Spain’s rich diversity of climates and cultural influences has given rise to some of the most fascinating small towns in Europe. From the whitewash villas of Andalusia’s coastal towns to the volcanic rock houses, perched on hilltops in Catalonia, you will find architectural influences ranging from Moorish to Baroque. Here are our top five small towns from across Spain, famed for their architectural design, rich history, and surrounding natural beauty.
1. RONDA, ANDALUSIA
While you will almost certainly want to spend much of your vacation on Andalusia’s fantastic beaches, around 45 miles to the north the mountaintop town of Ronda is not to be missed. The town dates back to the Moors and is perched above huge stone cliffs. The Puente Nuevo Bridge is undoubtedly the most famous sight, arching dramatically over the El Tajo Gorge. Other sights include a 13th Century Moorish bathhouse, Spain’s largest 18th Century bullring, and the Mondragón Palace and Museum with its intricate design and beautiful water garden.
2. CUDILLERO, ASTURIAS
On the north coast of Spain, we highly recommend this picturesque fishing town made up of pastel-hued houses and a delightful harbour close to Oviedo. The coastline here is made up of craggy cliffs and beaches with fine sand. The seafood here is phenomenal; you’ll find a lot of local seafood snacks and harbour restaurants with incredible views over the Cantabrian Sea. The Asturias’ coastal resorts are not as populated as other areas of Spain and you’ll find many quiet and secluded beaches if you take the scenic routes along the coast.
3. LA ALBERCA, CASTILLA Y LEÓN
La Alberca was voted by Spanish people as one of the top 10 most beautiful towns in Spain. Its spectacular and culturally diverse architecture is made up of stunning stone and half-timber houses. And the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park gives you extraordinary vistas over the surrounding landscape. Out of the town’s labyrinthine streets, you can take hiking trails leading to enchanting religious sites such as the Shrine of Our Lady of Old Majadas and the ruins of the Hermitage of San Marcos.
4. ALBARRACÍN, ARAGON
This small town follows the bend of the Guadalaviar River in Aragon and also made the list of Spain’s most beautiful towns for good reason. Its architectural jewels include medieval walls, the 10th-century Andador Tower, and the 16th century Catedral del Salvador, all in the shadows of the ruins of a Moorish castle perched on a cliff top above. In addition, the surrounding Sierra de Albarracín Mountains provide fantastic hiking trails.
5. BESALÚ, CATALONIA
Besalú is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in northern Catalonia. It is a medieval town with some of the best-preserved architecture in Spain. Must see sights include the Viejo Bridge that arches over the Fluvià river, the Romanesque Casa Cornella, and the 13th century Royal Court. The town is part of the Routes of Sefarad in Spain and features many important heritage sites such as the Mikve de Besalu bathing area.