Barcelona, a city bursting with innovation and at times outrageous architectural pursuits is capital of the Catalonia region. Home to Antoni Gaudi’s many masterpieces, of which the most famous is the city’s emblem—the unfinished La Sagrada Familia.
After we arrive in Barcelona we enjoy a group welcome dinner to meet our fellow travelers.
Barcelona holds many delights for those who visit. After breakfast our small group tour commences with a tour of this stunning city. We tour La Sagrada Familia, where the scale of this church in progress will blow our minds. Work began here in 1882 and construction is predicted to be completed in 2026 with most of the stone carved by hand. The church is incredibly detailed inside and out. Our tour continues to the Plaza Cataluña, Via Laietana, the Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter, Plaza Saint Jaume, Vila Olympica and Port Olympic. We pass Montjuic Mountain with views over the harbor. We have free time for lunch before an afternoon excursion to Montserrat.
We journey to the the Benedictine monastery. We explore the area and board the Funicular de Sant Joan to reach the top of the range.
Gaudi’s gems await us today as we embark on a city tour that views the Casa Batllo and the Casa Mila. The forefather of European modernism, Gaudi’s contribution to Barcelona’s urban appeal remains apparent today. We continue to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Park Guell, spending time within the park’s undulating walls and seeing its many sculptures and mosaics.
We pass by the monumental Bull Ring and the City Park, the vast La Ciutadella. This is followed by free time for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to further explore the delights of Barcelona, be that visiting one of its many galleries, wandering along the lengths of Las Ramblas or simply relaxing in one of the city’s many parks.
Valencia lies on the east coast of Spain, famed as the home of paella and the March fiesta of Las Fallas. Founded by the Romans, this ancient city has been influenced by a myriad of cultures over the centuries. We arrive with free time for lunch. Our small group then tours Valencia including the Cathedral, Puerta del Real, Puerta de la Trinidad and Puerta de las Serranos. We walk through the lively streets of Barrio de Carmen and finish at Gothic-style La Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange).
This evening we are treated to paella at a restaurant in the nearby town of Albufera. This saffron-flavored rice dish is found throughout the country, but Albufera claims its most authentic variation with pimiento, peas, fish and shellfish. Delicioso!
[Breakfast and Dinner]
Granada is one of the highlights of any tour to Spain. Situated in the colorful Andalusian region, at the foot of the Iberian Peninsula’s highest mountain, Mulhacén, it was the seat of the royal Nasrid and Catholic dynasties.
Today we journey south through the countryside reaching Granada in the early evening. We stop at the beachside resort city of Alicante and the university town of Murcia on our way.
The Alhambra Palace has played host to royalty, artists and vagabonds through its history, falling from dizzying splendor into disarray. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and a lasting reminder of Moorish rule in Spain spanning centuries.
We spend our morning exploring the Alhambra, admiring its detailed arabesques, water features, courtyards and "moçárabe" vaulted ceilings. We tour the Generalife Gardens, the idyllic summer retreat for the emirs of the Nasrid dynasty.
Our small group continues to walk through the old city, visiting the Royal Chapel. Here in the Royal Chapel are the remains of the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Queen Isabela I and King Ferdinand. We have free time for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to further explore Granada at our own pace.
Entry to the Alhambra Palace is sometimes restricted and is not guaranteed.
Ronda sits atop the El Tajo canyon with its most recognizable sights the Puente Nuevo, which spans the 120-meter deep ravine, and the bronze cast bull that sits outside the Ronda bullring, Spain’s oldest operating bullring. We travel through this picturesque city, favored by Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, and spend a couple of hours touring its winding streets with a local guide.
Our small group continues to Seville, the most important trade city in Spain during the colonial period. Its Gothic-style cathedral is the largest of its kind in the world and the magnificent Alcazar, the royal residence, lies adjacent.
Dating back to the 18th century, the art form of flamenco has heavily influenced the south of Spain. We connect with the cultural art, where music and dance combine to tell an emotional story, this evening as we are treated to a flamenco show.
We journey to Jerez de la Frontera today, known for its production of the sweet fortified wine, sherry. It has been produced here since the 8th century. Sherry has protected designation of origin status in Europe and all wine labeled as sherry must legally come from this tiny region also known as the ‘Sherry Triangle’.
Our half-day tour takes us to a sherry wine cellar, where we learn more about the white grape variety required to make this well-loved tipple, see the barrels the sherry matures in and enjoy a tasting.
We return to Seville for a city tour that includes the Cathedral of Santa Maria where Christopher Columbus is buried, the impressive Royal Alcazar and a visit to the historical Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz.
Córdoba, the stunning white city of Spain, is home to the country’s hottest summers. Filled with orange groves, cobblestone streets, and Moorish architecture, Córdoba houses the impressive Mezquita, an 8th century mosque that holds a Christian church inside.
Our small group journeys here today to walk through the streets of Barrio de la Juderia and to visit the Mezquita. We then board the AVE train to Madrid.
Awake this morning in the splendid capital of Spain, Madrid. The city offers a constant stream of activity, which is somehow counterpoised with an uncompromising leisurely attitude.
This morning our touring commences with a drive along the Avenues of Gran Via and Castellana, past many of the city’s famous squares including the Plaza de España, Orient, Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, Atocha, Neptuno, Cibeles, Puerta de Alcala, Colon and the Plaza de Castilla. We visit the important historical quarters of the Austrias, the Bourbons and Salamanca and the parks of Oeste and Retiro. We continue through the commercial and financial areas, the bullring, the Santiago Bernabeu Soccer Stadium and past University Campus. We finish our morning tour with time at the lively Mercado de San Miguel, an excellent spot from which to sample paella, pintxos, cured meats, cheeses, wines and ciders. Enjoy some free time for lunch and an afternoon at leisure.
We indulge in a tapas tour of the city this evening, the best way to sample the delights of Spanish cuisine. We treat our taste buds to the likes of patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a paprika topping), cheese, olives, squid, smoked shrimp, chorizo (sausage), and marinated vegetables, to name a few.
[Breakfast and Dinner]
Hola Toledo! We depart Madrid for a day trip to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Toledo. The city was the main court of Charles V but the cultural influences of varying religions still leave their mark. Our guided tour includes a tour of the Cathedral and the Santo Tomé Church. We have free time to explore the city at our leisure before we return to Madrid in the afternoon. This evening we enjoy one final group dinner together at a local restaurant.
[Breakfast and Dinner]
Our tour concludes after breakfast this morning. We bid farewell to our new friends and to sunny Spain.
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