Explore some of Spain's best cities on this 8-day trip to Madrid and the region of Andalusia, starting with private tours of Madrid's historic neighborhoods and its royal past. Board the train to the city of Seville for tapas and flamenco, as well as a day trip to the town of Ronda and a winery. You'll end the trip with Granada for a tour of the famous Alhambra and Generalife Gardens before returning to Madrid.

Highlights

  • Discover Spain's capital city of Madrid and its royal past
  • Enjoy an evening of tapas and flamenco in the old town of Seville
  • Discover a unique winery located in an old monastery in Andalusia
  • Tour the Alhambra palace and the Generalife Gardens in Granada

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 Day trip to the White Villages and Ronda - Enjoy a winery tour Seville
Day 6 Transfer to Granada - Tour the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens Granada
Day 7 Return to Madrid and enjoy a free evening Madrid
Day 8 Depart Madrid  

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 time 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: 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 a number of 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 course of 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 own 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 6: Transfer to Granada - Tour the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens

Aerial Views of the Alhambra
Aerial Views of the Alhambra

Granada 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. In the morning, you'll transfer to the city and 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 settle into your accommodation and have free time to continue enjoying 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 7: Return to Madrid and enjoy a free evening

Aerial View of Madrid
Aerial View of Madrid

After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to the train station, where you will take a high-speed train back to Madrid. Upon arrival, you'll settle into your hotel and have the rest of the day free to explore the areas of the city you haven't yet seen.

You can shop along popular streets like Calle de Serrano and Gran Via; or, if it's Sunday, explore El Rastro Market in the hip La Latina neighborhood. You can also visit museums like El Prado, Reina Sofia, Sorolla, and Thyssen Bornemisza

There are plenty of tours throughout the city, including a gourmet food tour and a segway tour. Or, do as the locals and spend your afternoon people-watching at an outdoor cafe in one of the city's neighborhoods. For dinner, find the city's best international food in the Lavapiés neighborhood, or dress up for a meal in swanky Salamanca.

Day 8: Depart Madrid

Famous Cibeles Fountain, Madrid
Famous Cibeles Fountain, Madrid

It's time to say farewell. After a leisurely breakfast, you'll transfer you to the airport where you'll catch your flight home.