* Getting Caught Up in the Passions of Flamenco in Sevilla: Whether you watch an artful performance at the flamenco dance museum or join the rowdier crowd in a Gypsy bar in Triana, you’ll find yourself walking down the street to a syncopated beat.
* Watching Children Light Up when They See Las Meninas in Madrid’s Museo del Prado: Diego Velázquez may have been the quintessential Spanish court painter, but his portrait of the Infanta Margarita and her retinue charms small children who imagine themselves in the painting.
* Seeing the Homes of Moorish Royalty and Commoners in Granada: The Alhambra palace was the crowning artistic glory of Islamic Spain. Once you’ve seen how the royals lived, wander the medieval warren of the Albaicín.
* Joining a Tapas Crawl Around Madrid’s Plaza Santa Ana: Whole legs of air-dried mountain ham (jamón serrano) hang over every bar. Try it, along with bites of smoked trout, anchovies, potatoes with bravas sauce, or nuggets of sausage, on your evening outing.
* Gaping at the Gaudís in Barcelona: The Catalan language has the perfect verb to describe seeing the Modernisme buildings of Antoní Gaudí, including his Sagrada Familia basilica. Badar means “to walk around with your mouth open in amazement.”
* Celebrating the Basque Renaissance in Bilbao: The bold architecture of the Guggenheim Museum set a new bar for design and sparked a chain of civic improvements. Between the new waterfront promenade and the architecture that aspires to Frank Gehry’s achievement, Bilbao struts its stuff with pride.
* Sunning on the Beach at the Foot of History at Tossa del Mar: The ruins of a medieval coastal fortress crouch on one of the two headlands that bracket the sandy cove on the often-rocky Costa Brava.
* Admiring the Faith of Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela: For nearly 10 centuries Christian pilgrims have trekked across northern Spain to the holy shrine of St. James, or Santiago. For the devout, walking into the great cathedral is an earthly taste of the gates of paradise.
The Best Ways to See Spain Like a Local
* Shop in the Fresh Food Markets of Barcelona and Valencia: One look at the culinary riches on display in Barcelona’s La Boqueria and Valencia’s Mercado Central, and you’ll grasp the Spanish obsession with eating. Wait till you taste that orange!
* Look for the Good-Luck Frog in Salamanca: The university city has the wittiest and most phantasmagoric stone carvings in all of Spain. Students look for a frog perched on a skull in the elaborate carvings around the door to the Escuelas Mayores.
* Crowd into a Bar to Root for Real Madrid: Ticket prices for soccer matches at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium have become crazy expensive, but most fans watch the games on television—ideally on a big screen in a bar.
* People-Watch at El Rastro: You may not find a bargain at Madrid’s venerable Sunday street market at Lavapies, but it’s a great place to watch the crowds who come for a wander, a look, and tapas at the bar afterwards.
* Have a Glass of Catalan Cava: Sip sparkling wine surrounded by vineyards where those grapes were nourished by the Mediterranean sunshine. In the El Penedés growing region, you can tour Freixenet, Codorníu, Torres, and smaller local wineries.
* Visit the Private Patios of Córdoba: During the Córdoba Patio Festival in May, people open their homes so visitors can admire the traditional interior courtyards hung with potted geraniums.
* Make the Evening Promenade in Marbella: All over Spain people go out for a leisurely evening walk to show off a beau, visit with neighbors, or just enjoy the cool air. The marble sidewalks of Marbella are an elegant setting for a stroll.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.