This 2-week trip leads you through Spain's major cities while also experiencing unique nature and beaches in the Canary Islands. Explore the historic city centers of Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville with tapas tours, flamenco dancing, bike rides, and sailing excursions. Enjoy a Jeep safari on the slopes of a volcano, go whale watching, and hike the Caminito del Rey trail, plus tour the famous Alhambra and enjoy a sherry tasting in Jerez.

Highlights

  • See the highlights of Madrid on a guided tour of the city
  • Discover the slopes of Mt Teide on a Jeep safari
  • Enjoy tapas and flamenco in Seville and tour the Alhambra in Granada
  • Explore Barcelona's culinary scene and enjoy a sunset cruise
  • Visit the equestrian center and enjoy a sherry tasting in Jerez

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Barcelona and enjoy a tapas tour Barcelona
Day 2 Explore Barcelona on a bike tour - Enjoy an optional sunset cruise Barcelona
Day 3 Explore Barcelona on your own or enjoy an optional day trip Barcelona
Day 4 Fly to Tenerife on the Canary Islands - Explore Santa Cruz Tenerife
Day 5 Enjoy a Jeep safari on the slopes of the Mt Teide volcano Tenerife
Day 6 Explore Tenerife on your own or enjoy an optional day trip Tenerife
Day 7 Explore the city of Seville by bike - Enjoy an evening flamenco show Seville
Day 8 Enjoy a free day in Seville or tour an olive oil farm Seville
Day 9 Day Trip to Jerez for a sherry tasting and dancing horses Seville
Day 10 Transfer to Granada - Hike the Caminito del Rey Granada
Day 11 Tour of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens Granada
Day 12 Transfer to Madrid - Discover the city with a private tour Madrid
Day 13 Enjoy a free day in Madrid or an optional day trip Madrid
Day 14 Depart Madrid  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona and enjoy a tapas tour

Barcelona's Gothic Quarter
Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Welcome to Spain!

Upon arrival in Barcelona, you'll transfer to your hotel and relax before heading out to explore the city with the help of an expert guide.

Your first stop is an old bodega from the 1930s that is now a tapas bar. With a glass of the city’s favorite aperitif—sweet vermouth—in hand, you’ll enjoy a tasting of locally cured meats, cheeses, olives, and other Spanish delicacies. Next, you'll stroll through Barcelona’s stunning Gothic Quarter, observing the narrow medieval streets as you walk to the next eatery. Your second tapas bar is a staple of Barcelona and a true local haunt.

Afterward, you'll enjoy other historic neighborhoods while learning about architecture, history, and culture. At the final tapas bar, you'll try more traditional Catalan dishes paired with regional wine. Delicious must-try tapas include patatas bravas (fried potatoes with aioli), calamari, gambas (prawns), cured ham, croquettes, mussels, chorizo, and more. Be sure to save room for a traditional Spanish dessert, like crema Catalona. This sweet custard is made with oranges and cinnamon and is Spain's answer to the classic creme brûlée.

Day 2: Explore Barcelona on a bike tour - Enjoy an optional sunset cruise

Cycling along Barceloneta Beach
Cycling along Barceloneta Beach

After breakfast, you'll prepare for a bike tour around Barcelona. At the designated time, your private guide will meet you at your hotel and take you on a panoramic tour. 

You'll start along the narrow streets of the Old Town (including the neighborhoods of Raval, El Born, and Barri Gòtic) before arriving at Park de la Ciutadella—a beautiful respite for relaxing strolls and also the site of the 1888 Universal Expo. You'll also visit the Olympic Village, the city's redeveloped port, and of course Barceloneta Beach. At the end of the tour, your guide will drop you back at your hotel. 

In the evening, you can opt for a 2-hour sailing excursion along Catalonia's coast. It's a unique way to view Barcelona’s picturesque skyline, completely unobstructed from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. In a busy city of over 1.6 million inhabitants, sailing out into the Mediterranean provides a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle. While onboard, you can try your luck fishing while watching the sun melt into the sea.

After returning to port, you'll enjoy the rest of your evening at your leisure.

Day 3: Explore Barcelona on your own or enjoy an optional day trip

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey

Today you can explore Barcelona on your own or opt for one of several day trips from the city, which will reveal glimpses of Catalan life beyond its capital. Outside Barcelona's borders is a wonderland of rugged mountains, golden beaches, and pretty, sleepy towns, all just a short drive away. Suggested day trips include:

  • Travel about an hour northeast from Barcelona to Girona, a historic city along the Onyar River known for its cobbled streets, grand churches, and medieval Old Quarter hemmed in by stone walls. You can walk these ancient ramparts as they afford elevated views of the city. Girona is also home to one of the most well-preserved Jewish quarters in all of Europe, which lasted for 500 years until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. The city's fascinating Museu d’Història dels Jueus de Girona recounts this story. You can also visit the 12th-century Banys Àrabs, which are the remnants of Arab baths from the days when Moors ruled the land, as well as the Sant Pere de Galligants, a Romanesque Benedictine abbey built in the 12th century that is now home to the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia in Girona.
  • Further north of Girona is the town of Figueres, which is famous for being the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.  You'll find handsome Modernista architecture here, plus the 18th-century military fortress of Sant Ferran Castle. But Figueres is best known for the Teatre-Museu Dalí, which was converted into a labyrinth of surrealism that displays the largest collection of Dalí's works, including many from his personal collection. More noteworthy is that this is Dali's final resting place, as he was buried in a crypt beneath the theater stage.
  • The Montserrat Mountains host Catalonia's holiest site, the 16th-century Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Located about 28 miles (45 km) northeast of Barcelona and sitting at an altitude of 4,055 feet (1,266 m) The panoramic views from the church are spectacular. Inside, the big draw is a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Barcelona, which sits above the church altar. You can reach the monastery on a 1.5-hour hike from the town of Monistrol de Montserrat or simply take a five-minute cable-car up the mountain.
  • The scenic coastal town of Sitges, located about 45 minutes southwest of Barcelona, makes for a perfect day trip. The pace of Sitges is decidedly more laidback with some of the best activities being the simplest, such as strolling the long waterfront promenade or sunbathing on one of the many beaches in and around town. Other activities include dining in one of Sitges' world-class seafood restaurants or visiting one of its fine museums and art galleries.

Day 4: Fly to Tenerife on the Canary Islands - Explore Santa Cruz

Beautiful Beaches of Tenerife
Beautiful Beaches of Tenerife

In the morning, you'll make your way to Barcelona´s airport to catch your flight to Tenerife. Upon arrival, collect your rental car and settle into your hotel. Afterward, explore the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Tenerife is the popular destination in the Canary Islands, attracting over six million visitors a year. Famous resorts and white sandy beaches meet remote alpine villages, cultured port settlements, and ancient towns. There are numerous ways to explore Tenerife. You can enjoy walks through tropical forests, observe volcanic activity, or visit museums, temples, and modern art. 

Start your exploration of Santa Cruz at Plaza de España, then walk through the city and enjoy some of the city's main sites, such as Castillo de San Juan Bautista, García Sanabria City Park, and the Palmetum Botanical Gardens. In the evening, enjoy dinner in the historic central district.

Day 5: Enjoy a Jeep safari on the slopes of the Mt Teide volcano

Rugged Views of Teide in Tenerife
Rugged Views of Teide in Tenerife

Awake early for a Jeep Safari excursion to Mt Teide, where you'll traverse the lands of one of the highest volcanoes in the world. You'll discover first-hand what it means to live on the slopes of a volcano by visiting the small villages within Teide National Park, a World Heritage Site. These towns, such as Vilaflor, reveal the uniqueness of the park and its inhabitants.

Along the way, you'll enjoy the many attractions and surprises of Mount Teide and stop at the scenic viewpoints such as La Ruleta Vista Point and Mirador de las Narices del Teide

After the tour, you'll have free time to enjoy the island.

Day 6: Explore Tenerife on your own or enjoy an optional day trip

Views of Tenerife from La Gomera
Views of Tenerife from La Gomera

Today you can explore Tenerife and relax at the beach, or you can enjoy an optional activity or excursion. One option is to enjoy a day trip to the neighboring island of La Gomera, which is where Christopher Columbus made his last stop before leaving for the discovery of the New World. The island is filled with cedar forests in Garajonay National Park and impressive rock formations such as Roque de Agando.

While on La Gomera, you'll stop at the Mirador de Abrante, where you'll enjoy lunch and interact with the traditional indigenous language. On the way back to Tenerife, you'll discover the cultural and historical past of San Sebastián with visits to the Church of the Assumption, the Chapel of San Sebastián, and the Torre del Conde.

Another option is to enjoy a night climb of Mt Teide, the highest peak in Spain, where you'll observe the sky at 6,500 feet (2,000 m) above sea level. This is an ideal place to stargaze thanks to low light pollution. Afterward, you'll enjoy a 4-course dinner at the restaurant, Bodegas Reverón.

If you're interested in viewing wildlife, the Canary Islands are an excellent place to go whale watching. As you leave the port, you'll look for pilot whales and dolphins, viewing them from aboard the ship or through the boat's underwater windows. Upon crossing the tourist coast of the south of Tenerife, you'll reach Bahía Blanca in La Caleta, where you can enjoy a relaxing bath in the calm waters of the bay and under a waterfall. Before returning to Tenerife, you'll enjoy a buffet lunch aboard the ship.

Day 7: Explore the city of Seville by bike - Enjoy an evening flamenco show

Triana Bridge Seville
Triana Bridge Seville

In the morning, your driver will take you to the airport where you'll catch a flight to Seville. Upon arrival, you'll meet up with your private guide who will have bicycles prepared for an active 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.

During the excursion, your informative guide will share anecdotes and explain some of the mysteries and stories behind the city of Seville. This is a fun, healthy, and educational way to get a feel for the city. Following the tour, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the afternoon to spend as you please, perhaps enjoying lunch and taking a long paseo (stroll) through the city.

In the evening, you'll enjoy a flamenco show, 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 8: Enjoy a free day in Seville or tour an olive oil farm

Olive Farms in Andalusia
Olive Farms in Andalusia

Today, you can either enjoy exploring Seville on your own or take an optional day trip to an olive farm. 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 witness the production process firsthand on an exclusive tour of an Andalusian olive oil estate. 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. 

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 the oils, allowing you to put your newfound knowledge of the ingredients to good use.

After the tour, you will come back to Seville and will have the rest of the afternoon to explore the city.

Day 9: Day Trip to Jerez for a sherry tasting and dancing horses

Sherry Wine Tasting
Sherry Wine Tasting

This morning, you'll make the short drive to the Moorish town of Jerez de la Frontera, which is famous for its sherry wine production. It's also home to the Royal Equestrian Academy, one of the premier riding schools in the country. The horse-racing culture in this region runs deep and dates back to the earliest days of Muslim rule in Spain.

You'll arrive in Jerez's historic Old Town, which is centered around the dominating Alcázar, an 11th-century Moorish fortress. Here you'll meet an expert guide and embark on a tour of the town highlights. You'll also visit a local sherry winery for a tasting. Enjoy a sampling of several types of local sherry, all paired with delicious tapas. As a bonus, the bodega keeps a collection of original Picasso artwork on hand that you can admire.

Continue with the equine culture of Jerez as you enjoy a live Andalusian horse performance. The show is titled How Andalusian Horses Dance and features prized horses performing various types of dressage, such as classic, carriage, and vaquera. The show represents how countryside horsemanship has increased over the millennia to become an art form.

After the show, you'll return to Seville and enjoy the rest of the day free to enjoy the city.

Day 10: Transfer to Granada - Hike the Caminito del Rey

Hiking the Caminito del Rey Trail
Hiking the Caminito del Rey Trail

Awake early for your road trip through some of Andalusia's most enchanting locales. Enjoy the views as you drive through olive groves, rolling meadows, cork forests, and around mountains, passing the region's famous White Villages—ancient hilltop towns famous for their whitewashed buildings. 

Your destination is Granada, located about three hours east of Seville. However, you'll stop along the way for some adrenaline-pumping hiking at the Caminito del Rey—a stunning network of walkways built along a deep gorge carved out by the Guadalhorce River. At times, the gorge reaches harrowing depths of 2,297 feet (700 meters). 

You'll arrive at the northern entrance and put on your safety equipment. Then it's time to head off along the trail. As you hike you'll enjoy incredible views down the gorge to the river winding through the valley below. This one-way trail typically takes about 3-4 hours to complete. 

Afterward, you'll continue to Granada, where you'll check into your hotel. You'll have the evening to relax with strolls through the city's ancient neighborhoods, such as Albaicín or Bib-Rambla, an area of the city with great shopping, restaurants, and bars.

Day 11: Tour of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens

The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens

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 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 12: Transfer to Madrid - Discover the city with a private tour

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

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll transfer to the train station where you'll embark on a 3.5-hour journey to the nation's capital. Upon arrival in Madrid, you'll check into your downtown hotel and then meet your expert 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 13: Enjoy a free day in Madrid or an optional day trip

Toledo, Spain
Views of Toledo, Spain

Today you can further explore Madrid on your own or opt for a day trip to various locales all within an hour or so of the city. 

A great option is historic  Toledo, a historic city that was once the capital of Spain 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," a place 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.

Another option is the Unesco World Heritage Site of Segovia. The myth is that this ancient city was founded by Hercules, but that might just be the influence of the enormous Aqueduct of Segovia that runs through the city's midtown. Nowhere else in Spain will you find such a stunning monument to Roman grandeur. Other incredible landmarks include its gothic Catedral de Segovia, and the nearby Royal Palace of La Granja of San Ildefonso, which dates to the 18th century and was a former summer residence of the kings of Spain. 

For a real fortress experience, you can visit Ávila. This fortified city is nestled in the rolling green hills northwest of Madrid and also enjoys UNESCO designation. Encircling it are imposing city walls featuring eight monumental gates, 88 watchtowers, and more than 2,500 turrets, making it one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. it's a deeply religious city, which makes sense considering that there are supposedly more gothic and romanesque churches per capita in the whole of Spain. This truly is the epitome of Old Spain

Then there's Salamanca. This is a city of rare beauty that wears its historical legacy on its sleeve. It abounds with golden sandstone architecture overlaid with ochre-tinted Latin inscriptions, plus more gothic/baroque plazas, and palaces. The highlights are many, including the Plaza Mayor, which comes alive once the sun goes down in an unforgettable display of light. Despite dating back to Celtic times, the spirit here is modern and youthful. This is due in no small part to the vitality of the large student population enrolled in the Universidad de Salamanca.

Day 14: Depart Madrid

Famous Cibeles Fountain in Madrid
Famous Cibeles Fountain in 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.