TOUR OVERVIEW / HIGHLIGHT
See the jewels of Barcelona and Andalusia with this 11-day itinerary. Barcelona is the magnificent capital of Catalonia situated on the Mediterranean coast. A place to appreciate the greatness of the architect Antoni Gaudi as well as some of the finest and most innovative cuisine in Spain. Andalusia is the land of olive groves and rolling hills of almond blossom, flamenco dancers and gypsy songs, bullfighting and fiestas. This journey combines 2 captivating regions of Spain and offers the traveller an incredible medley of sights, sounds, tastes and scents.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
DAY 01: ARRIVAL - BARCELONA
Welcome to Catalonia of Southern Spain!
You are met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in Barcelona for a 2-night stay.
In the evening, enjoy a private walk of the medieval Gothic Quarter and its trendy El Born neighborhood. Your guide will lead you down the narrow cobbled streets and point out the rich history as you pass Roman ruins, the grand Plaça Real, and the gothic Barcelona Cathedral, which dates to the 13th century. As you learn more about the city, you'll sample a range of classic and modern tapas while rubbing shoulders with locals. In fact, you'll stop in several atmospheric and authentic tapas bars having a drink and bite to eat in each one while learning to 'tapear' like a true Catalan!
DAY 02: BARCELONA
Today, enjoy an insightful excursion to the mountain of Montserrat, one of the most magical, spiritual and amazing places in Catalonia. It is a rocky massif with strange shapes and rounded summits that project towards the sky. Inside the natural park, we can find the Basilica of the Virgin of Montserrat, patroness of Catalonia, and the famous Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Our visit will begin in the monastery, founded in 1025 and place where the monks still live today dedicating their lives to work, to pray and to taking care of the sanctuary, as well as to receiving the pilgrims. Then we will visit the Basilica, home to the famous XII century romanesque sculpture of "La Moreneta”, known as the Black Madonna. After that we will take the funicular of Sant Joan and climb up to 1000 meters. Once up we will make a short excursion to the natural park of Montserrat and enjoy the stunning views and spirituality of this sacred mountain from one of its viewpoints. After the walk, we will go back to the Basilica to witness the singing of the escolanía de Montserrat, one of the oldest choirs of children in Europe.
There will be a couple of relaxing hours in your hotel before exploring more of Barcelona later in the day with the visit of the Castellers Human Tower Builders - a wonderful chance to experience first hand and up close, a local tradition unique to the Mediterranean regions of Cataluña, Valencia and the Balearic Islands - human tower building! You will visit the Casteller de la Vila de Gracias' centre in Barcelona to get a real insight into this astonishing and breathtaking age-old practice.
DAY 03: BARCELONA / GRANADA
Enjoy a morning tour of Park Güell & the Sagrada Familia. The destinations are two of the most impressive works by the legendary Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí.
First, you'll visit Park Güell. Located atop Carmel Hill in north Barcelona, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fine example of Gaudí's boundary-pushing modernist style. The park takes up 42 acres and you'll be able to marvel at every building as you stroll the walkways and gardens. There are also incredible views at many points in Park Güell that look out over the city.
Next up is the Sagrada Família, the iconic Roman Catholic basilica with an impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan-modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Despite construction on the church beginning in 1882, it's still technically under construction and was only consecrated in 2010.
This afternoon, take a short flight / high-speed train ride southwards to Granada of Andalusia. Check in your charming accommodation set in a 19th-century palace for a 2-night stay.
DAY 04: GRANADA
Today will be one of the highlights of your holiday in Spain!
You're in for a guided tour of the truly magnificent ‘Alhambra’ with a private guide to bring it alive. With as many myths and legends as there are arches and fountains, the Alhambra is enthralling so expect the next few hours to fly by. It’s also got the best view in Granada and that’s worth pausing over too.
After the visit, you’ll have free time to explore the Alhambra at your leisure and then make your own way back down to Granada when you’re ready.
Following lunch, enjoy a relaxed, informal exploration of the Albaicín district, the one-time Moorish quarter of Granada and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our expert guide will show you how this medieval Islamic city has kept its identity into the modern age, explaining its social history and character in anecdotal style, and also answering your questions about current-day Spain. As you walk through its cat’s cradle of twisting alleyways you will come across stunning views of the city, the majestic Alhambra palaces, and the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada. You will pass by churches built on the sites of mosques, stroll underneath the walls of the scented gardens of Carmenes, and stop in squares to take in the slow rhythms of daily life in this most traditional and yet singular neighborhood.
For dinner, we have reserved you a table at Restaurant Aben Humeya. Aside from the excellent food and service, you'll also be able to enjoy spectacular views across to the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. A visit to Granada wouldn't be complete without experiencing dinner on the balcony of a traditional ‘Carmen’ (Moorish palace house). Please note, this is only a reservation. Dinner is Not included.
DAY 05: GRANADA / EL CAMINITO DEL REY / RONDA
Your guide will collect you at your hotel this morning and together, you'll set off out of the city to the west.
Today you are in for a thrill: full-day hiking the Caminito del Rey, which will quite literally take your breath away!
On arrival, you'll make your way to the start, accompanied by your experienced guide who will bring the incredible route to life. It is approximately a 45-minute walk to the Northern gate, where you will need to show your tickets, receive a hard hat and a security talk before entering the famous gorge section of the trail.
The Caminito del Rey feels like a blend between a hike and an aerial adventure. Visitors trek through beautiful scenery as well as edging along wooden walkways attached to a sheer cliff face located many hundred feet off the ground. It’s a truly exhilarating experience! Known as "one of the world's scariest hikes", it is one of the most exciting things you can do in Andalucia. You can enjoy the incredible scenery, rather Grand Canyonesque and feel the adrenaline rush as you creep along the gorge’s edge, hundreds of feet above the raging waters. Discover an area of Andalucia that is off the beaten path for most travellers.
Once you have safely made it to the other end, you'll meet your driver to continue on to a local restaurant for some nourishment as a prize for the accomplishment! You will then continue on your journey to your tastefully furnished accommodation on the outskirts of Ronda for a 3-night stay.
DAY 06: RONDA
Today, one of our favourite locals will take you on a private walking tour of the Ronda very few visitors get to experience. You'll stroll through the tiny backstreets of one of the oldest towns in Spain, past incredible buildings and be absolutely mesmerised by the views of the River Tajo from the Ronda Bridge. You'll also enter the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain.
Ronda is a small wine region that is making a lot of noise amongst wine connoisseurs. Varying altitudes and microclimates and a broad variety of grapes and techniques make it a very interesting region to visit and taste wines in.
This afternoon, we have arranged a private winery visit to one of the area's smaller, family-run bodegas. Learn all about their journey with its trials and tribulations, before sitting down to try their finest wines with your delightful and very chatty host!
DAY 07: RONDA
Today you'll join a unique day-trip to a Rural Andalusian Village that gets to the heart of what it's like to feel like a rural villager in Andalusia.
First, make your way to a small mountain village where you'll meet a friendly resident who will be your guide and host. Together, you'll wander through the surrounding countryside, via walking trails, while learning about the rural lifestyle and the area's seasonal farms and quality products. You're likely to encounter donkeys, dogs, cats, and local neighbors as you take in some breathtaking views. From here, make your way into the small village itself and let your local guide show you around. This is where you'll visit a little winery, a restored olive mill, and a local breadmaker who bakes with an 18th-century oven while chatting with the owners. Capping the trip, you'll meet your guide's family and sit down for a sumptuous homemade lunch. This personal and touching travel experience is hard to beat!
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
DAY 08: RONDA / CADIZ / SEVILLE
Prepare yourself for an excursion full of breath-taking scenery and enchanting villages. We travel to the beautiful hills in the province of Cadiz, taking in some of the most spectacular views of Andalusia's most attractive villages. Driving through olive groves, then rolling meadows, cork forests and mountainous terrain we will visit a number of Andalusia’s white villages, perched on hillsides with the iconic whitewashed houses visible for miles around.
Your first stop will be Zahara de la Sierra, perhaps the most beautiful of all the White Villages. Nearby you will visit a fabulous olive mill to learn about their production and taste their oils before driving up and over to Grazalema. Here, you will sample the renowned payoyo cheese and explore the streets of Spains most charming White Village.
In the afternoon, continue your journey to Seville where you'll check into your accommodation in Seville for a 3-night stay.
DAY 09: SEVILLE
This morning, set off to explore Seville’s greatest monuments. Visit the Santa Cruz suburb and the old Jewish quarter. This is an area peppered with narrow, meandering streets and charming plazas. Learn about Seville’s great cathedral, the largest gothic cathedral in the world and holder of the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Visit the Alcázar, a royal palace built by Moorish kings, with beautiful gardens and the finest examples of mudejar architecture to be seen today. Learn about the fascinating relationship between Peter the Cruel and Mohamed V which allowed for the Alcázar to benefit from the finest artists and architects in Spain. When you finish your tour be sure to ask your guide to recommend other places to visit or an excellent restaurant or two!
Seville is one of the birthplaces of flamenco music. Suburbs such as Triana and La Macarena are a melting pot of flamenco influences and the city is full of superb venues offering live performances. Meet your local resident guide this evening and enjoy a stroll through the city centre to a renowned flamenco venue. As you walk, your guide will prepare you to dip your toe into the underworld of flamenco, its history, origins and influences before sitting down to watch a live flamenco performance. The venues that we select invite different professional artists to perform each night to ensure maximum spontaneity and quality in each show. After enjoying the flamenco show, your guide will take you on a tapas tour where you can rub shoulders with the locals and sample some of Seville’s top tapas in the buzzing bars of the city centre.
DAY 10: SEVILLE
Get ready for a cultural triathlon of Seville today as we’re going to put you through your paces and show you the city of Sevilla at canter, cruise and walking pace!
Meet your resident host in your hotel and hop on board your horse-drawn carriage. Trot through the centre and the Maria Luisa Park and learn about the city’s most emblematic sites and monuments. After saying goodbye to your horse, stroll down to the riverside where you’ll board your private riverboat. Cruise along the Guadalquivir river, packed full of history, but also a privileged vantage point from which to see the city and many of its bridges and suburbs in total comfort. You’ll dock on the other side of the river in the suburb of Triana, formerly a cultural cocktail beyond the city limits, but today a neighbourhood that mixes swashbuckling tales and urban legends with a trendy and sophisticated vibe. Enjoy a guided walk around Triana and its buzzing market and get under the skin of this special pocket of Seville. At the end of your tour you can choose to return to your hotel, or your guide can recommend a good spot for you to have lunch in Triana.
Next, you'll experience an insider's visit to an art restoration studio, hidden down a small side street in the old town of Seville. Renowned art restorers, Jesus & Pablo invite us into their home and studio to share with us the passion for their profession and reveal the techniques they use to save age-old pieces and bring them back to life. Far removed from museum queues and shuffling tour groups and in the privacy of their home, these experts in their field, take the time to talk us through the numerous works of art that are being restored. Depending on the day, you might find Golden Age paintings, rococo mirrors, ivory crucifixes or Roman pottery over 2000 years old. They will demonstrate how to remove the dirt and grime from an age-old canvas, leaving a clean and fresh original image. Watch them piece together ceramics to recreate Roman pottery. Discover how chips, rips and tears can be cured and hidden as if they had never happened.
If you have a passion for art, spending a couple of hours with these experts is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
Option to replace the tour with a full-day excursion to Cordoba, or better still, extend another day to cover both!
DAY 11: SEVILLE / BARCELONA - DEPARTURE
There’s still time for a last taste of Andalusia before heading to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
ACCOMMODATION WE LOVE:
11D10N - 2N Barcelona, 2N Granada, 3N Ronda, 3N Seville