10 Days in Spain Itinerary (Ultimate Guide for First-Timers!)

Planning a trip to Spain? Ten days in Spain will just scratch the surface of all there is to do in this fascinating country!

A 10-day Spain itinerary will allow you to take in the highlights of magnificent Madrid and beautiful Barcelona, plus peek into the country’s colorful past in smaller places like Toledo, Seville, and Granada.

We’ve visited Spain several times now, and we would not hesitate to jump on a plane and return yet again.

The mouthwatering food, many historic landmarks, rich history and culture, world-famous museums, and lively ambience make Spain well worth visiting. Over and over!

Inhale the sweet scent of citrus blossoms in Andalusia. Marvel at Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona. Stroll Retiro Park in Madrid. Bask in the Spanish sunshine.

If you’re a first-time visitor to this fascinating country, our in-depth travel guide will help you experience the best of Spain in 10 days.

Keep reading to discover the ultimate 10 day Spain itinerary for first-timers!

Spain Itinerary for First-Time Independent Travelers

With 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, multiple restaurants on the Top 50 list year after year, and a vibrant culture of dance, music, and festivals, Spain is an irresistible destination.

Without a doubt, a Spain vacation is one of the best ways to spend 10 days in Europe!

Alhambra of Granada in Andalusia, Spain
The Alhambra of Granada is one of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage sites

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Spain has a long history: it has been inhabited since pre-Roman times. The Romans conquered Hispania and colonized it, followed by the Visigoths.

In the 8th century, the Muslims took over, and Cordoba became the center of power.

Northern Iberia saw the emergence of several Christian kingdoms, and in the Reconquista, the Christians expanded south, taking over what is today Andalusia.

As the world’s second most visited destination, Spain is home to an overwhelming number of attractions and experiences and you can craft more than one Spain itinerary if you plan to visit often!

On a 10-day Spain itinerary, you cannot see and do everything, but you can definitely enjoy some of the best places to visit in Spain, and experience a good sampling of its art and architecture, history, music and dance, and cuisine.

We guarantee you’ll be so enthralled by Spain that you’ll be planning a return visit on the flight home!

Here is our in-depth Spain itinerary for your first visit:

Days 1 and 2 of Your Spain Itinerary: Arrive in Madrid, Explore Madrid

Kick off your Spain itinerary in the vibrant capital city of Madrid.

A city with many topnotch museums, stunning architecture, and beautiful parks, plazas and avenues, Madrid is also fun for foodies and wine lovers. It neighborhoods are fun to explore as well.

Madrid is sometimes undervalued as a destination when compared to Barcelona, but if you enjoy art, history, and gardens, you will love Spain’s lively capital city.

We would definitely not leave Madrid out of a first-time Spain itinerary!

Plaza Mayor in Madrid Spain
The stunning Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Getting into Madrid

It’s easy to fly into Madrid–Barajas Airport from international destinations: US travelers going to Spain generally find it very convenient to fly into Madrid (or Barcelona).

The airport is about 17 kilometers (about 10.5 miles) from the city center.

If you have lots of bags, you can arrange for a private transfer or take a taxi.

We suggest a pre-arranged transfer, because the taxi fare system can be confusing if your destination is not within the 30-euro flat fee structure.

Otherwise, take the metro, or the Airport Express bus into the city center. We took the Airport Express on our very first visit to Madrid and found it very convenient.

There are metro stations at the airport at Terminals 2 and 4. Note that you may have to transfer to get to your final destination.

The Airport Express bus stops at Plaza be Cibeles and then at the Atocha train station.

Getting around in Madrid

Although most major sights in Madrid are walkable if you stay centrally, Madrid’s metro is very efficient if you do not wish to walk. Taxis are also plentiful.

You can also opt for the Hop On, Hop Off bus, which provides access to major sights, including the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium if you plan to take in a football game!

Buy tickets for the Madrid Hop On, Hop Off bus now!

What to See and Do in Madrid on day 1

Start your exploration of Madrid with a walk through the iconic Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s largest plaza. Here you will find the famous Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue! Also look for the Kilometre Zero plaque.

If you want to have chocolate and churros at the famous Chocolateria San Gines, it’s just a 4-minute walk from the square.

Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain
The famous Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue!

Next, stroll over to the Plaza Mayor with its beautiful architecture. You’ll find it lively and bustling with both locals and tourists.

Now it’s time for one of Madrid’s most impressive attractions: the Palacio Real de Madrid. The Royal Palace has a majestic facade and an ornate interior that will leave you gawking.

It’s one of the largest palaces in Europe, and open year-round to the public.

Buy skip-the-line tickets in advance, or join a guided tour of the palace.

Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain
The Royal Palace has impressive facades!

Step into the beautiful Catedral de la Almudena, located by the palace. It has a neo-Gothic interior and was only consecrated in 1993.

Depending on your energy levels, you can stroll through the tranquil Sabatini Gardens in front of the north facade of the palace. They are a great place to be at sunset!

End your day with a tapas tour. It’s an absolute must-do in Madrid!

This highly-rated and popular small-group tour is led by a local foodie guide that will take you to tapas bars on side streets not easy to find on your own. Sample wine and tapas and learn about Spanish cuisine.

Book a Madrid evening tapas tour now!

What to See and Do in Madrid on Day 2

Today, depending on how early you start your sightseeing, stroll through the lovely El Retiro Park. It gets crowded later in the day, especially on Sundays!

Fountain in El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s El Retiro Park is definitely worth a stroll!

Next, head to El Prado, the “grande dame” of the Madrid art museums. Here you will find the best of Spanish (and international) traditional art: Velazquez, Goya, and more.

Skip-the-line tickets for the Prado are a must, especially in high season.

You can also splurge on a guided tour, for an enhanced experience: the Prado is huge and can be overwhelming.

If you are an art enthusiast, you may also want to visit the Reina Sofia, and / or the Thyssen-Bornemisza.

The Reina Sofia is home to 20th century Spanish art (Dali, Picasso, and more), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza has some of both old and new art.

We visited the Prado and the Reina Sofia, with a break in the Royal Botanical Gardens in between!

After your art-intensive day, chill by strolling the stunning Gran Via, and walk the equally beautiful Calle de Alcalá. Snap photos of the striking Cibeles Palace and Cibeles Fountain.

To wrap up your sightseeing, head to the Temple of Debod. The reconstructed Egyptian temple was gifted by Egypt to Spain and is a fabulous spot to be at sunset.

Temple of Debod in Madrid, Spain
Sunset at the Temple of Debod

The area around the Plaza de España is home to many quality restaurants for dinner.

Or end your day with a highly-rated flamenco show that comes with food and drink options!

Where to Stay in Madrid

Luxury: The Palacios de los Duques Gran Melia is located in the Habsburg district, close to the Royal Palace. The hotel is housed in two historic buildings and offers gorgeous rooms and suites.

Velazquez prints decorate the interior, contrasting with the sleek architecture. Dine in the serene outside courtyard, and enjoy the stunning rooftop swimming pool and solarium with views overlooking the city and the palace.

We stayed here on our first trip to Spain and were blown away by the beautiful room and the excellent service.

Book a stay here!

Luxury: ME by Melia Madrid Reina Victoria is located in the heart of the city center, walking distance to Madrid’s landmarks and vibrant nightlife. Some rooms feature views of the Plaza de Santa Ana or the Plaza del Angel.

Rooms are spacious and well appointed. There is a rooftop bar and the breakfast is highly rated.

Book a stay here!

Mid-Range: A modern hotel located in the heart of the city center, Vincci Soho is within walking distance of main sights, including the “Triangle of Art” museums.

Enjoy the highly-rated breakfast on the outside terrace, set amidst gardens. Rooms are good-sized and comfortably furnished.

Book a stay here!

Mid-Range: The popular Hotel Regina has a location in the heart of the historic center, right next to the Puerta del Sol and the Gran Via and across the street from a metro station.

Rooms are good sized, modern, and well-appointed, and the breakfast buffet is highly rated.

Book a stay here!

Budget: Hotel Mayorazgo is located next to the Gran Via, a short walk from the Plaza España and the Royal Palace. There are two metro stations just a stone’s throw away.

Rooms are spacious and air-conditioned. Enjoy the piano bar with live music!

Book a stay here!

Day 3 of Your 10 days in Spain: Take a Day Trip from Madrid to Toledo

Today you’ll explore some of Spain’s rich past on a day trip to historic Toledo, located southwest of Madrid.

Toledo is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid, and a must on a 10-day Spain itinerary for history buffs.

A panorama of Toledo, Spain
A view of Toledo from across the river

Known as the “City of Three Cultures,” with influences from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths, Toledo has a historic quarter that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It also has a lovely location on the Tagus River.

It takes just 30 minutes to travel from Atocha station in Madrid to Toledo by high-speed train.

Book your high-speed train tickets for Toledo ahead of time for the best prices and to reserve your seats.

What to See and Do in Toledo

In Toledo, snap photos of the impressive Alcazar, located on a hilltop overlooking the town, and wander the charming streets and alleys of the historic quarter.

Tour the beautiful Gothic Toledo Cathedral, and the equally beautiful Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, with its two levels of cloisters and tranquil gardens.

Admire the Puerta de Bisagra, the main gate into the city, and stroll the picturesque Puente de San Martín and the Puente de Alcántara.

The Puerta de Bisagra in Toledo, Spain
The Puerta de Bisagra in Toledo

And finally, do not miss the viewpoints across the river: they offer panoramic vistas of Toledo and the Tagus River. Take a taxi, or opt for the Hop On, Hop Off bus, which stops at the viewpoints.

A guided tour is a great way to visit Toledo and learn about its fascinating history as you explore. This highly-rated full day tour of Toledo includes a stop at a couple of panoramic viewpoints and a guided walking tour of the historic core.

Book this full-day guided tour of Toledo from Madrid now!

If you visit Toledo independently and get an early start, you may be able to take an evening train to Seville, to get a head start on your Seville sightseeing.

If you do a full-day guided tour of Toledo, you will likely return only at 6 p.m. or a little after, so you may prefer to relax and spend the night in Madrid, leaving for Seville early the next morning.

Day 4 of Your Spain Itinerary: Travel to Seville, Explore Seville

Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is a flamboyant Southern Spain city: the land of orange trees, Moorish palaces, flamenco, and tapas.

It’s one of our favorite places anywhere!

Seville’s many striking landmarks and its lively ambience make the city a must on your Spain itinerary. Its varied attractions also make it eminently suited to a 10-day Spain itinerary for families.

Las Setas, Seville, Spain
Las Setas, the Mushrooms of Seville

Getting into Seville

The high-speed train is the easiest and best way to travel from Madrid to Seville. The high-speed train from Madrid Atocha station to the Santa Justa station in Seville takes about two hours and 30 minutes.

Check availability and book high-speed train tickets from Madrid to Seville now!

From the Santa Justa station in Seville, the historic center is about 4.2 kilometers (about 2.6 miles). If you have lots of bags, you can take a taxi, or arrange for a transfer in advance.

Otherwise, take the local bus.

Getting around in Seville

Seville’s historic center is very walkable, with the main attractions set not too far apart from one another. Wandering the historic core is in fact one of the best things to do in Seville!

Bicycles are a popular option for getting around in Seville, which boasts a bike share program called Sevici.

Seville also has an efficient metro, and public buses are a great option as well. You can also take taxis: since distances are short, taxi rides are affordable.

The Hop On, Hop Off bus has a 24-hour or 48-hour option, and passes by the major sights in Seville. You may want to consider it if you are traveling with young children or you do not wish to rack up the steps.

We bought the 24-hour option on our first trip to Seville and used it at the start of our visit, to get an overview of the city and its beautiful architecture.

Get tickets for the Seville Hop On, Hop Off bus tour now!

What to See and Do in Seville

If you arrived in Seville the evening before, we have a one day in Seville itinerary you can follow, modifying it to make it more relaxed if you so desire.

If you arrived in the morning, here are the must-not-miss highlights!

The Royal Alcazar of Seville is one of the top monuments in Andalusia.

Exploring the beautiful Alcazar palace complex and strolling its gorgeous gardens should be at the top of your list of things to do in Seville.

The Courtyard of the Maidens at the Royal Alcazar of Seville in Spain
The Courtyard of the Maidens at the Royal Alcazar of Seville

Admire the lace-like arches in the Courtyard of the Maidens, be awed by the stunning ceiling of the Hall of the Ambassadors, marvel at the detail in the large tapestries in the Hall of Tapestries, and visit the picturesque baths of Doña María de Padilla.

The gardens feature many mature palms, floral plantings amidst box hedges, and many water features. The Mercury Pond is a lovely photo spot, with the Gallery of the Grotesque forming a beautiful backdrop.

Skip-the-line tickets to the Royal Alcazar are crucial. Or opt for a guided tour: we thought our tour enhanced our visit exponentially.

Book a guided tour of the Royal Alcazar of Seville now!

The enormous Seville Cathedral, along with the Royal Alcazar and the General Archive of the Indies, makes up Seville’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Seville Cathedral has a striking Gothic exterior. Inside, tour the several dozen chapels. The Capilla Mayor dazzles with gold-covered carvings of scenes from the life of Jesus. Also look for the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Climb the ramps to the top of La Giralda, the cathedral’s graceful bell tower, for panoramas over the city.

If you plan to visit independently, purchase skip-the-line tickets for the Seville Cathedral and La Giralda in advance to save time.

A guided tour that combines the Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral with access to La Giralda is an excellent option if you want to see these gorgeous landmarks efficiently and not miss anything of import.

Book a combined tour of the Royal Alcazar, the Seville Cathedral, and La Giralda now!

Seville’s Plaza de España is relatively young: it was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Expo of 1929. It’s a huge plaza, with an impressive semi-circular complex of buildings as a backdrop.

Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
The magnificent Plaza of Spain in Seville

The tiled displays in the plaza are its most noteworthy feature: there’s one for each province in Spain. The bridges across the moat are also decorated with beautiful tile work.

Stroll through the tranquil Maria Luisa Park to the Plaza of America, where you’ll find more beautiful buildings to admire. Built as pavilions for the exposition, many of the buildings now house museums.

Depending on the time you have left in the day, you can cross the bridge across the Guadalquivir to stroll the colorful Calle Betis in Triana and snap a photo of the Torre del Oro before returning to Barrio Santa Cruz for the evening.

Or you can stroll Plaza Nueva and then take in the views from the top level of Las Setas, the Mushrooms of Seville, before heading to Barrio Santa Cruz.

Spend your evening wandering the picturesque alleys of Barrio Santa Cruz. It’s an excellent place to have dinner and drinks, and, if you are so inclined, enjoy a flamenco performance.

Where to Stay in Seville

Luxury: Hotel Colon Gran Melia is located about a 12-minute walk from the Seville Cathedral. Rooms are elegantly appointed, and service is beyond exemplary: we felt absolutely spoiled when we stayed here on our first visit to Seville.

Opt for a room with a view of the cathedral! The rooftop terrace has beautiful views. Enjoy the hot tub, and access to a VIP lounge if you book a red level room.

Book a stay here!

Luxury: Hotel Alfonso XIII is housed in a historic palace and features traditional Andalusian decor. It is located very close to major sights like the Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral.

Rooms and suites are individually decorated, with luxurious furnishings. The hotel offers an outdoor pool and a courtyard with a fountain, where you can dine. Enjoy drinks at the cocktail bar next to the courtyard or on the terrace.

We’ve stayed here when we visited Seville in winter, taking advantage of lower off-season rates. It was a fabulous stay!

Book a stay here!

Mid-Range: Hotel Becquer is located by the Guadalquivir River, just a 5-minute walk from the Seville Cathedral. Air-conditioned rooms are comfortably furnished. The breakfast is rated highly.

The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, and a terrace and solarium featuring beautiful views of La Giralda and the Seville Cathedral.

Book a stay here!

Budget: Simon Hotel is housed in an 18th century mansion in the historic center, a stone’s throw from the Seville Cathedral. Traditionally furnished rooms are air-conditioned.

The hotel offers a central courtyard and the buffet breakfast is rated excellent.

Book a stay here!

Day 5 of Your 10 days in Spain: Do a Day Trip to Cordoba

Together with Seville and Granada, the city of Cordoba forms Andalusia’s Golden Triangle.

The city’s influence was at its zenith under the Umayyads, and it was considered the top city in Europe in the 10th century. It was a center of learning, art, and architecture.

Cordoba’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its many stunning landmarks and charming Jewish Quarter will captivate you.

The Andalusian city is also known for its cuisine, and its colorful patios: it even celebrates the Festival of the Patios each May.

Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain
The arches in the prayer hall of the Mezquita of Cordoba

Cordoba is a breeze to access from Seville via high-speed train, and you can see the major sights in Cordoba in a few hours. It’s one of the top day trips from Seville!

It takes just about 45 minutes to go from the Santa Justa station in Seville to Cordoba Central.

Book high-speed train tickets for your Seville to Cordoba day trip now!

What to See and Do in Cordoba

On a Seville to Cordoba day trip, you’ll want to start by exploring the magnificent Mezquita, the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The stunning prayer hall inside is famous for its hundreds of candy-cane arches. The mihrab, the main prayer niche, is superbly ornate. The Renaissance cathedral is built right into the mosque!

The Mezquita and the Roman Bridge in Cordoba, Spain
The Mezquita of Cordoba and the Roman Bridge

Exploring the Mezquita is one of the top things to do in Cordoba, so you’ll want to book skip-the-line tickets ahead of time, or opt for a guided tour with priority entrance.

Book a skip-the-line tour of the Mezquita of Cordoba now!

You can climb the steps to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views over the Mezquita complex and the city betond.

Cordoba’s alcazar, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, is more a fortress than a palace, but worth touring for the exhibit of found Roman mosaics and the views from the ramparts.

The gardens of the Alcazar are definitely worth strolling, especially if you visit when flowers are blooming.

Wander the picturesque Jewish Quarter, where you can step inside the small medieval Synagogue one of three that still exist: the other two are in Toledo.

Jewish Quarter, Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter is very photogenic!

Walk across the Roman Bridge, which featured as a location on Game of Thrones. The bridge offers beautiful views of the Guadalquivir River and the Mezquita’s exterior. On the opposite bank of the river, climb the Calahorra Tower for views.

For an efficient way to cover the main sights in Cordoba on a part-day trip, consider this highly-rated four-hour tour that includes the Mezquita, the Alcazar, the Jewish Quarter and the Synagogue. You’ll learn a lot as you explore!

Book a combined tour of the Mezquita, the Alcazar, the Jewish Quarter and the Synagogue in Cordoba now!

It is easy and efficient to travel to Cordoba on your own, but if you prefer a guided tour, there is that option as well. This highly-rated tour takes 10 hours and transports you back and forth by air-conditioned coach or minivan.

If you travel independently to Cordoba and back, which we suggest you do, you can return to Seville in time to take the evening train to Granada, your next destination. This will give you the full following day in Granada.

Day 6: Explore Granada

Granada is home to the jaw-dropping Alhambra Palace, one of the most visited landmarks in the world.

But Granada should be on your Spain itinerary also for its charming historic neighborhoods and excellent tapas. And Granada evokes the feel of Moorish times perhaps more than any other Andalusian city.

Alhambra at night, Granada, Spain
The Alhambra, lit up at night

Getting Into Granada

From Seville, the high-speed train is the quickest way to travel to Granada. The journey from the Santa Justa station in Seville to Granada takes 2 hours and 30 minutes (or slightly more, depending on the departure).

We suggest booking your train tickets well ahead of your trip, because there aren’t too many departures each day.

Check availability and book your Seville to Granada high-speed train tickets now!

Getting Around in Granada

Walking is, of course, an option to get around the Granada city center.

But Granada is located on hills, and the sights are not very set close together, so you may prefer not to walk everywhere, especially since you only have one day in Granada.

Bicycles (including e-bikes) for hire are available in the city center and are a fun and quicker way to get around in Granada. You can rent by the hour or for the day.

You can also take the local buses, or taxis (we took one after our night visit to the Alhambra).

There is also a Hop On, Hop Off tourist train with stops at major sights. The train has a panoramic roof and is open-deck in the summer. Bring headphones so you can hear the commentary.

Book your tickets for the Granada Hop On, Hop Off train now!

What to See and Do in Granada

Exploring the Alhambra Palace and the Generalife Gardens should be at the top of your Granada itinerary.

The palace and fortress complex has a stunning hilltop location and is renowned as a great example of Islamic architecture. Be awed by the stunning Nasrid Palaces, take in the views from the Alcazaba, and stroll the Generalife Gardens.

Court of the Myrtles at the Alhambra of Granada, Spain
The Court of the Myrtles at the Alhambra

The Nasrid Palaces can only be entered at a pre-reserved time: the slot will be indicated on your ticket. Tickets sell out way in advance, so book yours as soon as you know your date. You can buy them at the official site, or at a reseller.

Buy skip-the-line tickets (with audio guide) to the Alhambra now!

If tickets are sold out, or you prefer the structure and commentary that comes with a guided tour, that’s a great way to tour the massive complex. This highly-rated tour includes the Nasrid Palaces and the Generalife Gardens.

You can opt for a small-group tour or splurge on a private tour. The tour price includes priority admission to all areas of the complex.

Book a guided tour of the Alhambra + the Generalife Gardens now!

In Granada’s city center, you will find the gorgeous Granada Cathedral, built mainly in the Spanish Renaissance style with some Baroque elements. Inside, the Capilla Mayor is circular, and holds, among other art works, kneeling effigies of Isabella and Ferdinand.

Also in the city center, you will find the Capilla Real, the Royal Chapel of Granada. Built in the early part of the 16th century, the Gothic structure is the final resting place of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.

If you enjoy churches, you can also step inside the Basílica de San Juan de Dios, an absolutely stunning church with beautiful architecture, paintings, and sculptures.

Strolling the Albayzin, the historic quarter across from the Alhambra, is a must in the late afternoon. The narrow alleys and whitewashed houses are pretty, and you can get glimpses of the Alhambra with the afternoon sun lighting up the red walls.

Albaicin Quarter in Granada Spain
A view of the Albayzin Quarter from the Alhambra

Catch sunset at the Mirador de San Nicolas, likely the best viewpoint in Granada. From here, you have a fantastic view of the Alhambra, with the Sierra Nevada forming a majestic backdrop.

It’s a popular viewpoint at sunset, so arrive a little early to snag a good spot.

The Albayzin (also called Albaicin) is a great place to enjoy dinner, and after you can head up to the Sacromonte neighborhood if you like, to catch a flamenco show in a cave.

Where to Stay in Granada

Luxury: Hospes Palacio de los Patios is located in the heart of Granada’s city center, walking distance to the Granada Cathedral and the Capilla Real. The hotel features an indoor pool and a lounge.

One building is a historic palace and the other is a newer building. Rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished. The buffet breakfast is excellent.

We stayed here on our first visit to Granada. We took a taxi to the Alhambra for a night visit, and buses from the Plaza Nueva for the day sightseeing.

Book a stay here!

Luxury: Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula is housed in a former monastery. The building is beautiful. Rooms are comfortable and very well appointed. It is located in the city center, where it is easy to take the bus or get a taxi to the Alhambra.

The buffet breakfast is rated highly. Ask for a room on a higher floor for a nice view of the city!

Book a stay here!

Mid-Range: Hotel Casa 1800 Granada is housed in a restored 16th century building in the city center, close to shopping, restaurants, and tapas bars. Breakfast is served in the central courtyard.

Rooms are elegant, with the decor showcasing the traditional wood and Mudejar architectural elements. They are beautifully furnished.

Book a stay here!

Budget: Gran Hotel Luna de Granada is located about 10 minutes from the city center of Granada. The air-conditioned rooms feature modern decor.

The hotel offers a heated swimming pool and a spa.

Book a stay here!

Days 7 and 8: Barcelona

Today you’ll head to beautiful Barcelona, the most popular destination in Spain.

With lots of gorgeous architecture and historic landmarks, a lovely Gothic Quarter, beaches, shopping, and excellent dining, Barcelona offers something for every type of traveler, from Gaudi enthusiasts to football fans and foodies.

On this itinerary, you’ll see the highlights of this incredible city and savor its vibrant atmosphere.

Tip: If you plan to visit several ticketed sights, check to see if the Barcelona Go City Explorer Pass will save you some money! We found it a good value on our first visit to Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia interior in Barcelona Spain
A part of the interior of the Sagrada Familia

Getting Into Barcelona

We suggest taking the direct high-speed train from Granada to Barcelona.

The AVE train gets you from Granada to Barcelona Sants station in 6 hours and 5 minutes, leaving you with several hours to sightsee in Barcelona on the day of your arrival.

Check availability and book high-speed train tickets from Granada to Barcelona now!

From the Barcelona Sants station, it is about 5.1 kilometers (about 3.2 miles) to the Gothic Quarter.

Arrange for a transfer to your accommodation prior to your visit, or take a taxi, bus, or train, or the metro.

We love to travel by train in Spain, but if you prefer, you can fly from Granada to Barcelona. The flight time is about one hour and 30 minutes, and there are several airlines that service the route.

The airport in Barcelona is about 14 km (about 8.7 miles) from the Gothic Quarter, and you ca take a taxi, train, bus, or the metro to your accommodations. You can also arrange a transfer in advance.

Getting Around in Barcelona

You can walk to sights that are near one another, or rent bicycles, but you’ll likely use Barcelona’s efficient public transport system while you are in the city.

Take the train, the metro, or the bus. Taxis are also available.

You can also ride on the Barcelona Hop On, Hop Off bus, which comes with 24-hour or 48-hour validity. The routes cover most of the major sights. The tour is also an excellent way of getting an overview of the city.

Bring headphones for the commentary.

Buy Barcelona Hop On, Hop Off bus tickets now!

What to See and Do in Barcelona on Day 7

Since it’s a travel day and you’ll have only a part of the day to sightsee in Barcelona, we suggest leaving the Gaudi sights for the next day.

Today, enjoy people watching at the lively (and large!) Plaça de Catalunya, known for its shopping.

Snap photos of the beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana. The stunning Catalan Art Nouveau building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll definitely want to tour the inside, either on your own or on a guided tour.

Stroll the famous tree-lined pedestrian avenue of La Rambla, and explore the picturesque Gothic Quarter, where you can get lost in the alleys.

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

En route, step inside the Mercat de la Boqueria to see the colorful stalls and enjoy some snacks and drinks.

If you enjoy churches, visit the Barcelona Cathedral, and / or the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi.

The Barcelona Cathedral has an impressive neo-Gothic facade, and a beautiful interior. The Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi is a Catalan Gothic structure. You can climb the tower for views.

Or if you are an art lover, you may want to visit the Picasso Museum, where you can see more than 4,000 of his works.

A foodie? Consider this highly-rated 3-hour tapas and wine experience small group walking tour!

What to See and Do in Barcelona on Day 8

Whether you are an architecture buff or not, you’ll definitely want to visit at least some of Antoni Gaudi’s intricate architectural marvels in Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia is not just one of the most visited landmarks in Spain, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The still unfinished church is large, with many beautiful spires and stunning facades. The interior is especially famous for its “forest” of pillars.

You can visit the nave inside, as well as the crypt, museum, and two of the steeples. Given the popularity of the Sagrada Familia, advance ticket purchases are a must: you can buy them at the official site, or at resellers like GetYourGuide.

We did a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia and found it really enhanced our experience. After the tour, we stayed inside and spent more time on our own. This highly rated 1.5-hour tour includes a tower visit and lots of information about the interior.

Book a guided tour of Sagrada Familia (with tower) now!

The beautiful Casa Batlló is another popular Gaudi building in Barcelona to put on your Spain itinerary. A jewel of the Modernism movement, the Casa Batlló is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Facade of the Casa Battlo in Barcelona, Spain
Detail on the facade of the Casa Battlo

While snapping photos of the facade is a must, you can also tour the inside, where you can admire the architectural details and enjoy immersive art experiences.

Buy entry tickets for Casa Batlló now!

Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera, is one of the other must-visit buildings designed by Gaudi in Barcelona. People live in a part of the building, so you can only visit certain areas.

Casa Mila in Barcelona, Spain
The roof of the Casa Mila offers views

Built in the early 20th century, La Pedrera is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On a visit here, you can head up to the roof to see the iconic chimneys up close.

Buy skip-the-line tickets for Casa Milà now!

To complete your Gaudi tours in Barcelona, head to the colorful Parc Güell. It’s a very popular spot in Barcelona for sunset.

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
The colorful mosaic dragon at Park Guell

Located on Carmel Hill, Parc Güell contains gardens and unique architectural elements, and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Park Guell’s colorful mosaic dragon (lizard) and snake make for wonderful photo ops.

Tickets to Park Guell often sell out well in advance so be sure to book your tickets ahead of time.

Buy skip-the-line tickets to Park Guell now!

You can also opt for a guided tour, which will ensure you cover everything of import in an efficient manner. This highly-rated tour takes 75 minutes and includes skip-the-line access.

Book a guided tour of Park Guell now!

Gaudi enthusiasts may want to consider this comprehensive and highly-rated 5-hour guided tour with Take Walks. Take Walks is one of our favorite tour companies and we’ve loved the tours we have taken with them so far.

If you do not wish to spend the entire day touring Gaudi sites, you can pick one or two to visit in half a day (there is a combined guided tour of La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell that takes you through both places in 4-4.5 hours.

You can then head to Barceloneta Beach for a few hours in the afternoon and early evening, or head to Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona stadium, for a guided tour, or take in sights you didn’t manage to visit the previous day.

Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona, Spain
Barceloneta Beach

You can also spend the afternoon and evening at the Parc de Montjuic (more below).

If drinks at one of Barcelona’s famous rooftop bars is on your list, head out this evening!

Enjoy drinks and light food at the Skybar at the Grand Central Hotel (public access is limited so advance reservations are a good idea).

Or visit Terraza Ayre at Ayre Rosellón for drinks plus snacks and yum desserts, with an epic view of La Sagrada Familia.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Luxury: Serras Barcelona is located in the atmospheric Gothic Quarter, very convenient for sightseeing, shopping, dining, and nightlife. The boutique hotel offers just 28 rooms and suites.

Rooms and suites are spacious and modern, and the hotel boasts a restaurant helmed by a Michelin star chef. There is also a rooftop terrace to enjoy!

Book a stay here!

Luxury: Mercer Hotel Barcelona is also located in the Gothic Quarter, walking distance to many major sights. The boutique hotel offers just 28 rooms with elegant furnishings and well-appointed bathrooms.

The hotel offers a beautiful rooftop terrace and an outdoor pool.

Book a stay here!

Mid-Range: Hotel Jazz has an excellent location near Plaza Catalunya, Paseo de Gracia, and the famous Ramblas. Rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with beds rated super comfy and nice bathrooms.

The hotel offers a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a rooftop terrace. For a quieter stay, opt for a room overlooking the inner courtyard!

Book a stay here!

Budget: Hotel Europark is located near Plaza Catalunya and close to public transport, shopping, and dining. The hotel offers a pool and a solarium.

Air-conditioned rooms are comfortable and spacious and bathrooms feature excellent showers.

Book a stay here!

Day 9: Enjoy More of Barcelona, or take a Day Trip to Montserrat

What to See and Do in Barcelona on Day 9

There’s a lot to see and do in Barcelona, so you can spend another day taking in the sights here.

Head up to Mount Tibidabo in the morning for views over Barcelona. You can get there by bus, or funicular, or by taxi or rideshare.

The Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus is a beautiful neo-Gothic church perched on the hilltop. The church is visible from everywhere in the city!

Temple of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Barcelona, Spain
The Temple of Sacred Heart of Jesus

The chapel and the temple are both worth visiting. For a small fee, you can take the elevator to the top of the church tower for fabulous views over the city.

Next to the church is a small amusement park. If you are visiting with kids, they will love the rides!

If you have time to spare before lunch, we suggest exploring more of the Gothic Quarter. It is such an atmospheric area!

Visit the nearby Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, built in Catalan-Gothic style. The stained glass windows are stunning.

We suggest spending the afternoon and evening at the Parc de Montjuic. You can take the cable car to the top.

The hill is home to not only the park, but also the Montjuïc Castle, botanical gardens, museums, and a beautiful fountain, the Font Magica.

Castell de Montjuïc offers panoramic views of the city.

If you are an art enthusiast, visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, located in the Palau Nacional at the Montjuïc. The museum houses an impressive collection of Catalan art.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain
The National Museum of Art

Font Magica is lit up after dark, and you will want to stay and enjoy the play of light, music, and water.

Travel to Montserrat for the Day

If you want to spend this day exploring more of Catalonia, take a day trip to Montserrat! It is one of the best day trips from Barcelona you can do.

Montserrat is a stunning mountain range with multiple mountain peaks that makes for wonderful photos!

The mountain range is home to a beautiful Benedictine monastery, where you will find the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat. It is a Black Madonna.

Montserrat in Spain
The Montserrat Monastery

Montserrat is located about one hour northwest of Barcelona, and the train is the best and easiest way to visit. The journey to Aeri de Montserrat takes about one hour. From here, take the cable car to the top.

At Montserrat, you can enjoy the magnificent views over the surrounding countryside, visit the basilica that houses the Black Madonna, and walk the trail to Sant Miquel’s Cross: the views are beautiful!

If you prefer, you can take a guided day tour to Montserrat. This highly-rated tour includes a small-group walking tour of Montserrat Abbey and, if you choose the full-day option, wine tastings and lunch at a winery.

Book a guided tour from Barcelona to Montserrat now!

Day 10: Say Goodbye to Spain!

Today it’s time to bid farewell to Spain.

If your outbound flight is from Madrid, take the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid. The journey takes just 2 hours and 30 minutes.

An early morning train will get you back in plenty of time to catch an afternoon flight.

Book tickets for the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid now!

The Ultimate 10 Days in Spain Itinerary: Overview + Map

Here’s the quick overview of the 10-day Spain itinerary we’ve detailed above:

Days 1 and 2: Arrive in Madrid, explore Madrid
Day 3: Take a day trip from Madrid to Toledo
Day 4: Travel to Seville, explore Seville
Day 5: Do a day trip to Cordoba, travel to Granada
Day 6: Explore Granada
Days 7 and 8: Travel to Barcelona, explore Barcelona
Day 9: See more of Barcelona, or take a day trip to Montserrat
Day 10: Say goodbye to Spain!

Here’s a map that shows our Spain itinerary for first-timers:

Looking for a Spain itinerary starting in Barcelona? While we’ve described this Spain itinerary starting in Madrid and ending in Barcelona, you can reverse it if you plan to fly in and out of Barcelona or into Barcelona and out of Madrid.

More Time in Spain? Add to Your Spain Itinerary!

With more time, you can see and experience even more of fabulous Spain.

Here are some convenient ways to add to the 10-day Spain itinerary we’ve described above!

You can do more day trips from both Madrid and Barcelona by train, or by guided tours. From Madrid, consider historic Segovia, with its famous aqueduct, or Salamanca or Avila.

A day trip from Barcelona to Girona is wonderful if you want to explore more of Catalonia. We also love Tarragona to the south for both its history and its beaches.

You can also spend more time in Andalusia. Explore the Costa del Sol, or take a guided tour of some of the picturesque white villages of Spain. We especially love Ronda, with its stunning location atop the El Tajo Gorge, and tiny Casares.

The Best Time of Year To Enjoy this Spain Itinerary

Spring and fall are the ideal times to enjoy this Spain itinerary. The weather is usually moderate, especially in April-May and September-October. But pack layers to stay toasty in the event of a cold snap, and bring rain gear.

In the spring, along with good weather for the most part, you’ll also find gardens in bloom and parks lush and green. In Andalusian cities, the scent of citrus blossom will charm you as you stroll the historic centers.

Maria Luisa Park in Seville Spain
Maria Luisa Park in Seville in the spring

Spring is a particularly festive time to visit Spain. Easter is celebrated with great pomp in many Spanish cities, with parades and fireworks. The Santa Semana processions of Andalusia are famous.

Seville celebrates a fair in April, and Cordoba the Festival of Patios in May.

Spring is high season in many parts of Spain, so book accommodations and train travel well ahead of your trip.

Fall also has gorgeous weather, usually not too hot or too cold. It’s still swimming weather at beaches, especially earlier in the fall! You may encounter the odd rain shower, though, so always bring rain gear.

Leaves change color in parks and along streets in many cities and towns, and in the countryside. Train rides are very scenic in the fall.

Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain
Retiro Park in the fall

Spain hosts a big flamenco festival in September, with parades, fireworks, and concerts. There are cultural events in many cities, especially Madrid and Barcelona.

Accommodation and train travel is reasonable in fall, especially if you book early.

Winter can be a great time to visit Spain if you are looking to avoid the worst of the crowds. Winters are mild in many parts of Spain, and if you pack smart, with layers, you can enjoy sightseeing in relative quiet.

We’ve visited Seville in winter and found it marvelous, with festivities in December and early January and very mild weather.

Frequently Asked Questions on Spain in 10 Days

1. Is 10 days in Spain enough?

10 days in Spain is enough to visit some of the most iconic cities in Spain, get a good sense for its culture and history, and sample the mouthwatering food and drink. On a first-time 10-day Spain itinerary, you’ll definitely want to visit Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville!

2. How many days is ideal for Spain?

You can visit Spain for as little a time as a week, and experience Barcelona and Madrid, or the southern province of Andalusia. Ten days in Spain will allow you to see and do more, including day trips to smaller places. More is always better, because Spain has numerous must-visit destinations and a vibrant culture and delicious cuisine to experience.

3. What is the best way to get around Spain as a tourist?

Spain has an efficient train network, and it is the most convenient way to travel across the country. High-speed trains connect major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. Train travel in Spain is very comfortable as well. Of course, if you enjoy road trips, Spain also has a great road network.

4. What month is best to visit Spain?

Spring and fall are ideal times to visit Spain, with pleasant daytime temperatures. Winters in many parts of Spain are much milder when compared to much of Europe, and prices (and crowds) can be lower during the winter.

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Discover the ultimate 10-day itinerary for Spain for first-time visitors! Explore Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and more on your trip with our in-depth day-by-day itinerary.


Dhara's travel interests are eclectic, spanning everything from natural wonders to history, culture, art and architecture. She has visited 22 countries, many more than once, plus almost all 50 states of the USA, and has amassed a hoard of cherished travel moments.

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