Combine Spain's historical culture with its unique island landscapes in this trip that takes you from tapas tours through Madrid's winding streets to windsurfing at some of the world's best beaches. Explore the Canary Islands by riding camels along sand dunes, hiking to the tallest peak, and traversing the lunar-like terrain of Timanfaya Park, plus perusing idyllic villages and noshing on exceptional local cuisine. Before heading back to Madrid, experience the artistic works of architect Manrique, take a tour of La Graciosa Island, and try your luck surfing or scuba diving in the warm waters of Lanzarote

Highlights

  • Discover the lunar-like terrain of Timanfaya Park with a private guide
  • Let your personal guide tour you through all four coasts of Gran Canaria
  • Experience the unique artistic works of famous architect and activist, Manrique
  • Ride a camel on the sand dunes and along the beach in Corralejo
  • Enjoy tapas and tintos while exploring Madrid's unique literary quarter

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid Madrid
Day 2 Explore Madrid With a Tapas Tour Madrid
Day 3 Fly from Madrid to Gran Canaria Maspalomas
Day 4 Guided Tour of Gran Canaria Maspalomas
Day 5 Explore Gran Canaria at Your Own Pace Maspalomas
Day 6 Discover the City of Las Palmas Maspalomas
Day 7 Ferry From Agaete to Corralejo Fuerteventura
Day 8 Enjoy a Camel Ride Along Corralejo Dunes Fuerteventura
Day 9 Outdoor Adventures in Jandia Park and Morro Jable Fuerteventura
Day 10 Depart Corralejo for Lanzarote Lanzarote
Day 11 Explore Timanfaya Park Lanzarote
Day 12 Day Trip to La Graciosa Island Lanzarote
Day 13 Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Lanzarote Lanzarote
Day 14 Experience the Creative Works of Manrique Lanzarote
Day 15 Fly From Lanzarote to Madrid Madrid
Day 16 Depart Madrid  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid

Madrid at Night
Madrid at Night

Welcome to Spain!

Upon arrival in Madrid, you'll be transferred 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, including the Puerta del Sol, one of the most historic and expansive plazas in the city. Nearby is Plaza Mayor, an excellent spot to sit and relax while enjoying tapas, cañas, and tintos.

After a little reprieve, find your way to Madrid's Fountain of Cibeles, which features a sculpture completed in 1782 depicting Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility, riding in a chariot pulled by lions. Down the block is Gran Vía, an impressive boulevard filled with stunning architecture and theaters showcasing plays and musical productions. If you're more of a museum person, head to the world-famous Museo Nacional del Prado. Nearby you'll find El Retiro Park, which hosts the stunning Crystal Palace.

When night falls, be sure to indulge in Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to Botín. 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: People come to this family-run tavern to sample expertly-prepared cuisine that's traditional tp Madrid. 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 means it's moody and chic, yet it also has a solid menu featuring fresh seasonal produce, wild game, and homemade, rustic stews.

  • La Terraza del Madrid: This rooftop restaurant is sure to impress with two Michelin stars, a location in a swanky private club, and a 21-course tasting menu. Definitely book in advance and be sure to wear a jacket and tie, or they'll turn you away at the door.

Day 2: Explore Madrid With a Tapas Tour

Traditional Tapas in Madrid
Traditional Tapas in Madrid

The morning and afternoon are yours to explore the charms of Madrid's lively and diverse city center. Enjoy the multicultural atmosphere of the city's main neighborhoods, including Malasaña, Chueca, La Latina, and Lavapies by meandering the streets, popping into shops, and sitting in charming parks.

If you have time, take a stroll in one of Madrid's largest and most beloved parks, El Retiro. Here you can rent a rowboat on the lake, visit the Palacio de Velázquez to view its rotating contemporary art exhibits, and take in the beautiful Crystal Palace, which gleams at sunset.

In the evening, you'll dig into Madrid's culture on a food tour. A local guide will lead you on a 2-hour walking excursion that stops in some of the city's best 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 lit legends like Cervantes and Quevedo. Besides visiting some historic sights, you'll also stop on Calle Huertas for a bite at one of the many tapas bars that line the street.

Day 3: Fly from Madrid to Gran Canaria

The Incredible Beachfront Sand Dunes of Maspalomas
The Incredible Beachfront Sand Dunes of Maspalomas

A quick, 3-hour flight takes you from the country's bustling capital city to the beautiful Canary Islands. You'll start in Gran Canaria, a popular destination filled with high energy, amazing culture, and unique landscapes.

Upon arrival, you'll collect your rental car and make your way to your hotel in the southern part of the island. After settling in, you can start your exploration of Gran Canaria, starting with the resort town of Maspalomas. You'll recognize the town almost immediately, as its beaches are some of the most well-known and photographed in the Canary Islands.

Maspalomas' picturesque scene includes an emerald-hued pond of the same name, as well as wide sand dunes and gorgeous groves of palm trees. The entire area has a total of 29 beaches and coves, including the popular beaches of Inglés, Maspalomas, and San Agustín, all of which hold the blue flag awarded by the European Union. This means they are clean, safe, and offer high-quality standards. Enjoy your time strolling the sandy beach or exploring the town.

Day 4: Guided Tour of Gran Canaria

Colorful Village of Puerto de Mogán,
Colorful Village of Puerto de Mogán, "Little Venice"

Enjoy an early breakfast before heading out on today's excursion, which includes a guided tour of all four coasts of Gran Canaria Island.

The first stop is the picturesque fishermen village of Puerto de Mogán. With its colorful buildings sitting quaintly along canals, you'll quickly understand why many refer to it as “Little Venice”. Grab a coffee in one of the cafes before continuing your tour. Soon you'll find yourself in a volcanic landscape surrounded by mountains as you near the scenic region of San Nicolás, the center of Gran Canaria's tomato farms.

The west coast of Gran Canaria is very scenic, with beautiful cliffs, rocky coastline, and rugged terrain. Eventually, your guide will take you to the Puerto de las Nieves in Agaete, a small fishing port set just north of Tamadaba Natural Park. Here you’ll see what’s left of the “Finger of God”, an eroding sea stack that, as you can guess, looks like a finger pointing to the sky. Enjoy lunch here at one of the port-side restaurants serving locally-sourced seafood.

After lunch, you'll pass through the villages known for their banana plantations, including Gáldar, Guía, and Arucas. Then you'll head to Las Palmas, the bustling capital of Gran Canaria. Enjoy this vibrant city, strolling along the famous Canteras Beach and visiting the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium.

After an unforgettable day, you’ll return to Maspalomas via the east coast of Gran Canaria.

Day 5: Explore Gran Canaria at Your Own Pace

Exploring the Island of Gran Canaria
Exploring the Island of Gran Canaria

After your guided tour from yesterday, you'll have a better understanding of what Gran Canaria has to offer. As you saw, there are many reasons why tourists choose the island as their holiday destination. With a temperate climate, outstanding beaches, extraordinary natural heritage, and opportunities for water sports, you're ready to explore the island.

Using your rental car, traverse the island at your own pace. If you're looking for a beach, you have 146 miles (236 km) of coastline to explore, with choices ranging from busy, popular beaches to secluded, peaceful coves. San Bartolomé de Tirajana is home of the famous Playa del Inglés Beach, or you can enjoy Maspalomas Beach with its sand dunes. If you prefer more rugged seclusion, check out the broad, untouched sands of Güi-Güi.

For those hoping for a bit more adventure, you'll find that Gran Canaria is a great option for water sports. There are many possibilities, including scuba diving, surfing, sailing, and, of course, windsurfing. The island is considered one of the best places in the world for windsurfing, hosting major international windsurfing competitions each year.

After exploring the island, you'll head back to your accommodation in Maspalomas.

Day 6: Discover the City of Las Palmas

The Main Beach of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
The Main Beach of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Today you'll explore Gran Canaria's capital city, the bustling seaside metropolis of Las Palmas. There is plenty to do and see to keep you entertained, but the best way to truly enjoy the city and get a better idea of its layout is to simply stroll.

Start your day by walking through the city's beautiful and historic neighborhoods, which were originally apart of the old city. San Antonio, Vegueta, and Triana neighborhoods were all founded by Juan Rejón, the pioneer of the Catholic Monarchs, in 1478. It was here where the first colonizers settled, giving the streets an atmosphere halfway between colonial and Andalusian.

La Vegueta, in particular, preserves colonial architecture from the 15th and 16th centuries in its beautiful courtyards and balconies. The most historic point is Santa Ana Square, where you'll find the impressive Las Palmas Cathedral, featuring both Gothic and Neoclassic architecture due to the length of its construction. Enjoy the buzz of the square while meandering the shops and stopping for lunch in one of the restaurants or cafes. 

In the afternoon, head to the beach! Las Palmas is home to a large and wide beach set right in its center, allowing easy access for a quick dip in the ocean. Sun loungers and umbrellas are available for rent, and there are plenty of cafes and bar lining the beach if you need a refreshment.

Day 7: Ferry From Agaete to Corralejo

Views of the stunning Bay of Corralejo
Views of the stunning Bay of Corralejo

This morning, you'll trade Gran Canaria for the beautiful island of Fuerteventura. From Agaete, you'll take a ferry to the seaside town of Corralejo, where you'll collect your rental car and make your way to the northwest side of the island in El Cotillo. After settling into your accommodation, start your exploration of the city center where you can meander the maze-like streets. If you're interested in the history of the area, stop at the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje or the 17th-century fortress known as El Tostón.

El Cotillo is home to many stunning beaches, the largest being Playa del Castillo. Stroll along the sandy shores or enjoy a dip in its emerald waters. The coves of the northern beaches, particularly La Concha, provide excellent swimming.

In the evening, drive out to Corralejo, a quaint fishing village known for the large dunes along its incredible beaches, as well as the scenic area of Corralejo Natural Park. Enjoy local seafood here, eating at one of the restaurants or cafes near the port.

Day 8: Enjoy a Camel Ride Along Corralejo Dunes

Enjoy a Camel Ride Along Sand Dunes
Enjoy a Camel Ride Along Sand Dunes

After breakfast, visit Corralejo Nature Reserve, a long dune field which extends from Puerto Remedio beach all the way to the small peninsula of La Salina. It constitutes a large habitat with numerous protected and endemic species.

One of the best ways to enjoy the dunes is to ride a camel along the beach and through the park (short option), or up to the top of Roja Mountain (long option). The camels are always under the supervision of trained and experienced guides, who will take care of you at all times. Your only duties are to enjoy yourself and photograph the amazing  landscapes, if you wish.

In the late afternoon, head back to your accommodation to freshen up before enjoying dinner in El Cotillo.

Day 9: Outdoor Adventures in Jandia Park and Morro Jable

Jandia Natural Park's Unique Landscape
Jandia Natural Park's Unique Landscape

Today you'll have a full day to explore the beauty of Jandía Nature Reserve, which is set in the township of Pájara in the south of Fuerteventura. This area is renowned for its stunning beaches and a range of leisure activities. You can create your own itinerary, or sign up for guided excursions. Not only is there plenty to see along the shore, but the southern part of the island also encompasses some stunning interior villages and beaches.

If you prefer hiking, a great option is to brave the slopes of Pico de la Zarza, the island's highest point above sea level at 2,600 feet (807 m). The southern slopes of this great mountain are gentler and broader, with hills, crests, and valleys to enjoy. You can also walk through lower portions of the park, where you'll find unique plant and bird species, including kestrels, stonechats, Houbara bustards, broad-winged hawks, Egyptian vultures, and more. Lizards, golden skinks, geckos, and an array of insects are also present in the park.

End your adventure in the town of Morro Jable, home to one of the largest beaches on the island. The water is an unreal hue of turquoise and you can enjoy a seaside dinner before heading back to your accommodation.

Day 10: Depart Corralejo for Lanzarote

Unique Rock Formations of Lanzarote
Unique Rock Formations of Lanzarote

It's time to say goodbye to Fuerteventura and make the journey via ferry to the island of Lanzarote, where the town of Playa Blanca will be your hub for the remainder of the trip.

Upon arrival, settle into your hotel and start your exploration of the charming  island. Lanzarote is known for its black-sand beaches and incredible cave systems, such as Cueva de los Verdes and Cueva de los Jameos del Agua. You can also enjoy time in the art gallery and restaurant known as LagOmar, which is set in natural red-stone lava caves.

If you wish to be a bit more active, you can play golf amidst volcanic lava and cacti, go scuba diving, surf with waves that are considered some of Europe's best, and/or go deep-sea fishing in the local waters.

Day 11: Explore Timanfaya Park

Lunar-Like Landscape of Timanfaya Park
Lunar-Like Landscape of Timanfaya Park

After breakfast, meet your private driver at your hotel and transfer to the famous Timanfaya Park, where a guide will take you through some of Europe's most unique landscapes. Made up of volcanic soil and completely void of vegetation, the extreme roughness and quirky rock formations, along with the red-hued earth, will feel otherworldly. 

During the guided tour, you'll visit the breathtaking Montaña Rajada where you can observe a vast sea of lava that spreads out to the coast. Its impressive undulations and shapes are all uniquely formed by the lava flow. But perhaps what is most impressive of all is the way the local people have learned to coexist with this unusual, barren landscape.

Day 12: Day Trip to La Graciosa Island

Sandy Streets of La Graciosa
Sandy Streets of La Graciosa

After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, make your way to the small port of Orzola for a day trip to the island of La Graciosa. Riding a bike is a great way to get some exercise and learn the layout of this amazing little island. Take time to wander, get lost, and try some of the local products in the shops, boutiques, and restaurants lining the beaches.

Leave the main town behind and enjoy the surrounding countryside, which has a number of fantastic trails and footpaths. In the afternoon, you'll return to the ferry and head back to Lanzarote. 

Day 13: Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Lanzarote

Try Surfing in Lanzarote
Try Surfing in Lanzarote

Take advantage of Lanzatore's year-round warm water and good weather by enjoying a day filled with outdoor activities. You can try one, or several throughout the day.

As one of Europe's top destinations for sport, the island has excellent sports facilities, such as state-of-the-art gyms, several Olympic-sized outdoor pools, a running track, and miles and miles of trails for walking, running, and mountain biking. If you're interested in road cycling, you'll enjoy the smooth tarmac, low traffic levels, and challenging climbs with remarkable views.

Take your workout and adrenaline rush to the ocean and enjoy the island's outstanding water sports, such as scuba diving, surfing, sailing, and windsurfing. You can also partake in extreme sports like paragliding, or more mellow adventures like tennis and golf. The island also hosts competitions, so you can signup for a triathlon or marathon while you're visiting.

Day 14: Experience the Creative Works of Manrique

Gardens Created by the Works of Manrique
Gardens Created by the Works of Manrique

It's nearly impossible to visit Lanzarote without hearing about Cesar Manrique, a famous artist who worked tirelessly to preserve the island from property developers and, therefore, mass tourism.

He created a new aesthetic ideal that combines nature and art, prompting a unique example of public art in Spain. Your first stop is the Cueva Jameos del Agua, a cave network that goes deep into the Atlantic Ocean. But Manrique's vision combines these natural wonders with events and culinary adventures, encouraging its guests to view the value in the natural aesthetic.

Across the island is another Manrique creation, the Mirador del Rio, a house museum camouflaged in rock offering panoramic views. You'll enjoy architectural works, beautiful glass windows, and unique sculptural art. Enjoy a coffee from the bar while gazing across the ocean to La Graciosa Island.

Day 15: Fly From Lanzarote to Madrid

Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

It's time to say hasta luego to the stunning Canary Islands. After breakfast, you'll head to the airport to catch your flight from Arrecife back to the bustling capital of Madrid.

If you didn't already see some of Madrid's highlights at the beginning of the trip, consider the following for your last night in the bustling city:

  • Peruse the world-famous museum, El Prado.
  • Row a boat around the lake in El Retiro park.
  • Discover the favorite fuentes of Neptune Fountain, Fuente de Cibeles, Apollo Fountain, and Fuente de los Galápagos.
  • Enjoy the evening lights of the Royal Palace, the Dobod Temple, and Plaza España.

When you're finished wandering the city, settle into a cafe for some tapas before dinner. With so many options, it's best to be your own explorer. Grab a small beer (caña) or a small glass of wine (tinto) at numerous spots. Just meander and discover!

Day 16: Depart Madrid

Aerial View of Beautiful Madrid
Aerial View of Beautiful Madrid

In the morning, enjoy one final breakfast in Spain before your driver transfers you to the airport. Here you can catch your flight home or to your next destination.