Visit Classic Spain on a tour via Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian

Visit Spain's star attractions on a classic tour through the country. Starting in Madrid, let your imagination unfold on a journey through this beautiful country oozing with charm, and visit the people and cities that reflect Spain's fascinating history and culture. Tour through Cordoba, Valencia, Barcelona and San Sebastian as you experience a fiery flamenco performance, follow your tastebuds to a tapas bar, admire unique architectural triumphs, worship the sun at the beach and sip some of the best red wine in the world - this adventure through Classic Spain is as colourful and diverse as the land itself.

Start
Madrid, Spain
Finish
Madrid, Spain
Countries
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSBC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
313kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • - Experience the fiery passion and rhythm of a traditional flamenco dance performance in Seville
  • - It's a pretty special thing to chill out on a beach in Andalusian Spain, knowing North Africa is just across the water. Explore the scenic Costa de la Luz, and kick back with some tapas and sangria in Tarifa
  • - The town of Ronda is split in two by a deep rocky chasm. Follow in the path of the Romans, as you cross from one side to the other along an ancient bridge
  • - Discover Cordoba's great mosque - the Mezquita, one of the most accomplished examples of Moorish architecture in the world. The lavish gardens and opulent rooms of Granada's spectacular Alhambra Palace aren't bad either
  • - Witness a spectacular Spanish sunset on a beach in Valencia, while feasting on a bowl of the world's best paella.
  • - The cosmopolitan city of Barcelona pulses with culture, art and an outstanding drinking and dining scene. Discover the eccentric modernist architecture of Antonio Gaudi, who made Barcelona his artistic playground. The unfinished masterpiece of La Sagrada Familia is particularly mind-blowing
  • - The fortified medieval city of Pamplona is a great place to discover on foot. Weave through the city's winding alleyways to the immense Gothic Cathedral and walk down the street of the famous bull run.
  • - Logrono is bursting with delicious local produce and wine, just waiting to be enjoyed on an included tapas crawl. Delicioso!
  • - Take a long siesta on the golden beaches of San Sebastian, one of Spain's most scenic coastal destinations. As the sun goes down, join the crowds as they come out to play among the city's exciting nightlife
  • - The Art Walk in Madrid is every art lover's dream. In one small stretch you can browse the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, one of the world's most celebrated galleries

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to Spain.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
With incredible restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a truly world-class city that exudes confidence and style through every pore.
While away hours on the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for a panoramic perspective of Western art history. Start with the Museo del Prado, one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th-19th centuries and an unmissable stop on any art tour. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th century collection. Finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which spans eight centuries of European painting.
As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid we recommend you make arrangements to arrive a few days early to see the highlights of the city and surrounds.
Travel by bus or train to Granada (approximately 4.5hrs)
The Andaluz city of Granada is home to the magnificent Alhambra.
Take a walk around the Albaicin, the old Arab quarter, a labyrinth of crooked streets with alleyways, fountains, plazas, whitewashed houses and villas. If you are feeling energetic continue on and watch the spectacular sunset from the most famous viewpoint in Granada - the Mirador de San Nicolas, located at the top of Albaicin's steep streets.
Visit the Renaissance cathedral with its ornate facade and gold-and-white interior, dating from the 16th century.
Explore the Alhambra Palace, which was first built by the Moors as a fortress. Its instantly recognisable exterior hides richly decorated rooms and luxurious gardens with bubbling fountains, and a walk through the compound gives us an idea of the decadent lifestyle the Moorish kings used to enjoyed.

Granada was one of the region's most important cities during the Muslim rule of Spain and the Alhambra is a very good example of this period. The Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing where you can get spectacular aerial views from the tops of its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans.
Today make a visit to Granada's impressive Alhambra Palace. An entrance ticket is included in the trip, though you will need to pay a little extra to visit the gardens. Audio guides in multiple languages are available on the day for EUR 4. The Alhambra was first built by the Moors as a fortress during the Muslim rule of Spain. A walk through the compound's luxurious rooms and gardens gives you an idea of the decadent lifestyle of the Moorish kings. The Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing which features spectacular views from its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans.

Note: If you would like to take an in-depth guided tour of the Alhambra or enter the gardens and palace at nighttime, we strongly recommend you book tickets in advance. You can reserve these online at alhambra-tickets.es. To collect your tickets you will need to present the credit card that was used to make the booking. A maximum of 10 tickets may be bought for the same day on the same card. Please book any tickets for your second day in Granada only.
Travel by train to Seville, one of the most vibrant cities in Spain (approx 2.5 hrs).
Now the capital of Andalucia, Seville was one of the first conquests of the Moors. After the fall of the Cordoba Caliphate in the 11th century, under whose direction it previously lay, it became the most powerful city in 'Al Andalus'. Near the centre of the city is the evocative 'Giralda', an architectural masterpiece dating from the 12th century. Originally built as a minaret for the central Mosque in Seville, this Mosque was later destroyed, and it is now the bell-tower for the enormous cathedral. Close by is the magnificent 'Alcazar', a complex of palaces dating back from Roman times and later used by both Moorish and Christian rulers. It has fine examples of Moorish and 'Mudejar' architecture, rivalling Granada's 'Alhambra', and some lovely gardens. After the Christian re-conquest Seville became famed as the gateway to the 'New World'. Christopher Columbus negotiated here with Queen Isabella to fund his epic voyage to the Americas, bringing her back untold riches and making Seville one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.
Seville is renowned for its oranges, tapas and flamenco - all three are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people.
Explore the world's largest Gothic cathedral. You can also the climb the cathedral's adjoining 76-metre Moorish tower, known as La Giralda, well worth it for the excellent views of the city and surrounding area (be prepared for a line-up).
Visit the Alcazar - a magnificent palace dating from Moorish times.
Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, so jump in and try some of the many tasty treats on offer in the evenings.
Catch a glimpse of true, local flamenco - filled with emotion and drama, it's a real highlight.
Today is a free day to discover Seville. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also the climb the cathedral's adjoining Moorish tower, known as La Giralda. While you might have to line up, it's well worth it for the views over the city. Visit the magnificent Alcazaar, a complex of palaces used by Moorish and Christian rulers through the ages. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the Moorish and Mudejar architecture. As Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, be sure to sample some of the tasty treats on offer in one of the city's many tapas bars. In the evening, catch a local flamenco performance with the group (included). Charged with emotion and drama, this is a real highlight.
Travel south by bus to the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) on the western side of the Andalucian coastline, which faces the Mediterranean and North Africa (approx 3 hrs).
Our base is Tarifa, a laid-back and highly photogenic beach town endowed with spectacular rocky scenery, a sea fortress, a lighthouse and plenty of character.
You have a free day to explore the beautiful coastline and beaches. There are plenty of options:
Go whale and dolphin watching.
Take a day trip to Northern Africa and the cosmopolitan town of Tangier in Morocco, just 45 minutes away by ferry.
Enjoy a day tour across the border to the British territory of Gibraltar, home to the famous Rock of Gibraltar.
Today there are plenty of optional activities to choose from. Perhaps head out on a whale and dolphin watching expedition. Alternatively, take a day trip to Northern Africa and the town of Tangier in Morocco, just 45 minutes away by ferry. Once a hotspot for artists, secret agents and millionaires, Tangier has been going through something of a renaissance of late. The city's medina and kasbah are well worth exploring, as are the cafes and patisseries around the Place de la France in the Ville Nouvelle. You might prefer to go on day tour across the border to the British territory of Gibraltar, home to the famous Rock of Gibraltar.
Leave the coast and head inland by bus and train to the Andalucian hills and the charming town of Ronda (approx 4 hrs).
Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting in Spain. The highlight here is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), one of the most photographed structures in all of Spain. Built in 1751, it bridges the 100-metre deep gorge that splits the town in two. On one side of the bridge is the old Moorish town with many historic buildings including the House of the Moorish King, on the other side is the much newer El Mercadillo, and to the east of the town are well-preserved Arab Baths and of course the famous Plaza de Toros.
The Plaza de Toros is one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the country. Adjoining the bullring is the Bullfighting Museum, which displays relics of Ronda's bullfighting history. The gardens behind the bullring offer the best panoramic views over the mountains.
Please note that while bullfighting is significant in Spanish culture and history, its practice is contrary to our Responsible Travel philosophy. Intrepid does not support or attend bullfights, as the bulls are subject to torment and fear and are often killed inhumanely. Long a controversial issue in Spain, a landmark decision in July 2010 has banned bullfighting in the state of Catalonia from January 1, 2012.
The surrounding mountains once proved a perfect hideout for bandits and smugglers and a visit to the Museum of Bandits gives an entertaining insight into their history.
The Plaza de Toros is one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the country. Adjoining the bullring is the Bullfighting Museum, which displays relics of Ronda's bullfighting history. The gardens behind offer panoramic views over the surrounding mountains, which once proved a perfect hideout for bandits and smugglers. A visit to the Museum of Bandits gives an entertaining insight into their history.

Note: While bullfighting is a significant part of Spanish culture and history, its practice is contrary to our Responsible Travel philosophy. Intrepid does not support or attend bullfights, as the bulls are subject to torment and fear and are often killed inhumanely. Long a controversial issue in Spain, a landmark decision in July 2010 banned bullfighting in the state of Catalonia from January 2012.
Travel by train to Cordoba
Cordoba has a mix of influences with Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths combining in architecture, cuisine and culture.
Visit the famous Mezquita - once the third largest mosque in the world and one of the most beautiful. It was consecrated into a Roman Catholic cathedral in the 13th century when the Christians reconquered Cordoba.
The evening is free to sample more delicious Spanish cuisine. Gazpacho with boiled eggs on top is a speciality of Cordoba, as is rabo de toro (oxtail soup). There are also plenty of good-value eateries in the Juderia (Jewish Quarter).
Travel by train to Valencia, a journey which will take approximately 5 hours.
Long the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, Valencia has the special charm of a sea port city. Busy markets, beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old and new await us.
Visit the Cathedral, which houses what is claimed to be the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.
For something a little more quirky, visit the Museum of the Fallas, which contains a history of the Valencia fire festival in the form of giant papier mache figures that over the years have been spared from the burning.
There are many fine parks and gardens, or you may want to head to the beach of Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. To try the paella that Valencia is famous for, do as the locals do and head to the restaurant area of Las Arenas for a hearty and reasonably priced lunch.
Spend the day discovering Valencia. Visit the Cathedral, housing what is claimed to be the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. For something a little more quirky, head to the Museum of the Fallas, which contains a history of the Valencia fire festival and giant papier mache figures that have been spared from the burning. Perhaps visit the gothic Miguelete Bell Tower or the Valencian Institute of Modern Art. There are many fine parks and gardens to explore in the city, or you might prefer to head to Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. For lunch, do as the locals do and head to Las Arenas for a delicious and affordable paella.
Travel by train to Barcelona (approx 5 hrs).
Spain's cosmopolitan second city, Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife.
Join your leader on a orientation walk past some of the main sights including a visit to Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
There may be some free time to spend visiting the city's museums and cathedrals, or shopping. Visit the old Gothic Quarter with its labyrinth of streets, the Picasso Museum, wander the Rambla, the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard, or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Join your leader on an orientation walk around Barcelona today. See some of the city's main sights, including a visit to Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The architect worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Gaudi was the master of the unique Catalan Modernista architecture for which Barcelona is famous, and his work is dotted all over the city. Perhaps check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Batlo. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell, which is home to more colourful sculptures including a long mosaic-covered bench overlooking the city. For something a little different, perhaps have a poke around the Old Santa Creu Hospital (entry is free).
Hola. Welcome to Barcelona, Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

If you arrive early, use free time to get your bearings of Barcelona. There are plenty of galleries, cafes and historic corners to keep you busy. If you have time, Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Cathedral is possibly the most iconic landmark in this city and well worth a visit. In the evening, perhaps go for dinner with your fellow travellers so you can get to know them.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Travel by train to Pamplona in the heartland of Basque country.
Named after its founder, Pompey the Great, Pamplona has served for centuries as both a military stronghold and an important point on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail.
Following an orientation walk, set out to explore this well preserved fortified medieval town and its impressive 16th century walls and citadel.
Travel to Logrono by public bus.
A small, friendly town known for its red wine, Logrono has plenty of tapas bars to explore.
Visit the wine museum (July to September) to learn more about this region's famous tipple. When the museum is closed, our group leader will take us to visit a local winery.
Head out on an included tapas crawl around Logrono today, and enjoy a day of grazing on delicious local produce, sampling wine and basking in the sunshine. Visit the wine museum (July to September) to learn more about this region's famous tipple. When the museum is closed, your group leader will take you on a visit to a local winery. Your evening is free to do as you wish.
Take a bus from Logrono to San Sebastian (approx. 2 hours).
With its great beaches and vibrant old city, San Sebastian is a fantastic place to stroll along the promenade, shop and consume pintos (Basque-style tapas) to your heart's content, or just soak up the sun.
Take a walk up Mount Urgull for stunning views of both the town's beaches.
For a different perspective of the most central beach, La Concha, why not climb or catch a cable car to Monte Igueldo.
If you crave more culture, there's plenty of time to catch a local bus (approx 1 hr) down the road to Bilbao to visit the world-famous and architecturally awesome Guggenheim Museum.
You have a full day to explore San Sebastian today, which also gives you plenty of time to catch the one-hour local bus to Bilbao. If you do decide to venture to Bilbao, the world-famous and architecturally sublime Guggenheim Museum is a must visit. If you have enough time in the afternoon, the San Telmo Museum displays history, art and photography of the Basque country. In the evening, it might be a good idea to enjoy one more night of tapas in San Sebastian before heading to Madrid tomorrow.
Journey by train or bus to Madrid.
With incredible restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a truly world-class city that exudes confidence and style through every pore.
While away hours on the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for a panoramic perspective of Western art history. Start with the Museo del Prado, one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th-19th centuries and an unmissable stop on any art tour. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th century collection. Finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which spans eight centuries of European painting.
Take a break in the oasis of Real Jardin Botanico, a botanical wonderland dating from the 18th century.
Enjoy a coffee in one of the atmospheric streets and squares around the famous Plaza Mayor. At night, head out to Chueca, Plaza Dos de Mayo or Plaza Santa Ana, where the pulse of the city will lead you from bar to bar on a night out you are sure to remember.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Your 'North Spain Discovery' adventure ends this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
5 breakfasts
Transport
Bus, Metro, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (19 nights)
Included activities
  • Alhambra entrance
  • Flamenco performance
  • Gorge Walk
  • Mezquita
  • Picnic
  • Bike rental - Valencia
  • La Sagrada Familia - Barcelona
  • Pamplona Orientation Walk
  • Tapas Crawl - Logrono
  • Ontañon winery visit - Logrono
  • Monte Igueldo Cable Car - San Sebastian

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Classic Spain trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Classic Spain , October 2015

Classic Spain , August 2015

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