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Cuisine & Culture: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville

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You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
20242025
9 days From $2,598 per person
4.6 stars(13 reviews)
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Cuisine & Culture

Whet your taste for adventure on this 9-day Spanish expedition that immerses travelers in the vibrant local culture through food, wine, and authentic local experiences.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary
Up to $300 Off

In celebration of our 20th anniversary in 2024, you can save up to $300 per person on independent vacations priced $2,000 or more. Book by February 29th to lock in savings.

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2024 Tour code: CI-BMSA-24

About the tour

Sunny Spain, where a colorful atmosphere is cultivated through flavorful cuisine and centuries of tradition. Your fascinating rail vacation take you to Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, and Seville, where independent sightseeing and optional excursions pair with guided touring to enrich each day and make it one to remember. Enjoy a paella cooking demonstration overlooking the city and a visit to the famous La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Tour the Royal Palace and Prado Museum in Madrid. Take a deep dive into the art and culture of Seville with a guided tour by boat and a traditional flamenco performance. Each new city becomes a platform for adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the unique Mediterranean essence of the country.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Barcelona

Arrive in Barcelona and meet your English-speaking driver at the airport for your private transfer into the city. After taking some time to settle in, get acquainted with the city on a private 2-hour walking tour. Look upon Barcelona's gorgeous Spanish architecture, intricate neighborhoods and well-known sites as your guide leads you through the centuries-old streets. Overnight Barcelona.

Day 2 - La Sagrada Familia

The morning is at leisure for you to explore Barcelona independently. Enjoy a morning coffee in one of the cafés throughout the city or head to a landmark site presented on yesterday's walking tour for an up-close view. Later, visit two of Barcelona's famous landmarks: La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Learn about the symbolism in Gaudi's works as you skip the line and discover the incredible detail within the basilica, presented through artwork and the structure itself.

End your day as you please - perhaps by joining an optional tour through Barcelona's beloved bars and taverns. Live like a Catalonian, tasting tapas of all varieties, sipping local wine, and soaking in the city's undeniable ambiance as a guide escorts you between tapas joints. Overnight Barcelona. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Barcelona Your Way

Today brings a choice of excursions that allow you to experience the Barcelona region in new and exciting ways. You can join a half-day expedition to Montserrat. Begin with a visit to Santa Maria de Montserrat to follow in the footsteps of monks from hundreds of years ago. Surrounded by the soft curves of rock formations and lush greenery, this Gothic Basilica is a true sight to behold. The main attraction here is the Black Madonna statue, located on the church's altar. Your excursion continues through the countryside, surrounded by the most incredible views, to Montserrat Mountain for a ride aboard its cogwheel railway. Picturesque views over the scenic region abound during the 15-minute ascent into the heart of the mountains.

Alternatively, explore the city through its flavors. Venture to a picturesque terrace overlooking the sea and savor authentic Spanish paella and breathtaking panoramic views. Overnight Barcelona.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Madrid

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Barcelona's train station to board a train bound for Madrid. The journey inland takes under three hours to complete, and on arrival, a driver awaits to transfer you to your conveniently located hotel. This city is all stunning architecture, charming boulevards, and vibrant culture, all of which are yours to explore at leisure. You may wish to relax in one of the parks, such as El Retiro, or savor the sights and smells of the famous San Miguel Market. Overnight Madrid.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Madrid Sightseeing

Through art and history, immerse yourself in Madrid's rich heritage today as you experience the highlights of Madrid, ranging from its most notable landmarks to its pretty plazas, on a guided tour. Each area of the city has a distinct feel which, together, illustrate Madrid's vast offerings. The tour also includes skip-the-line access to the largest palace in Western Europe - and one of the largest in the world - Madrid's Royal Palace. During your visit, look upon exquisite furnishings and magnificent works of art as you venture between the palace's most famous rooms, including the royal armory, the throne room, the Gasparini Room, the chapel, and the beautifully preserved royal kitchen. The grand staircase steals the show during any visit with its unmatched opulence.

For a more intimate touring experience, upgrade to a private city tour. Your driver escorts you through the city's winding boulevards, lined with history, and to the beloved Prado Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Spanish artwork and countless other masterpieces from across Europe. Home to over 8,500 paintings, as well as various sculptures, drawings, prints, and artifacts, there is no shortage of things to discover.

After your chosen adventure, continue your day with a culinary experience highlighting Madrid's unique fare. A local guide leads you between resident taverns to sample three different types of wine and several varieties of ham and cheese. Overnight Madrid. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Madrid Your Way

The day is yours to continue experiencing Madrid independently, or you may elect to join an optional excursion. The first takes you to the ancient city of Toledo. Spend half the day delving into this riverside destination's arts, history, and cuisine. Known as the "city of three cultures," you will see influences of the Christian, Hebrew, and Islamic cultures as you visit popular places throughout the city, including its UNESCO World Heritage historic quarter, complete with medieval buildings. Entrance to its intricate Roman Catholic cathedral is also included.

Alternatively, a guided tour of the Prado Museum, with skip-the-line access, allows you to experience Spain through its art. Overnight Madrid.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Seville Sightseeing

Transfer to the Madrid rail station this morning and board your train to Seville. Set alongside the River Guadalquivir, Seville is an artist's dream. From its architecture to its dancing and music, the city is a joy to discover. Once you are settled into your hotel, begin your exploration of this incredible city with your local guide as you discover the crowning jewels of the city's landscape, including the Real Alcazar of Seville, which is the oldest royal plaza in Europe, and the Cathedral of Seville, the world's largest Christian Gothic cathedral. From here you make your way to Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter, as you look for traces of ancient Synagogues in the labryinth formed by narrow cobbled streets and charming courtyards. The remainder of the day is yours to explore Seville's hotspots and attractions as you please. Overnight Seville.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Seville

Spend your day in Seville marveling at Mudéjar architecture and visiting sites that speak to history buffs, artists, and globetrotters alike. Seville is brimming with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the grandiose Seville Cathedral, the remarkable Royal Alcazar and the General Archive of the Indies, home to more the 43,000 documents. The city has stunning plazas, including the Plaza de España, beloved for its beauty and cultural significance. In fact, it was even featured in "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and "Game of Thrones." Taste tapas in a bar that dates to 1670, El Rinconcillo, or meander through the museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts. Alternatively, you may choose to join an optional wine tasting tour that presents Seville's fine wines. An expert leads the way, pouring delicious varietals that speak to the nuances of the region.

However you choose to spend your day, the evening concludes with a showcase of color, movement, and excitement with a traditional Flamenco performance. On a private patio, watch the graceful movements of dancers while listening to rhythmic music and dining on a delicious meal of tapas. The combination of elements makes for a memorable conclusion to this wonderful journey. Overnight Seville. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Tour Conclusion

After eight days of beauty and culture, your Spanish expedition concludes this morning. A driver meets you at your hotel for a private transfer to the airport for your return flight home. 

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Train

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Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 13 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (9)
  2. 4 stars
    (3)
  3. 3 stars
    (1)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

JOHN ALEXANDER WILSON

5 stars

Submitted 16 Nov 2023

Wonderful trip. The hotels were all interesting, clean, well located. The culture was well represented and we both learned much about Spain’s history. The highlight was the guided tour of the Prado.

Collected by Trustpilot

LISA P

5 stars

Submitted 17 Oct 2023

The tour was great, the hotels we were booked in were very Spanish, very personalized and the staff were all fabulous! My only issue is that the tours that we went on were not very close to the hotels we stayed in, nor was there any mention of the options to get to the tour operators locations. I think it would be good for Vacations by Rail would add that kind of information. Madrid had a wonderful Metro system and it was only a block from our hotel but we had no idea it was there until after we had found our way to the venue for our tour, they told us the Metro was around the corner and would take us very close to our hotel. We also thought that it was wonderful that Vacations by Rail went out of their way when we missed one of our Wine tour in Seville due to an unfortunate event with the vendor. Vacations by Rail worked with the tour operator to reschedule the wine tasting for a time that worked with our schedule. They did a great job!

Collected by Trustpilot

Brandi

4 stars

Submitted 12 Oct 2023

Amazing and speedy trip! Enjoyed all the rail travel, hotels and tours. The staff and agency were always helpful if we missed a scheduled tour. We were able to have a wine tasting tour rescheduled as there was some confusion with the meeting place. Would definitely recommend this tour to anyone interested in seeing a lot of Spain in 10 or so days!

Collected by Trustpilot

Diane

5 stars

Submitted 05 Aug 2023

Overall an amazing tour! Enjoyed every moment!

Collected by Trustpilot

LILLIAN SANTOS SANCHEZ

5 stars

Submitted 06 Jun 2023

Booking with VBR was easy. The only challenge was waiting for the confirmation of the services so we can book our flights and take advantage of deals. The hotel upgrade took a while to be confirmed. But overall, the VBR agents I dealt with were very helpful. We just came back from our Barcelona/Madrid/Seville trip and I have to say, everything went very well. The experience was fantastic and we had a wonderful time. The tour itinerary which included sightseeing, guided tours, river cruise, walking tours, cuisine tours (tapas tour and paella lunch) were so organized, timely and done by professional tour guides. I would like to make a special mention to the following tour guides who made our travel experience so much more enjoyable and meaningful: Juan Martin: Juan was our sightseeing tour guide in Madrid. He was very welcoming, friendly, thoughtful and respectful. We felt very comfortable and we trusted him right away. We learned a lot from him. He shared with us background and history of the historical sites in Madrid. He gave us excellent tips as to where to go, what to do and where to eat outside of our scheduled events. He even called the restaurant for us to make a reservation. He is such a gentleman. Top 3 things we really enjoyed: Royal Palace/Cathedral of Madrid, The Prado Museum and Puerta del Sol. We are grateful for Juan's insight and kindness. He sets the standard very highly. Great job Juan! Fernando Alonso Lopez: Fernando was our Tapas Tour Guide in Madrid. He was so much fun! Fernando was very happy to meet us and was friendly and welcoming. Before the tapas dinner, he took us on a walking tour to a few of the historical spots which we appreciated very much. Then he surprised us with a reserved table at San Miguel for our first tapas experience. That was such a treat! We felt very special. Our 2nd tapas restaurant was exceptional. There was a gentleman playing the piano and singing nostalgic songs. That made me very emotional inside and made the experience unforgettable. We had a great time. After dinner, Fernando showed us how to navigate back to our hotel. He took the time to walk us to the closest cross street to make sure we find our way back to the hotel and make it there safely. Well done Fernando! VBR - we would appreciate it if you convey these comments to the tour company Juan Martin and Fernando Lopez are affiliated with in Madrid. Thank you!

Collected by Trustpilot

MARTHA MARY GELHAUS

5 stars

Submitted 04 Jun 2023

We had an incredible trip. We loved all the sights and experiences. Great itinerary with plenty of time to do our own exploring. Everything ran on time - transports, tours, trains. The hotels were good, in interesting locations, and convenient for the metros. Comfortable trains. The food was fantastic!!! Loved the tapas and wine tour. Flamenco show and dinner was outstanding. The Vacations by Rail staff was so helpful in setting up the trip. Thank you for a memorable adventure.

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