I have never been to Spain. We are thinking of going on the 8 day Spain tour to Madrid and Barcelona. Has anyone been on this tour? If so, how did you like it? What would you recommend to do in your free time in each city? If anyone has been there in the middle of May how was the weather? Are the Spain cities as crowded as Venice, Florence and Rome? I have been to Italy and find it wonderful but crowded. Thanks for your responses.
Cannot comment on the tour but Spain is just as crowded as the rest of Europe - especially the must see tourists sites - for obvious reasons. The weather in May should be warm and potentially a little rainy. It is Spring time.
Madrid, unlike Venice, Florence and even, to an extent, Rome, is a thriving working metropolis that does not depend mostly (or solely, as in the case of Venice) on tourism for it's survival. Thus, it is unusual to be caught up in throngs of tourists as you navigate the city. The areas around the major sites are bound to be busy but I don't think you'll feel anywhere near as crowded as you do in Venice. I think mid-May is also a good time to go if you are worried about crowding, especially if you plan to make a day trip to Toledo (which I also recommend).
By the way...Spain is absolutely wonderful.
I looked up the RS 8 day tour and believe it will do a great job of initiating a first time visitor to two major cities of Spain. May is a great month to travel as temps and crowds are only just beginning to build up. Please note this tour has a lot of walking and step climbing involved. Without knowing your age or interests it is difficult to advise about free time activities. That said there is an activity we always make time for, sitting at a sidewalk cafe and watching humanity flow by. Fyi: we have visited both cities multiple times and taken the AVE for travel.
I looked up this tour, and it appears that a visit to the Palau de la Musica is not included. I highly recommend that you get to this over-the-top gorgeous example of Modernista architecture in your free time. Really! You won't believe your eyes! If you don't attend a concert, you must go on a guided tour. There were some available daily in English, when we visited.