This 10-day road trip takes you through the picturesque landscapes of Costa Brava and the Spanish Pyrenees, offering plenty of chances to explore the region's diverse cultural and natural wonders. From vibrant cities like Barcelona and Girona to the rugged coastline of Costa Brava and scenic Val d'Aran, you'll enjoy Northern Spain's history, cultural heritage, and gastronomy.


  • Explore historic Barcelona neighborhoods like the Gothic Quarter and El Born
  • Enjoy the beaches and medieval villages of the Costa Brava
  • Go hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains around Val d'Aran
  • Discover Spanish cuisine with market visits and a cooking class

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Barcelona, Private Walk in the Gothic Quarter Barcelona
Day 2 Extended Visit to Sagrada Família, Local Market Visit & Cooking Class Barcelona
Day 3 Drive to Girona, Food & Market Tour Girona
Day 4 Game of Thrones Walking Tour, Drive to Costa Brava Costa Brava
Day 5 Self-Guided Beach Day in Costa Brava Costa Brava
Day 6 Self Guided Day Trip to Cadaqués, Figueres, Begur & Palafrugell Costa Brava
Day 7 Drive to Val d'Aran Val d'Aran
Day 8 Guided Hike of the 7 Lakes Route  Val d'Aran
Day 9 Drive to Barcelona, Evening Tapas Walk in Three Neighborhoods Barcelona
Day 10 Depart Barcelona  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona, Private Walk in the Gothic Quarter

Barcelona's Gothic cathedral
Barcelona's Gothic cathedral

Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at the airport in Barcelona, a private driver will pick you up and take you to your accommodation in the city center. After settling in, you'll enjoy your first excursion of the trip, a guided walk through the Gothic Quarter. As you stroll through the oldest part of Barcelona, the Barrio Gótico ("Gothic Quarter"), with a private guide, you'll learn about this district's 2,000-year history and visit important sites. The star of the neighborhood is, of course, the Barcelona Cathedral.

This Gothic masterpiece took nearly two centuries to build, with progress spanning the 13th and 15th centuries. Also known as the Cathedral of St. Eulalia, it's one of Europe's best examples of Gothic architecture, with a neo-Gothic facade and cloisters home to 13 white geese, known as the Well of Geese. Inside the cathedral, you'll notice a vast space with arches, stained-glass windows, and high ceilings highlighting the 15th-century architectural work. Climb up the bell tower for incredible views! 

You'll also visit numerous plazas throughout the Gothic Quarter and El Born neighborhood, including Plaça Nova and the ancient Temple of Augustus. Here is where you'll find examples of Barcelona's Roman history, including part of its impressive city wall and an apartment block from the first century BCE. Enjoy Plaça del Pi, with its 14th-century Santa María del Pi Church, beautiful sgraffito artwork, and outdoor food market; Plaça Sant Jaume, home to the city's political life for over 2,000 years; and more.

Day 2: Extended Visit to Sagrada Família, Local Market Visit & Cooking Class

The interior of the main chapel of the Sagrada Família
The interior of the main chapel of the Sagrada Família

In the morning, you'll enjoy a special visit to the Sagrada Família, a stunning Catholic church, and UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. With a private guide leading the way, you'll gain early entrance to the monument to avoid the typical crowds. Discover the church's fascinating history by perusing the detailed facades, the unique interiors with arched ceilings and stained glass, and the views from atop Torre de la Pasión.

There's a lot to see at La Sagrada Família, so a guide is helpful. Discover the stories behind the church's three facades (Nativity, Passion, and Glory), then head inside to admire Gaudí's work. Notice the architect's love of colors and the apse (the half-domed roof), which creates the shape of trees and their crowns. Other highlights your guide will show you include the altar, organ pipes, chapels, and the Crypt Of The Expiatory Temple, the oldest part of the church with a beautiful neo-Renaissance design.

Next, discover the techniques behind traditional Spanish cuisine with a professional chef and a cooking class in Barcelona. You'll start by visiting Barcelona's biggest and most important market: Mercat de la Boqueria. Your guide will lead you through the stalls where you can try a few items, learn about culinary traditions, select ingredients for your course, and purchase any artisanal goods you'd like to take home. Then, you'll start your cooking class, learning how to prepare four courses, including a classic paella dish.

Day 3: Drive to Girona, Food & Market Tour

Girona, Spain
The medieval city of Girona

Typically, the drive between Barcelona and Girona takes a little over one hour, but if you can make a scenic road trip out of the journey with the coastal route along the Mediterranean Sea. Tossa del Mar is one of the most historic and picturesque seaside towns, known for its beaches, fishing ports, and medieval walled town. You can also stop in Canyet de Mar, a small fishing village perfect for swimming, water sports, a hike, and/or a seafood lunch. Learn more about your drive from Barcelona to Girona here

After settling into your accommodation, you'll head out on a food tour in Girona. Discover the city's food, wine, and history by following a local guide through Girona's charming medieval streets and to places like artisanal bakeries, buzzy market halls, traditional restaurants, and family-owned shops. Each stop has a taste or two of delicious, local, and authentic bites loved by Catalan culture. The last place you'll visit is a must in Girona: Rocambolesc, with its Michelin-starred chef and homemade ice cream.

Day 4: Game of Thrones Walking Tour, Drive to Costa Brava

Streets of Girona's Jewish Quarter
Relive the scenes from "Game of Thrones" in Girona

In the morning, enjoy a "Game of Thrones" walk in Girona. Even if you're not a fan of the show, this experience is a great way to discover Girona's historic Jewish Quarter, one of the best preserved in the world. Walk through the narrow, cobbled streets and learn about the incredible Roman and medieval architecture. Stop to view a few famous filming locations along the way, like the Cathedral of Girona (Great Sept of Baelor) and the Arab Baths (Baths of Braavos).

Next, say goodbye to Girona and drive to your accommodation in Costa Brava. The drive depends on where you plan to base yourself. Begur and its neighbors along the coastline or Cadaqués up north are the most popular towns. If driving to Begur, consider stopping to explore the Empordà wine region; or if going up to Cadaqués, learn about Dalí in Figueres. Read more about creating a mini road trip between Girona and Costa Brava here

Plan your trip to Spain
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Self-Guided Beach Day in Costa Brava

Lie out on the beach of Calella de Palafrugell
Lie out on the Costa Brava beach of Calella de Palafrugell

Though you might picture the south of Spain when thinking about the country's beach scene, the Costa Brava is one of the most beautiful regions, with endless stretches of sand. With about 100 miles (160 km) of shoreline along Catalonia's coast—stretching from Tossa del Mar north of Barcelona to Port Bou on the French border—you have plenty of choices regarding beaches and beach towns on the Costa Brava.

How you structure your day at the beach is up to you, and you'll receive all the necessary information you need to enjoy your time. You'll have many beach options depending on your interests, whether sunbathing, swimming, hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling. Many sandy choices also come with a historic medieval village, so you can also enjoy local food and culture. 

For a little inspiration, consider Platja de Pals and its numerous sandy neighbors (some more private than others), Cap de Creus for a little adventure (you can hike to its hidden beaches tucked inside coves), and Tossa de Mar to embrace the town's historical culture, hilltop castle, water sports, and eatery options. Perhaps you stopped in Tossa de Mar on the way to Girona, but it's still an excellent spot for a focused beach day. 

Day 6: Self Guided Day Trip to Cadaqués, Figueres, Begur & Palafrugell

Old Town Begure
Begur's historic Old Town and hilltop castle

Today you'll explore some of the famous villages in Costa Brava. Where you go, what you do, and how long you stay is up to you, as this is a self-guided excursion. You'll receive all the necessary information to make this decision and maximize your time in the region. Regardless, you can focus on one or more (or all) of the listed villages: Cadaqués, Calella de Palafrugell, Figueres, and Begur

If you haven't visited already, Figueres and Cadaqués are a must for exploring the life of Dalí. Figueres is the artist's birthplace and home to his surrealist museum, the Dalí Theatre-Museum, which holds more of his paintings than any other location worldwide. The museum also has a crypt, where the artist himself lays to rest. Dalí also lived in Cadaqués for 30 years; his old house is now a museum. Cadaqués has a picture-perfect beach and sits beside the beautiful Cap de Creus Natural Park.

Begur and Palafrugell is another good pairing, with Begur being perfect for lunch (try the rockfish dish peix de roca) and roaming the city's medieval streets. You can also climb to the castle ruins and enjoy views across the countryside and coastline. Palafrugell then offers a coastal reprieve with beaches and delicious eateries set in old fisher homes. 

Day 7: Drive to Val d'Aran

Val d'Aran
The scenic Val d'Aran in Northern Spain

You'll leave the Costa Brava behind today and drive farther into Northern Spain and Catalonia's picturesque Val d'Aran area. The journey is quite long, at nearly five hours, so it's best to leave early in the morning and plan to make a stop along the way. You have two excellent choices, both perfect for a place to stretch your legs and learn a bit about the area's history and culture. 

You can keep your driving time the same and stop in the alpine town of La Seu d'Urgell or take a bigger detour to Cardona. La Seu d'Urgell has a beautiful ninth-century cathedral with a museum to visit, plus a beautiful sanctuary in the mountains only accessible by train. Cardona is home to a well-preserved castle and unique sites like salt mines, a monastery, and an archaeological park. 

Either stopping point is perfect for this mini-road trip. Learn more about making the most of your time when driving between Costa Brava and Val d'Aran here

Day 8: Guided Hike of the 7 Lakes Route

Vall d’Aran
Hike in the 7 Lakes Region of Vall d'Aran

Today you'll discover the beauty of Val d'Aran and the Pyrenees Mountains with an active excursion hiking the Cirque de Baciver trail, a 3-mile (5-km) semicircular route in the Pla de Beret nature reserve. This moderate trek follows the Dolent River through a valley and meadows to the glacial lakes of Baciver, so you'll get plenty of scenic vistas and viewpoints. Because it's not signposted, a guided hike is best, and the trail is suitable even for those without much trekking experience. 

At the top of the lake, you'll have time to rest your legs and continue to relish the scenery. Your guide can help you understand where you are, naming the mountain peaks and pointing out popular destinations in each direction. On a clear day, you can see several mountains, lakes, and valleys. After your break, you'll head back down on a slightly different route to enjoy more unique viewpoints. Plan for about four hours and enjoy this immersion in Val d'Aran's natural beauty. 

Day 9: Drive to Barcelona, Evening Tapas Walk in Three Neighborhoods

Catalan Tapas
Enjoy tasting tapas in El Born, Barceloneta, and Gothic Quarter

Today you'll start your drive back to Barcelona, where this adventure began! The route between Val d'Aran and Barcelona is similar to the drive from Costa Brava to Val d'Aran, so you can stop wherever you missed the last time. La Seu d'Urgell is best if you'd like to visit the Catedral de Santa Maria d'Urgell or check out the nature sanctuary. Cardona is ideal for its Castell de Cardona or its unique salt mines. Again, you can learn more about your drive from Val d'Aran to Barcelona here

Drop off your rental car and settle into your accommodation. Then enjoy your final night in Spain with a quintessential evening tapas walk in Barcelona. As you may remember from your second day of the trip, Barcelona is one of the country's top foodie spots. With the help of local experts, you'll stroll the streets of the Gothic Quarter, El Born, and Barceloneta, ducking into alleys leading to beloved tapas spots to taste a range of typical dishes. At each stop, pair your bites with local drinks.

Day 10: Depart Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral at dusk

A private driver will transfer you from your hotel to Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) in time to catch your flight. Adiós!

More Great Spain Itineraries

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Map of Self-Drive Costa Brava & Pyrenees Mountains  - 10 Days
Map of Self-Drive Costa Brava & Pyrenees Mountains - 10 Days