Is traveling to Spain on your wish list? What comes to mind when hearing the word Spain? There are many more places to see in addition to Barcelona and Madrid, two of the top tourist destinations. However, even within these vibrant cities, there are some undiscovered places you need to visit in Spain and known only to locals. Of course, seeing the running of the bulls is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but don’t overlook some of the lesser known things to do. Pack your bags, rent a reliable car, bring your loved ones, and be ready to see the Spain most people don’t see.
If you want to experience Spain like a local, it’s time to look beyond the obvious. In between sampling the tapas, prioritize these seven one of a kind places in your itinerary. You’re about to meet the Spain you didn’t know .
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Undiscovered places you need to visit in Spain
1. The Spanish Islands
They’re not actually undiscovered, but most tourists don’t know anything about them. There are a number of islands in Spain, but Tenerife is arguably one of the most beautiful. It features stunning mountaintop views of the turquoise waters. It’s located right off of West Africa and is known for being the largest island of the Canary Islands. It’s a dream for golfers with nearly a dozen courses, all open year-round. It’s also home to the third tallest volcano in the world, making it a hot spot for hikers.
2. Ride Limite Zero
Spain is where you’ll find the only cross-border zip line anywhere around the globe. It’s the invention of David Jarman and lets you fly through the sky from Sanlucar in the Andalusian village to Alcoutim located in eastern Algarve. It takes just one minute, but you’ll cross the Guadiana River into Portugal. Of course, if you want to stay in Portugal, you’ll need to tuck your travel documents into a zipline-friendly pack safely.
A Walk on the Wild Side
3. Caminito del Rey
Located in El Chorro, this walkway is known as the “world’s scariest pathway,” and with good reason. It was opened in 1921 by King Alfonso XIII, and King’s Little Pathway spans 100 meters across the Gaitaines Gorge. It looks like it’s barely hanging onto the rock faces, and although it’s a very beautiful space, the hike is a beast. You’ll find some parts of the pass missing completely, so it’s something to tackle at your own risk. Much has been restored in recent years, but there are still risks.
4. Go on a festival journey
Don’t miss the Festival of the Near-Death Experience. It happens every year in Las Nieves, Galicia, and La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme is held in an area known for witchcraft. With a long pagan history, it’s a celebration of local residents who survived a near-death experience the previous year (they happen that often here). It features somber processions where the survivors feign death in coffins carried by festival volunteers. The culmination is held in the Santa Marta de Ribarteme Church.
Chilling Out in Spain
5. El Somorrostro’s ice bar
It’s known to locals, but travelers rarely know about the only beach ice bar in the world located right along the Mediterranean Sea. Ice Barcelona has a luxe interior created and carved 100 percent from ice. The freezing temperature ranges a bit, but it’s the perfect chilly place to cool off in between beach bumming. The glasses are carved out of ice, too, making them easy to dispose of if broken. Don’t worry, jacket and hats are part of the check-in process.
6. Valencia’s Cathedral Holy Grail
Rumor has it that what inspired the Holy Grail is housed at Valencia Cathedral. Both historians and theologians have often agreed that the relic is the real cup Jesus drank from in the Last Supper. Most recently, the book Kings of the Grail also supported this theory. Arguments are strong in favor of this theory, and it’s worth checking out no matter your belief or faith.
High and Dry Like Never Before
7. Sierra de los Filabres and Sierra de Alhamilla
The only genuine desert in Europe is located in Spain. Here, the temperatures are arid, dry, and the lunar landscapes are incredible. They are often featured in Western films including The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It’s veritably a Hollywood stage, but for those outside the industry, the deserts are largely unknown. However, it does feature a zoo and cactus garden.
Make your trip to Spain one to remember and go a little off the beaten path. You never know what you might discover. However, this doesn’t mean you need to steer clear of so-called tourist traps entirely—there’s a reason many places, events, and foods are so popular. Sampling both on the grid and off the grid “musts” is part of what will make your experience so memorable.
Bookend Your Trip with Rejuvenation
Also, remember to schedule settling in and recovery time if possible. Depending on how far you’re traveling to reach Spain, at least a full day of simply kicking back and relaxing is in order when you arrive. This is part of why it’s so important to choose a hotel that’s convenient and features the kinds of luxuries that will make your experience one of a kind. Whether it’s a pool, on-site bar, or massages readily available, think of what you want at your fingertips regarding pampering.
And when you return? One full day of relaxation can help you adjust to the real world and give you time to reflect on your experience. It’s when you can focus on ditching the jet lag and going through the photo on your DSLR. Jamming too much into your schedule, whether it’s during the peak of your Spain trip or upon arrival and getting home, is sure to tinge the trip with a touch of negativity. Protect your experience and your health by pacing yourself.
Finally, remember that when you’re in Spain, don’t think about “next time.” There might not be a next time in Spain so take full advantage of the trip now. Say yes (with calculated reservations when applicable). The moment to make this the trip of a lifetime is now.