1 Welcome To Barcelona.
Airport transfers depart from Barcelona airport for your hotel at 09:30, 12:30 and 15:00. Join your Travel Director and fellow travellers at 18:00 for your Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant. (DW) Stay Two Nights: Barceló Sants, Barcelona
2 Barcelona, The City Of Gaudí.
With your Local Expert, explore the narrow lanes and old squares behind the cathedral in the Barri Gòtic, Gothic Quarter. See the lively Las Ramblas as you head along the Passeig de Gràcia, adorned with elegant wrought-iron street lamps and some of the most flamboyant Modernist buildings. Continue through the Eixample district for a visit inside Gaudí's extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, to see the central nave with its giant, tree-like pillars, spectacular vaulting and the beautiful rainbows flooding in through the intricate stained-glass windows. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore. (B)
3 Along The Orange Blossom Coast To Valencia.
Follow the sunny Costa Dorada, past the rice fields of the Ebro Delta to stop by Peñíscola and see the sea-lapped castle, used in the film 'El Cid'. Pass through the famous orange groves to Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences. Pass the Old City and see the city's ancient gates, to reach your hotel. Valencia is home to one of the world's greatest dishes, paella. Meet the chef of a local family-run restaurant in the heart of the Old City and learn the traditional recipe during a Cooking Demonstration, before savouring the delicious flavours of this classic dish, washed down with a glass of sangria, during your Highlight Dinner. (B/DW) Stay: Barceló Valencia
4 Sierra Nevada, Alhambra And On To Granada.
Travel south toward Andalucía, passing the the castle at Lorca and troglodyte dwellings hollowed out of the soft rock near Guadix. Enjoy views of the Sierra Nevada from the distance as you reach glorious Granada. This historical city was a Moorish Kingdom for almost 781 years and was the last stronghold to fall to the Catholic Monarchs of Spain in 1492. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore as you wish. Perhaps join an Optional Experience to the Albaicín Quarter with a Local Expert and fall in love with Granada as you learn about its pivotal role in European history. Overlooking Granada stands one of the most remarkable fortresses ever built, the Alhambra. Led by your Local Expert, explore this exquisite palace built as a citadel by the Moors in the 13th century - a fantasy of arabesque gardens, fountains and stone cut like lace. Stroll through the elegant exotic gardens of the Generalife, the Royal summer residence. (B/DW) Stay: Meliá Granada
5 A Scenic Drive To Seville.
Continue your travels to Seville past gleaming white villages and olive groves that stretch as far as the eye can see. This stunning capital of Andalucía is one of Spain's most charming highlights and with the afternoon at your leisure, you are free to explore this delightful city as you wish. (B) Stay Two Nights: Meliá Sevilla, Seville
6 Seville, The City Of Carmen.
Seville has a distinctive character and presence that is best revealed by a Local Expert. During your stay, visit the Plaza de España in Maria Luisa Park. Then stroll through the fashionable Santa Cruz Quarter with its attractive wrought-iron balconies laden with flowers. Emerge by the well-preserved Alcazar, a Moorish fantasy in stone, set in richly scented gardens. Visit the massive Seville Cathedral, burial place of Christopher Columbus and enriched with the spoils of the New World. The energetic may wish to walk the ramps of the Giralda Tower, the former minaret of the Great Mosque, to enjoy panoramic views over the city. In the evening, enjoy dinner with wine and be entertained as you share the passion of Spain's most fiery region during a flamenco show. (B/DW)
7 Moorish Cordoba And On To Madrid.
Set off early along the Guadalquivir Valley, passing villages and towns studded with Moorish towers and fortresses. Stop in the perfectly preserved Moorish city of Cordoba and see the famous 2,000-year-old Roman Bridge. Meet a local historian and visit to the magnificent Mezquita, a beautiful 8th century mosque with a Christian cathedral built inside it. Make the most of your time at leisure and stroll the narrow streets of the Old Jewish Quarter. Follow in the footsteps of Don Quixote as you travel through the Mancha and on to the capital - Madrid. (B) Stay Three Nights: Barceló Torre de Madrid / Hotel Hesperia Madrid
8 Madrid Of The Bourbons.
Join your Local Expert for sightseeing along the noble avenues. See the monument to Cervantes in the Plaza de España. Continue past the Cibeles Fountain and the Parliament to cross the Puerta del Sol. Visit the Prado Museum with an art historian, a magnificent palace housing works by Velázquez, Goya, Titian, Rubens and others. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax at a cafe, shop in the trendy boutiques or perhaps enjoy an Optional Experience to beautiful Toledo? In the evening, join your Travel Director and newfound friends at a local restaurant in the heart of the city. Toast to your adventures as you enjoy a delicious Highlight Dinner of regional favourites, served with wine. (B/DW)
9 Free Time In Madrid.
Your last day in Madrid is completely at your leisure for shopping or exploring at your own pace. (B)
10 Through The Guadarrama Mountains To Santiago.
Journey through the Guadarrama Mountains to the infinite horizons of Old Castile and continues past the impressive Castillo de la Mota, conquered by Queen Isabella. Some of Spain's most fashionable white wines are produced in Rueda and this morning we have the opportunity to learn how they are made and sample the delights of the Verdejo grape. Travel on to Santiago de Compostela, where the tomb of the Apostle St. James was miraculously discovered in the Middle Ages. (B/DW) Stay Two Nights: NH Collection Santiago de Compostela
11 Saintly Santiago De Compostela.
Become acquainted with some of Europe's finest historical buildings during an orientation with your Local Expert. The monumental square, Praza do Obradoiro, is pure grandeur in granite. Look up from the steady trickle of present-day pilgrims to the cathedral facade to see an ensemble of soaring towers, arches and windows, festooned with architectural frills. Venture inside and once through the Gateway of Glory, you're privy to the same vision that has greeted pilgrims since the Middle Ages. The faithful may choose to pass behind the ornate high altar to touch the giant 13th century gilded effigy of St. James and follow in the steps of the pilgrims along The Way of St. James. Relax during your free time or explore the narrow streets and old squares of this city. (B)
12 The Costa Verde To Oviedo.
Pass through the ancient forests of Galicia and cross to the Green Coast of Asturias - one of Spain's most beautiful, named after the colour of the sea and the pine and eucalyptus trees that line the shore. Your route reveals glorious coastal vistas before turning inland to travel through old villages and deep valleys en route to Oviedo. Meet a true local, Flor, who will invite you to join her for lunch. Hear about daily life in this up-and-coming seaside city as you enjoy a delicious meal, typical of the region, that Flor has freshly prepared from locally sourced ingredients, accompanied by delicious local cider. A Local Expert will show you the 9th century churches built when the city was the capital of Christian Spain. Visit the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour in the stately square of Plaza Alfonso II. Admire the incredible altarpiece, one of the finest in Europe. A short drive brings you to the Asturian coast and the Bay of Biscay. Stop at the delightful city of Gijón that has a history dating back 5,000 years. (B/LW) Stay: Barceló Oviedo Cervantes
13 Picturesque Santillana Del Mar And On To Santander.
See the unique Roman bridge in Cangas de Onís as you head into the foothills of the Picos de Europa, a national park encompassing spectacular mountain and gorge scenery. Visit the holy cave of Covadonga, a shrine to Pelayo, who achieved the first Christian victory over the Moors in 722. Enjoy views of the Costa de Cantabria while travelling to Santillana del Mar, arguably the most beautiful village in Spain. Stroll through the rustic cobblestone streets, admiring stone houses decorated with carved, heraldic symbols and reach the delightful church square. Continue on to the sophisticated beach resort of Santander. (B) Stay: Eurostars Hotel Real, Santander
14 Bilbao, Costa Vasca And San Sebastián.
In nearby Bilbao, admire the striking modern architecture of the Guggenheim Museum, one of the world's most spectacular buildings. Enjoy the views as you are driven along part of the Costa Vasca, dotted with small coastal fishing villages. Pause in Getaria, at the mouth of the Urola, to see El Ratón, the mouse-shaped rock. Continue to San Sebastián, pearl of the Cantabrian coast, set on its shell-shaped bay. Admire its beauty as you walk with your Local Expert through the Old Quarter. See the numbered balconies of the Plaza de la Constitución, a reminder of the days when bullfights were held in the square. Atop Monte Igueldo there are breathtaking views of the town and La Concha Bay. (B) Stay Two Nights: Barceló Costa Vasca, San Sebastián
15 San Sebastián, Pearl Of The Cantabrian Coast.
Enjoy a day at leisure to stroll along San Sebastián's boardwalk and with the city harbour filled with fishing boats and pleasure crafts, you can enjoy a number of sporting activities on its large sandy beach. Perhaps you'll want to explore the nearby French village of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, also known as Little Paris? Maybe stroll the promenade of the famous La Concha bay or enjoy the boutiques of the Old Town? (B)
16 Pamplona And On To Barcelona.
Journey to the famed town of Pamplona, known for its Running of the Bulls festival. With time free for you to explore, perhaps take a stroll to the famous Estafeta Street or visit Café Iruña, immortalised by Ernest Hemingway in the 'The Sun Also Rises.' Your travels continue to Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Catalonia, a land that retains its own distinctive language, culture and traditions. (B) Stay Two Nights: Hotel NH Hesperia Barcelona Presidente
17 Barcelona At Leisure.
Enjoy a relaxed start and a day completely at leisure for last minute shopping or to perhaps revisit some of Gaudí's unusual creations? Walk along the leafy Las Ramblas or why not take an Optional Experience to the ancient Monastery of Montserrat, dedicated to the Black Madonna? In the evening, join your Travel Director and newfound friends at a local restaurant. Raise your glass and toast your travels during your delightful Celebration Dinner. (B/DW)
18 Depart Barcelona.
After breakfast departure transfers arrive at Barcelona airport at 07:00, 09:00 or 11:00. (B)