Madrid, Seville, Barcelona: 7-Day Itinerary

A 7 day trip to Spain 
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Capital city treats, coastal exuberance, fantastic architecture, flamenco, tapas, and a wonderfully laid-back style are all yours with seven days of authentic Spanish highlights. From medieval leftovers to Modernist design, intimate tavernas to expressive art, you will be amazed at how much you can experience in just one week without compromising on luxury or Spain’s tranquil vibe. Handcrafted to maximize your time, this private tour visits Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, and Barcelona.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Madrid, Hapsburg Quarter, Bourbon Quarter, Royal Palace, Museo del Prado, Toledo, Santo Tome, Santa Maria la Blanca, San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo Cathedral, Santo Domingo, Museum of Santa Cruz, Hospital de Tavera, El Greco House and Museum, El Escorial, Cordoba, Le Mezquita, Seville, Seville Cathedral, Santa Cruz, Triana, Barcelona, Barri Gotic, Montjuic, Palau Nacional, Museu Nacional d’Art Catalan, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Eixample, La Sagrada Familia, Palau de la Musica Catalana

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Madrid – Superlative Art and Local Spanish Experiences

Madrid always proves to be a romantic place to land as elegant tree-lined boulevards mark your way from the airport to the city center, the odd statue sneaking its way above the branches. Closing in on the heart of the city, the roads become narrow, most of them made from cobbles. Your hotel is within this old area, barely a five-minute walk to the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s grand 17th-century centerpiece. Check in, freshen up, and then grab a coffee with your guide on a cafe terrace. Ease your way into Spain and gain some historical perspective from the guide, before heading out into the city’s famed art scene.

The Prado is world famous, a museum of classical art that covers the very best of Spanish painters up until the 20th century along with the world’s finest collection of Flemish art. Explore the galleries and the masterpieces following the chronological artistic timeline. You could spend a full day here, but two hours is usually enough to get a feel for who is who and why such painting are so revered. You will likely be a little weary after your flight, so most of the afternoon is left free, although the private Thyssen-Bornemisza collection is a great complement to the Prado.

This evening you can head to the Plaza Mayor and stroll without a plan. Cafes and restaurants line this central square, their terraces emanating chatter and enthusiasm. Narrow pedestrianized roads jut out between the terraces, leading you towards the smell of coffee, chocolate, and tapas. One way to soak up the Spanish atmosphere is to hop between the tapas bars. Another is to dine at one of the small restaurants in the area, before returning to the Plaza Mayor for a glass of wine or short coffee later in the evening, when there’s a real hum to the atmosphere.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Madrid – Exploring the Vast Medieval City of Toledo and the Best of El Greco

Madrid is vastly different to London and Paris. In those two capitals, there are countless attractions, abundant tourists, and an international ambiance. In comparison, the Spanish capital has less to see but feels instantly Spanish, a city that does not need abundant attractions to show off its charms. Take some time to walk around with your guide this morning, seeing the old palace and new cathedral, taking in the views from the Egyptian Obelisk and Don Quixote statue, exploring the townhouse architecture. Late in the morning, it will be a 50-minute train journey to Toledo, where you will step out into a carefully preserved medieval world.

Cross the bridge and stop for lunch on a small plaza, and then ascend through this dramatic old city. A narrow doorway leads to a synagogue, and gazing up you can see church spires, one, two, three, four, and then more jutting up above the cityscape. Entering Santo Dome you admire one of El Greco’s famous works, the paint so luscious it seems to still be drying. In a 14th-century monastery you can listen to tales from the nuns, then around the corner, there’s something unusual: a mosque, in the old Moorish style.

Toledo provided religious sanctuary, and there is a harmony to its juxtapositions, mosques alongside churches decorated by El Greco, alongside cute cafes and small boutique stores. It is a city virtually frozen in the medieval era, although your guide will point out that this era actually covers five centuries. Ascend through the city to the cathedral, and then stick around as Toledo changes color at dusk. You will follow the El Greco trail throughout, the artist proving an excellent lens to keep track of where you are on the mazy streets. It will be a 50-minute train journey back to Toledo, and you can disembark in the city center with your guide able to provide restaurant recommendations and reservations.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Madrid to Cordoba – Half Day at El Escorial and Evening in Cordoba

Explore El Escorial with one eye, and you see a monastery, a sanctified space that still functions to this day. You will see serenity and simplicity, but look with the other eye, and you see extravagance as El Escorial is stuffed with gold leaf and endless artworks. Part palace and part monastery, this UNESCO World Heritage Site reflects Spain’s Golden Age, built at a time when religion was used to cement power and showcase wealth. You will need half a day to make sense of it all, the congruence of ideas and elements baffling at first glance. Take the train here with your guide and fully explore, before hopping back to central Madrid and the high-speed train to Cordoba.

This journey is without your guide, traveling first class on one of Europe’s fastest trains. A new guide will meet you in Cordoba, and it will be late-afternoon now, the time when Cordoba really comes to life. Moorish secrets whisper through the old city, remembering a time when this was the capital of the artistic world. Calligraphy and geometric patterns are the norm, with painted embellishments found all along the vernacular buildings. This is enlivened by a gritty, modern feel, one that comes from an almost-subculture style that is a halfway point between the Middle East and Spain. Although mysterious and hard to grasp for some, this is a wonderful city if you have a good guide. So settle into local experiences, including some Islamic, Moorish inspired tapas.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Seville – The Mezquita and Authentic Flamenco

Most visitors to Cordoba come only for the Mezquita. Yesterday evening will have shown you a more local side to the city. Then you can enter the Mezquita when it opens this morning before the Seville-based crowds turn up. Red and white painted columns keep up the grand prayer hall as arched walls are covered in flamboyant symmetrical patterns, their intricacy incredible to witness first hand. This was a mosque and then a cathedral, and now it’s a museum piece, perhaps the greatest Islamic monument found in the West. It is not just the artisanal beauty, but also the size of this place, and the thought that this sumptuous style came 1,000 years ago at a time when most of the world was in the Dark Ages.

After lunch, you will cruise to Seville on the high-speed train to spend two nights at a hotel within Europe’s largest old city quarter. Tonight is will be all about flamenco as the Triana district is one corner of the flamenco triangle, so one of three places where this art form originates. The flamenco here is slow and soulful, based on impromptu tales of love and loss. A voice echoes, a guitarist strums, the dancer twirls to the music’s rhythm and you are spellbound, lost in the atmosphere. This is not a show for tourists, but a venue where all the finest flamenco musicians want to perform, a place where legends perform together, and sometimes for the first time. For true flamenco, there is nowhere in the world that can compare.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Seville – Highlights of Seville Including a Private Tapas Hopping Tour

Seville’s highlights suggest grandeur and wealth. Most of this came from the conquistadors, who returned with their New-World treasures through Seville’s port. Churches are enlivened with silver and gold; townhouses fade elegantly, a show of how well they were built. Columbus is found in the enormous cathedral, just one of the explorers in the crypt. There is history before Columbus as well, the Alcazar another fine example of Moorish architecture, so different to what you may expect when visiting Spain. While exploring old Seville, you will also encounter it’s lively, fiery style as this is a city of people who live with their heart on their sleeves and like to shout when they are happy.

This evening in Seville is dedicated to another famous Andalusian pleasure, tapas. Tapas originated here, and there are dozens of bars to try. Curried blood sausage, a mountain of olives, pan-fried squid, hams and cheeses and delicacies and treats best enjoyed as a small plate. Head off on a private tapas walking tour, stopping in four different bars to sample their specialties. Each bar has a subtly different style or a locally famous plate that everyone orders. At some, you will dine al fresco, whereas in others you get the pungent smells and lively atmosphere of a packed interior space. It will be a tour that could go on until past midnight if you have the energy because there’s always another tapas bar to try in the home of tapas.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Barcelona – Montjuic and the Beach

Fly to Barcelona and this day is left free. With seven days in Spain it is easy to rush, but this is a vacation as well as an adventure. After a transfer to your hotel in Barri Gotic, the day is left free. It is just a short walk to the beach, where bars fringe golden sand and it gets lively around late-afternoon, or you can ascend through Barcelona’s old neighborhoods to Montjuic, where a castle hangs high over the city and there is a distinct medieval flair. After dusk, you will not need to travel far from the hotel. Barri Gotic is Barcelona’s bustling center with shops, cafes, restaurants, wine bars, and everything else you could want on a perfect vacation day.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Barcelona – La Sagrada Familia, Montaner and Departure

Ghouls mark the entrance, staring at you as if from on high. Columns turn in strange ways as if created by a mathematics experiment. From the outside, it is an impossible building as Gaudi’s masterpiece is still under construction after 100 years. The surreal style extends inside every inch of the space an artistic detail that other cathedrals cannot compete with. This is your last day in Spain, and you will be up early to visit La Sagrada Familia before it gets too packed. Not far away there is more beauty from Gaudi with two houses that demonstrate his development as an artist and architect.

Yet Gaudi was not the first, and it may be Montaner that is most memorable in Barcelona, Palau de la Musica Catalana a magnificent work that’s true to the original Modernista style. It helps complete your historical journey through Spain’s finest buildings, from the Moors to the Golden Age to Catalan Modernism. Later, head for a late lunch on a restaurant terrace and spend the afternoon indulging on some final Spanish flavors. Late check-out has been arranged, and you can freshen up back at the hotel before your late departure. It has only been seven days in Spain, but looking back it will feel like two weeks, such is the diversity of the destinations and the authenticity of what you’re able to experience.

What’s Included: tour, airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$1,675
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.