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Beyond Barcelona: Exploring Lesser-Known Gems For Expats Moving To Spain

moving to Spain

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Spain has long been a popular destination for expats seeking a new life abroad. While cities like Barcelona and Madrid often steal the spotlight, many lesser-known gems offer a unique and authentic experience for expats moving to Spain. In this article, we’ll explore some of these hidden treasures, from charming coastal towns to picturesque villages nestled in the mountains.

Moving to Spain: A Journey Through Culture, Cuisine, and History

Spain, a vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and passion, is a land that beckons to be explored. From the sun-kissed beaches of the Costa del Sol to the majestic peaks of the Pyrenees, Spain offers a diverse array of experiences for the intrepid traveler. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Spanish culture, where flamenco rhythms fill the air, and the aroma of paella and tapas tantalizes the taste buds. Whether you’re sipping sangria in a bustling plaza or hiking through the rugged landscapes of Andalusia, Spain is a country that captivates the soul and leaves an indelible mark on the heart.

The Costa Brava: Blanes and Cadaqués


Located just an hour’s drive from Barcelona, Blanes is a picturesque coastal town that offers a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle than its bustling neighbor. Blanes is also known for its annual fireworks competition, the Concurs Internacional de Focs d’Artifici. This competition takes place during the Blanes Fireworks Festival, which is held in July. The festival attracts pyrotechnic teams from around the world who compete to create the most spectacular fireworks displays. With its beautiful beaches, charming old town, and lively local markets, Blanes is the perfect place for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Botanical garden on a cliff in Blanes is a must-see when moving to Spain.
Blanes is the perfect place for people who are looking to escape city life and find peace.


Nestled on the northern coast of Catalonia, Cadaqués is a stunning fishing village that has long been a favorite among artists and writers. With its whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, Cadaqués is a true hidden gem that offers a peaceful and tranquil setting to call home. Cadaqués has a strong artistic heritage and is famous for being the home of the renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. Dalí spent many summers in Cadaqués, and his former home, the Casa-Museo Salvador Dalí, is now a museum that showcases his life and work.

The Pyrenees: Jaca and Aínsa


Located in the heart of the Pyrenees, Jaca is a charming town that offers expats a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventure. Jaca is known for its well-preserved medieval quarter, which features narrow cobblestone streets, historic stone buildings, and the iconic 11th-century Jaca Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle. The cathedral is a fine example of Romanesque architecture and is home to a museum that showcases religious artifacts and works of art. Jaca is also known for its strong military tradition and is home to the Jaca Military Academy, which trains officers for the Spanish Army.


Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Aínsa is a picturesque village that offers expats a peaceful and authentic Spanish experience. One specific aspect of Aínsa is its well-preserved old town, which features narrow cobblestone streets, historic stone buildings, and a striking 11th-century Romanesque castle, Castillo de Aínsa. The castle overlooks the town and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Aínsa is also known for its lively atmosphere, especially during the summer months when it hosts various cultural events and festivals.

The Canary Islands: La Palma and La Gomera

La Palma

Located in the western Canary Islands, La Palma is a stunning island that offers expats a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage with its lush forests, volcanic landscapes, and charming colonial towns. La Palma is the fifth-largest of the Canary Islands and is known for its volcanic landscapes. The island is also home to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories. The observatory is located at the summit of the island’s highest peak, Roque de los Muchachos, and is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland and embrace a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, La Palma may be the perfect destination.

Ocean view during sunrise
When moving to Spain, the Canary Islands must be considered due to their unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

La Gomera

Nestled in the heart of the Canary Islands, La Gomera is a gem that offers expats a unique Spanish experience. La Gomera offers uniqueness and peace with its stunning natural beauty, charming villages, and unique whistling language called Silbo Gomero. La Gomera is also home to Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park is known for its ancient laurel forests, remnants of the subtropical forests that once covered much of Europe. The park is a popular destination for hiking and nature lovers, with a network of well-marked trails that lead through the forest to stunning viewpoints and waterfalls.

A brown rock formation on a mountain in La Gomera.
La Gomera is a perfect place for those who are looking for charming villages and natural beauty.

Moving from the USA to Spain

Logistics and Transportation

Moving from the USA to Spain can be a complex process, but hiring a reputed moving company can help you relocate here with ease. They will take care of everything for you, from packing and shipping your belongings to navigating customs and immigration. By entrusting the logistics of your move to an experienced moving company, you can focus on other aspects of your relocation while having peace of mind, knowing that your belongings are in safe hands.

The Lifestyle

Living in Spain offers a unique and vibrant lifestyle. The Spanish are known for their love of good food, good wine, and good company. Meals are a social event, so spending several hours enjoying a meal with friends and family is not uncommon. Spain also offers a rich cultural scene, with museums, theaters, and festivals celebrating everything from art and music to food and wine. The country’s diverse landscapes, from the Costa Brava beaches to the Pyrenees mountains, offer plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, and surfing. And with its warm climate and sunny weather, Spain is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor living year-round.

The Process

Moving from the USA to Spain can be an exciting but daunting process. There are several steps you’ll need to take to ensure a smooth transition. First, you’ll need to obtain a visa. The type of visa you’ll need will depend on your reason for moving to Spain. If you’re moving for work, you’ll need a work visa. Then, of course, if you’re moving to retire, you’ll need a retirement visa.

Furthermore, if you’re moving for other reasons, such as to study or join a family, you’ll need a different type of visa. Once you’ve obtained your visa, you’ll need to find a place to live. Spain offers a variety of housing options, from apartments in the city to villas in the countryside. You’ll also need to open a bank account, get a Spanish phone number, and register with the local authorities.

The Language

While many Spaniards speak English, it’s a good idea to learn some Spanish before moving to Spain. Navigating daily life and connecting with locals will enhance your immersion in Spanish culture. Many language schools and online resources are available to help you learn Spanish, so take advantage of them before you move.


While cities like Barcelona and Madrid may be the first choice for many expats moving to Spain, many lesser-known gems in this beautiful country offer a unique and authentic experience. Spain has something for everyone, from charming coastal towns to picturesque villages nestled in the mountains. So if you’re considering a move to Spain, don’t just limit yourself to the big cities. Explore the hidden treasures that this beautiful country has to offer. And if you’re moving from the USA to Spain, take the time to learn about the process and the lifestyle.