A few weeks ago, I dreamed of Spain. I was waiting for Kerstin at the train station of Toledo. When she finally arrived, she held a bunch of sunflowers in her hand, and was accompanied by Don Quixote. Together we traveled down to Seville, where we marveled at dozens of Moorish architecture. Suddenly, I found myself in the narrow streets of Barcelona’s Judería, looking for Gaudí. But I was told that he was currently sunbathing on a Mallorcan beach ! The man who talked to me turned out to be El Profesor in the TV show Casa de Papel. And next to him, Penelope Cruz was eating a paëlla…
When I woke up, I knew that the whole dream was the outcome of my craving for Spain! For all those who miss España as much as I do, here are more than 20 movies and TV series set in Spain to make you explore the country of tapas and playas from your couch.
The Trip to Spain
By Ally Travels
You can take your next trip to Spain without even leaving your house. Just watch the clever British comedy film The Trip to Spain. It’s one of my favorite films to inspire travel, and a trip worth taking!
The film follows Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as fictionalized versions of themselves as they journey across Spain. They’re traveling via car coast to coast on an assignment Steve receives to review some of the best restaurants in the country.
Their banter and impersonations are hilarious and even thought-provoking. The dining scenes will leave your mouth watering. And the featured scenery is out of this world. If you’re like me, you’ll finish this film with a long list of restaurants and locations across Spain that you’ll be dying to visit.
This whimsical 2017 comedy is part of a larger franchise that follows the duo through England, Italy, and Greece as they review restaurants and check out local history. The Trip to Spain is available on Amazon and is a must-watch before your next trip to Spain.
Casa de Papel (Money Heist)
By Alexander from the Gourmand Trotter
Money Heist, or Casa de Papel as it’s originally named in Spanish, is one of the most famous TV shows ever shown on Netflix. It features a group of several members who plan the most epic heist of all times: robbing Banco de España. And it follows the story from the perspective of the robbers as well as the victims, and how they interact during the heist.
The series has a total of 4 seasons so far. But it has been announced that a final season 5 will be released with a grand finale to the story of Money Heist. Some of the main characters are El Profesor, Nairobi, Helsinki, Tokio, and Denver.
There are lots of twists along the way, and the big brain behind everything is called El Profesor, which means teacher in Spanish. He’s the one who visualizes everything and the other members are the ones who take action.
The original language of the show is Spanish. But you can choose a dubbed version with English as well, or simply enjoy the Spanish language with English subtitles. To get to know every character in the series, and enjoy a deeper viewing experience, it’s definitely recommended to watch it in Spanish.
All the actors in this show are phenomenal. And it’s truly one of the best Spanish TV shows ever produced. Most of the events take place in Madrid. But throughout the series, one will also see places in other parts of Spain, like Toledo, which is a great day trip destination from Madrid.
By Sam from Sam Sees World
One of the best TV series set in Spain is the thrilling, drama-filled series called Elite. With 3 seasons and 24 episodes, Elite is a show that keeps you on your feet from beginning to end. It was released in 2018 and is currently still running. A season four is said to be in the works!
The series is about a group of Spanish teens who all attend Spain’s most elite private school, Las Encinas. When 3 working-class teens gain scholarships to attend the school, the clash and rivalry begins. The series has everything: drama, love, murder, mystery… making it a show you will most likely binge-watch. Don’t let the high school drama premise fool you. This is no gossip girl, but a captivating show set in the beautiful city of Madrid with that extra something.
It can be watched on Netflix. And although the show is filmed in Spanish, you can get subtitles or watch the dubbed version.
Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory)
By Allison from Eternal Arrival
One of the best Spanish movies I’ve ever seen is Dolor y Gloria (in English Pain and Glory), a 2019 movie by the acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. In fact, this movie won Time Magazine’s Best Movie of 2019 and was nominated for several Oscars, so it’s a sentiment shared by many!
The film takes place split between the present tense in Madrid and the protagonist’s past in a cave house of Paterna in the region of Valencia. These humble cave houses called ‘coveros’ were inhabited up until around the 1960s. But now, they’re more of a tourist attraction and are quite well preserved. You can visit the actual caves from the film in Paterna. But you can also see similar style cave houses in the region of Sacromonte in Granada.
The plot follows a filmmaker whose career has been on the decline grappling with stories of his past: his childhood and his relationship to his mother, his addiction to heroin as a result of his chronic health issues, his sexuality, and his ultimate triumph over his many struggles through the art of film. It’s a non-linear plot which combines flashbacks and the present tense, presented beautifully. So it’s a film better watched than explained! You can watch the movie online on Amazon, in Spanish with English subtitles.
Las Chicas del Cable (Cable Girls)
By Ale from Sea Salt & Fog
Cable Girls (Las Chicas del Cable) follows a group of four young women whose lives collide when they all take jobs as switchboard operators at the only phone company in Madrid in the 1920’s.
The show highlights female empowerment as each protagonist perseveres in spite of the many obstacles in their way, including navigating LGBTQ relationships during this time. It’s refreshing to see a show that focuses on female friendships. These women have each other’s back, no matter what, and I love the strong feminist undertones.
This Netflix original show ran for five seasons from 2017 to 2020. Seasons 1-4 lead up to the Spanish Republic of 1931, and are made up of 8 hour-ish long episodes per season. Season 5 jumps to the Spanish Civil War several years later, and is made up of 10 action packed episodes.
Cable Girls’ original language is Spanish, but it’s dubbed in English to make it accessible to a US audience. If you’re a fan of shows like Velvet or the Grand Hotel, you’ll find that Cable Girls is your new binging favorite.
Los Amantes Pasajeros (I’m so excited)
By Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Los Amantes Pasajeros (in English I’m so excited) is another film by a brilliant Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. It’s a light comedy filmed in Madrid’s airport that will lift your spirit and makes you laugh. And the best part – expect to see the most iconic Spanish-origin couple – Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz starring in the film as husband and wife and airport staff!
I’m so excited tells the story of flight passengers heading to Mexico on a plane that runs into some technical difficulties. The crew decides to drug everyone in an attempt to keep the passengers calm and entertains those that are still awake with shots, cocktails and performances.
We find out about twisted life stories of different people trapped on the plane. There are various interesting characters including an assassin that is not able to fulfil his assignment because he doesn’t believe in killing women. And a pilot that doesn’t have the guts to come out and tell his wife he is gay.
Los Amantes Pasajeros is guaranteed to keep you amused! Available to watch on Amazon Prime, this 2013 movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Todos lo saben (Everybody knows)
By Stephanie from Navigating Adventure
Everybody Knows – or Todos lo saben – is a fantastic thriller/mystery movie set in regional Spain. It follows Penelope Cruz’ character Laura, as she returns to her home town located just outside of Madrid to attend a family wedding. When her teenage daughter goes missing on the night of the big event, she enlists the help of Javier Bardem’s character, her long time friend Paco. Of course everything isn’t as it first seems. And there are many people along the way that appear to be involved.
This movie keeps you guessing right to the end. And it’s lovely to see not only the countryside of Spain, but the unique culture and personal dynamics of small town Spanish families and friends.
The movie was filmed mostly in the Spanish town of Torrelaguna. It features many colourful characters and as we were planning our very own Spanish vacation at the time we watched it, we really enjoyed this movie a lot. This movie was released in May 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival. Its original language is Spanish with English subtitles which is an even better reason to watch it, if you’re trying to polish up on your Spanish. You can watch Everybody Knows on Google Play.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
By Lauren from Always find an Adventure
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a 2008 romantic-comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen. And featuring Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz. Many women dream about being swept off their feet by a charming foreigner. And this movie takes that fantasy just a tad further (hello love triangle), with a dose of reality while also displaying the beauty of the Catalonian region of Spain. The movie displays scenes in the Catalonian countryside and Barcelona, including the Gracia neighborhood and Park Guell.
Friends Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and Vicky (Rebecca Hall) go on a holiday in Barcelona to visit family and complete some work. They meet Juan Antonio, an artist, and Cristina becomes enamored by his presence. She proceeds on a romantic adventure with him during their stay. Vicky, who is married, also ends up seduced by him. And they become entangled with his ex-wife and fellow artist, Marie Elena (Penélope Cruz).
This movie, originally in English language, is now available to stream on Amazon Video, Apple TV, iTunes, and Google Play. At the time of this article, the movie is not available on Netflix but it has been there before.
By Stella from Around the World in 24 Hours
Barcelona, Spain is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world. So there’s no funnier place to set a comedy about a young man who is impossibly awkward and shy when it comes to love. Whit Stillman’s 1994 English language comedy Barcelona stars Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman as two American cousins looking for romance in Barcelona. Anyone who has ever felt uncool while traveling to a glamorous location will be able to relate to the characters in this movie.
Nichols’s character, Ted, is a dreamy nerd who wants to meet a girl in Spain who will understand him. His cousin Fred is the opposite: a brash jerk who thinks lying to women is the best way to romance them. Fred tells all the girls they meet outrageous and false stories about Ted. He claims this will help the bland, American Ted meet Spanish girls. But it doesn’t work out quite as planned. Viewers of this movie will spend half the time laughing and the other half admiring the amazing views of Barcelona, especially the stunning hills. Barcelona is available to watch on Amazon.
L’Auberge Espagnole (Spanish Apartment)
By Paulina on the Road
One of the top movies set in Spain that you can’t miss is the legendary Spanish Apartment, also known as L’Auberge Espagnole. The movie was shot in 2002 in collaboration between France and Spain and tells the both romantic and hilarious story of Xavier who moves from Paris to Barcelona. He’s taking part in the Erasmus program that allows him to live in Barcelona for 6 months.
Xavier didn’t know that the 6 months he’d spend in the Catalan capital would change his life forever. He moves in with 6 other Erasmus students and they share an apartment. It’s a cheerful, chaotic, multi-cultural environment. And together they explore the nightlife of Barcelona. As Xavier receives a visit from his girlfriend Martine, he realizes that she might not be the one for him and falls in love with the wife of his friend, Anne-Sophie.
The Spanish Apartment is a romantic comedy that became a true classic in Europe! It’s available on Netflix and it’s best to be enjoyed with a bottle of Spanish vino tinto and some Spanish snacks.
By Vicki from Vicki Viaja
One series on Netflix that completely surprised me is Merlí. To be honest, I only started the series because it is one of the only Catalan series on Netflix. But right after starting to watch it, I was totally into it.
The series is about the philosophy professor Merlí, who not only uses unconventional teaching methods but also makes friends with some of his students. In three seasons and a total of 40 episodes, you can follow Merlí, his son, and his students in their everyday school life and in a high school in Barcelona.
In addition, you can get some impressions and pictures from Barcelona throughout the series. It also brings you closer to the cultural differences between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Moreover, each episode is about a different philosopher. So you can also learn something about philosophy.
Merlí was shot from 2015 to 2018, so it has a self-contained storyline – perfect if you’re looking for a series to binge-watch in a couple of days without waiting for the next season to be released. However, the Spanish provider Movistar+ has released a sequel in 2019 that follows another lead actor of the series.
By Sabine and Sean from The Travelling Chilli
Fugitiva is an original Spanish language series consisting of 10 episodes over 1 season. It was released in 2018 and can be viewed on Netflix.
The leading role is played by the famous Spanish actor Paz Vega. A major part of the series was filmed on location and is set in the Mediteranean seaside resort town of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca.
Benidorm is a popular holiday destination for Spanish people as well as other Europeans, like British, Belgians and Dutch. Even though the series is a thriller, it seems that Benidorm was chosen as part of a tourism promotion campaign, highlighting all the positive sides of the city. We have taken quite a few holidays in Benidorm and for that reason I loved the series and watching the places where the filming had taken place.
Fugitiva is about a woman, Magda, who is initially living in Mexico after marrying her wealthy husband. After years of domestic abuse she decides to fake a kidnapping as a means to escape, with her three children, from her abusive husband and his enemies.
Memories of the Alhambra
By Iris Veldwijk from Mind of a Hitchhiker
Before you think “oh, a K-drama—thanks I’ll pass”, hear me out. If any TV series will make you want to travel to southern Spain, it’s this one. Besides a compelling plot, the dreamy shots from Spain and Korea mixed with spectacular CGI and soundtrack will take you on a journey before you grab your passport.
The series starts in Granada, Andalucía, where our female lead runs a hostel in the old town. She came to Granada as a child with her parents and brother. She and her father loved playing the guitar, especially the classical piece and namesake of the show: Recuerdos de la Alhambra.
As an adult, she meets a tech entrepreneur who shows a special interest in the city and her brother. Her brother programmed a masterpiece Augmented Reality (AR) game, centered on the Alhambra fortress and Granada’s medieval history. Competition over the game sends the characters between Granada, Barcelona, and Seoul, where the difference between reality and AR game becomes nebulous.
The characters mostly speak Korean, but they also perform in Spanish and English. Don’t worry, Netflix made sure there are subtitles. There are 16 episodes with each episode a running little over an hour.
Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Spanish Affair)
By Paulina from Visit Southern Spain
There have been a number of hit movies released in Spain. But one of the biggest Spanish box office movies was Spanish Affair, which was released in March 2014. The movie’s original name is Ocho Apellidos Vascos. It was a romantic comedy based on the culture clash between North and South.
Spanish Affair pitches the Andalusians against the Basques when two opposites fall for each other. Rafa, played by Danu Rovira, who is a stand-up comic from Malaga, falls for feisty country girl Amaia (Clara Lago). Rafa is the stereotype of a Sevillian. In order to win the heart of Amaia’s fiercely traditional father, Rafa has to pass himself off as a Basque. The movie is la ight-hearted rom-com, classic Romeo & Juliet stuff, featuring charismatic leads that make it a breezy watch. It makes the audience laugh majorly from Rafa’s admirable Basque accent that he has to forcefully keep up when he follows Amaia to her village in the North of Spain.
The stereotypes and prejudice played are enough for the audience to get most of the jokes. The movie is full of picturesque Basque landscapes and depicts the interiors of some of the most famous restaurants in Seville. You can enjoy your weekend by watching this movie on Amazon Prime.
Lucia y el Sexo (Sex and Lucia)
By Daniel from Urban Abroad
Sex and Lucia is a movie based in Formentera, which is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic Islands. Released in 2002 the story is about a waitress who flees her routine life to visit a secluded fantasy island that her recently deceased boyfriend, a writer named Lorenzo, spoke and wrote about in his late musings.
Once arrived on the island, she coincidently meets with two other women who also happen to have had a connection with the same Lorenzo. Admittedly, the name intrigued me when I saw it on the shelf in the local library before I watched it. And although the title implies sex and nudity, it turned out to be a suspenseful love story and I enjoyed the way in which the sequence of the events unfolded.
You can watch the film on Amazon in Spanish with English subtitles. The film has somewhat of a complex storyline with a few twists, but will keep you engaged as you learn more about the characters. If you are into love stores this one is a must.
You live only once
The multi star-cast film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You live only once) is one of the most watched Bollywood movies of recent times, because of its storyline and the locales. Most parts of the film was shot in beautiful Spain. It was released in the year 2011 and has recently completed 9 years in July. The original language of the movie is Hindi.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a story of three friends who are settled in life, but want to escape from their busy life for a few days and rejuvenate their college days. All three are very different from each other, come from different backgrounds. They do things which they hadn’t done in their lives before. In short, the movie celebrates life in all its forms. The main film stars are Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar with Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin as their female leads. The film was able to convince the viewers to go out of their comfort zones and enjoy life. It also mesmerized audiences with its awe-inspiring and beautiful locations. The movie was shot majorly in 4 Spanish locations, Costa Brava, Buñol, Seville and Pamplona. You can watch the movie on Netflix here.
By Jeanine from Le Wild Explorer
Life Itself is a generation-spanning story set in both Spain and the United States. The Spanish part of the movie takes place in Carmona, a countryside town near Seville. The movie is about love and loss and follows the life of Rodrigo, from a boy into manhood. Olive plantations are very typical in the Andalusian countryside. And a bit of the movie will show you life on a typical finca (plantation.) Rodrigo grows up on the plantation and has a traumatic experience in his adolescence. This experience in many ways connects him to Dylan, a young American woman in Manhattan.
This movie is a tear-jerker and will take you on a bumpy ride. However, it does provide a raw version of how “life itself” can be cruel but always a beautiful experience. The movie is in both English and Spanish and subtitles are available in both languages. Life Itself is available on Amazon.
By Stuart from Just Travelling Through
Set in the fictional town of Cantaloa, Gran Hotel is a Spanish drama series following the lives of the wealthy owners, hard-working staff and clients of an elite hotel in the early 1900s. The story begins with a young working-class man who joins the staff under a pseudonym, in search of his missing sister as things quickly unravel.
While the town may be fictional, its location is anything but. The building used as the exterior of the hotel is Santander’s Magdalena Palace, a former summer home for the Spanish royal family. The surrounding Cantabrian scenery can be seen in many shots in the series, with Santander’s green coastline and the lighthouse on nearby Mouro Island prominent in many episodes.
The series was originally shown on Spanish TV (Antenna 3) between 2011 and 2013 covering three seasons. It’s currently available on Netflix, although the original 39 episodes have been trimmed down and stretched out from their initial 70-80 minute length to around 45 minutes each and 66 episodes in total.
There have been several international adaptations of the series. Italy, Mexico and the United States all have their own versions, while in Egypt the series has been renamed ‘Secret of the Nile’ and won several awards.
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth)
By Chisom Evare from Awesome Traveler
Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno) is a dark fantasy movie that was first released on the 27th May 2006. The film takes place in Spain during the post-war summer of 1944.
Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of a young girl named Ofelia. Ofelia loves fairies and fairy tales. Unknown to her, she is the princess of a foreign world and this gives her a tendency to notice the most enchanting creatures.
She goes to her stepfather’s home in the country along with her pregnant but sickly mother. At her stepfather’s home, she meets a fairy that leads her through a labyrinth where she meets a faun. The faun gives her three tasks to complete and it promises her immortality if she is successful.
The award-winning movie was shot in the Scots Pine forest of Guadarrama mountain range in central Spain. The Guadarrama mountain range has many mysteries of its own. And it is one of the most breathtaking tourist destinations.
While Spanish is the original language of the film, subtitles are available and Guillermo Del Toro (the writer and director) made provisions for an accurate English subtitle. Pan’s Labyrinth can be streamed on Apple TV.
By Dave Chant
The Way, released in 2010, is a poignant story telling the fictional account of a man who loses his son walking the pilgrimage to Santiago, the Way of St James.
Father, hearing of the pilgrimage for the first time upon setting foot in France to identify his son, decides to walk it in his memory. Martin Sheen plays the lead role well and is joined across Spain by an eclectic group of friends that will be familiar for those that have actually walked the Camino itself.
The locations of small town northern Spain, and the countryside, is breathtaking. Lessons are learned and this is very much a representation of the best that the journey through life has to offer The film is in English and can be rented through Amazon.
The Sun Also Rises
By Elisa from World in Paris
The Sun Also Rises (1957) is a film based on the novel written by Ernest Hemingway during his years in Paris. This novel was published in 1926 is today recognized as Hemingway’s greatest work.
The Sun Also Rises is based on real events, on a trip that Hemingway did to Pamplona. Also, the characters are based on real people in Hemingway’s circle. The plot is set mainly in Paris, the French Pyrénées, and Pamplona in Spain during the Festival of San Fermin.
Europe, 1922. Jake Barnes (Tyrone Power), an American journalist comes out of World War I impotent due to a war wound and disillusioned. He decides to leave his past behind and move to Paris, where he meets an aimless group of bohemian expatriates. Amongst Jake’s new friends there’s the party girl Lady Brett Ashley (Ava Gardner). She is hopelessly in love with Jake whom she can’t marry because of her sexual needs. There’s also Brett’s purely nominal fiancé, Mike; and writers Robert and Bill. They all enjoy Paris at night and wander around Europe in berets, drinking, having affairs, and finding no lasting satisfaction in anything.
One of their main trips is Pamplona in Spain, where they decide to go to watch the bull-fights. In Pamplona, Brett is captivated by a 19-year-old bullfighter named Pedro Romero, and they all start to fight.
What I liked about this film is the festive atmosphere in Pamplona during the festival. I also liked the way this group of expatriate writers live a dissolute, hedonistic lifestyle in France and Spain of the 1920s as if they were about to die.
Right now I am in Germany and I can see the full film on youtube.
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Cool post. I watched some of those series and movies. Loved the first series of money heist.