15 Best Hidden Gems in Spain to Visit in 2024 (Local Guide)

Best Hidden Gems in Spain

Looking for the best hidden gems in Spain? You’re in the right place!

Forget the crowded beaches of Barcelona and the bustling streets of Madrid. I’m diving deep into Spain’s lesser-known treasures that offer a mix of culture, history, and jaw-dropping natural beauty.

Vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, historic architecture, and delicious cuisine—no wonder Spain is one of the most popular destinations in the world.

But as a local (I was born and raised in Madrid), I know secret places in Spain that you have to include in your next trip to Spain.

While popular cities like Barcelona are incredible, they are beaten and touristy. On the other hand, there are tons of fantastic hidden places in Spain that mostly only the locals know about.

These hidden gems are not only big on culture and history but also offer a beautiful, serene escape from the hustle-bustle of major cities.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 15 Spain’s hidden gems that will make your trip truly unforgettable.

Let’s start exploring!

Hidden Gems In Spain To Add To Your Bucket List

1. Salobreña

Vistas desde el Peñón de Salobreña

Perched atop a large rock that juts close to the Mediterranean Sea, Salobreña is a coastal town in Costa Tropical.

The white-washed town lies at the foot of the Hispano-Muslim castle, Salobreña Castle, which offers a stunning coastal view.

It’s surrounded by sugar cane fields on each side along the coast, and the sunset from the tower of the castle is amazing!

Atardecer desde el Castillo de Salobreña

The real gem, however, lies along its pristine beaches, including the secluded Playa de la Charca with its crystal-clear waters and serene beauty.

Insider tip: I have to tell you about the Castillo de Salobreña. I climbed to the top, and the Mediterranean views were postcard-worthy. Don’t forget your camera!

2. Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

Nestled in the heart of Andalusia’s Cadiz province lies a true Spanish treasure—Setenil de las Bodegas.

What sets Setenil apart is its extraordinary architecture. Here, many homes are built beneath massive rock overhangs, creating a surreal and picturesque setting.

Wandering through its winding streets feels like a journey into the Earth itself!

The white village of Andalusia is also famous for its culinary delight. Savor the local delicacies (wild asparagus soup and chorizo sausage, to name a few) in a cave restaurant on a sunny day overlooking the charming river.  

Insider tip: Try the Andalusian gazpacho in one of the cave restaurants. It’s like dining inside a geological work of art. Simply surreal!

3. Mijas

Mijas, pueblos bonitos cerca de Málaga

If you’re on a road trip to Costa del Sol, don’t forget to make a stop at the enchanting Andalusian village of Mijas Pueblo that graces the mountains between Benalmadena and Fuengirola.

The white-washed buildings, the terracotta rooftops, the cobblestone streets —everything here encompasses the laid-back rural lifestyle.

The historic Nazari Castle offers a glimpse into the rich history, while the Plaza de Toros (bullring) lets you peek into the country’s bullfighting heritage.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss the local flea market held every Wednesday. 

4. Cudillero

Cudillero hidden gem in Spain

Cudillero—a hidden gem in northern Spain tucked away in the northern province of Asturias, Spain!

This picturesque fishing village rests snugly in a small bay along the rugged Asturian coast.

The highlight of Cudillero is its enchanting cascade of colorful houses, seemingly tumbling down the hillside, and the narrow, zigzag laneways.

Walk to the Cudillero Lighthouse and get a breathtaking 360-degree view of the village. Also, don’t forget a fresh seafood catch from the seafront-facing restaurants. Must-Try Food: Local sardines.

I got lost in the colorful narrow streets, and each corner was more photogenic than the last. And the smell of fresh seafood… umm, finger-licking good!

5. Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is the perfect example of hidden gems near Barcelona, home to beautiful coves, sandy beaches, and incredible pine forests.

At its heart lies its historic fortified medieval village, Vila Vella, which takes you on a journey through time to the 12th century.

From the soft sands of Platja Gran to the crystal-clear water of the hidden coves, a beachy getaway with swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking would be perfect.

Just an hour’s drive from Barcelona (100 Km), it’s an ideal place for a relaxing weekend escape.

6. Portocolom

Portocolom, Mallorca / 4K Drone Footage

Southeast of Mallorca within the Balearic Islands, Portocolom offers a tranquil seaside retreat.

The star attraction is its seaside resort, a well-kept secret of the Balearics.

Just a short 800-meter stroll from Portocolom, the “Cala Marcal” beach beckons with its turquoise waters, while Sa Cova Foradada—a cave with a hole—offers a beautiful atmosphere. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear!

I did a wine tasting at a local winery. And you will be surprised how good these wines are!

7. Olvera

Declared a Protected Area of Artistic and Historical Importance and Rural Tourism Capital, Olvera lies in Cadiz province.

It’s a small, scenic white village of Andalusia boasting treasures like the Castillo de Olvera and the Olvera Cathedral.

The castle offers panoramic views of rolling hills, olive groves, and neighboring white villages. Olvera is a labyrinth of cute, white streets where you can get the perfect Instagram-able shots with natural beauty.

Don’t forget to visit the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation. It’s like a hidden treasure with a mix of architectural styles that will leave you amazed.

8. Peñíscola

Playa de Peñíscola en la Comunidad Valenciana

Peñíscola, a delightful hidden gem in Spain, is situated on the Costa del Azahar in Castellón province.

This charming town boasts a historic walled medieval city, crowned by the majestic Papa Luna Castle with incredible Mediterranean vistas.

Its beautiful beaches, including the Playa del Norte, invite relaxation, while the hiking trails to the Sierra de Irta mountains offer breathtaking scenery.

Peñíscola’s laid-back atmosphere and rich history make it a perfect place to escape the crowds.

I feasted at a seafront restaurant with a paella that I still dream about. And the castle views while dining were straight out of a movie!

9. Albarracín

escapadas de fin de semana en pareja

Another hidden gem that should be on your bucket list is the small town of Albarracín. Perched on the curve of the Guadalaviar River, it is considered one of the unique places to visit in Spain.

Cobblestone streets, ancient walls, gothic architecture, and towering castles—a walk through the town takes you back in time.

Other historical attractions include:

  • Andadar Tower,
  • Plaza Mayor,
  • Santa Catalina Castle, and the
  • Cathedral of El Salvador.

I have to tell you about the cave paintings in the ‘Pinar del Rodeno.’ It’s like a time capsule to the prehistoric past. Incredible!

10. Calella de Palafrugell

If you’re planning a trip to the hidden gems in Spain, remember to include Calella de Palafrugell in your itinerary.

It’s a small fishing village boasting impressive fishing harbors, boathouses, and fishing tours. Its beaches and crystal-clear coves are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, while white-washed houses on the cobbled roads give a relaxing ambiance.

If you’re a nature lover looking for a coastal retreat, this is the place. And don’t miss the grilled sardines

I walked the Camí de Ronda trail, and each cove was more beautiful than the last. It’s the perfect plan for those who love to walk and discover secret places to visit in Spain.

11. Cazorla

Set against the rugged mountainous backdrop and surrounded by olive groves, Cazorla is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets.

Located in the foothills of Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park in Jaén, Andalusia, this hidden gem offers a genuine taste of southern Spain off the beaten path.

Hiking and mountain biking are popular here, and the national park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Don’t miss the ‘Source of the Borosa River.’ It’s a hike but worth every drop of sweat. The water is so clear it looks otherworldly. I did the route on horseback in the fall and the autumn scenery is beautiful. 100% recommended!

12. Potes

Tucked away in northern Spain, Potes is a small mountain village in Cantabria.

It serves as a gateway to explore Picos de Europa mountain. The deep gorge and the hearty glacial Ordesa Valley are worth visiting.

Insider tip: Enjoy the countryside cuisine, from cured meats to local cheeses to hearty stews. So yummy!

13. Zumaia Geopark

El Flysch de Zumaia en 4K

Nestled along the stunning Basque Coast, Zumaia Geopark is an extraordinary blend of nature and history waiting to be discovered.

Its towering Flysch cliffs reveal Earth’s dramatic chapters, earning it UNESCO Global Geopark status. The park’s diverse landscapes offer a unique adventure, from coastal cliffs to inland karst formations to lush greens of the meadows and forests.  

I took a geological tour and felt like a modern-day Indiana Jones. The rock formations tell Earth’s story in a way I never imagined.

14. Santillana del Mar

Known as the “Town of Three Lies,” Santillana del Mar is a hidden gem in Spain’s Cantabria region.

This pedestrianized medieval town is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and students alike. Its historic center has well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets that will transport you to the past.

I was so surprised by the Gothic houses, wooden window frames, and wrought-iron balconies adorned with colorful planters bring out a natural charm.

Insider tip: Don’t forget to book in advance your visit to the ‘Altamira Cave‘ if you can. It’s like the ‘Louvre’ of prehistory. Cave art at its finest!

15. Frigiliana

pueblo mas bonito de Málaga

Often dubbed as the prettiest village in Andalusia, Frigiliana is a worth-visiting destination in Spain’s Malaga province.

Go to the top of the Mirador de Santo Cristo and enjoy a 180-degree panoramic view of the Moorish-inspired old quarter, white-washed houses, hill groves, and vibrant flora.

The best time to visit is during the summer months when the town comes alive with festivals.

The ‘Festival of the Three Cultures‘ is something you can’t miss. It’s a celebration of the town’s Moorish, Christian, and Jewish heritage. A feast for the senses!

Final Words about Spain’s Hidden Gems

Qué hacer en Salobreña Granada

Spain’s beauty and charm extend beyond the familiar touristy icons.

Whether you seek peace in Cazorla’s rugged landscapes or heritage in Santillana del Mar’s timeless architecture, Spain offers a tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty.

So update your Spain bucket list, go beyond the tourist guides, and explore these lesser-known, hidden gems in Spain for an enriching experience. Trust me, it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget!

Want to discover more about Spain? Don’t miss these other posts:

Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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