When it comes to Europe, Spain has a hold on our heart, soul and taste buds. It's one of those places that has to be explored from every angle. You can’t just visit one city and feel as though you’ve truly captured the magic of the country – you’ve got to see and taste as much as possible from top to bottom, east to west.

From the Moorish influences to the legendary beaches and unique architecture, Spain offers it all and more. Short on time and looking for the best that Spain has to offer? These 7 sites are not to be missed:

1. Alhambra, Granada

Not visiting the Alhambra while you’re in Spain is like only eating the fruit without drinking your glass of sangria. The Alhambra is undisputedly one of the most gorgeous palaces in the world, and its Moorish and intricate design is straight out of a fairy-tale.

Every room, courtyard and garden makes this gigantic 14th century palace worth seeing, and something you’ll never forget for the rest of your life. You can spend your whole day wandering around the Alhambra and still not take in all of its beauty.

2. Formentera Beaches, Balearic Islands

It’s hard to take away from the shine of Ibiza, but just a short ferry ride to Formentera will take you to this hidden paradise with some of the prettiest beaches, and some of the warmest and prettiest waters of the world.

There’s nothing quite like afternoon tapas in between bike rides around your favourite beach spots on this island hideaway, and it’s gorgeous enough to turn even the most hardy of adventurers into a beach bum for at least a day.

3. Seville Cathedral & Alcazar, Seville

You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the Moorish influence of these neighbouring beauties in Seville.

Whether you’re visiting the tomb of Christopher Columbus, taking in the city views from the top of the tower, or wandering around the courtyard of orange trees, there really is something special around every corner, and the Alcazar palace brings the same kind of beauty that made us fall in love with the Alhambra.

4. Urbasa y Andía Natural Park, Pamplona

A nature hike may not be what you had in mind in Spain, but once you see the emerald colours of the water and greenery, you’ll forget that you’re having a little workout and instead get lost in the magical wilderness just outside the city of Pamplona.

5. Sagrada Família, Barcelona

The beautiful, the legendary, the perpetually under construction – the Sagrada Família is one of those places that really needs to be experienced in person. Whether you spend most of your time inside or out, there is just so much beauty to take in.

Stained glass, Gaudi architecture, and the detail?  It is nothing short of breathtaking, and is an absolute must-do, not only in Spain but worldwide. It is the church of all churches, hands down.

6. Ibiza Old Town, Balearic Islands

If you can pry yourself away from the shenanigans of San Antonio, Ibiza Old Town is the place to be for a cultural wander through a pirate’s paradise. The twisty cobblestone streets and hidden restaurants and bars make Old Town the perfect place to feel transported back in time, and getting lost here is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in Spain.

Its old world beauty is comparable to Dubrovnik, and the calories you’ll burn while walking those hills will make you feel less guilty about all the rest of Ibiza's indulgences.

7. Royal Palace, Madrid

There are few better places to get a glimpse into the lives of the royals than in the Royal Palace in Madrid. It’s super easy to navigate, filled with all of the ornate trimmings your inner-royal could ever want, and has an impressive armoury to visit as well. Plus, it’s got great views and is just as grand and gorgeous from the outside.

For more information on Contiki’s trips throughout Europe, USA, Canada, Asia and Latin America check out contiki.com or call them on (011) 280 8481.