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10 Days in Spain Itinerary: Top Spain Destinations

10 Days in Spain Itinerary: Top Spain Destinations

How to spend 10 days in Spain? Any Spanish itinerary should balance exploring, eating, and hopefully some downtime – even if you don’t go as far as taking daily siestas.

Spain is a large (but not overwhelmingly so) country. It’s fairly easy to cover a lot of ground with strategic planning and the train system.

Still, it’s more enjoyable to pinpoint a couple of destinations rather than wear yourself thin attempting to see all of Spain in 10 days.

This 10 day Spain itinerary focuses on the three major cities of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. This trio offers diverse activities and a reliable infrastructure for tapping on a day trip or two. You’ll also visit the vastly underrated Zaragoza.

Where to start this 10 day Spain itinerary

This itinerary presumes Madrid as the starting point. It’s often cheaper to fly into Madrid Airport from the US and the airport is a short distance from the city center – a perk after a transcontinental flight!

If you are traveling from the UK, flying to Barcelona Airport may be better. See what EasyJet, RyanAir, and the like can do for you!

It will be a bonus if you fly in/fly out from different airports in Spain. Even if the flight is cheaper, factoring in the train fare and other expanse might void any savings.

Overview of your 10 days in Spain

We’d recommend staying in Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia and making the most of local sights and day trips rather than exhausting yourself rushing to see all of Spain in 10 days.

Let’s assume you landed on “Day Zero” and have woken up ready to start your 10 days in Spain on “Day One”.

  • Days 1-2: Madrid (2 full days)
  • Day 3: Zaragoza (around 24 hours)
  • Days 4-7: Barcelona (2 full days and 2 generous half days)
  • Days 8-9: Valencia (at least 2 full days)
  • Day 10: Departure

You can fly home from Valencia Airport. Otherwise, it’s a 2-hour train ride from Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla to Madrid Chamartín.

If starting your 10 days in Spain in Barcelona makes more sense, just rejig the itinerary. You could skip Zaragoza and plan a day trip from Madrid instead.

the entrance to parc guell in barcelona.

Parc Guell is a beautiful place to explore when you are visiting Barcelona and should definitely be on your 10 days in Spain itinerary.

How to see Spain in 10 days by train

The 10 day Spain itinerary suggests which locations to split your days across and how to spend your time. While it doesn’t break down every minute of the day, it provides tips on the activities to consider/prioritize.

Train travel in Spain is such a delight especially if you pre-book your journeys before prices rise.

Hiring a car in Spain is another tried and tested means of travel popular with The Spain Travel Guru. However, it’s not necessary for this 10 days in Spain itinerary by train.

Days 1 and 2: Madrid

Spain’s landlocked capital is the perfect introduction to Spanish history and contemporary culture. Bounded by Castile and León and Castilla–La Mancha, Madrid is the heart of the country and the autonomous community of Madrid.

With 10 days in Spain, you might feel like you should pick either Madrid or Barcelona and visit only one of the two. However, they’re so different it makes sense to include both.

Madrid is an arts haven. It’s known for its grand galleries exhibiting Spanish and European masterpieces but there are dozens of independent galleries championing emerging talents and spotlighting Latin American and global creatives.

Although flamenco is associated with the Andalucia region, shows also occur in Madrid. The food scene is second to none with a mix of fun tapas bars, upscale bistros, and international fare.

Getting around Madrid is easy with the metro and bus. Just buy a rechargeable multi card for €2.50 at any station. It’s handy to download the Madrid Metro app or the Citymapper app for planning journeys.

famous building in madrid with opulent windows and facade.

Madrid is one of my favorite cities in Spain and has so much to explore, especially for art and food lovers.

Things to do in Madrid

Madrid’s headliners are quite close together. Use this 2 days in Madrid itinerary or create your own sightseeing trail based around the following.

  • Relax, walk, and people-watch in Retiro Park.
  • Tour the Royal Palace and Madrid Cathedral.
  • Delve into Madrid’s Golden Triangle of art on Paseo del Prado: Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Reina Sofía Art Center.
  • For a more immersive experience, visit the Nomad Museo on Gran Vía.
  • Catch the sunset at the Temple of Debod.
  • Hunt for street art in Lavapiés/Embajadores. Art Space runs a daily tour at 4:00 pm.
  • See the platform rainforest at Atocha Train Station.
  • Cruise the tapas bars of Calle de la Cava Baja in La Latina.
  • Stop for lunch at one of Madrid’s markets. San Miguel is the most central but Vallehermoso Market in Chamberí and San Fernando Market in Lavapiés have a different feel.
  • Check what’s on at the Matadero and La Casa Encendida cultural centers during your 10 days in Spain.
  • Possibly, you could spend a few hours in Toledo. The former capital is an easy half-day side trip by train from Madrid. It’s worth taking a guided tour of Toledo to understand the layers of history.

Where to stay in Madrid

Sol and La Latina are the best areas to stay in Madrid for a shorter stay. These barrios are close to public transport and most attractions on your Spanish itinerary are walkable from there.

Being super central, noise may be an issue. Pop a pair of earplugs on your packing list for Spain if you’re a light sleeper. Otherwise, the area around Retiro Park is quieter.

Best luxury hotel in Madrid: Hotel Montera Madrid is a Hilton property with a seasonal rooftop pool. Most rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows while some have a private balcony. It’s steps from Gran Vía Metro Station.

Best mid-range hotel in Madrid: One Shot Prado is a design-led boutique hotel. It is a 10-minute walk from the Prado Museum. Rooms are bright and modern with powerful rainfall showers. Select units have a terrace and there are options for families/small groups.

Best budget hotel in Madrid: Hostal Madrid is a guest house that comprises clean, comfortable rooms with a private bathroom and a round-the-clock front desk. There are single rooms for budget solo travelers and it’s minutes from Puerta del Sol.

*Book for 3 nights in Madrid

tapas on a table with a drink on one side and a bowl of bread on the other.

The tapas in Madrid are some of the best in the country (in my humble opinion).

Where to eat in Madrid

Eating is one of the best things to do in Madrid. This “Secret Food Tour” is fun if you want to have a local expert guide you to hidden delis and bakeries. It includes loads of tastings washed down with Spanish wine and beer.

Tasca Barea: This casual taverna specializes in regional tapas and pintxos (small bites) from northern Spain. These pair with a diverse menu of vermouths and wines. As it’s in Lavapiés, it’s a nice option for escaping the more touristy parts of Madrid.

Churrería Apodaca: There are so many churrería in Madrid you could subsist on nothing but dough dipped in chocolate. This nondescript café is the real deal with a neighborhood vibe, friendly staff, and tasty churros at a great price.

Restaurante Ogrelo: Seeing the best of Spain in 10 days doesn’t allow time to explore the north but you can still sample the food. This restaurant in Ibiza spotlights Galician food, which includes loads of shellfish and seafood dishes. It stands out in a city where meat is the backbone of the cuisine.

Day 3: Zaragoza

Travel information: Zaragoza is 1 hour and 20 minutes by train from Madrid or 3.5 hours by car (200 miles/320 km). It’s best to take an early train to give you a full day in Zaragoza. Book trains in advance on Omio’s website or app.

Zaragoza (also spelled Saragossa) is a lesser-known city marking the halfway point between Madrid and Barcelona.

It’s the capital of the Aragon region and contains remnants from the days of the Romans and Moors. The Romans called Zaragoza “Caesaraugusta” in honor of the general.

There are enough things to do in Zaragoza to fill a whole day, if not more. As such, it’s worth spending the night in Zaragoza. However, you do have the option to make this a one-day stop in your 10 day Spain itinerary and book an extra night elsewhere.

You can source a luggage minder with Luggage Hero or Radical Storage.

Zaragoza is walkable on the whole and there is a tram service if needed.

cathedral in zaragoza, one of the top places to add to your 10 days in spain itinerary.

Zaragoza is often skipped over, but is an easy place to add to a Spain itinerary if you are visiting both Madrid and Barcelona. The food and history here is incredible.

Things to do in Zaragoza

It might make sense to book a walking tour in Zaragoza as this is a practical way to see the sights and learn the history. This private tour is customizable to suit your interests and availability.

  • Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar (one of the 12 Treasures of Spain!)
  • Stroll along the banks of the River Ebro. Crossing the stone bridge grants an amazing view of the Old Town.
  • Tour the Aljafería Palace. It was built by the Moors and now serves as the seat of the Aragon Parliament.
  • Find out what the Romans got up to at the Caesaraugusta Museum and tour the theater and bath house archaeological site.
  • See works by Francisco de Goya (and other Spanish painters) at the Goya Museum. The Old Master was born not far from town in Fuendetodos.
  • The Fire and Fireforce Museum is a really interesting addition to your day in Zaragoza. It exhibits vintage trucks and gear and celebrates the work of regional firefighters.

Where to stay in Zaragoza

Your euros go a little further in Zaragoza and you can book a flashy hotel for half the price you will in Madrid and Barcelona. Choose digs in the Old Town or near the train station.

Best luxury hotel in Zaragoza: Expansive “studios” and “lofts” at INNSiDE by Meliá come with deluxe beds, modern gizmos, and yoga mats. Make time to unwind at the rooftop bar and swimming pool.

Best mid-range hotel in Zaragoza: NH Ciudad de Zaragoza is about as close as you’ll get to the basilica and the fancier rooms have a landmark view. It’s a chic hotel with a buffet breakfast available and a small gym.

Best budget hotel in Zaragoza: Hotel Gran Via is a simple hotel near Zaragoza Train Station. All units have an en suite bathroom and you can add breakfast for a minor surcharge.

*Book for 1 night in Zaragoza

Where to eat in Zaragoza

Gravitate towards the El Tubo neighborhood in Old Town and you’ll not fail to find excellent food. Lamb is the prized ingredient of most recipes in Zaragoza. Here’s a couple to get you started.

La Ternasca: This El Tubo tavern serves tapas (and larger plates) heavy on the lamb, an Aragon specialty. Migas and potatoes marinated in local sherry are also highly recommended.

Restaurante El Fuelle: This restaurant has an old-world feel that will actually make you wish it was winter for ultimate coziness. The menu focuses on meat recipes (lamb again) and snails.

Café 1885: This is one of those places where the decor tops the food but it’s still worthy of a visit for coffee and churros. The interiors are like a portrait and the terrace is gorgeous if you can’t get a table.

sagrada familia with bright blue skies above is a must see on any spain itinerary.

No trip to Barcelona would be complete without seeing the Sagrada Familia.

Days 4, 5, 6, and 7: Barcelona

Travel information: Barcelona is 1.5 hours by train from Zaragoza or 3 hours and 20 minutes by car (190 miles). Aim to get there around noon on Day 4. This gives you two full days and you can depart for Valencia on the afternoon/evening of Day 7. Book trains in advance on Omio’s website or app.

Barcelona is the crown jewel in any Spanish itinerary. The Catalan capital enjoys a Mediterranean coastline with gorgeous beaches.

The architecture in Barcelona is mind-boggling. Much of this – but not all – is credited to Antoni Gaudí. Note, you must pre-book buy tickets to Gaudí attractions.

Barcelona can get quite expensive as a lot of attractions have hefty ticket fees. Strike a balance between paid activities and free things to do in Barcelona such as parks and beaches.

Another way to save money in Barcelona is to avoid the bars. However, that’s easier said than done as there are some incredible live music joints and rooftop bars in Barcelona.

Getting around Barcelona is just as easy as Madrid. The neighborhoods are fun to explore on foot and the metro is perfect for longer distances.

Buying a Hola Barcelona travel card works out cheapest. Passes permit unlimited travel on buses and metro trains for 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours. They’re sold in a couple of places in the city although it’s slightly cheaper when you buy online.

Again, the Citymapper app is available to streamline your jaunts around Barcelona.

gaudi building with the statue of a head in front of it.

Gaudi architecture abounds in Barcelona. Even if you aren’t an architecture buff, you can learn more about one of Spain’s most influential artists here.

Things to do in Barcelona

Refer to our Barcelona itinerary to plan your days.

  • Soak up the atmosphere of La Rambla. It takes a turn for the salty when it becomes Rambla de Mar at the port area.
  • Roam the churches and plazas of the Gothic Quarter and El Born.
  • Eat at La Boqueria Market. It’s a bit pricier than other markets but you can’t knock the atmosphere.
  • Jump on the Gaudí trail! Apart from La Sagrada Família, you have Park Güell (an absolute must), Palau Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Mila (La Pedrera), and the Church of Colònia Güell to see. This private Gaudí tour is a splurge but awesome if you’re a fan.
  • See the stunning water fountain in Ciutadella Park.
  • Explore the museums, parks, and viewpoints of Montjuïc Hill. This is also the setting of the 1992 Olympic stadium that now hosts concerts. It’s especially pleasant first thing in the morning.
  • Take a break from Gaudí at the Picasso Museum. Although the Cubist pioneer came from Málaga, he lived in Barcelona.
  • Ride the vintage roller coasters at Tibidabo Amusement Park.
  • Pretend you don’t get hangovers by spending a night in the bars of El Born.
  • Go for a swim at the beaches of La Barceloneta or walk along the promenade.

Day trips from Barcelona

This Spanish itinerary allows enough time to take a day trip from Barcelona. You’ll need to do a little extra research based on your passions but as a summary:

  • Tarragona: this was the first settlement established by the Romans on the Iberian Peninsula and has a wonderfully preserved amphitheater, aqueduct, and forum. Trains from Barcelona-Sants take 1 hour.
  • Montserrat: Spain isn’t all beaches, its mountains are spectacular too. The scenery in this nature park is spellbinding and you get to ride a funicular. It’s a faff with public transport so you’ll want to book a tour for Montserrat.
  • Girona: this is pretty inland town looks a little like Florence. Trains get you there in 35 minutes and it’s a fun place to navigate independently. However, this organized tour from Barcelona includes stops at Figueres and Cadaqués.
casa batllo in barcelona.

Casa Batllo is one of the most famous things to do in Barcelona. If you are only in town for a quick few days, you don’t need to go inside (unless you are a big Gaudi fan). But it is definitely worth seeing it from the outside.

Where to stay in Barcelona

Barcelona is humongous! Deciding where to stay in Barcelona needs to be done with care. Cheaper places tend to be quite far from the center and accommodation books up early.

You can consider an apartment rental although the prices don’t work out much cheaper, especially for a shorter stay.

Best luxury hotel in Barcelona: Throw your budget out the window and book the Wittmore Hotel, an adults-only hotel with a pool in the Gothic Quarter. Vintage rooms are paneled and furnished with moody pendant lights and retro radios. Some have a Juliet balcony or clawfoot tub.

Best mid-range hotel in Barcelona: Rooms at the monochrome-themed Maldà Singular Hotel feature marble bathrooms and four-poster beds – some have ornamental fireplaces and soaking tubs.

Best budget hotel in Barcelona: Hostal la Palmera sits behind La Boqueria Market within walking distance of restaurants and bars. A couple of rooms have a balcony and you can snap up a room for around $150 during high season.

*Book for 3 nights in Barcelona

Where to eat in Barcelona

Barcelona has a diverse food scene spanning hole-in-the-walls through to Michelin-starred places. There’s a focus on Catalan cuisine but you’ll also find national dishes and international cuisine galore.

It’s not a bad idea to take a Barcelona food tour to weed out the latest openings and hidden gems. Otherwise, here’s where to eat in Barcelona.

Fa Patxoca: Not far from the Cathedral of Barcelona, this buzzing tapas restaurant serves Catalan ​​staples including potato bombas, tortilla española, patatas bravas, and calamari. It’s definitely a place to over-order and tackle with your travel buddy.

Restaurant Can Ros: Tumble into this chic seaside bistro in La Barceloneta after a swimming session. They specialize in shellfish fideuà, squid ink rice, and fish croquettes. It’s casual enough for flip-flops and salty hair.

Cafe Park Belmont: If you want to get a head start on La Sagrada Família, this little café opens at 8:00 am on weekdays. The menu is a mix of Catalan, Spanish, and other European breakfast dishes – think bocadillos and fry-ups – and they do lunch too.

barcelona cathedral with three spires and a huge gothic entrance.

The Barcelona Cathedral is incredible grand, although perhaps not as photographed as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Days 8, 9, and 10: Valencia

Travel information: The fastest trains to Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla take 3 hours from Barcelona-Sants. Driving takes around 4 hours (217 miles/350 km). Travel to Valencia on Day 7 so that you have all of Day 8 and 9 in Valencia, and hopefully at least the morning of Day 10. Book trains in advance on Omio’s website or app.

Valencia is a city, province, and autonomous community on Spain’s central-east coast. Like Barcelona, Valencia offers a wonderful blend of history, modern (well, more futuristic) culture, and beaches.

If you depart late on Day 10, you could devote Day 9 to an excursion. The best day trips from Valencia take you to nearby beach resorts and island beauty spots.

If you’re in a pickle, the Montanejos Thermal Springs are unlike any other place on this 10 days in Spain itinerary. Montanejos tours tend to focus on hiking, swimming, rafting, or a mixture.

Alternatively, you can wrap up your 10 days in Spain with an indulgent beach session.

Valencia has a small metro and tram network and an excellent bus system. The Valencia Tourist Card covers admission to museums and grants free travel. It’s sold as a 24-, 48- and 72-hour pass.

Yet again, the Citymapper app is your friend.

front of a town hall building in Valencia, a place that should definitely be added to a 10 days in Spain itinerary.

Valencia is the perfect place to end your 10 days in Spain, especially in the warmer months when it’s beach weather.

Things to do in Valencia

Refer to our 2 days and 3 days in Valencia itineraries to plot out this leg of your 10 day Spain itinerary.

  • Get lost in the Ciutat Vella, Valencia’s Old Town. This is where you’ll see monumental plazas, pretty churches, and photogenic passages.
  • Cast an eye over the likeliest claimant of the Holy Grail at the cathedral. Easily one of the most unique things to do in Valencia, and the whole country.
  • Explore the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències). The development has museums and cultural venues but it’s fun to just wander with your camera.
  • Rent a bike and cycle around Turia Park.
  • Learn about Valencia’s role in the trade at the La Lonja de la Seda, the old Silk Exchange.
  • Clink glasses of Agua de València in Cafe de las Horas, one of the prettiest cocktail bars in the country.
  • Dedicate the final day of your 10 days in Spain to one of Valencia’s beautiful beaches.

Where to stay in Valencia

The Ciutat Vella and Eixample are the best neighborhoods to stay in Valencia. Ciutat Vella is a sightseeing nucleus although hotels while Eixample is great for public transit. This barrio contains both of Valencia’s train stations and is convenient for buses, tram, and metro stations.

Best luxury hotel in Valencia: Valentia Corretgería is a contemporary hotel in a historic building – the best of both worlds. All rooms follow a soothing Champagne color scheme and have a small kitchenette, some have a balcony. The breakfast is 10/10.

Best mid-range hotel in Valencia: YOU & CO. Quart Boutique and YOU & CO. J. Botánico Boutique are side-by-side hotels in the Ciutat Vella. All rooms are stylishly decorated and feature accent walls or exposed brickwork. The entry-level rooms are lovely enough but you can splurge on a suite with a hot tub.

Best budget hotel in Valencia: Soho Valencia comprises studio lofts and larger apartments that accommodate groups and families. All units have well-stocked kitchens and some have a patio. Note the proximity to both train stations.

*Book for 3 nights in Valencia

tapas on a few different plates on a table including cured meat, cooked ham, shredded duck, and a plate of cut up cheese. There is also a drink almost empty in the corner and a basket full of bread.

Tapas in Valencia are absolutely amazing, don’t miss eating around all of the city’s best spots!

Where to eat in Valencia

You’re spoilt for choice with these tempting Valencia tapas bars! Here are further places to sample Valencian grub.

Racó del Túria: This homely restaurant near Turia Park serves authentic paella Valenciana with snails and rabbit meat. There are other variations on the menu but this is a fantastic place to taste the original farmers’ lunch.

El Racó de la Paella: Located on the north bank of Turia Park, this secret restaurant prepares traditional and seafood-based paella over wood-fired stoves. They also excel at desserts including torrija prepared with horchata.

Trencat: Head to this café for breakfast or lunch near the cathedral. They’re famous for their eggs Benedict and the pancakes aren’t half bad either.

10 Days in Spain: An Alternative Itinerary

There are truly endless ways you could spend 10 days in Spain. If this is your first time in Spain, these three cities should be high on your Spain bucket list.

However, if you have already been to Spain and visited one or more of these cities, you will, of course, want to consider heading to a different part of Spain.

10 days could easily be spent in the Basque country, especially in the summer months.

You can plan for round trip flights from Bilbao Airport and then work your way east from there to San Sebastian with stops at Zumaia and Zarautz. There are tons of great things to do in Bilbao (I spent 5 days there recently and had something different to do every day!).

Alternatively you could while away 10 days in Spain in southern Spain. There are so many great places to visit in Andalucia. Whether you want to explore the beaches and things to do in Malaga or head west to Seville, Cordoba, and Cadiz. Each of those would make for great 10 day Spain itineraries.