This complete 12-day itinerary highlights some of Spain's most enchanting cities, featuring Madrid, Sevilla, and Barcelona. Begin in Madrid and explore historic Toledo, working your way into Andalucía and to Sevilla, Córdoba, Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda, and Granada. Fly to Barcelona and discover Gaudí's whimsical architecture, the 1000-year-old abbey in the Montserrat mountains, and the wines of the Penedès region.

Highlights

  • Discover the tapas scene in the heart of Madrid
  • Navigate the winding medieval streets in Toledo's historic Old Quarter
  • Hug a cliff wall on the heart-stopping Caminito del Rey trek
  • Take a cooking class in Sevilla
  • Sample local wines and cavas in Catalonia's Penedès wine region

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid; Tapas tour Madrid
Day 2 Explore the Spanish capital Madrid
Day 3 Day trip to Toledo Madrid
Day 4 Drive to Sevilla - Visit Córdoba Sevilla
Day 5 Gastronomy tour & private cooking class Sevilla
Day 6 Drive to Ronda - Discover Arcos de la Frontera Ronda
Day 7 Explore Ronda Ronda
Day 8 Drive to Granada - Caminito del Rey excursion Granada
Day 9 Visit the Alhambra - Ceramic workshop Granada
Day 10 Fly to Barcelona Barcelona
Day 11 Day trip to Montserrat & Penedès wine region Barcelona
Day 12 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid - Tapas tour

Madrid
Plaza de Cibeles

Welcome to Madrid! Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel for a quick check in before venturing out and joining a tapas tour. You will visit classic tapas bars, taverns, and inns that, for centuries, have defined Madrid's culture. With the help of your guide, you will not only enjoy a variety of tasty dishes, but you will also discover how to correctly combine each meal with its corresponding drink, as well as learn to place an order like local.

Day 2: Explore the Spanish capital

Madrid - Plaza Mayor
Dine al fresco in Madrid's Plaza Mayor

Meet your guide for a day of touring Madrid's popular attractions, discovering centuries of history. Start at the 10th-century Muslim Walls of Madrid (commonly referred to as the Arab Walls), strolling through narrow medieval streets, passing by traditional shops,  impressive sculptures, and important monuments bequeathed by members of the Austrian and Bourbon dynasties. Visit Catedral de la Almudena, the Palacio Royal and its impressive gardens, and discover the elegant Plaza de Oriente before finding your way to Teatro Real (the royal opera house). 

From there, head to Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid's best-known squares and Plaza Mayor, once the center of Old Madrid. 

Day 3: Day trip to Toledo

Toledo
Get lost in ancient Toledo

Drive to Toledo, just an hour south of Madrid and meet your private guide for your walking tour of this historic city. The first capital of the Spanish Empire, Toledo is home to significant Arab, Christian, and Jewish monuments in its walled Old Quarter.  Navigate the winding spiderweb of narrow medieval streets as you work your way to visit the impressive 13th-century Cathedral, Catedral de Toledo, the old Alcázar, and the Jewish Quarter.

Day 4: Drive to Sevilla - Visit Córdoba

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

This morning you will hop aboard a fast train to the UNESCO-protected city of Córdoba (2 hours). Meet your driver and transfer to the historic center to begin the walking tour of the Caliphate City, a former state in Islamic Iberia. Here you will explore the grand Mezquita, a mosque turned cathedral. Discover the 14th-century Córdoba Synagogue in the old Jewish Quarter before moving on to the fortress-palace, Alcázar. After your tour, you will meet up with your driver again and continue on to your hotel in Sevilla (1.5 - 2 hours).

Day 5: Gastronomy tour & private cooking class

Cathedral, Seville, Spain
Discover Sevilla's cathedral

Meet your chef this morning and wander the aisles and stalls of a local market before working your way to your cooking workshop.  Spend the next couple of hours learning how to prepare traditional Spanish dishes, all the while sipping on a glass of sherry. Alongside your chef and with a glass of wine in hand, enjoy your creations on the outdoor terrace overlooking views leading to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See—the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Day 6: Drive to Ronda - Discover Arcos de la Frontera

A white village in Andalusia
Tour a typical white-washed  village in Andalucía

Today you will drive south toward Ronda, stopping along the way in Arcos de la Frontera, one of the many typical Pueblos Blancos or White Towns you find in the mountains from Cádiz to Málaga. Stretch your legs in Arcos de la Frontera for breathtaking vistas over the Andalucían landscape before lunching on local dishes paired with wines of the region. Continue south to Ronda and check into your accommodation. 

Day 7: Explore Ronda

Ronda
The New Bridge connects the two halves of Ronda

Ronda is one of Andalucía's most beautiful towns. It is famous throughout Spain for the El Tajo river gorge and the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) that connects Ronda's medieval side to its 18th-century side of town. Visit Spain's oldest and most important bullring, Plaza de Toros, as well as many historic attractions dating from Moorish and Roman times, like the 14th and 15th-century Baños Arabes (Arab Baths), Palacio of the Marqués de Salvatierra, and the The Casa del Rey Moro that contains steps carved into the cliff wall leading you to the Guadalevín River.

Day 8: Drive to Granada - Caminito del Rey excursion

Caminito del Rey
Test your mettle walking the Caminito del Rey

After breakfast this morning, you'll meet your driver and transfer to Granada, making a small detour to Caminito del Rey (1 hour). Adrenaline junkies will appreciate this excursion as they follow a route established in 1905, 330 feet (100 m) above the river below. Hug the sheer rockface as you work your way along the trail, stopping for heart-pumping views below.

Slow your heart rate with a relaxing lunch at a local restaurant before carrying on to Granada (1.5 hours). 

Day 9: Visit the Alhambra - Ceramic workshop

Visit the Alhambra today
Marvel at the excellent craftsmanship of the Alhambra

Take the morning to enjoy a walking tour of Granada's Alhambra. This UNESCO-protected "palace city" is located on a rocky hill on the banks of the Darro River, in Granada's Old Quarter. Enclosed within the reddish stone of its imposing ramparts is an offering of ornate stonework, diverse fountains and romantic gardens waiting to be explored. 

In the afternoon, enjoy a private ceramic tile painting class with a professional artist. Known for the quality of its ceramics, Granada has a long tradition going back to Moorish times. Your instructor, a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London and a local artist and ceramicist, will share her techniques helping you to create a top-notch souvenir. 

Day 10: Fly to Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
Discover the famous La Sagrada Familia

Ttransfer to the airport in Granada for your quick flight to Barcelona. Meet your driver and check into your hotel before heading back out for your half-day city tour. Discover the fascinating world of modernist architect Antoni Gaudí on this private tour and discover Gaudí's extraordinary achievements, like the famous, still under construction, La Sagrada Familia and the undulating Casa Milá (or La Pedrera). 

Day 11: Day trip to Montserrat & Penedès wine region

Montserrat
Explore the 1000-year-old abbey complex in the Montserrat mountains

Early this morning, you'll make your way to the impressive Santa Maria de Montserrat, an abbey with commanding views over the Catalan lowlands. Here you'll have the opportunity to listen to Montserrat's Boys' Choir, Escolanía, one of Europe's oldest, before visiting the Moreneta de Montserrat and the Santa Cova shrine and chapel that houses the black Madonna. 

Afterward, you'll venture to Penedès, a Spanish Denominación de Origen ("DO") to sample some of the famous wines of Catalonia. The Penedès region is famous for the quality of its wines and is best-known for its sparkling cava. Visit a well-known winery for your chance to taste the different varieties of wine and cava from the region before returning to Barcelona.

Day 12: Depart

Barcelona, Spain
Explore Parc Guëll and take in a sunset over Barcelona

Depending on your departure details, take the morning to head to the beach or shop for any last minute souvenirs and gifts before setting off for your return journey home.

Map

Map of Highlights of Central and Southern Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, & Barcelona - 12 Days
Map of Highlights of Central and Southern Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, & Barcelona - 12 Days