5 cities to explore Europe without leaving Spain

The fact that we live in a globalized world is nothing new. We can’t forget that nowadays, visiting any country in the world is easier and cheaper than ever, thanks to technological advances. However, it is no less true that, when planning a trip, we often tend to opt for foreign cities, forgetting the jewels of our own country that we may not yet have discovered. We propose that you find the best destination in Spain for your next getaway at one of these Spanish locations with similarities to other European cities.

Each city is unique in its own way, so keep in mind that we are just inspired by the monuments, environment and geographic configuration of popular cities to recommend to others in our country. Your perfect vacation can be closer than you think

Choose an European city and we will tell you your ideal destination in Spain


Amphitheatre of Mérida.

Amphitheatre of Mérida. | Shutterstock

The Italian capital is not only a great holiday destination because of the warmth of its people and its well-known gastronomy, but it is also a stronghold of archeological treasures. Monuments such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum or the Arch of Constantine have made Rome the Eternal City, making its tourist attraction remain intact for decades.

If what you love is to getting to know a city through its past, Mérida is the best destination in Spain for you. This city in Extremadura, the former Roman colony of Hispania, features an incredible patrimonial wealth that has managed to remain intact to the present day. The Roman Theatre, the Amphitheatre, the Circus, the Temple of Diana or the Aqueduct of San Lázaro are just some of the monuments that will allow you to explore the past of Mérida, where you will also find the most antique Muslim construction (the Alcazaba).


Cathedral of León.

Cathedral of León. | Shutterstock

Paris is unquestionably unique. It is strange to visit the capital of France and not fall in love with any of its corners. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the banks of the Seine, the Sacre Coeur Basilica or, of course, its excellent museums are admired all over the world, and made the city set its highest tourist record in 2017. It is impossible to find a city like it in Spain, but there is a destination that can offer similar incentives to lovers of historical architecture.

Despite maintaining many features of the Castilian and rural architecture, the influence of the French Gothic that we can enjoy in the Parisian temples is noted in the city of León, which houses one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country. The light and levity of the ‘Pulchra Leonie’ and its stained glass windows are surreal, and it is home to one of the largest medieval collections in the world of these elements. Walking between the streets of the historic center of León is an equally edifying experience.

The Bridge of San Marcos on the Besnerga and the Pont Neuf, both from the 16th century, resemble each other; And the modernist touches of the Paris of Guimard can be found in the beautiful Casa Botines, built and designed by Gaudí. But there is no doubt that there is one church that does not find a replica in the French capital: the ‘Panteón de los Reyes de San Isidoro,’ an authentic jewel on the Camino de Santiago. León is, in short, the best destination in Spain for those who miss the Parisian architecture.


Royal Palace of Madrid.

Royal Palace of Madrid. | Shutterstock

Among many other things, Vienna is known for its imposing imperial palaces. The formidable beauty of these buildings has a replica in Spain, in particular in the capital of the country.

Madrid is full of palaces of various styles that can compete in grandeur with Schönbrunn, Hofburg and even with the Belvedere. The Royal Palace, the Prado Palace, the Zarzuela, Longoria, Buenavista, the Escorial… Madrid is the best destination in Spain for fans of imperial residences who, if you want more, can always get close to the delicious Segovian Farm of San Ildefonso, just an hour’s drive from the capital.

But Madrid and Vienna resemble each other beyond the palaces: both cities are buoyant, living capitals, in which historical buildings are combined fluently with modern architecture. The two also have museums of enormous magnitude and cultural impact such as the Albertina Viennese or the Prado in Madrid; As well as with theatres (either the Real, the Burgtheater or the Vienna Opera itself), they are authentic refuges for culture lovers.



Girona. | Shutterstock

We know that Amsterdam is unique in its offerings (the coffee shops, the Red Light District and its exceptional museums are inimitable), but there is a Spanish city that brings together several of the attributes that make the capital of the Netherlands such an attractive place.

This is Girona, a picturesque Catalan city that, despite not having its own network of channels, offers a colorful landscape along the banks of the Oñar River that is similar to the urban configuration of this European city.

Both Girona and Amsterdam have two Jewish neighborhoods of great relevance… and the Spanish city also has a rich monumental heritage (the Cathedral, the Barri Vell or the Carolingian murals, among others) that make it the best destination in Spain for fans of the Dutch capital.



Cádiz. | Shutterstock

If you have thought of traveling to Santorini to get away to its white landscapes, you do not need to go so far: in the southwest of Spain you will find a set of towns, known as the White Villages of Andalusia, which also reach enormous heights of both interior and coastal beauty.

A route that combines Arcos of the Frontera and Cádiz will mirror many of the attractions that tourists look for in the Greek island. From the fantastic panoramic views and the snowy facades of the town to the crystalline beaches and the lively nightlife of the capital, without forgetting the pleasant gastronomic offer of Mediterranean gastronomy that you will find in both destinations.

Although it is true that here you will not find the characteristic oriental buildings with blue shades so typical of Santorini, you can enjoy a unique artistic variety: the mudéjar, present in monuments such as the Palace of the Conde del Águila de Arcos or the Great Theatre Falla. In the capital of the province, you will also have the possibility to visit unique archaeological sites like the Roman Theatre of the city.



Peñíscola. | Shutterstock

We know that culture and gastronomy differ, but it is difficult not to notice the geographical similarities between Dubrovnik and Peñíscola. Both the Croatian city and the Valencian town are two coastal destinations with a great tourist influx and an important historical baggage behind them. Both have remnants of medieval fortifications and they both have multiple summer leisure options.

But perhaps what’s most obvious when we look at both locations are their respective castles (the Lovrijenac and the Papa Luna), located in a rocky area with excellent sea views. If what you love are the coastal places with a lot of history, Peñíscola is the best destination in Spain for Pearl of the Adriatic lovers.

Text: Marta G. Coloma

You can also read this article in Spanish here.


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