Top 10 Unknown Places in Spain

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Top 10 Unknown Places in Spain

Spain gets a bad name among some travelers and expats — images of crumbling apartment blocks and crowded tourist beaches are immediately conjured up. This is a very unfair image of Spain though. With these ten undiscovered gems, we will reinstate it as one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

1. San Vicente de la Barquera

Located in the province of Cantabria, this seaside town is simply stunning. The imposing Castillo del Rey watches over the town, and provides what is among the most varied and spectacular backdrops in Europe. Start on the beach (which is one of the best surf spots in northern Spain by the way) and stroll around the corner of the harbor wall — then stop and look! The natural harbor (provided by the river estuary) comes into view and is followed by the red roofs of the old town, with the Picos de Europa visible behind them on a clear day.

On a summer’s day it’s an excellent place to explore (with some of the best seafood restaurants in the region). If you get the time, head eastwards down the coast to Comillas and Santillana del Mar, which are beautiful spots and less spoilt than some of the coastal towns in the south of Spain.

2. La Coruña

Staying up north for now, Galicia’s capital is overlooked by too many as just another industrial town. Instead it is an excellent cultural center, where great food, great beaches, and a great atmosphere combine. Seafood is king here — try octopus in a tapas bar or shrimps the size of tunas on the charming seafront, and you’ll see why La Coruña is considered among the best for foodies. It’s true that Galicia is the wettest region of Spain, but in the summer, you’ll still get plenty of Atlantic sunshine — enjoy it with a glass of Albariño (Galician wine) and forget your troubles for a few hours.

3. Las Medulas

A couple of hours down the Autopista 6, you will find the gorgeous Las Medulas mining site. The largest gold mine in the Ancient Roman Empire was located here — the structures are still visible today. The green covered rock faces hide dramatic shelves and ledges, which take on a crimson/gold look when the sun is shining. Just a couple of hours exploring tunnels and admiring the natural beauty is enough to see why UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. It’s a must-see in Castile and Leon.

4. Roses

Catalonia is known for it’s diverse culture, incredible food, and a place called Barcelona. There are however other places to explore, and Roses (as well as the towns surrounding it) is one of them. A beautiful beach and lively promenade make for a great day when the sun’s out, but Roses has just as much to offer when the sun goes down. That tangible buzz you get in small Spanish towns in the evening is present here, as cafés and restaurants spill out onto the narrow streets and traders sell handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs. Sure, it’s touristy, but very different to Benidorm or Marbella. You can get to Roses in just two hours with the high speed Ave trains from Barcelona, where we also have a thriving expat community.

5. Toledo

Located right in the center of the Iberian Peninsula is the old capital Toledo. This enchanting town is drenched in history. Known as the “Imperial City”, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V made it his seat of supreme power, and the city was the capital of modern-day Spain until 1563, when Madrid took the crown. Exceptional architecture adorns Toldeo’s bustling atmospheric streets — particular highlights are Saint Mary’s Cathedral and the San Juan de los Reyes Monastery. Another must see is the “El Greco Trail”, an exhibition dedicated to one of Toledo’s favorite sons. Doménikos Theotokópoulos (nicknames “El Greco”, or “the Greek”) was a painter, sculptor, and architect. His art is stunning and his life-story similarly fascinating — well worth the three euro entry fee. Just 45 minutes from our community in Madrid, Toledo is perfect for a day trip when you want to escape the stresses of life in the capital.

6. El Capricho Park

It might seem hard to find undiscovered gems in a city so big and well-known as Madrid. Luckily for you though, we have unearthed one for you — Parque de El Capricho is located in the north east of the city. Beautiful landscaped gardens revolve around an 18th century mansion, as well as Spain’s first iron bridge and a bunker from the Spanish Civil War. The gardens are great choice if you want to relax with a good book, or with some coffee and great friends from our Madrid expat community. Arguably its only downside is that it’s a little close to the airport, but this is a tiny stain on a stunning green canvas. The park opened to the public on weekends usually.

7. Burgos

Located in the modern-day province of Castile and Leon, Burgos has had a turbulent past. The old capital changed hands several times in previous centuries, falling into the control of the Moors between the 9th and 10th centuries, as well as the French Empire in the early 1800s. General Franco was even pronounced head of state there. Enough of the history lesson, Burgos also has plenty to offer in terms of monuments and architecture— you cannot miss the Saint Mary Cathedral which is one of the biggest in Spain. Its gothic style influenced the world famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and is a must-visit in this charming town. Relax afterwards with some local wine and the famous Morcilla (a type of sausage made here), and admire one of Spain’s most underrated destinations.

8. Parc del Laberint d'Horta

Ever wanted to get lost in a real-life Hedge Maze? Of course you have! One of Barcelona’s best kept secrets is the Parc del Laberint d'Horta (it’s known more frequently by its Catalan name) and is located in the north of the city. The marquise that owned the estate decided she wanted a maze and construction began in 1791. Today you can visit the park and the palace for just two euros (although they only let in 750 visitors a day) and have a go at completing the huge maze — aside from that it’s a perfect place to relax away from the crowds of La Rambla and Sagrada Familia. Discover a new part of Barcelona with friendly expats from our platform!

9. La Gomera

There is so much more to the Canary Islands than just Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. One of the forgotten volcanic islands is the naturally gorgeous La Gomera, which is located off the western coast of Tenerife, is rarely touched by flocking tourists. Created from red hot volcanic rock, the island is tiny but mountainous. Its upper slopes are almost completely covered in laurel rainforest, and are almost always shrouded in clouds and mist — giving the island a truly magical atmosphere. Together the upper slopes from the Garajonay National Park, which is UNESCO protected too. You can easily get a ferry to the island from Tenerife, or alternatively you can book a guided tour through local travel agencies.

10. Cape Finisterre

We couldn’t finish with any other place than this. Its name is derived from the Latin for “end of the world” — as it was believed to be by the romans. Today, it is home to some of Spain’s most striking beaches and dramatic rock formations. Cape Finisterre is quite often the site of pilgrimages, and some of its rocks have religious significance. Aside from this though, it really is just an amazing place to see with your own eyes — it takes on a mysterious and enchanting spirit of its own. Granted it is out of the way, but it is well worth the drive if you find yourself in Galicia with a spare day.

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