Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will greet you and provide a private transfer to your hotel. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of the day is free to begin your discovery of Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1561 under King Philip II. The city’s rich cultural heritage and impressive architectural monuments reflect Spain’s status as a world power in the 16th century.
Begin your exploration of majestic Madrid by strolling around the elegant boulevards and paying a visit to one of the city’s world-class museums. The Museo Nacional del Prado houses the world’s best collection of Spanish art, with more than 4,800 paintings. The Goya collection is exceptionally rich, comprising over 150 paintings. There are also galleries that focus on collections from other countries, such as Italian, Flemish, French and British paintings. To help you get the most out of your visit, the museum has created special “routes” (suggested self-guided tours) of 15, 30 or 50 works of art that represent the most important masterpieces of the museum. For instance, you could see highlights such as “The Three Graces” by Rubens, “Jacob’s Dream” by Ribera and “Las Meninas” (The Family of Felipe IV) by Velázquez.
Today after breakfast, you’ll take a guided sightseeing tour. Discover the highlights of Madrid, once the capital of the most powerful empire in the world. The tour covers the historic Habsburg Quarter, a charming area of pedestrian streets and quiet squares. Begin at the Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s bustling main square at the heart of Madrid’s historic center. This hub of activity is a wonderful place for people-watching. Sometimes you might even catch a spontaneous Flamenco performance. Then you’ll wander over to the Plaza Mayor to admire the elegant 17th-century architecture and perhaps have a cup of coffee at one of the cafes with outdoor patios. The tour takes you into the magnificent Royal Palace, which was built in the 1700s for King Philip V to rival other European palaces like Versailles. This lavish palace of 2,000 rooms is filled with stunning chandeliers, luxurious tapestries and priceless works of art. After touring the palace, you’ll continue on to other emblematic sites such as the Cibeles Fountain and the Las Ventas Bullring.
The afternoon and evening are at your leisure to explore Madrid at your own pace. To truly experience the culture, take a tour of the city’s tapas bars. This lively custom is part of the everyday life in Madrid. Locals socialize with friends and colleagues at casual bars, where they enjoy a glass of wine accompanied by appetizers called “tapas.” Check out a bar called Cazorla (Calle Castelló 99) for authentic Andalusian tapas. You could also try La Colonial tapas bar (Calle Jorge Juan 34) to enjoy the stylish atmosphere and gourmet tapas made from the freshest ingredients.
You’ll have a free morning for more sightseeing in Madrid. You can continue exploring the city’s charming historic quarter or visit another museum. If you’re interested in Impressionist art, visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza or if you prefer contemporary art, then the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a wonderful choice.
This afternoon, you’ll take the high-speed train to Córdoba, the most important historic city of Andalusia. From the 10th to 13th centuries, Córdoba was the most important city in Europe. Under Moorish rule, three religions lived together peacefully and prospered. The capital city of Al Andalus (Spain’s Islamic empire), Córdoba attracted artists, poets, scholars, scientists, mathematicians and philosophers. While the rest of Europe was still in the Dark Ages, Córdoba experience a “Golden Age" under caliph Abdal-Rahman III who made the city a great metropolis of civilization. The city had an advanced street plan, a system of pumped-in fresh water, inspiring architecture, regulated trade, and public lighting (all this was seven centuries before London or Rome had similar advances). The centerpiece of Córdoba was the grand mosque that rivaled the mosques of other Islamic capitals in its immense size and brilliant design details.
Córdoba is a typical convivial Andalusian city with plenty of charm and atmosphere. Besides the UNESCO-listed Mezquita, the grand Mosque-Cathedral, Córdoba's treasures include the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Palace of the Christian Kings), an ancient Jewish synagogue and Córdoba's Judería, the old Jewish Quarter. You will discover wonderful hidden corners while wandering through the medieval Jewish Quarter’s labyrinth of winding narrow streets, shady courtyards and picturesque squares. Look out for the lovely flower-filled patios and monuments such as a 16th-century stone fountain at La Plaza del Potro, a famous square.
For centuries during the Moorish rule, Granada was a hub for poets, artists, philosophers and romantics. Several sites in this beautiful city have been declared national landmarks by the UNESCO. You'll see the reflections of Granada's glorious past in whichever way you look. It’s easy to imagine how the Moorish sovereigns presided over this region’s wealthy kingdom for 800 years. This morning, you’ll visit the city’s most magnificent site, the Alhambra Palace. This was the last Moorish palace and is a spectacular architectural testament to the Islamic civilization that flourished here. Admire the exquisite palaces with their ornate fretwork and swirling arabesque designs. Then amble through the lush flowering gardens and listen to the music of fountains. You will feel delightfully transported to an oasis of natural beauty.
Another fascinating site in Granada is the Albaicín, the old Arab quarter. This medieval neighborhood is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets and typical Andalusian whitewashed houses. Keep an eye out for the traditional carmenes, charming houses with flourishing gardens. The word “carmen” originates from the Arab word “karm” that means vine, and the houses took on this name because of their distinctive gardens full of grape vines, fruit trees and flowering plants. For a truly exotic experience, pamper yourself with a spa treatment at the exquisite Hamman Al Ándalus. This Hammam, Arab Baths, offers an exceptional example of Islamic architecture and design, featuring typical decorative tiles and inspiring arches.
After walking through the maze of little streets in the Albaicín, continue up to Sacromonte, the Gypsy quarter. Famous for its cave dwellings, the Sacromonte is built on a steep hill and commands spectacular views of Granada. The Sacromonte is also a place where authentic Flamenco dance flourishes. Later in the evening, attend a performance at an atmospheric venue in one of the caves.
Day 5 - 6
Today you’ll take the high-speed train to Seville. The quintessential Andalusian city, Seville is a place where you will discover the Spanish passion for life. Beautifully situated in southern Spain by the Guadalquivir River, Sevilla is one of loveliest historic cities in Europe. Seville radiates elegance, culture and sophistication.
You embark on a walking tour of Seville with one of the friendly guides from ShowMeSevilla. During the Historical and Cultural Tour, the guide will share their enthusiasm for the city while imparting their local knowledge of its iconic landmarks as you visit each location. ShowMeSevilla offers a variety of tours that can be customized according to guests’ interests, availability, and language preferences. With over 20 years of experience, their guides are guaranteed to create an unforgettable experience in this enchanting city.
You begin with the city's awe-inspiring Cathedral, which is the world's largest Gothic church. Your guide informs you that this splendid Cathedral was built over the old grand mosque. The most important remaining feature of the old mosque is La Giralda, the bell tower that was formerly the minaret (mosque's tower). The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh inspired the tower. As your guide escorts you into the cathedral take some time to appreciate the immense grandeur of the Capilla Mayor, the main chapel. Then admire the exquisitely ornate altarpiece coated in gold leaves. Next, your ShowMeSevilla guide directs you to the Real Alcázar, the royal palace that is still a residence for the Spanish monarchy. This enchanting oasis of beauty offers a respite from the city's hustle and bustle. The palace was designed in Mudejar style with a strong Islamic influence with central courtyards and surrounded by lovely gardens. Your guide takes you on a tour of the lavish interior to admire the intricate Andalusian design patterns. Then you stroll through the gardens and relax by one of the glittering pools.
After visiting the most important historic monuments, your guided tour continues as you are escorted to the magical atmosphere of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter. Stroll through the narrow streets and the picturesque courtyards in this delightful part of the city. The Barrio de Santa Cruz is a fashionable neighborhood with stylish cafes and lively tapas bars. Your guide helps you to discover some of the hidden side streets and locals' hangouts that most tourists miss. The tour comes to an end at the Plaza del Triunfo, or Triumph Square, where you will say goodbye to your knowledgeable and welcoming guide from ShowMeSevilla who will leave you with a lasting impression of sensational Seville.
Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of a wonderful vacation with a tapas tour or a gourmet meal. Later in the evening, experience a traditional Flamenco dance performance in one of Seville’s atmospheric Tablao Flamenco venues.
The tour concludes today after breakfast at your hotel. You’ll be provided a private transfer to the airport in time for your return flight home.
For more information or to read what others have said about their trip experience, visit the Spain travel reviews section on Zicasso.
Travel by high-speed train to see the highlights of Spain. You’ll begin in Madrid, a cosmopolitan city and the meeting place of history and commerce. This fun-loving and energetic metropolis is waiting to impress you with its world-class art, gourmet cuisine and hopping nightlife. Madrid is a city that truly comes alive after dark!
Next you’ll travel to Córdoba, which once was the capital of old Al Andalus (the ancient Moorish kingdom). Admire the beauty of this fascinating historical city and its UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Mezquita. This Mosque-Cathedral is one of the most amazing buildings in the world. Explore Córdoba's medieval quarter "La Judería", a maze of winding ancient streets, flower-filled courtyards and picturesque squares.
In Granada, you’ll discover its Andalusian charm by wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Albaicín, the old Arab quarter, and visiting the spectacular Alhambra Palace. There is a dreamlike quality to Granada, an ancient Moorish elegance that enchants you and slowly seduces you.
Finally you’ll visit Seville, a colorful city of unlimited spirit and passion, a place where the legacy of the past flows seamlessly into the vibrant present. Seville is the most quintessentially Andalusian city where you can experience the traditional culture: bullfights, siestas, tapas, Flamenco and festivals. The breathtaking beauty and joyous lifestyle of Seville provide the perfect conclusion to your to Andalusian tour.
You may also be interested in exploring the Spain tours section on Zicasso for more trip ideas.
$1675 per person (excluding international flights)
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