Welcome to my Itineraries series! This is the fourth installment of day-by-day trip recaps to help you plan your next adventure. Click here for 2.5 Weeks in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, here for two weeks in Portugal, and here for two weeks in Italy.
It may sound like a cliche, but Spain has something for everyone. This itinerary includes city breaks, beach days, coastal walks, museums, architecture, history, road trips, train rides, delicious food, and a tour of the country’s most visited site – and we still barely scratched the surface.
Use this post to plan your dream trip to Spain!
Two Weeks in Spain: Areas Visited
Two Weeks in Spain: Flight Details
As I’ve mentioned before, my home airport in upstate New York is in Syracuse. Since it’s relatively small, it can be hard to find good deals on international flights from there. More often than not, we buy our “main ticket” from a New York City airport and then separately buy flights between Syracuse and NYC.
That’s exactly what we did for our trip to Spain: one round-trip ticket between Syracuse and NYC paired with one open-jaw* or multi-city flight between Spain and NYC.
Syracuse (SYR) — New York City (JFK) on Delta
JFK — Barcelona (BCN) on Delta
Madrid (MAD) — JFK on Delta
JFK — SYR on Delta
*An open-jaw flight is a round-trip flight that arrives in one city and departs from another.
Two Weeks in Spain: Itinerary
Land in Barcelona.
Hop on the Aerobus for the ~35 minute ride into the city center.
We stayed at Hostal Oliva in the Gràcia neighborhood. Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, I didn’t love it here. The bed was uncomfortable and the walls so thin that we could seemingly hear every move our neighbors made; neither of which allowed for much rest post-flight. That said, it’s affordable, the historic building is beautiful and the location is great – just down the street from several Gaudí buildings and only a 5-minute walk from Plaça de Catalunya, where you can catch the Aerobus. If you’re on a budget, it could work for you.
- Enjoying the colorful tile work at Parc Güell
- Taking in 360-degree city views from the Turó de la Rovira, also known as the Bunkers del Carmel
- Walking by Casa Amatller, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà at sunset
- Splitting a potato omelette and trying our first glasses of cava at Bar Cañete
Spend the day in Barcelona.
- Starting the day with breakfast at Nabucco Tiramisu
- Soaking up the sunshine in the palm-tree filled Plaça Reial
- Dipping our toes into the tapas scene (or more specifically, the pinchos scene) on Carrer de Blai
- Stopping by the Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall built in the early 1900s
- Digging in to a cured meat cone (yup) at Santa Caterina Market
- Refueling with a coffee break at Orval Barcelona
- Visiting la Sagrada Família
- Celebrating our anniversary at Casa Lolea
Today you’re heading to the Costa Brava, or Rugged Coast.
Visiting the Costa Brava is easiest with your own vehicle, especially if you have limited time. I recommend renting a car if you can. If you’d rather not, I’ll include some public transportation-friendly substitutes at the end of this post!
To pick up our Enterprise rental, we took the Aerobus from Plaça de Catalunya back to the airport. We could have chosen a rental pick-up in the city, but since we’d be flying out of BCN for our next destination, we wanted to be able to drop the car back off right at the airport to simplify catching our flight.
A note on car rentals in Spain:
Dan and I have never actually gotten international driving permits to rent cars abroad, but in Barcelona, we were asked for one. They still rented to us without it, but only after a severe warning that if we were pulled over for any reason, the car may be seized and there could be a huge fine. It was not a very fun way to start the day. Luckily we didn’t have any problems, but in the future we’ll likely arrange an IDP in advance just for the peace of mind – it’s worth the $20!
I couldn’t recommend Hotel Aiguaclara more. It’s my favorite lodging in recent travel memory. We were there in the off-season, so in addition to it being a total steal, we were also upgraded to a larger room.
The team was very friendly and there was immense attention to detail throughout the space, complete with multiple homey common areas perfect for reading, listening to records, playing games or having a cup of tea.
Breakfast in the garden was complimentary, full of variety, and delicious.
There’s also a popular restaurant on-site, so even if you don’t stay here, you can enjoy the team’s hospitality and experience the ambiance of the 1860s Cuban-inspired building.
- Cala S’Alguer
- Platja de Castell
- Platja Sa Tuna
- The coastal walk from Platja Fonda to Fornells and Aiguablava
- The coastal walk from Platja Del Golfet to Calella de Palafrugell
- The view from the Far de Sant Sebastià, or Saint Sebastian Lighthouse
Click here for my full Costa Brava post with all of the details you’ll need.
Spend the day exploring more of the Costa Brava.
During our trip to Spain, we only spent one night in this area, but I’m adding in more time here because it’s so beautiful and there is so much to see.
- Begur Castle
- Calella de Palafrugell
And with more time I would have loved to visit:
- Tossa de Mar
… to name a few!
Use the first part of the day to visit any remaining spots you’d like to see on the Costa Brava. Then, get ready to head to Granada!
We paid $21.50 each for our flights from Barcelona (BCN) to Granda (GRX) on Vueling. The short trip takes less than an hour and a half. I would recommend booking an evening flight to leave yourself more time earlier in the day to enjoy the Costa Brava.
After landing in Granada, we took the airport bus to the city center.
We loved our stay at Hotel Santa Isabel la Real. The only tricky part was the uphill cobblestoned walk with our luggage to get there from the airport bus stop. In hindsight, hopping on one of the small and convenient city buses might have been a better idea.
We booked a ground floor room with a double bed overlooking the hotel’s interior Andalusian courtyard. Breakfast was included.
- Taking a short walk to the Mirador de San Nicolás for nighttime views of the Alhambra lit up across the Darro River
Spend the day in Granada.
- Visiting the Alhambra
- Exploring the neighborhoods of Albayzín and Sacromonte
- People watching in the Plaza de Bib-Rambla
- Eating takeout from La Tortillera in one of the cozy common areas at our hotel
- Browsing the shelves at the Libreria El Tiempo Perdido
- Grabbing a window seat at La Finca Coffee
- Enjoying city views from various miradors, or lookouts
Click here for my full post about the Alhambra.
It’s time for another road trip, this time in Andalusia. Our route took us from Granada to Seville by way of Nerja, Frigiliana, Ronda, and Arcos de la Frontera.
We booked a car with Avis through rentalcars.com and picked it up at Granada Train Station. We treated ourselves to a quick cab ride to get there from our hotel.
After visiting Nerja and Frigiliana, we drove to Ronda in the evening and stayed there for the night. Our room at Hotel Alavera de los Baños was cozy, the common areas were beautiful and the included breakfast was amazing.
- Visiting a string of beautiful beaches between Granada and Nerja. To do the same, exit the A7 to take the N-340 into Nerja instead of staying on the A7 the whole way. This will take you along the coast, directly past a handful of scenic viewpoints, instead of leading you further inland.
- Enjoying our picnic lunch on the Balcon de Europe, Nerja’s beachfront promenade
- Lucking into a great outdoor table at Anahi, a restaurant and bakery overlooking Playa Calahonda below
- Exploring the stunning hilltop village of Frigiliana
Click here for my full post on Frigiliana.
Spend a few hours in Ronda and then head to Seville. Squeeze in a stop to Arcos de la Frontera if you have time.
After arriving in Seville, we returned our rental car to Santa Justa Train Station. We then walked ~20 minutes to get to our hotel.
We stayed at Hotel Amadeus & La Musica. The building is beautiful, it’s in a great location and we loved spending time on the rooftop deck. (There’s even a hot tub.)
- Exploring Ronda
- Stopping in Arcos de la Frontera, one of Andalusia’s centuries old pueblos blancos, or white villages
- Buying homemade cookies from the nuns at the Convento de las Mercedarias Descalzas in Arcos
- Settling into our hotel in Seville and heading out for the first of many tapas meals in the city
Click here for my full post on Ronda.
Spend the day in Seville.
- Soaking up the sun in the Plaza de España
- Walking along the Guadalquivir River
- Exploring the neighborhood of Triana
- Stepping into the Plaza del Cabildo
- Admiring the Edificio de la Adriática, the Torre d’Oro, and the Jardines de Murillo
Click here for my post on spending three days in Seville.
Spend the day in Seville.
- Visiting the Real Alcázar
- Walking the streets of the Santa Cruz neighborhood
- Getting views of the city from above from Las Setas de Sevilla
Head to Madrid.
We paid 35 euro each for the 2.5 hour train journey from Seville Santa Justa to Madrid Atocha on Spain’s national train operator, Renfe. We booked online at Loco2, whose name has since changed to Rail Europe.
We stayed at Lapepa Chic B&B. We loved the location, which was an easy walk from our arrival at Madrid Atocha and our departure from Plaza de Cibeles (more details below). The property has since been renamed numa | Script.
- Arriving at the city’s plant-filled Atocha Station
- Strolling through the Parque del Buen Retiro
- Visiting the Plaza de Cibeles and Edificio Metrópolis
- Snagging a window table at La Mallorquina to enjoy pastries and coffee overlooking the Puerta del Sol
- Watching the sun set over the city from the top floor of El Corte Inglés at Plaza del Callao 2
- Enjoying a dinner of tostas and empanadas at Tinto y Tapas
- Taking advantage of free museum night at the world-renowned Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Spend the day in Madrid.
- Exploring the neighborhood of Malasaña
- Treating ourselves to churros and hot chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines
- Walking through Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel
- Enjoying city views from the rooftop of Almudena Cathedral
- Taking in the impressive facade of the Royal Palace
- Seeing more celebrated art with another free museum night, this time at the Prado
Click here for my self-guided walking tour of Madrid.
To catch our flight out of Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, we walked from our hotel to Plaza de Cibeles and took the N27/203 bus. (The name depends on what time of day you’re taking it.)
We used lessons learned in other recent trips to put together our Spain itinerary and in the end, I was really happy with it. As I mentioned above, I would have loved more time on the Costa Brava. For any future trips I’ll also have us arrange International Driving Permits beforehand to avoid having to worry about fines.
Alternatives/Extend Your Stay
Don’t want to rent a car? Interested in more beach time? Here are some alternatives for you to consider while planning for two weeks in Spain.
- Take a train from Barcelona to Girona. The city is known for its beautiful Barri Vell, or historic quarter, along with the cases d’Onyar: vibrantly painted homes lining the banks of the Onyar River. Game of Thrones fans may also want to stop here: the Barri Vell was used for scenes of Braavos and King’s Landing, and the cathedral for the Great Sept of Baelor. There are a handful of bus options that will connect you to the Costa Brava from Girona.
- Sub in Mallorca or Menorca in place of the Costa Brava. These beautiful islands are connected to major mainland cities with short, non-stop, and inexpensive flights.
- Visit Córdoba as a day trip from Seville or between Seville and Madrid.
- Tack on another country and continent to your trip by adding in a few days in Morocco, another destination reachable by quick and easy flights from mainland Spain.
Have you been to Spain? What was your favorite part? If you’d like to go, what tops your list?
Let me know in the Comments!
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