With just 2 weeks in Spain, I recommend focusing on Southern Spain. By allotting one day each for flights coming and going, even Americans with limited vacation time can enjoy a satisfying dip into this beautiful country.
Here’s what I recommend as the best Spain itinerary for first-timers: Spend two weeks in Andalusia.
- Two Weeks in Spain Itinerary: The Plan
- 2 Week Spain Itinerary
- More Places to Visit in Spain
- Day 3 & 4 Seville: A Seville Itinerary for 2 Days
- Day 5: Day Trip to Córdoba
- Day 6: To Ronda
- Day 7: Pueblos Blancos
- Day 8: Train to Granada
- Day 9: See The Alhambra Palace
- Day 10: Nerja
- Day 11: Travel Day to Barcelona
- Day 12: Barcelona or Day trip from Barcelona
- Only have time for a one week Spain itinerary?
Two Weeks in Spain Itinerary: The Plan
With just 2 weeks in southern Spain, resist the urge to move every night. Packing, unpacking, and changing hotels just steals too much time and energy. This is already a whirlwind tour!
The best way to see Spain in 2 weeks? Plan an Andalucia itinerary: Begin in Barcelona (3 nights, including the day of your flight) and then head to the best cities in Southern Spain.
Visit Sevilla (3 nights with a day trip to Cordoba), Ronda (2 nights with a day trip to the “pueblos blancos”), Granada (2 nights), beach day at Nerja (1 night), and back to Barcelona (2 nights) for your flight home.
With more time, add extra beach days in Nerja. Or consider adding Madrid, which is conveniently on the train route between Barcelona and Sevilla.
(For more inspiration, read about other amazing places to visit in Spain.) See the end of this post for what to do with just one week in Spain.
How to Rent a Car in Spain
My top recommendation is Discover Cars. Discover Cars has no hidden fees, excellent 24/7 customer service, and free cancellation. They search all the major rental car companies so you don’t have to.
Check price and availability on rental cars here.
How to use this map: This map is an image. Click the map to open an interactive version of the map. From there, if you click “open in my maps”, you can add this to your Google maps. Just click the tiny transparent star to the right of the map description to save it in “your places.” Go to “your places” next and there it is!
2 Week Spain Itinerary
Day 1: Barcelona
How many days in Barcelona? This cosmopolitan city is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain!
So plan on three nights and two days here if you fly into BCN. It’s all about the unique Modernist architectural landmarks here.
You won’t want to miss Gaudi’s whimsical Sagrada Familia cathedral, under construction for more than 100 years. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.
Other Gaudi can’t miss sights include UNESCO World Heritage site Park Güell and Casa Batló, a reconstructed house that was scandalous in its day.
See these on your own—be sure to reserve tickets before you go—or take one of the small group private “skip the line” tours.
(And there will be long lines unless you’ve reserved ahead!) You can get tickets to see all three of these sights—Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Casa Batló—here.
One of the best ways to visit while enjoying a bird’s eye view of gorgeous Barcelona is by catching a ride on Barcelona’s hop on, hop off bus.
Barcelona Bus Turistic offers three routes—a blue, a red, and a green route—depending on which area of the city you want to see.
Choose a one- or two-day pass to sightsee at your own pace. Get tickets here.
Without any stops, each route will take you about two hours.
However, you could easily spend eight hours on two consecutive days hopping on and off this bus when something you see catches your eye.
Plan at least one full day on the Blue Line to include stops at the Gaudi sights above. Tip: The Museo Nationale d’Arte Catalunya makes an inspired stop for art, architecture, and refreshment with a view.
Ready to taste the best of Catalunya? Consider booking a Barcelona food tour for this evening.
We had a delicious evening visiting secret spots for tapas and vermouth tastings in Barcelona’s Exiample district with two local Catalans in the know.
There is so much delicious food to try in Spain!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
1. Luxury: NH Collection Barcelona Gran Hotel Calderón
Stay here for if you’re looking for a central location with stunning city views and a spectacular rooftop pool!
This hotel has a clean modern vibe. It’s located just off Passeig de Gracia in central Barcelona. Staff is friendly. It’s just one block from Gaudi’s famous Caso Batlló!
2. Budget: Airbnb Room in the Gothic Quarter
If you want to connect with locals, you can’t do better than staying with Alexandra and her family as we did! She offers a beautiful and spacious private room in her home.
And it comes with a continental breakfast that includes fresh pastries daily!
Day 2: Barcelona
There’s so much more to Barcelona than Las Ramblas, the famous tree-lined (and tourist-heavy) pedestrian walkway in Barcelona. So explore further afield.
Whatever you do, be sure to stop by one of Barcelona’s incredible public markets. We visited La Boqueria (not far from the picturesque 13th-century gothic cathedral) and walked around with mouths agape at the unending bounty.
You can even shop with a chef at La Boqueria and then learn how to make a paella, with a tapas tasting and Sangria. Yum! Check prices here. (Other great choices for market visits: Santa Caterina Market and Sant Antoni Market.)
I seek out markets whenever I’m in Europe, but I think this is the most impressive I’ve experienced to date.
Bring your camera as you taste test your way through olives, jamón, fruit, spices, and more!
Tip: Arrive early for the best experience…between 8 and 10 am to avoid the elbow-to-elbow crowds that grow thick by 11 am.
(Sidenote: If you’re visiting at Christmas, be sure to explore the fascinating Caganers Christmas tradition you’ll find at the annual Christmas market here.)
There are 10 distinct neighborhoods in Barcelona, each with its own personality, so you’ll have to choose where to explore.
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona’s historic Old City is everyone’s favorite for tapas bar hopping and an evening stroll after dark.
Stop in its narrow medieval streets to listen to a lonely guitarist picking out tunes, watch a performance by a couple of break dancers, or even a world-class opera duet as we did.
Trendy bars and restaurants make this a memorable street scene. Tip: Add Bodega La Puntal to your tapas itinerary in the Gothic. It was amazing!)
Or you could head to Barceloneta beach for a drink with a million dollar view of the harbor at Per Sagradi, the rooftop bar of the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya.
From there, it’s an easy 15-minute walk to Restaurante Salamanca to enjoy a beautiful seafood paella—Spain’s famous rice dish—right on the beach in Barceloneta.
Be sure to bookmark my post on the best rooftop bars in Barcelona before you go.
With 15 choices around the city, you can experience the magic of Barcelona’s rooftop bar scene no matter where you are in Barcelona!)
More Places to Visit in Spain
Day 3 & 4 Seville: A Seville Itinerary for 2 Days
From Barcelona, you can either fly to Sevilla or take a train.
Either way—when you add in time getting to or from airports—it’s about five hours. The high-speed AVE train is fast, clean, and secure in the south of Spain. (But buy your train tickets ahead of time for a direct route and savings.)
Spend three nights here: two days in Sevilla and a day trip to Cordoba.
Sevilla is a walkable town and better without a car.
As James Michener once said, “Sevilla doesn’t have ambiance; it is ambiance!” So it’s not so much about the sites as it is just soaking in the scene here. Walk scenic Barrio Santa Cruz.
There are just two “must-sees” here although there are so many things to do in Sevilla!
Don’t miss the incredible Alcázar Palace and the cathedral.
Be sure to buy your ticket to the Alcázar before you arrive to avoid the hour or more line that snakes around the palace in the hot Andalusian sun.
I wondered if it was overkill to visit the Alcázar in Sevilla, the Mezquita in Cordoba and also the Alhambra in Granada. Did we really need to see all of them?
The answer is yes. Indeed we did!
If you really want to appreciate your walk back through Spain’s incredible history, the Alcázar is a perfect place to invest in a guided tour.
I promise you’ll very much appreciate a skip-the-line tour here. You can reserve your tour here.
Parts of the Réal Alcazar (Royal Alcazar) palace date from the first century AD (with plots of land occupied since the 8th century BC.
The palace, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the late 1980s, is still today an official residence of the King and Queen of Spain.
The beautifully carved facades and intimate orange-scented courtyards hint at the palace’s Moorish past. It’s all mesmerizing so make it the highlight of your day by spending a few hours here.
Consider also visiting the beautiful Roman Catholic Sevilla Cathedral (also a UNESCO site) on Day 4. (Christopher Columbus is buried here.)
Climb all the way to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of beautiful Sevilla.
Again, history lovers will really appreciate a guided tour. Check prices here.
Also, Sevilla is home to all things flamenco, so whatever you do make a point to see a flamenco dance performance on one of your evenings here!
I really wanted to see an authentic performance so we booked one at the Flamenco Dance Museum after researching the options.
It was beautiful. You can reserve your ticket for a performance here.
But you know what was even more magical? The impromptu performance we happened upon in a square late one evening.
A woman was dancing for the sheer joy of it, accompanied by a guitarist. Everyone is out late at night—even babies in strollers—taking an evening “paseo” (stroll) so just get out there and keep an eye out!
Where to Stay in Sevilla
1. Luxury: EME Cathedral Hotel
If your goal is to be central to everything, stay here!
This boutique hotel is located right next to the stunning Sevilla Cathedral in Old town for easy access to the best of the city. Stylish with a modern but warm ascetic. Rooftop bar and terrace.
Check price and availability at EME Catedral Hotel here.
2. Budget: Apartment Catedral
Stay in a romantic renovated attic of a 16th manor house with gorgeous rooftop views…for less than a hotel! It’s steps from the cathedral, Giralda and Alcázar.
Or, check out this list of best hostels in Seville.
Day 5: Day Trip to Córdoba
A Sevilla to Cordoba day trip is easy.
It’s just 45 minutes by train so there’s just no excuse for missing the magnificent Mezquita: a well-preserved mosque built in 784 AD…with a 15th-century church built in the middle of it! And not only that, but the mosque was actually built on top of a church.
You can see the well-preserved remains by peaking through a transparent section of the floor.
Plan several hours to walk this wonder. (Buy tickets at the door. Lines aren’t a problem here so advance reservations aren’t necessary).
This would also be a wonderful place for a guided tour if you are so inclined. Check tour prices here.
Then walk the nearby Roman bridge and gaze up at the unfinished Renaissance arch at its entrance.
Before heading back to Sevilla, plan time window shopping the cute boutiques in the Jewish Quarter (delicate silver filigree jewelry hails from Córdoba!) and lunching in the courtyard of a patio draped with flowers.
Córdoba is all about the patios. For a peek at the most beautiful of them, consider a patios tour. You can check tour prices here.
Day 6: To Ronda
Pick up your two-day car rental (reserve ahead) at the Sevilla train station and head south on your road trip towards Ronda, Spain.
This is your base for two nights to visit Andalusia’s storied “pueblos blancos” (white hill towns). I recommend reserving through Discover Cars for best prices, no hidden fees, and excellent service.
Check prices and reserve your car here.
If you’re feeling confident in your parking skills, stop in Arcos de la Frontera for lunch.
Beautiful Arcos is built high on a cliff with astounding valley views.
To avoid the narrowest of streets, park in the free public parking at the bottom near new town and walk up into the old town.
For me, our stay in Ronda was the most magical part of our 2 week Spain itinerary.
Spectacular Ronda is built over a stunning gorge complete with a waterfall at the bottom.
As you approach Ronda by car, it will seem flat. It’s only once you cross the bridge and look back that you’ll gasp at the sheer drop into the canyon.
It was an ingenious place for Spaniards to build a village as it was nearly impossible for the Moors to conquer. They succeeded only in 1485.
While you’re in Ronda, tour the bullring. Spanish bullfighting was born here in Ronda. (Bullfights only occur the first weekend of September, however.)
It’s important to note that Spain doesn’t consider bullfighting a sport. It’s a cultural event.
Check out the valley views from the Plaza de María Auxiladora. Visit the tiny cliffside gardens of Casa del Rey Morro.
But above all else: Be sure to enjoy a sunset libation at a hotel or restaurant with the famous view below. (It was the highlight of my time in Ronda.)
Note: If you’d rather skip driving in Spain but still want to see Ronda and the pueblo blancos, you can also see it on a guided tour as a long day trip from Sevilla.
The 10-hour tour includes a visit to the bullfighting ring in Ronda and local wine tasting there (two hours total) and four hours in the pueblo blancos.
I suspect you’ll wish you had more time to explore this area on your own, but it’s a useful option! You can read more about the tour and book here.
Where to Stay in Ronda
If you’re going to splurge on a place to stay in Spain, make it Ronda! (Options 1 and 2 below are both lovely.)
1. Luxury: Parador di Ronda
Looking for spectacular views of Ronda’s gorge and Puente Nuevo bridge? This is your spot! It’s set in Ronda’s former town hall and also offers an onsite restaurant featuring Andalusian cuisine.
2. Budget: Casa Albéitar
If you’re on a budget but hoping for a central location, you can’t do better than this beautiful two-bedroom Airbnb with a garden and private terrace. Plus, parking is easy here which is a major bonus in Ronda.
Day 7: Pueblos Blancos
If you’re in search of the storied white hill towns of southern Spain, you’ll find that Andalucia travel is mostly inaccessible without a car…which is why you’re paying for overnight parking in Ronda.
We loved our few hours chatting up locals in Algodonales, where Steve’s grandparents hailed from.
But if you want to see the most photogenic white hill towns clustered on cliffs, head directly to Zahara, high above a turquoise lake, and gleaming Grazalema.
With more time, add Jerez to your itinerary. And enjoy a sherry tasting!
You can do this on your own or even book this as a guided day trip from Sevilla (which is not a bad idea…Who wants to drive after sherry tasting anyway?). Check out the tour here.
You’ll enjoy a beautiful drive in rural Andalucia, through forests and past goats, as you climb into the hill towns. There are no “must see” sights here. Just enjoy the views…
Day 8: Train to Granada
Drop your rental car in Ronda before catching the train to Granada. Save money on train tickets by reserving ahead.
We like to reserve through Trainline. (They also have a convenient app. In fact, once we bought our tickets on the app while sitting in a train station to avoid the long line of ticket buyers!)
On our trip, we drove into Granada and what a mistake! Granada is a metropolis compared to most of the places we visited by car in Spain.
Plus, we arrived on a festival day to snarled traffic inching into the city and expensive, overflowing parking garages.
You’ll be infinitely happier without a car here. It’s just 2.5 hours by train from Ronda. If you stay centrally, you can walk or taxi anywhere easily.
How many days here? There are so many things to do in Granada!
For a relaxed pace, plan two nights here. On your first day, take the train in and explore the boutiques. Think incense sellers, bold African prints, and Moroccan pastries.
Then, while you’re in the main square, Plaza Nueva, enjoy a Moroccan meal and a visit to a tetería (tea shop).
Our time in Granada had me dreaming of a trip to Africa. More than anywhere else we visited on our trip to Spain, Granada feels Arabian.
Get the full effect by booking a massage and an authentic Arab bath in a hammam. Think of it as an Andalusia day spa!
(Book ahead and arrive on time or prepare to be disappointed. The hammams stay booked so there’s no refund.) You can reserve an unforgettable Hammam experience here.
Where to Stay in Granada
1. Luxury: Eurostars Washington Irving
Looking for something close to Alhambra with amenities? Eurostars Washington Irving is for you.
With decor inspired by author Washington Irving, it’s located just 1300 feet from Alhambra!
(Be aware that it’s a 15-minute walk to the center of Granada.) Includes outdoor pool and sun terrace.
2. Mid-range: Trinidad Deluxe Penthouse
Want a central location? Stay in this beautiful Airbnb penthouse in the heart of the city. It’s cozy and elegantly furnished with gorgeous views of the cathedral from your private terrace (or swimming pool).
or Hotel Posada del Toro:
Looking for value? We loved Hotel Posada del Toro! Step out your door and you’ll practically be in Plaza Nueva, the central hub of Granada. Rooms are small but clean. Includes a generous buffet breakfast, too.
Day 9: See The Alhambra Palace
If you’d prefer to move one of your Granada days to elsewhere in this itinerary, it’s possible to see the phenomenal Alhambra in one long day.
It will require serious planning, however. Because it’s one of the most visited sites in Europe (8,000 visitors per day!), it’s critical that you reserve your ticket several months ahead of time.
Your ticket will include a strict entry time so you’ll need to coordinate around that.
This incredible UNESCO site is worth enjoying with a local guide for a deeper appreciation. Check prices on the skip-the-line half day tour of Alhambra and the gardens here.
The Alhambra is a one-of-a-kind Moorish palace originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD.
While the rest of Europe struggled through the Dark Age, the Moors flourished, bringing science, philosophy and inspired architecture to Southern Spain.
They also brought sophisticated irrigation systems. In fact, water is central to the design of The Alhambra.
You’ll see fountains, pools, elaborate baths, cascades of water and so much more. The manicured gardens, scalloped entryways, and vibrant tile work deserve at least a half day of your time here.
Day 10: Nerja
After touring all those palaces, take a break at the beach! Nerja is one of the best beaches in Spain.
If you’ve decided to squeeze your visit to Granada into a single day, then Nerja is an excellent candidate for that extra day in your itinerary.
While much of Spain’s Costa Del Sol coastline is overdeveloped, there remains a beachy treasure often overlooked: Nerja (pronounced “Nair-Ha”) In fact, Rick Steves named it his favorite beach in Europe!
We were here on a fiesta day and loved seeing matching mamas and babies all decked out in form-fitting flamenco dresses in the street.
From elderly women to teenagers and toddlers, it seems that every Spanish female owns such a dress! I even spied a few “mantillas,” the lacy Spanish veils.
The center of town is the “Balcony of Europe.” Soft sandy beaches against a turquoise stretch of the Med fan out in both directions from here.
So grab a towel or reserve a lounge chair under a cabana and join the scene.
Top tip: Ask around to find the guy who sells servings from a giant vat of paella on the beach. He’s there somewhere mid-day only!
Another idea: If you loved the pueblos blancos near Ronda, consider a side trip to nearby Frigliana here.
History lovers will enjoy learning about how Judaism, Islam, and Christianity came together to shape this little whitewashed town. Check prices here for the tour.
Where to Stay in Nerja
1. Luxury: Parador di Nerja
Looking for easy beach access? Parador di Nerja is a luxurious cliffside hotel with direct elevator access to the beach and onsite restaurant.
(Getting to the beach is not always straightforward in Nerja as access is not continuous along the coast, so this is very convenient.)
2. Budget: Airbnb Room in an Apartment
Want a memorable local experience on a budget? Stay in a private room with ensuite bath at Alexandra’s place, the warmest host ever. It’s one of the best airbnbs in Andalucia for sure.
We adored our stay here. Your room comes with a homemade paella dinner! Just be aware it’s a 20-minute walk to the beach, however.
Day 11: Travel Day to Barcelona
If you’d like to return by air, as we did, take the 90-minute train ride (or bus) to Malaga, the nearest airport and fly back. Otherwise, take the fast train from Malaga.
Some of the European discount airlines are notoriously delayed, however. So I recommend avoiding any non-refundable reservations for this evening in Barcelona in case you get delayed.
Day 12: Barcelona or Day trip from Barcelona
Enjoy your last day in Barcelona catching any sights you missed at the beginning of the trip.
In addition to the Gaudi sights, consider a visit to the Picasso Museum, Palace of Catalan Music or Barceloneta beaches. Otherwise, consider reserving a day tour (or taking a bus or train on your own) to one of four popular guided (or independent) day trips from Barcelona. A few popular choices are:
Sitges—a beautiful and relaxed coastal artist’s colony and resort town with festivals in August and September.
Montserrat—a dramatic monastery high up in the cliffs west of Barcelona.
(If you enjoy reading a novel set in the places you’re visiting as I do when I travel, I recommend Dan Brown’s Origin for its Barcelona and Montserrat settings.) T
his tour combines a visit to both Sitges and Montserrat—from the mountains to the sea in one full day—which would be a truly beautiful day! Check prices here.
Girona—a tiny medieval river town full of Game of Thrones sites.
Figueres—home to the Dalí theater-museum. We enjoyed a wonderfully full-day tour that combined Girona and Figures. The Dalí museum is small but truly unique and worth the visit. Check prices here.
Only have time for a one week Spain itinerary?
If you’re a history and art lover, enjoy Gaudi sights in Barcelona first and then visit Sevilla for the Alcazar and Granada for Alhambra.
If instead, you’re looking to experience authentic rural Spain at a slower pace, rent a car from Barcelona and hop between the pueblos blancos (Day 6 and 7 above).
Don’t miss Ronda! It makes a great base for a Spain road trip.
Need More Information? I recommend Rick Steve’s guide book to Spain for more detail on all of the places above, recommended restaurants, and Spain travel tips. Click here to order it on Amazon!
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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