant in the winter, so you will still need to pack a jacket.
Northern Spain is wetter and cooler, so don’t make the mistake of leaving your umbrella at home.
Tips for visiting Spain alone
Spain is generally a very safe country for travelers, but that doesn’t mean nothing happens. Similarly, there are a few things you want to know before your trip to Spain. These are some of my top tips for visiting my country:
- Bring cash with you. Most restaurants, shops, and attractions accept card payments, but it’s still possible to find small businesses and even buses that don’t have a card machine. Therefore, bring some cash with you to avoid looking for an ATM.
- Tap water is safe to drink. I must admit I’m not a big fan of tap water, but you can actually save money and avoid unnecessary plastic waste by filling a reusable bottle from the potable fountains found in many parks.
- Use an anti-theft bag. Pickpocketing is the main petty crime you will find across Spain and the one that travelers must be aware of. Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings in busy spaces.
- Avoid tourist traps. It is fantastic to understand everything on a restaurant menu, but the restaurants that typically have their dishes translated into several languages are tourist traps. You will find yourself paying more money for a not-so-authentic meal. Eating paella overlooking Sagrada Familia might sound like a great idea, but probably not for your pocket.
- Tipping isn’t compulsory. In fact, many Spaniards don’t tip or tip very little (a couple of cents or euros). You tip based on the service you received and how you feel on the day.
How to meet others in Spain
We Spaniards are outgoing, friendly, and direct, which is a cultural shock for other cultures. We don’t tend to understand much of “personal space”; we kiss strangers rather than shake hands and invite anyone over.
If you want to connect with the locals, you must go where the locals go.
Alternatively, if you are more interested in meeting other travelers, some good ideas are staying in hostels (yes, hostels have changed a lot and for the better), looking for events on websites like Meet Up, and booking a tour or lesson.
Cristina Reina is the founder of My Little World of Travelling, a blog that helps travelers discover Spain and its hidden gems. She is passionate about sharing local tips about her hometown, Malaga, and beyond.