A feast of Spanish cultural delights awaits your discovery on this 11-day voyage from Madrid to Barcelona.
About the Tour
From dancing horses to delicious food and wine, Spain has a rich culture that is presented in many art forms. This is a country of gorgeous architecture and even more beautiful surroundings, and lucky for you, you get to experience it all over the course of 11 days. This rail vacation begins in the heart of the country, Madrid, where you have time to acquaint yourself with the country through guided touring and free exploration time. By high-speed train, we continue to Seville, a riverside city that is the home of dancing horses and the birthplace of Tapas. Moving on, other destinations to look forward to include Granada, with its medieval streets and unique buildings in the Albayzin; the Alhambra palace, a 9th-century kingdom; UNESCO World Heritage Site Cordoba; and Barcelona on the sparkling Balearic Sea. Guided tours in nearly every destination are complemented by free time to experience Spain with all your senses - through the delicious cuisine, the festive music, the local customs and the intense history. Complete with first-class travel aboard Spain’s rail lines and luxurious hotel offerings, this vacation puts all the best of this sunny destination on display.
- First class travel (unless otherwise described) on Altaria and AVE rail networks
- Hotel accommodations for 10 nights
- 16 meals including a dinner at a traditional Andalucían restaurant overlooking the Alhambra
- Guided tours of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Granada
- The Alhambra
- An Andalucían Horse Show
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- The services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Madrid
Arrive in Madrid, and meet your group and Tour Manager at your hotel, the NH Principe Vergara. The evening is yours to get acquainted with the lively Spanish capital. Overnight Madrid.
Day 2 - Sightseeing in Madrid
The many architectural styles and attractive green spaces of the city are on display as we embark on a sightseeing tour in Madrid. Admire the sights by both foot and coach, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the city. Following the tour, we have lunch at a restaurant on Madrid's Plaza Mayor. The rest of your day is at leisure to revisit favorite sites from the tour or to continue your explorations. Overnight Madrid. (B, L)
Days 3 - To Seville
This morning, we depart Madrid by high-speed AVE train for a journey south into Andalucía, to the fascinating city of Seville. This old port city is set on the Guadalquivir River and played a key role in establishing and continuing trade with South America. Today, it remains one of Spain's most active river ports. Seville is also credited with inventing tapas and hosts as many as 1,000 tapas bars throughout the city. On arrival, we transfer to the Hotel Becquer, which has a prime located in the heart of the city. A guided tour through Seville this afternoon introduces us to the city and presents the beautiful and historic Santa Cruz area, the Gothic Seville Cathedral and the Giralda Tower. Overnight Seville. (B, D)
Day 4 - Seville at Leisure
Todayis spent at leisure discovering this quintessentially Spanish city. Perhaps visit Alcázar, a UNESCO World Heritage palace that is still in use by the Spanish royal family, or walk around the Plaza de España. There are beautiful parks throughout the city, including Maria Luisa Park, and numerous museums to explore. For a true taste of Seville, catch a flamenco show and eat your way through the city’s tapas bars. Overnight Seville. (B)
Day 5 - Granada and the Albayzin
Today we travel by rail to Granada (Standard Class), an enchanting city scattered over seven small hills at the confluence of 2 rivers. Charming and romantic, Granada is dominated by the exquisite Alhambra, one of the most recognizable palaces in the world. After checking in at our hotel, the 4-Star Melia Granada Hotel, we begin our explorations with a sightseeing tour. The excursion highlights the unique beauty of the city, including the Albayzin area, which offers fantastic views of the Alhambra; the oldest street in Granada, Carrera Del Darro; the Church of San Salvador; Arab baths and Plaza Larga. Our evening concludes with dinner at a restaurant in the Albayzin Quarter. In addition to the delicious local fare, we also enjoy views of the beautifully illuminated Alhambra as we dine. Overnight Granada. (B, D)
Day 6 - The Alhambra
We continue our sightseeing today with a visit to the Alhambra, which was once the residence of the Muslim Kings of Granada. The Alhambra sits proudly on a plateau overlooking Granada, with the imposing Sierra Nevada mountains as its backdrop. Dating back to the 9th century, the palace complex boasts UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of Spain's most iconic monuments. During our guided tour, enjoy glimpses at the intricate art and carvings throughout the palace, and admire the luxurious furnishings that adorn each room. From the Alhambra’s towers and great halls to the original fortress, the site is truly spectacular. Outside the palace, the gorgeous gardens are lush with Meditteranean flora. Following our tour, we visit a traditional restaurant for dinner. Overnight Granada. (B, D)
Day 7 - To Cordoba
After breakfast, we board a motorcoach bound for Cordoba, a beautiful city in southern Spain that is known for its relaxed atmosphere and vast history. Cordoba has ties in both Roman and Muslim history and has been a haven for its residents since nearly the dawn of modern history. As we travel toward the city, we pay a visit to an olive oil mill in Montilla, where we learn how this traditional liquid is harvested and processed by impressively engineered machinery. Continuing, you are free to explore at leisure in Cordoba upon arrival this afternoon. We dine together at a local Taberna this evening. Overnight Cordoba. (B, D)
Day 8 - Guided sightseeing tour of Cordoba
This morning we embark on a sightseeing tour of Cordoba, which in the 10th century was the largest city in Western Europe and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The labyrinth of narrow, winding alleys and pretty squares make Cordoba a delightful city to explore on foot. After crossing the Roman Bridge and passing the 14th-century Calahorra Tower, we continue to the famous Mezquita (mosque). We then tour the Jewish Quarter, with its narrow, whitewashed streets and memorable Flower Alley. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure to continue your discoveries in this fascinating destination. Overnight Cordoba. (B)
Day 9 - Barcelona
We make our way to the train station this morning to board our high-speed AVE train to Barcelona. We travel in Standard Plus class for this journey. Upon arrival, check-in at the 4-Star Hotel Catalonia La Pedrera, and then begin your explorations in this exciting city at your own pace. Barcelona has long been Spain's economic heart, and this wealth is reflected in the opulent buildings that encircle the various public squares throughout the city. You may wish to sample the food unique to Catalonia and this part of Spain in a local restaurant or café or to take a stroll along the beach to savor the sight of the blue waters of the Balearic Sea as the sun melts into the waves. Overnight Barcelona. (B)
Day 10 - A sightseeing tour of Barcelona
Delight in the historic sites and beautiful views of Barcelona today, as we take a guided sightseeing tour through the city. Our excursion includes a visit to the beautiful Old Town, the Barri Gotic and the tree-lined boulevard of Las Ramblas. The rest of your day is free to enjoy the city. From the Gaudí architecture and the medieval churches to the boutiques, markets, art galleries and countless street performers, the lively atmosphere in Barcelona is all-encompassing. Join the group at a local restaurant this evening for a farewell dinner. Overnight Barcelona. (B, D)
Day 11 - Return Home
After breakfast this morning, depart at leisure for your return flight home. (B)
NH Principe Vergara, Madrid
Set within the Lista area of the city, this 4-star hotel offers the ideal location for exploring Madrid’s most impressive shopping district. Additionally, the hotel is located within walking distance of numerous public transportation options that travel into the heart of the historic city center. The hotel underwent a complete remodel in 2010 and offers modern decor and conveniences in its spacious rooms. Guests enjoy amenities such as air conditioning, in-room televisions, minibars and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel itself features a gym, a bar and an authentic Mediterranean restaurant.
Hotel Becquer, Seville
Located just minutes from Seville’s main attractions in the historical city center is the upscale Hotel Becquer. This 4-star hotel is situated near the Canal de Alfonso XIII and is within walking distance the Cathedral, the Giralda and the Santa Cruz district. The hotel has two restaurants, including El Pabellon offering traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Guests also enjoy a café, two bars, a lounge, a spa, a Turkish bath, a steam bath, a swimming pool and a rooftop terrace. Each room includes air conditioning, a minibar, a television, a hairdryer and a safe.
Melia Granada Hotel, Granada
The 4-Star Melia Granada Hotel is located in the heart of Old Town Granada, within close proximity to the city's old Medina, the world-famous Alhambra and a wide array of excellent restaurants and shops. The hotel has a restaurant, bar and breakfast buffet. Room facilities include air conditioning, a telephone, television, minibar, safe and a hairdryer. In 2012, the hotel won a Bronze Award for overall quality in the Spain and Southern Europe regional category.
Hotel Hesperia Cordoba, Cordoba
A modern hotel offering views across the Guadalquivir Rivers to the city's famous Mesquita and Old Town, Hotel Hesperia Cordoba is an upscale establishment with a 4-star rating. Guests enjoy access to a pool, which is sheltered by a modern Andalusian courtyard, as well as a restaurant and bar with panoramic views. Each room is equipped with television, air conditioning, a minibar and a safe.
Hotel Catalonia La Pedrera, Barcelona
The heartbeat of Barcelona is palpable from the 4-Star Hotel Catalonia La Pedrera. This establishment is located in the very heart of Barcelona, just a few minutes from La Sagrada Familia and the trendy shopping district on Paseo de Gracia. A rooftop pool offers gorgeous views of the city, and the onsite restaurant offers authentic Mediterranean fare. In the rooms, guests enjoy air conditioning, television, telephone, free wireless Internet, a safe, a minibar and a hairdryer in the en suite bathroom.
AVE is Spain's flagship high-speed service, connecting Madrid, Cordoba and Seville across dedicated high-speed tracks. AVE trains are based on the French TGV and Thalys, and the speed and comfort are similar. This being said, the level of service for passengers in First Class ("Preferente") is much higher, with a complimentary drink and light snack included. A café-bar serving drinks and snacks is also available onboard. AVE is so reliable that the Spanish railroad company, RENFE, promises a full refund if the train is more than 5 minutes late - a promise they have only had to honor in 0.16 percent of cases!
The high-speed Altaria service in Spain provides connections between Madrid and several other major Spanish cities. The trains reach speeds of up to 124 mph (200 km/h) during travels and offer beautiful views while passing through Spanish cities and countryside. First Class tickets usually include a complimentary meal and drinks, and there is an on-board café where passengers may purchase snacks, light meals and drinks. Passengers are comfortable during their travels in sliding seats that come with a table, audio and video outlets, a bin, individual armrests, a footrest and a reclining back.