Spain Tour for Independent Travelers: Madrid & Andalucia

A 8 day trip to Spain 
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Get swept away by the joyous spirit of Spain. “Everyday is like a holiday,” someone once said to describe Andalusia, and the same could apply to energetic Madrid with its legendary nightlife. Convivial tapas tours, fun-loving festivals and people-watching in the plazas, are just ordinary occurrences. You’ll experience this enchanting culture, as you visit amazing sites and learn about the country’s exotic past. The mystic of Arabian influences and the mystery of Gypsy music add to the charm. Soak up the beauty of this beguiling place as you visit four of Spain’s most intriguing cities: Madrid, Córdoba, Seville and Granada.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Granada

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 - Welcome to Spain! Arrive in the Vibrant City of Madrid

Your tour begins in the capital of Spain and you’ll have the day free to discover this vibrant European city. Check in to your accommodations at the Hotel Hospes Madrid and you’ll be greeted with a refreshing welcome beverage. In a beautifully renovated building, this elegant hotel offers a wonderful central location near Madrid’s Retiro Park, the Museo del Prado and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. 

After settling in and freshening up, you can begin exploring the city. Your vacation package includes an entry ticket to both museums, so you may want to spend some time this afternoon with a tour of Madrid’s most important museum, El Prado. With its exceptional collection of Spanish masterpieces, this museum is one of the most visited sites in the world. The Prado Museum’s boasts over 4,800 pieces of Spanish paintings. To get the most out of your visit, follow one of the museum’s recommended “routes.” On your self-guided tour, you’ll see the most important highlights, such as masterpieces by Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. The Prado Museum also has galleries that focus on art from other countries, such as Italian, Flemish, French and British paintings. For those who prefer contemporary art, a visit to the Reina Sofía Museum is recommended. Madrid also offers countless other museums, such as the Real Academia de Bellas Artes and the Archaeological Museum. However, be sure to save some energy for this evening if you want to enjoy the city’s legendary nightlife. 

Day 2 - Free Day of Sightseeing in Madrid

After breakfast at your hotel, you will have more time to explore Madrid. You could visit one of the museums that you didn’t see yesterday, or go on a self-guided walking tour. There are so many wonderful sights within easy walking distance of your hotel. Start with one of Madrid’s most emblematic monuments, the 18th-century Cibeles Fountain that features an inspiring statue of the goddess Cibeles in her lion-drawn chariot. You could also take a stroll through El Retiro Park, the expansive green space that was once the recreation area of Spain’s Catholic Kings. Then take a pleasant to walk to the nearby Barrio de Salamanca district, which is Madrid’s poshest neighborhood. Here you’ll find stylish boutiques and elegant restaurants. If you plan to have a meal in this neighborhood, you could try the Restaurant Independencia that serves excellent local cuisine on a beautiful terrace with views of the park. 

Continue your self-guided sightseeing tour this afternoon in Madrid’s historic Habsburg Quarter, formerly the royal quarter of the Habsburg dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries. Meander through the winding narrow streets until you stumble upon elegant plazas and stately old palaces. You’ll also find convents hidden behind austere walls. Be sure to visit the grandiose Royal Palace, which was built in the 1700s for King Phillip V and was designed to rival the Palace of Versailles in France. Another must-see sight is the Puerto del Sol, literally and figuratively the heart of the city. Right in the center of Madrid, this impressive plaza is a hub of activity, a busy shopping area and the location of lively city celebrations. This is also where you can hop on the Metro or a bus that will take you to other neighborhoods. For contrast, you should also visit the Plaza Mayor. This traffic-free 17th-century square has an elegant feel and is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee at an outdoor patio. 

Day 3 - Travel from Madrid to Córdoba in Andalusia

This morning after breakfast, you’ll take the high-speed train from Madrid to the enchanting region of Andalusia in Southern Spain. Andalusia is the land of the old Moorish kingdoms known as Al-Andalus. After a pleasant two-hour train ride, you’ll arrive in Córdoba. This fascinating city was the capital of Al-Andalus in the 10th century, and was the most important city in Europe.

You’ll be staying in the heart of the historic city at the Hospes Hotel. This charming five-star boutique hotel occupies a renovated 16th century palace, yet still offers all the modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and WiFi. The hotel also has a flower garden and a sunny terrace that is lined with fragrant orange trees. After checking in to the hotel and taking some time to relax, you’ll set out for a special culinary activity this afternoon. You’ll be treated to a private tasting of olive oils that are produced in the region. This interesting experience allows you to sample Andalusia’s most essential gastronomic product, and the tasting offers a wide range—from very mild olive oils for cooking to peppery ones that are perfect for salad dressings. Tonight, you’ll spend a relaxing evening in Córdoba and you may enjoy a leisurely gourmet meal at the hotel's restaurant, the Arbequina. The restaurant prepares innovative modern cuisine, blending the Spanish and Moorish culinary traditions.  

Day 4 - Sightseeing in Córdoba and Afternoon in Seville

After breakfast at your hotel, you will visit the most important sight of the city—the historic grand mosque called la Mezquita. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site, this awe-inspiring building dates back to the 8th century and exemplifies the magnificence of Islamic design. Upon entering the Mezquita, you are immediately overwhelmed by its intimate atmosphere and the sea of marble columns and arches. The seemingly endless rows of arches creates a feeling of depth and mysteriousness. On the far side of the building, you’ll find the wide aisle called a maksura, where the Caliph rulers prayed, with a mihrab that indicates the direction of Mecca. The mosque was converted to a cathedral after the Christian Reconquest in the 16th century. The addition of the cathedral, which is implanted in the center of the mosque, is an obvious afterthought and wonderfully represents the fascinating mixture of cultures that you see throughout Andalusia. Córdoba also has many charming hidden corners, especially in la Judería, the old Jewish Quarter. Spend some time wandering around the quaint medieval streets and relaxing in the sunny courtyards.

After touring la Mezquita and la Judería, you will take a short train ride to Seville that takes less than an hour. You will be staying at the Hospes Hotel, which is located right in the heart of Seville’s old town. The hotel is just a few minutes walk away from Sierpes Street (the most famous pedestrian-only shopping street in Seville), the Real Alcázar (royal palace) and the Cathedral. When you arrive at the hotel, you’ll be welcomed with a refreshing drink and the delightful charm of Seville. The hotel occupies a traditional Andalusian house with stylish rooms and an outdoor pool. This afternoon you can begin exploring Seville to take in its elegance and vibrant atmosphere. 

Day 5 - Discover the Elegance and Andalusian Charm of Seville

Enjoy a generous Andalusian breakfast at your hotel this morning and then set off on a guided sightseeing tour. Your guide will take you on a pleasant walk through the city. You’ll wander through the narrow streets of Seville’s historic quarters, discovering charming patios and courtyards along the way. You’ll visit Seville’s amazing Cathedral, the world’s largest Gothic church. This splendid place of worship was converted from the Moorish grand mosque in the 13th century after Christian forces captured Seville. However, you can still see the magnificent Islamic architecture in the cathedral’s bell tower called la Giralda. A dazzling example of subtle stonework, this tower was the original minaret of the mosque and is the most iconic sight in Seville to this day. Inside the Cathedral, you’ll find a monument to Christopher Columbus and a priceless altar piece that is decorated with thousands of pounds of real gold.

This afternoon, you’ll have free time to enjoy Seville at your leisure. In the spirit of Andalusia, take a relaxing siesta. Then go on a tapas tour to explore the scene at the local bars near your hotel. The locals enjoy this Andalusian traditional as part of their everyday life. It’s a chance to socialize with friends or colleagues over a glass of wine and appetizers.

Day 6 - Spend the Morning in Seville and Afternoon in Granada

This morning after breakfast, you’ll have some leisure time in Seville before boarding a train to your next Andalusian destination—Granada. A magnificent place of intriguing history and spectacular scenery, Granada was last stronghold of the Muslim kingdom in the 15th century. Surrounded by the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada was considered by the Moors to be an oasis because of its lush landscape and plentiful fresh water. Throughout the city, you’ll notice many beautiful fountains that symbolize the Moorish view of Granada as an earthly paradise.

You’ll be staying in the heart of Granada at the Hotel Palacio de los Patos, within walking distance of the Cathedral. Set in a magnificent 19th century palace that is a UNESCO-protected building, this luxury hotel offers typical Andalusian charm. The hotel’s beautiful garden features an Arabian-style fountain and the dining room is located on a spectacular outdoor terrace. This evening, enjoy your dinner at the hotel’s restaurant to sample its authentic regional cuisine. The restaurant focuses on traditional dishes made with fresh ingredients and Arabic influences, such as sea scallop salad prepared with saffron and citrus, lamb served with couscous, and cucumber salad tossed in yogurt and mint dressing.  

Day 7 - Guided Tour of the Alhambra Palace in Granada

The highlight of your trip may be today’s visit to the Alhambra. After breakfast, you’ll be accompanied by your guide on an in-depth tour of the Alhambra Palace including the Generalife Gardens. Because of its incredible historical and cultural value, the Alhambra Palace is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Alhambra is a magnificent complex of beautiful places and extravagant gardens. You’ll visit some of the most important palaces that were the summer residence of the Nasrid Sultans. The elegant architecture and flourishing gardens exemplify the sensuality of Arab design. 

After your guided tour of the Alhambra, you’ll have time to explore Granada at your leisure. Soak up the exotic atmosphere in the Albaicín, the medieval Arab quarter. Then continue towards your hotel in the center of the city. Here you can visit the Cathedral or relax at an outdoor cafe. Granada is a lively place with many lovely squares and side streets, perfect for people-watching and festive tapas tours. Be sure to save some energy for this evening. You’ll celebrate the conclusion of your fabulous vacation by experiencing an authentic Flamenco performance.

Day 8 - Return to Madrid for the Conclusion of Your Tour

The tour concludes today after breakfast at your hotel. You’ll take the high-speed train from Granada back to Madrid and will be provided a private transfer to the airport in time for your return flight home.

Price

Starting Price 

$1,915
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.