Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Luxuriate in the highlights of Spain by using Barcelona and Madrid to explore many of the country’s ultimate highlights. Think Gaudi’s architecture, seaside bliss, medieval cities, dazzling palaces, iconic art, and Catalan vineyards. Seven nights in Barcelona are followed by five in Madrid as your trip handcrafted for taking it slow and easy in Spain. Including Modernist and ancient Barcelona, Penedes, Sitges, Figueres, Toledo, Salamanca, Madrid, your getaway to Spain will be one that you will...
Barcelona – Relaxed Arrival in Barcelona
Your hotel will hide down a cobbled street, tucked away from the bustle of the city in the oldest part of town. A couple of small cafes will be nearby, which are places to drink a coffee with the locals. You will walk only three minutes, and Barcelona’s energetic atmosphere will take over with street musicians that set the soundtrack for lazy strolls around the city. The beach will be just a short ride away on the Metro, and there will be dozens of restaurants nearby. After a private airport transfer, the day will be at your leisure where you will have the chance to create your own first impressions of the Catalan city, in addition to an opportunity to drift away the afternoon in a soulful city.
Barcelona – Evocative Highlights of Central Barcelona
Highlights will cling to the streets in central Barcelona. Venetian masks will fill the attractive facade of Casa Batllo, which is one of Gaudi’s early works. You will head inside and wander up the spine-like staircase onto a roof terrace that is shaped like a dragon. A short walk down the street will be Casa Mila where a brick-ribbed loft leads to a famous roof terrace of chimneys and skylights. These two Modernist monuments will set the scene for a city that does things differently. It is not just the architecture, but the atmosphere will be so vibrant and vivid as you pass Placa de Catalunya and head down La Ramblas.
Halfway down the famous street, you will find La Boqueria where the smell of cured ham will guide you into hallways of exotic fruit and culinary treats. You can stop nearby for a late lunch. Soon, you will start appreciating the siesta style. You do not necessarily sleep through the midafternoon but will take things very slowly during the hottest part of the day. Having some downtime now will mean that you are energized for when the city comes to life. Afternoon to the evening will be beautiful in Barcelona, and today you will spend it around the harbor on a small boat tour that includes drinks and snacks. The evening will be free, and your guide can recommend restaurants in the area.
Barcelona – The Art of Catalan Cava
Most people will agree that producing Champagne is an art. Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine, and it comes from Penedes, which is a scenic Catalan region that can be easily visited on a day trip to Barcelona. You can stroll through the vineyards before the first cork pops at a tasting room with views towards the Mediterranean. You will meet with a cellar master at the second vineyard, exploring the differences between vintages and finding how Cava can also have the nutty complexity of Champagne. Food offerings will accompany your third tasting, which will be a food and wine pairing and an extended lunch in the heart of Penedes. This will be a serene place to be, and you will return to the city fully relaxed, if not a little giddy from all the bubbles.
Barcelona – Modernist Icons of Northeastern Barcelona
Barcelona’s most iconic sights will stretch out towards the northeast of the city, starting with the unmissable La Sagrada Familia. Surreal columns rise around biblical interpretations as colorful shards of light come through the stained glass. You will have your breath taken away by grand open space as you travel deeper into a cathedral that remains unfinished, even after 100 years. Recinte Modernista Sant Pau is close by and is symbolic of Barcelona’s attitude toward beautiful design. You may expect a gorgeous cathedral, city hall, or townhouse, but this is a hospital that is a series of sublime art nouveau buildings that were designed by pioneering, Catalan architect, Lluis Domenech I Montaner. After lunch at a quiet local restaurant, you will end your day in Park Guell, following colonnaded footpaths to a sunset view from a serpentine bench.
Barcelona – Day Trip to the Quaint Birthplace of Salvador Dali
Traveling by train will be a highlight of Spain with comfortable carriages that provide a view of rural landscapes. It will be two hours to Figueres, weaving through the Catalan countryside to the birthplace of Salvador Dali. The mustachioed, local hero is buried beneath the Dali Theater-Museum that he helped design. So many of his works fill the galleries, and you will admire the development in style. On a day trip, it will be best to visit the museum first and then wander around the quaint little town, absorbing the atmosphere of old-world Catalonia.
Barcelona – From the Castle to a Warren of Lanes
High above the city, you will go. Montjuic Hill will provide a glorious morning view of the Mediterranean. Montjuic Castle looms large, and you will wander its huge walls before cobblestone is beneath your feet as today’s private journey continues in Poble Espanyol. You will explore this open-air, architectural museum before the guide takes you downhill into Barri Gothic, which is an ancient quarter with a Roman past and vibrant present. Secrets will whisper down this maze of lanes, and you can easily get lost if you do not follow your guide. Hidden here is a stunning little plaza where you eat a typical Catalan lunch.
Palau de la Musica Catalana is near Barri Gotic and will be one option for spending your afternoon. The Picasso Museum will be the other option. Both museums showcase a unique realm, celebrating a design that is so symbolic of the city. As with all your days in Barcelona, it will be easy to retire to the beach after a day of sightseeing as Barceloneta is the most accessible in the city. There are not many cities where you can combine such expressive urban sights with a slow beachside ambiance. It is one of the many reasons that Barcelona remains one of the world’s most popular cities to visit.
Barcelona – The Leisurely Beach Town of Sitges
There are other beaches to try as well. While Barceloneta will have a sultry atmosphere every evening, Sitges is a town of old-world elegance. Colorful townhouses and small art galleries will line the route from the railway station to sand, evoking the late 19th century with their soulful appearance. Sitges is 40 minutes by train from central Barcelona and makes for a very relaxed final day in Catalonia. First, you will eat lunch at one of the excellent seafood restaurants along the promenade. Then, you will drift off on the beach and reflect on your week in Barcelona, from a Gaudi casa to a wine bar in a Roman wall that you may have discovered yesterday.
Madrid – First Impressions of the Capital City
Barcelona and Madrid are two fabulous cities that are connected in just 2 ½ hours by high-speed train. That is city center to city center with no need for a laborious airport check-in or security process. Your hotel will be close to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, and this first afternoon and evening will be left free. Surrounding the plaza will be a maze of cobbled streets where you will be guided by smells and sounds: chocolate, churros, Spanish guitars, clanging cathedral bells, and chatter from tapas bars. While most European capitals are incredibly touristic, Madrid remains authentic to its core. So, even on the grand Plaza Mayor, you will be dining alongside the Madrileno, or local residents
Madrid – Marveling at El Escorial
Renaissance excess will flourish behind the epic facade of El Escorial, and artistic corridors will lead you to a royal pantheon of tombs. Great canvases will cover the walls, and the reception rooms will glisten with old-world wealth. El Escorial is part monastery and part royal palace and is a symbol of how religion was used to unify a newly found nation. As conquistadors came back with new-world treasures, so much money was spent on this regal retreat. It remains one of Europe’s most magnificent buildings and is partially a carefully preserved ode to the kind of excess that may never again be seen on this continent. El Escorial will be a half-day private tour from Madrid, leaving the afternoon free to explore El Retiro Park and the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Madrid – Day Trip to Medieval Toledo
Spires will mark the horizon as you approach Toledo, and narrow streets will stretch up the hill, taking you past Moorish memoirs and a couple of synagogues. There will be harmony to this medieval city as religions and centuries will come together with ease. It is a city with countless secrets and where every lane hides something new. Luckily, you will have a fantastic, local guide to make sense of all the tales. Toledo is also visited by train from Madrid where you will spend the full day, first, following the El Greco trail up through Alcazar de Toledo to the city’s superb cathedral. You will then eat lunch on a terrace, discussing the enigmatic, local history. Afterward, you can stick around because the sunset from Toledo is one of Spain’s ultimate vistas.
Madrid – Discovering Madrid’s Famous Trilogy of Art Museums
An art historian will be your guide today, helping you experience the best of two or three world-famous art museums. The Prado is unmissable, which is a gallery to rank alongside the Louvre in terms of its collection and fame. Moving chronologically, you will travel through 900 years of Flemish and Spanish art, appreciating all the famous names and their styles. Then at Reina Sophia, you will jump into the 20th century with galleries of Picasso and Dali and Muro. These two museums can comfortably fill a full day, but you may choose to also visit Thyssen-Bornemisza, which is a once-private collection that takes you around the world from Cezanne and Van Gogh to Constable, Pollock, and Kandinsky.
Madrid – Exploring the Golden History of Avila and Salamanca
Thick fortress walls will encase the millennia-old city of Avila, which are reminiscent of memoirs to a time of quarrels between independent Iberian kingdoms. You will become lost in the city’s interior, exploring Romanesque and Gothic churches as you follow the chiming bells to Avila Cathedral. A little further by train and you will be in Salamanca, which is a city that was constructed from golden sandstone and is a mesmerizing piece of Castile history. The entire center is pedestrianized, and every building has the same golden hue. Yet, one each originates from a different era, so you can fully appreciate the contrasts between Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical, Renaissance, and Romanesque. Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor will be a perfect, final highlight as it possesses the grandest plaza in the whole of Spain and is a wonderful place to nibble on tapas as the sun crosses the sky.
Madrid – Departure
This journey through Barcelona and Madrid will come to an end with a private airport transfer. You will be immersed in two famous cities and enjoy an authentic Spanish experience.
- Explore the Modernist wonder of Barcelona, including Gaudi’s casas plus Montaner’s hospital and music hall
- Discover Spain’s royal legacy, notably at Madrid’s palace and El Escorial
- Luxuriate in the Penedes vineyards of Catalonia, popping a cork and drinking Cava
- Escape to Spain’s golden plains with a day trip to the early medieval cities of Avila and Salamanca
- Lounge on the Barcelona beach and spend leisurely evenings at the city’s waterside terraces
- Uncover a fabulous world of art, including Dali’s museum in Figueres, the Picasso Museum, and Madrid’s famous trilogy of galleries
- Using Barcelona as a base, you also make a day trip to Sitges where colorful houses lead the way to an elegant beach
- Spend a day in Toledo, which is an enchanting city of spires and El Greco
- With seven days in Barcelona, you do not miss out on any of the highlights, seeing everything from Barri Gotic to Montjuic and La Sagrada Familia
Spain is a country of passion and soul, where icons live on, and surprises are found on every corner. It is a country of endless highlights, from ethereal architecture and art to medieval cities and golden beaches. Moreover, it is a country that is memorable for its atmosphere and the soulful rendition of life that plays out on the streets. Nowhere is this ambiance better reflected than Barcelona, which is a glorious Catalan city on the coast. Second prize must go to Madrid, which is an enchanting capital city that is far more authentic than its European counterparts. Barcelona and Madrid are also gateway cities, which are bases from which to discover more of Spain. So, on this Barcelona Plus luxury itinerary, you also enjoy experiences in Penedes, Figueres, Sitges, Toledo, Avila, and Salamanca.
Handcrafted as a relaxed, Spanish vacation, this 13-day tour spends seven nights in Barcelona and five in Madrid. On some of the days, you explore the iconic cities, from the best of Gaudi to lanes of tapas and churros. Private day tours celebrate the best of the Catalonia and Castile regions, incorporating everything from decadent vineyards to golden sandstone cities and immense medieval walls. Along the way, this tour encounters Picasso, Dali, El Greco, and Montaner, but it is not entirely focused on the art and the sights. Exploring Spain also concerns relaxing on the beaches, lounging around restaurant terraces, and wandering local neighborhoods during the evening. By only having two overnight destinations, you will get comfortable and soon discover local neighborhood favorites along with all the iconic attractions.
With a full week in Barcelona, you can explore both the city and broader Catalan. Your hotel is within easy reach of the beach and the old Latin quarter, so there are many places to relax after a day of discovering the region. Spend two days in the heart of the city where Gaudi’s formative works are among the highlights. Escape to the Penedes vineyards on day three where the lush bubbles of Cava are created. Day four explores the northeast of the city, from La Sagrada Familia to Montaner’s stunning Sant Pau hospital.
Figueres is quaint and quiet and is a delightful Catalan town where Dali was born. Make a day trip here on day five before winding through old Barcelona on day six, from Montjuic Castle down to Barri Gotic. Culminating your experience in Barcelona is a day trip to Sitges, which is one of Spain’s most leisurely beach towns that are complete with colorful houses that line the way to an atmospheric swathe of Mediterranean sand. Travel from Barcelona to Madrid by train, which is the fastest connection between the two city centers. Then, admire how the atmosphere changes as Catalan flair is replaced by old-world elegance.
Make up your first Madrid impressions on days eight and nine as you stroll to the Plaza Mayor and relax in El Retiro Park. Visit El Escorial for a glorious example of royal excess. Toledo is easily reached on the train from Madrid, which is a complete, medieval city where you follow the El Greco trail across cobblestone hills. Three art museums provide the focus on day 11, including the world-famous Prado. Avila and Salamanca complete your vacation, which are glorious old cities with postcard sights at every turn. As with other day trips, you return to the city for an evening in your local neighborhood, indulging in the Spanish atmosphere. Consider learning more about our travelers’ best travel experiences by reading their Spain travel reviews.
$3,115 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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