Spain holds a very special place in my heart, mostly thanks to the incredible family I lived with during my time there. But that aside, it’s absolutely beautiful, the people are some of the friendliest humans you will ever meet, the food is to die for, and you can experience all of it without breaking the bank. After all, Granada is where the whole “buy a 1 euro beer and get a tapa for free” custom was born. Beyond the time I lived in Spain, I’ve been back and explored different places almost 10 times, and I still have so much to uncover about this beautiful country. But if you’re looking for a “Highlights of Spain” tour and have about 10 days, there are a few places you really must see:
- Madrid (for the capital experience): I have been to Madrid three times, and each time I had a very different experience and explored different parts of the city. You need 3 solid days in Madrid and you can see all the highlights. If you have more time, even better, as there are some incredible day trips you can take to places like Segovia and Toledo. Check our my specific posts for more info on those
- Sevilla (to experience the Moorish influence of the south): this is where I lived in Spain, so I would love to tell you to spend all of your time here, because it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But if you have 10 days total, try to spend 3 of them here in Sevilla. With more time, you can do day trips to places like Jerez de la Frontera (the unofficial home of Spanish Sherry) or Cordoba (home of the famous Mezquita), or even overnight trips to Granada (home to the Alhambra). The southern part of Spain, the Andalucían province, is the kind of place you go and never want to leave, so here are some options for spending your time in Sevilla
- Barcelona (for the Catalan experience): you should plan to spend 3-4 days in Barcelona, taking in all of the Gaudi influence and the Catalan culture. You’ll notice the distinctive culture and language that make Barcelona so special, and with even more time, you can be transported back into medieval times with day trips to places like Peratallada and Figueres. Here‘s what to do with 3-4 days in Barcelona
Transit Tip: I’d look to fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona, or vice versa, in order to find the cheapest and most direct flights. Any flight to Sevilla from outside of Europe will require a connection, so booking into one of the bigger cities for the first and last destination will help avoid extra stopovers. The high speed train runs between Madrid and Sevilla, and I’d highly recommend taking this versus flying between the two cities. The trip is quite fast (2.5 hours through the beautiful Spanish countryside), and costs around 60-90 euro each way. The trains also save you time and cost of getting to/from the airports outside of each city since the train stations, both Atocha (Madrid) and Santa Justa (Sevilla) are located within the heart of each city. As for travel between Sevilla and Barcelona, the high speed train takes quite a bit longer, roughly 5.5 hours, so you’re best booking a flight on one of the European airlines. The flight will be faster and set you back less financially.
All in all, try to spend at least 10 days in Spain so you can explore around a bit, but more time will allow you add some of those charming day trips as well. I’m a big planner so we booked all of our hotels and flights before, but you can easily book any internal trains and day trips upon arrival.
Questions or comments? Leave me a note below, and share your favorite places to visit in Spain!