Lonely Planet Writer

The most beautiful towns in Spain according to the Spanish themselves

Everyone knows that Spain is full of beautiful sights, but what are the absolute best places in the largest of the two countries that occupy the Iberian Peninsula? For such an important question, the Spanish people themselves were called to answer, and the results are in, ready to fuel everyone’s wanderlust.

Albarracín won the title of “most beautiful town” in Spain with 618 votes. Photo by juanjofotos/Getty Images

The newspaper El País, the most read in the nation, recently asked its readers to vote for the five towns they consider to be the most beautiful in all of Spain. Voters chose from a list of 250 towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants. During the five days of voting El País received almost 5000 answers, more than enough to compile a top five of the most beautiful and lesser-known towns everyone should visit while travelling through the country.

The highest spot on the podium went to the town of Albarracín, in the region of Aragon, located on the river Guadalaviar, and it offers everything a culture-loving traveller might want— a cathedral, high walls, a historic town centre and the ruins of an ancient alcázar, a type of fortress the Moors built throughout the entire peninsula.

Cudillero in the Asturias gained second place. Photo by japatino/Getty Images

The Asturian town of Cudillero won second place, with its narrow roads and colourful houses — Cudillero rests between the mountains and the sea, with an amphitheatre and the Quinta de Selgas palace which will satisfy the more history-loving tourists as well.

Santillana del Mar reached third place with 484 votes. Photo by Takashi Images/Shutterstock

Third place went to Santillana del Mar in the region of Cantabria, just east of the region of Asturias where Cudillero is — Santillana del Mar might be the most famous of the three because of the Cave of Altamira, renowned for its paleolithic paintings which date back 36,000 years. According to El País, the town itself is “an unmissable stop for whoever travels through Cantabria”.

Aínsa is at fourth place with 251 votes. Photo by Jose Arcos Aguilar/Shutterstock

The town of Aínsa, back in Aragon, won fourth place with its historical centre, which has been a conjunto histórico, a conservation area, since 1965. Closing off the top five is La Alberca in Castilla y León, another conjunto histórico, located in the national park of Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia at more than a 1000 metres above sea level. La Alberca has been a conjunto since 1940 because of its beautifully-preserved architecture, typical of the Sierra de Francia area.

La Alberca closes off the top five with 249 votes. Photo by Jose Antonio Caravaca/Getty Images

Here is the full top ten:

  1. Albarracín, Aragon, 618 votes
  2. Cudillero, Asturias, 540 votes
  3. Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, 485 votes
  4. Aínsa, Aragon, 215 votes
  5. La Alberca, Castilla y León, 249 votes
  6. Trujillo, Extremadura, 229 votes
  7. Llastres, Asturias, 211 votes
  8. Cadaqués, Catalonia, 210 votes
  9. Peñíscola, Valencia, 206 votes
  10. Luarca, Asturias, 203 votes

If you feel the need to plan your next trip to Spain right now and are looking for more inspiration, you can find the rest of the towns nominated here.