This comprehensive two-week itinerary spotlights the cultures and cuisines of Spain with an immersive blend of self-guided, small-group, and private tour experiences. Starting in the Catalonian capital of Barcelona, you'll discover Modernist architecture and Catalan tapas before heading down the Mediterranean coast to Alicante for fresh seafood and the charms of the Costa Blanca. Tour Madrid's grand palaces and monuments, soak up Seville's vibrant Andalusian character, and wander the hallowed interiors of Granada's famed Alhambra. End your journey on the coast in Málaga, where you'll savor locally-grown delicacies from the region's olive and almond groves.

Highlights

  • Visit Barcelona's Modernist landmarks & go tapas tasting in the Gothic Quarter
  • Learn to cook regional dishes & stroll the golden beaches of Alicante
  • Explore Madrid's grand palaces & world-class restaurants
  • Discover Andalusian history & culture in Seville
  • Tour the magnificent Alhambra in Granada

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Spain – Welcome to Barcelona Barcelona
Day 2 Stroll Around Modernist Barcelona - Private Tour Barcelona
Day 3 Catalan Taste & History - Small Troup Tour Barcelona
Day 4 Free Day in Barcelona or Optional Day Trip Barcelona
Day 5 Train to Alicante Alicante
Day 6 Alicante Private Tour + Tasting the Best of Alicante - Small Group Experience Alicante
Day 7 Train from Alicante to Madrid Madrid
Day 8 Footsteps of the Capital – Private Tour Madrid
Day 9 Day Trip to Toledo Madrid
Day 10 Train from Madrid to Seville Seville
Day 11 A Cultural Journey Through Seville - Private Tour Seville
Day 12 Train from Seville to Málaga Malaga
Day 13 The Alhambra - Treasure of Al-Andalus - Private Tour Malaga
Day 14 Málaga - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Spain – Welcome to Barcelona

Leafy trees line Barcelona's iconic Ramblas.
Leafy trees line Barcelona's iconic Ramblas.

Welcome to Spain! Your trip begins in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia in the country’s northeast. Built upon ancient Roman strata, the city is home to both atmospheric medieval quarters and some of the most beautiful examples of 20th-century Modernism and Avant-garde architecture in the world.

After arriving at El Prat Airport, your private driver will meet you and escort you to the hotel. After settling in, go for an afternoon stroll to get your bearings. Start with a walk around the Parc de la Ciutadella, visit Barcelona Cathedral at Plaça de la Seu, or marvel at the architectural embellishments of the Palau de la Música. Afterward, take an evening “paseo” down the famous Rambla, where a host of dining options await.

Day 2: Stroll Around Modernist Barcelona - Private Tour

The whimsical entrance to the Park Güell.
The whimsical entrance to the Park Güell.

No visit to Barcelona would be complete without showcasing the work of the city’s most illustrious representative of Catalan Modernism: Antoni Gaudí

Accompanied by a private expert guide, you’ll wander through Park Güell, a wonderful fairytale green space where the union between nature and art is crafted in front of your eyes. Next, tour the iconic basilica of Sagrada Familia, still staggering in its design even under construction. Continue with several fascinating stops at some of the lesser-known, but equally outstanding Gaudí works, such as Casa BatllóCasa Milà, popularly known as “La Pedrera,” and Casa Vicens.

After the tour, the afternoon will be yours to explore on your own, or just relax and enjoy the atmosphere of this fantastic city.

Day 3: Catalan Taste & History - Small Troup Tour

Atmospheric alleys in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter.
Atmospheric alleys in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter.

Day three takes you on a voyage through Barcelona’s history, culture, and gastronomy. Visit the best-kept secrets among local bars and taverns, where you’ll relish traditional Catalan food, regional cava, and superb wines.

This small-group tour will take place in the Gothic Quarter, one of the liveliest areas in the city, which brims with character and a rich history retold by your expert guide. Walk the winding Gothic streets, taste local delicacies in neighborhood tapas bars, and discover the myths and legends of Catalonia’s capital.

Day 4: Free Day in Barcelona or Optional Day Trip

The monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat.
The monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat.

Today you can explore Barcelona on your own, or choose a convenient day trip to catch a glimpse of Catalan life beyond the metropolis. Outside the city's borders lies a wonderland of rugged mountains, golden beaches, and pretty, sleepy little towns, all just a short drive away. 

One option is to travel about an hour northeast from Barcelona to Girona. This historic city lies next to the Onyar River and is known for its cobbled streets, grand churches, and medieval Old Quarter hemmed in by stone walls. You can walk these ancient ramparts, and they afford great elevated views of the city.

Girona is also home to a well-preserved Jewish quarter, which lasted for 500 years until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. The fascinating Museu d’Història dels Jueus de Girona recounts this story. There's also the 12th-century Banys Àrabs, which are the remnants of Arab baths from the days when Moors ruled the land. Another landmark is the Sant Pere de Galligants, a Romanesque Benedictine abbey dating from the 12th century, now home to the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia in Girona.

Located north of Girona is the town of Figueres, home to some lovely Modernista architecture and the 18th-century military fortress of Sant Ferran Castle, but best known as the birthplace of Salvador Dali. Today the Teatre-Museu Dalí is the highlight for any visit. A former theatre, it was converted by Dalí himself into a labyrinth of surrealism displaying the largest collection of his works, including many from his personal collection. This is also Dali's final resting place, as his corpse is buried in a crypt beneath the stage.
 
You can also travel up the Montserrat Mountains to Catalonia's holiest site, the 16th-century Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Located 28 miles (45 km) northeast of Barcelona at an altitude of 4,055 feet (1,266 meters), the views from the church are spectacular. Inside, above the altar, is a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Barcelona. 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.

The pretty coastal resort of Sitges, located about 45 minutes southwest of Barcelona, makes for a perfect day trip. The pace is decidedly more laidback here, and some of the best activities are the simplest, like strolling the long waterfront promenade or sunbathing on one of the many beaches in and around town. Ideal activities in town include dining in one of Sitges' world-class seafood restaurants or visiting one of its fine museums and art galleries.

Day 5: Train to Alicante

Sunbathing on Alicante's Postiguet Beach.
Sunbathing on Alicante's Postiguet Beach.

Today you'll travel south down the coast on a five-hour train journey to reach Alicante, a port city on Spain's Costa Blanca. After checking into your hotel, pick a dinner spot along the waterfront or on the Avenida de Maisonnave, a famous boulevard filled with shops and restaurants. Alicante is famous for its fresh produce and excellent seafood, and the city’s many tapas bars are a perfect way to sample a wide variety of this regional cuisine in one sitting.

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

Day 6: Alicante Private Tour + Tasting the Best of Alicante - Small Group Experience

The bustling Alicante Market.
The bustling Alicante Market.

After breakfast, a local guide will pick you up for a tour of the city. Begin with a stroll down the colorful Explanada, the coastal promenade that fronts the city center. Flanked by towering palms on each side, it sits just west of one of the city's most beautiful beaches, Playa del Postiguet.

Also nearby is the hillside Santa Cruz neighborhood. Known simply as El Barrio, it comprises the historic center of the city and is famous for its winding streets, narrow alleys, and brightly painted homes with hanging balconies overflowing with flowerpots. It's a trendy spot too, with many nightlife options and tapas bars.

Next, you'll head to the Santa Bárbara Castle, a fortification that dates to the 9th century and overlooks Alicante from Mount Benacantil. Brave the steep hike, or take an elevator to the summit, where you'll enjoy spectacular views across the Mediterranean.
 
At lunchtime, you'll immerse yourself in Alicante’s famed gastronomy with a visit to a traditional market located at the heart of the city. While your local guide shares a passion for traditional food and seasonal products, you’ll meet the shopkeepers of the best stores in the market, and help select everything needed for your upcoming cooking class.

The experience continues at a nearby kitchen, where you’ll learn some secrets of Spanish cuisine. While chatting, eating appetizers, and sipping wine, you’ll help cook a real Alicante rice, working together in pleasant collaboration to create the most famous dish in Spain. Afterward, sit down and enjoy our creations with a celebratory meal. 

Day 7: Train from Alicante to Madrid

Welcome to Madrid!
Welcome to Madrid!

Day seven starts with a  transfer to the train station, where you'll embark on a 2.5-hour journey to the nation's capital. Upon arrival in Madrid, check into your downtown hotel and take the rest of the day to explore the city at your own pace. Tomorrow will be the grand tour of this historic metropolis, so you might want to opt for more leisurely activities this afternoon and evening. 

Perhaps you could take in a show. Gran Vía is Madrid's answer to Broadway, and on it, you'll find plenty of theatres showcasing plays and musical productions, many of which are geared for the whole family. The options for culture in this vibrant city are vast, and you could also visit museums, art galleries, and live music venues if the mood strikes.

When night falls, be sure to indulge in Madrid's diverse and world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to the city center and Botín, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. Proclaimed "the best restaurant in the world by Ernest Hemingway, it first opened its doors in 1725 and has been doing a mean roast suckling pig ever since. 

Other great restaurant options in Madrid include:

  • San Mamés: Come to this family-run taberna to sample traditional Madrid cuisine done expertly. 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: This locally-celebrated gem is located in Chamberí, a neighborhood heavy with museums and galleries. Its menu of fresh seasonal produce, wild game, and homemade stews are served in a homey, intimate space.

  • La Terraza del Madrid: With two Michelin stars, a location in a swanky private club, and a 21-coarse tasting menu on offer, this rooftop restaurant in the city center is the place to come to splurge on an unforgettable meal of haute cuisine. Book in advance and be sure to wear a jacket and tie.

Day 8: Footsteps of the Capital – Private Tour

Madrid's historic Royal Palace.
Madrid's historic Royal Palace.

Today you'll devote a whole morning to discovering the past, legends, and history of Madrid.

Despite being one of the largest cities in Europe, Madrid's center—which houses the bulk of the cultural interest—is compact and easy to see on foot. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, embark on a guided walking tour while learning about the historical heritage of this wonderful city. Visit the glittering Royal Palace, the beloved statue of Cibeles, the grand Neptune Fountains, and the Puerta de Alcalá monument. The tour is adaptable based on your personal passions and preferences, and a chat with your guide can tailor the experience to an ideal day of discovery.

After a morning of touring,  your guide will recommend the perfect spot to eat a relaxing lunch.

In the afternoon, explore at your leisure—with a slow walk across the Buen Retiro Park to visit the iconic Puerta del Sol or a visit to the beautiful San Miguel Market

Top this fantastic day off with cocktails and tapas while watching the sunset at the Círculo de Bellas Artes’ terrace.

Day 9: Day Trip to Toledo

Rooftop view of Toledo.
Rooftop view of Toledo.

This morning a quick half-hour train ride south of Madrid takes you to Toledo. A historic city that served as the capital of Spain in the 16th century, it enjoys a dramatic location atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo

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.

Accompanied by an expert guide, you'll visit these historic landmarks as well as others, including the grand 13th century Toledo Cathedral and the 12th century Church of Santo Tomé. Throughout it all, you'll tour the ancient streets of an incredible city that could aptly be described as an open-air museum. After all, it does enjoy UNESCO World Heritage Status. 

Toledo is also known for its steelwork. On a visit to the city's historic foundry, you'll see where ancient blacksmiths forged the famous swords made from Toledo steel. Used by the Roman general Hannibal in the Punic Wars and by the Christian armies in the Middle Ages, these weapons were of incomparable quality. Appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship by viewing some of the swords at the foundry and learning about the forging process. 

After the tour, you'll have time to explore at your leisure before returning to Madrid by train.

Day 10: Train from Madrid to Seville

The modern lines of Seville's Metropol Parasol.
The modern lines of Seville's Metropol Parasol.

After breakfast in Madrid, transfer to Atocha Train Station, where you'll connect to your high-speed train to Seville. With comfortable reclining seats and the ability to get up and buy refreshments from the cafeteria on board if desired, this is an ideal way to travel longer distances in Spain

After a three hour journey, you'll arrive in Seville—the capital of Spain's Andalusia region. Upon arrival, you'll be met by a private transfer who will take you to your hotel in the heart of the city's old town. Take a little time to settle in before you start exploring.

Get your bearings with a visit to the Metropol Parasol, which opened in 2011. Known locally as Las Setas (The Mushrooms), this city icon is said to be the world's largest wooden structure, with mushroom-like pillars and a curved honeycombed roof. Take the lift to the top where you can enjoy stunning views from a winding walkway and cafe.

Finish the day sipping a drink in one of Seville's picturesque plazas before exploring the bustling tapas bar scene for dinner.

Day 11: A Cultural Journey Through Seville - Private Tour

The peaceful interior courtyard of the Alcázar.
The peaceful interior courtyard of the Alcázar.

Today you'll explore Andalusia’s capital in-depth with the help of a local expert.

Seville boasts some of the richest cultural heritage in the world, and this tour showcases the history and highlights of some of its grandest landmarks. Visit Seville’s Cathedral, the largest Gothic structure of its kind in the world, or discover the Royal Alcázar, a palace used by many cultures across the centuries and populated today by members of the royal family. 

During the afternoon, your tour can continue with a stroll around the pebbled streets of Santa Cruz—the city's historic Jewish quarter—and climb the iconic Giralda belltower. As evening falls, stay in the bustling old town to hop between tapas bars and take in a traditional flamenco show after dinner.

Day 12: Train from Seville to Málaga

Malaga's Catedral de la Encarnación.
Malaga's Catedral de la Encarnación.

After breakfast in Seville, head to the train station where you'll catch a two-hour high-speed train to Málaga, a lively port city on Spain's Costa del Sol. Upon arrival, take a little time to settle in before you start exploring sights such as the Alcazaba, a medieval Moorish palace, the Renaissance splendor of Málaga Cathedral, or the historic La Malagueta bullring.

For dinner, sample the local cuisine of fish and seasonal vegetables, along with the locally grown specialties of olives, almonds, and grapes. Check out the waterfront or the Old Town along Calle Marques de Larios, for some excellent restaurant options.

Day 13: The Alhambra - Treasure of Al-Andalus - Private Tour

The snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains overlooking the Alhambra.
The snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains overlooking the Alhambra.

Today takes you on a memorable day trip to the breathtaking Andalusian city of Granada.

After a two-hour drive via private car, you'll arrive in this small medieval city at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, most famous as the home of one of Spain's most celebrated cultural and historic sights: the UNESCO-listed Alhambra. Your day will be devoted to exploring the myriad palaces and gardens of this imposing last bastion of the vast and powerful Al-Andalus kingdom. Wander past fountains, waterfalls, and serene shrines to nature, marvel at the intricate carvings and tessellation tiling, and discover the remarkable rich history of the fortress from your knowledgable private guide.

After enjoying spectacular sunset views over the city, head back down to the town to grab dinner at a local restaurant before returning to Málaga for the night.

Day 14: Málaga - Departure

Night falls over Málaga's Alcazaba.
Night falls over Málaga's Alcazaba.

It's time to say your farewells to Spain! Take one last stroll along Málaga's beautiful harbor, or head to El Mirador de Gibralfaro to enjoy a final panoramic view of the city before arranging a pick-up from your private driver and making your way to the airport for your departing flight.

Map

Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville -14 Days
Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville -14 Days