The Passion, the Fire, and the Colors of España
DAY 1: Arrival day in Madrid
DAY 2: Cordoba and its Mezquita
DAY 3: Granada & exclusive olive oil experience
DAY 4: The Moorish palace, Alhambra
DAY 5: White villages of Andalucia, Ronda
DAY 6: Enjoy the beauty of Ronda
DAY 7: Sherry experience in Jerez de la Frontera
DAY 8: Sevilla with its amazing sites
DAY 9: Cooking class, Flamenco
DAY 10: High speed train to Madrid
DAY 11: Departure Day. You may choose to extend your time with me in Spain by adding a few days in Madrid, with day trips to Avila, Segovia, or extend your trip to include 3 or 4 days in Barcelona.
- Discover slow travel: a perfect balance of sightseeing and time at leisure
- Enjoy Spain with a small group of like-minded travelers of 6 to 12
- Relax in the care of your dedicated local tour leader
- Be immersed in Moorish-style opulence at the UNESCO world heritage site, the Alhambra
- Explore the heart of Andalusia, where palaces, cathedrals and quaint villages all have a story to tell
- Savor tasty regional cuisine & wine in authentic local restaurants
- Taste the olive oil pressed at a traditional mill
- Experience the Triana food market tour & paella cooking class in Seville
- Enjoy an intimate Flamenco Show in Granada
- See the charming "pueblos blancos" (white villages) of Andalucia
- Explore the Jewish Quarter and incredible Mezquita in Cordoba
NEXT CHANCE TO GO: Sept. 27 to Oct. 08, 2022
PRICING: From $5,590 pp (double occupancy)
Madrid, Granada, Ronda, Cordoba, Sevilla
Arrival & Departure Airport: Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD)
(Best times April/May and Sept/Oct)
A unique escorted small group tour of 12 days/11 nights, limited to only 6 to 12 guests. Don’t delay and reserve your spots!
12 Days/11 Nights (2 nights in Cordoba, 2 nights in Granada, 2 nights in Ronda, 3 nights in Sevilla, 2 nights in Madrid)
Spain provides some of the richest cultural heritage to be found anywhere in Europe. It is an exotic and diverse country with an ancient history and heritage. Spain will dazzle you with architectural feats and artistic treats, enrich you with historic treasures and nourish you with sherry and tapas! From charismatic cities to sleepy villages dotted with white washed houses and olive groves, Spain never fails to open up travelers’ eyes, minds and hearts.
Andalusia is the land of olive groves and rolling hills of almond blossoms, flamenco dancers and gypsy songs, bullfighting and fiestas. This fascinating region offers the visitor an incredible medley of sights, sounds, tastes and scents. The enduring influence of the Islamic culture (which ruled much of the Iberian Peninsula until the 12th century) lends an eastern feel to the region’s architecture and gastronomy, while the Romani and north-African population add a distinctive quality to the people of Andalusia.
As your local host for the duration of your trip, I would like to take you straight to the soul of Spain by guiding you, not only to famous sites, but also to my favorite places off the beaten path where you can enjoy the rhythm of daily life. Whether you love culture, cuisine, family fun or a bit of everything, private tours are hand-crafted to your unique style for an unforgettable taste of Spain.
Day by Day Itinerary
DAY 1: Tuesday - Arrival day into Madrid & high speed train to Cordoba
Madrid - Cordoba (by High Speed Train), Spain (approx. 1.45 hrs)
I will be waiting for you with our driver at baggage claim for our transfer to the Madrid train station for our high speed train ride to Cordoba.
After checking-into your boutique hotel in the historical center of the city, you'll join your fellow travelers for an orientation walk of Cordoba to get acquainted with the city and the major sites.
The orientation tour will finish at a very traditional restaurant for your included welcome dinner, specializing in Jewish cuisine, located right in the heart of the Juderia (the Jewish quarter), which continues to bring the Sephardic tradition to the table.
Cordoba (population 300,000), one of Andalusia's eight provincial capitals, stands on the banks of the River Guadalquivir northeast of Seville. Cordoba is an unhurried city, known for its abundant courtyards (or patios as they are called locally), flowers dangling from balconies and narrow winding streets. The city was founded around 169 B.C. by the Roman praetor Claudius Marcelus and was the birthplace of Seneca. The city boomed under the Arabs and, on the arrival of the Caliphate, became the most civilized and sophisticated city in 10th-century Europe. During this century, Cordoba had nearly 1,000 mosques, 600 public baths and street lighting (700 years before either London or Paris). Cordoba´s sophistication attracted numerous intellectuals, scholars, poets, doctors and philosophers. Later, the city was conquered by the Christians and this equally important legacy can still be seen today.
DAY 2: Wednesday - Cordoba
Following breakfast, meet your expert local Cordoba guide at your hotel and spend the morning exploring the city that was the great Moorish capital of Al Andalus. A walk around the old Jewish quarter gives the sensation that little has changed since the 10th century. You have pre-booked tickets to visit the Mosque-Cathedral or Mezquita which is without doubt one of the most famous constructions in all of Andalusia and is one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world. The original Mosque was built between 786 and 788 by Abd ar-Rahman, but over the centuries, many additions and extensions have been made. Following the Christian conquest, it was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1236.
Visit the Synagogue built in 1314, a beautiful Mudejar building nearly perfectly preserved and the only synagogue in Spain from that time not to have been turned into a Christian building. See Almodovar gate or ‘Gate of the Jews’ as it is known locally and the monument to the great Jewish doctor and philosopher, Maimonides. Also see beautiful courtyard patios for which Cordoba is so famous.
Enjoy lunch and free time at your leisure. I recommend a walk to the Roman bridge across the Guadalquivir river. You may wish to visit the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs) a Mudejar palace from 14th century with a beautiful Moorish garden complex and the Viana Palace. Tonight dinner is at your leisure.
DAY 3: Granada & exclusive olive oil experience
Enjoy a leisurely morning before we continue East today to the unforgettable city of Granada, which was the last strong hold of the Moorish empire in southern Spain until it finally fell to the Catholic kings in 1492. Granada (Gáranata) was once the grandest city in Spain! Set at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it is the most visited of all Andalusian cities.
On the way, we will stop in the small market town of Baena, for an exclusive experience. Baena produces olive oil of such high quality it has gained its own Denominacion de Origen (DO) a designation that indicates the product’s unique geographic origins, production process and quality.
Spain is the largest producer of Olive Oil in the world and 80% of Spanish total production is in Andalusia. The production of olive oil in Spain dates back almost 6,000 years ago with the settlement of Phoenician and Greeks. Ever since then, olive oil has continued to be an integral base of most Spanish cuisine. Similarly, Spanish wine has been elevated to the status of one of the best wines in the world for its wide variety of grapes and exquisite taste.
In the evening, after you checked in to your boutique hotel located in the heart of the city, join your local host, for a short orientation walk around the ancient Albaicin neighborhood, the old Moorish quarter that has hardly changed since the 15th century, to end up at the famous viewpoints overlooking the incredible Alhambra, Plaza San Nicolas. Relax during dinner at a "Carmen" (a traditional Granada house with a large garden of vines and fruit trees) with stunning views of the Alhambra in the Albaicin.
DAY 4: Friday - Granada & the Alhambra
Today, following breakfast, meet your expert guide for a private guided visit of the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, with pre-booked tickets included.
This complex of palaces built around courtyards of flowering trees, pools and fountains is often hailed as the most exciting, sensual and romantic of all European monuments. It’s beauty shows the brilliance and spirit of the Moorish culture in Andalusia at a time when the rest of Europe was only just beginning to emerge from the Dark Ages. You will also tour the Generalife - the summer palace and gardens of the Sultans. It is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. It is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. Prepare to be wowed by the water features and courtyards. You’ll also visit the cathedral and the Royal Chapel where your guide will give you an overview of the history of the cathedral and point out the lead coffins of the Catholic Monarchs, Fernando and Isabella, who re-conquered and unified Spain in 1492.
Flamenco Show with Dinner Included: Tonight you are in for a special treat as we'll take in a traditional Flamenco Show. Flamenco is an art form that was born, and thrives, here in Spain. Spanish flamenco is the best because Spaniards start dancing when they can barely walk, and they dance everyday. The stomping of the feet, the twirling of the body, and the drama of the music are simply part of their culture.
DAY 5: Saturday - Ronda
Your private driver and guide will meet you at your hotel after breakfast and transfer you safely, in a little over 2 hours, to your centrally located hotel in Ronda.
Ronda is one of the most spectacularly located towns in Andalusia, and sits on a massive rocky outcropping. It is also one of the gateways to the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages). The Puente Nuevo or New Bridge, an impressive 18th century construction over the steep El Tajo Gorge (nearly 100 m deep) joins old Ronda with new Ronda.
This fairytale setting dating back to Roman times, has attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, who based “For Whom the Bell Tolls” on this city, as well as Orson Wells, whose ashes are buried on a bull farm just outside of town. The interior of Andalucía is responsible for many of the memorable images we have of Spain.
Ronda is considered the spiritual home of bullfighting, having one of the country’s oldest bullrings. Other highlights include the old town with its lovely old palaces, of which the Mondragon Palace (now a museum) stands out.
Before arriving in the town, enjoy a lunch and wine tasting.
After you have checked in to your hotel, your host will take you on a relaxing orientation walk, exploring the old town which Hemingway called the most romantic in Spain. Tonight dinner is at your leisure.
DAY 6: Sunday - Ronda
Today, after breakfast, you'll meet your expert local Ronda guide. Discover firsthand the beauty of Ronda on this private walking tour. Explore the city's most iconic monuments and sights like the Arab baths, Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, Casa Don Bosco, Old Town Hall, and one of Spain's oldest bullfighting rings.
This afternoon is at your leisure to relax and enjoy Ronda. Dinner is also at your leisure.
DAY 7: Monday - White Villages, Jerez de la Frontera, Seville
Today, we’ll take the road less traveled as your private driver and guide meet you at the hotel after breakfast and transfer you safely to Seville and your centrally located boutique hotel, with a few wonderful stops along the way.
“Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos”: the beauty of the Sierra de Grazalema region is unmatched in Spain. Its combination of dramatic mountain scenery and splendid whitewashed villages makes you half expect to see medieval Berber farmers and Christian knights. Andalucía contains scores more white towns, all similar in their outward appearance, but each, on closer inspection, hiding distinctly different cultures and personalities.
Discover, on our first stop, Setenil de las Bodegas, one of Andalucia’s most charming and unique white towns. It’s an extraordinary sight where many of the town’s homes are built underneath huge rock overhangs. About 3,000 people live here, some in the ancient caves where it’s believed the first residents arrived 12,000 years ago during the Stone Age, then through to Roman times. However, when the Islamic Moors arrived 1,300 years ago, they built a modern fortified town with a castle and also took advantage of the cool caves and areas under the rock to store goods.
In Jerez de la Frontera, the hub of sherry wine production, we undertake a guided tour of the oldest family wineries in town. A tasting is followed by exclusive access to the bodega’s private art collection. Made from the Palomino grape, sherish, the Arabic term for sherry, follows just behind Flamenco and bullfighting in popularity for southern Spaniards.
Then we make our way to the city of Seville, the capital of Andalusia situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. Seville is the most cosmopolitan of its neighbors, and a storied city that has been Andalusia's seat of power and glory for nearly 1000 years.
Known as Hispalis in Roman times, Seville was taken by the Moors in 712 and remained a Muslim capital until the 13thcentury. Between 1503 and 1718 Seville had a monopoly as the only trading port between Spain and the Americas, becoming extravagantly wealthy and spawning a Golden Age of arts and literature. Seville is one of Europe’s sunniest cities – hence the orange trees growing everywhere. The combination of Moorish, Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque architecture through the city center’s compact maze of narrow streets really is a sensory overload by day or by night. The entire city comes to a standstill for the Feria and Easter week as the city celebrates tradition and community. For the rest of the year, it’s a perfect place to unwind, explore and of course, eat! You’ll find the same influences you see in the architecture has also trickled through to the food. Don’t be surprised to see film crews around. The Games of Thrones series has been filmed here recently and the city is attracting a lot of attention from a new fan base.
Enjoy dinner at your leisure.
DAY 8: Tuesday - Seville
After breakfast, your expert local Seville guide will meet you at your hotel to show you Seville’s Barrio Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter). You’ll see the cathedral that houses the remains of Christopher Columbus. Standing on the site of a great mosque, the structure features mudejar, gothic, renaissance, baroque and neo-classical styles, as well as the old minaret of the Arab mosque. Make sure to climb the ramps to the Giralda Tower that offers outstanding views over the city. Take a moment to enjoy the sublime Patio de Los Naranjos (Courtyard of the Orange Trees) beside the cathedral.
You'll also visit the Alcazar, the site of the marriage between Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal in 1526. Its two beautiful outdoor courtyards are spectacular and the tapestries and furniture are superb.
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure for personal exploration or perhaps even a siesta! Dinner is at your leisure, but you are invited to join me for tapas!
DAY 9: Wednesday - Seville
More and more people are learning that Spain is a top culinary destination —not just the home of the famous paella, Spanish omelette and gazpacho. Spain now boasts some of the world’s best and most renowned chefs and restaurants, along with a great variety of styles.
Today, you'll enjoy a fun Cooking Class and discover the delights of Spanish & Andalusian cuisine.
This small group activity includes a visit to the Triana Food Market, where you will learn about locally grown products and participate in the selection of some ingredients that will be used later in the class. You will also meet some of the vendors, who have been there for generations.
During the class, guests have the chance to get involved in the preparation of a 4 course menu, directed by an English speaking professionally trained chef. Classes are designed for both novice and experienced cooks who will be able to learn and develop new techniques and skills.
After the class, dine on what has been cooked, accompanied by wine. The activity takes roughly 4 hours (including eating time). (Alternatives are available, including paella cooking class on a bull farm, so don't be afraid to ask Audrey!)
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure for personal exploration or perhaps even a siesta! There is so much to see in Seville, and your local host can certainly help you with what you could visit on your own! We do recommend a visit to Plaza España, set amidst the wonderful gardens of Maria Luisa Park. Built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exhibition (World’s Fair) it is an impressive example of Renaissance Revival style architecture.
Enjoy dinner at your leisure.
DAY 10: Thursday - Madrid
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Seville train station to take the high speed train to Madrid. Your private driver will meet you on arrival and transfer you to your centrally located Madrid hotel.
The remainder of the day is at leisure. Your pre-booked entrance ticket to the Prado Museum could be used this afternoon if you wish or tomorrow.
Madrid stands at the very center of Spain –geographically, culturally and politically. Madrid not only offers the culture and good times of a sophisticated, modern city but it also retains the charm and elegance of its early years. The power and glory of Madrid is reflected in its parks, plazas, boulevards and in the pride and panache of today’s Madrilenos.
Among the splendid attractions of Madrid are the Prado Museum, home to masterworks of Goya, Velazquez and El Greco; the 19th century Villahermosa Palace now the Thyssen-Bornemizsa Museum; the Reina Sofia Art Centre showcasing more than 300 modern works by Dali, Miro and Picasso among others; the 18th century Royal Palace on the lovely Plaza de Oriente; the bustling Puerta del Sol with its many shops, restaurants and tapas bars; Rastro Market on Sundays one of the oldest outdoor markets in Europe; and Retiro Park for strolling while admiring local artists and buskers.
This evening, enjoy an included tapas tour: You’ll take part in a guided small group tapas tour with all food and drinks included. It’s a great way to experience Madrid’s most interesting and authentic bars and restaurants without the research or guesswork. Your guide will recommend the wines and other drinks to try and will order specialty tapas at each bar or tavern. Your guide will talk about the history of tapas, the types of tapas served in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain and will also give you a history of the neighborhood you are visiting as well.
DAY 11: Friday - Madrid
After breakfast, you’ll be met at your hotel by your expert local Madrid guide who will take you on a private tour of the historic city center. You’ll enjoy visiting such places such as the Plaza del Sol, Plaza Santa, Plaza Mayor as well as the Mercado San Miguel, one of Madrid’s famous food markets.
You will continue with your guide to Plaza de la Villa and the Plaza del Oriente. Visit the Royal Palace that stands on the site of an old alcazar fortress and a former Moorish castle. With 3,418 rooms rivalling Versailles, there’s something to represent every style (and every monarch) since its construction (note: being a government building, the Royal Palace is often closed for ceremonies and official events that can come up at the last minute, so this visit is subject to change)
This afternoon visit the Prado Museum at your leisure as we have included pre-booked tickets for you. The museum is a wonderful space dating back to 1785 that now houses art from the 12th to the 19th century including large permanent collections by Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Bosch, Titian, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.
Meet back with the group in the lobby to go to a local restaurant for our last delicious "farewell" dinner together!
DAY 12: Saturday - Departure day
After breakfast, you’ll be collected at your hotel by a private driver who will transfer you to Madrid International Airport for your departure.
You may choose to extend your time with me in Spain by adding a few days in Madrid, with day trips to Avila, Segovia, or extend your trip to include 3 or 4 days in Barcelona.
- Private transportation while on tour (air conditioned vans or luxury mini buses)-mineral water on vehicle at all times
- Transfers from and to the airport
- First Class tickets for High-speed Train transfers as mentioned in the itinerary (from Madrid to Cordoba)
- Relax in the care of your host, Audrey, who is fluent in Spanish and English
- Unwind for 11 nights in hand-picked, heart of the cities, accommodations:
- 2 nights in Cordoba
- 2 nights in Granada
- 2 night in Ronda
- 3 nights in Sevilla
- 2 nights in Madrid
- Private walking tours with local expert English speaking tour guides in Madrid, Granada, Ronda, Cordoba, Sevilla
- Skip the lines with prepaid entrance fees to:
- Royal Palace in Madrid
- Mezquita in Cordoba
- Cathedral and Alcazar in Seville
- Alhambra in Granada with Generalife
- Royal Tombs in Granada
- Plaza de Toros in Ronda
- Prado museum in Madrid
- Beverages included: bottled water, soft drinks (in limited amounts), coffee, and 2 glasses of wine per person (choice of red or white) with included lunches and dinners.
- Free time for you to choose your own optional experiences
- Gratuities for drivers and restaurant staff at included meals (additional gratuities can be given at the sole discretion of each individual traveler).
- Country specific information packet before departure
- Hand-picked experiences:
- taste local wines and sherries in traditional bodegas
- enjoy an exquisite lunch on your private visit of an olive oil mill
- watch a soul stirring-Flamenco show
- a unique visit to an Andalusian bull farm including lunch
- peruse a local market followed by a private cooking lesson where you learn to make salmorejo and paella
- discover the art of eating tapas with your local host
- Discover Spain's cuisine: Our hand-crafted itinerary includes wonderful experiences with local cuisine as you enjoy a variety of included dinners at authentic Spanish restaurants
- Taxes & Fees: Local VAT taxes and government fees, City Tax, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees.
NOTE: In the grand European traditions, I believe that dinner is a celebration of good food and wine, a celebration of culture and a celebration of family and friendship. Hosting this celebration is one of the joys of being a tour manager. I guide you to your favorite dish … or help you choose something you’ve never tried before. I choose the perfect wines and throw in some local delicacies to broaden your palate and surprise you a bit. When we are at a cooking lesson or a wine tasting, rest assured that you'll go home with new knowledge that will increase your appetite for more. On every tour, I have included dinners as a group as well as nights on your own. Of course, you are always invited to join me at my favorite places or as I explore new and interesting restaurant finds. I also have a lot of recommendations and would be happy to make reservations for you.
What is not included
- Passport fees, visa fees, immunization costs, entry clearing fees (when applicable)
- Optional enhancements like room upgrades
- Additional sightseeing, activities and experiences outside of your itinerary
- Early check-in or late check-out from hotels
- Personal charges such as laundry, phone calls, SIM cards or room service
- Lunches, dinners and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), unless specified in the itinerary
- Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
- Your international airfare
- Porterage: Please note that you'll need to carry your own luggage up and down stairs at hotels and across cobblestone.
Our Gold Standard
We've personally tried, tasted and tested every single experience, ensuring quality and authenticity. If it doesn’t meet our personal Stamp of Approval, it won’t be on your tour! Zero tourist traps, subpar service, or second-rate food.
Are you planning to spend more time in Spain before or after the tour? Spain has so many beautiful cities and regions to explore. Audrey can help you to extend your stay with pre & post tour options, tailored to your preferences. Here are some suggestions for day trips from Madrid:
You'll be transferred from your hotel to Madrid train station to board the high speed train to Toledo. Upon arrival, you’ll meet our expert local guide who will first take you by taxi to the Cigarrales area for some magnificent panoramic views of Toledo city over the Tagus River.
The city of Toledo is the capital of the province of the same name, and is also the capital of the Autonomous Community called Castilla-La Mancha. The monumental city center sits atop a craggy rock, which is almost entirely encircled by the Tagus river. UNESCO declared Toledo a World Heritage city in recognition of its uniqueness and its past as a host to Christian, Islamic and Hebrew culture which the splendid architecture of the city still reflects - it is almost impossible to walk its streets without stumbling on a Gothic or Mudejar church, an ancient mosque, a Romanesque or Visigothic structure, a former synagogue or a Renaissance palace.
Your guide will lead you on a walking tour exploring the old city while you learn about the three cultures that lived side by side during the Middles Ages and see the most important sights in Toledo including Zocodover Square, Alcazar of Toledo, Santo Tome Church,Transito Synagogue, Santa Maria La Blanca and cathedral (entrance included).
Enjoy some free time for lunch and sightseeing at your leisure before returning to Madrid by high speed train where you will be met by your driver and transferred back to your hotel.
Here in Segovia there are countless traces of the past to be seen in buildings and remains of the old city. Most remarkable of all its landmarks is the incredible Roman aqueduct that towers over the town. Although it dates from the 1st century AD, it was still in use until two centuries ago. The awe-inspiring Alcazar (which inspired Walt Disney) has presided over the city since the middle ages and the imposing 16th century gothic Cathedral is also quite spectacular. `Cochinio Asado´ (roast suckling pig) is just one of the many delicious local dishes you must try.
3. EL ESCORIAL
Recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984, El Escorial attracts artists, writers, poets and painters from all over the world and hosts a plethora of literary events, seminars and conferences.
Built at the end of the 16th century, the Escorial Monastery stands in an exceptionally beautiful site at the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid. It was the retreat of a mystic king, Philip II who founded the monastery in 1563 as a votive monument and pantheon to the Spanish monarchs from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V onwards. Its design, which is complex yet also simple, was created by Juan Bautista de Toledo, a pupil of Michelangelo.
The royal site includes the monastery, a stone complex of extraordinary dimensions surrounded by formal gardens and the monks’ gardens, the House of Trades, and the Company Quarters where the palace and monastery services were accommodated. In the 18th century, the new Houses of Trades were built, completing the Lonja (the stone esplanade), and, consequently, a small town arose around the monastery.
The Royal Monastery and Site of St Lawrence of the Escorial is the monument that symbolizes the ideological and artistic expression that inspired and represented the Spanish Catholic Monarchy during the Golden Age, between the 16th and 17th centuries.
Avila, a UNESCO world heritage site, is famous for its medieval walls. They are arguably the best in Europe. The 11th century walls are two kilometers long, have 88 turrets and are perfectly preserved.
To get the best view go to Los Cuatro Postes (the four posts) on the Salamanca road. The walls were built in 1090 when Alfonso VI captured the city from the Moors. The walls are beautifully illuminated at night, indeed the walls of Avila are the largest fully illuminated monument in the world! You can walk along the walls and get some great views of the city. There are nine gateways through the walls, the most impressive are St Vincent's gate and the Alcazar gate. The town is also famous as the home of Saint Teresa.
Add 4 wonderful days visiting Barcelona designed as a pre or post tour extension.
DAY 1: BARCELONA
This morning you and your luggage will be transferred to the train station in Madrid to board the high speed train to Barcelona. Or, your flight will arrive in Barcelona, if this is a pre-tour extension.
Once you arrive in Barcelona, you will meet your private driver who will transfer you to your centrally located hotel.
Barcelona is without doubt one of Europes most exciting cities. It is a place of extraordinary architectural dazzle, achieved by what has been called both Catalán Art Nouveau and Modernisme, by architects Gaudi, Domenech i Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch. Monumental sculptures by local masters like Joan Miró adorn public spaces, and museums house extraordinary treasures ranging from works of the ancient Romans to those of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The city is further enhanced by brightly colored outdoor markets, a magnificent Mediterranean port and a plentiful array of stylish restaurants. Needless to say, the nightlife is splendid.
We’ll check in, drop off our bags at the hotel and have a walking orientation through the Barri Gotic area. We’ll then stroll down through the history-rich Gothic Quarter and its maze of narrow, cobbled streets and the bustling Las Ramblas boulevard. This lively tree-lined pedestrian mall stretches for 1.2 kilometers and is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Just off of Las Ramblas see the colorful Boqueria Food Market, one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets. We’ll finish up at the Placa del Rei (“King’s Square”). This is where Columbus came when he returned to Spain from his first voyage to the New World.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax and explore this beautiful city.
DAY 2: BARCELONA
Enjoy a hearty breakfast before meeting your expert private guide and driver for a driving tour. Today you’ll see why Barcelona is the heart of architectural modernism and experience the work of Antoni Gaudi. You’ll visit the remarkable Sagrada Familia - one of the most famous and spectacular of Gaudi’s works. It’s a Christian temple that Gaudi worked on fulltime from 1915 until his death in 1926 – even living on-site in the year leading up to his death. His remains are buried in the crypt. Work continues to this day on the building!
You’ll also visit Parc Guell – adored for brightly colored mosaic tiles in animal forms and its great views over the city. Gaudi lived here from 1906 until 1925 – his former residence is now the location for the Gaudi Museum. Finally, you’ll see the private residences Gaudi worked on in downtown Barcelona including Casa Mila- La Pedrera on the Passeig de Gracia. This last building you will visit the interior on your own.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
This evening you’ll take part in a guided small group tapas tour with all food and drinks included. Your guide will recommend the wines and other drinks to try and order the specialty tapas at each bar or tavern. Your guide will talk about the history of tapas, the types of tapas and pinchos served in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain and will also give you a history of the neighborhood you are visiting as well.
DAY 3: DAY TRIP TO MONASTERY OF MONTSERRAT
Today you'll enjoy a daytrip from Barcelona to visit the Monastery of Montserrat with a small group. You'll see the famous 'Black Madonna' icon and visit legendary 'Holy Cave' where the virgin is said to have once appeared. Afterwards, explore a charming winery.
Montserrat is the most important mountain in Catalonia, a unique massif, famous for its gothic shapes and beautiful views. On the way to Montserrat your guide will introduce you to this “magic mountain” where Mother Nature meets religion, history and the identity of the Catalan people. Enjoy the stunning landscape of this Natural Park. The guided tour includes a short walk to the monastery where you can enjoy spectacular views and get a true feel of spirituality Montserrat has to offer.
After Montserrat continue to the winery, just a few minutes away, one of the most important and beautiful wineries in the region. Learn how the wine is created there, enjoy a tasting with tapas and spend time exploring the castle and seeing the where the wines are aged.
Return to Barcelona in the late afternoon. The rest of the day is at leisure.
DAY 3: DEPARTURE DAY
Following breakfast you will be met by your private driver and transferred to Barcelona International Airport for your departure, or you will head to Madrid to begin your tour.
Travels with Audrey RECOMMENDS YOU BOOK EARLY Hotel availability may occasionally be an issue due to popularity, capacity of unique accommodations, and/or high season. A supplemental fee may be applied if our normal set of hotels in each city is not available. Hotels are booked based on availability at time of booking. If a specific hotel is not available, a similar quality or location will be chosen. Your hotels will be finalized about 90 days prior to the tour (after receipt of full payment) and will be available in your pre-tour documents mailed to you within 30 days prior to your tour.
There is frequent confusion over the terminology used for hotel rooms. A “double” room is recognized as meaning a room with a double bed, which may be two single beds pushed together. A “twin” room is a room with two single beds. A “single” room tends to be smaller than double or twin rooms. Triples are usually two-bedded rooms plus a roll-away cot and not recommended for comfort. Some properties offer 1 double and 1 single bed, or 1 double and 1 pull out sofa
Please note that the hotel staff assigns rooms to guests. Some rooms may include stairs. A specific view is not guaranteed. As we work mainly with luxury historic inns and small upscale boutique hotels, rooms differ in size and layout. In general, Italian bedrooms and bathrooms are smaller compared to US standards. Each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and/or tub, hair-dryer, and basic toiletry set. Please contact us if you have specific requests/needs.
Prepare for Your Trip
European travel in general involves a lot of walking, much more than we are used to in the US. Most of our tours include city walking tours, visits to hilltop towns and villages, and meandering through cobbled streets. Keeping active and incorporating long walks into your busy schedule in the weeks before your departure will make your vacation much more rewarding.
- Don’t Overpack: A challenge even for some experienced travelers! Plan to wash or dry clean some clothes during your travel. Some hotels and villas we choose offer laundry and dry cleaning services and towns and cities have laundromats. Most also provide hair dryers. Toiletries and cosmetics can also be purchased at your destinations. Please contact us if you need some assistance.
- It is your responsibility to obtain the required documents to travel to Europe. Please verify with your own country's travel laws and government agencies. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
The first day on tour is your arrival day into the city in which we meet. So you would be flying no later than the day before from the United States or Canada. It is your responsibility to get to the city and hotel where and when the tour begins. When making flight arrangements, please allow sufficient time to claim luggage and clear customs in order to join the tour on time. For all recommended pre-designed tour packages, we meet for our first orientation walk of the tour at 3:00PM (15:00) on tour start date in the hotel lobby. The tour ends when you check out of the hotel on your last day on tour.
Note: Please make note or inquire with us as to the meeting time on that first day on tour. This should be done prior to you making any flight or train bookings so that it is clearly understood that the arrangements will fit in with our times. Your train or flight should arrive between 09:00AM and 12:00PM-noon (no later) on Day 1 of the tour to allow you enough time to check in to your hotel, freshen up and meet for the orientation walk with our other group guests.
Remember, airfare is a completely separate arrangement from your land tour. It is your responsibility to arrive at the point of tour origination.
- All prices are subject to change until a deposit has been made for your tour. Please bear in mind that each hand-crafted pre-packaged itinerary showcased on the website represents a typical itinerary, and the actual details may vary due to season and special events. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances may arise. Itinerary changes are also made to improve the tour and your experience. Prices are subject to change with global exchange rates. Please be aware that equivalent dollar costs are based on exchange rates and are contingent upon a fluctuating currency market.
- All quoted prices are subject to changes based on Euro dollar/US dollar exchange rate, until balance is paid. Once the deposit has been received, the price is locked, regardless of exchange fluctuations prior to the tour . Variations in price will be made only if Euro value increases 5% or more from the time of reservation to the time that balance is due. Any variations in price, which may or may not increase your balance, will be communicated by email.
- Air Conditioning: Hotels and mini-buses/vans used are air-conditioned for your comfort. European air conditioning should be considered as a climate-control system; most have three settings for the fan, plus a "cool" setting. Very few of the European systems actually have a temperature setting. In general, the amount of cool air that is produced from a European air conditioning system may be less than what you may have in your own home. Some hotels in Europe do not operate their air conditioning systems on a year round basis, but only during certain months of the year.
- Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility. You must be able to walk up and down hills, on uneven surfaces and stand for extended periods of time.
- Itinerary Changes and Price Flexibility: We pledge to make every effort to operate all pre-designed tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or transportation as deemed necessary.
Please note: while we do our best to adhere to our published itineraries, they may be changed at the discretion of the tour leader (local host) due to weather conditions and any other unforeseeable circumstances.
- Holiday and Museum Closures: Museum visits and personal shopping time may be disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances or the many state, religious and civic holidays locally observed.
- NO SMOKING: Sorry but there will be no-smoking allowed in the vehicle or during guided tours. Italy, France and Spain have banned smoking in all public buildings, including hotels and restaurants (enclosed spaces only, with the exception of sitting outdoors while eating). Some hotels may be able to provide smoking rooms if necessary. You will need to let Audrey know ahead of time.
- Currency and Exchange Rates: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus and at most of the hotels listed on your itinerary, though you will get a better exchange rate at the banks. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Travelers’ checks are less accepted, especially by local merchants; expect to pay a fee for using travelers’ checks. Foreign currency is not accepted.
- Your Credit and Other Bank Cards Abroad: Before your departure, we recommend you contact your bank before departing on your vacation to inform them of your travel plans to ensure that your ATM, credit and debit cards will work and continue to work while you are abroad. The banks have automated security measures in place that flag transactions outside your normal spending patterns. Failure to do so may result in a temporary freeze being placed on your account.
- VAT: Many countries levy Value Added Taxes (VAT) on consumer goods and services. (The tax rate may be higher for luxury items and lower for basic goods.) As a rule, if you are not a resident of the country (or of the country’s intergovernmental economic community, e.g., the European Union) in which the purchase is made, you may be entitled to a VAT refund and should inquire about the refund policy where you shop.
- Electrical Current: The electrical current in France, Italy and Spain is 220 V, 50 Hz, AC. If your electrical devices do not conform to this standard, you may need to bring the appropriate converters and adapters.
- Even though tips to guides, staff and restaurants are included, it is suggested that you put aside approximately $100 (US) in combined gratuities for your driver & tour leader for your trip (and any voluntary additional restaurant gratuities are at your discretion).
The purchase of TRAVEL INSURANCE is strongly recommended to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. A Protection Plan can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.
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