Experience the best of Spain on a wide-ranging journey of cultural, historical and culinary discovery, complete with a visit to Barcelona's Boquería market, a horse-drawn carriage ride to a palace in Seville and a chance to stay at a classic parador in the clifftop city of Ronda.
Day 1. Arrive Barcelona, Spain
Upon arrival, you are met by our representative and escorted to your trend-setting hotel. Get to know your fellow guests at tonight’s welcome dinner.
Day 2. Barcelona / Heart of Catalonia
Embark on a panoramic tour of culture-rich Barcelona. Let your inner foodie run wild on a stroll through the Boquería — one of the finest food markets in Europe, where fresh goods have traded hands for hundreds of years. Peruse the vast array of produce, meats, seafood and sweet treats, and perhaps stop by one of its many eateries to sample something on the spot. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets and wide plazas of the Gothic Quarter and its fantastic Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall. You also experience a tasting of Spanish olive oil, an essential component of the local cuisine. Enjoy more of this captivating city with an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps stroll Las Ramblas, the pedestrian-friendly avenue that draws equal amounts of visitors and locals, and browse the inviting shops and cafés. As with other cities in Spain, Barcelona truly comes alive at night, and this evening is a perfect opportunity to experience it firsthand, as taverns and tapas bars spill over with spirited conversation.
Day 3. Barcelona - Gaudi's Extravagant Vision
Discover more of vibrant Barcelona, focusing today on the city’s one-of-a-kind architecture. See hilltop Montjuïc with its sculptural gardens and castle, a place with a checkered and often bloody history until it was designated a museum by Francisco Franco. Next, immerse yourself in the most notable creations of Antoni Gaudí, possibly the most famous Spanish architect of modern times. Gaudí was the premier proponent of Modernisme, a distinctly Spanish take on Art Nouveau, and his free-flowing, extravagantly detailed structures are unmistakable. The highlight is the wild Sagrada Familia Basilica, the most-visited monument in Spain, begun by Gaudí in 1883 and still unfinished today; it is currently scheduled to be completed in 2026, the centenary of its architect’s death. After lunch, fly to Granada, where you enjoy dinner on arrival.
Day 4. Granada & Ronda - Awe-ispiring AlHambra
Begin your day with a visit to the ancient palace and glorious gardens of the Alhambra, an incredible example of Moorish influence and Islamic architecture. Occupying over 1.5 million square feet, this sprawling complex served as the seat of power for the Islamic emirs throughout the 14th century, later serving as royal palace for Ferdinand and Isabella. Explore Granada at leisure before departing for clifftop Ronda, where you check in to your parador, a boutique hotel housed in a historic Spanish landmark. Enjoy a walking tour that introduces you to the rich history of Ronda before dinner. The city is known for bullfighting, and its Plaza de Toros is the oldest bullring in Spain. Ernest Hemingway did much to popularize both this controversial sport and Ronda itself, and a paseo(scenic walkway) bearing his name begins near the plaza; another, dedicated to fellow aficionado Orson Welles, is located nearby.
Day 05. Gibraltar United Kingdom - Last Outpost
Travel west to the Rock of Gibraltar, technically an overseas territory of Great Britain, and a symbolic bridge linking Europe and Africa. Visit St. Michael’s Cave and observe Gibraltar’s Barbary macaques, the only wild monkeys in Europe. Return to Ronda with time to relax and explore one of Andalusia’s most beautiful Pueblos Blancos (White Villages).
Day 6. Seville - Sherry in Jerez
Travel through the mountains to Jerez, home of golden sherry, a distinctive fortified wine eagerly consumed the world over. Only wine from grapes grown in this region can properly be called sherry, and aficionados have many varieties to choose from, ranging from light-bodied fino to robust oloroso. Sample some of these for yourself during a visit to a bodega. Continue to Seville, where you embark on an authentic culinary adventure with an evening tapas feast, choosing from the nearly two dozen vendors of Mercado Lonja del Barranco, a former fish market (originally designed by Gustave Eiffel) turned upscale market and dining establishment.
Day 7. Seville - Sunny Santa Cruz
Explore the sites in this uniquely lovely city: the Royal Palace of the Alcázar; the enormous Gothic cathedral; and, of course, the Santa Cruz district, with its sun-drenched avenues, venerable architecture and shaded squares. The afternoon is at leisure to venture out on your own. Tonight, ride a horse-drawn carriage to arrive in style at a resplendent palace, where the owners take you on a tour and host your private dinner. Afterward, enjoy a performance of flamenco dancing and singing on the patio of this historic home.
Day 8. Cordoba - Streets of Flowers
Set out for Córdoba to visit the Mezquita, the cathedral and former great mosque of Córdoba, and an extraordinary fusion of European and Moorish styles that encapsulates much of Spanish history in a single structure. Continue for a stroll down the famous Street of Flowers, a picturesque lane in the city’s Old Town where potted flowers dot the walls of the charming old houses. In the afternoon, board your high-speed AVE train to Madrid.
Day 9. Madrid - Masterful Art & Architecture
View the Prado Museum’s extensive collection, featuring some of the greatest Spanish masters, including El Greco, Velázquez and Goya. Then, visit the Royal Palace, followed by a short walk to the Plaza Mayor, and the marvelous iron-and-glass San Miguel market, where locals have been hawking and buying since the early 19th century. Later, join your Resident Tour Director for a farewell dinner.
Day 10. Depart Madrid
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.