Best Places in Spain: Our 15 Favorite Moments

A shot of the West side of the bay in San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain BreAnn Mueller/istockphoto.com
By Neil E. Schlecht, David Lyon & Patricia Harris

Our book, Frommer's Spain Day by Day won't be out until October, but in light of the World Cup result, we couldn't resist sharing 15 of our favorite things about Spain. When it's released, our book will give you regional and city itineraries that will help maximize your time while touring the country's top sights. Explore Barcelona's mind-bending architecture, drive the fabulous scenery of the Picos de Europa mountains, taste your way around La Rioja's vineyards, experience the peak of Moorish culture in Andalucía, or eat your fill of Basque cuisine. For now, enjoy this tapas portion of favorites.

Photo Caption: A shot of the West side of the bay in San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain.
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Prehistoric cave paintings in Cantabria. Life-size replicas of the world-famous Altamira Paleolithic cave drawings, deemed the Markel Redondo
Someone put that handprint up 15,000 years ago -- and then he painted the bison he hoped his tribe could kill. It's an artistic straight line through the ages to Picasso and Miró.

Photo Caption: Prehistoric cave paintings in Cantabria. Life-size replicas of the world-famous Altamira Paleolithic cave drawings, deemed the
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At night, the Museo del Baile Flamenco is filled with the sounds of clapping and flamenco guitar. Jorge Guerrero
You can't help but get caught up in the soaring passions, intricate rhythms, and swirling movement of Spain's signature music and dance.

Photo Caption: At night, the Museo del Baile Flamenco is filled with the sounds of clapping and flamenco guitar.
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Trails link the Moorish villages in the Alpujarra de Granada, like the mountain town of Trevélez. Jorge Guerrero
Walking the mountain trails from Pampaneira to Bubión is a trek unchanged since the days before the Reconquista.

Photo Caption: Trails link the Moorish villages in the Alpujarra de Granada, like the mountain town of Trevélez.
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From the cradle to the grave, the Casa Natal de Picasso museum follows the artist's life. Jorge Guerrero
Follow the precocious child from the house where he was born to the baroque church where he was baptized. His footprints are all over Málaga, home to his legacy museum.

Photo Caption: From the cradle to the grave, the Casa Natal de Picasso museum follows the artist's life.
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The Església de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla clings to the promontory along Sitges. Sergi Camara
Before Ferran Adrià or Juan Marì Arzak, there was beach food. Chiringuito has been serving casual fried seafood on the beach since 1913 and gave its name to the restaurant genre.

Photo Caption: The Església de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla clings to the promontory along Sitges.
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Museo de El Prado, Madrid. Pablo Sanchez
The longer you look at Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, the more you understand the private life, triumphs, and sorrows of Felipe IV and his family -- and of the painter who witnessed it all.

Photo Caption: Museo de El Prado, Madrid. Photo by Pablo Sanchez/Flickr.com
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The mountain villages of the Asturias and Cantabria. The Puente Romano, adorned with a cross, arches over the Río Sella in Cangas de Onís. Markel Redondo
Soaring cliffs and rushing rivers are only half of it. The mountain villages of Asturias and Cantabria are the real gems in these mountains; Spain was born in revolt against the Moors here.

Photo Caption: The mountain villages of the Asturias and Cantabria. The Puente Romano, adorned with a cross, arches over the Río Sella in Cangas de Onís.
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Frank Gehry's surreal luxury hotel overlooks the historic Marqués de Riscal winery in Elciego. Markel Redondo
The great La Rioja producer Marqués de Riscal hit a home run when it engaged Frank Gehry to design its bodega, hotel, and spa.

Photo Caption: Frank Gehry's surreal luxury hotel overlooks the historic Marqués de Riscal winery in Elciego.
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Mérida's Roman theater, built by General Agrippa around 15 b.c., can seat up to 3,000 people. Denis Doyle
Peel back 2,000 years as the ancient mysteries again take the stage on Mérida's Roman proscenium.

Photo Caption: Mérida's Roman theater, built by General Agrippa around 15 b.c., can seat up to 3,000 people.
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There are over 300 stalls at La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain's largest food market and one of the best in Europe. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=1caaf234-5750-4725-adca-eb06429d5bd0&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">SRtraveler/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
Top chefs and regular folks alike haunt this legendary food market for fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, wild mushrooms from the Pyrenees, and olive oil from L'Empordà. It's a feast for the senses.

Photo Caption: There are over 300 stalls at La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain's largest food market and one of the best in Europe. Photo by SRtraveler/Frommers.com Community
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Alhambra in Grenada. Legend has it the Patio de los Cipreses at the Generalife was the secret rendezvous point for the sultan's wife and her lover. Jorge Guerrero
Seven centuries of refined Muslim culture in Andalucía achieve sumptuous perfection in the Nasrid palaces.

Photo Caption: Alhambra in Grenada. Legend has it the Patio de los Cipreses at the Generalife was the secret rendezvous point for the sultan's wife and her lover.
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One of Europe's oldest railways travels between Sóller and Palma on the island of Majorca (Catalan and Spanish "Mallorca"). Sergi Camara
Built to transport citrus from mountain valleys to Palma, the vintage wooden cars of this 1912 narrow-gauge train still shuttle daily through orange and lemon groves and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.

Photo Caption: One of Europe's oldest railways travels between Sóller and Palma on the island of Majorca (Catalan and Spanish "Mallorca").
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Gaudí's Sagrada Família. Diego Vivanco
Day by day, Barcelona workmen come ever closer to completing Antoni Gaudí's phantasmagoric basilica, La Sagrada Família, the apex of Barcelona's Modernista architecture.

Photo Caption: Gaudí's Sagrada Família.
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Bergara Bar. Pintxos sampling in one of C/ Fermín Calbetón's many bars. Markel Redondo
Brilliant invention meets Basque tradition for some of the best casual bar food in Spain. Popular opinion holds that the Basques make the best food in Spain, that San Sebastián has the best food in the Basque Country, and that Bergara Bar has the best pintxos in town. Diet begone!

Photo Caption: Bergara Bar. Pintxos sampling in one of C/ Fermín Calbetón's many bars.
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Physics be damned! Cuenca is known for its seemingly gravity-defying casas colgadas (hanging houses). Niccoló Guasti
At sunrise and sunset, cliff swallows take flight in the great chasm of open air. The houses hanging over the gorge resemble those swallows' nests.

Photo Caption: Physics be damned! Cuenca is known for its seemingly gravity-defying casas colgadas (hanging houses).
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