Major Cities of Spain

15 de January, 2024

Major Cities of Spain

Discover the major cities of Spain and find the perfect place to live! Málaga, Bilbao, Madrid, Barcelona, and much more!
Madrid: uma das principais cidades da Espanha
Reading: 9 min

Are you considering living in Spain? If you’re still unsure about where to settle, this article is for you. Here, we’ll introduce you to the main cities in Spain to help you make that decision!

Previously, we listed the Spanish cities with the best balance between price and quality of life. Now, let’s talk about the major cities of Spain. The ones with the best quality of life, the most famous, the most populous, and the most touristic in the country. Get to know their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. Who knows, we might just help you decide your destination once and for all!

Which option suits you best? The bustling excitement of Madrid and Barcelona, the beaches of Ibiza or Palma de Mallorca, the historical charms of Seville, or the tranquility and charm of Valencia? The competition is fierce! Make your choice!

What are the most populous cities in Spain?

Spain currently has a population of 48 million inhabitants (data from the INE – National Statistics Institute). In this context, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe. A significant portion of its people resides in major urban centers. The most populous cities in Spain are:

  1. Madrid: 3,300,793 inhabitants
  2. Barcelona: 1,694,714 inhabitants
  3. Valencia: 816,035 inhabitants
  4. Seville: 702,499 inhabitants
  5. Zaragoza: 674,212 inhabitants
  6. Malaga: 580,689 inhabitants
  7. Palma de Mallorca: 414,663 inhabitants
  8. Murcia: 413,847 inhabitants
  9. Las Palmas: 392,531 inhabitants
  10. Bilbao: 339,702 inhabitants

Top tourist cities in Spain

Tourism activity in Spain reached 155.946 billion euros in 2022. This represents 11.6% of the national GDP (Source: INE). The UNWTO, World Tourism Organization, ranks Spain as the world’s second most visited country by foreign tourists, only behind France. There are over 80 million arrivals per year!

Some of the most visited cities in Spain are:

  • Barcelona,
  • Madrid,
  • Seville,
  • Zaragoza,
  • Valencia,
  • San Sebastian
  • Granada,
  • Benidorm
  • Malaga,
  • Santiago de Compostela,
  • Toledo,
  • Bilbao,
  • Palma de Mallorca.

Cities with the highest quality of life in Spain

A ranking by MWCC (Madrid World Capital of Construction, Engineering, and Architecture) in 2023 listed the cities with the highest quality of life in Spain. They analyzed the following aspects:

  • Purchasing power and cost of living.
  • Housing accessibility.
  • Environment.
  • Safety.
  • Health.
  • Traffic.

The result is as follows:

CityPosition in Ranking
Castelló de la Plana7
A Coruña18
Las Palmas25

Best Cities to Live in Spain

The Expats platform “InterNations” conducted a survey among its subscribers to choose the best cities in the world for a foreigner to live in. Three of them are in Spain: Malaga, Alicante, and Valencia. These cities offer excellent conditions for expatriates, thanks to the pleasant climate, street safety, quality healthcare system, and housing accessibility.

Regarding this study, an interesting piece of information: Malaga ranks first as the best non-capital city to live in and is the most searched on Google worldwide.

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Reasons to Live in Spain

Many foreigners are arriving in Spain in search of a high quality of life. This charming country offers a rich history, captivating culture, stunning landscapes, and a pleasant climate. The quality of life is high, with an excellent healthcare and education system. Spanish cuisine is globally renowned, and the nightlife is vibrant. The proximity to other European countries also makes Spain an ideal location for those eager to explore Europe.

Moreover, this charming country offers various residency visas suited to different individual profiles, making entry into the country more accessible. There are visas for students, visas for retirees, remote workers, and investors (Golden Visa Spain). Contact Atlantic Bridge to learn how to apply for yours!

Lastly, Spanish citizenship is facilitated for citizens of Ibero-American countries and descendants of Sephardic Jews, offering numerous advantages to its holders.

What are the main cities in Spain?


Madrid, the capital of Spain, with its population of over 3 million people, can be considered the political, cultural, and economic epicenter of the country. It is the perfect choice for those seeking opportunities and enjoying the energy of being surrounded by a crowd. The city offers a variety of services and is conveniently located near the country’s main international airport.

It is also famous for its renowned museums, such as the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum, housing some of the world’s most important works of art.

Moreover, the city boasts a vibrant nightlife, with bars, restaurants, and clubs open until the early hours of the morning. The Retiro Park is an oasis of tranquility in the city center, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

For those looking to study, it’s essential to note that Madrid is home to several prestigious universities, such as Complutense University of Madrid and Autonomous University of Madrid.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the Spanish capital offers the highest number of job offers. The service sector ranks first, but there are also many opportunities for highly qualified professionals in various fields.

Architecture of Gaudí, Barcelona


Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Spain, famous for its unique architecture, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture. The city is home to the works of the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, such as the Sagrada Família and Park Güell, which are true masterpieces of Catalan modernism.

Additionally, Barcelona offers an incredible gastronomic scene with fresh food markets, tapas bars, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Barcelona’s beaches are also a major draw, providing an opportunity to relax by the sea.

The city is home to Pompeu Fabra University and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Its climate is Mediterranean, with hot summers and mild winters.

For those seeking employment, it is the second city with the highest job opportunities, especially in the service and industrial sectors.

Therefore, Barcelona is ideal for dreamers and admirers of beauty and art, yet who do not compromise on living in a bustling and tourist-friendly city.

Las Setas de la Encarnación, Sevilla


Seville is the capital of Andalusia. It’s a city full of history and culture. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with impressive monuments such as the Seville Cathedral, the Giralda, and the Alcázar. In a contemporary context, we can highlight Las Setas de La Encarnación, the world’s largest wooden structure. Flamenco dance is also typical of this region.

The city is famous for its festivals, including Holy Week and the April Fair, which are thrilling events to experience Spanish culture. Seville is also known for its delicious cuisine, with dishes like paella, gazpacho, and tapas.

On the other hand, although it is a stunning city, it experiences very hot summers, with temperatures that can exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

City of Arts and Science, Valência


It combines history, modern architecture, and an incredible seaside climate. The beautiful structure of the City of Arts and Sciences complex is an example of local modern architecture. It’s a space that includes an aquarium, several museums, and also houses a planetarium.

The city is also famous for its beaches and Valencian paella, a rice dish with seafood that is a local delicacy. Large festivals take place there, such as Las Fallas, where huge paper sculptures are burned in celebration, and the country’s largest gay pride parade. The city boasts the world’s second-largest fish market and the second-largest bullring.

Moreover, Valencia offers numerous job opportunities, especially in the tourism sector and the automotive industry. The city is also home to the University of Valencia, the Catholic University San Vicente Mártir, and the International University of Valencia, all recognized institutions with high student satisfaction.

In summary, Valencia ranks among the best destinations in Spain, whether for living or just visiting. Would this be your favorite city?



Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country and is known for its impressive transformation in recent decades. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a landmark, thanks to its futuristic architecture and rich collection of contemporary art. The location has become a postcard of this being one of Spain’s main cities. On the other hand, the city is surrounded by mountains and beautiful natural landscapes. It offers opportunities for hiking and outdoor excursions.

Basque cuisine is renowned. You’ll find a wide variety of pintxos bars (the Basque version of tapas) to explore.

Regarding the weather, Bilbao has a temperate oceanic climate, characterized by mild summers and gentle winters. Summer temperatures usually range between 20°C and 25°C, while in winter, averages tend to stay between 8°C and 12°C.

Plaza de Toros, La Malagueta, Málaga


Malaga, located on the southern coast of Spain, is a bustling and cosmopolitan city. It has a population of approximately 570,000 inhabitants. It’s the birthplace of the famous painter Picasso, making it a highly sought-after cultural and tourist center. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot summers, with an average annual temperature around 18-20°C.

The city is home to renowned universities such as the University of Malaga and the Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático. Regarding employment, the market is diverse, driven by tourism, technology, services, and commerce.

Malaga is recommended for those seeking an urban lifestyle, with a lively atmosphere and a wide range of cultural and leisure activities. Its strengths include its privileged location, charming historic center, stunning beaches, and extensive cultural offerings. However, some may consider the intense traffic and bustle of the city as drawbacks. Additionally, certain neighborhoods have higher living costs. Overall, Malaga is an attractive city for a variety of profiles.



Granada is a charming city in southern Spain, famous for its Moorish architecture and the incredible Alhambra. This palace and fortress are one of the country’s architectural treasures, with its beautiful gardens, richly decorated halls, and stunning views of the city.

This relatively small university city has only 230,000 inhabitants. The renowned University of Granada stands out. It’s a perfect destination for those who prefer smaller cities, with a young population or who appreciate an atmosphere rich in culture and history. However, there might be challenges related to high housing demand due to the concentration of students.

Granada is also known for its free tapas, where bars serve complimentary snacks with drinks. This makes Granada a great place to enjoy Spanish food and culture.

Job opportunities lie in tourism, education, and services. Regarding the climate, it’s Mediterranean with hot summers (average temperatures between 25°C and 35°C), while winters are moderately cold (averaging between 6°C and 15°C).



Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, is a dynamic city with a diverse population of around 675,301 to 700,000 inhabitants. Its climate offers hot summers and cold winters, with an average annual temperature around 15.6°C. The city is an educational hub with the University of Zaragoza, founded in 1542, offering a range of academic opportunities.

It’s an ideal choice for those seeking an urban atmosphere with less hustle, balancing modernity and historical heritage. Zaragoza stands out for its rich architecture and Arab influence, with highlights such as the Basilica del Pilar and the Aljafería Palace. With a strategic geographic location between Madrid and Barcelona, it’s an excellent choice for those who appreciate culture and history. The city is also known for its avant-garde architecture, such as the Water Tower and the Bridge Pavilion, and offers diverse cuisine, especially featuring meat and seafood dishes.

What is the best city in Spain?

It’s difficult to choose the best city in Spain. We’ve listed some of the major cities, each with its own attractions and charms. The choice will depend mainly on your personality and goals.

If you’re planning an exploratory trip in Spain, take the time to explore these cities and discover everything this incredible country has to offer. With its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes, Spain is a must-visit destination for everyone! And once you’ve chosen where you want to live, talk to Atlantic Bridge. We can help you on this journey!

Silvia Resende


Silvia Resende

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