July 6, 2023 · , ,

The Diference Between North Spain and South Spain


A captivating sunset over Malaga, illuminating the city's charming streets and historic buildings, perfectly capturing why it remains our favorite

Written by Nicolas Steward

North Spain or South Spain?

Spain, a captivating mosaic of diverse landscapes, centuries-old history, and pulsating culture, presents a kaleidoscope of experiences that shift dramatically from the verdant north to the sun-drenched south. As an intrepid traveler and seasoned reporter, I’ve journeyed through the length and breadth of this enchanting country, immersing myself in its regional nuances, local traditions, and the warm hospitality of its people. From the rugged mountain peaks of the Pyrenees to the golden beaches of the Costa del Sol, I’ve collected a treasure trove of memories and insights. Now, I’m thrilled to take you on this virtual journey, a deep dive into the soul of Spain.

We’ll traverse the cobblestone streets of ancient cities, bask in the lively atmosphere of local festivals, and savor the flavors of traditional cuisine. We’ll explore architectural marvels that narrate tales of the past, and meet locals who carry forward the legacy of their ancestors through their crafts and customs. We’ll experience the serene beauty of the countryside and the bustling energy of cosmopolitan centers.

Beautiful town of spain. The view from the upside.

Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter planning your next adventure, a language enthusiast aiming to immerse yourself in Spanish, or a curious reader interested in cultural exploration, this guide is designed to offer you a comprehensive understanding of what makes Spain a truly unique destination.

So, pack your bags, bring along your spirit of adventure, and join me as we embark on this exciting journey through Spain, exploring its contrasting regions, and unveiling the magic that lies within its borders.

The Key Difference Between Northern and Southern Spain

The most striking difference between Northern and Southern Spain lies in their contrasting climates and landscapes, which have significantly influenced the regions’ lifestyles, cultures, and attractions:

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The North of Spain: What to know and cities to visit:

The Green Spain

Northern Spain, often referred to as “Green Spain,” is a world apart from the stereotypical images of arid landscapes and sun-soaked beaches. This region is a paradise for nature lovers, with its lush green valleys, rugged mountains, and dramatic coastlines. From the breathtaking Picos de Europa mountain range to the stunning coastline of the Bay of Biscay, the north offers a variety of landscapes that are a feast for the eyes.

Northern Spain also known as green spain. a picture showing that. you can see a house in the midle of the mountains

Cultural Richness

The cultural richness of the north is another aspect that sets it apart. Regions like the Basque Country and Catalonia boast their own unique languages and traditions. The Basque language, Euskera, is one of the oldest languages in Europe and is a testament to the region’s rich history. Similarly, Catalonia takes pride in its distinct language and traditions, with the vibrant city of Barcelona at its heart.

Top Cities to Visit in Northern Spain


Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, is a vibrant mix of history, culture, and modernity. It’s home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum, which is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. The city’s old town, Casco Viejo, is a charming area with narrow streets, traditional taverns, and historic buildings.

A famous monument from Bilbao. History. Places to go.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian, also in the Basque Country, is known for its beautiful beaches and world-class dining. The city’s La Concha Beach is considered one of the best city beaches in Europe. San Sebastian is also famous for its pintxos (Basque tapas) and boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants.


Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is a city rich in history and architectural beauty. It’s known for its well-preserved medieval old town, impressive cathedrals, and unique pre-Romanesque churches. The city is also the starting point of the original Camino de Santiago route.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela in Galicia is the final destination of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. The city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the stunning Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at its heart.


Gijon, also in Asturias, is a coastal city known for its maritime heritage, sandy beaches, and lively cultural scene. The city’s old fishing quarter, Cimavilla, is a charming area with colorful houses, narrow streets, and excellent seafood restaurants.

Beautifuls buildings in the background and a lake infront. Lots of colours of a nice city known as Gijon

These cities offer a taste of the diverse landscapes, rich history, and unique cultures of Northern Spain. Each city has its own charm and attractions, making them must-visit destinations when exploring the north.

The Southern Allure

A panoramic view of a vibrant sunset over the historic city of Malaga, showcasing the city's beautiful architecture, with the Alcazaba fortress in the foreground and the Mediterranean Sea in the background, encapsulating the allure of Southern Spain

The South of Spain: What to know and cities to visit:

In stark contrast to the cooler, rainier climes of the North, Southern Spain, or Andalusia, basks in a warm, sunny climate that has made it a magnet for travelers from around the world. The region is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot summers and mild winters, making it an ideal destination for sun-seekers year-round.

The Southern part of Spain is a tapestry of stunning landscapes, from the sun-drenched beaches of the Costa del Sol to the rolling hills of olive groves and vineyards. The region’s natural beauty is complemented by its spectacular architecture, a testament to its rich history and cultural influences. From the Moorish palaces of Granada to the Gothic cathedrals of Seville, Andalusia is a treasure trove of architectural marvels.

At the heart of the Costa del Sol lies the city of Malaga, a radiant gem that perfectly encapsulates the allure of Southern Spain. Malaga is a city where the past and the present coexist harmoniously. Its historic center is a labyrinth of narrow streets, lined with traditional Andalusian buildings, while its modern districts boast trendy boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.

Also read our blog about Malaga: 5 Things to do in Malaga Downtown

Malaga’s coastline is a paradise for beach lovers, with miles of sandy beaches bathed in the warm Mediterranean sun. The city’s marina, brimming with luxury yachts and surrounded by stylish bars and restaurants, adds to its coastal charm.

A scenic view of the lush green landscapes and rugged mountains of Northern Spain, under a cloudy sky, illustrating the region's natural beauty and diverse terrain

But Malaga is not just about sun and sand. It’s a city steeped in history and culture. It’s the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and the Picasso Museum, located in the artist’s childhood home, is a must-visit for art lovers. The city’s Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress, offers a glimpse into its Moorish past, while its Roman theater, the oldest monument in the city, harks back to its Roman heritage.

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Vamos Academy Malaga

In essence, Southern Spain, with its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, offers a unique experience that is distinctly different from that of the North. Whether you’re lounging on a beach in Malaga, exploring the historic sites of Seville, or savoring the region’s delicious cuisine, the Southern allure is sure to captivate you.

Other Cities to Visit in Southern Spain:


Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is famous for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. The city’s Gothic cathedral is the third-largest church in the world and is an impressive sight. Seville is also known for its flamenco scene, so make sure to catch a show while you’re there.

Also read our blog about Flamenco: Flamenco’s Enigmatic Symphony: A Brit’s Sojourn Through the Vortex of Passion

Sevilla, a picture of it. Tourist place to go downtown. You can see the lake and the cathedral in the back. You can see the people having fun


As a city that’s steeped in history and bursting with vibrant culture, Granada is a must-visit destination in Southern Spain. Here are ten reasons why Granada captivates the hearts of those who visit:

  1. The Alhambra: This stunning Moorish palace complex, with its intricate carvings and beautiful gardens, offers a glimpse into Granada’s rich history. The views of the city from the Alhambra are simply breathtaking.
  2. The Albaicín: This historic quarter, with its narrow winding streets and whitewashed houses, is a charming place to lose yourself in. The Mirador de San Nicolás offers an iconic view of the Alhambra against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
  3. Tapas Culture: In Granada, every drink you order is served with a free tapa. It’s a fantastic way to sample a variety of Spanish dishes.
  4. Sacromonte: Known for its traditional cave houses, this gypsy quarter is the heart of Granada’s flamenco scene. Don’t miss a live flamenco show here.
  5. Granada Cathedral: This impressive Renaissance cathedral is a masterpiece of Spanish architecture. The Royal Chapel houses the tombs of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.
  6. Sierra Nevada: Just a short drive from the city, these mountains offer excellent opportunities for hiking in summer and skiing in winter.
  7. The Realejo: Granada’s old Jewish quarter is now a trendy neighborhood with street art, boutiques, and bars.
  8. Arab Baths: Experience the relaxation of traditional Arab baths at Hammam Al Ándalus, a beautiful and serene spa.
  9. Carrera del Darro: Often described as the most beautiful street in Spain, a walk here along the river offers stunning views of the Alhambra.
  10. Cultural Festivals: Granada hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the International Festival of Music and Dance, and the Corpus Christi festival, both offering unique cultural experiences.

In essence, Granada is a city that offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from historical sites and natural beauty to vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. It’s a place that leaves every visitor longing to return.

Also, read our blog about the architecture of southern Spain: The Influence of Moorish Architecture in Andalusian Cities


Cordoba is known for the Mezquita, a stunning mosque-cathedral that is a testament to the city’s rich cultural history. The city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its narrow streets, traditional houses, and beautiful courtyards.


Cadiz, one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, is known for its stunning beaches, historic sites, and delicious seafood. The city’s old town is a maze of narrow streets, leading to beautiful plazas and impressive buildings.

These cities offer a taste of the sunny climate, rich history, and vibrant cultures of Southern Spain. Each city has its own unique charm and attractions, making them must-visit destinations when exploring the south.

a picture of the sea in the beaches of cadiz. You can see historical buildings.

Tourist Preferences: North or South?

When it comes to the preferences of tourists, Southern Spain often takes the spotlight. The allure of the South, with its unique blend of elements, tends to captivate the hearts of visitors more frequently.

A Vibrant Festive Spirit

Southern Spain is renowned for its lively festivals and events, which offer tourists an immersive cultural experience. From the flamboyant Feria de Abril in Seville to the passionate Holy Week processions, these events showcase the region’s rich traditions and festive spirit, attracting tourists from around the world.

Gastronomic Delights

The South is also a gastronomic paradise, offering a variety of culinary delights that appeal to food-loving tourists. The tradition of serving free tapas with drinks in Granada, the fresh seafood of Cadiz, and the unique sherry wines of Jerez are just a few examples of the region’s culinary attractions.

Also read our blog about Malaga’s Grilled Fish !! Grill Fish of Malaga: All you need to now about Espetos

The Allure of Andalusian Art

The art forms of Southern Spain, particularly flamenco and bullfighting, also draw tourists to the region. The intense passion of flamenco dancing and music, and the drama and spectacle of bullfighting, offer a glimpse into the soul of Andalusian culture.

The Pull of Picturesque Villages

The South is dotted with picturesque white villages, or ‘pueblos blancos’, such as Ronda and Mijas. These charming villages, with their narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and stunning views, offer a tranquil retreat from the bustling coastal resorts and cities.

In conclusion, while both Northern and Southern Spain have their unique attractions, the warm climate, vibrant culture, and diverse experiences offered by the South often make it a more popular choice among tourists.

In the end, whether you choose to explore the lush green landscapes and cultural richness of the North or bask in the sunny climate and vibrant traditions of the South, Spain offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to all kinds of travelers.

The beauty of Spain lies in its diversity – in its landscapes, its cultures, its people, and its experiences. From the rugged mountains and dramatic coastlines of the North to the sun-soaked beaches and architectural marvels of the South, every region has its own unique charm and attractions.

The key to truly appreciating Spain is to embrace this diversity. It’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, whether it’s by learning the language, tasting the regional cuisine, or participating in local traditions. It’s about exploring the lesser-known corners of the country, from the picturesque villages of the South to the historic towns of the North.

So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or a sun-seeker, Spain has something for everyone. Come and discover the diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant cultures of this beautiful country. You’re sure to leave with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation of Spain’s unique charm.

Undoubtedly, our top pick is the enchanting city of Malaga

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