Culture & Charms of the Mediterranean Coast Itinerary by First-Class Train

A 10 day trip to Spain 
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Spain’s Mediterranean coastline celebrates the country’s fascinating angles with a history that is alive in monuments and vibrant old quarters as localized cultures proudly bring exceptional cuisine, evocative design, and the laid-back atmosphere of a true getaway. This 10-day luxury tour will comb the Mediterranean coastline and explore the charms and contrasts found from Catalonia to Valencia to Murcia with a mix of both the famous and the unknown destinations via first-class train travel and expert local guides.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Barcelona, Sitges, Tarragona, Peniscola, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Cartagena

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Barcelona – Arrive and Take In Fine Dining in the Catalonian Capital

Barcelona will impress you at first glance as so much energy bounces over the cobbled streets from centuries past to modern day. Wine bars are built into the facade of 500-year-old buildings, with Gothic ghouls look over their terraces. You can smell the cuisine as exotic aromas swirl through the mazy lanes to mix with the salty breeze of the coast. Barcelona is a city that is easy on the eye and excitable for the soul, deserving its place as Spain’s most iconic destination. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to a hotel in the heart of Barcelona that is within walking distance of many attractions and restaurants. The afternoon is at your leisure before dinner reservations at one of Barcelona’s new breed of fine dining restaurants, where a Catalonian chef transforms traditional cuisine through molecular cooking.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer

Day 2: Barcelona – Wander the Roman Relics and the Gothic Grandeur

Begin in the maze of Barri Gotic, a mishmash of ruins and sun-scorched stone from 500 years ago. Move next out to the coast, where the remnants of a Roman colony seem unchanged for almost 2,000 years ago, the theater beneath the Barcelona History Museum a particularly impressive piece of early life along the Mediterranean coast. Stop for lunch with traditional Catalonian dishes accompanied by wine from one of Spain’s two DOCa regions – Priorat. Move into the afternoon, and you will get a sense for the coast with a modern view of Barcelona as super yachts lull in Port Vell, and then with the incredibly narrow lanes of Barceloneta, a tiny fishing neighborhood packed with old-world atmosphere. The guided part of your day will end here, and as you will be close to one of Barcelona’s best beaches, or you could return to the hotel for a siesta before an evening at leisure.

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

Day 3: Barcelona – Magic of the Modernista Movement Including La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona has the greatest abundance of art nouveau buildings found anywhere in the world. The architecture is more than just a source of local pride, but also a celebration of local Catalonian culture. Today’s immersive journey through the various designs will bring you between the architects and decades. Avoid most of the crowds by starting in La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s towering legacy that has been under construction for over a century to admire the views from the upper galleries and marvel at the extravagant facades, and then explore the chronically under-visited Hospital de la Santa Creu I de Sant Pau. Catalonia’s Modernista movement is made famous by Gaudi, and his teacher was Lluis Domenach i Montaner, and Montaner’s masterpiece is this epic hospital of pavilions and enchantment.

Following the Modernistas will allow you to explore new neighborhoods so that you can stop for lunch in Eixample then take a walk down the glamorous Passeig de Gracia, home of flagship designer stores. This has always been a high-end part of Barcelona, where the aristocrats commissioned the architects to craft unique art nouveau homes. Casa Batllo and La Pedrera provide a seductive look at Gaudi’s early work, the middle part of a journey in styles between the hospital and the Cathedral. Complete your day with a glass of bubbly in Park Guell, another fabulous work of Gaudi’s with uninterrupted views over the city.

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

Day 4: Sitges to Tarragona – The Seaside, Seafood and an Old Roman Capital

Sitges is packed with color and style, so it will feel as if you are continuing yesterday’s journey through design. Mostly built in the early 20th century, this Catalonian resort town mixes the tradition of a fishing village with the glamor of Modernista facades. Barely an hour from Barcelona on the first of your high-speed first-class rail journeys, your local guide will lead you through the enchanting streets. Tiny art galleries, energetic taverns, an abundance of cafes abound as Sitges is a small town with a lot to see and explore. Enjoy lunch here, with time for a stroll along the promenade, before taking the train further south to Tarragona.

With this mode of travel, your local guides will greet you at the station and help you to store your luggage before your onwards journey. The trains are fast and comfortable, often taking spectacular routes along the coast. In Tarragona, you will head first to the city’s stunning Roman amphitheater, which stands in a redolent state of ruin alongside the Mediterranean. Other Roman monuments dot the city, from a time when the city was one of the most important in the Western Roman Empire. Tarragona is easy to explore on foot, and you will have dinner reservations at an excellent seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor.

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

Day 5: Peniscola to Valencia – A Whitewashed Village From History and the Original Paella

At first glance, you may wonder why you are stopping in Peniscola. From the train station, there is little insight into the history that hides around the corners. A local guide will meet you at the platform for a short drive to the old quarter, with your bags safely kept in the vehicle. Wander through a narrow archway and the facade changes dramatically as you will be surrounded by white as the buildings shimmer, whether in the sun or the shade. Climb uphill and through the alleyways of Moorish history, to where Peniscola is topped by a medieval fortress. So many stories can be found in old Spanish destinations like this, places that are full of fables and fictions from the past.

Continue by train and through the countryside to Valencia. The landscapes will change during these journeys as the rustic hills of Catalonia are replaced by the fresh hues of Spain’s breadbasket. Plains dazzle with orange and citrus plantations, olives groves rise in harmony, and it will feel like a region that is in bloom almost every month of the year. This fresh inland produce is combined with exceptional seafood to create Valencia’s, and possibly Spain’s, most iconic dish: paella. Arriving in Valencia, you will have a late lunch reservation at one of the city’s original paella restaurants, the food as traditional as almost anywhere you can dine in the country. Paella was invented in Valencia, and the mix of subtle and punchy flavors is emblematic of the wider city.

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

Day 6: Valencia – Hidden Charms of Spain’s Third City

Authentic and enigmatic, Valencia is very much the forgotten third in Spain’s list of cities. It has almost everything from the dreamy Spanish city image, but generally without the crowds. Climb the twisting staircases of the Cathedral and admire how the Gothic style is different from the Cathedral you visited in Barcelona. Explore artistic treasures and an old quarter of palm-lined plazas, and then wander the promenade to take in the lively atmosphere that emanates from the terraces, the lucid colors of the Mediterranean stretching beyond the horizon. With a day in the city, your guide can lead you in different directions and the afternoon is very flexible, dependent on the side of Valencia you wish to experience. Try something different for dinner in the evening with a guided tapas crawl through quaint lanes with each bar specializing in a distinctive dish, a heaven for anyone who adores seafood or fresh produce.

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

Day 7: Alicante – Through the Hills, Along the Beaches and Tapas in the Old Quarter

Mediterranean train journeys are full of sights, your first-class carriage a window onto the country’s landscapes. Villages cling to hilltops in the distance with some washed in white and others a sun-faded red hue. Hills are graced with vineyards, but then turn a corner for views over the coastline. Today’s journey south will bring you to lively Alicante, a city of hidden charms and fantastic tapas. Like always, you will be greeted at the platform for a very short transfer to the hotel.

Enjoy lunch with your local guide for a chance to talk about the history and culture of the region, before ascending to the remains of Castillo de Santa Barbara, where the views over the Mediterranean are as good as anywhere in Europe. Wind back down into the Old Town, where tapas taverns provide a relaxed evening that feels iconically Spanish. The great highlight of tapas is that you can try out so many different restaurants and chefs in a single evening. The challenge is knowing what to try where, so going with your own guide will really enhance the experience.

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

Day 8: Murcia – Proud Originality of Spain’s Smallest Province

Think of Spanish provincial independence and the mind usually jumps to Catalonia or Basque. Murcia is the smallest of the regions with its own flag and own style of independence, the story told evocatively on a tour of the city with the same name. Surrounded by colorful plantations and packed with the peculiarities of design, this forgotten town is reached on a short train journey from Alicante. You will immediately sense the old-world grandeur as 15th-century Gothic cathedral spires dominate the skyline. Get a little closer, and the facade is full of baroque figures and strange eyes that watch as you enter.

The variety is a symbol of Murcia’s architectural originality as the city handpicked what it liked from the full succession of design and styles. This is showcased by the 19th-century casino in the heart of the city, the flamboyant entranceway glistening with mosaic Moorish-inspired tiles. Mirrors reflect the bright colors, and you will struggle to place the building because it looks like it took a little from everywhere. Then you remember that it is a building that is proudly from Murcia, much like La Sagrada Familia is from Catalonia. Most of Murcia is pedestrianized, and you complete the day wandering between the little plazas, taking your pick from an abundance of tapas bars.

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

Day 9: Cartagena – Forgotten Stories of the Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors

One of Spain’s oldest cities will complete your luxury tour along the Mediterranean. Cartagena feels like its history with almost nothing modern within the old city boundaries. An assortment of remains are almost built on top of each other, the historical trail leading you from the coast to a castle with sublime views. You will walk through the time of the Phoenicians, then the Romans, and then the legacy of the Moors, before the fortress shows how successive civilizations built upon what they had just conquered. Relaxed and redolent, Cartagena is also very quiet after the afternoon tourists have left, an idyllic place to recollect what has gone before and prepare for your journey back home.

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

Day 10: Cartagena to Murcia – Departure

It will be an hour by road transfer back to Murcia, where a direct morning flight brings you back to Barcelona and your international flight connection.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast 

Price

Starting Price 

$2,395
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.