Spain is a large country (roughly the same size as Texas and half the size of the UK) that features varied landscapes, vibrant cities and incredible cuisine. With so much to see, it can be difficult to start planning a vacation to Spain! We designed our Spain itinerary when a friend from the States joined us on our European travels for one week; we wanted to show her the best of the country in a limited amount of time (not an easy task when planning a trip to Spain!). However, on her week-long Spain vacation, we were able to get a good taste of the country by visiting the three most popular cities in the country: Barcelona, Seville and Madrid.
The cities are well-connected for touring Spain by train (our version of a Spain road trip!). In our one week in Spain, we took in the city sights, visited museums, appreciated architecture, explored neighborhoods, consumed a ton of tapas and sampled several of Spain’s well-known red wines. You can use our guide as your Spain trip planner for Barcelona, Seville and Madrid (but don’t miss our tips on alternate cities, like San Sebastian and an across-the-border-trip to Lisbon, at the end of the post.)
Spain Itinerary 7 Days: Overview
With 7 days in Spain, it is possible to visit the major sights in three cities, which is why we created our Barcelona, Madrid, Seville Itinerary. For this Spain travel itinerary, we decided to plan our time as follows: 3 days in Barcelona, 2 days in Seville and 2 days in Madrid. Our 1-week Spain Itinerary outlines what to see in Spain in 7 days.
1 Week in Spain
One week in Spain starting in Barcelona…
Day 1 in Barcelona
Arrive in Barcelona and waste no time getting acquainted with the city. Our Spain vacation itinerary begins with exploring the top city sights. Start in the heart of the city on Las Ramblas, the city’s wide pedestrian path lined with shops and street entertainers, and walk to La Rambla del Mar on the waterfront. Follow the coastline north past the harbor full of sailboats to Barceloneta, the city’s best beach town. Next, venture into Parc de la Ciutadella and wander the paths to waterfalls, ponds and monuments before exploring the streets of the La Ribera and Barri Gothic neighborhoods.
Tip: This is a full-day walking tour covering 5+ miles. More information about this self-guided Barcelona walking tour can be found on our Barcelona On Foot post.
Day 2 in Barcelona
On the second day of your 7-day trip to Spain, get an early start and hike up Montjuic (Jewish Mountain) to the hill-topping castle for views of Barcelona and the sea. The Montjuic Castle dates to 1640 and was built as a military fortress (and can be visited for a fee). Bring a picnic lunch and dine al fresco. Retrace your steps back down the hill and spend the afternoon visiting the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalyuna) art museum.
Tip: Read about our day Hiking Montjuic.
Day 3 in Barcelona
A trip to Barcelona would not be complete without contemplating the works of the city’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi – and that is exactly what you will do on Day 3 of your 1 week trip to Spain. His unique works are scattered throughout the city, but he is best known for his (still) unfinished Sagrada Familia church. Join a Gaudi tour to best learn about his life and work. In the afternoon, wander through more of Barcelona’s picturesque neighborhoods, like L’Eixample (or the La Ribera and Barri Gothic quarters, if you didn’t have time to see them on your first day). Spend the evening tapa-hopping and bar crawling to experience the local cuisine.
Tip: Read about our recommended spots for Tapa Bars (and Drinking Bars, too!) in Barcelona.
Day 4: Seville
Begin Day 4 of your one-week trip to Spain on board the morning AVE train (6 hours) from Barcelona to Seville in the Andalucia region. After checking into your Seville accommodations, head straight for the city center. Visit the landmark Seville Cathedral, which was built between 1401 and 1519 and is one of the largest Medieval churches in the world. Climb the 12th century La Giralda tower, then enter the Alcazar palace that stands opposite the cathedral (where scenes for Game of Thrones have been filmed). Spend the evening tapas-tasting and then seek out a spot for Flamenco dancing.
Day 5: Seville
For day 5 of our Spain itinerary, we’ll spend time soaking up the charm of Seville by discovering the quaint neighborhoods of the city. See more of the city center, then step into Barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter. Cross the river and get lost in the colorful lanes of Tirana. Go south of the Seville Center to the ornate Plaza de Espana and Parque de Maria Luisa…but don’t miss Macarena (and the Basilica de la Macarena) on the north side of the city!
Tip: Read our guide on Seville neighborhoods.
Day 6: Madrid
Take the morning train (3 hours) to Madrid for your final two days of your 7-day tour of Spain. Discover the top sights in the city on your own walking tour (or join a guide for a tour of Madrid!). Linger over a long lunch in Plaza Mayor before visiting two of the city’s top sights: the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace. Take a leisurely stroll while window shopping (or really shopping!) on Gran Via, Madrid’s high-end shopping street.
Tip: Use the information from our Madrid Walking Tour as your Madrid Trip Planner.
Day 7: Madrid
In the morning, peruse the goods at the Mercado San Miguel and (resisting the temptation to consume the tapas on-site) gather items for a picnic lunch. Walk to the east side of town to 300-acre royal park, Retiro Park, and find a nice spot to enjoy lunch among the lush gardens. Spend the last hours of your time in Madrid examining the prestigious artwork at the world-renowned Prado Museum.
Tip: Read our guide on Madrid Parks.
Spain Trip Itinerary Variations
While we think the above is the best Spain vacation itinerary, our Spain One-Week Itinerary can easily be altered for longer or shorter stays. How to plan a trip to Spain really depends on how much time your have. Use the following Spain travel planner suggestions to get the most out of your trip!
Map of Spain Itinerary Destinations
Spain Itinerary 5 Days
With just 5 days in Spain, we suggest only seeing two cities: Barcelona and Madrid. Use our Spain week itinerary, but eliminate Seville to create a Madrid Barcelona Itinerary.
Alternatively, if you are intent on seeing all three cities in just 5 days, spend 2 days in Barcelona, 1 day in Seville (1 very short day) and 2 days in Madrid. Be aware, however, you will be rushed!
Spain Itinerary 9 Days
With 9 days in Spain, visit Barcelona, Seville and Madrid with 3 days in each city. Add day tours to each extra day in Seville and Madrid – suggestions below!
Spain Itinerary 10 Days
With 10 days in Spain, we suggest adding one day to each city – 4 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Seville and 3 days in Madrid – for a more relaxed Spain travel route. On the additional day in each city, we recommend taking a day trip (see the list below!).
Alternatively, follow our Spain week itinerary and add either San Sebastian or Lisbon for the last three days of the trip.
2 Weeks in Spain
With two weeks in Spain, we recommend following the suggested itinerary for Spain in 10 days (4 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Seville and 3 days in Madrid) and then venturing across the border into Portugal and spending 4 days in Lisbon.
Alternatively, a two-week Spain Itinerary could be spent entirely in the country by following the suggested itinerary for Spain in 10 days (4 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Seville and 3 days in Madrid) and then heading north to San Sebastian. However, you would most likely have to return to Madrid to fly back to your home country.
Spain Itinerary 3 Weeks
With 3 Weeks in Spain, you can get creative! You could easily spend a week in each city (Barcelona, Seville and Madrid) taking time to really experience each place. Alternatively, you could add more destinations to your trip. To get the most out of the trip, we suggest adding both San Sebastian (with a side trip to Hondarribia) and Lisbon to your 3-Week Spain itinerary.
More Spain Itineraries and Info
Southern Spain Itinerary
For tours of Southern Spain, check out this Andalucia Itinerary: Tour Cordoba, Seville and Granada in 4 days on a guided tour from Madrid.
Spain by Train Itinerary
For Spain rail passes and other Spain By Train information, visit Eurail.com.
Although we explored Spain by train, it is possible to also fly or self-drive. There are flights from Barcelona to Seville that take about the same amount of time and cost about the same amount of money. We chose to take train trips in Spain because we wanted to view the scenery along the way. Flights are also available from Seville to Madrid but flying doesn’t necessarily save time or money. Check flight times and prices on SkyScanner if you prefer flying.
Road Trip Around Spain
For those interested in a Spain road trip from Barcelona, you can still use this itinerary as the base for your Spain Road Trip Planner. You will need to account for additional time on the road (drive times from Barcelona to Seville are 9+ hours depending on the Spain road trip route).
Top Spain Day Trips
Barcelona Day Trips:
Seville Day Trips:
Madrid Day Trips:
Guided Tours of Spain
We opted to see Spain on our own, but there are many tours around Spain that are led by qualified guides.
Start your search for guided tours of Spain on Intrepid Travel, where you can find The 15-Day Best of Spain Tour (Barcelona, Valencia, Cordoba, Ronda, Costa de la Luz, Seville, Granada and Madrid) and the 15-Day Spain and Portugal Tour.
Our Top Tips for your Trip to Spain
When to Go to Spain
If you are waiting for the best time to travel to Spain, it’s…now! Summers can be crowded, but the days are longer (optimal for sightseeing!) and it’s a great time for the beach. Winters are cold, but the cities are beautiful when decorated for the holidays. (We spent Christmas in Barcelona and New Year’s Eve in Madrid.) Autumn and Spring can be ideal, but the weather is unpredictable.
Where To Stay in Spain
During our visit to Spain, we stayed in Airbnb apartments. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Spain holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Spain hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center in Barcelona, Seville and Madrid. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip:
Budget travelers can search for Spain Hostels in Barcelona, Seville and Madrid on Booking.com or find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free.
Getting To Spain
Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). When we need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.
To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, you can use Eurail Passes and our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi, seat-back entertainment, refreshments and a toilet. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.
Before You Go to Spain
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: What would you add to our Spain Itinerary? What are your Spain must-see cities and sights? Give us your best tips and advice in the comment section!
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