Depart on an overnight flight to Madrid, Spain.
Day 1: Arrive in Madrid [D]
Bienvenidos a Espana! Welcome to Spain!
Madrid is one of Europe’s youngest capitals. It’s a dynamic city with a warm and friendly atmosphere. It has fantastic museums and a great cultural heritage dating back to the days of the Habsburg and Bourbon Kings.
We’ll greet you at the airport when you land and you can travel in comfort by coach to your hotel for check-in.
On the way we’ll take in a half-day’s sightseeing tour of this beautiful capital, including some of its most famous landmarks. We’ll see Plaza Mayor – the stunning and historic square in the center of the city, and the focal point of much of Madrid’s nightlife. We’ll also see the Royal Palace, the king’s official residence, Retiro Park, where musicians, performers and painters often congregate, and the Puerta de Alcala, one of the most impressive gates in the city’s fortifications. We’ll also visit the Prado Museum, Spain’s largest art museum, and one of the greatest museums in the world, where you’ll be able to find art works from all of Spain’s greatest artists.
After checking into your hotel, you’ll be able to enjoy some free time to relax before we meet for a welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2: Madrid-Toledo-Madrid [B/L/D]
Join us for a full day’s sightseeing tour of the old imperial city of Toledo. It is known as “the city of all religions,” due to the many Christian, Jewish and Muslim influence from its past. First stop is the Cathedral of Toledo. This was founded in the first century after the birth of Christ. Centuries later, during the Moorish occupation of Spain, it was changed into a mosque.
After the Catholic ‘reconquest’ of Spain in the Middle Ages it was then converted back into a cathedral by King Alfonso VI. In the 13th Century the original was destroyed, and the impressive Gothic building which can be seen today was built on the old cathedral’s foundations. After the cathedral, we’ll tour Old Toledo – a charming and historic labyrinth of winding streets, surrounded on three sides by the River Tajo. We’ll also visit the 14th century tower of Santo Tome. This is one of the finest examples of Mudejar architecture in Toledo. It also houses the stunning painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz arguably the greatest masterpiece of one of Spain’s most known artists, El Greco.
You’ll have free time to explore the city and enjoy lunch before we return to Madrid.
In the evening, we’ll start with a special flamenco dance lesson. Then we’ll go on to one of the city’s top flamenco venues, where we’ll enjoy a dinner of traditional Spanish cuisine while being entertained by a spectacular dance performance.
Day 3: Madrid – Segovia – Burgos [B/L/D]
Breakfast will be served at your hotel.
Afterwards we’ll travel by coach to Santiago Bernebeu, the home stadium of the world famous Real Madrid football club. We’ll tour the stadium, go behind the scenes, and even visit the team’s dressing room. Afterwards, the coach will take us to the historic city of Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its ancient aqueduct dating back to the Roman Empire.
We’ll stop for lunch in a local restaurant. Afterwards we’ll explore the Alcazar, a beautiful castle built almost a thousand years ago, and set on a rocky outcrop. A favorite royal residence for many of the Spanish Kings. This fairy tale castle is said to be an inspiration for the famous castle at Disney World. This is a lovely day with plenty of sights for those who enjoy architecture, history, and culture.
The day will end at your hotel in Burgos
Day 4: Burgos [B/L/D]
Join us on a sight-seeing tour of the city of Burgos, home to several architectural masterpieces, most notably Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was built on top of a Romanesque temple, and was constructed in the Norman Gothic model. The cathedral is the site of many exceptional works of art. These include the starry dome over the tombs of El Cid and Doña Jimena, the choir, the sarcophagi and the Golden Staircase, built by Spanish architect and sculptor Diego de Siloé, a prominent figure during the Spanish Renaissance. It also includes the remarkable filigree work in the cathedral spires and on the exterior of the High Constable Chapel.
In Burgos we’ll also see many beautiful examples of civic architecture such as Casa de Miranda, which houses the Burgos Museum, with an important collection of archaeological artifacts, and Casa de Angulo, which houses the Museum of Fine Arts. Perhaps the finest, however, is Casa del Cordón, where the Catholic monarchs received Christopher Columbus after he returned from his second trip to the New World. At the west end of Burgos’ historic quarter we’ll also see the Royal Monastery of Huelgas Reales, which houses an impressive Gothic cloister and the famous chapel of Saint James the Apostle.
We’ll end the tour at your hotel, and you’ll be free to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the city.
We’ll have dinner and stay overnight in Burgos
Day 5: Burgos – Bilbao – Logrono [B/L/D]
After breakfast join your tour manager as you travel by coach to Bilbao, the main city of Spain’s highly distinct “Basque Country.” Bilboa is home to the Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum, one of the most remarkable architectural achievements of its time. The museum is built of glass, titanium and limestone, and has been hailed by critics, academics and the general public alike.
After we tour Guggenheim, we’ll also visit Mercado de la Ribera, the largest indoor marketplace in Europe. This riverbank market has a great feeling of lightness and openness. It is illuminated from windows and the floors, which are made from a translucent material. We’ll have some time to explore the market.
The day will end at your hotel in Logrono for an overnight stay.
Day 6: Logrono – Montserrat – Barcelona [B/L/D]
We’ll have breakfast at the hotel, and then travel by coach to Barcelona.
Along the way we’ll drive through picturesque little villages, and stop for a break on the mountain of Montserrat, which rises majestically up from the plain to 4,051 feet (1,235 meters ) and which offers amazing views. The mountain gets its name from its rock formations, which look like they’ve been sawed and sculpted by hand, even though they are the result of thousands of years of wind and rain. We’ll have a guided tour of the Royal Basilica of Montserrat, with its 12th-century carving of the Black Virgin, and then enjoy some free time to explore.
After we arrive in Barcelona and check in to our hotel, we’ll enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 7: Barcelona [B/L/D]
We’ll start the day with a tour of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s most celebrated work. The church is still under construction, more than 130 years after it began. It is estimated that construction won’t finish until 2028. Everything in the church is being built in a geometric fashion, making it fascinating to study. After the Sagrada Familia, we’ll travel to Parc Guell. This is an unusual park. It has been skillfully laid out around a mosaic terrace to convey a feeling of peace and calm. The entrance is flanked by remarkable buildings with fantastically shaped roofs.
Then we will head over to the vibrant neighborhood of Las Ramblas, where you’ll have the afternoon free to explore. Your tour manager will be present and can offer suggestions. The main boulevard consists of five sections that are known collectively just as La Rambla. No Barcelona experience is complete without a stroll down it. Both the Wax – Cera and Erotica museums are situated on La Rambla, as are the Grand Opera House, Gran Teatre de Liceu, the city’s most colorful market, the Mercat de la Boqueria, and a large and iconic mosaic by Joan Miro.
Overnight in Barcelona.
Day 8: Barcelona [B/L/D]
You’ll have a day to explore Barcelona’s many delights and architectural landmarks. Join us on a guided tour of Disseny Hub, or Design Museum. Take a closer look at the oceanfront W hotel, an icon of avant-garde architecture: It is made of glass, is shaped like a sail, and was modeled after the Burj al-Arab in Dubai. Visit the high-tech business development, the Torre Agbar, supposedly inspired both by the mountain of Montserrat and by the shape of a geyser rising into the air. It forms a striking structure of reinforced concrete, covered with a facade of glass, and with over 4,500 window. The tower is among the tallest in the city. Also worth a look is the Herzog & de Meuron’s Forum Building, a 180 meter equilateral triangle supported on concrete columns. The triangular blue concrete building, conceived as a sponge saturated with water, blends with the sky and the Mediterranean Sea.
Spend the rest of the day, and your last night in Spain, enjoying beautiful Barcelona at your own leisure.
We’ll stay overnight in Barcelona.
Day 9: Barcelona [B]
Board your coach and let us transport you to the airport for your flight back to the U.S.