Spain

Cities in Spain | The Best Places to Live, Study, and Work

charlotte

If you would like to live abroad in a country that is rich in historyculture, and diversity, Spain is the perfect starting point. As the fourth largest country in Europe, there is so much to do and discover! Cities in Spain each have a particular charm, offering unique experiences to tourists and residents alike. From diverse landscapes to world-famous festivals, you will see why Spain is a popular destination.

With a visa for Spainyou can study and work in the country for an extended period. The question is, which city will you live in once you arrive? Some cities in Spain have well-preserved museums and world-famous festivals. Others are full of exquisite architecture and cherished cuisine. In this article, we will introduce you to the best cities in Spain and help you decide which one is the optimal place to live.

Main Cities in Spain

map of cities in Spain

As someone planning to spend an extended time in the country, it is helpful to learn, and eventually visit, the main cities in Spain. Each city has its style and uniqueness that contribute to the rich history and culture of Spain. Let’s explore them together!

Living in Madrid

city of Madrid

Population: 6.6 million

Climate: Mediterranean, semi-arid

Lifestyle: multicultural

Geographical Location: central Spain

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is home to the official government and king of Spain. The Spanish royal family lives here in the Zarzuela Palace, the royal palace of Madrid, which is one of the largest palaces in the world. In Madrid, tourists can visit dozens of historical landmarks, including several museums, the Royal Botanical Garden, and the Almudena Cathedral.

This city is one of the first destinations in Spain for international students, due to its royal popularity and historical attractions. The diversity here is another reason to consider Madrid, not to mention its attractive urbanism, pleasant climate, and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Living in Barcelona

view of Barcelona city

Population: 5.58 million

Climate: Mediterranean, humid subtropical

Lifestyle:cosmopolitan, relaxed

Geographical Location: Northeastern Spain, the Mediterranean coast

In Barcelona, you’ll be surprised to discover there are two official languages: Spanish and Catalan. Catalan, like Spanish, is a romantic language derived from Latin. Catalan is the dominant language in offices and schools in Barcelona. Almost everyone that speaks Catalan is bilingual, so you won’t need to speak it to get around. It is, however, a great opportunity to learn!

One of the advantages of Barcelona is its climate, always Mediterranean and pleasant. Winters here are very mild and summers bring the best weather for a day at the beach. Did you know that Barcelona has more than 55 museums and 9 UNESCO-protected monuments? It also has the biggest cruise port in Europe and the largest football stadium. No wonder it’s the most visited city in Spain!

Living in Valencia

Valencia city in Spain

Population: 834,000

Climate: mild, Mediterranean

Lifestyle: relaxed

Geographical Location: eastern Spain, the Mediterranean coast

Valencia is one of the most friendly and relaxed cities in Spain. Most Valencians enjoy the tranquil, easygoing lifestyle, perhaps because of its proximity to the beach and the appreciation of humor.

Also, just like in Barcelona and the Catalan, Valencian is one of the two official languages (along with Spanish) within the Valencian Community. It is spoken among the Valencian residents, and children have the right to receive an education in this language.

Did you know that Valencia is home to Spain’s national dish? Paella!

With great weather and famous landmarks, Valencia is a popular tourist destination. One of them, the City of Arts and Sciences, has a futuristic design that has been the backdrop of numerous movies. If you enjoy the nightlife social scenes, Valencia is a good place to consider. Most condominiums in this city have restaurants and clubs on the ground floor. Students who live here can easily find a good friend to meet for drinks and a paella!

Living in Seville

castle in Seville, Spain

Population: 704,000

Climate: Mediterranean

Lifestyle: active, lively

Geographical Location: southwestern Spain

For an active outdoor lifestyle with plenty of social events, Seville is an ideal city. Here, people frequently throw fiestas that last for days at a time. Also, of all the cities in Spain, Seville has amazing gastronomy of exquisite dishes at a reasonable cost. It is the birthplace of tapas, the beloved wine-accompanying appetizers adopted by restaurants around the world. While living here, you’ll have to try an Andalusian gazpacho, a popular Spanish cuisine!

Seville has also been called a movie maker’s paradise. Several popular films and movie scenes took place here, including Star Wars and Game of Thrones. The festive uniqueness is evident among its history and civilians, making Seville one of the most interesting cities in Spain.

Living in Zaragoza

view of castle in Zaragoza

Population:731,000

Climate:semi-arid, cool

Lifestyle: calm, relaxed

Geographical Location: northeastern Spain, the autonomous region of Aragón

Zaragoza is a quiet city with a friendly and family-oriented atmosphere. As the capital of the Aragón region, Zaragoza has unique cuisine. The gastronomy here consists of multiple types of stews, where ham and other sausages are never absent from a dish of good Aragonese cuisine.

A lot of Spain’s history is evident in the architecture throughout Zaragoza. From the 11th century Aljaferia Palace of the moors to the ancient Roman theatre, there are dozens of places to visit and learn of the country’s colonization. Public transport is also easily accessible in this city, especially if you plan to visit other cities in Spain.

Living in Bilbao

bridge and city view of Bilbao, Spain

Population: 350,000

Climate: oceanic, mild

Lifestyle: relaxed

Geographical Location: Northern Spain

Bilbao is one of the largest economic centers in northern Spain, making it a financial hub full of career opportunities. The city generates approximately 9,500 jobs in the transport and tourism sectors, as well as substantial mining and steel jobs. This city is also known for having the best quality of services, including drinking water, electricity, and fuel, in comparison to other cities in Spain. For students who plan to work while studying in Spain, living here may work in your favor.

Living in Bilbao is a great place to experience diverse landscapes. The city is surrounded by mountains, while also not too far from the ocean coast. Also, like other cities in Spain, Bilbao residents speak another language in addition to Spanish. Basque is an official language here, where you’ll see it expressed in street names and road signs.

How to Choose the Best City in Spain to Live

tourists holding flag in city in Spain

When choosing a city to live in, there are a few things to take into consideration to make the best possible decision:

  • Cultural Diversity. If you are looking for a city in which you can immerse and feel at home, a cosmopolitan city is a good option. Cosmopolitan areas are multicultural, which receive and welcome the most immigrants of diverse backgrounds.
  • Cost of Living. For international students, this is particularly important. The cost of living in certain cities in Spain is much lower in comparison to others. Choosing the right one can help you save money on accommodation and other living expenses.
  • Employment Rate. If you plan to work in Spain, this is of utmost importance. Before moving to a city, research the job opportunities and hiring ratio. An easy way to do this to check the unemployment rate of the city that interests you.

About the author

Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!