There’s so much to see in Spain. Even if you get your travel inspiration from magazines and blogs, it’s also helpful to reference travel books for Spain. This curated list includes the best general Spain guide books as well as additional volumes for specific cities and regions, pretty neighborhood guides, fun books for kids, travel memoirs and travel books on Spanish food and culture.
I’m a recovering bookseller and an unrepentant book nerd, so you can trust me to give you solid recommendations for the best Spain guidebooks. Even though I write guides and itineraries for Wayfaring Views, I still sometimes use physical guide books myself for helping me figure out logistics and find cool things to do. You are obviously interested in the same or you wouldn’t be on this page, so carry on for a thorough list of suggestions.
(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)
The Best Spain Guide Books for Travel Planning
Spain 2020, Rick Steves
The Rick Steves travel guides are thorough, practical and budget-friendly. He covers all of the basics and has good advice for how to avoid tourist trap restaurants, where to find practical services such as laundry and a prioritized (if somewhat predictable) list of top sights.
In fact, I have an article on how you can disobey Rick Steves in Madrid and live to tell about it.
Rick’s Spain guide book has a useful section with advice on how to budget for your trip and a three week whirlwind tour itinerary, which, frankly is a bit too whirlwindy for me but it will give you a good feel for the highlights. Reference it and then pare it down to accommodate the time that you have available.
Spain Travel Guide, Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet guides began by targeting the budget traveler and they have remained pretty true to their original mission. I appreciate their tips for saving money, suggestions for varied itineraries and their willingness to recommend offbeat attractions.
Lonely Planet’s top pics are notable because they not only recommend places to go, but also specific experiences. For instance, the current guide specifically recommends eating pinxtos (tapas) in San Sebastián as a top experience. Another top experience that they recommend is the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, which I’ve done twice. I like this advice because it gets you out of museums closets full of musty armor and into modern Spain.
Learn more about the Camino de Santiago: The Camino is a whole sub-category of Spain travel books. If you are looking for inspiration, check out these Camino de Santiago books and memoirs. If you are planning a pilgrimage, check out this article on Camino guidebooks and apps.
Spain & Portugal’s Best Trips, Lonely Planet
This book is not an all-around guide, but rather a set of 32 curated itineraries from seven writers who have extensive experience in Spain and Portugal. This would make a great gift for someone who is thinking of traveling to Spain, or as a tool for helping you narrow down your itinerary choices.
The Train in Spain: Ten Great Journeys Through the Interior, Christopher Howse
Howse has been traveling in Spain for 25 years. Follow along with him on ten specific train journeys where he meets troglodytes, visits a city ruined by an earthquake, runs into a dancing lion, stumbles across a body-snatching plot and tries out a recipe for acorn pie.
Spain Travel Guide, Todd Wright
This is a good basic overview guide for Spain. It’s not as thorough as the Lonely Planet or Rick Steves guides, however the author suggests a few experiences and festivals that the main guides overlook.
Getting this book is a low-risk proposition, because it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.
FREE books with Kindle Unlimited! In addition to Wright’s book, you can also get the Lonely Planet Spain guide and other books for free with a Kindle Unlimited account. Try it with a 30-day free trial HERE.
Travel Books on Spain’s Specific Regions
If you are covering the whole country, then I’d suggest getting one of the general guides above and supplementing with travel blog info for specific cities.
However, regional guides are great if you are just visiting one area or city. Most of the regional specific guides are 150-350 pages and all of them offer more than what you’ll find in the general country guide.
Madrid Travel Guide Books
- Rick Steves Snapshot: Madrid and Toledo
- Lonely Planet Madrid or the smaller Pocket Madrid guide
- Moon Guide Barcelona and Madrid
Northern Spain and Basque Country Guide Books
- Rick Steves: Basque Country: Spain and France
- Insight Guides: Northern Spain
- Basque Diary, Alex Hallat
Southern Spain Guide Books
- Rick Steves: Snapshot: Granada, Sevilla and Andalusia
- Lonely Planet: Andalucia (including Granada, Sevilla, Gibraltar, Córdoba and Malaga
- DK Eyewitness Guide: Top 10 Andalucia
- Insight Guides: Southern Spain
- Rough Guides to Andalucia (also on Kindle Unlimited)
Barcelona Guide Books
- Rick Steves Barcelona or the smaller Pocket Barcelona guide
- Lonely Planet Pocket Barcelona
- Fodors Barcolona 25 Best and also Barcelona with highlights of Catalonia
- Moon Guide Barcelona and Beyond (including Catalonia)
Artsy Design Guides for Spain
CitiX60 Barcelona Guide, Viction
Sixty designers, architects, chefs artists and other creatives show you their side of Barcelona. The guide includes a well-curated selection museums, notable architecture and sculpture, cultural icons and shops with beautiful photography.
Wallpaper City Guide: Madrid
These insider guides also heavily feature beautiful design and pretty places. It includes the “hippest nightlife, the buzziest hotels, the coolest retail, the most influential art galleries and cultural spaces, the best in local design and the contemporary architecture that defines a city.”
You can also get a Wallpaper Guide for Barcelona.
Spanish Travel Books for Kids
Theodore’s Spanish Adventure, Trent Harding, Ashlee Harding
Keep the kids busy on the plane with this cute, well-designed Spanish culture book. Theodore the Bear will help your kids learn some Spanish and get a feel for life in Spain.
Mission Barcelona, Catherine Aragon
Let your kids take you around Barcelona using this treasure hunt as their guide. Your kids will be given a spy mission and they’ll sleuth out clues at popular sites like the Sagrada Familia and along La Rambla.
BONUS: This book is also available through Kindle Unlimited. These kids books also come available as Paris travel guides in case your itinerary includes that region as well.
City Trails, Barcelona, Lonely Planet Kids
Let Marco and Amelia take your kids along a series of themed trails through Barcelona. The trails spotlight cultural and historic places of interest with 16 topics like: Animal Land, Gaudi Town, Musical Marvels, City of Art and Delicioso!
Kid’s Travel Guide – Spain, Wendy Crawford and Shiela H Leon
This is not only a Spanish guidebook for kids, but it also doubles as an activity book and diary which can be taken home as a souvenir. The book includes fun facts, juicy information, quizzes, special tasks and coloring pages.
Travel Memoirs from Spain
Castanets, Coffee & Don Quixote, Robert Noble Graham
Follow Graham as he rambles (and sometimes stumbles) around Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo and Sevilla. He shares anecdotes about his experiences and…”you will learn a lot about Spanish history and the significance of these cities. But my favorite part of the book is the author’s delightful sense of humor and amusing anecdotes.”
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain, Chris Stewart
Because of course you buy a remote sheep farm in Soutern Spain which is lacking water, electricity or even a road. Like Mayle from A Year in Provence, Stewart and his wife dig in to create a pastoral expat live for themselves. “… He is funny, clever and talented and who knew he could shear sheep.”
My Reign in Spain, Rich Bradwell
When Bradwell was asked to give a wedding toast in Spanish, he did the only sensible thing–he went off to Spain to learn the language. His German roomate Nils was little help, but it becomes a “changing trip through this fascinating and cultured country, as he travels through the vineyards of La Rioja, surfs in the Basque Country and frantically tries to speak Spanish at anyone he can find.”
All About Spanish Food & Culture
Spain – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, Belén Aguado Viguer
It’s not always about where you go, but rather understating the context for what you see and experience. This guide will give you insight into Spain’s proud and passionate culture that goes way beyond Flamenco and Don Quixote.
Grape Olive Pig, Matt Gouling
On all of my many trips to Spain, I’ve consumed plenty of grapes, olives and pig (and also some delicious goat and sheep milk cheeses.) Goulding will help you fall in love with Spain, not with your heart, but with your gut. The book is presented as a series of stories about the culinary and geographical landscape of Spain through the eyes of a hungry traveler.
Cute Spain-Themed Travel Journals
My Travel to Madrid Journal (Also available for Barcelona)
120 page travel diary with lined pages.
100 pages unlined. Also available for Barcelona, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Granada.
Spain Travel Journal with Pockets and Envelopes
This beautiful hand-stitched journal features a vintage map on the cover, 48 pages of journal and envelopes and pockets for treasures.
Supplemental Info from Travel Bloggers
Supplement these Spain travel guides with some itinerary advice on specific regions and cities in Spain.
- Madrid: My own three day itinerary for Madrid.
- Andalucia: Southern Spain ten day itinerary for Andalucia.
- Valencia: Top things to do in Valencia.
- Sevilla: How to spend three days in Sevilla.
READ MORE BOOKS!
Start with this list of the very best travel books. It includes great reads about how travel is transformative, offering wacky tales of derring do, epic quests and stories of authentic travel.
You should also check out the following series of book lists for specific destinations:
Buen Viaje and enjoy your trip to Spain.
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