Spanish cities

If Spain is the country of your expat dreams but you’re not sure where to settle then read all about the country’s top three cities!


Attributes of Spain’s premier city include a fast pace of life, incredible diversity and a wealth of attractions. If you’re searching for peaceful destination than bustling Madrid probably isn’t the place for you. Some find the sheer size of the city daunting but the more you explore the more you’ll find to love.


Madrid is the capital of Spain, with a population of over 3 million.

It has been the Spanish capital since the 17th century.

Madrid is on a plateau 650 metres above sea level and is 300 kilometres away from the coast.

The name of the city derives from the Arabic ‘magerit’ which means ‘place of many streams’.

Real Madrid FC is one of the world’s most successful football clubs. The team play at the Bernabéu stadium which can hold 85,000 fans!

Madrid Post Office is the city’s most photographed landmark.

Main Attractions

Madrid is home to the ‘Golden Triangle’ – three major art galleries within close proximity of each other. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia houses the very best of twentieth century Spanish Art while The Prado is crammed with four thousand iconic works, including some by artistic heavyweights Goya and Botticelli.  Renoir and Van Eyck are just two of the big names which feature in the third point of the triangle, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Although only recently finished Madrid cathedral is an architectural landmark offering an engaging interplay of modern and classic.

The Templo Debod is in the centre of Madrid and is a genuine Egyptian temple. It was taken apart in Egypt and rebuilt in Spain after being donated to the nation in 1968.

Madrid is also the sight of the CosmoCaixa, an interactive science museum. CosmoCaixa is divided into six sections, including two planetariums and the ‘La Sala de la Materia’ display which shows the history of life from the Big Bang beginning.


Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast and is the most frequently visited city in Spain. Art enthusiasts the world over visit the vibrant city in droves with one of the main points of admiration being the stunning Gaudi architecture. Prior to 1992 the city had no beaches, but after being selected to host the Olympic Games industries were moved and the sea side went through a major conversion.


Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city.

It is generally accepted that the name Barcelona was acquired through the Carthaginian family of Barca who ruled the area in the 3rd century BC.

FC Barcelona is the city’s football team. Their nickname ‘blaugrana’ is based on the maroon and blue kit they wear.

It is often said that drivers in Barcelona are some of the world’s worst. On average an accident will occur in the city every nineteen seconds.

The founding of Barcelona is often disputed. One argument claims that 400 years before the building of Rome Hercules founded the city. The other argument asserts that it was actually Hannibal’s father Hamilcar Barca who created Barcelona.

Main Attractions

If you’re comfortable in your skin you might be interested to know that Barcelona is one of the most pro-nudist cities in Europe. If you dare to bare then there are several nudist beaches to choose from.

Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s best known features, and somewhere every newcomer to Barcelona should go. It’s a two kilometre boulevard jam packed with coffee shops, street artists and yes, tourists. You can also take in a show at the historic Liceu Theatre, an opulent opera house.

If you’re in to architecture than a visit to the heart of Old Barcelona, the Barri Gotic, is essential. Medieval architecture is a common sight and some of the buildings even date back to the Roman era.

When first arriving in Barcelona joining one of the Gothic Quarter Walking Tour’s is a fantastic way to get to know all the nooks and crannies of the oldest parts of the city.


Valencia is an up and coming city, boasting a huge amount of outside space, some incredible cultural attractions and more paella than you can shake a stick at. Although not quite as fast paced as Madrid and Barcelona, with fantastic day and night life Valencia has something for everyone.


Valencia is the third largest city in Spain.

It has a population of nearly 800,000.

Spain’s signature dish, paella, was created in Valencia.

Historically, Valencia was one of the most vital sea ports of the Iberian Peninsula.

The city has 42 museums, 30 public gardens, 17 cinemas, 13 art galleries and 12 theatres.

Main Attractions

Architecture is a huge draw for Valencia; ancient Roman buildings merge with Santiago Calatrava’s avant garde City of Arts and Sciences.

If you enjoy eating out than Valencia might be the place for you, it has over 1,700 restaurants.

Valencia has two beaches, the Playa de las Arenas and the Playa de la Malvarrosa. During the summer months the many bars and restaurants running alongside both beaches create a lively vibe.

Whether you agree or disagree with the sport, the Museo Taurino (Bullfighting museum) is an interesting place to visit. It is opposite the Bullfighting ring on the South side of the city and through artefacts it explains why bullfighting is such an enduring Spanish tradition.

La Albufera is only a bus ride away from Valencia and is a hugely popular spot for fishing and bird watching. Over 300 species of birds can be found around La Albufera freshwater lagoon over the course of the year.