Spain is an exotic location that can be a dream vacation for some. When traveling to any of the cities in Spain, you’ll need to be fully prepared. Knowing Spanish can enhance the trip and make it simpler to interact with the locals and understand maps and signs. While this can make the trip easier, it isn’t necessarily mandatory to enjoy one’s vacation. It is useful, however, to have some basic understanding of the language, as a trip to Spain may actually help a person to learn the language more easily and more quickly. People traveling to Spain will need to carry a U.S. passport that is up to date and valid for at least three months past the length of the stay in Spain. In terms of a visa, a person who is an American citizen may enter Spain without a visa if they are staying for three months or less. To visit for this length of time without a visa, a person may need to provide proof of funds or a return ticket. It is possible to extend one’s stay by another three months by obtaining an extension of stay. This can be obtained from a Spanish police station no later than three weeks before the end of the original stay. If a tourist plans to drive while in Spain, they will need to obtain an international driving permit before arriving in the country. This permit must be carried with one’s original state-issued driver’s license.

Madrid

Madrid is a city that dates back to the 9th century. It is situated in the center of the Iberian Peninsula and is Spain’s capital city. It is in Madrid where the royal family resides and where a majority of government activity takes place. Although it is the seat of the country’s government, it does not lack in activities or areas of interest for travelers. One such area of interest is Cybele’s Fountain (Fuente de la Cibeles). This is a fountain that depicts a carriage that is led by lions. Riding in the carriage is the goddess Cybele. This is a great opportunity for photographs. Naturally, the Royal Palace, or the Palacio Real, is located in Madrid as well. This is a top attraction that is open to the public. Madrid also is home to the Prado Museum, which is where some of the most famous Spanish paintings are located. Plaza Mayor is another destination that is great architecturally. It is also a destination that is rich in the country’s culture.

Seville

While in Seville, visit one of Europe’s oldest royal palaces, Alcazar, which was once a Moorish fort. It is open to the public and offers guided tours. Another popular destination is the Seville cathedral, which is the last cathedral built in Spain. This is one of the city’s greatest landmarks and is the third-largest cathedral in the world. People visiting Seville during holidays such as Corpus Christi can catch the bullfighting, which is one of the most popular and controversial attractions. To catch the bullfighting in Seville, visit the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, which goes by the nickname “Cathedral of Bullfighting” or Catedral del Toreo. Flamenco dancing and music is another experience that can’t be missed while in Seville. Can’t-miss museums include the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo and Museo de Bellas Artes.

Barcelona

Barcelona is one of Spain’s most visited and interesting cities. It has a long history and is known for its amazing architecture as well as the arts and other tourist interests. People interested in architecture will find works by famous architects on the Manzana de la Discordia on Passeig de Gracia. This thoroughfare offers shopping and restaurants in addition to the amazing architecture. The architects responsible for the buildings are Gaudi, Domenech i Montaner, and Puig i Cadafalch. Buy tickets for a performance or guided tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, or the Palace of Catalan Music. The beautiful iron, brick, glazed tile, and stained glass palace was designed by modernist architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner. Another attraction to visit is the breathtaking Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, where tourists can take a guided or self-guided tour. Art-lovers and fans of Pablo Picasso won’t want to miss visiting Museu Picasso, or the Picasso Museum, in Barcelona. Other museums include the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) and the National Art Museum of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya).

Granada

Located in the province of Granada at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the city of Grenada. The city is also the capital of the province. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Alhambra. This is a palace that people from all over the world travel to Granada to see. The Moorish influence in construction and design is readily visible in Granada, which is rich in history. Alcazaba is a 17th century garden that is a part of the original fortress at Alhambra. The Royal Nasrid Palace, or the Casa Real, is also located here, as is the Renaissance Palace of Charles V and Generalife. Generalife is the part of the complex that consists of gardens and was the summer palace of the sultans. Because of the popularity of Alhambra and its four components, tourists should look into tickets in advance when visiting during the busier months. Although the Alhambra is the leading site to see, there are other places of interest for people visiting the city. Cathedrals in Granada are a striking sight that won’t easily be forgotten. Granada’s Cathedral of the Incarnation is one such cathedral. Albaicin, or the Albaicin quarter, is a type of open-air museum that was named a World Heritage site. Tourists can walk down the streets of this neighborhood and take in the structures influenced by the area’s Moorish, Christian, Arab, and Muslim history. While there, tourists will also find the church of San Salvador, the archeological museum, and the Arab bath complex.

Valencia

Since it’s the third-largest city in Spain, visitors can expect a bustling hub of activity that is just as beautiful and inspiring as other major cities in the country. Valencia is also home to two beaches where tourists can soak in the sun and just relax for a lazy afternoon. The beaches are the Playa de las Arenas and Playa de la Malvarrosa. Albufera National Park is Spain’s largest lake and is a great place for watching wildlife and enjoying a boat ride. Enjoy the cultural influences of the city by visiting any of the museums, such as Museo Taurino, or the Bullfighting Museum, the Museum of Ethnology (Museo de Etnologia), or the Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes). The City of Arts and Sciences complex is an interesting and otherworldly building that can’t be missed. It is not only a science museum but also a venue for world-class music and an aquarium. There are many photogenic sights to see, too, such as the Plaza de la Virgen, where you’ll find structures such as Nuestra de los Desamparados church. The Lonja, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a former silk exchange from the 15th century, is also worth seeing.