Discover the culture of Spain's cities on this 9-day trip, starting with a tour through Madrid and an evening of flamenco and tapas in Seville. Then make your way to Granada, passing through the village of Ronda and a winery along the way. You'll explore Granada's famous Alhambra palace and gardens, then fly to Barcelona for a cycling tour of its historic districts, as well as a visit to the sites of Gaudí's.

Highlights

  • Visit and enjoy a tasting at a traditional olive oil mill
  • Enjoy an evening of tapas and flamenco in the old town of Seville
  • Tour the Alhambra palace and the Generalife Gardens in Granada
  • Discover Gaudí's masterpieces such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Milà
  • Explore Spain's capital city of Madrid and discover its royal past

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid - Optional Artisan Tour Madrid
Day 2 Discover Madrid's royal legacy with a private city tour Madrid
Day 3 Take the train to Seville - Enjoy a night of tapas and flamenco Seville
Day 4 Discover Seville on a private walking tour Seville
Day 5 Enjoy a private tour of an olive oil estate Seville
Day 6 Day trip to the White Villages and Ronda - Enjoy a winery tour Seville
Day 7 Tour of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens Granada
Day 8 Fly to Barcelona - Explore the city on a cycling tour Barcelona
Day 9 Explore Gaudí's architecture and Barcelona's markets Barcelona
Day 10 Depart Barcelona  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid - Optional Artisan Tour

Sunset in Madrid, Spain
Sunset in Madrid, Spain

Welcome to Spain! 

Upon arrival in Madrid, you'll enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in the city center. Take some time to settle in before heading out to explore some of the city's highlights, including the Puerta del Sol, one of the most historic and expansive plazas in the city. There's also Madrid's famous Fountain of Cibeles, which features a sculpture completed in 1782 depicting Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility, riding in a chariot pulled by lions.

In the afternoon, you can enjoy a 4-hour artisan tour during, visiting the workshops of several talented artists and craftsmen to witness their creativity firsthand. The tour includes stops at a craftsman of handmade Spanish guitars, a tailor who creates bullfighters' costumes, a manufacturer of traditional wine bota-bags (wineskins made of leather or goatskin), handcrafters of traditional Spanish capes, and more.

When night falls, you'll have the evening free to indulge in Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine among history, head to Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world. No less than Ernest Hemingway described it in his seminal novel The Sun Also Rises as the best restaurant on earth. 

Other great restaurant options in Madrid include:

  • San Mamés. Enjoy this family-run taberna by sampling traditional Madrid cuisine. Dishes include callos a la madrileña (a hearty stew of beef tripe, chickpeas, and chorizo), Cantabrian anchovies in pil pil sauce, and bacalao con langostinos (garlic cod with shrimp).
  • Lakasa. Located in Chamberí—a neighborhood heavy with museums and galleries—is this locally-celebrated gem. Its intimate space pairs perfectly with its menu of fresh seasonal produce, wild game, and homemade stews.
  • La Terraza del Madrid. This rooftop restaurant in the city center is the place to come to splurge on an unforgettable meal of haute cuisine, with two Michelin stars, a location in a swanky private club, and a 21-coarse tasting menu on offer.

Day 2: Discover Madrid's royal legacy with a private city tour

View of the Palace and Cathedral of Madrid
View of the Palace and Cathedral of Madrid

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll meet a local guide for a half-day tour of Madrid. Spain's capital city has a long history with interesting architecture, public spaces, and culture. Your guide will reveal insight into how different periods influenced Madrid's neighborhoods and buildings, as well as explain the city's biggest sights.

The tour will start at the Madrid de los Austrias. It was built in the 16th century during the reign of the Hapsburg Dynasty's first ruler, Charles I. Located in the city center, it's home to one of the grandest plazas in Spain, the Plaza Mayor, which was once the heart of Old Madrid.

Nearby, you'll find the Royal Palace, which was the official home of the Spanish monarchs until 1931. You'll tour both the grounds and interior of this 3,418-room monument, entering the parade grounds, the chambers of Charles III, several salons, the Royal Chapel, and the Hall of the Crown, which displays Charles I's crown, scepter, and throne.

Later, enjoy a visit to El Retiro Park. Its 308 acres is the "green lung" of Madrid, abounding with sculptures, fountains, and a man-made lake perfect for an afternoon boat ride. There are several gardens within the park, including the Jardín de Vivaces (Garden of Vivacious Plants), Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inspired by the Andalusia region), and a rose garden home to over 4,000 bushes. The best time to see these blooms from May through June. 

In the evening, return to your hotel for a little rest before heading back out into the city. For dinner, explore some of Madrid's lively neighborhoods, such as trendy Malasaña, the historic Literary Quarter, or the old Latin Quarter, La Latina.

Day 3: Take the train to Seville - Enjoy a night of tapas and flamenco

Flamenco Dancers in Seville
Flamenco Dancers in Seville

After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to Madrid's railway station where you'll board a 3.5-hour train to Seville. Upon arrival, settle into your hotel and unwind before a lively evening in the city.

Either in a small group or private tour, you'll head to Seville's historic old town for a night of delicious tapas and authentic flamenco, a musical style with origins in Andalusia. Your expert guide will lead you through two family-run taverns where you'll taste a wide selection of dishes. Traditional tapas on offer include acorn-fed Iberian ham, gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp in oil), and bacalao (salt cod). Of course, throughout the dinner, you'll pair the tapas with delicious local wines. 

You'll then switch to the flamenco, experiencing the most authentic version in the historic Santa Cruz neighborhood. Here you'll enter a 15th-century building that hosts the evening's dance performance. It's the perfect ambiance in which to experience the power, passion, and drama of real flamenco.

After the performance, you'll visit yet another family-run tapas bar to cap the whirlwind evening with more incredible wines and equally delectable desserts. All in all, it's a perfect end to a magical evening in Seville.

Day 4: Discover Seville on a private walking tour

View of the Santa Cruz Neighborhood in Seville
View of the Santa Cruz Neighborhood in Seville

After breakfast, you'll head off with a local guide to explore Seville, starting with a visit to the Seville Cathedral, a 15th-century Roman-Catholic church that's home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest gothic church in the world, and a testament to religious grandiosity. You'll also see La Giralda, the cathedral's looming belltower. There's a noticeable stylistic difference between the two structures, as this 12th-century pillar was originally built as a minaret for the Great Mosque back when Andalusía was ruled by the Moors.

You'll then walk to the fashionable Santa Cruz neighborhood, which was once the Jewish Quarter in the city. It's a colorful and well-preserved part of the historic center, with many cafés and tapas bars. Enjoy a break with some small plates and regional wine. You can also visit markets and local shops where artisans craft intricate silverwork and elegant garment embroidery. 

After completing the half-day tour, you can return to your hotel and relax or continue to explore the town. For dinner, peruse Seville's incredible gastronomic scene. For local tapas, you have a few options. 

  • La Fresquita on Calle Mateos Gago. This Semana Santa (Easter)-themed tapas bar is beloved by locals. You can't miss the cultural standby that is tomato gazpacho. Rumor has it that every Sevillian home has a large jar of gazpacho in the fridge at all times, which hosts use to welcome guests.

  • Bodeguita Antonio Romero Gamazo. As a busy tapas bar near the Plaza de Toros bullring, this laidback atmosphere is a local favorite.

  • Mariatrifulca. This riverfront bar/restaurant is located in the trendy Triana neighborhood. They offer Spanish staples like acorn-fed ham and Iberian pork loin, plus ceviche and sushi. It's also a great place to enjoy an after-dinner cocktail.

Locals love to finish an evening of tapas with a nightcap. In summer, the rooftop terrace at Hotel Eme is the place to be, where you can enjoy views of the cathedral along with your drink. For another lively option in a stylish space, head near the river and visit DadáBar.

Day 5: Enjoy a private tour of an olive oil estate

Olive Groves in Andalusia
Olive Groves in Andalusia

One of Spain's most popular exports is its high-quality olive oil. You'll witness the production process firsthand on an exclusive tour of an Andalusian olive oil estate. Located just 30 minutes outside Seville, this estate has quite the history, as it was right here back in the 17th-century that Christopher Columbus' son Hernando began exporting olive oil to the New World

Upon arrival, you'll be treated to a typical Andalusian breakfast of coffee, hot chocolate, churros, and toast with olive oil and tomatoes. Afterward, you'll tour the old manufacturing center and view the 16th-century olive-oil presses. You'll also visit the estate's working presses, which use modern methods to produce the olive oil they export today. 

Also at the estate is one of the biggest olive-oil museums in the world. It features exhibits detailing 150 varieties of olives from 13 countries. A visit to this museum reveals the characteristics and qualities of olives and how their oil has evolved to become one of the most popular culinary ingredients in the world. 

Relax on the estate’s patios and enjoy some leisure time while basking in the Andalusian scenery. You'll find wide-open fields, purebred Spanish horses, Arabic gardens, and a private collection of horse-drawn carts dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries. 

The excursion ends with a tasting of olive oils produced on the estate, allowing you to put your newfound knowledge to good use. After returning to Seville, the rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure. You could stroll the Plaza de América at Maria Luisa Park, walk around the neighborhood of Triana or have dinner accompanied by a flamenco show.

Day 6: Day trip to the White Villages and Ronda - Enjoy a winery tour

Famous Bridge of Ronda
Famous Bridge of Ronda

Awake early for a day trip to the beautiful hills in the province of Cádiz, enjoying some of the most spectacular views of Andalucia. Driving through olive groves, rolling meadows, cork forests, and mountainous terrain, you'll visit several Andalusia’s white villages, perched on hillsides with the iconic whitewashed houses visible for miles around.

Your first stop will be Zahara de la Sierra, perhaps the most beautiful of all the White Villages. Nearby, you'll visit an olive mill to learn about the production process and taste their oils, then drive up and over to Grazalema. Here, you'll sample the renowned payoyo cheese.

During the day, and depending on your schedule, you'll stop for lunch in a typical local restaurant. Afterward, you'll continue to Ronda where you'll have time to explore the town at your leisure. 

Before returning to Seville, you'll visit a winery just outside of Ronda. Here, you'll learn all about how this wine-producing area has grown in the last 20 years and, of course, taste some of the different wines with a host to guide you through it.

Upon returning to Seville, you'll have the evening to relax and enjoy the city on your own.

Day 7: Tour of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens

The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens

In the morning, you'll say farewell to Seville and make your way to the city of Granada, which was once the last bastion of Al-Andalus (the historic Muslim name for the Iberian Peninsula) when it was ruled by the Moors. You can see examples of this history in the form of Granada's most famous landmark, the Alhambra, which receives more than two million visitors annually. You'll meet your guide for a private tour of this palace, as well as the surrounding Generalife Gardens

This imposing Muslim fortress was built atop a hill overlooking Granada and dates to the 9th century. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by the Nasrid Dynasty and served as a Moorish palace until 1492 when it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella after the Christian reconquest. Your tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site will take you through its grand halls and the gardens filled with colorful flowers, fountains, and panoramic views of the city down below.

After the tour, you'll have free time to enjoy Granada on your own. You can walk around the labyrinthine streets of the Albaicín and Sacromonte quarters, the well-preserved historic neighborhoods of the city. In areas such as these, you can visit the Granada Cathedral, Royal Church, Alcaicería (old silk market), and Madraza (medieval Koranic school).

Day 8: Fly to Barcelona - Explore the city on a cycling tour

Waterfront Promenade in Barcelona
Waterfront Promenade in Barcelona

In the morning, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight to Barcelona. Upon arrival, you'll take another private transfer to your hotel. After checking in and unpacking, it will be time to head out and explore the capital of Catalonia.

However, you won't be doing so on foot—you'll be touring this popular city by bicycle as you ride through its most famous area: the medieval Gothic Quarter and the trendy El Born neighborhood. As your guide leads you on a 3-hour tour, you'll learn about the rich history of these neighborhoods. You'll pass Roman ruins, the grand Plaça Reial, and the gothic Barcelona Cathedral, which dates to the 13th century. 

Next, you'll cycle from the Gothic Quarter through Ciutadella Park—one of the largest green spaces in the city—and to Barceloneta Beach. This is the main urban beach in Barcelona, and it's always a hub of activity, lined as it is with cafés, restaurants, beach bars, and discos. Riding along the promenade fronting the water is the perfect way to cap your cycling tour of Barcelona's most famous areas.

Day 9: Explore Gaudí's architecture and Barcelona's markets

Gaudí's Park Güell atop Carmel Hill
Gaudí's Park Güell atop Carmel Hill

After breakfast, you'll be picked up by your private guide for an exclusive tour of some of Antoni Gaudi's architectural masterpieces. You'll start by exploring Park Güell, which is set atop Carmel Hill featuring manicured gardens, Gaudi's artistic elements, and fantastic views of Barcelona. This is also a great place to see local buskers performing in the park's nooks and crannies.

Next, you'll visit the famous Sagrada Familia basilica. It's an unfinished masterpiece where vaults can reach nearly 200 feet (60 m) high. Then make your way over to Casa Mila (1906-1912), one of Gaudi’s most iconic works of civil architecture due to both its constructional and functional innovations, as well as its ornamental and decorative details. Built for the wealthy and aristocratic Milà family, the result is a sensational work of art.

Later, you'll stop at a few of Barcelona's best local markets to taste a range of Spanish delights with the help and careful guidance of your guide.

Day 10: Depart Barcelona

Sunset in Barcelona
Sunset in Barcelona

It's time to say farewell to Barcelona. Depending on the time of your flight or train reservation, enjoy one last walk through the city. At the designated time, you'll transfer to the airport or train station for your departure.