Everyone’s heard of Barcelona, and of course Madrid, but how about Cáceres? Or Cartagena? Here are some suggestions of the most underrated cities in Spain to make your next trip not only unforgettable, but also jealousy provoking for all of your friends.
Located on the Mediterranean, Cartagena is overshadowed by touristy places like Valencia and Alicante, but has a castle with breathtaking views of the city center and an ancient Roman theater. Sitting in the main square, while sipping a café con leche
and watching the water lap against the dock, is one of life’s simple luxuries. It is also located a mere half hour drive away from La Manga, a thin strip of land in between the Mediterranean and the Mar Menor, which makes for a sublime beach day away from the crowds of the city.
View of Cartagena city center from Concepción Castle.
Cáceres is located in the Extremadura region bordering Portugal, and has a traditional Spanish city center, which is right where one should head after arriving. Featuring historic buildings such as the Bujaco Tower and the old city walls, it is also complemented by quite a few notable churches, in one of which you can go up the bell tower, and the city museum, where one can see an old Arab cistern. Eating migas
, the typical dish of Extremadura, is a must in Cáceres, and the trip can be finished off with a visit to the Mirador de la Montaña, a superb lookout point that has stunning views not only of the city center, but also of the surrounding area.
Historic city center of Cáceres.
Up and coming on the tourist radar, San Sebastián’s proximity to Bilbao has kept it under wraps, as most tourists head straight to the Guggenheim there and forget about everything else. But San Sebastián has one of the prettiest beaches in Spain, La Concha, not to mention an exquisite cathedral, and for those inclined to hiking, there are quite a few options to take in the spectacular views of the city and sea. Mota Castle, located on top of Urgull peak just next to the seaside, is one of them, and on the other side of the bay is one of Europe’s oldest rollercoasters, which can be reached after going up the funicular to the Monte Igueldo theme park.
La Concha beach in San Sebastián.
Bonus city: Murcia
As if these options weren’t enough, another completely underrated city in Spain is Murcia, which claims to be the hottest city in all of Spain, so a visit in the off season might be a better idea, so that one can avoid not only the heat, but the tourists as well! Although it should also be mentioned that if one visits during summer, most of Murcia’s residents will be at the seaside enjoying the beach—Murcia is landlocked, which helps to support its claim as the hottest Spanish city. Once you can stand the heat, Murcia’s charms are evident. It has the second-tallest bell tower in the country after La Giralda in Sevilla, and is surrounded by castles and forts that are easily reached from the city center, including Monteagudo, which has a very Christ the Redeemer-like feel to it.
Monteagudo Castle outside of Murcia.