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Cuisine & Culture: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville

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4.6 stars(5 reviews)
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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.

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
9 days From $1,848 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2022 Tour code: CI-BMSA-22

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. En route to your conveniently located hotel, get acquainted with the city on a 2-hour driving tour. Look upon Barcelona's gorgeous Spanish architecture, intricate neighborhoods and well-known sites as your driver meanders through the centuries-old streets. Overnight Barcelona.

Day 2 - Paella Lunch Experience/La Sagrada Familia

The morning begins with time for you to explore Barcelona independently. Enjoy a morning coffee in one of the cafés throughout the city or visit important landmarks to learn the region's history. You are in for a delicious treat this afternoon. From atop a terrace overlooking the sea, savor authentic Spanish paella accompanied by breathtaking panoramic views. 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 enjoys the arts at one of the local museums or listen to live music in one of the many wine bars. Overnight Barcelona. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
  • Excursions
Day 3 - Barcelona & Montserrat

There is so much to uncover during your time in Barcelona, and today, you may opt to experience it on your own or to join one of these guided adventures for an authentic Catalan excursion:

Embark on a half-day expedition to Montserrat, where the beauty of the Catalonian countryside is on display on this visit to Monsterrat's mountain and famous monastery. Begin with a visit to Santa Maria de Monsterrat 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 in the altar of the church. Your excursion continues through the countryside, surrounded by the most incredible views, to Monsterrat 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.

Live like a Catalonian this evening on an optional tour through Barcelona's beloved bars and taverns. A local guide escorts you between tapas joints, including one of the oldest taverns in the city. Taste tapas of all varieties while sipping local wines and soaking in the ambiance of this lively destination. Overnight Barcelona. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Free Day
  • Excursions
Day 4 - Madrid

Today, transfer to the rail station for the journey to Madrid. An English-speaking driver awaits your arrival, and upon joining him, you are treated to a 2-hour driving tour of the city en route to your hotel. Your drive illustrates Madrid's rich architecture and stunning boulevards. Famed sites come into view at times, adding further intrigue to this private introduction. On arrival at your hotel, you are free to continue your sightseeing independently. Overnight Madrid. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Royal Palace & Prado Museum

Through art, history, and local cuisine, enjoy some of the best of Madrid on your choice of guided tours. 

You may opt to take an excursion to the largest palace in Western Europe - and one of the largest in the world - Madrid's Royal Palace. Dating back to the 1700s, this massive establishment features over 3,000 rooms spread throughout the sprawling estate, each of which has been impeccably maintained to paint the story of years long past. This is the official residence for Spain's royal family and overlooks a broad courtyard. 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. 

Alternatively, you may wish to visit the Prado Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Spanish art as well as countless other masterpieces from across Europe and beyond. Home to over 8,500 paintings, as well as various sculptures, drawings, prints and artefactual pieces, there is no shortage of art to discover. 

If you want to see both the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum, consider a private guided tour that combines both renowned attractions that includes a personal driver. 

Your day concludes with a culinary experience that highlights Madrid's unique fare. Led by a local guide, venture between resident taverns to sample three different types of wine and several varieties of ham and cheese. Overnight Madrid. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
  • Guided City Tour
Day 6 - Madrid & Toledo

The day is yours to experience Madrid independently. You may wish to wander through the gorgeous urban sanctuary that is El Retiro Park or to sample the many offerings of the Market of San Miguel. If you wish to explore further afield, you may elect to join one of these optional tours to the ancient city of Toledo:

Spend half the day delving into the arts, history and cuisine of Toledo. Set along the Tagus River, this locale is known as the "city of three cultures," thanks to the vast influences of the Christian, Hebrew, and Islamic cultures. You may visit its UNESCO World Heritage historic quarter, with its medieval buildings and narrow, winding streets, or sightsee amongst the popular sites during your time here.

Or, experience all of the activities in the half-day tour and more with a full-day adventure to Toledo. This excursion includes a walking tour of Old Town, where medieval history abounds; a visit to Toledo's magnificent centerpiece, the Primatial Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo; and, time to admire El Greco's famous painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, at the church of Santo Tomé. The day is capped off with a tapas-tasting introducing the flavors of the region one small plate at a time.

This evening is at leisure to enjoy Madrid as you wish. Overnight Madrid. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Free Day
  • Excursions
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. Your explorations begin on the water as you join a river cruiser on the Guadalquivir to see the sites from a unique perspective. Slow and steady, the vessel navigates along the shoreline, presenting a plethora of beautiful buildings and bridges constructed in styles spanning the centuries. Following your cruise, the tour proceeds to the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza to visit the famous bullring and learn more about the sport at the onsite museum. A minibus then takes you across the lovely Isabell II Bridge to the Triana District. Once home to potters and sailors, this thriving neighborhood is now one of the most interesting places to visit in the city. Colorful old buildings collide with ancient chapels, lively markets and ceramic studios that utilize techniques that date to the Romans. The tour wraps up at the Basilica Macarena, built in 1949 to honor the Virgin Mary and home to one of the most impressive Madonna statues in the city. The remainder of the day is yours to explore Seville's hotspots and attractions as you please. Overnight Seville. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Guided City Tour
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
  • Free Day
  • Excursions
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.

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Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 5 reviews

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

TIFFANY LEIGH RETZLAFF

5 stars

Submitted 23/Oct

This was my first trip to Europe so I didn't really have a frame of reference for what to expect, but everything with Vacations By Rail was great and a very smooth experience! The hotels booked for us were lovely and in excellent parts of town, the trains between cities were easy to navigate, clean, and comfortable, and we loved the optional add-on experiences! We particularly enjoyed the sightseeing tours we took on the first day that we traveled to each city - these helped us to get a feel for the area and plan for the thing we wanted to see and the places we wanted to eat! We had a lovely trip overall and would happily recommend Vacations By Rail to others who like a little bit of structure on trips but a good amount of free time to do as you please!

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Sharen Schwartz

4 stars

Submitted 14/Oct

Excellent trip except final evening.

Collected by Trustpilot

Bill --

5 stars

Submitted 20/Sep

We really enjoyed this tour. We took the self-directed option, which gave us plenty of time to explore on our own. We took a few group tours, which were OK, but enjoyed the private tours much more. We upgraded hotels and were very pleased with every place we stayed. We arrived in Barcelona a day early, giving us an extra free day there, and extended our tour to include Granada - both were great additions to our tour. The food was superb everywhere we went!

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Steve Travis

5 stars

Submitted 16/Sep

Well organized diverse venues. Could have added a few more cities.

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ANH TRAN

4 stars

Submitted 20/Aug

Everything is great except for the city tours that we received with the drivers picking us up from the airport or train stations once we arrive at a city were average at best. The drivers drove us around the city but they were not able to verbally communicate everything very well because of the constraints associated with their English vocabularies.

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