HIGHLIGHTS OF SPAIN
HIGHLIGHTS OF SPAIN
In our “Highlights of Spain” tour, you will experience a 10-day adventure of some of Spain‘s most alluring destinations. These include Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona, plus a day trip to Toledo.
Spain is in color. Think the red of a flamenco dancer whirling through the square of Seville. It’s the bluest of blue sea on the Costa Del Sol. The warm yellow glow of buildings at sunset in a plaza in Madrid. There is also the vivid, lush greens of the Pyrenees mountains in Catalonia. It’s the deep red of a glass of “vino tinto” at a bodega for an array of tapas as the day melts into night. Additionally, the night melts into dinner time, effortlessly, as only the Spanish can do. It’s the colors of the many faces of Spain through history. Last but certainly not least, the modern-day, magical absorption of all of these influences into one culture that reflects as many facets as you find colors in the early morning Spanish sky. Our 10-day itinerary allows you to enjoy three different “tastes” of this amazing country.
MADRID – 3 NIGHTS
Welcome to Spain! The first stop on your Highlights of Spain itinerary will be the elegant capital of Madrid. After you arrive at Madrid Airport, we will arrange for a private transfer to your accommodations of choice in the city center. Bella Vita Travels has a wonderful selection of 4 and 5-star hotels for you to choose from. These are all based on location, comfort, and travel style. From the hotel, you’re a short walk from many of the amazing sights and landmarks the city is so famous for. During your stay in Madrid, we will arrange the following special experiences:
- Our favorite way to start any trip to Spain is with our Insider’s Evening of Tapas & Spanish Wine. Your host for this evening is a genuine wine enthusiast and expert. Wine has always been an integral part of his life. From visiting the vines of his grandfather in the Ribera del Duero as a little boy to taking his passion for wine into his university studies on the latest techniques of wine elaboration. He has traveled all over Europe visiting the continent’s most iconic wine regions. But his big passions are Spanish wines and cuisine. Additionally, his eagerness to share his expertise and inspire travelers makes for an unforgettable evening in a local neighborhood that tourists rarely venture into. During this exclusive tour, you will taste wines “off the beaten path” in authentic gourmet bars and taverns where the locals appreciate the quality served. You learn about the variety of Spanish wines and styles, whilst enjoying some fantastic tapas. It is very much an insider tour. A different world to the increasingly touristy tapas bars in some parts of the center. For those who enjoy getting under the skin of the local foodie culture, as well as good company and conversation, this is a fabulous evening and highly recommended.
- A private “Madrid Essentials” Half-day tour with our private guide. Our expert guide will meet you at your hotel. Then, together you will enjoy the architecture, history, and anecdotes of Spain’s capital. Enjoy a walking tour that includes some of the capital’s most impressive sights. These include the Plaza de Oriente and the historic quarter including the 17th-century Plaza Mayor. Next, stroll through the peaceful Plaza de la Villa where the City Hall stands. Then, it’s on to the narrow streets of Madrid of the “Austrias”. This area was named after the Austro- Hapsburg dynasty which came to rule over in 1561. Much of the Austrias neighborhood today is a gastronomic center. There are plenty of favorites, including the famous Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world. The nuns of the Convento nearby occasionally offer their homemade cakes too! The tour will also include an in-depth visit to your choice of the Royal Palace or the Prado Museum.
- A wonderful excursion just a short distance from Madrid is our Private Half-day Excursion to Toledo, via highspeed train. On arrival at the Toledo train station, meet your local guide. From there, you will take a taxi above the city to allow you to marvel at the overwhelming panoramic view of the former capital of Spain. Toledo is a thousand-year-old masterpiece created by various cultures including the Romans, Moors, Jews, and Christians. Its heyday was in the 16th century when it became the capital of the mighty Spanish empire. The beautifully preserved buildings of this ancient town provide striking testimony of Toledo’s rich and colorful past. The city of Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. Its location on a rocky headland, bordered by the river Tajo in the very heart of Spain, is breath-taking. Its stone churches, brick houses, and winding streets embody Spain’s past. Some of the sites you will visit on your tour include the imposing Alcazar, its two Spanish synagogues, then, the soaring Gothic Cathedral, Santo Tomé, and marvel at El Greco’s famed Burial of the Count of Orgaz. Ultimately, say farewell to your guide and head to one of the many local restaurants for lunch. Recommendations will be given! After lunch, you might opt for some strolling or shopping this afternoon before returning to Madrid.
SEVILLE – 2 NIGHTS
After checking out of your hotel, your private driver will be waiting to take you to the train station. From Madrid, you will travel by first-class high-speed train. But before arriving in the next destination of your Highlights of Spain tour, we have a treat in store for you (see below!).
Once you arrive in beautiful Seville, you will settle into one of our preferred hotels in the city center. You will have several to choose from based on your travel style and taste. All the lodging choices are located within walking distance of Seville’s incredible landmarks and fabulous restaurants. During your stay in Seville, you will enjoy the following special experiences.
- Making a special “pit stop” in Cordoba is a special treat on your way to Seville. First, you will take the high-speed train from Madrid to Cordoba. When you arrive, meet your driver at the train station. Your driver will be waiting with your luggage while you enjoy a half-day walking tour with a private guide. Cordoba is an alluring Andalusian town that exceeds expectations. While the rest of Europe was languishing during the Dark Ages, southern Spain, al-Andalus, thrived. Its scholars, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, created a society that became the safeguard of Greek and Roman learning. As the capital of el-Andalus until its fall in 1236, Cordoba was a city of half a million people. Subsequently, it inhabited thousands of mosques and the first street-lighting in Europe. Students and merchants flocked to Cordoba from all over Europe, Africa, and even Asia. Its libraries boasted hundreds of thousands of volumes. Its palaces and baths were renowned for their opulence and its luxury goods were coveted all over Europe. Eventually, all will be revealed as you head down the picturesque and evocative streets with your private guide in the restored heart of the city, one of the largest medieval quarters in Europe. The highlight will no doubt be the Mezquita or Grand Mosque, dating from 785. So massive that it contains a Catholic Cathedral within, it is one of the world’s best-known pieces of religious architecture. After the tour of the Mezquita, you can enjoy lunch. Afterward, your driver will escort you to your hotel in Sevilla.
- No visit to Seville would be complete without a Half-day Private Tour of arguably Spain’s most enchanting city. With your private guide, be seduced by its enchanting neighborhoods. There are twisting narrow streets, stunning patios, and squares lined with orange trees. Visit the enormous cathedral, the largest Gothic building in the world, featuring the tomb of Christopher Columbus and its 12th-century bell-tower, La Giralda, originally built by the Moors as a minaret. Explore the ornately decorated Alcazar Palace and its Andalusian gardens. And eventually, wander through the Barrio de Santa Cruz: originally the Jewish Quarter and now the prettiest quarter of Sevilla.
- Enjoy an evening of Flamenco and Tapas. Your guide will transform into a translator as you ́re joined by a local of the Sevillano flamenco community, the most famous in the world. Learn about the true world of flamenco from the performers themselves. With roots tracing from Andalusian, Islamic and Gypsy origins, flamenco is a combination of intricate guitar playing, powerful singing ranging from the exuberant to the sorrowful, and passionate yet graceful dancing. A visit to Spain without a flamenco experience is not complete. Your host for the evening will provide a deeper understanding of its origins, its meaning, and its place in modern-day Spain. Enjoy an excellent performance before combining the evening with another of Sevilla’s defining art forms, tapas! Sevilla is the home of the tapas and has the largest number of bars per inhabitant anywhere! Of course, for this, it offers an amazing range of food. The variety is extensive, encompassing seafood, salads, cured hams, cheeses, red pepper dishes, the obligatory Spanish potato omelet, and so on. Who could be better than a local resident to show you the ropes into the world of Spanish food? Introducing you to the intricacies and/or delightful simplicity of Spanish cuisine amidst an informal, authentic setting is a special experience. ¡Buen provecho!
- On the day of your departure, you will have a private transfer to the Seville airport for your short flight to your next destination!
BARCELONA – 3 NIGHTS
Your last, but certainly not least, destination on your “Highlights of Spain” tour, will be Barcelona. There is a mix of everything on this lovely stretch of the Mediterranean. Nestled between the sea and the mountains, the aesthetics of Barcelona impress from afar and close up. From the famous gems of legendary Modernist architect Antoni Gaudi to a full range of contemporary avant-garde architecture dotted in between its 19th-century promenades and thriving local neighborhoods, the city is an architectural dream. In recent years, Barcelona has become the most talked-about city in Europe for its ever-evolving restaurant scene. There are more than 40 local markets, the best known being La Boqueria, and the range of specialist food and wine stores is staggering.
Upon arrival at Barcelona Airport, your private driver will be waiting to take you to your lovely accommodations. Our preferred accommodation choices are plentiful and range from boutique to elegant luxury. During your 3 days in Barcelona, you will enjoy the following experiences:
- A Private Half-day Highlights Tour of Barcelona including La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona, with typical Catalan pride and creativity, remains determined to project itself as Spain’s most innovative city. It offers a staggering array of attractions. Your privately guided tour will cover how the city was reborn with the Olympics in 1992 and stress the importance of Catalan history and culture in its development. A highlight will be the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s most famous work and a worldwide symbol for Barcelona. The temple is a synthesis of his overall conception of architecture. Your guide helps you fully appreciate the fascinating and extraordinary mind and genius of Gaudi. Then, your tour will take in the Passeig de Gracia, the most stylish street of Barcelona, lined with boutique shops and art galleries. You will also see La Rambla, with its outdoor cafes, flower stands, exotic birds, and equally colorful street performers. Subsequently, you will head to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter rests on the ancient Roman city of Barcino. Today it is full of buildings from the 13th to the 15th century. The Quarter is full of interesting shapes, peaceful plazas, and winding alleyways, with its medieval Cathedral. It is also home to the Picasso Museum and also the Roman Ruins. After the tour, say farewell to your guide and spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
- A Private Half-day Gaudi and Modernist Tour. Firstly, you will focus on the period that was Barcelona’s most vibrant and exciting. The time of visionary architect Antonio Gaudi and his contemporaries, a period of a Catalan Renaissance in the arts and literature. Then, visit the iconic Casa Milà, a fantasy in stone that appears to have been carved out of the living rock, hence its nickname: La Pedrera, which means “the quarry.” The building is an apartment house on one of Barcelona’s main avenues. Hidden behind an exceptional façade is a world of surprises and refined architectural details. With the help of your guide, discover and be awed at the imaginativeness and creativity of its designer. Next, you will also visit Parc Güell which Gaudí designed for his greatest patron. Lastly, visit the spectacular Casa Batlló, a home built for a wealthy businessman and an outstanding example of Gaudi’s private work.
- Weather permitting, you can also enjoy a Private Merienda & Sailing Experience. This 2-hour sail allows you to have an incredible view of the city’s major points of interest like the Columbus Monument or Sagrada Familia, Torre Akbar, or Tibidabo from the sea. If you want you will be able to jump into the Mediterranean Sea and then a refreshment will be served before going back to the Marina. During the tour, you can learn about sailing or just relax sunbathing on the deck of the boat as you admire the city’s views. The boat will take you back to Port Vell in time for some tapas and sangria on land.
- On your last day, we will arrange for a private transfer to the Barcelona Airport for your flight home or your next destination.
If you are not yet ready to go home, we can add several options to your Highlights of Spain tour. A few days on the Costa Brava? Or a visit eno-gastronomic haven of San Sebastian and the Rioja Valley? Or head to the Balearic Islands for a bit of sun, sea, and fun? The choice is yours and we would be happy to design your trip as you wish.