A jam-packed tour capturing some the Spain's true highlights

Kick off this colourful Best of Spain tour in Madrid and let your imagination unfold on a journey through the beautiful Andalucian region. Visit the cities that reflect Spain's diverse history and culture. Experience a fiery flamenco performance in Seville and explore the mysterious maze of alleyways of the old Arab quarter in Albayzin. Follow your tastebuds to a tapas bar and wander among Gaudi's handiwork in Barcelona - this Spanish adventure is as colourful and diverse as the land itself.

Start
Madrid, Spain
Finish
Barcelona, Spain
Countries
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSG
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
214kg 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

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 7 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask 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.

As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. With great restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a world-class city exuding confidence and style through every pore. If you're an art buff, don't miss the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk. Start with 12th-19th century European art at the Museo del Prado, discover modern Spanish masters including Picasso and Dali in the Museo Reina Sofia and finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Today take a four-and-a-half hour bus to Granada. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is packed with Moorish architecture, great tapas bars and natural beauty.

Take a walk around the old Arab quarter of the Albaicin, a labyrinth of crooked alleys, fountains, plazas and whitewashed houses. If you're feeling energetic, climb the steep streets up to the Mirador de San Nicolas for sunset views over the famous Alhambra. If you have time, perhaps check out the historic Renaissance Catedral and Capilla Real, or get geeky at the city's extensive Science Park.

As many suggests, Granada is a city where you should leave your guidebook behind and trust your intuition. Discovering the narrow streets if Albaicin and the white-walled house garden of Realejo quarter may lead your adventurous spirit to find something that you have long been looking for.
Today make a visit to Granada's impressive Alhambra Palace. An entrance ticket is included in the trip and grants you the visit of Nasrid Palace and 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 night time, 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. Included ticket is usually booked for the morning but that depends on availability. Entrance to Nasrid Palace is booked for particular time (please enquire 3 weeks before your departure if you would like to know the time). Apart from that you are free to spend as much time within the whole complex including gardens as you wish.
Travel two-and-a-half hour by bus and train to the vibrant city of Seville.

If we would believe the legends, Seville was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. By the Romans, it was called Hispalis, Moors named it Isbiliya. Now, the capital of Andalucia, was one of the first conquests of the Moors. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World'. Known for all its important monuments and fascinating history, Sevilla is universally famous for being a joyous town. Sevillians are well known for their wit and sparkle and the city itself is striking for its vitality. Seville is the largest city in Southern Spain, the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro.

Seville is famous for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. As the balance of the day is free for you to explore, why not go and experience it all in person?
Today is a free day to discover Seville. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also 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. In the afternoon visit the magnificent Real Alcazar, a complex of palaces used by Moorish and Christian rulers through the ages. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the 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 (it is included; your tour leader will pass all details on the day). Charged with emotion and drama, this powerful, fiery show is a real highlight.
Today travel south by three-hour bus to the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light). On the western side of Andalusia, the coast faces the Mediterranean and North Africa. Your base for the next two nights is Tarifa, a laid-back beach town endowed with spectacular rocky scenery, a sea fortress, a lighthouse and plenty of character.

The afternoon is free to relax. Perhaps catch a bus to the 10 kilometre-long Playa de Los Lances or hole up at a beach bar on Playa de Valdevaqueros. In the evening, why not grab some dinner in town and join in Tarifa's vibrant nightlife?
Today there are plenty of optional activities to choose from. Perhaps head out on a whale and dolphin watching expedition on the Iberian Peninsula. At this unique place, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean and where Europe meets Africa, you will get the chance to see 7 different species of whales and dolphins. 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. Other intresting option is 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 town of Ronda in the Andalucian hills (approximately four hours altogether).

Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting in Spain. The highlight of the town is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), one of the most photographed structures the country. Built in 1751, it bridges the 100-metre deep gorge that splits the town in two. Check out the old Moorish town on one side, home to many historic buildings including the House of the Moorish King, and the newer El Mercadillo on the other side. East of the town are well-preserved Arab Baths and of course, the famous Plaza de Toros.

In the evening find a spot form which you could enjoy a scenic sunset; this won’t be a problem in Ronda.
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.
Today our new destination is Cordoba. We will reach it by train.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences are present in Cordoba's architecture, culture and cuisine. The group will 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. Time permitting, you might also like to visit the castle, gardens and 10th-century Moorish bathhouse of the city's Alcazar.

The evening is free to sample more delicious Spanish cuisine. Salmorejo (a cold soup made of tomatoes, bread and olive oil served with chopped up boiled egg and cured ham) is a specialty of Cordoba, as is rabo de toro (oxtail soup). There are also plenty of good-value eateries in the Juderia (Jewish Quarter).
Today take a five-hour train to Valencia. Long the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, Valencia has the special charm of a sea port city. Busy markets, clean beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old town and new town makes up the best of Valencia. Perhaps rent a bike from one of the many bike stations that are dotted around the city. Cycle through the park that runs through the centre of the city and to the impressively designed Museu de les Ciencies Príncipe Felipe (Arts and Science Museum).

Over the next couple of days, you have a lot of free time to wander around the city and see the sights. Valencia is also built with separate cycle paths, so it's really easy to get around the city.
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.
Board a five-hour train to your final destination of Barcelona. Spain's cosmopolitan second city, Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife. There are plenty of things to keep you busy while you're here. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard. Grab a fresh juice at the colourful La Boqueria market while you're there. Perhaps pay a visit to the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia or the Museum of City History to brush up on your local knowledge. In the evening, feast on delicious tapas in the funky neighbourhood of El Born.
We strongly recommend that you book the entrance tickets to all main attractions in Barcelona beforehand to secure availability.
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.
Today your Spanish adventure comes to an end. As there are no activities planned, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
6 breakfasts
Transport
Bus, Metro, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (12 nights)
Included activities
  • Alhambra entrance
  • Flamenco performance
  • Gorge Walk
  • Mezquita
  • Picnic
  • Bike rental - Valencia
  • La Sagrada Familia - Barcelona

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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Best of Spain trips score an average of 4.81 out of 5 based on 83 reviews in the last year.

Best of Spain , October 2015

Best of Spain , October 2015

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