Here at Totally Spain, we’ve been designing unique travel itineraries since the year 2000 and relish the opportunity to help our clients experience Spain in full technicolour. To help you picture the locations and experiences that your selfie-stick or old-school Leica will be trained on, here are 25 definitive images to take in Spain…
25 Photos That Define Spain – And Your Own Camera Will Adore!
1 The Alhambra
We challenge you not to take a picture here at the San Nicolas viewing point. You will probably have taken a couple of hundred images inside the Alhambra and Generalife already but the views here are wonderful and there is a handy ledge to sit on too which makes it even easier for the person taking the picture! If you time it right, you’ll also get the roses in full bloom! Just make sure to pre-book your tickets before going to Granada.
The museums and galleries in Spain are very inspiring but we have to say that one of the most photogenic collections of art is that of Salvador Dali. If you visit his museum in Figueres you get some incredible images but we are very partial to this large egg at his house museum in Port Lligat. Frame it correctly and you get the water, the fishing boats and some of Dali’s madness all at once! Check out our guide to Dali’s Catalonia here.
3 Sunshine and Oranges
Nothing beats an image of the wonderful cherry blossom in the Jerte Valley or the orange blossom but we have to say that the fruit makes for a good snap also especially when it’s in the courtyard of one of the country’s biggest cathedrals – in Seville! Check out more about Spain’s best cathedrals and where you need to be for an interesting agri-tourism tour of Spain.
Bulls are very tricky and dangerous to photograph so we tend to favour photographing these iconic billboards (that date from 1957) for Osborne sherry that you come across while driving through the Spanish countryside. Other animals that are equally photogenic and very still are the enormous Puppy and Spider at the Guggenheim in Bilbao – read about the museum and its outdoor sculptures here in our guide to Bilbao. Of course, there are lots of real animals that make great subjects. The storks and their nests in the church steeples at Alcala de Henares are remarkable. Flamingos are also a good one to capture. And the horses in Jerez – you can read about the dancing horses here.
Again – something that is intrinsically from Spain. We enjoy the churros purchased from the churrería vans you’ll find parked in the city squares as the light is fading. And churros in a cafe for breakfast also make for a great shot. We like this image because it captures that typical cafe with its marble top and paper napkins and believe me, you’re going to need a few! If you’d like to know about Spain’s other unmissable dishes, click here.
6 Fishing Villages
Ideally taken from the water, but even from the port itself, you really have a wonderful array of locations to choose from. The coastline of Green Spain offers up great locations such as Cudillero, Lastres, San Vicente de la Barquera, Getxo and Combarro. If you’re on the Mediterranean, you have just as many great options. We’ve written about Cudillero, where you see the fishing boats arrive into the plaza here in our guide to Asturias. Check out our guide to the Costa Brava for some great alternatives including Calella de Palafrugell and Tamariu.
It’s impossible to pick the best fiesta in Spain but it is easy to select a great photo. We love how this one captures a ‘fallera’ in Valencia with the intricacy of her hair and head-piece and the costume plus the wonderful fan. The elegant gentleman in the background gives it a finishing touch. When attending festivals in Spain, we recommend going in for detail – exactly as you see here. Learn more about some of Spain’s September fiestas here including the castellers in Catalonia and a wine-harvest festival in La Rioja.
We know how hard it is to get a decent photo at a flamenco show when the lights are low and the venues are often quite intimate. To capture the ‘flamenco’ spirit during daylight hours, try to get some photos of the very cute flamenco dresses and shoes for kids on sale in some of the Andalusia cities. And if you are in Seville in April, you’ll see lots of the locals dressed up to celebrate the Feria de Abril. It’s a great opportunity to capture the style and the colour of the wonderful costumes worn by locals. If you can’t make it to Seville, you’ll see the Feria is often celebrated at Andalusian centres and bars and restaurants throughout Spain – so keep your eyes peeled and try to capture the moment. Read on guide on Alternative Andalusia here for tips on what to see and do there.
9 Funky Architecture
Two decades have passed since Bilbao’s Guggenheim was opened and what an array of amazing images it has spawned! But there is so much to explore when it comes to great buildings and urban planning in Spain and today we’re going with the new shiny Centro Botin by Renzo Piano in Santander – which is the newest building to re-unite a city and its waterline. We’ve written separately about the new Botin Centre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao and suggested architectural tours throughout Spain.
10 Food Markets
Technically they come under architecture, but these structures deserve a category to themselves here. Every photographers dream, you’ll be able to find one in every town and city in Spain. When you are in the busier markets, try not to interrupt the work of the stallholders especially when you aren’t buying anything. (We’ve often thought that the markets should have a donation box for visitors who want to contribute to the upkeep of the market). The Boqueria in Barcelona is one of Spain’s best known markets and its most photographed. We liked this image because it’s captures the beauty of the architecture and the crowds without impacting on the work of the market. If you’d like to know more about Spain’s amazing markets, read our post here.
All of Spain’s coastline is like a birthday present to your camera but if you want to get some really unique pictures, you could visit the Cies Islands off Galicia that look like something from a Caribbean archipelago. Remember you won’t find hotels there – just a sustainable resort with camping only but you can stay on the mainland and hop on the passenger ferry like we did in Vigo. Read all about our adventures in Galicia here.
With Gaudi, there are so many remarkable buildings to photograph, it’s extremely hard to pick just one. Park Guell is an obvious candidate with its Hansel & Gretel house and mosaic-like chameleon being highly popular and very pretty. And if you have a decent lens, you’ll get great images of the Barcelona city grid from here too. The Sagrada Familia is another must-see and your camera will love the indoor colours of the stained glass reflecting on the stone carvings as it’s quite tricky to get a good image of the exterior as it’s so tall! if you have time, Casa Battlo and La Pedrera are also going to be popular with your camera. The light and colour inside Casa Battlo is something else! Read our posts about Park Guell and Gaudi’s Barcelona and the Benefits of Hiring a Local Driver & Guide too, to get the most from your trip to Barcelona.
13 The Plazas in Spain
It’s so hard to pick a favourite. Plaza de Espana in Seville has been the backdrop for many camera crews – including Star Wars. Everybody’s camera is different, but we have to say that ours has a preference for the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, followed by the Plaza Mayor in Madrid and then Chinchon’s Plaza Mayor – but whichever plaza you find yourself in – they are all eye candy for your camera. You can read more about our favourite plazas in Spain here.
Is there anything more attractive in the world than a perfectly laid out tapas bar? Spanish food is not only appealing to you but you’ll find that your camera will be egging you on to order tapas, or pintxos as these miniature bites are known in the North, long after your appetite has been satisfied. Your only challenge will be the other diners filling the space and crowding the food so try to arrive before 9pm when the bars aren’t quite so busy. If you can’t, the buzz of the bar will just have to add to the atmosphere of the photo! If you’d like to know more about mealtimes in Spain, click here. See our guide to San Sebastian and Northern Spain too.
15 Retiro Park
You really don’t begin to understand Madrid city until you’ve spend a few hours exploring Retiro Park. Walking around and visiting the Crystal Palace is lovely. And the antique book fairs and puppet shows are fantastic too. You can, of course, limit yourself to the pavement and gardens, but we think there’s an extra buzz to be had by rowing a boat which only costs a few euros but the fun – and the photos from inside the boat looking out at the park are great. That’s why we’ve chosen this image. Retiro Park features in our post on 10 Things We Love in Madrid and the Top 10 Cities in Spain.
16 Historic Walls
If you enjoy experiencing great heights and history, you are in for a treat. We’ve chosen the old toll bridge at Besalu but your camera has so much more to choose from. You will enjoy Ronda’s extremely high bridge if you are a fan of Hemingway, and, the Caminito del Rey is terrifying whatever your interests in literature. Read all about Spain’s great bridges and check out our favourite castles, walled cities and our post about Jewish heritage sights in Spain.
17 Mountains & Ridges
Not many people know just how mountainous Spain is – which is why we’ve included a picture of our beloved Picos de Europa mountains – which are stunning at any time of the year. We’re also big fans of the ‘teleferico’ or cable car that takes you to the top and we’ve included the viewing point in our guide to the best places to propose in Spain. If you want to know more romantic destinations, see our posts on romantic breaks, honeymoon destinations and planning a perfect honeymoon in Spain.
If you’ve been to a posh wedding or other family celebration here in Spain, you’ll know that having a person dedicated to slicing jamon or pouring sherry is very highly regarded by the Spanish. It’s only when you see it done by an expert that you really appreciate the art and skill involved – and it’s great to take a picture to document the practice. We always recommend taking a food tour here which is a great opportunity to not only to photograph some of Spain’s dishes in authentic locations, but you also learn lots and have great fun too. If you’d like to learn more about the artistry in Spain’s gastronomy, click here.
What is it about a field of sunflowers that just makes us smile? We’ve read recently in El Pais (in English) that visiting fields of sunflowers is becoming very popular with Asian visitors. We love sunflowers too. We like walking through them, driving through the lanes and obviously photographing them to enjoy when you are back home again. Enjoy horticulture or gardening? Read more about agricultural tourism and the best gardens of Spain.
20 Semana Santa in Spain
Perhaps the cloaked processions with the pointy hats are more recognisable images of Easter Week in Spain but they are also sometimes a bit creepy to people who aren’t familiar with the events. For us, the heroes are the costaleros who carry the huge procession floats and these women, known as Manolas in Valladolid, who are dressed in black from top to toe, and walk alongside the procession in silence. To learn more about Easter week in Spain and the type of images you can photograph, see our post on the Drama, Tradition and Passion of Easter Week.
We’ve already touched on architecture but the wineries in Spain deserve a category unto themselves. Whichever you choose, your camera is going to be very grateful. Whether you go for photos of the ageing process, the wine tasting or the building itself – you’ll be thrilled with the results. We’ve written about the Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, Jerez, Cantabria and Rioja wineries but some of our favourite images are from the Calatrava-designed Ysios winery in the Rioja Alavesa.
22 White-Washed Villages
If light is the key to great photography, you and your lens will be dazzled by Spain’s amazing white-washed towns. We are very partial to Arcos de la Frontera and we have a lot of time for Cadaques also but for something really unusual, it has to be Setenil de las Bodegas with its unique houses that are built into the rockface. But wherever you travel in Spain, you’ll find adorable villages that capture your imagination and that of your camera too!
23 Segovia’s Aqueduct and Alcazar
Anything that looks this good after this long (it was built in the year 50 AD!) deserves a place in your photo album and the city of Segovia gives you not just this wonder but also the equally photogenic Alcazar. Segovia is really easy to access from Madrid and is just one of our 10 recommended day trips from Madrid. Read more about Spain’s alcazars, fortresses and castles here.
24 Open Air Theatres
We cannot gush enough about the 2,000 year-old Roman theatre in Merida which is extraordinarily special as you can see for yourself. With seating for 3,000 people, it claims to be Spain’s largest theatre. Visit during the International Festival of Classical Theatre that dates back to 1933 if you can – to catch it in all its splendour. You can read more about Spain’s incredible outdoor theatres here.
25 Strike your own pose…
We all fall into the trap of taking traditional poses when photographing ourselves and friends and family in front of the big landmarks. That’s why we enjoy coming across images where a person’s personality shines through. Sometimes it involves a gimmick like placing a favourite Lego character or teddy in the photo or viewing the reflection of the famous landmark in a person’s sunglasses, a window pane or a car hubcap. If you don’t like to appear in the images at all, framing the landmark with trees, arches or whatever else you can find is a great way to personalise the photo. And photographing others photographing the site can also produce interesting results. But sometimes, it’s nice to keep it simple and we’ve become rather fond of this young couple who capture themselves in an embrace in front of some Spain’s best loved monuments. It’s not for everybody – but whether you are in front or the lens or behind it, if you come to Spain, we are certain you and your camera will be inspired by these 25 Photos That Define Spain!