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


  • Marvel at Barcelona's Modernist landmarks
  • Sample Catalonia's best tapas in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter
  • Explore Valencia's modern waterfront and 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 Barcelona, Explore Barcelona
Day 2 Private Barcelona Gaudí Tour Barcelona
Day 3 Catalan Taste & History, Explore the Gothic Quarter Barcelona
Day 4 Train to Valencia, Private Old Town City Tour Valencia
Day 5 Free Day in Valencia Valencia
Day 6 Train to Alicante & Private City Tour Alicante
Day 7 Taste the Best of Alicante with a Cooking Class Alicante
Day 8 Free Day on Alicante's Coast Alicante
Day 9 Depart Alicante  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona, Explore

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: Private Barcelona Gaudí Tour

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

No visit to Barcelona is 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 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, Explore the Gothic Quarter

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.

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Day 4: Train to Valencia, Private Old Town City 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 through the Old Town of Valencia.

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 classic Spanish rice dish). 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).

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.

Day 5: Free Day in Valencia

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. You can start with a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences. This architecturally unique complex takes up 300,000 square meters and includes the interactive Prince Philip Science Museum, as well as the open-air oceanographic park known as L'Oceanogràfic. The largest aquarium in Europe, this park is a tribute to Earth's oceans and faithfully replicates the most crucial marine ecosystems, with its vast underwater tunnels housing 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: Train 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. 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 with a Cooking Class

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 your creations with a celebratory meal. Bon appetit!

Day 8: Free Day on Alicante's Coast

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, 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, a rock formation that rises 332 meters from the sea. 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
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.

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Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Valencia & Alicante - 9 Days
Map of Spanish Food, Culture & Folklore: Barcelona, Valencia & Alicante - 9 Days
Written by Ramon Tormos, updated Oct 22, 2023