5 Day Spain Itinerary: Best Cities in Spain & 3 Unique Itineraries

Spain is a country unique to all of Europe. No wonder it’s one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. There are also many famous monuments throughout Spain that attract thousands of tourists every year.  

The diverse geography and rich heritage offers travelers everything they desire, from beautiful beaches and medieval castles to party islands. Traveling in Spain is suitable for all groups of people, both young and old, from history nerds to party animals. 

Before you dive into the plethora of possible Spain travel itineraries, it is wise to learn a few basics of Spain, like weather, currency, transport and best travel destinations. After reading this guide, you will be more equipped and ready to be the perfect Spain trip planner.

How to get around in Spain

Getting around Spain has become much easier thanks to the excellent public transport options. These include long-distances buses, high-speed trains and internal flights. 

Traveling by bus 

Buses are the most economical way to get around Spain, although long distances could be uncomfortable. If you’re interested in exploring smaller towns and villages, often the only option will be local buses. 

Most of the time you can buy your bus ticket from the driver as you get in, but long-distance routes can be booked in advance. Websites like Movelia make it easy to search for buses online. 

Travelling by plane 

If you’re pressed for time, budget airlines may be the best way to hop between cities. When travelling to the Balearic or other islands, flying is the fastest and often the cheapest way to get there. The cheapest airlines are EasyJet and Ryanair. Keep in mind that checked luggage is not included in the price and will cost an additional 25-40 EUR per bag. 

Travelling by car

Renting a car is a great way to determine your own route and pace while travelling through Spain. However, even though the cost of renting a car can be low, there are a lot of additional costs to consider like parking fees, fuel, toll gates, and an international driving license. 

Travelling by train 

Spain has a well-connected rail system with both high-speed and regular trains. Spain’s national train network is operated by RENFE. Tickets can be quite cheap and save a lot of time, but booking in advance is often necessary. A train from Barcelona to Madrid on a high-speed train only takes 2.5 hours and can cost as little as 30 Euro. 

Check out our post to learn more about travelling by train in Spain!

Hitchhiking

Europe is a safe and popular destination for hitchhikers, although this would require a lot of flexibility and could be uncomfortable. HitchWiki is the best resource for travellers who want to tramp their way through Spain. 

The best time to visit Spain

Spain is a lovely destination year-round with the best time to travel being Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to November). 

Peak season is during the summer from June to the end of August. Prices are higher, it gets crowded and many accommodations may be booked out. This is the best time for beach hopping and partying. 

Spain has a very moderate temperature, and even in winter, it doesn’t get too cold. The only snowfall occurs in the North, usually only in the mountains. 

Should I get insurance for my trip to Spain?

Although Spain is a relatively safe country, accidents do happen. Travel insurance is invaluable, especially if renting a car or doing more extreme activities like hiking Camino de Santiago

Check with your insurance company if you are covered while travelling. If not, World Nomads is a very reputable company popular amongst travellers.  

Where should I go in Spain? 

Spain is a diverse country with world-famous cities, quaint towns and charming villages. As well as culturally wealthy autonomous regions and over 50 beautiful provinces and islands. 

Lest you give your life to exploring all the nooks and crannies of Spain, you won’t be able to see all the country has to offer. To make your travel plans simpler, we’ve gathered the top 10 places to see in this magnificent Mediterranean country. 

1. Barcelona

The mesmerising seaside capital of Catalonia is embedded with rich culture, fantastical art and architecture, and a world-renowned food scene. The city has found a way to merge its ancient Roman history with 20th-century Modernist architecture by Antoni Gaudí. Barcelona holds up to its title as one of the most attractive cities in Europe.

2. Madrid

The capital city is famous for its lively nightlife, large museums and flavourful tapas. Daytime can be spent viewing famous artworks in Prado, the largest museum in the world, or touring Palacio Real, home of the Spanish royal family.

To experience the magical energy of Madrid, you’d have to wait until the clock strikes 12, when the city really comes alive.

3. Málaga

Sitting neatly on the Costa del Sol, Málaga is the soulful hub that gifted the world Pablo Picasso. The city is buzzing with youth culture, new art houses and a culinary scene that would excite any foodie. The revamped city still has a rich history with remnants thereof scattered across Málaga including Moorish Citadels and a Roman Amphitheatre. 

4. Valencia

The futuristic architecture of Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences includes a planetarium, oceanarium and interactive museum. The innovative buildings may seem like science fiction, but the beautiful beaches, authentic paellas and Old Town will remind you of the deeply ingrained Spanish culture of the city. 

5. Bilbao

Bilbao will transform your idea about what port cities look like. Located in Northern Spain and surrounded by lush green mountains, the capital of Basque Country is home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The titanium structure of the museum receives more accolades than the famous contemporary art it houses. 

6. Seville

Seville is the largest and most popular destination in Andalusia. The student city boasts colourful streets, grand architecture and buzzing festivals. 

One of the main attractions is the Cathedral of Seville, one of the largest churches in the world. There are also monuments dedicated to different regions of the country and the Jewish quarter to explore. 

7. Granada

Known as “The Moorish Jewel,” Granada is tucked between the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Experiencing the Arabic culture and Islamic architecture is like watching a masterful showpiece, with the Alhambra being the star of the show. 

8. Salamanca 

The sandstone buildings of Salamanca radiate with such beauty that the city has been nicknamed La Dorada, The Golden One. Its ancient history dates back 2000 years to the Celtic era. It has picked up Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque architecture along the way. It’s also home to the third oldest university in Europe, founded in 1218. 

9. Toledo

For centuries, Christians, Jews and Arabs have co-existed in Toledo awarding the title of “the city of three cultures”. Marvel at the diversity of the old quarter, as you wander past Gothic cathedrals, Horseshoe-arched mosques, Sephardic synagogues, palaces and fortresses. The city was also home to El Greco, who was one of the most famous artists of his time and still is to this day. 

10. Córdoba

During the 10th century, Córdoba was the greatest capital city in Europe leading in architecture,  art and academia. The historical Andalusian city is most famous for its UNESCO-listed mosque, La Mezquita. Córdoba also has a fascinating Jewish and Moorish heritage, charming streets, artisan crafts and gastronomy. 

A complete Spain Travel Itinerary: 5 days in Spain

It’s an overwhelming process to decide what to see in Spain in 5 days. We’d be lying if we said you can create a 5 day Spain travel itinerary that covers the whole country. 

Instead, we’ve created three 5-day Spain itineraries to pick from. All the itineraries can be done in reverse or combined and includes minimum travel time in order to explore and absorb the rich Spanish culture. 

There really is no best of Spain itinerary, since each route is spectacular in its own right. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll be astounded by the rich history, amazing gastronomy and vibrant nightlife. 

The best Spain itinerary is the one you choose! 

Southern Spain vacation itinerary: Granada to Seville

Southern Spain is an ideal region to soak up the sun and explore the remnants of Moorish rule. The route spans 625km and takes you through some of the most beautiful and historic cities of Spain. If travelling by car, you’ll have the luxury of stopping at places en route like Alcalá de los Gazules and Marbella. 

If you’re flying to Southern Spain, start your trip in Málaga where there is an airport and take a day trip to Granada.

Day 1: Granada

Your trip starts in Granada, one of the pearls of Spain home to perhaps the most important remnants of Moorish rule, The Alhambra. A limited number of tickets are sold per day so book your spot in advance

Things to see:

  • Alhambra
  • Generalife
  • Royal Chapel of Granada
  • Catedral de Granada 

Accommodation: Hotel Granada Center is great value for price and is located just a 10 minute walk from the Granada Cathedral. 

Day 2: Málaga

Start your day early to make the journey from Granada to Málaga, which is approximately 2 hours by bus. Málaga is the largest city on the Costa del Sol and is firmly rooted in Spanish culture and history. 

Things to see:

  • Alcazaba
  • Picasso Museum
  • Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga
  • Roman Amphitheatre 

Accommodation: Hotel Sur Málaga is in the center of Málaga, close to the Picasso Museum and Alcazaba. For backpackers The Lights Hostel is an option where you can get breakfast or dinner for just 3 Euro. 

Day 3: Cádiz

The trip to Cádiz can take anything from 2 to 4 hours, depending on your mode of transportation. The cheapest and fastest way to get there is to rideshare. 

Cadíz is known as the most important port in Spain. It is the meeting point of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Sea. The port city links trade between Europe, Africa and America. 

Things to see:

  • Cádiz Cathedral
  • Torre Tavira
  • Castle of Santa Catalina

Accommodation:  Plazas de la Luz Cadiz lies the heart of the Old Town and is a very affordable option for couples. Backpackers may prefer Casa Caracol where you can enjoy the hammocks on the rooftop terrace and free breakfast. 

Day 4: Seville

 Travelling to Seville can be done via bus, train or ridesharing. All options take under 2 hours. 

This Andalusian capital is famous as the birthplace of Flamenco dancing. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch a performance in the Triana neighbourhood and dine on tasty tapas. 

Things to see:

  • Royal Alcázar of Seville 
  • Plaza de España
  • Catedral de Sevilla 
  • La Giralda
  • Las Setas De Sevilla
  • Parque de María Luisa
  • Torre del Oro

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de las Cruces is set in the Jewish Quarters and is only a 10-minute walk to the city’s cathedral. Backpackers looking for good vibes and rooftop jams should check out La Banda.  

Day 5: Córdoba

The journey to Córdoba only takes 45 minutes by train, whereas driving would more than double the travel time. 

As the final stop on your itinerary for Spain, Córdoba signifies the tumultuous history of Spain. It was a major Islamic Center in the Middle Ages whose magnificent 784 A.D. mosque became a church in 1236. The city is also the birthplace of Roman philosopher Seneca. 

Things to see:

  • Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
  • Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs
  • Roman Bridge of Córdoba 
  • Medina Azahara – Conjunto

Accommodation: If you’re looking for a clean and modern hotel with parking, Sercotel Hotel Selu is ideal. Córdoba Bed and Be is a popular hostel amongst backpackers, offering free breakfast, a kitchen and a rooftop terrace where you can soak up the sun. 

Northern Spanish Itinerary: Barcelona to Basque Country

This iconic route of Northern Spain spans approximately 720km. The trip conveniently starts in Barcelona where many flights land and trains from across Europe stop. If planning to fly out of Spain, consider going to San Sebastian before heading to Bilbao, since the city has a major airport. 

Day 1: Barcelona

If you only have a day in Barcelona, it’s important to have a plan to ensure you see as much as possible. There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona. To simplify touring through the city, consider getting a Hop-on Hop-off bus. 

Things to see:

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Passeig de Gracia 
  • Placa Catalunya
  • Casa Batlló and Casa 
  • Las Ramblas 
  • Barceloneta

Accommodation: For convenience sake, book accommodation near Placa Catalunya. There are plenty of hotels and hostels in Barcelona. We really like Catalonia Bar hotel and One Paralelo hostel. Both offer both dorm and private rooms. 

Day 2: Zaragoza 

On day 2 of your 5 days in Spain, eat breakfast at one of the many cafés in the tourist area before making your way to Zaragoza. Remember to book your train ticket in advance, if travelling by rail. The train takes under 2 hours compared to a 3 hour drive, or longer bus ride. 

Zaragoza has over 2000 years of history with Romans, Christians, Jews and Muslims all leaving their mark on the city.

Things to do: 

  • Basílica del Pilar
  • Aljafería Palace
  • Cathedral San Salvador 
  • Goya Museum

Accommodation: Zaragoza is much smaller than Barcelona but still has ample accommodation options. We recommend Silken Reino de Aragón for their excellent location in Zaragoza’s Old Town. There are fewer hostel options, but Albergue Zaragoza Hostel has a well-equipped kitchen and free breakfast. 

Day 3: Logroño

The journey to Logroño takes approximately 2 hours regardless of your transportation option. The cheapest option would be to rideshare or take a bus. 

Logroño is a stop for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. The town is famous for its wine and pintxos (Basque tapas) bars. 

Things to do: 

  • Co-Cathedral of Logroño
  • Church of San Bartolomé
  • Museo de la Rioja
  • Parroquia de Santiago Real

Accommodation: Eurostars Fuerte Ruavieja is a charming hotel with a wellness facility, including a sauna, available to guests. Backpackers can stay at Winederful Hostel, one of the only hostels in the city. 

Day 4: Bilbao

The cheapest and fastest way to get to Bilbao is by bus that takes approximately 2 hours. 

Bilbao is a beautiful port city with towering skyscrapers downtown, beaches reachable via metro and mountains surrounding the city. It’s most famous attraction is the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum building.  

Things to see:

  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Bilbao Cathedral
  • Zubizuri Bridge 
  • Arenal Gardens
  • Teatro Arriaga
  • Plaza Nueva

Accommodation: Santiago Apartments Bilbao offers large apartments with private kitchens, washing machines and other facilities. It is also conveniently located close to the bus stop and taxi rank. A good backpackers option is the contemporary Ganbara Hostel, that includes a free breakfast and guest kitchen. 

Day 5: San Sebastian

The final stop on your 5 day itinerary of Northern Spain is a bus ride under 2 hours away. San Sebastian is famous for its pintxos, cobblestone Old Town, resort beaches and for having the highest concentration of bars in the world! 

Things to see:

  • San Sebastian Cathedral
  • La Concha
  • Mount Urgull
  • Castillo de la Mota
  • Cristina Enea Park

Accommodation: The film-themed Hotel Estoria7 is set by the River Urumea in the former Astoria Cinema. Each room is uniquely dedicated to an actor or director who has visited the city. Only 200m from Zurriola beach, Koba Hostel offers backpackers a cool space to hang out with a surfer atmosphere and free breakfast. 

Spain by Train Itinerary: Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid

This route is nearly 1000km but only takes 5 hours via high-speed train to complete. It gives you a tour of the best that Spain has to offer, but allows a reasonable amount of time to spend in the three biggest cities in Spain. 

Day 1: Barcelona

Things to see:

  • La Sagrada Damilia 
  • Park Güell
  • Casa Milá and Casa Batlló
  • La Rambla
  • The Gothic Quarter
  • Mercado de La Boqueria 
  • Plaça de Catalunya
  • Magic Fountain on Montjuïc 
  • Cathedral of Barcelona 

Accommodation: Catalonia Bar hotel and One Paralelo hostel are both brilliant options for solo and group travellers alike.

Day 2: Barcelona to Madrid

The high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid only takes 2.5 hours to cover 625km! The train can be taken throughout the day so you can spend the morning in Barcelona, covering places you missed the day before.

If you want to cut costs, consider taking a 6 hour night train and save on paying for accommodation for the night. 

Accommodation: Madrid has plenty of accommodation options, although it can be quite pricey. An affordable but quality option is Amor de Dios 17 Boutique Hotel set in the centre of Madrid only 1km from Puerta del Sol. 

Backpackers also have a variety of options. We recommend the boutique hostel, The Hat Madrid for its cool atmosphere, free events and eco-conscious approach. 

Day 3: Madrid

Welcome to the capital of Spain, where elegant boulevards and expensive shops adorn the city. Madrid is an art hub, housing works from all the Spanish masters, including Goya and Veláquez. It’s also possible to eat at the oldest restaurant in the world

Things to see:

  • Plaza Mayor
  • Royal Palace of Madrid
  • Museo Nacional del Prado
  • El Retiro Park
  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • Temple of Debod 

Accommodation:  Amor de Dios 17 Boutique Hotel and The Hat Madrid

Day 4:  Madrid to Valencia

The fastest train in Spain is from Madrid to Valencia, covering 357km in just over 1.5 hours. The journey itself is an experience worth having! The train departs every hour so you can choose how long to stay in Madrid before travelling to Valencia. 

Accommodation: Hotel Malcom and Barret offers stylish and affordable accommodation within walking distance to the center. Backpackers can stay in the heart of the city at Center Valencia Youth Hostel. This fun place has a communal kitchen, daily walking tours, pub crawls and most importantly, free breakfast! 

Day 5: Valencia

Valencia is the final stop on your itinerary of Spain by train. The city is one of the most cultural, cosmopolitan and vibrant in all of Europe. If there is one thing not to miss, it’s the cultural and architectural complex The City of Arts and Sciences. 

Things to see:

  • Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
  • L’Oceanográfic
  • The Central Market of Valencia 
  • Valencia Cathedral
  • Torres de Quart
  • Torres de Serranos 
  • La Lonja de la Seda 
  • Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas

Accommodation:  Hotel Malcom and Barret and Center Valencia Youth Hostel.

Final Thoughts on our 5 day Spain Itinerary

We hope this article will guide you on how to plan a trip to this beautiful country. As well as creating your unique travel itinerary for Spain. It is a truly amazing country, and you are guaranteed to have a blast regardless of which itinerary you choose. ¡Buen vieje!

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