Day 1 ARRIVE IN MADRID, SPAIN.
Welcome to Madrid! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel. (D)
Day 2 MADRID.
The capital since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, the Parliament, Cibeles Fountain, elegant Calle Alcala, and Paseo de Castellana. Then, the highlight: a visit to the palatial PRADO MUSEUM with its priceless art treasures. In the afternoon, an optional excursion to Toledo can be arranged. (B)
Day 3 MADRID–SEGOVIA–RIBERA DEL DUERO–BURGOS–VITORIA.
Head into beautiful Castile, the “Province of the Castles.” Cross the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range on the way to Segovia, famous for the 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Next, head to Ribera del Duero for a [LF] wine tasting accompanied by tapas at Bodegas Portia, designed by world-famous architect Norman Foster. In Burgos, see the magnificent limestone Cathedral of Santa Maria, where the legendary El Cid is buried. Afternoon arrival in Vitoria with time for a stroll through this ancient Basque city’s delightful historic center. (B,D)
Day 4 VITORIA–BILBAO–SAN SEBASTIAN–PAMPLONA.
In Bilbao, the great port city of the Basque region, enjoy a special highlight: a guided visit to the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, an amazing feat of construction created by architect Frank O. Gehry. Next is lovely San Sebastian, the “Pearl of the Cantabrian Coast,” before arriving in Pamplona at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here, a special treat awaits you: [LF] enjoy a walk along the Calle Estafeta, where the famous “running of the bulls” takes place, followed by a Rioja WINE TASTING and dinner at Basaburua restaurant. (B,D)
Day 5 PAMPLONA–SARAGOSSA–BARCELONA.
In Saragossa, visit PLAZA DEL PILAR, one of Spain’s grandest squares. Free time to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, where, according to legends, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. James. Arrive in Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city and the host of the Olympic Games in 1992. (B)
Day 6 BARCELONA.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide features the Columbus Monument, Plaza de Cataluña, and Paseo de Gràcia. Highlight is a visit to spectacular SAGRADA FAMILIA BASILICA, Gaudi’s masterpiece. Also enjoy a panoramic view of the city and harbor from Montjuïc Hill. To enhance your stay, choose from our optional excursions to Montserrat and to a Catalonian restaurant to try out local dishes. (B)
Day 7 BARCELONA–VALENCIA.
Along the coast to Valencia, once a royal capital. Valencia’s Roman, Moorish, and Spanish history comes alive during your guided sightseeing featuring the Town Hall, La Lonja (the 15-century Silk Exchange), the bull ring, the massive gateway towers of Serranos and Quart, and the new Arts & Science Complex, designed by the famous Valencian architect Calatrava. End your tour in the center at La Seo Cathedral and then, visit [LF] one of Valencia’s oldest Horchaterias, where you will be served a traditional Horchata drink. (B,D)
Day 8 VALENCIA–GRANADA.
A scenic drive towards the mountains past troglodyte cave dwellings, hollowed out of the soft tufa stone, near Guadix and Purullena. Cross Mora Pass and arrive in Granada, where a special dinner awaits you at one of Granada’s fine restaurants, the perfect introduction to this magnificent city. (B,D)
Day 9 GRANADA–COSTA DEL SOL.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide features Granada’s main attraction, the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX, a fantasy of “lace in stone” surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains. Also amble through the exotic WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE. Then, a short drive down to your hotel at the Costa del Sol. Later, you may wish to join an optional excursion to the charming Pueblo Blanco village of Mijas. (B)
Day 10 COSTA DEL SOL. EXCURSION TO MÁLAGA.
Morning excursion to beautiful Málaga. Join your Local Guide on a walking tour through the OLD CITY. Enjoy free time for shopping and maybe a visit to the Picasso Museum. (B)
Day 11 COSTA DEL SOL–GIBRALTAR–SEVILLE.
Drive to the ROCK OF GIBRALTAR, in British hands since 1704. Hear about its turbulent history from your Local Guide, see the Moorish Castle, and visit ST. MICHAEL’S CAVES and the colony of Barbary apes. Then, on through the sunny sherry wine region on the Costa de la Luz to vibrant, festive Seville, where [LF] an exclusive visit has been included to the famous Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, the royal BULL RING. (B,D)
Day 12 SEVILLE.
During your sightseeing tour with a Local Guide, hear about the city’s role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712 AD, and its contribution to the discovery of the New World. Admire Maria Luisa Park, the Golden Tower on the Guadalquivir River, and the university that used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Also visit the magnificent CASA DE PILATOS, a mixture of Moorish and Roman architecture with a splendid collection of Roman sculptures. Then, stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming SANTA CRUZ QUARTER. For those interested, an optional extended guided visit to the cathedral is available. Tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show. (B)
Day 13 SEVILLE–CORDOBA–MADRID.
Through the arid landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha to Cordoba, where sightseeing with a Local Guide includes the medieval Jewish quarter, a visit to the magnificent 8th-century MOSQUE OF THE CALIPHS, famous for its 850 pillars of porphyry, marble, and jasper, the Roman Bridge, and the remains of the Alcazar. Return to Madrid and tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 14 MADRID.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)