What Is Spain Famous For? Quick Guide to the 17 Autonomous Communities of Spain

Asturias harbour – What is Spain famous for – A World to Travel

What is Spain famous for? You asked.

The answer, far from simple, depends on the different Spain regions.

Did you know there are 17 autonomous regions in Spain? Each one is regarded as a separate “community” of Spain and each one is considerably different from the next.

During my travels across Spain and whilst researching the best place for me to settle and buy a house, I have seen so many amazing things and learned so much about this awesome country from Spanish people.

Spain is a wonderfully diverse and interesting place to travel. This guide will introduce you to all the different regions of Spain, cover what they are most known for, plus what to see, eat, and do in each area.

I hope to share places in Spain that you have never heard of, giving you some inspiration to explore a lesser-known area of Spain on your next trip.

1. Andalusia

What is Andalusia known for: Whitewashed buildings clustered in quaint little villages, cities rich in cultural history, and grand buildings that remember their Moorish roots. Beaches with golden sand that attract holidaymakers from Western Europe to bask in the sun all day. Andalusia is one of the busiest places to go in Spain.

What to see in Andalusia: The cities of Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Malaga. Picturesque villages and towns of Ronda, Frigiliana, and Mijas. The beaches of the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz

What to eat in Andalusia: Sardines espeto, locally caught fish, skewered and grilled over a hot coal barbecue on the beach.

What to do in Andalusia: Walk the Caminito del Rey, explore the Alhambra, watch a flamenco show, wander the Alcazar, people-watch in Puerto Banus, drink local sherry, and enjoy free tapas.

Read more: Andalusia Road Trip Guide

2. Aragon

What is Aragon known for: One of Spain’s regions that border France, home to the city of Zaragoza and a large section of the Pyrenees mountain range.

What to see in Aragon: Magnificent snow-capped mountains, Spain’s largest river the Ebro, green pastures full of grazing cows, pigs, and sheep, Roman and Visigothic architecture.

What to eat in Aragon: Morcilla, a blood sausage made with rice and pine nuts.

What to do in Aragon: Ski in the mountains admiring the Catedral, take a hike through the national park, and eat delicious local lamb, and cured ham.

3. Asturias

What is Asturias known for: High levels of rainfall but rich green fields and impressive mountains. Idyllic unspoiled beaches and dramatic, rocky, cliff coastline. Local natural cider and an abundance of amazing seafood.

What to see in Asturias: Weatherbeaten fishing villages with lots of character, fields of green dotted with farms and livestock, and coves of clear turquoise water.

What to eat in Asturias: Fabada, a stew of meat, beans, blood sausage, and chorizo.

What to do in Asturias: Surf at some spectacularly beautiful spots, walk around the little towns, drink cider, look for brown bears in the parkland, cycle or hike around the lakes, and enjoy perfectly sized cities such as Oviedo and Gijón.

Read also: The Cares Gorge in Asturias and Other 5 Great Spain hiking trails

4. Balearic Islands

What are Balearic Islands known for: A collection of islands perfect for a summer holiday. Endless beaches, all stunning and offering great facilities – and luxurious villas – for holidaymakers.

What to see in the Balearic Islands: White sand beaches and deep blue waters, old towns with lots of history including castles, ruins, and lighthouses. Walking routes with amazing scenery, green valleys in Menorca, pretty cobbled streets in Mallorca, and unrivaled nightlife in Ibiza.

What to eat in the Balearic Islands: Shellfish, any dishes made with local prawns, shrimps, or lobster.

What to do in the Balearic Islands: Join in with water sports and beach activities, walk around admiring the architecture, take in the views and lovely scenery, boat trip or ferry between the islands.


5. Basque Country

What is Basque Country known for: A very old and culturally rich area with a strong identity and links with France. The Basque Region of Spain is home to many world-renowned restaurants, the best place to eat pintxos, and Bilbao, one of the major cities in Spain.

What to see in Basque Country: Fishing villages, surfing spots and natural beaches. Highly ranked fine dining restaurants in San Sebastián and impressive art sculptures and galleries in Bilbao.

What to eat in Basque Country: Pintxos, finger food snacks pierced with a small wooden stick.

What to do in Basque Country: Visit the Guggenheim, walk along the beach, go on a pintxos bar crawl, and admire the architecture. Ride an old train through the Pyrenees, and walk to the islands of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.


6. Canary Islands

What are the Canary Islands known for: A collection of islands in the outermost reach area of Europe near Africa. With all-year-round sunshine, varying landscapes, and many attractions, making them ideal holiday destinations.

What to see in the Canary Islands: Wonderful beach resorts, great quality hotels, and interesting towns. Volcanic rock activity in Lanzarote, lunar landscapes in Tenerife, and sand dunes in Gran Canaria.

What to eat in the Canary Islands: Papas arrugadas, wrinkly potatoes, cooked in their skins with salt water and served with mojo sauce.

What to do in the Canary Islands: Play golf, hike, join water activities, or relax on the beach. Take boat trips to other islands and enjoy the unique differences. Take in the panoramic view from the Mirador del Rio clifftop viewing point.

7. Cantabria

What is Cantabria known for: Mountains, rivers, and fields covering many, vast national park areas. A lower temperature than the Spain average and the site of pre-historic cave paintings.

What to see in Cantabria: The Ebro river, parklands, and nature reserves, small villages that come alive at fiesta time with all inhabitants joining the celebrations. Quiet natural beaches and picturesque landscapes.

What to eat in Cantabria: Cocido Montañes, a stew of beans, sausage, bacon, and green vegetables.

What to do in Cantabria: Hiking trails in the Picos de Europa National Park such as Puertos de Áliva from Fuente Dé cableway, nature spotting, cave exploring, and skiing in the Cantabrian mountains.

8. Castilla and Leon

What is Castilla and Leon known for: Many historical World Heritage Sites, a dry landscape with little rainfall on the plain but rich with native wildlife that lives in the mountains and scrublands.

What to see in Castilla and Leon: The wonderfully grand and imposing buildings in the cities of Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca. The prestigious art collections and museums displaying Romanesque art and architecture.

What to eat in Castilla and Leon: Cochinillo asado, roasted young pig meat.

What to do in Castilla and Leon: Visit the wineries and indulge in the local wines. Tour the cities and explore the cobbled old streets, admiring the Cathedrals, Castles, and Plazas.

9. Castilla la Mancha

What is Castilla la Mancha known for: The famous windmills of Consuegra and the enchanting medieval city of Toledo. Fields of crops producing local wheat, grapes, and olives. The region that inspired the Don Quixote novels.

What to see in Castilla la Mancha: The old windmills and pretty working farmhouses. The many museums and cultural buildings in Toledo all full of history, art, and religious information.

What to eat in Castilla la Mancha: Manchego cheese, locally made from sheep’s milk.

What to do in Castilla la Mancha: Wander around Toledo’s Cathedral and Alcazar soaking up the local heritage and history. Be wowed by the hanging houses of Cuenca.

10. Catalonia

What is Catalonia known for: Home to the iconic city of Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city. Well-loved for its unique Gaudi architecture, the Gothic quarter, and proximity to parks and beaches. The Costa Brava and Costa Dorada holiday resorts and family-friendly playas – beaches in Spanish.

What to see in Catalonia: The sights and sounds of Barcelona, one of the most famous cities in Spain; the charming Catalan towns Girona, Tarragona, and Figueres. An assortment of rocky beach coves and long sandy stretches of coast.

What to eat in Catalonia: Crema Catalana, a milk and sugar-based sweet dessert.

What to do in Catalonia: Beach walks, relaxing and water sports. City exploring, soaking up the local food, drinks, and Barcelona architecture.  

Epic road trips take you further into the Catalan culture, observing their distinct traditions and culture.

11. Extremadura

What is Extremadura known for: One the of western regions bordering Portugal. A dry and hot area where the best quality jamón is produced.

What to see in Extremadura: The pretty town of Cáceres, Roman remains in Mérida and nature and wildlife.

What to eat in Extremadura: Jamón Iberico, aged cured ham from Iberian black pigs.

What to do in Extremadura: See the remains of the Roman amphitheater and other ruins. Visit many museums, cultural centers, and galleries. Bird watching, cherry blossom at Jerte Valley, and hiking the national parks.

12. Galicia

What is Galicia known for: As part of “green Spain” it’s known for lush green fields and rugged rocky cliff edges. Home of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the endpoint for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, and the Galician Entroido!

What to see in Galicia: Idyllic untouched beaches and vast green fields.

What to eat in Galicia: Pulpo – boiled and sliced octopus tentacles – and other Galician delicacies.

What to do in Galicia: Walk the Camino route and visit the shrine of St James. Enjoy local wine with freshly caught seafood, take in the spectacular sea views, and explore Galician cities like Ferrol and Vigo.

Read more: 12 Awe-inspiring Galician landscapes you should visit

13. La Rioja

What is La Rioja known for: The amazing wine that is produced here and exported all around the World. La Rioja is often named the best wine region in Spain. Also, a through route for the Camino Santiago pilgrimage.

What to see in La Rioja: The many vineyards, local wineries, and traditional cellars. Some small and traditional, some huge and modern.

What to eat in La Rioja: Rioja potatoes, a dish of potatoes, garlic, onion, pa, rika, and chorizo

What to do in La Rioja: Learn about wine and how it’s produced. Drink wine and join in local fiestas. Hike in the mountains or explore the Monastery.

14. Madrid

What is Madrid known for: The region that holds the biggest city in Spain and the country’s capital.

What to see in Madrid: The magnificent Royal Palace and Plaza Major. The huge city parks of Casa de Campo (check here for more alternative things to do in Madrid) and Retiro Park. The high-quality art displayed in the Prado and Reina Sofia Museums.

What to eat in Madrid: Churros, long crisp batter dipped in cups of melted chocolate.

What to do in Madrid: See the many city sights and historical landmarks. Explore the diverse neighborhoods, indulge in eating tapas and shopping, party all night long (one of the main reasons why Spain is one of the most fun countries to visit in the world), go on some Madrid tours and enjoy a magical Madrid sunset from a rooftop terrace.

Read more: 15 Things to do in Madrid

15. Murcia

What is Murcia known for: All year round great climate and wonderful beach resorts perfect for overseas holidaymakers.

What to see in Murcia: The inland city hides many Gothic buildings to explore and admire. Down on the coast enjoy the soft sand beaches and the spectacular Mar Menor lagoon.

What to eat in Murcia: Pastel de Carne, a meat pie.

What to do in Murcia: Wander the city plazas, parks, and museums. Relax on the beach surrounded by water sports and great hotel and restaurant facilities.

16. Navarre

What is Navarre known for: Being home to the Pamplona bull race, which is an important local tradition that attracts people from all over the world to take part.

What to see in Navarre: The Pyrenees mountain range, wide valleys, rivers, estuaries, and vast fields and farmlands.

What to eat in Navarre: Asparagus, a thick white vegetable that grows underground on the river banks.

What to do in Navarre: Join the yearly fiestas, and take in the Pamplona city sights. Walk along the beautiful river valleys and through mind-blowing landscapes such as the Bardenas Reales Park.

17. Valencia

What is Valencia known for: A historically richa and vibrant Old Town along a modern and futuristic area and a long coastline of beaches and holiday resorts.

What to see in Valencia: A long list of old architecture and interesting city buildings. A mesmerizing collection of buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences. The dried-out river bed turned City Park, a bustling port, and golden beaches.

What to eat in Valencia: Paella, a dish cooked in a large pan with meat and vegetables; one of the most famous foods to eat in Spain.

What to do in Valencia: Explore the city and enjoy all the culinary wonders. Head further afield to see the freshwater lagoons and parks. Go along the coast to enjoy some of the famous sunny holiday resorts like Benidorm, Javea, El Campello, and Denia. Meet some Spanish people!

In conclusion, Spain is a country filled with diverse and unique regions, each offering its own distinct culture, history, and attractions. From the whitewashed buildings of Andalusia to the stunning beaches of the Balearic Islands, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Whether you’re seeking historical landmarks, breathtaking natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, or vibrant city life, Spain has it all. By venturing beyond the well-known tourist destinations, you can discover hidden gems and experience the true essence of this remarkable country.

So, the next time you plan a trip to Spain, consider venturing off the beaten path and exploring one of its lesser-known regions. You may be surprised by the beauty and richness that awaits you.

Read more: Music festivals in Spain you can’t miss