Best Places to Retire in Spain

Updated: 30 March 2023

Offering a low cost of living and various activities, Spain has some great places to retire. You can find many cities set around beaches. Also, being a Mediterranean country, it offers sunshine throughout the year. The country also provides great food and wine.

Spain is also preferable for retirees in terms of its healthcare. Many health index reports suggest that it has one of the best healthcare systems throughout the world. This is why it offers a safe and comfortable lifestyle, especially for retirement.

So, what are the best places to retire in Spain? What do the cities offer retirees? Let’s have a closer look at some of the best cities to retire in Spain.


Madrid is both the capital and largest city of Spain, being in the center of the country. People in Madrid are very social, and immigrants make up about 17% of the population. The city and its streets are quite busy with people 24/7 every day. Also, it is quite a bit cheaper than other European cities. Madrid also offers many different tastes in one melting pot. Cider comes from the Austrian Highlands, and seafood comes from Galicia.

For accommodation, there are some districts you can think about living in. For more exclusive districts, you may consider historical Salamanca, classy Justicia/Almagro, and Opera el Madrid de los Austrias, which is a cultural district. If you look for more trendy regions, you may decide Chueca, Malasana, and La Latina.  In the north of the center, Chamberi provides some great apartments as well.

There are also various parks and gardens in the city. There is Retiro Park in the Retiro district. Many families live there close to the park. There you can spend your day around one of the many ponds. You can also enjoy the Botanical Gardens a short distance from Prado.

If you want to discover more of the cultural aspect of the city, you can find many options. In Madrid, there are three internationally-recognized art galleries, a great number of museums, a great royal palace, and grand public squares. For shopping options, you can visit the colorful El Rastro street market, the Salamanca district with fashion boutiques. For more modern options, you can visit Fuencarral Street.

If you are looking for delicatessen food stalls and bars, you can go to The Mercado de San Miguel. In this old market, you can enjoy the food and communal atmosphere.  There are also great tapas bars, gourmet restaurants, and tavernas. In the famous Plaza Mayor, you can enjoy an amazing view of the city in terrace bars and restaurants.


Alicante is a low-density town in Spain. Around 370.000 people live there. Despite having less population than bigger cities, Alicante has an international airport. It attracts many people from Spain, Europe, and other parts of the world as well. Like most of Spain, it also has great sunshine throughout the year. You can enjoy the mild climate even in winter. There are plenty of housing, cafés, restaurants, and small hotels around the sandy urban beach.

You can also find a lot of fresh food for cheap prices in the daily central market. There are many tapas bars here that offer traditional Spanish dishes.
There is a large British expat community in Alicante. Many of them live in this city. As a retiree, you can enjoy the areas around Denia and Xavia to the north, and Torrevieja to the south. Also, many people speak English in the area, and lots of English speaking schools are available there.

Despite being a tourist area, real estate property prices and the cost of living are still affordable in Alicante. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you as little as €12. A three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will be around €30.


Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, located on the south coast of Spain. The city enjoys mild winters and hot summers. It has a pedestrian-only city center, which can be a tranquil area for retirees. You can also enjoy great urban beaches, museums, restaurants, and tapas bars in Málaga as well. The city houses the Pablo Picasso Museum along with other art galleries and museums. Festivals are also popular in this city. In addition, it offers activities such as water sports, golf, hiking, and trekking in the hills.

The city has a well-connected airport as well easy road links available to other parts of the Costa del Sol. There is also a modern port where large cruise ships land. These features make Málaga one of the best places to live in Spain.
Málaga is also only an hour away from Marbella. Marbella is popular for its ‘Golden Mile’, which has luxurious residential areas and beachfront homes. You can also enjoy the top class restaurants and bars as well. It also has great cuisine and favorable year-round weather.

You can reach the marina Puerto Banús, down the road from Marbella. The marina offers bars, restaurants, and boutiques along the line of the coast. You can see classy yachts and expensive cars all around that area.

In the historic center (Centro histórico), you can find shops within walking distance. Surprisingly, meals in restaurants around this area are quite affordable.


Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain. In the city there are some English schools although the number of British expats is fewer there. Compared to Madrid or Barcelona, property prices and the cost of living are lower in Valencia. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs you around €10. Or, a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost you around €40.

As a large city, Valencia has great air and rail connections. You can also find major hospitals, universities, as well as lots of beautiful parks. There are science and art museums and concert halls in Valencia. Some festivals are also popular. They include the festival of Las Fallas held in March and La Tomatina is held in August. The city also offers local golf courses.

Located in the Historic Centre of Valencia, Plaza Redonda offers traditional products and handicrafts. There is also a market in the adjacent streets on Sundays. You can find a range of collectible items in this market. It also offers a great range of vegetables, seafood, fruit, herbs, and spices. The beautiful building of Mercado Central is built with a  combination of iron, glass, and tile.


When you were planning where to retire in Spain, you may have considered Barcelona as well. It is the second-largest city in Spain. Barcelona is also the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia (Cataluña). It has great architecture. The buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi in the Eixample district are also very popular.

In Barcelona too, you can enjoy the beautiful parks and gardens, as well as the medieval streets. Again, many tapas bars and restaurants are available in this city. They serve exceptional seafood and different Catalonian classics as well.
As a retiree, you can enjoy the beaches both in and around the city. The amenities and infrastructure in the city are also quite good since the improvement works for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Ramblas is another lively place you can enjoy. It is a large boulevard running through the heart of the city center. It offers open-air restaurants and bars. In the big market La Boqueria, you can find a great deal of fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit, and other goods.


Being in the north of Spain, Bilbao is located in the Basque country. It has low crime rates and high quality of life. Compared to the aforementioned cities, summers are mild in Bilbao. So, you won’t feel the intensity of hot summers much.

The city is popular for having one of the greatest healthcare systems in Spain. Furthermore, the English speaking community is thriving. So, Bilbao may turn living in Spain into a great experience for you.

The city has some great green spaces and parks to get rest. The population is also a bit smaller, hosting around 350.000 people. You can stroll around the estuary, or ride a bicycle, while the younger expats can skate as well. Pedestrian bridges connect the two sides of the estuary.

San Sebastián

This city is located on Spain’s north Atlantic coast, and is also part of the Basque Country. It boasts beautiful urban beachfront views. Its beaches such as Playa de la Concha offer a great view of its long promenade. San Sebastián is quite an old place, being a popular resort since the 1850s.

It attracts many tourists between the months of July and September. At other times, it is relatively a tranquil place. Its climate is also a mild one even in winter.

Costa del Azahar

Not as well-known as Costa del Sol, Costa del Azahar has a smaller population. It is a welcoming place for English speaking expats. This place is also known as the Orange Blossom Coast, and is located in the city of Castellón. It has long sandy beaches and coves, and only one hour’s drive from Valencia.

The cities Benicarló, Peñíscola, Torreblanca, La Llosa, Benicasim and Oropesa are located on this coast as well.

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