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Image by Tânia Mousinho

The Best of Spain

Duration: 11 Days /10 Nights

Destinations: Madrid - Cordoba - Seville - Ronda - Granada - Valencia - Barcelona

Spend 11 days /10 nights on an Escorted coach tour through the must see destinations of Spain. First you begin your trip with two nights in the capital city of Madrid. Then you will make your way to Seville, the capaital of southern Spain's Andalusia's region, for two more nights, where you also see famous for flamenco dancing. Continue onto the Moorish town of Granada for two nights - including a guided tour visit of La Alhambra. Travel to Cordoba, a city influenced by multiple religions in history before turning east to Valencia, third largest of Spain and a city, combining harmoniously the modern and the past. The last city on the trip is Barcelona on the East Coast and visit the must-see site of Sagrada Familia.

Alhambra de Granada, Granada Spain

Sample Itinerary

1st Day: Arrive Madrid

Arrive in Madrid, where you are transferred to your hotel. Remainder of the day on your own in one of Europe’s most dynamic capital cities. You might walk along the bustling streets of the old city, ending at the historic and impressive Plaza Mayor, followed by Madrid’s Town Hall in Plaza de la Villa and the old quarter and its cozy streets, which form the well-known area of “The Madrid of the Austrias & Borbones.” This area is home to some of the most typical restaurants and taverns, which serve the delicious tapas. Overnight at your hotel. (Hotel Claridge)

2nd Day: Madrid

Buffet breakfast at your hotel, followed by this morning’s guided city tour, which offers a glimpse of some of Madrid’s most outstanding attractions. The oldest quarter, with its densely built streets, constitutes the city’s 17th-century “Austrian” quarter, where the austere exteriors of its palaces contrast sharply with their luxurious interiors. The 18th-century neoclassical architecture is splendidly represented in the Royal Palace, the Sabatini Gardens and “Campo del Moro,” the Alcalá Gate, Paseo del Prado and the famous Cibeles and Neptuno fountains. Madrid’s most modern and avant-garde tendencies are to be found in its newer quarters, with orderly street layouts such as the “Gran Via” built early in the 20th century. The “Paseo de la Castellana,” which cuts across the city from north to south, is lined by boldly designed avant-garde buildings and crowned by twin towers known as the Gate to Europe.

Highly recommended for this afternoon is an OPTIONAL tour to Toledo, the former Imperial capital. Enter the region of “La Mancha,” land of hills dominated by vineyards and windmills, made famous by the legend of Don Quixote. Soon arrive at the city of Toledo and visit sights that include the Gothic Cathedral and St Tome Church, home to the El Greco’s masterwork “The Burial of Count Orgaz.” Travel to the narrow street of Samuel Levi to visit the Museum “Casa del Greco,” which occupies part of the old house of Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia, an important Jewish minister of Pedro the First. Continue to the Synagogue del Tránsito, now the Sephardic Museum, which preserves the rich legacy of Jewish and Sephardic cultures. The next synagogue, one of eleven that Toledo once had,  is called Santa Maria la Blanca, which has a beautiful interior nave with impressive horseshoe arches. Nearby, visit the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, around which the old Jewish market once existed. Return to Madrid. (B)

3rd Day: Madrid / Seville (335 miles)

After a buffet breakfast at your hotel, depart for Seville, capital of Andalucía. Arrive early afternoon and check in at your hotel. This afternoon, visit the Flamenco Museum and see an amazing Flamenco Show, The museum is perhaps one of the most technologically advanced museums in Spain. Interactive exhibits show the origins and evolution of flamenco, covering the various styles of music and dance. Music, video and costume displays are some of the best in any museum. The museum also offers a wide variety of exhibits and workshops that include flamenco-focused exhibits paintings, drawings and photography. Under the direction of Cristina Hoyos, the museum shows attract some of the best talent in Seville and all of Spain. The museum has become a place of reference for good flamenco in Seville. After a brief introduction, the one-hour show demonstrates the museum's dedication to bringing visitors an authentic and unique flamenco show. The performance is held in the patio of the historic building with a cast of artists that change daily. After this spectacular show move on to a typical restaurant/tavern in the old quarter and sample mouthwatering Andalusina tapas and drinks. Return to your hotel. (Hotel Hesperia Sevilla) (B/D)

4th Day: Seville

After breakfast, enjoy a panoramic tour of Seville to admire the beautiful Plaza de España & Plaza de América, with its buildings left from the 1929 Latin-American Expo, the María Luisa Park and Torre del Oro by the Guadalquivir. Visit the Cathedral, Spain’s largest place of worship, which was built on the site of the former great Mosque. The Cathedral incorporates the original minaret, La Giralda Tower, forming a perfect whole with the late Gothic architectural style. Afternoon free to discover other interesting highlights of the Andalusian capital, such as the Alcázar with its medieval entrance, The Puerta de Leon. The Alcázar is a magnificent Moorish construction to which Mudéjar additions were made in 1326. Perhaps take a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz, with its characteristic patios, artistically decorated with plants, flowers, tiles and wrought iron balconies. (B)

5th Day: Seville / Ronda / Granada (190 miles)

After breakfast, departure for Granada, via Ronda. Upon arrival at Ronda, start a walking through the old city to see many 15th-  and 16th-century palaces, such as Palacio de Mondragón, an old Arab palace formerly used by the Catholic Kings; La Casa del Rey Moro; and Arco del Príncipe Felipe II, the ruins of the Arab baths and the Old Bridge, which make a large arc with a horseshoe shape. Then proceed up to the Puente Nuevo (new bridge), from the  17th century, which crosses the sheer cliff calle Tajo, carved in the rock by the river Guadalevín and splitting the town into two parts, the Old and New. In the new part, visit the Bullring, a Barrocan style building and considered as the oldest bullring in Spain.

After free time for lunch, continue to Granada, the ancient capital of the Arab-Nazari Kingdom. Upon arrival, enjoy a panoramic city tour that includes a visit to the Albaycin, the most typical quarter of Granada and Human World Heritage. A bohemian and picturesque Moorish quarter built on a hill overlooking the Alhambra, the quarter is home to painters, artists and students. In its very narrow streets, one can easily become lost in the endless crisscrossing streets, cozy plazas, gardens and miradors. Also, visit the historical center with the magnificent Cathedral. Built in the 16th century and considered as Spain’s first Renaissance cathedral, it was attached to the Royal Chapel, burial place of Isabella and Ferdinand. Stroll through the Alcaiceria quarter, formerly the Moorish silk market. After a fire in 1843, it was rebuilt according to original architecture. Presently, it is a charming commercial area of narrow streets for Granada & Spanish handicraft. (Hotel Luna de Granada) (B)

6th Day: Granada

Buffet breakfast at the hotel. This morning enjoy a visit to Spain's foremost monument, La Alhambra, built on the assabic (red) hill on top of the old Roman and Visigothic ruins overlooking Granada. During the Muslim reign, this majestic fortress was the summer residence of Arab royalty. Continue to the Alcazaba, with its magnificent Torres de la Vela as its main fortress, and the Carlos V Palace, which houses fine arts and archaeological museums. (If tickets are available, visit the Nazari Palaces). Visit the summer residence of the Generalife Palace and experience the tranquility of the Generalife gardens as they once were, with charming ponds and water channels, all in the middle of a gorgeous and perfectly kept garden with a large and wide sort of plants, flowers, and  trees. Balance of the day at leisure. (B)

7th Day: Granada / Cordoba /

Valencia (435 miles)

Morning departure to Valencia. En route, stop for a visit in the monumental city of Córdoba, located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. After lunch on your own, visit the magnificent Mosque, typifying the strength and importance of the Muslim influence in its past. After the capture of Cordoba by the Catholics, the Mosque was converted into a cathedral. Later, extensive modifications were made, a carefully planned process that took almost two-and-a-half centuries. This resulted in an amazing blend of architectural styles and retained the majority of the original construction. In contrast, take in the charm of the Jewish Quarter, with its colorful patios tastefully decorated with plants, flower pots, bird cages and the inevitable whitewashed walls, fountains and wrought iron. Then visit the Synagogue, considered to be one of the most relevant in Spain, together with El Tránsito and Santa María la Blanca in Toledo. Afterward, continue the trip to Valencia. Arrive and check in at your hotel. (NH Valencia Las Artes) (B)

8th Day: Valencia

Morning visit of Valencia, considered to be Spain’s third most important city. There are few cities like Valencia, able to harmoniously combine the remnants of its past, dating to the year 138 BC, with the most innovative buildings from the new millennium. This panoramic tour of the city is an opportunity to admire the beautiful and amazing shapes of the buildings at the City of Arts & Sciences. Set along the dry riverbed, this cultural and scientific leisure complex is an impressive example of avant-garde architecture with designs by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Also, visit the historical center with its Gothic Carmen Quarter and important monuments. (B)

 * Occasionally, the itinerary might overnight 1 night in Córdoba and 1 night in Valencia, instead of 2 nights in Valencia.

9th Day: Valencia / Barcelona (220 miles)

After breakfast, depart for Barcelona. Arrive and check in at your hotel. Perhaps take a walk in the Gothic Quarter and visit the Montjuic, site of the 1929 International Exposition and 1992 Olympics. The site offers a superb panoramic view of Barcelona’s skyline and coastline. (HCC Regente) (B)

10th Day: Barcelona

After breakfast, spend a morning at leisure. This afternoon, a panoramic tour of Barcelona begins with a drive along Paseo de Gracia to see the Gaudí Houses: Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (entrance fees not included). This tour includes a visit to the Sagrada Familia, the unfinished temple of the architect Antoni Gaudi, and is the single most important site in Barcelona. (B)

11th Day: Barcelona

Buffet breakfast at your hotel. You are transferred to the airport for your departure flight. (B)

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