- Discover Spain's capital city of Madrid and its royal past
- Enjoy a guided tour of Granada's Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens
- Check out coastal Malaga's burgeoning art gallery and restaurant scene
- Enjoy a flamenco show in one of the most iconic neighborhoods of Seville
- Take a day trip to Toledo, one of the most incredible medieval cities in Spain
|Day 1||Arrive in Madrid, Evening Tapas Tour||Madrid|
|Day 2||Explore Madrid, Cultural Highlights Walking Tour||Madrid|
|Day 3||Day Trip to the UNESCO City of Toledo||Madrid|
|Day 4||Train to Granada, Guided City Tour||Granada|
|Day 5||Tour of the Alhambra & Generalife Gardens||Granada|
|Day 6||Train to Málaga, City Tour||Málaga|
|Day 7||Picasso Guided Visit & Cooking Class||Málaga|
|Day 8||Transfer to Seville, Guided City Tour||Seville|
|Day 9||Olive Oil Experience & Evening Flamenco Show||Seville|
|Day 10||Day Trip to Cádiz, Explore Spain's Historic Gateway||Seville|
|Day 11||Train to Madrid, Free Day||Madrid|
|Day 12||Depart Madrid|
Day 1: Arrive in Madrid, Evening Tapas Tour
Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at the nation's capital, you'll enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in the city center. Take some time to settle in before heading out to explore. You'll definitely want to see some of the highlights, like the Puerta del Sol, one of the most historic and expansive plazas in the city. There's also Madrid's famous Fountain of Cibeles. Located in the city center, it features a sculpture completed in 1782 and depicting Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility, riding in a chariot pulled by lions.
In the evening, you'll dig into Madrid's culture on a food tour. A local expert guide will lead you on a two-hour walking excursion that stops at some great tapas bars. On this tour, you'll visit Barrio Las Letras, which is known as the "literary quarter." This historic neighborhood in the city center was once home to Spanish literary legends like Cervantes and Quevedo. Besides visiting some historic sights around here, you'll also stop at Calle Huertas for a bite at one of the many tapas bars that line the street.
Day 2: Explore Madrid, Cultural Highlights Walking Tour
Today, you'll discover the city of Madrid and explore its cultural and architectural highlights on a walking tour. Your guide will recount the history of the city and its development from a medieval seat of Spanish power to a modern metropolis of international renown. You'll also learn about current social and cultural events to ensure you're up to date on what's happening in 21st-century Madrid.
After you've experienced a bit of the city, your guide will leave you at a great local restaurant for lunch. You'll then have the rest of the day to explore on your own. You might want to visit the expansive plazas in the heart of the city, such as the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol, which date back to the 15th and 14th centuries, respectively, and embody classic icons of Old Madrid.
Madrid is also home to can't-miss museums like the Prado Museum, which boasts one of the finest collections of European art spanning the 12th through the 20th century and featuring the works of masters like Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, among others. There's also the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain's national museum of 20th-century art, which contains works by masters such as Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
After a bit of culture, you might consider visiting El Retiro Park. This 308-acre space is the green lung of Madrid, abounding with sculptures, fountains, a man-made lake, and a 400-year-old Mexican conifer, which is regarded as the oldest tree in Madrid. There are also must-visit gardens here, including the Jardín de Vivaces (Garden of Vivacious Plants), Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inspired by the Andalusia region), and a garden home to over 4,000 roses—the best time to see these blooms is from May through June.
Day 3: Day Trip to the UNESCO City of Toledo
A half-hour train ride south of Madrid lies Toledo, a historic city once Spain's capital in the 16th century. The layered city is perched atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, its massive 16th-century fortress dominating the scene.
In the Middle Ages, Toledo was known as the "City of the Three Cultures," where—legend has it—Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. You can see remnants of this in the old Arab, Muslim, and Christian monuments that still stand. These include the 15th-century Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the former Roman palace Alcázar de Toledo, and the Moorish Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, which dates to the 12th century. Accompanied by a local guide, you'll visit these historic landmarks and others, including the grand 13th-century Toledo Cathedral and the 12th-century Church of Santo Tomé. Throughout it all, you'll tour the ancient streets of an incredible city that could aptly be described as an open-air museum.
After your walking tour, you'll learn about the steelwork crafted in Toledo. On a visit to the city's historic foundry, you'll see where ancient blacksmiths forged the famous swords made from Toledo steel. These were used by the Roman general Hannibal in the Punic Wars and by the Christian armies in the Middle Ages. These weapons are of incomparable quality, and you can appreciate the craftwork by viewing some of the swords at the foundry. After the guided visit, you'll enjoy lunch and explore the city on your own. Later in the day, you'll return to Madrid.
Day 4: Train to Granada, Guided City Tour
After breakfast, you'll transfer to the train station for your journey three hours south to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the city of Granada. Located in Spain's southern autonomous community of Andalusia, Granada is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in the south. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have some time to relax and unwind.
In the late afternoon, you'll meet a guide for a city tour of Granada by bike. Or, if you prefer a slower pace, you can opt for a walking tour instead. You'll visit all the major sites, including the Plaza Nueva (the oldest square in the city), the Albaicín (the medieval/Moorish historic center), Barrio Realejo (the historic Jewish Quarter), and the 16th century Catedral de Granada, the largest and most opulent Roman Catholic church in the city.
End the day at a local eatery where you'll enjoy some traditional tapas and drinks. Bring your appetite—Granada is known for its huge portion sizes.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Tour of the Alhambra & Generalife Gardens
Granada was once the last bastion of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) 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. In the morning, you'll meet an expert guide for your tour.
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, after the Christian reconquest, it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and on tour, you'll walk through its grand halls and stroll the Generalife Gardens, which are filled with colorful flowers and fountains and offer panoramic views of the city down below.
After the tour, you'll have free time to enjoy Grenada 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 Quranic school).
Day 6: Train to Málaga, City Tour
After breakfast, take the train to Málaga. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and head out to explore before your guided city tour.
The city is fast growing in popularity, offering a buzzing atmosphere and a wealth of things to see and do. Your guide will tell you all about Málaga's history, stopping by spots such as the Roman Theatre and the Cathedral of Málaga. Your guide will bring the city to life and give you plenty of ideas on what to see and do in your free time.
For dinner, sample the local cuisine of fish and seasonal vegetables, along with olives, almonds, grapes, raisins, and delicious baked goods. Check out the waterfront or the Old Town along Calle Marques de Larios, which offers some excellent restaurant options.
Day 7: Picasso Guided Visit & Cooking Class
Besides its medieval cathedrals and enviable location on Spain's Costa del Sol, Málaga prides itself on being the birthplace of one of the most prominent and revolutionary artists in history: Pablo Picasso. Today's exclusive tour of Málaga focuses on the "father of Cubism," giving you insight into the life and art of this influential artist. You'll visit the Picasso Museum, located in the historic center of the city. It's home to almost 300 works by Málaga's most famous son, all of them donated from Picassos' family estate.
Alternately, explore a different side of Málaga via a culinary class. Start the experience in Colmenar, where you'll have a traditional Spanish breakfast. After, explore the city on a short walking tour to observe the day-to-day life of this typical rural town.
From here, drive into the campo (countryside) through the mountains, taking in the scenery and distant views of the Sierra Nevada and sea. After a 10-minute drive through the olive and almond groves, you'll arrive at La Rosilla, a rustic, traditional Spanish finca (cottage). Spend the day here, learning, indulging, and creating together with your private group. Enjoy tapas, taste local ingredients, create traditional seasonal dishes, sip regional wines, and learn the history of the area through the medium of food.
Day 8: Transfer to Seville & Guided City Tour
After breakfast, your private transfer will take you to Seville. Upon arrival, check in and meet up with your local expert guide for an architecture and cultural tour of Seville's numerous sights, such as the Plaza de España, Guadalquivir Riverfront, Setas Marketplace, Plaza de San Francisco, and some of the city's most beautiful gardens and parks (you can also opt to do biking city tour).
During the excursion, your informative guide will share anecdotes and explain some of the mysteries and stories behind the city of Seville. Following the tour, you'll have the rest of the day to spend as you please, perhaps taking a long paseo (stroll) to enjoy the surroundings at your own pace.
You can visit Royal Alcázar, a fortified palace that encapsulates distinct historical eras; housing preserved Islamic art. Here, you'll encounter a captivating blend of Mudéjar art and the Gothic style alongside areas adorned with Renaissance and Baroque elements.
Afterward, immerse yourself in Seville's local artisan culture. Venture into the heart of the city's old town, meandering down an unassuming side street. Behind an inconspicuous door, you'll step into a 19th-century residence filled with priceless artistic treasures. This is the private domain of renowned art restorers who graciously invite you to share their boundless passion for their craft. Discover their intricate techniques for reviving ancient artworks, breathing new life into age-old pieces.
Day 9: Olive Oil Experience, Evening Flamenco Show
In the morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you outside the city to a special locale in the countryside. One of Spain's most popular exports is its high-quality olive oil, and today, you'll experience the production process firsthand on an exclusive tour of an Andalusian olive oil estate. This estate has quite a history, as it was right here, back in the 17th century, that Christopher Columbus' son, Hernando, began exporting olive oil to the Americas.
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. The excursion ends with a tasting of olive oils from the estate, allowing you to put your newfound knowledge of this tasty ingredient to good use.
After returning to Seville, prepare for your big night out: a flamenco show in one of the most renowned tablaos (performance halls) of Seville.
Day 10: Day Trip to Cádiz, Explore Spain's Historic Gateway
In the morning, you'll take the train to Cádiz. Upon arrival, head out to explore. You have the whole day free to enjoy a self-guided tour of Cádiz, one of the most historic cities in southern Spain. It was the site of the creation of Spain's first constitution, which was passed in 1812 in the Church of Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, establishing national sovereignty from France. Here, you can also visit a historic square where the charter was once read aloud, the Plaza de San Antonio.
But Cádiz is much more than historical landmarks and beautiful churches. It's a wonderland for foodies, and there's no greater spot in which to be indoctrinated into this city's gastronomic culture than the Mercado Central de Abastos. Dating back to 1838, this is Spain's oldest indoor municipal market, and it features more than 150 stalls comprised of everything from restaurants to tapas bars to fresh produce vendors, fishmongers, butchers, and more. The market is most alive on Fridays and Saturdays.
Near the market, in the central old town area of Cádiz, is the Paseo Campo del Sur. Some say that Cádiz and Havana, Cuba, are sister cities, and walking along this waterfront promenade, you'll see why. It's a perfect place to take in the view of the majestic twin bell towers that comprise the 17th-century Catedral de Cádiz, which dominates the skyline.
There's also an inviting beach in the city center in the form of La Caleta, the most popular stretch of sand in town. If you're not merely content on land, consider a half-day sailing tour around the tranquil Bay of Cádiz and down the coast. The waters in the bay are calm, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful scenery amid total relaxation. It's even better as you sip a glass of Cádiz's regional Garum red wine. At the end of the day, return to Seville by train.
Day 11: Train to Madrid, Free Day
After breakfast, you'll transfer to the train station for a three-hour journey north to Madrid. From here, you'll hop in a taxi for the drive to your hotel. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day free to enjoy however you wish. Perhaps you'll want to do some more sightseeing and discover some of the landmarks and locales you might have missed out on during your first visit.
Day 12: Depart Madrid
In the morning, a driver will meet you for a private transfer to the airport. This concludes your great journey through Spain. Adios!