Explore Spain's lively cities and vibrant culture, starting with a gourmet food tour in Madrid and a flamenco show in Seville. Stop in Córdoba to tour the Mezquita, then discover Granada's most popular site, the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens. Meander the historic district of Albaicín with a personal photographer before ending the trip in Barcelona by touring the works of Gaudí and enjoying a day trip.

Highlights

  • Eat your way through Madrid with a gourmet walking tour
  • Enjoy an evening of tapas and flamenco in the old town of Seville
  • Visit the Mezquita of Córdoba and the works of Gaudí in Barcelona
  • Tour the Alhambra palace and the Generalife Gardens in Granada
  • Explore Granada's Albaicín district with a private photographer

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Madrid - Explore the city Madrid
Day 2 Eat your way through Madrid on a gourmet walking tour Madrid
Day 3 Take the train to Seville - Enjoy an evening flamenco show Seville
Day 4 Visit the Alcázar - Enjoy a river cruise with a wine tasting Seville
Day 5 Day Trip to Córdoba - Transfer to Granada Granada
Day 6 Explore the Albaicín district with a private photographer Granada
Day 7 Fly to Barcelona - Tour the works of Gaudí Barcelona
Day 8 Explore Barcelona on your own or enjoy an optional day trip Barcelona
Day 9 Depart Barcelona  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid - Explore the city

Cibeles Fountain in Madrid
Cibeles Fountain in Madrid

Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at the airport in Madrid, you'll transfer to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day to explore the city at your own pace. 

If you're interested in seeing a show, head to Gran Vía (Madrid's answer to Broadway) where you'll find plenty of theaters showcasing plays and musical productions. The options for culture in this city are vast, so you can also visit museums, art galleries, and live music venues if the mood strikes.

When night falls, be sure to indulge in Madrid's culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to the city center and Botín, which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world—it first opened its doors in 1725. 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: Eat your way through Madrid on a gourmet walking tour

Enjoy Spain's Gourmet Cuisine
Enjoy Spain's Gourmet Cuisine

Today's excursion includes a 4-hour walking tour (either morning or afternoon) where you'll visit three exceptional gourmet shops accompanied by a local guide.

First, you'll visit a purveyor of artisanal cured meats and sample one of Spain's most popular specialties: Iberian ham. It's a delicious and educational tour as you'll not only taste the product but also learn about its production in the curing and cutting processes. Discover what makes Iberian ham so special and how do you identify it. 

Olive oil is the theme of your next stop. There are over 240 types of olives grown in Spain, each with its specific flavor profile. At an olive oil shop, you'll taste oils from different regions of the country and enjoy various olives while learning about the precise definition of extra virgin olive oil, its pressing process, and the ideal foods with which to pair it.

You'll finish the gourmet tour on a sweet note as you visit a chocolatier specializing in handmade chocolate creations in both liquid and solid form. It'll be an indulgent delight as the experience involves using your senses of sight, smell, and taste to decipher and enjoy the different flavor notes and ingredients infused into the chocolate.

After this whirlwind foodie experience, your guide will leave you to enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 3: Take the train to Seville - Enjoy an evening flamenco show

Flamenco Dancers in Seville
Flamenco Dancers in Seville

In the morning, your driver will take you to Atocha Train Station where you'll catch a high-speed train to Seville. With comfortable seating and the option to stretch your legs, this is truly the best way to travel long distances in Spain. Upon arrival, you'll settle into your hotel and meet your private guide for a 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 guide will share anecdotes and explain some of the mysteries and stories behind the city of Seville. You can also visit the Cathedral and the Giralda, the Alcázar, the Fine Arts Museum, and Las Dueñas Palace (the former residence of the Duchess of Alba Cayetano). For lunch, check out the city's gastronomic markets, such as Lonja del Barranco and Triana.

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 a 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.

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Day 4: Visit the Alcázar - Enjoy a river cruise with a wine tasting

Plaza de España, Seville
Plaza de España, Seville

During a half-day tour, you'll visit Seville's Alcázar with a private English-speaking guide. While learning its history, you'll enjoy strolling through the opulent palace featuring Mudejar architecture and manicured gardens. After visiting the Alcázar, your guide will leave you to enjoy the rest of the day on your own. Enjoy a walk around the Jewish Quarter and the Santa Cruz neighborhood, then continue to Plaza de España and peruse the markets for lunch.

As sunset nears, you'll enjoy a unique experience of a wine tasting during a private cruise on the Guadalquivir River. During this cruise overlooking Seville, you'll enjoy appetizers as you taste three regional Spanish wines, all with the help of an expert oenologist.

Day 5: Day Trip to Córdoba - Transfer to Granada

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

In the morning, you'll take a train to Córdoba where you'll visit the breathtaking Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba), a pagan temple that was converted into the great mosque of the Ummayad caliphate and later transformed into a Catholic church.

Next, you'll visit the Alcázar de los Reyes, a palace built in the 14th century. This is where Christopher Columbus met with the Catholic monarchs, granting him approval for his voyage west in search of the Indies. The terraced gardens, fish ponds, flower beds, and orange trees here make for great photo opportunities. You'll also have the option to meander around the winding and narrow streets of the historic Jewish Quarter.

At the end of the tour, you'll transfer to Granada. After settling into your accommodation, feel free 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 6: Explore the Albaicín district with a private photographer

Albaicín Moorish Medieval Quarter
Albaicín Moorish Medieval Quarter

Enjoy a leisurely morning free to explore Granada on your own. In the afternoon, your private guide will lead you on a relaxed and informal exploration of the Albaicín district, Granada's former Moorish quarter that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

With the help of your guide, you'll discover the most scenic and romantic places in Granada. Joining you will be the professional photographer Juan Linares, who will document your visit to the beautiful corners of Granada. As you stroll through Albaicín's twisting alleyways, you'll enjoy views of the city, the majestic Alhambra palaces, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

At the end of the excursion, your guide will say farewell and drop you at a special restaurant to enjoy a delicious Andalusian meal.

Day 7: Fly to Barcelona - Tour the works of Gaudí

Park Güell in Barcelona
Park Güell in Barcelona

In the morning, a driver will transfer you to the airport where you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight to Barcelona. Upon arrival, you'll meet your guide and explore the capital of Catalonia.

Barcelona is known as the center of modernism, where the famous architect Antoni Gaudí lived and worked. He certainly left his mark here, with several buildings, monuments, and sites showcasing his unique style. If you're looking to experience Barcelona's art scene, you must start with Gaudí.

Your tour begins at the amazing Güell Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide will lead you through this colorful maze and explain the history behind the architecture. Next, you'll visit the famous Sagrada Familia basilica. It's an unfinished masterpiece where vaults can reach nearly 200 feet (60 m) high.

After the tour, you'll make your way to your accommodation, which is set in a castle in the hilly village of Cardona.

Day 8: 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 9: Depart Barcelona

Goodbye, Barcelona!
Goodbye, Barcelona!

It's time to say farewell to Spain. Depending on the time of your flight or train reservation, you can enjoy one more walk through the city. When you're ready, you'll transfer to the airport or train station for your departure.