Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Barcelona
Dates are customizable for private departures.
This and so much more will reveal itself to you on this historically based 10-day adventure of Spanish castles, from the central highlands to the sun-swept shores of Catalonia. Much like the contents of its museums and galleries, Spain is a work of art; it is painted upon a canvas of rolling hills, rugged coastlines, high plateaus, and snow-capped mountains in addition to being sculpted by centuries of ruling kingdoms, complex cultures, and conflict.
Madrid – Exploring Madrid’s El Retiro Park
Meeting you at the expansive Madrid-Barajas International Airport, your private driver will whisk you effortlessly through traffic to the rich and storied interior of the city. Upon your arrival to your luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city, you will have the chance to refresh yourself before stretching your legs on the numerous boulevards, alleys, and corridors of this pedestrian-friendly district. Your destination lies to the East, where El Retiro park offers visitors an expanse of greenery, winding trails, bubbling fountains, and secret grottos. Whether romantically-inclined or hoping to enjoy the outdoors, there is something for everyone to be found here.
Madrid – A Royal Introduction to Spain
Your first full day in Spain will include an immersive exploration of the authority and arms that contributed to Spain’s impressive empire. You will be met at the entrance of the royal palace by your guide, who will lead you through the numerous salons, corridors, and chambers of the grounds. Luckily for you, this tour will not include all 2,800 rooms that make up the palace and will instead feature highlights, such as the Salon del Trono, the Salon de Gasparini, and the main banquet hall. After surveying the decadence of monarchs, you will visit the might that supported such decadence at the Royal Armory of Madrid.
Madrid – Day Trip to Toledo’s Hilltop Castle
With the proud image of the Palacio Real still vivid in your mind, you will visit a few fortresses during your day trip to Toledo, where you will also visit a Spanish castle. Separated by an hour’s drive, Toledo will lead you through some distractingly beautiful countrysides before leaving you at the entrance to the old city center. Upon your arrival, you will be met by your guide who will help you to uncover Toledo’s best-kept secrets before ascending the hill to visit the imposing fortress. At the conclusion of your tour, you will have time to explore the tangle of streets of Toledo’s center before your private car returns you to your luxurious accommodation in Madrid.
Seville – A Taste of Andalusian Splendor
After a leisurely wake up in your opulent accommodation in Madrid, a car will transfer you to Madrid’s rail station, where you will take your seats on one of the many convenient and swift trains that connect Madrid with the rest of Spain. Be sure to secure a window seat because you will not want to miss the spectacular views of Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia. Flamenco is a music and dance performance that features rhythmic clapping, stepping, and tapping by dancers, which are all held together by a web of melody from a Spanish guitar. Along with the music, a sense of nostalgia will rise and fall as you watch the performance, which will prove to be an ideal way to spend your first night in Seville.
Seville – Visit the Grand Alcazar
On your second day in Andalusia, your tour of Spanish castles will continue in the vibrant heart of Seville. Conveniently situated in the old city center, the Grand Alcazar represents the extension of royal influence beyond Madrid. Built on the site of an old Muslim Fortress, Seville’s Alcazar remains an oasis to the trail-weary traveler. As you stroll the grounds of this sprawling estate, the heat of Southern Spain will vanish in a series of shaded courtyards, well-groomed gardens, and airy balconies and patios, which will offer you as much relief as they did the royal families that once resided here. After your visit, you will have the remainder of the day to explore the colorful corners of Seville city center.
Seville – Tapas and Tile Making
Situated along the banks of the Guadalquivir River is the Plaza de Toros Real Maestranza. This operating bullring allows visitors to journey through Spain's bullfighting heritage. You will also witness the arena where both man and beast have met their fate. Afterward, you can witness colorful examples of the proud, ceramic tradition of Andalusia and the particular attention to detail that Sevillian artisans devote to protect and promote their craft. After you have had the opportunity to explore Seville's city center, you will dive into Andalusia’s craft-making history. A short stroll through the jumble of nameless plazas and narrow alleys will lead you to the setting for your very own tile-making course.
Barcelona – Immersion into Catalonia’s Past
Meeting you downstairs, your private driver will transfer you to the domestic airport outside the city, where you will enjoy a comfortable flight to the Northeast corner of this magical country. Finally, you will break your tour of landlocked cities for the seaside atmosphere of Catalonia. After you have been provided with the opportunity to settle in to your new accommodation, you can walk to the plaza and survey the damage from the fascist bombs that fell here in 1938. Most tours of Barcelona skip this historic monument, making this the perfect place for contemplation and appreciation for those who sacrificed all to preserve democracy. After your initial exploration of your surroundings, your secure and comfortable hotel will be waiting for you to ensure that you receive plenty of rest before the final leg of your Spanish tour.
Barcelona – Visit Horta’s Castle and Adjacent Labyrinth
After a satisfying breakfast, you will be met outside by your private driver who will transfer you inland. It is trips to the suburbs of Barcelona that introduce the observant traveler to the unique city planning of Barcelona. As you make your way West, the tourist traps and bachelorette parties will be left far behind, and you will begin to see glimpses of authentic Catalan communities. Meeting you at the entrance to Labyrinth Park, your guide will provide you with an introduction to the estate, along with a brief history. Beyond the entrance to the park lies the neatly cropped cypress trees that outline the maze. While small enough to offer no real worry but large enough to confuse you at least once, this maze will be just one of many excellent reasons to abandon the hordes of beachgoers and sun-worshippers to witness an authentic glimpse of daily life in Barcelona.
Barcelona – Tour of Northern Catalonia Castles
Today, your pursuit of the finest Spanish castles will lead you out of Barcelona to the towns of Tossa de Mar and Begur. This stretch of Catalonian coastline is called la Costa Brava and boasts an impressive array of sandy beaches, luxurious resorts, and some of the most lavish castles in the region. As you stroll to the top of the small mountain, you will encounter the impressive ruins of a medieval Church before reaching the top and enjoying the stunning sea views to a contemporary lighthouse. The nearby town of Begur will present you with another promontory that will be capped by the ruins of a medieval fortress. Your day will conclude with a safe return to Barcelona, where those with unspent energy can explore the city’s vibrant nightlife that is waiting for you.
Barcelona – Leaving the Land of the Spanish Fortresses
Your last day in Spain will find you considering how best to spend your remaining moments. You can dash out to the corner store to pick up the item in the window that caused you to look twice the day before or sip a cafe con leche from the bar with the handsome barista. Perhaps a final stroll through these stone-lined alleys will inspire your imagination to finally open that book of Catalonian history that has been collecting dust on your shelf at home. In any case, your final day in Barcelona will provide you with a substantial breakfast before your transfer arrives to whisk you along to the international airport.
- Recline in the shade and splendor of Madrid’s Retiro Park and stretch your legs along the paths and terraced gardens
- Stroll through the centuries of Spanish royal history at the Palacio Real, where the monuments, gardens, and halls provide a torrent of splendor that are reminiscent of a gilded past
- Marvel at Toledo’s formidable alcazar and survey the landscape from the security of this stronghold
- Discern the subtle changes in scenery from the comfort of your first-class train accommodation as you journey from central Madrid to the rolling hills and winding roads of Andalusia
- Wander the luscious gardens and vaulted corridors of Seville’s centrally-located alcazar, which is a 14th-century fortress that exhibits the characteristics of both Christian and Muslim architecture
- Explore the history of the Spanish Civil War through a visit to Barcelona’s Gothic neighborhood
- Immerse yourself in the past of an 18th-century palace that is complete with extensive botanical gardens and a maze of cypress trees
- Survey the redoubts of Begur and Tossa de Mar on a day trip to Northern Catalonia’s castles and the picturesque communities they protected
Spain enjoys special status in the club of continent-spanning empires. The country’s reach helped usher in a new era of commerce, communication, and history. Whether through the conjunction of the Old World with the New, the competition between potent religious orthodoxies, or the extension of a global empire, Spain has been through it all. You will encounter a side of Spain that has remained unseen by many and will return impressed with the history waiting behind each corner, which will be delivered through a tour of the country’s intact and crumbling castles.
The first leg of your tour will begin in the capital of Madrid, which is the modern seat of parliamentary power and the city from which kings and queens of old reigned over the land. Through a visit to the Palacio Real and Toledo’s alcazar, you will develop a context for Spain illustrious past. Seville’s own alcazar will then provide you with an example of the influence of Islam in Spain’s development as can be seen in the arches, terraces, and engravings that adorn much of the palace. Lastly, the exotic shores of Catalonia will offer a dramatic backdrop to this rugged region. Catalonia, like the Basque land to the Northwest, has a deep, nationalist pride that fuels a distinct identity by many who live there. As you wander the alleys of Barcelona and the fortified heights of Begur and Tossa de Mar, the country’s identity will disclose itself to you along with the special union of past and present that can be found here.
The best time to enjoy this tour is during the Spring or late fall, which is when the seasons provide an enjoyable absence of crowds through which Spain’s complex past can be discovered. Along with the numerous castles, you will encounter mouthwatering cuisine, soulful musical performances, and pristine beaches. Ten days will only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg for the robust history fan, but these ten days will provide you an impression that you truly have encountered Spain.
$2,395 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.
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.
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