Spain is a fantastic place to live in or visit. The big question is, where in Spain do you want to live? With 50 provinces of Spain within 17 autonomous regions of Spain, there is a perfect place for everyone.
These autonomous regions are where the central government has allowed the autonomous communities to self-govern within the limits set forth in the 1978 Spanish Constitution and their autonomous statutes. Now you need to ask yourself some questions. Do you prefer the coast or the city? Mainland, the Canary Islands, or the Balearic Islands? Touristy, relaxed, or remote? Let’s break down these 17 diverse regions and find the perfect place for you.
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When tourists think of Spain, they probably imagine Andalucía. It is one of the popular 17 regions of Spain, covering the entire southern portion of the mainland, it has numerous beaches and whitewashed beaches. The most popular autonomous cities are Seville and Marbella. However, this autonomous region also includes Costa de Almeira, Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz, and Costa Tropical. Andalucía is known for its flamenco dancing, world-class golf courses, and countless fiestas.
Provinces include: Huesca, Teruel, and Zaragoza.
These landlocked autonomous areas are lesser-known, and one of the least visited regions of Spain. This north/northeast area is also home to the Aragonese Pyrenees Mountains. The beautiful part of Spain also borders France and is home to seven ski resorts. It’s the perfect place for those who love a quiet area with mountains and winter snow.
Asturias is a single province region.
The area of Asturias is one of the few of the 17 regions of Spain that are single-province autonomous regions. The lush, rugged landscape is home to Costa Verde with beautiful sandy beaches. Picos de Europa National Park is loved by outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, climbing, kayakers, and cavers. This lush area has higher annual rainfall than other regions. The region’s capital, Oviedo, and Gijón are the two largest cities. Gijón sits on the west side of the Bay of Biscay, and Oviedo is about 12 miles (19 km) south.
Provinces Include: Álava, Guipúzcua, and Vizcaya.
There is a lot to be discovered in these autonomous areas of Spain. The three provinces that makeup Basque Country border France and the Bay of Biscay. This fiercely independent region has its own version of Spanish and its own flag. Within the hilly landscapes, beautiful beaches, and the cities of Bilbao and San Sabastian. San Sabastian is known for several Michelin Star restaurants.
Cantabria is a single province region.
Located on Spain’s north coast, Cantabria has been inhabited for over 15,000 years. Discover the history and cave paintings at Altamira. The port of Santander and the capital city have daily ferries to and from the UK. Thus, making it a high entry point for UK citizens and those wishing to travel to the UK. The city of Santander rests on the Bay of Biscay and of all 17 regions in Spain it is home to the summer residence of the Spanish Royal family. Here you can spend some time among the several beaches of Costa Cantabria and Costa Verde.
Castilla La Mancha
Provinces include: Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo.
If you like vineyards and castles, then this is one of the 17 regions in Spain you will like. The landlocked region of Castilla La Mancha is the second largest region in Spain and is situated next to the capital of Madrid. The former capital city, Toledo, is home to the 13th-century High Gothic Cathedral. This mountainous region is becoming very popular due to its Renaissance buildings, museums, and churches.
Castilla Y Léon
Provinces include: Avila, Burgos, Léon, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, and Zamora.
This landlocked area of Spain is the largest of all the autonomous regions. Surrounded by mountains and bordering Portugal, it is a little more challenging to get to. Thus, it makes it a little more off the beaten track with fewer tourists than in other areas of Spain. This area offers authentic Spanish culture and a lot of history dating back to the Celtic era. The regional capital city, Salamanca, is famous for its ornate sandstone architecture, and Salamanca University, which was founded in the 1100s.
This area of Spain is best known for its capital city, Barcelona. It is a tourist hot spot year-round and a melting pot of international ex-pats. It is probably the most popular of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain. This cosmopolitan city is known for its museums, Roman archaeological sites, art, and architecture. The cobblestone maze of the city center will bring you to countless shops, restaurants, and bars. The mountains of Montjuic and Tipadado will give you unobstructed views of the city and sea. Works from Antoni Gaudí, Picasso, Fundació Joan Miró, among others, are scattered throughout the city. Countless beaches and beach communities, including Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, offer open space and hidden craggy coves to enjoy the sunshine. Spanish and Catalan are spoken throughout this region. This community has been temporarily stripped of its autonomy.
Provinces include: Caceres and Badajoz.
Of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, this landlocked region is almost untouched by tourists. Nestled in southwest Spain, it is surrounded by Portugal to the west, Andalucía to the south, and Leon and Castile to the east and north. With lakes, forests, and mountains, this area is ideal for those who don’t want to live by the water. The historic towns, ancient city walls, and National Parks are perfect for history buffs and nature lovers.
Provinces include: A Coruña, Lugo, Orense, and Pontevedra.
Galicia rests above Portugal on Spain’s northwest coast. With mountain ranges, lush landscapes, fjord-like areas, and sandy beaches are different than any other region of Spain. It is the most popular of Spain’s autonomous regions for those following the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Discover a variety of shellfish in the fishing port of Cambados. Visit the Tower of Hercules lighthouse. Be sure to sample Galicia’s tantalizing white wine, Albariño.
La Rioja is a single province region.
When wine lovers hear the word Rioja, they think of wine; and rightfully so. La Rioja is another single-province region, and its wines are known globally. There are more than 500 wineries here. The Spanish territory is known for its wine tasting, rural tourism, and summer fiestas.
Madrid is a single province region.
The capital city of Spain, Madrid, sits in the middle of the country. Tucked away in the beautiful Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains are several small towns and villages for you to explore. The three most popular places to visit are El Escorial, Alcala de Henares, and Aranjuez. These are the historical residence of the king, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the King’s spring home.
Murcia is a single province region.
Murcia is an autonomous community and a province in the southeast of Spain. The capital and most populous city is Murcia. The region is bordered by Andalusia to the west, Valencia to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. The region has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Murcia is known for its rich history and culture, which can be seen in its many historic buildings and landmarks. These include the Cathedral of Murcia, which dates back to the 18th century, and the Salzillo Museum, which is dedicated to the works of Francisco Salzillo, one of the most important sculptors of the 19th century. The region is also home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Fiestas de Primavera, which takes place in Murcia in May and is considered one of the most important festivals in Spain. The economy of Murcia is largely based on agriculture and tourism. The region is a major producer of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, and is also known for its wine production. In recent years, the region has also seen an increase in tourism, with many visitors coming to enjoy the region’s beaches, historic towns, and natural parks. Murcia is also home to a number of universities, including the University of Murcia, which is one of the oldest universities in Spain.
Navarra is a single province region.
Located in the northern region of Spain, Navarra is unknown to tourists. However, it is a great place. The La Rioja wine region and Basque Country are next to it. Additionally, France is to the north, making trips there very convenient. The hills and mountains throughout the area attract nature lovers, especially walkers, climbers, and cyclists. Navarra is known for its rich history and culture, which can be seen in its many historic buildings and landmarks such as the Royal Palace of Olite, the Gothic Church of San Nicolas and the Castle of Javier. Additionally, the region is famous for the Running of the Bulls festival, or San Fermin, which is held every year in Pamplona in July and attracts thousands of tourists.
The Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are a single province region.
The Balearic Islands are an autonomous community and an archipelago located in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The archipelago is made up of four main islands: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The capital of the community is Palma, located on the island of Mallorca. The Balearic Islands are known for their beautiful beaches and clear waters, making them a popular tourist destination. The islands are home to many resorts, hotels, and restaurants catering to tourists, and offer a wide range of activities such as water sports, hiking, and cycling. The islands also have a rich history and culture, with many historic landmarks such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Palma and the Talayotic settlements on Menorca.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands provinces include: Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The Canary Islands are very popular autonomous regions of Spain, They are an archipelago located off the northwest coast of Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is made up of seven main islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. The capital of this community is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, located on the island of Tenerife. The Canary Islands have a subtropical climate and are known for their beautiful beaches, clear waters, and year-round sunshine, making them a very popular tourist and ex-pat destination. The islands offer a wide range of activities such as water sports, hiking, and stargazing. The islands also have a rich history and culture, with many historic landmarks such as the Cueva del Viento volcanic tunnel on Tenerife, the Jameos del Agua on Lanzarote, and the Garajonay National Park on La Gomera.
Provinces include: Alicante, Castellon, and Valencia.
The country’s national dish is Paella, and Valencia is known for having the best Paella in the world. Rightfully so. It is the birthplace of it. Located in the east of Spain, on the Mediterranean coast, in this region, you will find Costa Azahar and Costa Blanca. The capital and most populous city is Valencia. The region is bordered by Catalonia to the north, Aragon to the west, and Murcia to the south. Valencia has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Valencia city is known for its rich history and culture, which can be seen in its many historic buildings and landmarks such as the Cathedral of Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences complex, and the Central Market. Additionally, the region is famous for its festivals, particularly the Fallas festival, which is held in March every year and celebrates the arrival of spring. Along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, in this region, you will find Costa Azahar and Costa Blanca. Both Valencia city and province and Alicante city and province are here waiting to be discovered.
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Before you visit – check out my top helpful travel resources
Here are a few of my recommendations for travel assistance and sites I use when traveling myself. For more on these and why I choose to recommend them, check out my full disclosure page.
- Book your travel insurance with Insured Nomads if you are from the US or Worldwide Insure for European visitors.
- Find the best flights with Skyscanner.
- Get great prices on Rental Cars from Discover Cars.
- Travel throughout Spain and Europe via train. Book your tickets with the Trainline.
- Find affordable accommodations on Booking.com
- Search tours from GetYourGuide or Civitis
- Check your visa requirement on iVisa
I hope this article answers your question, what are the 17 regions of Spain or 17 regiones de españa? Each of these regions offers something different for you to explore. If you want to know more about a specific place check out our Destinations or read more about Life In Spain.