Self Drive Spain World Heritage Sites Tour

A 7 day trip to Spain 
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Like a treasure chest awaiting your discovery, Spain offers a wealth of historic monuments, sparkling jewels in its crown of cultural heritage. Spain has one of the most impressive lists of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe, and you will visit some of the highlights on this special tour. The gems include Cuenca, Alcalá de Henares, Segovia, Ávila and Salamanca, cities that exemplify the beauty and rich legacy of the past. Admire these amazing sights on a luxurious seven-night vacation, staying in some of the nicest hotels in Spain. Your accommodations during this vacation are “paradors,” charming upscale hotels in splendid historic buildings.

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General Information

Photos
Roman Aqueduct, Segovia. Photo by Felver Alfonzo
Plaza Mayor in Salamanca. Photo by Keta
Iglesia del convento de San Esteban, Salamanca. Photo by Rafaelji
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cuenca, Alcala, Segovia, Avila and Salamanca

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 - Parador de Cuenca

Your luxury vacation begins in Cuenca. After your drive from Valencia or Madrid, check into your accommodations at the Parador de Cuenca. A delightful place to spend the night, this hotel occupies a historic monastery with a magnificent setting on top of the Huécar Gorge. Outside the city just opposite the wondrous “Hanging Houses,” the parador’s natural setting is spectacular. You’ll be awestruck by the gorge’s dramatic vertical drop and the profusion of lush vegetation. Designed with hospitality in mind, the hotel has charming decor and the building’s chapel was converted into a stylish café. There is an outdoor swimming pool, perfect for sunny days. All of the guest rooms offer the modern amenities and the breathtaking views of the city. This parador is a wonderful base for your exploration of the beautiful World Heritage City of Cuenca.

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, Cuenca is an amazing medieval city full of interesting sights. Surrounded by its ancient wall, this beautiful historic city allows you to enter another era. Cuenca is known as an Enchanted City (“Ciudad Encantada”) because of it wonderful setting and surprising beauty. Visit the marvelous Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas) that cling to a cliff above the Huécar Gorge. Take a tour of the cathedral, a wonderful example of Gothic style and elegant Renaissance decorations. Other noteworthy sites include the San Miguel Church and San Pedro Church as well as the 16th-century Las Petras Convent. The Museum of Abstract Art offers a change of pace for art lovers. Those who appreciate history should visit the provincial archeological museum. Cuenca is a magical place to wander and explore. Relax and enjoy coffee or “chocolate con churros” (donut sticks and chocolate sauce) in the splendid main square, surrounded by monuments and blissfully free of traffic.

Day 2 - Parador de Alcalá de Henares

This morning you’ll travel to Alcalá de Henares and check into the Parador de Alcalá de Henares. Proudly located in the birthplace of Cervantes, the Parador de Alcalá de Henares exudes art and culture. This luxury hotel is in a former 17th-century monastery school. Despite its impressive historic pedigree, the hotel offers a welcoming combination of comfort and charm. The interior is designed in an appealing modern, minimalist style. The hotel also has all the amenities, including a spa, gourmet restaurant and a lovely terrace.

Your day will be spent delightfully wandering the cobblestone streets of Alcalá de Henares as you discover the traces of its history as a literary capital. Alcalá de Henares has been a UNESCO World Heritage City since 1998. The city has a special beauty with its ancient narrow streets, elegant palaces and austere convents. Wander about the grounds of the University, which was founded in 1499 by the Cardinal Cisneros. Have a look at the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso, which has a wonderful Plateresque (“silversmith”-style) facade. Spend some time contemplating life at the Plaza de Cervantes, named after the town’s famous literary son. Be sure to walk down the Calle Mayor to see the house where Cervantes was born. Then see the Church of Santa Maria de la Mayo and admire its splendid Baroque interior.

Day 3 - Parador de Segovia

Today’s destination is Segovia, one of Spain's most historic cities and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Check into your accommodations at the Parador de Segovia. This modern hotel is a peaceful retreat that offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and countryside. All the guest rooms are decorated in classic style, with the utmost comfort in mind. At the parador, you can take advantage of fine dining at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, enjoy swimming in the heated outdoor pool and take advantage of the onsite gym, tennis courts and sauna. This parador is the perfect location for exploring Segovia as well as the countryside of the Castile-León province.

Spend the day discovering the extraordinary city of Segovia. The old town has a fairy tale feel that is impossible to describe. The city's most emblematic sight, the Roman aqueduct is illuminated at night to give the city a dazzling majesty. This incredible monument speaks of the immense power achieved by the Roman Empire. Another must-see site is the Alcázar (fortress), located outside the old quarter on a hill between the Eresma and Clamores Rivers. You should also visit the city’s beautiful cathedral, remarkable for its splendid Gothic exterior. Segovia also has several noteworthy churches representing different historical eras. Be sure to visit the ancient medieval walls. Segovia is one of the very few cities in Spain whose walls remain completely intact. Other sights of interest near Segovia include the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, a lovely 18th-century palace and gardens. While in Segovia, you mustn’t miss sampling the most famous and delicious local dish of roast suckling pig.

Day 4 - Parador de Ávila

Enjoy your drive through the countryside from Segovia to Ávila. When you arrive, check into your accommodation at the Parador de Ávila. The parador occupies the Piedras Albas Palace, located in a beautiful spot close to the city’s well-preserved ancient walls. The hotel interior is comfortable and cozy, and the spacious guest rooms are perfect for relaxing. You may enjoy a gourmet meal in a refined setting without leaving the hotel. The pleasant dining room has a glass-enclosed courtyard with splendid views of the garden and the city walls.

This Parador de Ávila is a majestic place, the ideal base for exploring the World Heritage City of Ávila. From the hotel, take a short stroll to the city’s ancient walls. From there, you may wander through the cobblestone streets of the old quarter, where every square, street and corner are filled with charm. This medieval city surrounded by ancient walls is filled with gems of cultural heritage: historic churches, monasteries, convents, and Renaissance palaces.

Day 5 - Parador de Ávila

Today you’ll have more time to explore the city of Ávila. Behind its incredibly intact city walls, there is an amazing wealth of cultural and historic heritage. You’ll find an impressive fortress-like Gothic cathedral that dates to the 12th century, and Teresian convents that are part of the order following Saint Teresa who was born in the province of Ávila. Another interesting aspect of Ávila is the abundance of elegant palaces, mostly from the 16th century, which reflect the city’s wealth and importance during that era.

Other must-see sites include the imposing Alcazar fortress and the medieval San Vicente Gates. These monuments will inspire you to learn the legends and lore of this city, which is shared with gusto by tour guides who introduce visitors to this magical city. Ávila is a city filled with history, on every street, in every square, in every corner, every moment you explore it.

Day 6 - Parador de Salamanca

This morning you’ll travel to a destination that is sure to delight you! Known as the “Golden City” because of its yellow medieval sandstone buildings, Salamanca is like a treasure trove of historic monuments awaiting your discovery. You’ll be staying at the Parador de Salamanca, located on the left bank of the Tormes River near Salamanca’s old quarter. This grand parador has an elegant and spacious interior. Expansive windows and French doors offer exceptional panoramic views overlooking the city’s historic buildings. The parador features guest rooms with all the modern amenities as well as an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts.

Today you will begin your discovery of beautiful Salamanca and its rich cultural heritage. This provincial capital is a bustling university town. Salamanca buzzes with the hustle and bustle of the university’s unceasing cultural activity. Students lend a youthful and exuberant energy to the town.

Salamanca also offers interesting gastronomy. The cuisine is heavily based on roasted meats and sausage. However, there are also plenty of dishes based on legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans. Noteworthy culinary specialties include Chorizo (spicy sausage), Salchichón (another type of spiced sausage), lomo Ibérico (pork loin) and Hornazo, a savory pastry stuffed with ham, sausage, bacon and egg. Be sure to sample the Hinojosa de Duero, local sheep-milk cheese with a special taste because it’s aged in the dry mountain air. The most famous confections are made by nuns: Marzipan created at the Convento de las Dueñas and cakes baked by nuns in Alba de Tormes. Other desserts may feature fresh locally grown cherries, figs or strawberries.

Day 7 - Parador de Salamanca

You have an entire day to continue your discovery of Salamanca. Focus on the city’s historic old quarter that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Stroll through the Plaza Mayor, the main square that exemplifies lovely Baroque architecture from the 18th century. Considered the most beautiful square in Spain, this lovely plaza is said to be a model for all plazas later built in Spanish cities. Spend some time relaxing in the square and soaking up the sun. There are plenty of stylish cafes where you can enjoy refreshments in this exceptional setting.

Then continue to explore the city’s network of ancient streets. Allow yourself to get lost in the narrow alleys and be seduced by their beauty. Stroll back in time as you discover fabulous historic monuments. Be sure to visit the Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), built in the15th century that is renowned for its façade of carved shells. Then tour the old cathedral that dates from the 13th century. Climb to the cathedral’s terrace and take a walk amidst the impressive gargoyles and church bells. You may also visit the “new” cathedral that was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Another must-see sight is Salamanca University, Spain’s oldest university that dates back to the 16th century. Search for the frog on one of the historic buildings. Notice the golden glow cast by the sun on the lovely stone façades. The city looks splendid at sunset when the soft light highlights the outline of its architectural wonders.

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Spain tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $350 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $250 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within Spain, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

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