Spanish is one of the most romantic languages on Earth. Something about the way it’s spoken, the conjugation of its verbs, and inherent passion that oozes from each syllable seems to give it a life and, in that life, a culture. All over the world, we find cultures born and thriving in the Spanish language. In fact, it’s one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. It actually has the second largest population of native speakers in the world.
At the heart of this culture lies Spain with its beautiful sprawling cities stuffed with the vibrant culture, the architecture, and art, but the Spanish style and influence also inhabit much of Latin America. In the Americas, you’ll find a unique mix of the old colonial Spanish tradition infused and remade by the surrounding land and the indigenous customs. Many of the cities on our list have such an amazing clash of old-world and new-world traditions and sights that create their own special flavors, each unique in its own way. From the mountains of the Andes and across the ocean to the coast of the Mediterranean, the Spanish language has given birth to some of the most enchanting and exotic locations in the world. Dancing, exploring, food, nature, history, these cities have it all and then some. So, brush up on your Spanish because when you’re done with this list of the 20 Of The Most Impressive Spanish-Speaking Cities You Need To Visit, you’ll want to hop on a plane and get going.
20 Bogota, Colombia - Worth The Visit For The Art Culture
Bogota is a beautiful sight. Nestled in the thick, lush green hills to the east of the famous Andes, the city rests on the plateau Bogota savanna and stands out as a beaming beacon of Colombia, surrounded by the breathtaking landscape. Unfortunately, Colombia at large gets a bad reputation from the general population. Its long history of crime during the country’s most troubled times has made travelers wary of visiting Colombia. But the country has done a lot over the past few decades to grow and become a true international destination for all kinds of travelers. Crime rates are down and the country is turning around for the better, so yes, Colombia is safer now than it has ever been and is a must-visit for anyone who wants to visit some of the most beautiful Spanish-speaking cities in the world. Bogota is one of the leading cities in South America when it comes to art. The art culture was born out of the political and social chaos in the county’s recent past and has resulted in a unique style. The food, too, is something to behold. There are organized food tours that will take travelers around the city and expose them to the unique cuisines of Bogota. One dish of note is Colombia’s famous dish, the Bandeja Paisa, which is a plate of rice, beans, and chicharron with an avocado on top of a fried egg.
19 Mexico City, Mexico - Not Only For Tacos And Margaritas
Mexico City has an impressive amount of things to see. In fact, it might be one of the most condensed areas of sights and attractions in any city in the world. Museums, historical sights, churches, government buildings, you name it. Mexico City has one or maybe two.
This is not the kind of trip to Mexico most people envision—margaritas, tacos, bars, beaches. Mexico City is in the heart of the county to the south and at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet.
In reality, this is one of the major metropolitan cities in the world. The population is huge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some open space. Just outside the city, you can visit Teotihuacán where you’ll find some of the largest pyramids of ancient Mexico. These unique structures are some of the most famous in the country and are iconic symbols of the ancient lifestyle here pre-Columbus. Another stunning place to visit in the heart of the city is the Plaza de la Constitucion, a public square where major religious holidays are observed. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this is the place people go to see when they visit Mexico City.
18 Granada, Nicaragua - Spacious Hotels With Indoor Pools
It was difficult to decide which city in Nicaragua should be included. There’s a fascinating history between Granada, Managua just above it and Leon to the far north. Leon and Granada have been rival cities for a long time, both vying to be Nicaragua’s cultural and political capital, which was what led to the neutral site of Managua being named the capital. What made us choose Granada, despite Leon’s excellent reputation and Managua’s growing tourism industry was the old-world beauty and solitude of Granada. A major colonial city, Granada has the classic cobblestone streets and brightly-lit buildings that make Latin America such a treasure. Like many must-see cities in Latin America, Granada has a cathedral from its colonial times that is quite exquisite. The hotels in the area are beautiful with spacious open-air flooring and indoor pools. There’s also a delectable Garden Cafe for you to dine at and a beautiful central park. Granada also lies on the northern coast of Lake Nicaragua and has many small islets you can visit by boat which are stunning and beautiful to see. Boat tours will take you carving through the small channels between the islands and snap some amazing pictures of their lush green shores. Some call them the Hollywood of Granada.
17 Montevideo, Uruguay - Under The Radar
As far as capital cities go, Montevideo is a fairly easy city to navigate considering that a large portion of Uruguay’s capital is condensed into this coastal city. Uruguay seems to be an under-the-radar destination for South American travelers. Typically, places like Brazil and Chile garner the most attention, but Uruguay has some wonderful experiences to offer any traveler. Because it’s easy to navigate, we recommend taking a walk along the Rambla, a stretch of road dividing the city from its dazzling beaches. You can use that to get anywhere from the suburbs all the way to the financial district. Another interesting destination is Mercado del Puerto. This steel structure was originally built to be a major market place for the area but has since evolved into a one-stop shop for not just market goods, but also tasty restaurants that serve mouthwatering local cuisine.
Of course, the beaches in Montevideo are a must-see stop, with some of the best being near old town.
The Museum of Fine Arts is also an excellent stop, but for a uniquely Uruguayan experience, we recommend visiting the Teatro Solís, one of South America’s largest theaters where you can see some spectacular plays, concerts, and operas.
16 Santiago, Chile - Bohemian Neighborhoods
Situated in the center of the country, making it ideal for exploring Chile in its entirety, the city of Santiago de Chile (typically shortened to Santiago) is a sprawling mecca of Chilean culture. The city itself is picturesque against the backdrop of the snow-capped Andes where you can go skiing. The surrounding area is perfect for nature lovers who want to hike and soak in the fresh South American air. Life is vibrant in Santiago where cultural festivals of color and sound happen all the time...and flavor, if you’re lucky. Santiago is a city full of contrasting and diverse neighborhoods that blend together and give the major city a special flavor. However, one of the most beautiful and iconic neighborhoods in Santiago is Bellavista. Between the Mapocho River and San Cristóbal Hill is the barrio of Bellavista which is considered the bohemian neighborhood of Santiago and features many quality restaurants, boutiques, shops, art galleries, and clubs. The nightlife comes alive in Santiago, but even during the day, this beautiful neighborhood is perfect for strolling and exploring all that Chile has to offer. Other neighborhoods of note include Providencia and Las Condes which appeal to a richer taste and house some of the grandest hotels and restaurants in the city.
15 Malabo, Equatorial Guinea - Thinking Outside The Box
Because these lists are compiled of prompts that attempt to reach specific audiences and encourage you to both think outside the box about your next vacation as well as find the exact kind of trip for you, we tend to double dip from time to time. We’ll carry over a city from one list that we just can’t leave off another. We don’t copy the entry word for word, but sometimes, a place just works too well to be left off. So, we included the port city of Malabo from a former list. Malabo makes this list because it’s the only entry that represents Africa. Most of the other cities are either in the Americas or in Europe, but Spanish is the official language of Equatorial Guinea and Malabo is the capital city, at least for now.
Located on the northern tip of the island of Biko just off of Africa’s western coast lies the city of Malabo, a city draped in European influence and styled with colonial architecture.
Not only does it have Spanish and Portuguese influences, but the city also has a strong French influence, which makes it perfect for dining on French cuisine. You can also explore the Pico Basile National Park just south of the main city.
14 Caracas, Venezuela - Ocean Proximity
Like many of the cities on this list, Caracas is a capital city. Therefore, it has many of the attractions and amenities that make traveling and sightseeing a delightful experience. Caracas and Venezuela, in general, tend to fall under the radar when it comes to being a tourist destination. Many people tend to overlook Venezuela with Brazil and Colombia to the south, but Venezuela is a beautiful country, and its capital city is a lovely sample of that beauty.
Situated just a stone’s throw away from the Caribbean sea, the city is nestled under the lush green mountain sides of Mount Avila. This mountain lies inside of a national park which we recommend you visit for the hiking and the view.
You can take a cable car from the base of the city up into the smoky hills and see an aerial view of the skyline. The valley here is considered irregular because of its proximity to the ocean, but it makes Caracas unique because you can enjoy the sunny warm Caribbean sun while the high altitude of the city cools off the hot air. In the city itself, we recommend you check out the colonial architecture so iconic to Venezuela, the most prominent being what you will find in Plaza Bolivar where many of the city’s famous buildings are.
13 Buenos Aires, Argentina - The Paris Of South America
Buenos Aires is one of the most culturally-diverse cities in South America, one that features a unique mixture of influences from both Europe and South America. Some say the ambiance of the downtown area is reminiscent of the French cafes in Paris, earning the city a reputation as being the Paris of South America. For those who enjoy sipping coffee in the downtown streets of a sprawling metropolis, it can’t get much better than Buenos Aires. Situated at the western shore of Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires has a number of activities for any traveler. Soccer matches (or football, if you prefer) at the famous stadiums Boca Juniors and River Plate are a must for those looking for a special Argentinian experience. Another special Argentinean experience is strolling through La Boca, the capital neighborhood along the waterfront. It’s there that you’ll find Vuelta de Rocha, a triangular plaza where Caminito begins, an area full of colorful and vibrant murals and glimmering metal houses that shine in the sun. Buenos Aires is also a perfect destination for those who love the nightlife as this city is considered as one of the best when it comes to late nights of dancing and drinking. The city has many nightclubs open into the early hours of the morning.
12 Asuncion, Paraguay - Off The Beaten Path
There are some underrated cities in South America, and it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. The climate in South America has been volatile in the recent history of the world and many travelers are weary of veering too far off the beaten path, so they stick to the places they know like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro (for those of you wondering why there’s no Brazil on this list, they speak Portuguese there).
Asuncion, Paraguay is one of the greatest victims of tourist hesitation in South America, and because it’s landlocked and right on the Argentinian border, most people don’t think about visiting Paraguay’s capital. However, the city is starting to gain some traction with the traveling community.
Located along the eastern bank of the Paraguayan River, Asuncion is one of South America’s oldest cities. Many of the original buildings are crumbling colonial style and are really amazing to behold. This is a great city to explore by foot starting with the Democracy Plaza where locals and younger visitors tend to congregate. In that same area, you’ll find the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes, which houses many former presidents and pays tribute to fallen warriors. The presidential palace is also a beautiful building to visit.
11 Barahona, Dominican Republic - One Of The Most Isolated
Along the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic, you’ll find an entry on our list that holds a special place in this countdown. Many of the cities on this list are capitals with sprawling metropolitan areas, thick dense crowds, and more tourist attractions than you could see in a week, much less a day. Others are cultural havens and national heritage sites teeming with history and old-world energy. There is a romantic air about Spanish-speaking cities. Perhaps the language itself lends to it, but the energy can be tiring. So many people flock to be a part of it that Barahona makes our list because it not only lacks many of the major historical and cultural landmarks of other entries on this list, but because it’s one of the more isolated places on this list, and we always like to feature one or two of those for the readers who enjoy peace and quiet off the beaten path. You go to Barahona for the beaches. Weather it’s El Quemaito or San Rafael, the beaches here are some of the best, especially if you enjoy surfing or boogie boarding. The coast has earned a reputation as being the Deep South of the Dominican Republic as well as the Pearl. And you know that anything that has earned more than one nickname has does something right. This place also has some delicious seasonal seafood that definitely can’t be missed.
10 Guadalajara, Mexico - For All You Art Lovers
This city in the east of central Mexico is sometimes referred to as Mexico’s Second City. That isn't just because it’s the second largest city in the country, but more so because the city of Guadalajara is famous for being the birthplace of some of the most iconic aspects of Mexican culture. Another aspect of the city that makes it such a hotspot to visit in Mexico is that it perfectly blends the modern technology of today with the stunning history of Mexico without missing a beat.
You can walk through the city and soak up the beautiful European-inspired architecture at places like the historical and cultural centers, as well as the Guadalajara Cathedral. Spread out all across the city are stunning pieces of art by one of Mexico’s most famous artists, José Clemente Orozco.
His works give the city a unique style that is a must-see for art lovers. Guadalajara is also home to one of Mexico’s largest market places. Mercado Libertad is a great chance to live and breathe the city. As for its significance in Mexico’s cultural history, Guadalajara is the capital city of Jalisco which is the home of tequila. Just outside of Guadalajara, you’ll find the quaint town of Santiago de Tequila where you’ll see the beautiful blue agave fields and can sample some of the highest-quality tequila in the world.
9 Arequipa, Peru - Unique (Mouth-Watering) Flavors
We’re starting to see a common thread among these gorgeous picturesque cities and the images of volcanoes and mountains set in the backdrop. Arequipa, Peru is no exception, surrounded by three dormant volcanoes. In fact, much of the gorgeous European-inspired architecture of the city’s old town are made from volcanic rocks, which give the buildings that unique chalky complexion. While there is wonderful Lima along the northern coast and the stunning Cusco not far away, Arequipa has earned itself the distinguished reputation of being the most beautiful city in the country. There are many breathtaking cathedrals and monasteries to visit in the city, one of the most popular being the beautiful red Santa Catalina Monastery, or the wonderful arches of Yanahuara. To get to Yanahuara, you can take a fresh scenic walk along the River Chili and enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
While the usual Peruvian dishes are available and delectable in this city, Arequipa also has some delicious Indian-inspired dishes with that unique curry flavor that is so mouthwatering.
Arequipa garners so much international attention as a travel destination because of its proximity to the Chilean border and the famous Colca Canyon where you can see majestic condors take flight. It’s possible to do this in a day, but it’s better to take a few to really appreciate the beauty.
8 Madrid, Spain - Do We Need To Say More?
What list of go-to Spanish cities around the world would be complete without the capital city of Spain itself? Every single city on this list has been touted for its beauty and splendor, its colonial architecture, and Spanish influence, so we decided to include the city where all of that influence originated from. Madrid is not only the capital of Spain, but it is also one of the largest cities in the European Union when it comes to population, so you know you’re going to get that big city experience here. Its art and museums rival the best in the continent. The best of these great destinations is the Prado, one of the world’s most famous art museums. There, you will find works by some of Spain’s most famous artists such as Goya and Velazquez. Another stunning sight within walking distance of the Prado is the Retiro Park where you can see the lush overgrowth of swamp trees and cypresses along the Grand Pond. For buildings, the Royal Palace is a must for all visitors. The palace also holds a royal collection of art. Another building to visit, not for history but for entertainment, is the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. That is where one of the world’s most iconic soccer clubs plays, Real Madrid.
7 Havana, Cuba - Colors, Colors And More Colors
Cuba has a unique rich flavor all to its own. It’s hard to say what the exact combination could be–the tropical island beaches, warm water, the open-air bars and dancing, the colorful cars, and old mission-style buildings–but
you’ll recognize that Cuban flavor when you see it, and nothing epitomizes the flavors of Cuba quite like its capital and port city of Havana.
In the past, the relationship between Cuba and America made it difficult for the country to truly benefit from the tourism industry. Although it’s a perfect place to travel and spend time away from the world, it wasn’t always easy to get there. Things change and relationships evolve, and now it’s easier than ever to experience Havana. For exploring the city, we recommend visiting the former presidential palace constructed in that late 1910’s and now a Museum of Revolution, perfect for learning about a different political system and culture. One of Havana’s most iconic locations is the seaside strip known as Malecon where many travelers go to see the colorful seaside buildings and bask in the beautiful coastline. It’s a place where many poets, writers, and general lovers of life love to frequent. And you can actually ride in those vintage colorful cars because many taxi companies use them.
6 Maracaibo, Venezuela - Massive Aqua Park
Maracaibo is Venezuela’s second largest city and rests on the western shore of the straight which connects the Gulf of Venezuela to Lake Maracaibo. The city is a sprawling metropolis but not nearly as overwhelming in size and things to do as somewhere like Mexico City or Barcelona. Still, there are plenty of historical sites you can visit, including the Santa Barbara Church where you’ll find a plaza that’s home to the Virgin of Chiquinquira, a 60-foot-tall marble statue. The plaza is also surrounded by many other stunning works of art. There is also the San Carlos Castle built right on the shoreline which provides a perfect photo opportunity to catch crashing waves in the foreground of the main castle.
An interesting attraction in Maracaibo is a result of the tropical weather. The Aquaventure Water Park is one of the most entertaining in all of Latin America and one so famous that it makes most lists of things to do when visiting the city.
That alone speaks to its popularity in a city with so much going on. Lake Maracaibo itself is something that needs to be seen. It’s considered one of the largest lakes in Latin America, as well as one of the oldest in the world.
5 Antigua, Guatemala - The Cuisine
Compared to Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City, the small town of Antigua is relatively small, but it’s one of those places you that just have to go to if you want a full immersion into another culture and another world. Not only that. Because the entire town is a heritage site, the experience is more akin to traveling back in time to visit another world entirely. The rich extravagant Spanish-influenced architecture of the town is alive and well and makes up a majority of the buildings. The faces are painted a rich yellow, and strolling through them will give you the impression of living in another time. Like many other cities on this list, Antigua is set against the romantic and incredibly photogenic image of a looming misty mountain. For Antigua, that would be the Volcan de Agua, and you can’t take a picture of the city without including its beautiful neighbor.
One fun activity that sets Antigua apart and makes it a unique travel destination is the cuisine. In fact, cuisine is such an important part of the culture that you can find a number of cooking classes deigned for foreigners to take.
There’s nothing more culturally immersive than learning the tastes and styles of food firsthand from the locals themselves.
4 Ambergris Caye, Belize - One Of The Most Breathtaking Views In The World
There might be some of you out there reading this list and getting sick of beautiful cityscapes and looming mountains ranges in the background. You might be rolling your eyes each time you read about another old-world city with beautiful architecture. And if you read one more thing about amazing cuisine or cultural beauty, you’re going to close the page. Although we can’t imagine anyone getting sick of any of the beautiful cities, we included Ambergris Caye on this list because it’s got something a little different than most of the other cities on this list. Ambergris Caye is an island right of the eastern shore of the small country of Belize. It has all of the beauty of a Caribbean Island but with much more of a South American flavor. Anything you want to do on a beach can be done. Snorkeling, diving, fishing, lounging, you name it. And south of the islands, you’ll find the Belize barrier reef which is one of the most breathtaking views in the world, the second largest coral reef system in the world. And while you may find all of the joys of island living while on Ambergris Caye, you can also visit some ancient Mayan ruins (sorry, we had to; Latin America’s history is too cool).
3 Quito, Ecuador - Located Near One Of The World's Largest Active Volcanoes
The capital city of Ecuador, Quinto has one of the highest elevations for any capital in the world which speaks to the diversity of the land since the country is also located near the equator and the city is fairly close to the Pacific Coast. In the eastern slopes of the Andes, Quinto is located in Guayllabamba river basin.
It’s also situated near one of the world’s largest active volcanoes in Cotopaxi, which can be seen on a crystal clear day looming over the skyline with snow tops. Visiting Quinto allows travelers a jumping-off point for anyone who wants to explore the country in its entirety.
One of the biggest attractions to Ecuador is the Galapagos Islands that are world-famous for their unique biodiversity. For things to do inside the actual city, Old Town provides the ambiance of old Ecuador frozen in time. This national heritage site has beautiful winding cobblestone walkways that undulate with the hills and dazzling colonial-style architecture infused with the vibrant energy of Ecuador. Old Town also has many shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. And because of its unique location, you can travel to the center of the world and take a tour of the local museum educating visitors about the line which divides the hemispheres. A fun thing to do is getting a passport stamp for the trip.
2 San Juan, Puerto Rico - Decade-Old Streets
San Juan, Puerto Rico may feel a little bit like a cheat to some of you out there. Yeah, sure, they use kilometers for distance and liters for gas or Spanish as their language, but it is an American territory and you can use the dollar there. Even still, San Juan is every bit a Spanish-speaking city as the rest on the list, so you can breathe a sigh of relief on this one and go enjoy the beaches and beautiful colonial architecture of the city. The port and capital of the island of Puerto Rico has some really neat forts, some of the most attractive in the Caribbean. In Old San Juan, you’ll find both the Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Both are exquisite and dripping with historical intrigue. Old Town itself is a scenic place to stroll through since most of the buildings and streets have been preserved throughout the decades to maintain that old time feeling. Of course, San Juan also has some really nice beaches for you to lay out on and soak in the sun. Other than that, it also has a great nightlife full of dancing and fun bars to visit. We also recommend a banana boat ride or a visit to the bio-luminescent bay. At night, the bay comes alive with tiny organisms which glow a bright neon when they come into contact with objects. At night, it’s really something to see, and it’s also been named the brightest lagoon in the world.
1 Barcelona, Spain - Spanish Designs
You can’t simply visit one city in Spain and say you’ve experienced all the country has to offer. Barcelona may perhaps be just as big of a traveling destination as the capital of Madrid. While Madrid is centrally located within Spain, Barcelona lies along the eastern coast of the country facing the Mediterranean.
It’s one of the most visited cities in the world because of its vibrant city, festivals, architecture, and atmosphere, so seeing the city and visiting in its entirety can be fairly difficult to accomplish. Still, for such a big city, Barcelona is a perfect place for those of you who like to roam and explore on foot.
The sights you should keep an eye out for include the Ciutadella Park where you can find zoos, museums, and sprawling green landscapes. Another thing to look out for is the amazing architecture. A style of note are the buildings designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí who has a unique one-of-a-kind style that continues to dazzle locals and visitors to this day. One of his most notable works is the Sagrada Família temple. A similar experience to the one we recommended in Madrid would be seeing yet another iconic Spanish soccer club. FC Barcelona plays at Camp Nou in the eastern area of the city.