31 October 2019

Exploring the 17 diverse and beautiful regions of Spain

With almost 5,000km of coastline and diverse geographical features, each region of Spain offers something different. 17 regions and countless cities, towns and villages make it a country that offers endless opportunities for exploration. Read on to learn a little bit about each one.

Orange tree Sevilla
Oranges in a Spanish courtyard in Sevilla

1. Andalucía

When most people think of Spain, their mind automatically goes to the typical images found in the Andalusian region: endless days of sunshine, flamenco, bullfighting, beaches and villages full of little white houses. This region covers the entire southern area of Spain and includes the Costa del Sol, Costa Tropical, Costa de Almería and Costa de Luz.

There are many things to explore in this region from beautiful cities like Sevilla, Granada, and Córdoba with their Moorish influence to the beaches of Cádiz and the quaint towns in the mountains.

Provinces: Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga, Sevilla, Huelva, Jaén, Almería

The Alhambra in Granada
The Alhambra in Granada

2. Aragón

Often overlooked, Aragon offers a stunning escape in the northeastern region of Spain. Zaragoza, the capital, is worth seeing, but it’s the Pyrenees Mountains with charming villages and natural beauty that attract most people.

Provinces: Zaragoza, Huesca, Teruel

The village of Albarracín
The village of Albarracín

3. Asturias

Nestled between Galicia and Cantabria, Asturias is one of the greenest regions thanks to its rainy climate. The Costa Verde features a rugged coastline along the Bay of Biscay with sandy beaches and colourful fishing villages, while the Picos de Europa National Park offers the perfect place for nature lovers to go walking, hiking and climbing.

Asturias has a rich culinary diversity and is known as the land of cheese. The typical dishes are fabada (a stew made with large white beans), morcilla (blood sausage), plenty of fresh seafood, and followed with a glass of cider.

Provinces: single province region

4. Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands are made up of the islands Majorca, Menorca, Cabrera, Ibiza, and Formentera. Averaging 300 days of sun per year, these idyllic islands are a hotspot for vacationers and beach lovers.

Provinces: single province region

Stunning turquoise waters of Ibiza
Stunning turquoise waters of Ibiza

5. Basque Country

Another lush, green region, the Basque Country is unique in its cuisine, language (Euskera) and geographic terrain. Although its three provinces combined are small, the Basques want independence. Its main cities are Bilbao which holds the Guggenheim Museum, San Sebastián a stunning beach resort town, and Victoria-Gesteiz the capital of the region with a well-preserved historical centre.

Provinces: Vizcaya, Álava, Guipúzcoa

The beach of San Sebastián
The beach of San Sebastián

6. Canary Islands

Comprised of 13 volcanic islands off the north-western coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are a popular spot for vacationers because of the beaches. If you go inland, you’ll be charmed by the magnificent and wild nature.

Provinces: Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The volcano of Tenerife
The volcano of Tenerife

7. Cantabria

The geographic variety of Cantabria gives its visitors many activities to choose from. Thermal pools, rural tourism and mountain sports like skiing, hiking and mountaineering. It also has some parks and natural reserves, the most important being Los Picos de Europa.

Provinces: single province region

Camaleño
Camaleño, photo by Mathew MacQuarrie

8. Castilla-La Mancha

Castilla-La Mancha is the second largest region in Spain. It is landlocked and a neighbour to the capital city Madrid. Its lands are comprised of scattered mountains with a few castles and vineyards. The old Spanish capital Toledo makes a great destination to visit for its 13th-century cathedral and renaissance buildings and churches.

Provinces: Guadalajara, Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Albacete

Sunrise in Toledo
Toledo, photo via @manuelo_bo

9. Castilla y Leòn

A large plain surrounded by mountains, Castilla y León is the largest region in the centre of Spain. One of its towns, Segovia, has an old Roman aqueduct that runs through the centre of the city and the Cathedral of Burgos (the region’s capital) is home to a beautiful French Gothic Cathedral.

Provinces: León, Palencia, Burgos, Zamora, Valladolid, Segovia, Soria, Salamanca, Ávila

The Roman aqueduct of Segovia
The Roman aqueduct of Segovia

10. Catalonia

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia is the most visited city in Spain. Walking through the city is like walking through an open-air museum as there are works from famous architect Antoni Gaudí littered everywhere. North of the city along the Costa Brava, you’ll find serene beaches with turquoise-blue waters. The region is filled with marvellous coastal towns as well as some medieval ones. The people of the region speak their own language – Catalan – and want to become independent from Spain.

Provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona

Casa Batllò in Barcelona
Casa Batllò in Barcelona, photo via @momentsofgregory

12. Galicia

Galicia is a Celtic land located in the north-western part of Spain above Portugal. Blessed with a beautiful coastline and some of the best seafood in the country, it’s a perfect place to visit. One of the highlights in the church of Santiago de Compostela which is the final destination of the famous pilgrimage.

Provinces: A Coruña, Pontevedra, Lugo, Orense

The Tower of Hercules lighthouse near A Coruña
The Tower of Hercules lighthouse near A Coruña

13. Madrid

Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1562 and is located in the geographical centre of the country. Its summers are hot and dry and winters are cool. Outside of the city are the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains with charming, tucked-away villages. The city is a busy metropolis filled with grand buildings and avenues, parks, galleries and restaurants. If you’re looking for a place with good nightlife, this is it.

Provinces: single province region

Gran Vía in Madrid
Gran Vía in Madrid, photo by Florian Wehde

14. Murcia

Murcia is a popular tourist destination. The Costa Cálida is full of beaches and a great place for scuba diving. Because of its temperate climate, it’s also the biggest producer of fruits, vegetables and flowers in Spain.

Provinces: single province region

15. Navarra

Navarra lies in the northeast of Spain and borders France. The Pyrenees mountains offer many activities to those who are interested in nature tourism. The region’s capital Pamplona is best known for its yearly celebrations in July. The San Fermin festival draws many spectators and participants for the running of the bulls.

Provinces: single province region

16. La Rioja

With over 500 wineries in this region, La Rioja is considered Spain’s wine capital. Most of Spain’s red wines come from the many vineyards that spread over this grassy, hilly region. It’s a great place for rural tourism and the capital, Logroño is another charming Roman town worth visiting. What to eat? The specialties are lamb, pimientos de piquillo, and marzipan which is renown all over Spain,

Provinces: Single province region

The vineyards of La Rioja
The vineyards of La Rioja

17. Valencia

The Valencian Community is found on the south-eastern coast of Spain and is another popular tourist destination. The coastal areas are filled with charming fishing villages and beautiful beaches while the interior has many tranquil valleys and mountains. The capital, Valencia, is also the birthplace of paella!

Provinces: Valencia, Castellon, Alicante

City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia
City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, photo by zebbache djoubair