Essence of Spain Tour: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville & More

A 10 day trip to Spain 
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The spirit of Spain is an amalgamation of majesty and cannot be summed up by a single city. On this custom Spain tour through Barcelona, Madrid & Andalucía, you will find the true culture of the country in the exceptional mixture of heritage and history. From incredible cathedrals to ineffable mosques, ancient old quarters to vivacious modern streets, you will immerse yourself in the essence of Spain and find the immeasurable delight of the welcoming people, heartfelt connection to history, and the breathtaking monuments that remain. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Barcelona, Figueres, Girona, Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Just the Beginning

Welcome to Barcelona, a city that brims with life. The narrow alleys bubble with energy and the seaside is graced with charm. The culture is boundless and the architecture verges on the fabled. The aromas of fresh seafood paella with noodles and almond sweets rolled in pine nuts overtake the scent of the Mediterranean Sea. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and takes you to your plush accommodation.

The Eixample is the chic neighborhood of the city. It was built on a grid with long, straight avenues. The city is colored with architecture designed by Antonio Gaudi. The Casa Milá, also known as La Pedrera, was constructed the early 20th century and contains a self-supporting stone front and entire stories absent of load bearing walls. The rooftop is decorated with chimneys that resemble medieval knights. The shape and décor of the building feels like a physical embodiment of a surrealist painting, even though it was designed and constructed years before the artistic movement gained traction.   

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: In Touch with Heritage

The morning is brushed with bright light that glitters off of the Mediterranean Sea, and the aroma of fresh, strong coffee. After breakfast you will traverse the beautiful and charming cities of Girona and Figueres. When you arrive in Girona you will have a private walking tour of the city. The cobblestone streets are ancient and captivating. The well of history reaches a depth that dates back to the Iberians, who ruled the Peninsula around the 6th century BC. Your guide takes you through the city and you arrive at the Ancient Walls of Girona.

The walls were a stronghold meant to defend the city and were built in 14th century alongside the lazy Rio Onyar. The ramparts rise and fall around the historic neighborhoods, often giving you a fabulous view of shingled roofs and the mountains in the distance. The wall ends and you come to a park decorated by medieval and ancient ruins, shaded by lush trees. The scent of pine and cedar fill the air. You follow the narrow streets that are quiet and absent of crowds and which lead you right behind the cathedral. The baroque towers and large glass windows adorn the mostly gothic structure built in the 12th century.

The nave is over 75 feet wide and continues to be the second largest of any church in the world. The tapestry dates back to the 11th century and depicts a series of religious creation myths, from Genesis to the Holy Cross. The Byzantine-style art continues to captivate through its unique storytelling techniques and vibrant hues.  In the early afternoon you will make your way to Figueres to visit the Teatre-Museu Dali, a museum situated within the hometown of the world-renowned surrealist artist. The building’s décor and style is as captivating and interesting as the artist’s work.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: The Allure of the City

The city rises late in the morning and stays up late into the evening. Early in the morning the streets are quiet, calm, and empty. The water brushes against the beaches. The sand is powdery and golden. As the city comes to life you can watch locals jog alongside the sand, or bike ride on the winding pathways near the water. La Rambla is the most famous street of the city and offers you insight into the culture specific to Catalonia. Trees edge the avenue and the pedestrian boulevard is filled with people, from artists to mimes, shoppers to diners.  The Plaça de Catalunya is a located at the center of the city and is the focal point at which the old city and the 19th century Eixample meet.

The Gothic Quarter is the heart of the old city and can be reached from the edges of La Rambla and the seafront. Many of the buildings date back to medieval times and maintain a decorative charm over the streets. Carrer del Bisbe is  lovely with cobblestones streets. The buildings are made of old brick and are adorned with a hovering connecting corridor. The tripartite Moorish-arched windows are decorated with latticework that looks like trees. Gas lamps protrude from the old walls and your footsteps echo off of the walkway. The natural and architectural beauty of the city is endless.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 4: A Particular Style

Contemporary Barcelona has always been known for its boundless energy and particular style. After breakfast you will have a half-day tour of the city’s unique artistry that has brought fame to the skyline and facades of various neighborhoods. The Cathedral of la Sagrada Familia was consecrated in 2010. Construction began in 1882 and continues today. The cathedral remains one of Gaudi’s most famous works and one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks. The gothic cathedral looks like something out of a storybook. The spires rise to a height of 560 feet. Three grand facades decorate the church, including the Nativity façade located on the eastern side.

Intricate statues decorate the edifice and represent the birth of Jesus. Each sculpture is arranged and decorated with symbolic intent, including the tortoise base of each column. Locals and visitors alike are inspired by the design and construction. The delicate yet forceful façade is nothing short of magnificent. When you stand in the shadow of the towering spires you can see the detail of each nook; however, when you enter the cathedral you are overcome with awe. The central vault stands 200 feet above your head and resembles a colorful interpretation of a deep, hidden grotto.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Around a Regal Past and Present

In the morning you set off for Madrid and find yourself in the capital of Spain. The city is filled with soul and an intimacy that resembles much of Spain. Museums hang Picassos and the plazas and boulevards are filled with families and lovers, flowers and benches, combining into the elegant mural of the cityscape. The Palacio Real is the largest palace in Europe, encompassing 1,450,000 square feet and containing over 2,800 rooms. The palace in its current form was built in the 18th century; however, it sits atop the original palace complex that dates back to the 16th century.

The view from the exterior plaza displays a wide, elegant thee-story façade, flanked by arched colonnades. The view from the Campo del Moro Gardens offers a graceful manicured grass-avenue, edged by blossoming trees and adorned by the grandeur of the palace. When you enter the structure the interior strikes you with powerful color and opulent décor. The Throne Room has crimson-velvet wall coverings and a ceiling decorated by the Venetian painter Tiepolo. The extravagant ambiance emanates from every room, and reaches to admirable heights.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Essence of the City

The old center of Madrid is known as the Casa de Austria, because of its connection to the Habsburg Dynasty of the 16th century. Plaza Mayor can still be considered the heart of the city’s vibrant life, combining the classic architecture with the drama of Spain’s emotional past. The surrounding residential building contains 237 balconies that overlook the square. The ground level consists of a colonnade decorated with arches and filled with vivacious restaurants and shops. A bronze statue of King Philip III sits in the square’s center.

The Casa de la Panaderia is the northernmost building and adds an extra touch of opulence to the wide-open space. Plaza de la Villa offers a warmer setting among its delicate charm. The square is enclosed on three sides by 17th century baroque buildings, each one displaying stone and detailed wrought iron. The ayuntamiento, old town hall, is a perfect example of a Habsburg era edifice. Its slate-tile spires and protruding balcony is a picture of classic charisma making its way in the modern city.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 7: A City of Centuries 

Toledo is a city that has collected cultures century after century, and is a city filled with creativity and invitation, incredible heritage and indescribable scenery. The city continues to boast its history as a multicultural capital of medieval society. The synagogue was constructed in the 14th century and now houses the Museo Sefardi, a museum dedicated to the history of Jewish people and culture of the area. It was once the private family synagogue of the king’s treasurer and features elements of Nasrid style, Hebrew inscription, and Moorish arches. The interior contains pine ceilings intricately decorated with the unique elements of Mudéjar, a style unique to the Iberian Peninsula of the Middle Ages. The grandeur of the synagogue comes not only from its impressive beauty and rich history, but also from its perseverance of time. Toledo is filled with panoramic wonder and elements of its lavish past that continue to add splendor to the buildings, streets, and skyline.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Collective Cultures of the Past

Cordoba has built its modern city around the magnificent architecture of its past. The Arabic influences of the Middle Ages now decorate the city like artwork as opposed to structures still in use, from homes to government buildings. Many of the golden buildings rise near the Guadalquivir River, and wind around narrow streets near the Mezquita. The great mosque of the city almost glows with lavish decoration and a refinement that has come with the centuries. The city was enriched with diverse cultures that added to the opulent nature of the building during its construction in the 8th century. It was converted into a Roman Catholic Church around the 16th century.

The edifice’s exterior is imposing, both massive and forceful; however, the embellishments create an inviting ambiance. Once inside you see the voussoirs are colored red and white along the double arches. Over 850 terracotta and white columns remain and create a mirror effect. The grand hall looks as though it just stretches into infinity, offering a peaceful space for reflection. The courtyard is leafy and cozy. Fountains once offered an area for the devoted visitors to wash their hands and feet before prayer. The minaret peaks once rose to over 157 feet and are surrounded by a tower-shell that was constructed in the 16th century.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Unrelenting Wonder

Seville is a city of flamboyance and charisma, always bustling with captivating music and alive with equally alluring cuisine. A private walking tour of the city brings you to the famous Alcazar, a royal palace called one of the most beautiful in all of Spain. The palace was built in the 1300’s and remains the official residence of the Spanish royal family when in Seville. Puerta del León contains a 19th century tile-work adorning the open portal. The lion holds a cross in its claws and bears gothic writing. Once inside the marvelous complex you will head to the Palacio de Don Pedro, a remarkable work of architecture often referred to as the Mudéjar Palace.

Pedro I used a synthesis of Iberian Islamic art to create the unique and exceptional space, unlike any other. The Patio of the Maidens contains delicate arches and colorful tiling. The garden sprouts from just below ground level, sunken into the courtyard. A soft breeze blows through the open archways. It feels like you have stepped into a paradise you never knew existed but always hoped for. The graceful design is enhanced by the regal gardens. The sunshine causes the various tiled courtyards to sparkle.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 10: Holding onto the Heart

Fountains spout water and mist into the morning air in the Plaza de España. The narrow streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz are lined with medieval history and ancient Jewish culture. The houses are whitewashed and reflect the sunlight. You wake up to the sounds of the city coming to life. The morning is calm and bright. The city reflects the sunlight off of the historic center, Explore the modernity within the Metropol Parasol, a walkway in the old quarter that claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world. The walkway contains four levels containing a central market and a museum that houses artifacts of both Roman and Moorish remains.

Soon you will have a private transfer to the airport, but for now you can stroll through the city and enjoy the tranquil sunlight along the shimmering stones of the city’s illustrious past. Vacations in Spain are never forgotten, and you will have many memories to cherish on your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.