- Discover Spain's capital city of Madrid and its royal past
- Enjoy an evening of tapas and flamenco in the old town of Seville
- Tour the Alhambra palace and the Generalife Gardens in Granada
- Tour an olive oil farm in the Andalusian countryside
- Hike the Caminito del Rey trail
|Day 1||Arrive in Madrid - Explore the city||Madrid|
|Day 2||Discover Madrid's royal past with a city tour and tapas experience||Madrid|
|Day 3||Day trip to the UNESCO city of Toledo||Madrid|
|Day 4||Explore the city of Seville by bike - Enjoy an evening flamenco show||Seville|
|Day 5||Tour an olive oil farm in the Andalusian countryside||Seville|
|Day 6||Transfer to Granada - Hike the Caminito del Rey||Granada|
|Day 7||Explore Granada by bike - Tour the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens||Granada|
|Day 8||Take the train back to Madrid - Enjoy a free evening in the city||Madrid|
|Day 9||Depart Madrid|
Day 1: Arrive in Madrid - Explore the city
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: Discover Madrid's royal past with a city tour and tapas experience
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll meet a local guide for a half-day tour of Madrid. Spain's capital city has a long history with interesting architecture, public spaces, and culture. Your guide will reveal insight into how different time periods influenced Madrid's neighborhoods and buildings, as well as explain the city's biggest sights.
The tour will start at the Madrid de los Austrias. It was built in the 16th century during the reign of the Hapsburg Dynasty's first ruler, Charles I. Located in the city center, it's home to one of the grandest plazas in Spain, the Plaza Mayor, which was once the heart of Old Madrid.
Nearby, you'll find the Royal Palace, which was the official home of the Spanish monarchs until 1931. You'll tour both the grounds and interior of this 3,418-room monument, entering the parade grounds, the chambers of Charles III, several salons, the Royal Chapel, and the Hall of the Crown, which displays Charles I's crown, scepter, and throne.
Later, enjoy a visit to El Retiro Park. Its 308 acres is the "green lung" of Madrid, abounding with sculptures, fountains, and a man-made lake perfect for an afternoon boat ride. There are several gardens within the park, including the Jardín de Vivaces (Garden of Vivacious Plants), Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inspired by the Andalusia region), and a rose garden home to over 4,000 bushes. The best time to see these blooms from May through June.
In the evening, you'll really dig into Madrid's culture on a food tour. A local guide will lead you on a 2-hour walking excursion that stops at several tapas bars. On this tour, you'll visit Barrio Las Letras, which is known as the Literary Quarter. This historic neighborhood in the city center was once home to Spanish lit legends like Cervantes and Quevedo. Besides visiting some historic sights around here, you'll also stop on Calle Huertas for a bite at one of the many tapas bars that line the street.
Day 3: Day trip to the UNESCO city of Toledo
A half-hour train ride south of Madrid lies Toledo, a historic city that was once the capital of Spain in the 16th century. The layered city is perched atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, its massive 16th-century fortress dominating the scene.
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 a local 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 your walking tour, you'll learn about the steelwork that is crafted in Toledo. On a visit to the city's historic foundry, you'll see where ancient blacksmiths forged the famous swords made from Toledo steel. These were used by the Roman general Hannibal in the Punic Wars and by the Christian armies in the Middle Ages. These weapons are of incomparable quality, and you can appreciate the craftwork by viewing some of the swords at the foundry.
After the guided visit, you'll enjoy lunch and explore the city on your own. Later in the day, you'll return to Madrid.
Day 4: Explore the city of Seville by bike - Enjoy an evening flamenco show
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 meet up with your private guide who will have bicycles prepared for an active 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 informative guide will share anecdotes and explain some of the mysteries and stories behind the city of Seville. This is a fun, healthy, and educational way to get a feel for the city. Following the tour, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the afternoon to spend as you please, perhaps enjoying lunch and taking a long paseo (stroll) through the city.
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 yet another 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.
Day 5: Tour an olive oil farm in the Andalusian countryside
Today, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you outside the city to a special locale in the countryside. One of Spain's most popular exports is its high-quality olive oil, and today you'll witness the production process firsthand on an exclusive tour of an Andalusian olive oil estate. This estate has quite the history, as it was right here back in the 17th-century that Christopher Columbus' son Hernando began exporting olive oil to the New World.
You'll tour the old manufacturing center and view the 16th-century olive oil presses. You'll also visit the estate's working presses, which use modern methods to produce the olive oil they export today. The excursion ends with a tasting of the oils, allowing you to put your newfound knowledge of the ingredients to good use.
After the tour, you will come back to Seville and will have the rest of the afternoon to explore the city.
Day 6: Transfer to Granada - Hike the Caminito del Rey
Awake early for your road trip through some of Andalusia's most enchanting locales. Enjoy the views as you drive through olive groves, rolling meadows, cork forests, and around mountains, passing the region's famous White Villages—ancient hilltop towns famous for their whitewashed buildings.
Your destination is Granada, located about three hours east of Seville. However, you'll stop along the way for some adrenaline-pumping hiking at the Caminito del Rey—a stunning network of walkways built along a deep gorge carved out by the Guadalhorce River. At times, the gorge reaches harrowing depths of 2,297 feet (700 meters).
You'll arrive at the northern entrance and put on your safety equipment. Then it's time to head off along the trail. As you hike you'll enjoy incredible views down the gorge to the river winding through the valley below. This one-way trail typically takes about 3-4 hours to complete.
Afterward, you'll continue to Granada, where you'll check into your hotel. You'll have the evening 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 7: Explore Granada by bike - Tour the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
After breakfast, you'll explore Granada on an electric bike tour, which allows you to cover ground quickly as you cruise through this vibrant city, learning about its history and architecture. You'll cycle through the labyrinthine streets visiting all the major sites, including Plaza Nueva (the oldest square in the city), Albaicín (the medieval/Moorish historic center), Barrio Realejo (the historic Jewish Quarter) and the 16th century Catedral de Granada, the largest and most opulent Roman Catholic church in the city. You'll also visit the Royal Church, Alcaicería (old silk market), and Madraza (medieval Koranic school).
After the bike tour, your guide will lead you through the city's prized site: The Alhambra. Granada was once the last bastion of Al-Andalus (the historic Muslim name for the Iberian Peninsula) when it was ruled by the Moors. You can see examples of this history in the form of Granada's most famous landmark, the Alhambra, which receives more than two million visitors annually.
This imposing Muslim fortress was built atop a hill overlooking Granada and dates to the 9th century. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by the Nasrid Dynasty and served as a Moorish palace until 1492 when it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella after the Christian reconquest. Your tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site will take you through its grand halls and the Generalife Gardens filled with colorful flowers, fountains, and panoramic views of the city down below.
After the tour, You'll have the rest of the day to spend at your leisure.
Day 8: Take the train back to Madrid - Enjoy a free evening in the city
In the morning, you'll transfer to the train station in Granada and board your 3-hour journey north to Madrid. Upon arrival, you'll settle into your hotel and have the rest of the day free to explore the areas of the city you haven't yet seen.
You can shop along popular streets like Calle de Serrano and Gran Via; or, if it's Sunday, explore El Rastro Market in the hip La Latina neighborhood. You can also visit museums like El Prado, Reina Sofia, Sorolla, and Thyssen Bornemisza. Or, if you prefer, spend the afternoon in El Retiro Park, which once belonged to the Spanish Monarchy. Spend some time amongst the beautifully-manicured gardens, fountains, walking paths, museums, and the lake where you can row a boat around the Monument to Alfonso XII. The Crystal Palace is a surreal space with a revolving modern art exhibit, a great spot to catch the sunset as it bursts through the glass.
Another idea for sunset is a rooftop bar. The terrace above the Círculo de Bellas Artes offers incredible views of the city, plus tapas and drinks. For dinner, find the city's best international food in the Lavapiés neighborhood, or dress up for a meal in swanky Salamanca. Or if you're interested in a more traditional tavern, the side streets around Calle de la Cruz are filled with colorfully-tiled facades and delicious Spanish cuisine.
Day 9: Depart Madrid
It's time to say farewell. After a leisurely breakfast, you'll transfer you to the airport where you'll catch your flight home.