We interviewed local experts, scrutinized hundreds of actual trips, and considered the feedback of intrepid travelers in order to put together the very best Spain itineraries for first-time travelers. Plan for five days to two weeks with the itineraries below, all crafted by local travel specialists.

Planning Your Ultimate Trip to Spain

Spain has managed to preserve its most historic sights, traditions, and cultural offerings while also evolving into a modern, forward-thinking country. In this nation you can tour ancient Roman ruins and medieval cathedrals while partying the night away in 21st-century discos. The following itineraries focus on the two most famous cities in the country—Madrid and Barcelona—and build from there.

A classic five-day getaway covers the highlights of Spain's capital as well as the Catalonian gem of Barcelona—a trip that includes everything from strolling historic Puerto del Sol to lazing on Barceloneta Beach. See this article.

With a full week to spare another attractive option opens up: Andalusia. Besides Barcelona and Madrid, you'll spend two days in this romantic southern region known for its great tapas, Moorish history, and flamenco culture. See this article.

If you can swing 10 days in Spain you'll really get to the heart of these regions, particularly in Andalusia where you can augment visits to its capital of Seville with day trips to other historic cities like Córdoba. See this article. Or you could swap Córdoba with a trip to Granada and visit it's famous Alhambra fortress. See this article.

And with a full two weeks, you could visit all the aforementioned locales while framing your trip as a gastronomic tour and indulge in the best food and wine Spain has to offer. See this article.

In 5 Days: Off the Beaten Path in Madrid & Barcelona

The 18th-century Fountain of Cibeles
  • The perfect intro to Spain is visiting its two most popular cities
  • Spend two days touring each city, discovering its highlights and lesser-known gems
  • Visit the El Prado Museum, one of the world's finest collections of European art
  • Stroll bohemian neighborhoods Barrio las Letras and Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

This brisk five-day tour allows you to do Spain's two most famous cities a little bit differently as you'll visit with local artisans in Madrid, take unique tapas tours, and enjoy a sailing excursion just off the coast of Barcelona. You'll arrive in Madrid and spend your first two nights here. This is a city with a long and rich history seen in its many highlight landmarks, which include the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. 48 hours is the perfect amount of time to get to the heart of Spain's capital.

Day one you'll visit the Fountain of Cibeles, which was built in 1782, and the Puerto del Sol, which dates to the early 16th century and was part of the original city gates. Today it's a daily hub of activity that also hosts Spain's New Year celebrations. In the evening a guide will lead you on a tapas tour of bohemian Barrio las Letras, and on day two you'll visit the El Prado Museum of European art. Cap Madrid by visiting local artisans who make everything from Spanish guitars to bullfighters' costumes.

On the morning of day three, you'll hop a train for the three-hour ride to Barcelona. Like in Madrid you'll acquaint yourself with the flavors of this sultry Mediterranean metropolis on a tapas tour. Beforehand, explore the city and hit any area you wish, be it the medieval Gothic Quarter or the golden sands of Barceloneta Beach.

On day four you'll take a guided tour of what is arguably Barcelona's most famous landmark: La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, a Gothic church that was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Afterward, you'll take a two-hour sailboat cruise along Barcelona's stunning coast. Then, on day five you'll depart Spain. Learn more

In 7 Days: Madrid & Barcelona, Plus Time in Seville 

The Plaza de España, Seville
  • Enjoy Barcelona and Madrid while also throwing Andalusia into the mix
  • Visit La Sagrada Familia, the most impressive cathedral in Barcelona
  • Get a birds-eye-view of Barcelona on a helicopter tour
  • Travel south to Andalusia's capital of Seville

This brisk Spanish holiday packs many of Spain's highlights into a week-long luxury itinerary. It covers the major cities of Barcelona and Madrid plus throws in Seville, the capital of Andalusia. This region is known for its Moorish influences, great tapas, and for being the birthplace of flamenco music. 

You'll arrive in Barcelona, and since this is a luxury tour a private chauffeur will be waiting to whisk you off to your five-star hotel in the city. Over the next two days, you'll take private guided tours of major landmarks like La Sagrada Familia plus enjoy an exclusive helicopter ride over Barcelona. Day three you'll take a train to Madrid, and after walking tours of the city, you'll cap day four with a live flamenco performance. This should prime you for the Andalusian adventure that awaits.

On day five you'll travel south to Seville by train and right away visit its expansive Plaza de España, which is one of the most impressive central plazas in the nation. Then head to the old quarter and Plaza de la Encarnación for great views overlooking the city from atop Metropol Parasol, a massive wooden structure in the shape of a mushroom.

Day six you'll enjoy a guided city tour of landmarks like the 15th century Seville Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest Gothic church in the world. Then head back into the old quarter and the Santa Cruz neighborhood, which was once the Jewish Quarter and is now a bohemian enclave filled with cool cafés and tapas bars. Alas, on day seven, you'll return to Madrid by train and catch your flight home. Learn more

In 10 Days: Swap Barcelona for More Time in Andalusia

The gardens of the Alcázar of the Catholic Kings, in Córdoba
  • More time in Madrid and Seville, plus visit other Andalusian cities
  • Take a riverboat ride down the Guadalquivir River in Seville
  • Travel to Córdoba and tour its medieval and Moorish palaces
  • Or take a trip to Granada to see its most famous Muslim fortress

This 10-day tour expands on the previous itinerary by giving you more time in Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. On this trip, you'll arrive in Andalusia's capital and spend the first three days touring Seville's highlights. You'll also embark on a luxury cruise down the Guadalquivir River to the historic Triana neighborhood, which on top of having a rich flamenco culture was also once the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition. 

On day four you'll transfer 1.5 hours northeast to Córdoba and tour its historic sights. This includes the 7th-century Mézquita (Mosque-Cathedral) and Alcázar of the Catholic Kings, a medieval palace. After lunch, you'll hop a train to Madrid and spend the next couple days exploring before continuing to Barcelona. After being welcomed with an evening food tour, you'll take a private tour of La Sagrada Familia on day eight, enjoy the beaches on day nine, and depart on day 10. Learn more

Or, you could eschew Barcelona in favor of extra time in Andalusia on this 10-day adventure. You'll arrive in Madrid and revel in that city, then head south by train to Córdoba on day four. After a guided tour of its Old Town, you'll continue to Seville. Over two days you'll enjoy cycling tours and flamenco shows before heading to Granada via the whitewashed villages of Cadiz province. Day eight you'll tour the Alhambra, a hilltop fortress dating to the 9th century. Day 10 you'll depart Spain. Learn more

In 14 Days: Go Deeper into Spain on a Food & Wine Tour

The Alhambra, which stands guard over Granada
  • Take a food-and-wine tour of three different regions in Spain
  • Enjoy cooking classes in Barcelona and dine at the world's oldest restaurant
  • Tour a 17th-century olive oil estate outside Seville
  • Visit the Andalusian city of Ronda for a wine tour

On this two-week food-and-wine experience, you'll spend even more time in BarcelonaMadrid, and Andalusia, and you'll do so on a dream foodie tour. After arriving in Barcelona, you'll spend a couple days touring landmarks like Mt. Montjuic, which offers great views over the city, plus Gaudí landmarks like Park Güell, Casa Mila, and La Sagrada Familia. On day three, you'll really discover Catalan cuisine when you partake in a local cooking class under the guidance of a master chef. 

Then you'll head to Madrid, and besides strolling the main shopping street of Gran Vía, you could enjoy some gastronomic history by dining at Botíin. Founded in 1725, it's the oldest restaurant in the world. You'll see a flamenco show on day six and the next morning get on a train to Andalusia. For the next two days, you'll take guided tours of the city, visiting the Seville Cathedral, Santa Cruz neighborhood, and the Alcázar, a 14th-century royal palace built on the site of a former Muslim fortress.

On day nine, explore the Andalusian countryside with a visit to a 17th-century olive-oil estate. Then it's a road trip to the coastal city of Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso. On the way, you'll stop in the ancient mountaintop city of Ronda (it dates to the 6th century), for a wine tour. Day 12 involves the symbolic romería pilgrimage/hike from Málaga to the countryside, and on day 13 you'll take a day trip to Granada and tour its massive Alhambra. On day 14 you'll depart Málaga. Learn more