City breaks – our favourite type of mini break and the total antithesis from where we live.  A rural setting in some of the cleanest air in Europe is wonderful but sometimes a little bit of carbon monoxide is called for! A few short days in the city is a treat and a cultural top up, and needn’t cost the earth either. Spanish cities are worth exploring more than most.  Let’s take a quick look at the Top 5 city breaks in Spain, for that next weekend away.

Fly away to Spain for the weekend

Fly away to Spain for the weekend

Packing light

A weekend away means just a little carry on bag, no extra boxes to tick or shell out for when searching for a last minute bargain flight.  Just throw in a few clothes and leave a kilo or two free for treats you might buy in your chosen city.  But where to go?  Such a choice in Spain – so many Spanish cities offering you just what you want…

The shopping on offer in Murcia is a cut above the normal in Spain

City life, shopping,eating,sight seeing

What’s your bag?

What do you look for in a city break?  Sure, art galleries and museums, great shopping, the best sights, and no dearth of places to eat.  But also consider what that city is most famous for, and what’s nearby too. What’s on should figure too, is there a festival or a fiesta taking place?  That might decide it, depending on whether you want to join in or avoid it completely! You’ll find it hard to avoid the throng of a crowd in any city, but especially so when a popular festival takes place. A stolen few days away should be chosen carefully – you might even find a bargain budget rental too!

Córdoba patio

Córdoba patio

Scent of a city

It’s all about Córdoba once next month starts.  The famous Cruces de Mayo is celebrated nowhere better, and hot on it’s scented heels comes the Patio festival, one of the most visited festivals in the world.  Hope you’ve booked up already, there’s still some space in the city if you choose carefully, have a look at Córdoba rentals here.

So, flowers aside, what are the 5 hottest cities in Spain?  If you want just a little taste of each, and a glimpse into what’s on the doorstep, then let’s look at a few more Spanish cities, here are my 5 hot city breaks to try:

Sightseeing in Barcelona

Sightseeing in Barcelona

1. Barcelona

Architecture overload, a city with a beach, go and get all Gaudi-ed out in Barcelona for a weekend.  The city is the embodiment of fun, vibrant, bustling and busy – you’ll need plenty of energy to expend on a weekend in Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city.

What’s nearby?

Get to know Girona, take a trip to Tarragona, or the wild and wonderful Costa Brava.

Stay…

Holiday rentals in Barcelona, choose from this lengthy list, just click for more details.

Shopping and sightseeing

Shopping and sightseeing

2. Madrid

What makes your heart beat a little faster? Prado or Prada?  They’re both here! Madrid as the capital is a stylish and stunning city.  The Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia are must-see art museums, great masters and modern art in abundance. Stroll through the city for shopping like nowhere else, fashion pundits will love the big name shops and boutiques side by side on the bustling Gran Via.  Taste Madrid, there are thousands of restaurants to choose from, for all pocket depths.

What’s nearby?

Royal crypts at El Escorial, follow the Madrileños at the weekend to Chinchon, or hop on the train to Avila.

Stay…

Many magnificent Madrid rentals, click here.

"Alhambra-Alcazaba-Granada-View" 3. Granada

Granada, don’t overlook the smaller cities of Spain.  A romantic break in mind?  Then go to Granada, visit the magical Alhambra, watch the sun set from the hilly streets opposite.  A proposal in mind?  A guaranteed ‘yes’ !  Take a bite out of Granada, taste it - it’s sweet!  Arab Teterías for mint tea and sweet pastries, free tapas with your drinks, restaurants around every corner…taste the ham from the hills – soft and silky air dried Jamón – just enjoy Granada – a small city with a lot to offer.

What’s nearby?

Go ski!  The Sierra Nevada surround the city, you can be up there on piste in the morning, back in the city to watch that sunset.  The Costa Tropical – head for the coast – uncrowded coves and beaches to discover, or climb to the white villages of the Alpujarra where there’s always a welcome in the hillsides…

Stay…

A place to stay for snow, for sand, for mountains or for city, Granada has it all wrapped up!

View of Malaga from the Parador

Destination: Málaga – stop before you drive away!

4. Málaga

Staying with Andalucía, there’s more to Málaga than just the airport.  More art than you can shake your sombrero at, this is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.  Visit the museum in his name, or head to the Old Town for some history.  Roman ruins, Arab influenced architecture, Gibralfaro Castle, the Alcazaba tower….you’ll be able to walk until you drop in Málaga! Don’t forget to taste the sweet wines too – stand by the bar sipping a sherry with a little tapa on the side – welcome to Málaga.

What’s nearby?

After the Old Town, the Port, the shopping, the museums – mooch a little further afield – the Costa del Sol is waiting – miles and miles of golden sands to rest those city feet.  Take in a football match, explore the coastline.  Ronda will be a must see, or a jaunt to Jerez to discover the history of all that sherry.  How about some rock climbing?  Visit Gibraltar – or book a ferry across to Morocco – it’s so close you can almost touch it.

Stay…

Málaga has a myriad of marvellous holiday rentals, villa or apartment, town house or penthouse – choose your Málaga holiday rental here.

St.-Marys-Cathedral-Valencia5. Valencia

Paella anyone?  Just one of the valid reasons for your vacation in Valencia, but also there are many,many more.  A medieval city with architecture and art to offer, a cathedral which is said to contain the Holy Grail – Monty Python anyone?  City beaches, Orange groves, and always the scent from  Orange Blossom permeates the air.  A Boffin’s delight, the science park is second to none – Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is just one attraction to this third largest city in Spain.  On a budget? Looking for some FREE things to do in Valencia?  Look no further, click here for more details.

What’s nearby?

El Palmar and the Albufera, for wild wetlands, dunes and birdwatching. Sagunto for a castle and a whole lot of history, Hannibal attacked this city first, follow him there. Go to Montgó mountain and visit Dénia on the way.  Beaches?  The white sands of the Costa Blanca are on the doorstep  -just slide into those flip-flops…

Stay…

Nothing Fawlty Towers about these places to stay in Valencia, browse away…

Is your bag packed yet? Book up your Spanish weekend away today, you know it’s worth it!  What’s your favourite Spanish city – and why?

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..