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Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide to Exploring Spain in 3 Weeks

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Exploring Spain in 3 weeks lets you discover many highlights and hidden gems of each city on your itinerary. You can marvel at architectural wonders, indulge in pintxos, and attend a vibrant and energetic flamenco show. Keep reading for tips on how to plan the perfect visit for 3 weeks in Spain. 

Getting around Spain 

Getting around Spain is easy with the help of high-speed trains, buses, and budget flights. Here are some options you could look into when planning your 3 week adventure in Spain. Flying might be the best option if you’re heading from the very north of Spain (Basque region) to the very South (region of Andalusia).

Budget airlines include Vueling (budget airline from Spain) and Easyjet. Main bus transportation options include Alsa and the main high-speed trains are run by Renfe. Check out their sites to book your tickets in advance and maybe even score some discounted premium seats! 

Best time to visit Spain is in April or October when it’s not blistering hot. The southern cities will be a tad cooler during April and October, but still fairly hot, and Basque country might be in the rainy season during April. 

The Ultimate Itinerary for Exploring Spain in 3 Weeks

One way to exploring Spain in 3 weeks is to start from the middle of the country and move outwards. My itinerary covers the central part of Spain (region of Castile-La Mancha), the north (Basque region), the south (Andalusia region), and Barcelona (Catalonia). 

I explored Spain with a mix of trains, flights, and buses. My main flight was getting to Spain from Toronto and flying out of Barcelona back to Toronto. I also opted to take a flight from Bilbao to Granada (from all the way north to all the way south). That was the most comfortable for me, but of course you could opt for more scenic routes if you’re willing to take more time travelling between places. 

Here’s a map of how I did my 3 week adventure in Spain. 

Map of itinerary for exploring Spain in 3 weeks.


I went from Toronto to Madrid then Madrid to Toledo (Toledo was only a day trip). Then I hopped on a bus to Saragossa (Zaragoza in Spanish). Then off I went from Saragossa to San Sebastian on a high-speed train. From there I hopped on another train and went to Bilbao. Then I flew from Bilbao to Córdoba and took trains from Córdoba to Seville to Granada. Lastly, I took trains to Valencia and from Valencia to Barcelona. I simply caught a flight back to Toronto in Barcelona afterwards. 

Where to Stay for 3 Weeks in Spain 

Window framed by pink flowers.
Charming window framed by pink flowers.

Check out the list below for a list of recommendations on where to stay in each city I’ve covered in this guide. 

Madrid 

Hostel Gala
This place has single rooms and it’s located right in downtown Madrid. It’s in a prime location but beware of staying there during festival season (which is mostly in April, but partying seems like the norm every night in Spain). The streets were noisy as heck in the middle of the night when I was there in April 2019. Let’s just say the music didn’t stop until 6 AM. 

Even though I didn’t paint the prettiest picture of the neighbourhood around the hotel, the hotel itself is clean and comfortable and is located in the centre of town with easy access to transportation.

Saragossa

Hotel Sauce
A sweet little boutique hotel right in the heart of historic downtown. It even has its own pastry shop selling pastel-coloured cakes and other baked goods. It’s a clean and nicely decorated hotel with easy access to transport located in the city center. 


San Sebastian 

A Room In The City
Book hotels at least 6 months to a year before your trip if you’re heading to San Sebastian. It’s a really popular place, so hotels are expensive and get booked up quickly. I ended up staying in a hostel as it was the most reasonably-priced accommodation I could find 3 months before my trip. With that being said, this is one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed in. The bunk beds are easy to climb into and have curtains for privacy. Showers are spacious and clean. Hostel is secure and has 24 hour concierge service. It’s also easy to find and close to the main train station.

Bilbao

Ganbara Hostel 
Same advice as above: book early if you want to stay in more luxurious places if you’re heading to Bilbao. I, once again, did not book early enough and had to settle for a reasonable hostel. Though it’s a budget accommodation, this hostel is clean and centrally-located. It’ll get you quickly to the Guggenheim Museum if it’s on your list of places to see.

Córdoba 

Check out Booking.com or Hostelworld.com (if you’re on a tighter budget) for some nice places to stay. At first glance, the results on Hostelworld showed some results of beautiful, old historical buildings turned into hostels. Unfortunately, the hostel I stayed at is no longer available. 

Seville

Hotel Alminar
A luxury 3-star hotel located near tourist sites but also tucked away in a quiet pedestrian street. I believe a good night’s sleep is important while you’re travelling. So if you prize good sleep, comfort, and a convenient location then this could be a great spot. Rooms are updated and spacious with a generously sized bathroom and the hotel is within walking distance to most major tourist sites like the Seville Cathedral and the Giralda. 

Granada

Candil Suite Realejo Granada (Carmen Real del Realejo)
This is a lovely boutique hotel literally steps away from the Alhambra palace. The hallways are lined with mosaic tiles; a lemon tree sits on the terrace overlooking the pool. It’s a small tropical paradise that’s within easy walking distance of major tourist sites and restaurants. The closest bus stop to this hotel is La Catedral (Granada Cathedral) as of 2019. If you’re taking a bus transfer from the airport, the bus drops you directly in front of the cathedral.

Valencia

Zalamera BnB
A charming bed and breakfast with cute and functional rooms. You can book a private room with a personal washroom at a great rate. It’s in a great location just steps outside of downtown Valencia but close enough to get to the city centre and to the train stations. Take your breakfast and coffee on the balcony and enjoy the early morning bliss. 


Barcelona

Chic & Basic: Zoo 
A boutique hotel company with several locations across Barcelona. They’ve all got creative nicknames and the one I stayed in was called Zoo because it was near the park with the Barcelona zoo. Don’t worry! There weren’t any freaky animal sounds at night. The hotel is quiet, clean, comfy, and, like the name says, chic and basic and in a great location. I’m all about a good sleep after a day of exploring, so this place is out of the way but only a few minutes to walk to Las Ramblas. It’s also close to Barceloneta beach if you’re looking for a beach in the city. 

How to pack for 3 Weeks in Spain 

Pack a mix of summer and cooler, or even rainy, weather outfits. Northern Spain in April can be cold and rainy and southern Spain is wonderfully hot even in April, so definitely have a variety of outfits for your 3-week Spanish sojourn. 

Some general recommendations I have about packing for Spain are: 

  • a light rain jacket. It can get cool in northern Spain so a light rain jacket helps a lot. 
  • good walking sandals and closed-toe shoes. Again, because it’ll most likely be cold and rainy up north, I recommend bringing closed-toes shoes so you can walk comfortably and avoid wet feet. But definitely bring a pair of good walking sandals for once you hit the tropical weather in the south of Spain. 
  • summer dresses and early spring outfits. Definitely bring some lightweight, comfy dresses for when you reach the south of Spain, but have some light sweaters and long pants ready for the cooler temperatures up north. 


See my posts on Essential travel items from Amazon to pack in your carry-on and Travel items from Amazon you must pack in your travel purse for tips and advice on what to pack for your 3-week Spanish extravaganza. 

Exploring Spain in 3 Weeks: Itinerary Breakdown

Start in Madrid and Toledo. Indulge in the best churros in Madrid and marvel at stunning architecture in Toledo.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

Recommended number of nights: 3-4 nights in Madrid with a day trip to Toledo. 
Highlights to Discover: San Gines Churros, Botanical Gardens, the Prado, Plaza Mayor, cathedral in Toledo.

Enjoy the most delicious churros of all time at San Ginés in Madrid. Stroll through Plaza Mayor and relax in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Then take a high-speed train to Toledo for a day trip to gaze and admire the monumental Cathedral of Toledo. 

Read my post Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide to Madrid and Toledo for all the details on getting there, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. 

Explore the cathedral at Saragossa, savour pintxos in San Sebastian, and admire the most famous museum in Bilbao

Paella dish on table in front of a cathdral.
Cathedral of Saragossa.

Recommended number of nights: 1 night in each city. 
Highlights to Discover: Cathedrals, pintxos, Guggenheim Museum

Admire the Cathedral of Saragossa, savour pintxos galore in San Sebastian, and take a day to view modern art (or even just admire the architectural design) of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. 

Read my post Day Trips to San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Saragossa for all the details on getting there, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. 

Wander the ancient grounds of the Alhambra in Granada 

Keyhole arches framing beautiful views of fountains inside the Alhambra.

Recommended number of nights: 2 -3 nights 
Highlights to Discover: Alhambra fortress, Sacromonte caves.

The absolute jewel of the Andalusia region. Granada is most well-known for its Alhambra fortress; there’s even a whole guitar concerto dedicated to it! You’ll need to spend a whole day touring the grounds and to view the Generalife and Nasrid Palaces which house the most stunningly crafted fountains and marble lions. Then hike up to the Sacromonte Caves to view the ancestral homes of the Roma who migrated to Granada. 

Read my post Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide to 2 Days in Granada for all the details on getting there, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. 

Stroll through the mosque-cathedral in Córdoba and enjoy flamenco in Seville 

Plaza de España in Seville.

Recommended number of nights: 1 night in Córdoba and 3 nights in Seville 
Highlights to Discover: The Royal Alcazar of Seville, flamenco dancing, the Mosque-Cathedral.

Appreciate the vibrant energy of the flamenco dancers and the singers who accompany them in Seville. Then admire the grandiosity of The Royal Alcazar of Seville. In Córdoba, get up early to enter the Mosque-Cathedral and take a meditative walk through the forest of arches.

Read my post Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide for Day Trips to Córdoba and Seville for all the details on getting there, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. 

Gaze in wonder at the City of Sciences in Valencia and admire the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

On the rooftop balcony in Parc Güell, Barcelona.

Recommended number of nights: 2 nights in Valencia and 2 nights in Barcelona 
Highlights to Discover: paella, City of Sciences, La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, St. Joseph’s Market.

Paella, a wonderful rice dish, originated in Valencia and I think anyone who’s a rice dish fan should definitely give it a try. Head over to the ultra-modern City of Sciences afterwards and marvel at the enormous structures rising out of the grounds. In Barcelona, visiting the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell is a must. There’s quite a hike to get to Parc Güell so make sure to wear comfy shoes. And all fish lovers must have some scrumptious seafood at St. Joseph’s market.

Read my post Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide to Barcelona and Valencia for all the details on getting there, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. 

Conclude your journey in Barcelona

At least that was where I concluded my 3-week Spanish journey! Depending on where you go, of course, the end of your 3-week extravaganza could be anywhere in Spain, but one thing is for certain: the trip should definitely have been full and satisfying. 

Happy travelling!

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