|Starts||Barcelona, Spain, Spain|
Day 1 - Starting: Barcelona & Finishing: Barcelona
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most loved and dynamic cities. Please make your way to your centrally located hotel. There are no activities planned for before your group meeting in the evening (usually at 7 pm). Find more details about this meeting at the hotel reception. If you arrive early and are out and about, perhaps visit the excellent Picasso Museum. After your meeting, you will dine with your fellow travellers on some local Catalan specialties. Notes: Arriving/departing by train within Europe is recommended, as this is a comfortable, efficient mode of travel that emits a relatively low amount of carbon.
Day 2 - Starting: Barcelona & Finishing: Barcelona
This morning you will explore some of Barcelona's wonders. Visit one of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural icons, the Sagrada Familia. Marvel at his unique architectural style that includes a mix of Gothic and modern influences, evident in the curvilinear columns and arches. Gaudi dedicated most of his life to this project before his death in 1926. This extraordinary building is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Your tour also takes you into the narrow medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, home to the city’s impressive cathedral. It's also where you'll find La Boqueria, a colourful public market that dates back to 1217. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure.
Day 3 - Starting: Valencia & Finishing: Valencia
Bid farewell to Barcelona today as you travel to the city of Valencia (approximately 3.5 hours). This is your base for the next two nights. Spain’s third largest city, Valencia has a unique cultural identity and a wonderful old town centre that dates back 2,000 years. Discover the harmonius mix of Roman, Muslim and Christian influences in its buildings and monuments and magnificent gardens. After checking into your hotel, you will visit the city's major landmark – the City of Arts and Science, a large and futuristic museum complex designed by Calatrava. A one-hour guided tour will familiarise you with the exterior of the site. Afterwards, return to the city centre by public transport and take part in quick orientation walk. The balance of the day is free for you to spend as you wish.
Day 4 - Starting: Albufera Lake – Sagunta - Valencia & Finishing: Albufera Lake – Sagunta - Valencia
In the morning, transfer to Sagunto, north of Valencia. A walk along a zig-zagging path via an old Roman theatre takes you to Sagunto’s impressive ruined castle. Sitting at the crossroads of two Roman trading routes, the castle was a former stronghold and important commercial centre; it dates back to 500 BC. After visiting Sagunto, take a short drive south of Valencia to discover Albufera Lake, an important ecological site of the region. The lake is surrounded by beach, dunes, lagoons, wetlands and Mediterranean forest, and is home to six small islands. You will visit the island of El Palmar and discover its typical ‘barraca’ houses. Travel by boat to the middle of the lake and learn about the important agricultural crop of the area, namely the local rice. Perhaps try some for lunch at a local restaurant, if you wish. In the afternoon, you will take a transfer back to Valencia.
Day 5 - Starting: Granada & Finishing: Granada
Depart Valencia and travel to Granada. Along the way you will travel through the distinctive countryside of the region and pass through the university town of Murcia – look out for the cathedral and its impressive Baroque façade. Next, stop for a visit in the charming village of Guadix. Witness the fascinating cave dwellings of Barrio Santiago nearby, of which there are some 2,000. These caves are found in various places throughout the province, but this is the largest concentration of them. The thick walls of the cave homes help to insulate against the extreme heat of summers, and temperatures are maintained at around 19°C all year round. In Guadix, you might like to pay an optional visit to the town’s imposing cathedral, which was built over a Moorish mosque in Gothic-Renaissance style. Then it's on to the city of Granada, one of the jewels of Andalucia.
Day 6 - Starting: Granada & Finishing: Granada
After breakfast, take a guided tour through the incredible Alhambra Palace, one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces. Dating back to the 11th century and taking its name from the Arabic word for 'red castle', Alhambra represents Muslim art in its final European stages. The dominating red fortress towers, sumptuous palace decor, multitude of architectural styles and magnificent gardens of the 'Generalife' (literally meaning ‘architect's garden’) are all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With soothing pathways, fountains, impeccably-maintained hedges, pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, Alhambra is certainly very memorable. The afternoon is free for you to discover the other highlights of Granada, such as the cathedral and the Albaicin Quarter.
Day 7 - Starting: Cordoba & Finishing: Cordoba
Today you will learn more about the importance of olive oil production in the Andalucia region by visiting an oil mill. Here there will be the chance to taste the different olive oils. Then continue your journey to the city of Cordoba, where Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences are present in the architecture, culture and cuisine. Cordoba is also home to the Mezquita – a rare site which has served as both a mosque and a cathedral throughout the centuries. Today a cathedral stands within the centre of this amazing mosque – an interesting example of the interplay of Christian and Muslim cultures in Spain. Discover this supreme example of Islamic architecture on a comprehensive guided tour which continues outside of the Mezquita and explores the charming quarters and hidden corners of Cordoba.
Day 8 - Starting: Seville & Finishing: Seville
Farewell Cordoba and head for Seville this morning. A town famous for its cultural vitality and dazzling architecture, Seville is the largest city in southern Spain. On arrival, explore parts of the city with your tour leader. You'll see the Alcazar of Seville, a grand royal Palace. Known as one of the most beautiful in Europe, the Spanish royal family still to this day use the Alcazar as their residence in Seville. The rest of the afternoon is free, so you may wish to take an optional visit to the Giralda Tower and the famous Seville Cathedral, one of Europe’s largest cathedrals and home to Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. In the evening, you will join your fellow travellers for dinner and a flamenco show.
Day 9 - Starting: Jerez de la Frontera – Cadiz – Seville & Finishing: Jerez de la Frontera – Cadiz – Seville
A full-day excursion from Seville takes you south to the city of Jerez de la Frontera. With its ancient Alcazar (Moorish fortress), eclectic cathedral and huge selection of excellent tapas bars, Jerez is an undiscovered gem in the heart of Andalucia. In these region, this town is synonymous with sherry. Take the opportunity to sample the famous local drop at one of the city’s bodegas. Then it's time to visit the Atlantic coastal city of Cadiz, where you will discover winding lanes flanked by beautiful whitewashed buildings. After lunch, transfer back to Seville and enjoy some free time for your final Andalucian evening.
Day 10 - Starting: Madrid & Finishing: Madrid
Travel by private bus from Seville to Madrid (approximately 5hrs). Upon arrival in Madrid, settle into your hotel before heading out on a walk through the Old Quarter of Spain’s capital with your Tour Leader. The rest of the day is free. Perhaps while away the hours on the Art Walk, which offers an expansive history of Western art. Start with the Museo del Prado, home to one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th to the 19th century. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th-century collection. Finish at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays eight centuries of European painting. Take a break in the Real Jardin Botanico, a garden wonderland dating from the 18th century. Madrid is your base for the next three nights.
Day 11 - Starting: Avila – Segovia – Madrid & Finishing: Avila – Segovia – Madrid
On a full-day trip you will discover the UNESCO World Heritage-listed art cities of Ávila and Segovia. The ancient city of Ávila sits on a hilltop and is famous for its well-preserved city walls and 90 towers that date back to the 11th century. As part of your guided tour, you’ll learn about the striking medieval walls, towers and gates that dramatically surround Ávila, while in Segovia, you'll discover some of the country’s best Roman monuments. The impressive aqueduct originally spanned 16 kilometres and had 118 arches, and remnants are still visible today. Segovia’s ancient medieval fort is also striking. The Alcazar served as a royal palace for many years. After a full day of exploring some of Spain’s best historical sites, it's time to return to Madrid.
Day 12 - Starting: Toledo – Madrid & Finishing: Toledo – Madrid
Travel to the city of Toledo this morning. The unique old town of this city sits on a high craggy rock and is encircled by the Tagus River. As a former capital of Spain, Toledo has immense historic significance and holds many architectural treasures. Examples of buildings from most architectural periods in Spain’s history can be seen here, from the Gothic to the baroque. You'll explore the city with a local guide and pay particular attention to the Alcazar, an impressive stone fortification located in the highest part of the old town. After your visit to Toledo, drive back to Madrid and enjoy some free time there.
Day 13 - Starting: Madrid & Finishing: Madrid
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast in Madrid. If you'd like to stay and explore the city some more, you can enquire about additional nights' accommodation when you book this trip.View Dates