With a combination of private, small-group, and self-guided excursions, this lively 9-day itinerary explores the culture and cuisine of Spain's eastern coast. Start in Barcelona, where you'll tour Gaudi landmarks and sample Catalonia's best tapas in the medieval Gothic Quarter. Continue south along the Mediterranean to discover Valencia's blend of cutting-edge design and historic character while savoring the city's famous paella. End your journey in the vibrant port city of Alicante, where you'll learn to cook the regional cuisine, relax on golden beaches, and discover the spectacular coastline of the Costa Blanca.

Highlights

  • Marvel at Barcelona's Modernist landmarks
  • Sample Catalonia's best tapas in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter
  • Explore Valencia's modern waterfront & historic old town
  • Learn the secrets of traditional Spanish cuisine in Alicante
  • Discover the scenic coastline of the Costa Blanca

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 Group Tour Barcelona
Day 4 Transfer to Valencia - Tour the Historic Center - Private Tour Valencia
Day 5 Valencia - Free Day Valencia
Day 6 Transfer to Alicante & Private City Tour Alicante
Day 7 Taste the Best of Alicante - Small Group Experience Alicante
Day 8 Alicante's Coast - Free Day Alicante
Day 9 Depart Alicante  

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 Batlló, Casa 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 Group 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: Transfer to Valencia - Tour the Historic Center - Private Tour

Blue skies and bright sunshine over Valencia Cathedral.
Blue skies and bright sunshine over Valencia Cathedral.

Bid Barcelona farewell as you hop on a train and head south down the Mediterranean coast to Valencia. After a three-hour journey, you'll arrive in Spain’s third-largest city and check into your accommodation. Take a quick rest, then meet up with a local guide for a half-day tour.

In Valencia, cutting-edge buildings and infrastructure projects exist side by side with one of the most well-preserved historic centers of any Spanish city. There's also a distinct culture here that reveals itself in the city's gastronomy—after all, this is the place that gave the world paella. A perfect local pastime is strolling by the historic churches and castle ruins of the city center while breaking for refreshments like horchata (a sugary drink made with tiger nuts) and agua de Valencia (a champagne/liquor/orange-juice-based cocktail.)

You'll get to do this and more on a walking tour of the historic center. Visit the major highlights including the Plaza Del Ayuntamiento, home of Valencia's Baroque City Hall; the historic Mercado Central, one of the oldest municipal markets in Europe; the 15th-century Gothic fortress of Llotja de la Seda; and the UNESCO World Heritage Valencia Cathedral, a 13th-century Baroque/Romanesque/Gothic basilica that draws millions of tourists each year. 

Throughout the tour, your guide will reveal historical and cultural insight into all of the landmarks you visit. Afterward, he or she will be happy to recommend some good nearby restaurants for dinner. Some excellent options include:

  • Raco del Turia: You can't leave Valencia without trying the city's flagship dish of paella, and this family-run restaurant makes some of the best in the city. Whether you get the Paella del Senyoret (seafood paella) or the Paella Valenciana (with rabbit, chicken, vegetables, and snails), you won't leave disappointed.

  • Restaurant Navarro: Located in the very heart of Valencia, this flawless eatery has been serving the best in Mediterranean cuisine since 1951. Highlights include the gazpacho, hake in cream sauce, and seafood paella. Do yourself a favor and try the sangria.

  • Dulce de Leche Boutique Ruzaf: Located near the train station in a homey space, this is the place to come for fresh-baked cakes, pastries, tarts, and gourmet coffee. 

Day 5: Valencia - Free Day

Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences.
Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences.

Today is yours to relax and explore Valencia at your own pace.

Why not start with a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences? This architecturally unique complex takes up 300,000 square meters and is home to the interactive Prince Philip Science Museum and an open-air oceanographic park. L'Oceanogràfic is a celebration to earth's oceans and faithfully recreates the most vital marine ecosystems. The largest aquarium in Europe, its vast underwater tunnels are home to mantas, sharks, and beluga whales.

In the afternoon, take a leisurely walk around the Turia Gardens and the impressive Gulliver Park. This long green space on the site of the dry bed of the Turia River encircles the city and is popular with cyclists, joggers, families, and couples out for a romantic stroll. Gulliver Park is a play area where children can have fun climbing on massive structures inspired by the characters of Jonathan Swift.

Day 6: Transfer to Alicante & Private City Tour

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

A two-hour train ride south takes you to Alicante, a lively port city on Spain's Costa Blanca. After checking into your hotel, your local guide will pick you up for a city tour. In Alicante, everything from the local industry to local culture revolves around the water, and this tour reflects that. 

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 of the Mediterranean.
 
After the tour, you can opt for dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront or make your way to Avenida de Maisonnave, a famous boulevard filled with shops and restaurants. Wherever you eat, the meal is bound to be excellent. Alicante is famous for fruits like grapes and cherries and fresh seafood like mullet, tuna, cod, and red prawns. The city’s many tapas bars are a perfect way to sample a wide variety of this regional cuisine in one sitting. 

 

Day 7: Taste the Best of Alicante - Small Group Experience

The bustling Alicante Market.
The bustling Alicante Market.

Today you’ll immerse yourself in Alicante’s famed gastronomy. Your small-group tour will start 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. Bon appetit!

Day 8: Alicante's Coast - Free Day

Calpe's famous Peñón de Ifach.
Calpe's famous Peñón de Ifach.

Spend your penultimate day relaxing and enjoying Alicante at your leisure. Consider starting with a scenic ride on the coastal “Tram” train, taking an unforgettable trip along the stunning Costa Blanca. Here coastal mountains taper down to the water, creating bays and coves hugged by golden Mediterranean beaches.

Stop at the coastal town of Calpe, known for its iconic Peñón de Ifach rock formation. Home to medieval ruins, ancient Roman baths, and a stunning crescent beach, the waterfront here makes a great spot to enjoy a lunch of fresh seafood.

Continue to the coastal village of Altea to explore its well-preserved historic center that abounds with picturesque narrow white streets. Enjoy a late afternoon coffee, horchata, or cocktail on a patio café before catching the "Tram" back to Alicante for the evening.

Day 9: Depart Alicante

"Adios" to Spain and the Mediterranean.

Today a driver will transfer you to the airport where you'll bid Spain “adios” and catch your flight home.

Map

Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Valencia & Alicante - 9 Days
Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Valencia & Alicante - 9 Days