Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world. No wonder, considering its magnificent cities and towns, gorgeous beaches, great food and fantastic nightlife. Most people who visit Spain for the first time organize their itinerary spending some 7 to 10 days in architectural treasures like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba or Granada, and the Mediterranean coast. However, Spain is much more than just fabulous beaches and cool large cities. While the most popular places do offer spectacular sites, to get to feel the local vibe you must visit smaller places, a bit off the beaten track.
Spain Itinerary 10 Days
Our Spain Itinerary 10 Days route focuses on both popular sights and laid back destinations. We begin in Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city. Then we travel south along the Mediterranean Sea to medieval Peniscola. We continue along the coast until we reach Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. From there we turn northwest towards Teruel and Albarracin in the interior of the peninsula. We end our itinerary by continuing north to Zaragoza, the country’s fifth-largest city. Thus, you will get to know Catalonia, Valencian Community, and Aragon, including both the inland and the coast.
Barcelona is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It hosts one of Europe’s largest medieval towns famous for its Gothic Quarter and an astonishing number of Art Nouveau (Catalan Modernism) buildings. Barcelona is blessed with a 6 km long beach, great restaurants and fantastic nightlife. Many important artists including Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí spent some time in this magical place, leaving their distinct mark throughout the city. Barcelona is a world class destination!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is a huge city made of diverse neighborhoods. Thus, choosing the perfect place to stay depends on what you are looking for. If visiting for a few days, stay in Barcelona’s most central neighborhood, the Eixample. Hotel Murmuri is a modernist building with prime facilities. If you are into historical places, stay in the Old Town. In el Borne, Hotel Banys Orientals offers authenticity and comfort. If you prefer the young and hip crowd stay in Poble Sec. We guarantee you’ll love the neighborhood. Our favorite hotel is Brummell.
Our fourth stop on this route is fabulous Peniscola in Valencian Community, halfway between Valencia and Barcelona. Peniscola has everything: an impressive 13th century castle, beautiful white houses and a long sandy beach. The castle, home of Avignon Pope in the 15th century, is located on a small peninsula that separates the beach in two parts, one small and private and the other one long and crowded. If you are there off season (just like us) you might just end up having the whole place to yourself.
Where to Stay in Peniscola
Peniscola’s old town and 700 hundred-year-old castle are truly a dream. Walking at night about its streets is a must! We stayed at the lovely Hostal Temático El Peñón and loved it. Initially, we wanted Hotel Muva Beach but it closes in low season. Hence, in high season book a room overlooking the beach and the castle. If you can’t resist the pull of the beach, stay at the Gran Hotel Peñiscola.
Valencia has long been overshadowed by Barcelona for no reason since it has so much to offer: the gorgeous medieval Old Town, elegant classical neighborhoods, a wonderful beach and the one and only City of Arts and Sciences designed by the city’s most famous architect world famous Santiago Calatrava. The Old Town is full of cool street art, great restaurants and historical architecture. Next to it, you’ll find the gorgeous 5 km former long river bed now a park perfect to stroll around or bike your way to the beach.
Where to Stay in Valencia
The Catalonia Excelsior Hotel is as central as you can be. This elegant hotel offers comfy rooms and great views. If you are an architecture lover or prefer something different, stay at the Hotel Valencia Alameda overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences. Once more, beach-goers will be happy to realize Valencia has several nice hotels directly on the beach. Hotel Gabbeach is definitively one of the best.
Teruel and Albarracin
Our next destinations on this 10 Days Itinerary around Spain are two off the beaten track towns. Though located in the middle of Aragon, Teruel and Albarracin are not well known outside of Spain. Both towns are famous for their medieval heritage and beautiful scenery. Teruel is a real city, although the smallest provincial capital in Spain. The UNESCO listed Mudejar Towers are splendid. Albarracin, on the other hand, is like a town. According to many, it’s one of Spain’s nicest small towns. It is perched on a rock overlooking a river and has both Christian and Muslim city walls. Outstanding!
Where to Stay in Teruel and Albarracin
In Teruel, we stayed at the sleek Reina Cristina, close to the neo-Mudejar staircase Escalinata. We enjoyed great service and views of the surrounding hills. To stay at one of Teruel’s main squares, book a room at the Hotel Teruel Plaza. In Albarracin, we spent a couple of nights at the historical Hotel Arabia. It is a real convent from the 16th century, right next to the Old Town. Another great hotel in the old town is the renowned Hotel Albarracín.
Zaragoza is one of the few Spanish large cities that is still out of the tourist radar. True, it doesn’t offer a spectacular old town like Barcelona or Valencia. However, Zaragoza has quite a few gems. The impressive baroque Cathedral – Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar is one of the most sacred sites in all of Spain. Likewise, the majestic Aljafería Palace is one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in Spain and a UNESCO site. If you are into contemporary architecture, you’ll love the area built for the Expo Zaragoza 2008.
Where to Stay in Zaragoza
Zaragoza is relatively big. Therefore, choosing the right neighborhood is a key. Stay either close to the old town, the Aljafería Palace or the Expo. We stayed at the very good Eurostars Boston. Ask for a top floor room for cool views of the city. Location wise, nothing beats the fantastic Hotel Pilar Plaza, in front of the Cathedral Basilica. Finally, the Catalonia El Pilar Hotel is a beautifully refurbished art nouveau palace.
Traveling Around Spain
We designed this 10 Days Itinerary around Spain considering you don’t want to waste time in transport. In fact, you can complete the entire route by train. What’s more, trains in Spain are fast, safe, reliable, and affordable. There are several trains from Barcelona to Peniscola and from Peniscola to Valencia. Talgo is the most comfortable one. From Valencia to Teruel and from Teruel to Zaragoza there are four daily trains. Once in Teruel, take a local bus to Albarracin. Finally, from Zaragoza to Barcelona you can take a fast train AVE. You’ll love the experience! Though heavily visited during hot months, winter in Spain is the perfect time to travel.
Spain Itinerary 10 Days
Day 1 – Barcelona
Spend your first day exploring the magnificent Old Town. The Gothic Quarter is where the Cathedral is. Both Plaça Reial and Plaça Sant Jaume are there too. Medieval palaces dot Born, while Raval is the epicenter of the alternative nightlife. Of course, don’t forget to stroll down la Rambla.
Day 2 – Barcelona
On your second day, go to Barceloneta and spend some time on the beach. You can later visit the Parc de la Ciutadella, Arc de Triomf and Gaudi’s buildings on Passeig de Gràcia. Finish your tour in Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s ultimate masterpiece.
Day 3 – Barcelona
On your last day visit the colorful Parc Guell and discover the small squares of Gràcia. In the afternoon, walk about the several gardens of Montjuic, Barcelona’s nicest park. Don’t forget to visit the monumental square built for the 1992 Olympic Games. Finally, go up to Las Arenas to enjoy outstanding views.
Day 4 – Peniscola
Unless you are crazy about the beach, one day in Peniscola should be enough. That said, the weather in the area is superb all year long so you can spend time sunbathing or swimming (in summer). Don’t forget to explore all the little corners of the old town including the Castle, the Santa Maria, and Ermitana churches and the Casa de les Petxines.
Day 5 – Valencia
Wonder about Valencia’s beautiful old town. Start your walk at the 13th-century Cathedral, pass by the Lonja de la Seda, a Unesco heritage site and end at the colorful Central Market. For a glimpse of Valencia’s medieval walls visit the only remaining towers: Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos. Don’t forget to visit the lavish City Hall and the Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas.
Day 6 – Valencia
Historic Valencia is quite nice. But that’s not all. Go down the former river bed to enjoy its cool air and endless parks. Just a few kilometers from the center you’ll find the City of Arts and Sciences, an impressive late 20th-Century complex. Finish your day on Valencia’s long sandy beach.
Day 7 – Teruel
Most of Teruel’s attractions are inside its small Old Town. You shouldn’t miss the 4 Mudejar towers, namely: the Teruel Cathedral, the San Pedro Church, the San Martín Church and the San Salvador Church. For the best views climb at least one of them. Other great sights include the abovementioned Escalinata de Teruel, the Plaza del Torico, Aqueduct Los Arcos and several art nouveau houses.
Day 8 – Albarracin
In Albarracin spend your day in and out its medieval old town. Start your walk at the Plaza Mayor and go all the way to the Cathedral and the Alcazar. Later on, go for a walk along the River Guadalaviar. For killer sunsets, climb the city walls. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the area.
Day 9 – Zaragoza
Take your time wandering about the old town. Visit both cathedrals, the Cathedral – Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and the Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza. Continue your tour visiting the Mudejar churches of Magdalena, San Miguel, and San Pablo. End the day strolling along the River Elbe.
Day 10 – Zaragoza
Cross the Elbe River and walk all the way to the Expo Area. Don’t miss the Palacio de Congresos and the Torre del Agua. Cross Zaha Hadid’s bridge and enter the Aljafería Palace. Finish your tour at two contemporary buildings: the Caixa Forum Zaragoza and the Pablo Serrano Museum.