You land this morning on the outskirts of Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and one of the great metropolises of the world. Barcelona is home to an eclectic architectural scene and some of the best nightlife in Europe. A driver will be waiting at the airport to escort you to your charming and centrally-located hotel, where you can drop off your bags and recover from jet lag before hitting the streets of this majestic and cosmopolitan city.
Make your leisurely way down La Rambla, perhaps the most famous street in the city, taking you from deep in the heart of Barcelona all the way to the sandy shores that line the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll check out a number of mini-monuments of the city’s artistic heritage, including a colorful street mosaic executred by Joan Miro. Stroll by inspiring edifices like the Virreina Palace and the spell-binding Gran Teatre del Liceu before visiting the incomparable La Boqueria, an immense public market that is among the best and most famous of its kind in Europe. Here, you can find literally everything for sale, from fresh and succulent produce to delicious meat and seafood, to scrumptious candies, to handcrafts and artisanal goods.
This evening, enjoy tapas and traditional Catalan cuisine like paella and arros negre before enjoying the endless and enthusiastic celebration of the night, Barcelona style.
Today you discover the very best of Barcelona’s breathtaking architecture as you take a tour that will show you the masterworks of this magnificent metropolis. Start at the incomparable and unforgettable Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s iconic magnum opus that has since become an international calling card for the city. You’ll be amazed at the architect’s transcendent vision and astounding imagination as you gaze upon the spires that soar into the bright blue Catalonian sky, and you’ll be transfixed by the intricacies and incredible detailing that fills every square inch of this massive structure. From the angular and gaunt sculptures that fill the Passion façade, to the opulent and ornate apportionments of the sumptuous interior, this is sure to be one church unlike any you’ve ever known.
Continue on to see Gaudi’s most-used artistic achievement, the whimsical and wonderful Park Güell, where thousands of locals and tourists alike descend to enjoy the gorgeous weather and fascinating population of this delightful capital city. The mosaics that fill the space give it a color that is dazzling and darling, while the graceful curves and secluded walkways tame its more surrealist and unorthodox elements and offer the perfect place for contemplation or genial chitchat. You’ll also get a chance to see two of Gaudi’s best-known buildings, the famed Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera) and Casa Battlo, in the heart of the city. These incredible structures – essentially the world’s most unusual apartment buildings – have been praised for their innovation and imagination, as there are no straight lines to be found, and strange, otherworldly features are dominant. Climb to the roof of Casa Mila to get a look at the amazing chimneys, ventilation towers and statuary known as “witch scarers,” or marvel at the mosaic roof of the Casa Battlo, clearly visible from street level.
You might also choose to climb to the top of nearby Montjuic, where you’ll find some of the city’s best art museums. The Palacio Nacional houses the impressive National Museum of Catalan art – the Palace itself is impressive in its own right – while nearby you’ll find the Joan Miro Foundation, the Catalan Museum of archaeology and a beautiful botanical garden that offers awe-inspiring views over the city. There is also the open-air architectural museum known as the Poble Espanyol, where you’ll encounter models of some of the greatest example of Spanish architecture in a setting that is nothing if not one-of-a-kind, and the city’s Picasso Museum is truly not to be missed. Here, you’ll find more than 3,500 collected works of the Spanish master, including all 58 pieces of his daunting and inspiring Las Meninas series, an eclectic compilation of paintings that are dedicated to the staggering genius of Diego Velazquez’s best-known work.
This morning is at your leisure, designed to give you the chance to recover from your Barcelona evenings and enjoy the city at a slower and lighter pace. Enjoy a piping hot coffee and a delicious Spanish pastry before strolling down the grand Passeig de Gracia, one of Barcelona’s main thoroughfares and the most expensive and exclusive street in the entire country. Perambulate past the elegant and iconic Hotel Majestic Barcelona before taking in the incredible scene of the famed “Block of Discord,” where three of the greatest examples of Catalonian Modernisme architecture can be found. You’ll be dazzled by the ornate stonework of the Casa Lleo Morera – extending all the way to the building’s gorgeous tempietto that surmounts the roof – and stunned by the unforgettable façade of Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller, from its unique stair-step shape to the bright and vivid colors and fantastic designs that cover the exterior.
This afternoon introduces you to the glories outside the city limits, where the pull of the past is irresistible and the air is heavy with awe and veneration. You’ll set out for an unforgettable excursion at the nearby hill of Montserrat, a jagged peak that rises over the horizon mouth-like and menacing. The mountain is one of the most noteworthy areas in northern Spain. Not only was it the country’s first national park, but it is also the site of the important and impressive Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey that is best known as being the home of the Virgin of Montserrat, one of Europe’s best known Black Madonnas. Legend has it that Benedictine monks were unable to move the statue to the proposed construction site of their abbey, so they chose instead to build around it. It has become a major pilgrimage site for Catalonia and the surrounding areas, attracting thousands of visitors a year (including St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits).
Montserrat is also home to an impressive museum, comprising a collection of more than 1,300 pieces from throughout time and space. Here you’ll find an impressive array of gold liturgical objects dating from as early as the 15th century, an Egyptian sarcophagus dating from the 13th century BC, and a surprisingly diverse and extensive selection of paintings from a number of great European masters. You’ll be inspired by Caravaggio’s divine Saint Jerome in Meditation, and you’ll be sure to enjoy the works from modern masters like Monet, Braque, Degas, and Picasso.
Before you leave, make sure to catch an afternoon Salve sung by L’Escolania, the Abbey’s boy's choir, that is one of the oldest and best-known groups of its kind in Europe. Set in the heart of this imposing and impressive structure, their songs are sure to lift your spirits heavenward in meditation of the greatness of the scenery and the glories of the Abbey itself. The evening sees you back in Barcelona.
Day 4 - 5
Take the day to explore Barcelona at your own pace. You may want to visit the Las Ramblas section of the city where artists and shops fill the boulevard, or depending on the weather, go for a swim at the beach and sun bathe with the locals. Visiting the local tapas bars is highly recommended as you try some of the local favorites like papas bravas (deep fried potatoes with aioli sauce) and caracoles (snails in spicy garlic sauce).
Day 6 - 7
Today is time to say goodbye to Spain and return home, filled with memories of the past few days and anxious for your chance to return again. You can be sure that the plane ride home will be filled with reminiscences of times past and plans for future travels to this astounding and alluring area.
The northeast of Spain is a world apart from the rest of the country, differentiated by custom, cuisine and language. It's a region that is as varied and vibrant as the people that call it home. This five-day tour offers the perfect primer to the region’s greatest city and its greatest pilgrimage site, and an incomparable introduction to the glories and grandeur of captivating Catalonia. Whatever you wish for, whatever you’ve dreamed of, you’re sure to find it in Barcelona and Montserrat.
Spend your days exploring some of the world’s best architectural marvels, from the modern masterpieces of the Sagrada Familia to the venerable and venerated basilica of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Lose yourself in Barcelona’s incomparable night life, where morning always seems to come too soon and where new friends are made at every street corner. Marvel at the brilliance of L’Escolania – one of the oldest boy choirs in Europe. Immerse yourself in the reverence of this almost mystical place, from the Abbey’s famous black Madonna to its accompanying museum, filled to the brim with works from some of the greatest practitioners of modern art.
From the sandy beaches that fringe the Mediterranean Sea to the jagged protuberances of mythical Montserrat, this is Catalonia at its purest, its proudest, and its more unforgettable. This is a place where the past comes alive, and where the present sets your imagination ablaze.
If you'd like to explore more of Spain, visit the Spain tours section for additional itineraries.
$1675 per person (excluding international flights)
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