This nine-day itinerary combines the best of Barcelona with a bit of an island hop. It begins in the capital of Catalonia with visits to famous buildings, like the cathedral La Sagrada Familia, as well as tours of the local markets, a private cooking class, and cycling tours of the Gothic Quarter and Barceloneta Beach. You'll cap the trip in the paradise of Menorca, where you'll go horseback riding and sunbathe on white-sand beaches.

Highlights

  • Tour Barcelona's Gaudí-designed architectural highlights
  • Learn how to cook traditional Spanish dishes in a private cooking class
  • Take a day trip to the 16th Catalan monastery of Montserrat
  • Enjoy horseback riding along the coast of Menorca

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Spain - Self-Guided Barcelona Tour Barcelona
Day 2 Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família Barcelona
Day 3 Private Bike Tour of Barcelona Barcelona
Day 4 Boqueria Market Guided Tour - Cooking Class Barcelona
Day 5 Day Trip to Montserrat & Wine Tour Barcelona
Day 6 Flight from Barcelona to Menorca - Explore Menorca
Day 7 Horseback Riding in Menorca Menorca
Day 8 Menorca Free Day - Optional Kayak Tour Menorca
Day 9 Depart Spain from Menorca  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Spain - Self-Guided Barcelona Tour

Welcome to Barcelona
Welcome to Barcelona

Welcome to Spain!

Upon arrival at Barcelona's El Prat Airport, a private driver will take you into the city where you can check into your hotel and unwind. You'll then have the afternoon free to explore on a self-guided tour.

We recommend first visiting Mt. Montjuic and the surrounding area. Montjuic is a famous hill that stands 1,988 feet (606 meters) high and overlooks the Port of Barcelona. Take the Montjuic Cable Car from the metro station near Olympic Park, which takes you up to the 17th century Castle Montjuic and offers panoramic views of the city.  You can also access Montjuic via cable car from Barcelona Beach and by funicular elevator adjacent to the cable car. 

The Poble Espanyol is also fun to visit. Constructed in 1929, this open-air museum features over 100 recreated buildings in the style of traditional Spanish villages. When the sun goes down over the city, make sure you're near the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, named for the dazzling display of water and colored lights that occur after dark. It's the best free show in the city, one whose effect is heightened by the hundreds of spectators and a communal atmosphere.

Day 2: Visit Park Güell & Sagrada Família

The Gothic-modernist marvel that is the Sagrada Familia
The Gothic-modernist marvel that is the Sagrada Familia

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet a local guide who will whisk you away in a chauffeured vehicle for a half-day tour. The destinations are two of the most impressive works by the legendary Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí: Park Güell and the Sagrada Família.

First, you'll visit Park Güell. Located atop Carmel Hill in north Barcelona, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fine example of Gaudí's boundary-pushing modernist style. The park takes up 42 acres and you'll be able to marvel at every building as you stroll the walkways and gardens. There are also incredible views at many points in Park Güell that look out over the city.

Next up is the Sagrada Família, the iconic Roman Catholic basilica with an impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan-modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Despite construction on the church beginning in 1882, it's still technically under construction and was only consecrated in 2010. Upon arrival, the guide will reveal insight into the Sagrada Familia's fascinating history, and you'll glean even more info as you explore the interior. 

Around lunchtime, you will part ways with your guide. On your own, you can visit Ciutadella Park. Open since 1881, this green lung of Barcelona takes up 70 acres and features sculptures, lakes, gardens, playgrounds, and the Barcelona Zoo. You could easily spend the remainder of the afternoon here and not run out of things to do and see.

Day 3: Private Bike Tour of Barcelona

Biking is a great way to get your bearings in Barcelona
Biking is a great way to get your bearings in Barcelona

Today, after breakfast, get ready for a bike tour around Barcelona! At the designated time, your private guide will meet you at your hotel and take you on a whirlwind panoramic tour of this wonderful city. Riding a bike is a great way to get some exercise and learn your way around this expansive city in a fun and dynamic way.

During the tour, you will ride along the narrow streets of the Old Town (including Raval, El Born, and Barri Gòtic) before arriving at Park de la Ciutadella—a beautiful respite for relaxing strolls and also the site of the 1888 Universal Expo.

With fun anecdotes and great views to be had along the way, you'll also visit Olympic Village, the city's redeveloped port, and of course Barceloneta Beach.

Day 4: Boqueria Market Guided Tour - Cooking Class

Fresh produce at the Boqueria Market
Fresh produce at the Boqueria Market

In the morning you'll embark on a guided, small-group tour to the gastronomic epicenter of Barcelona: the Boqueria Market. Open since 1835, this is the most famous covered market in the city. Each day over 200 vendors open their stalls and sell everything from fresh produce and spices to fresh fish, cured meats, and artisanal cheeses. Plus there are plenty of tapas bars and restaurants here serving high-quality Catalan cuisine. 

Because this market is so big and hectic (it receives over 40,000 visitors each day), it's best to let your expert guide lead the way and direct you to the best stalls. After touring the Boqueria and picking up any artisanal products that strike your fancy, you'll head to a local kitchen to partake in a cooking class. Under the guidance of an expert instructor, you'll learn to make traditional Spanish specialties including paella (and enjoy them during a group lunch).

Day 5: Day Trip to Montserrat & Wine Tour

The monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat
The monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat

Today, you'll enjoy a full-day tour of Barcelona's countryside and wine country. 

After meeting your driver/guide at the hotel, you'll travel 28 miles (45 km) outside of Barcelona to the Montserrat Mountains. Your destination is Catalonia's holiest site, the 16th-century Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Sitting on a mountain at an altitude of 4,055 feet (1,266 meters), the views from here are spectacular. You can reach the monastery on a 1.5-hour hike from the town of Monistrol de Montserrat or simply take a five-minute cable-car.

Upon arrival, your guide will lead you on a highlights tour of the monastery. These include the basilica, where above the altar hangs an impressive statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Barcelona. You'll also visit the best vantage points around the monastery to snap photos of the incredible vistas.   

After the guided tour, you can explore on your own. Maybe take the funicular to nearby Santa Cova. Also known as the "Holy Grotto," this is a religious shrine located in a mountain cave and is an important pilgrimage site. Or you could visit the Museum of Montserrat. This impressive museum features archeological items from throughout the monastery's long history and paintings by masters like Caravaggio, Dalí, and Picasso.

Afterward, you'll hop in the car and transfer about 30 minutes from Montserrat to Oller del Mas, a 10th-century castle that's also a venerable winery. Oller del Mas is located outside the city of Manresa in Pla de Bages, a small grape-growing region in Catalonia that enjoys a Designation of Origin (DO) status due to the fine wines it produces. Located at the foot of Montserrat, from the castle you'll be able to look back at incredible views of the mountains. 

Before visiting the winery, though, you'll stop at the Oller del Mas country club for a traditional, multi-course Catalan lunch with wine pairings. Later in the afternoon, you'll walk over to the vineyards where and enjoy a tour led by an expert oenologist. Not only will you see the vines, but you'll visit the production plant and old cellar, which is located inside the castle. Then it will be time for a tasting of three different wines produced by Oller de Mas and paired with delicious cheeses. 

Day 6: Flight from Barcelona to Menorca - Explore

Es Calo Blanc, Menorca
Es Calo Blanc, Menorca

In the morning a driver will transfer you to the airport where you'll catch a one-hour flight to Menorca. One of four islands in Spain's Balearic Archipelago, Menorca is ideal for travelers who prefer a tranquil beach holiday to the constant partying of its western neighbor Ibiza

You'll arrive in Menorca's capital city, Maó, where you'll pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel. After checking in and unpacking you can relax for a bit before heading out to explore the island. 

If you just can't wait to hit the beach, there are many options around the capital. Es Calo Blanc is located about five miles south of the city and just south of the airport. There may not be much in the way of sand here, but the rocks hugging the cove are good spots to lay your towel and make great platforms for diving into crystalline lagoons. Cala d'en Tortuga, a few miles northeast of Maó, is another great option located in S'Albufera National Park, a nature reserve. 

Punta Prima is about the same distance outside the capital and located near the southern tip of the island. There's a large beach here and ample parking, but know that it tends to get crowded. Sa Mesquida Playa is just a couple miles from Maó on the east coast, and it's a gem. It features a long and crescent-shaped sandy beach hugged at either end by promontory hills that protect the cove from wind. 

If you're a bit of a foodie, be sure to try the island's famous Mahón cheese. Named after Menorca's capital, this is a smooth hard cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk. It's unique in that it has a somewhat salty, spicy flavor mixed with fruity and sweet aromas. Whatever your opinion of it, Mahón cheese has passed the test of time—Menorcans have been producing it on the island for over 700 years.

Day 7: Horseback Riding in Menorca

Cala Fustam, Menorca
Cala Fustam, Menorca

Today you'll enjoy a leisure activity perfectly suited for an island with a stunning coastline like Menorca: horseback riding.

In the morning you'll drive 25 minutes to the eastern edge of the island near the medieval city of Ciutadella. It's a historic and beautiful city, but now's not the time for strolling its old cobbled streets.

Instead, you'll visit the rocky coast south of Ciutadella, home to some of the most gorgeous coves on the island. Here you'll saddle up and begin the 2.5-hour horseback ride along the famed Camí de Cavalls (Path of the Horses). This is a coastal route that various occupiers of Menorca, from the Moors to the British, used to patrol the island for centuries. You'll pass beautiful coves like Cala Fustam, an isolated spot hiding a white-sand virgin beach and turquoise waters.

After the ride, you'll transfer back to your hotel in the capital. In the afternoon, you'll have free time to continue exploring the city on your own. If you're a history buff with an interest in archeology, there are some fascinating sites in and around Maó.

Right outside the city are the megalithic monuments of Trepucó and Talatí de Dalt. These are the remains of settlements from the Talaiotic culture, a society that existed during the Iron Age. Another archeological gem near to the capital is the 19th-century Mola Fortress. This impressive stone stronghold was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II of Spain to protect Maó's port.

For more history, visit the Museo de Menorca. It offers fascinating exhibits detailing Menorca's cultural timeline over the centuries and includes ancient sculptures, ceramics, tools, and jewelry. Plus there's also 19th-century art, antique furniture, and photographs.

Day 8: Menorca Free Day - Optional Kayak Tour

Take a kayak tour around Menorca
Take a kayak tour around Menorca

Today is a free day to enjoy however you see fit. If you choose to hit the beach and spend your time sunbathing, no one will fault you. 

However, if you're traveling during the summer months, you can opt for a kayak tour along Menorca's coast. There are a number of routes around the island, including a tour of coastal caves. This four-hour trip leaves from the beach of Es Canutells, on the southeast side of the island. After three hours of paddling, you'll reach the Cala Coves, an area famous for pebbly beaches, clear waters, and limestone cliffs containing dozens of caves you can explore on foot. 

You can also choose the Mongofre route, which leaves from Na Macaret. This beach is located on the northeast of the island just above Albufera des Grau National Park. Over a couple of hours, you'll stop at a number of protected areas along the coast plus Arenalet de s’Enclusa and Mongofre. These uncrowded beaches are ideal due to their remote location and lack of road access.

Day 9: Depart Spain from Menorca

Goodbye, Menorca
Goodbye, Menorca

In the morning, a driver will meet you and transfer you to the airport. You'll then catch a flight back to mainland Spain, where you'll meet your connecting flight home. Adios!

Map

Map of Spain Beach Getaway: Barcelona and Menorca - 9 Days
Map of Spain Beach Getaway: Barcelona and Menorca - 9 Days