SPANISH FIESTA

(14 days from Madrid to Madrid)

This vacation is perfect for those who wish to experience all the excitement and energy of Spain. Start with a welcome dinner in Madrid, then guided sightseeing includes the famous Prado Museum. Travel north into beautiful Castile via Segovia and Burgos to Vitoria for your overnight stay. In Bilbao, Basque country, a visit is included to the famous Guggenheim Museum. Next, drive via San Sebastian to Pamplona, the “City of Bulls,” at the foot of the Pyranees. Enjoy a Rioja wine tasting followed by dinner with local specialties. Also stop in Saragossa and visit Plaza del Pilar, one of Spain’s grandest squares. Guided sightseeing is included in Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, the Rock of Gibraltar, Seville, and Toledo. In Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol, a special excursion to quaint Benalmadena awaits you, including a ride on the funicular and a falconry demonstration. In Seville, an exclusive visit to the Plaza de Toros with the Taurino Museum has been arranged. A farewell dinner in Madrid is the perfect finale to your journey.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Spain

Welcome to Madrid! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel. (D)

Day 2 Madrid

The capital since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, the Parliament, Cibeles Fountain, elegant Calle Alcala, and Paseo de Castellana. Then, the highlight: a visit to the palatial PRADO MUSEUM with its priceless art treasures. In the afternoon, an optional excursion to El Escorial can be arranged. (B)

Day 3 Madrid–Segovia–Burgos–Vitoria

Head into beautiful Castile, the “Province of the Castles.” Cross the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama on the way to Segovia, famous for the 2,000-year-old Roman Aqueduct. In Burgos, see the magnificent limestone Cathedral of Santa Maria, where the legendary El Cid is buried. Afternoon arrival in Vitoria with time for a stroll through this ancient Basque city’s delightful historic center. (B,D)

Day 4 Vitoria–Bilbao–San Sebastian–Pamplona

In Bilbao, the great port city of the Basque region, enjoy a special highlight: a guided visit to the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, an amazing feat of construction created by North American architect Frank O. Gehry. Next is lovely San Sebastian, the “Pearl of the Cantabrian Coast,” before arriving in Pamplona at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here, a special treat awaits you: [LF] enjoy a Rioja WINE TASTING, followed by a special dinner with local specialties at one of Pamplona’s lively restaurants. (B,D)

Day 5 Pamplona–Saragossa–Barcelona

In Saragossa, visit PLAZA DEL PILAR, one of Spain’s grandest squares. Free time to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, where, according to legends, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. James. Arrive in Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city and the host of the Olympic Games in 1992. (B,D)

Day 6 Barcelona

Sightseeing with a Local Guide features the Columbus Monument, elegant tree-lined Ramblas, Plaza de Cataluna, and Paseo de Gracia. Admire the spectacular Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece, and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and harbor from Montjuïc Hill. Also visit the GOTHIC QUARTER. To enhance your stay, choose from our optional excursions to Montserrat and to a Catalonian restaurant to try out local dishes. (B)

Day 7 Barcelona–Valencia

Along the coast to Valencia, once a royal capital. Valencia’s Roman, Moorish, and Spanish history comes alive during your guided orientation drive including the Town Hall, La Lonja, the bull ring, the massive gateway towers of Serranos and Quart, and the new Arts and Science Complex designed by famous Valencian architect Calatrava. End your tour in the center at La Seo Cathedral. (B,D)

Day 8 Valencia–Granada

A scenic drive towards the mountains past troglodyte cave dwellings, hollowed out of the soft tufa stone, near Guadix and Purullena. Cross Mora Pass and arrive in Granada, where a special dinner with wine awaits you at one of Granada’s fine restaurants, the perfect introduction to this magnificent city. (B,D)

Day 9 Granada–Costa del Sol

Sightseeing with a Local Guide features Granada’s main attraction, the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX, a fantasy of “lace in stone” surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains. Also amble through the exotic WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE. Then, a short drive down to your hotel at the Costa del Sol. Tonight, why not sample the seafood restaurants for which this resort is famous? (B)

Day 10 Costa del Sol. Excursion to Benalmadena

This morning, enjoy a special excursion to the quaint town of Benalmadena. [LF] Ride the CABLE CAR to the Calamorro mountain summit and enjoy a FALCONRY DEMONSTRATION. Later today, you may wish to join an optional excursion for dinner at a charming Pueblo Blanco overlooking the Mediterranean coast. (B)

Day 11 Costa del Sol–Gibraltar–Seville

Drive to the ROCK OF GIBRALTAR, in British hands since 1704. Hear about its turbulent history from your Local Guide, see the Moorish Castle, and visit ST. MICHAEL’S CAVES and the colony of Barbary apes. Then, on through the sunny sherry wine region on the Costa de la Luz to vibrant, festive Seville. (B,D)

Day 12 Seville

During your sightseeing tour with a Local Guide, hear about the city’s role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712 AD, and its contribution to the discovery of the New World. Admire Maria Luisa Park, the Golden Tower on the Guadalquivir River, and the university that used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Then, stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming SANTA CRUZ QUARTER. Also visit the ALCAZAR, founded in the 11th century as a Moorish fortress, with its Palacio de Don Pedro. An [LF] exclusive visit to the PLAZA DE TOROS with the TAURINO MUSEUM has been arranged for you. For those interested, an optional extended guided visit to the cathedral is available. Tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show. (B)

Day 13 Seville–Toledo–Madrid

Through the arid landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha to Toledo, spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River. A Local Guide takes you to the Moorish bridge, an early SYNAGOGUE, the 13th-century gothic CATHEDRAL, and the CHURCH OF SANTO TOMÉ with one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Time to visit a DAMASCENE STEEL WORKSHOP before returning to Madrid. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel. (B,D)

Day 14 Madrid

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)