Espíritu Travel’s Soul of Spain 12-day, fully customizable trip is the perfect way to take in the best of Spain’s historical, gastronomical and cultural highlights. You’ll get a taste of the Mediterranean and some awe-inspiring Gaudi architecture in Barcelona.Take in Madrid through delectable cuisine and famous art to the tune of passionate flamenco, including a side to historical town of Toledo. End your trip out in the south of Spain, where you’ll be captivated by the wonders of Andalucía: Cordoba’s famous mosque, Granada’s mystical Alhambra palace and the irresistible charm of Seville.
Day 1 (Arrival Day)Madrid
Arrival to Barajas Airport in Madrid and transfer to your accommodations.
Later in the day, you will learn to do tapas like a local as you make your way through Madrid. In between four iconic authentic Madrid tapas bars, you’ll hear the story of how Madrid went from a small village to the capital of one of the world’s greatest empires! Between sipping Spanish wine and devouring the best of Madrid’s traditional tapas, your expert guide will bring the city’s fascinating history to life as you wind in and out of grand plazas and mystery-filled streets.
Introducing Madrid on walk through the city
As our guides are true Madrileños, born and raised in the capital, and they are happy to share their insider knowledge and family traditions with you as you walk through the historic center and take in the sights and flavors..
This 3 hour walk is an in-depth experience to understand how the city works as you explore its cultural highlights. You will trace the history of Madrid and its development from its medieval roots to the modern times, when it became the thriving capital of Spain, and you will be filled in with the latest news, shows and exhibitions.
This is effectively a briefing on what’s on in Madrid, what to do and see (and what to avoid) while you are here as you get a sense of social and cultural events. This orientation walk will also provide you with the essential historical background you need to understand what is happening in 21st century Madrid.
After you have experienced a little bit of Madrid, the guide with leave you at a fantastic restaurant for lunch and the rest of the day is for you to enjoy.
Day 3Day trip to Toledo
Toledo, home to three civilization, is the former capital of Spain and has been a world heritage site since 1987. The city has layers of history; the cathedral built on the site of a mosque which was built on the site of a Visigoth church, the Santa Maria la Blanca – a former synagogue with Muslim design and a Christian name and the Transito synagogue, now a Sephardic museum. You will also visit El Greco masterpiece in the Santo Tome Church, the San Cristo de la Luz mosque and the elaborate cloisters of San Juan de Los Reyes. Afterward, the rest of the day is on your own to enjoy the city before returning to Madrid
You could also visit Segovia, Ávila, or El Escorial instead of Toledo. All within a short distance from the capital.
Day 4Madrid – Seville
High-speed train to Seville.
Upon arrival in Seville, take a taxi on your own to the hotel.
After lunch, you will love Seville in four hours. You’ll enter the most important monument of the city and much more: you will visits its best and most interesting streets, this is a guided visit to the Unesco World Heritage monuments: Seville’s cathedral, Giralda bell tower, royal palace (Alcazar) and walk inside the former sephardic Jewish section and the old town.
Today you can explore Seville on your own or go beyond the city and visit some other beautiful places in Andalucia.
The city of Córdoba is characterized by the colossal La Mezquita mosque that sits in the heart of the city and dates back to 784 A.D. This awe-inspiring building features a vast prayer hall and ancient and intricate Byzantine mosaics. For anyone interested in Moorish architecture then a visit to the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos is a must. This immense palace complex features beautiful gardens and dates back to 1328. Córdoba was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and has been perfectly preserved ever since. Animal lovers will want to visit the Sotos de la Albolafia and take a jaunt around the Royal Stables to gaze at the thoroughbred Andalusian horses that reside there.
Jerez de la Frontera, the Andalusian city of Jerez de la Frontera, often referred to simply as Jerez, is one of the most famous Sherry producing cities in Spain. Within the city limits you will find a number or traditional bodegas or cellars from which you can sample, and perhaps even buy, sherry and wonderful Southern Spanish wines. Before you indulge in the local tipples find time to visit the aristocratic home of Palacio del Virrey Laserna, considered to be the gem of Jerez de la Frontera. If you are short on time it is possible to marry together a half day visit to Cadiz with another half day visit to Jerez de la Frontera.
Setenil de las Bodegas is, in fact, one of the Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia but is deserving of a day trip all of its own for it is rather different to the others. Rather than being built on a pinnacle, or a bluff, Setenil de las Bodegas has been built within a network of caves that bore into the cliff faces of the area. Naturally, as the town has expanded not all buildings are situated within the protective overhang of the jagged cliffs. The Centro de Interpretación Medioambiental del Olivar is a genuinely captivating museum to visit. This center is home to exhibits and information boards on the cultural and natural history of Setenil de las Bodegas.
Sierra Norte Natural Park is home to dozens of authentic, beguiling Spanish villages that sit afoot the Sevillian mountains. A particularly enjoyable way to experience Sierra Norte Natural Park is by bicycle, stopping for photographs here and there, chatting with locals or even the farm animals whose paddocks flank the tarmac trails. This is a thriving area of agriculture and was once filled with bustling mining towns. The trails of Sierra Norte Natural Park take you through not only villages but along river banks and through lush forested areas too. No need to pack a picnic for there are countless family run restaurants and cafes in the vicinity.
In the evening you can take in a Flamenco show at one of the many fantastic venues.
Day 6Seville – Granada
You will be picked up at the hotel for your private transfer to Granada via the White Villages.
You will begin your journey driving through the Sevillian countryside, surrounded by wheat and beautiful sunflowers fields. Here you will stop at The Castle of Las Aguzaderas, an interesting medieval building located at the old border between Catholic kingdom and Moorish kingdom. Then continue through the mountains stopping at the picturesque white village of Zahara de la Sierra, located at the top of a steep hill Zahara is famous for its views and history. Here you will have time to walk around the town, have a coffee and visit a small olive oil factory which makes one of the best olive oil in Andalusia.
On the way to Grazalema you will drive through the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema. You will enjoy a range of amazing landscapes and views over the provinces of Cádiz, Málaga, and Seville, from Puerto de las Palomas which is 1157 meters above sea level. You will also get the chance to witness the wildlife in their natural habitat. These mountains are home to the largest colony of Griffon vultures in Spain. Once in Grazalema, there will be time to have a nice meal, surrounded by the picturesque white houses decorated with colorful flowers.
After lunch, you will leave Grazalema, on the way you will cross a very beautiful Mediterranean forest full of cork trees and oaks. Where up to present day locals still work with its cattle (Iberian pigs, goats and cows), to extract honey, cork, aromatic spices or wood. From there, continue to Granada.
Today you will head out to see the Alhambra, a mystical fortress and palace that many called the eighth wonder of the world. With countless rooms and the charming Generalife gardens filled with lush, colorful flowers and serene fountains, this fortress perched on a mountaintop makes for an unforgettable visit.
Later, you will have bike tour of the city of Granada. You will visit Plaza Nueva, the Albaicín (the historic center), Realejo, the Cathedral area, as well as lots of little hidden away places along the way! You will end the experience at a tapas bar to enjoy the fantastic food or a refreshment (food not included).
Day 8Day trip to Las Alpujarras
Today you will have an excursion to the Sierra Nevada. Las Alpujarras de Granada is a mountainous district in Southern Spain, which stretches south from the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Granada. In older sources the name is sometimes spelled Alpuxarras; it may derive from Arabic al Busherat meaning the grassland. You will do an 3-hour hike (there are various options depending on fitness level) then you will cross through white villages with only a few hundred inhabitants that have conserved their urban structure since the Middle Ages. You will be in a region that is known for its geographical isolation, gastronomic traditions based on self-sufficiency (farming, crops, curing of illnesses etc. ) and a way of life that is rich in tradition and history.
Lunch will be at a traditional restaurant
Afterward, return to Granada and have the rest of the evening is on your own.
Day 9Granada – Barcelona
Short flight to Barcelona.
In the afternoon, experience the exquisite views of Barcelona’s picturesque skyline. They are best enjoyed from the glistening waters of the Mediterranean Sea – completely unobstructed and with a peacefulness to be truly appreciated. In a busy city of over 1.6 million inhabitants, sailing out into the Mediterranean provides a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle. (May – Oct only)
Today you start the visit of Barcelona with a drive to the famous hill of Montjüic, which offers excellent views over the city and was the site of the 1992 Olympic games.
After a brief stop at the Catalunya National Art Museum (MNAC) you will make our way down to Plaça Espanya and on past the Modernist buildings of the Eixample area.
Your drive to the iconic Sagrada Famlia will take you up Passeig de Gracia, home to the famous designer stores, and the setting for two of Barcelona’s most talked about Gaudï buildings: La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
Before arriving at the Sagrda Família, you will stop at the Hospital de Sant pau I de Santes Creus, built between 1901 and 1930. Well away from the tourist route, this hospital has been declared a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ and is one of the greatest symbols of the Modernist Architecture in Barcelona.
Finally, you will arrive at Sagrada Família, stopping there for a visit inside the building. Entrance tickets will have been pre-purchased and there will be no waiting in line.
You will then head to the oldest part of Barcelona, the Barrio Gótico, which, as late, the mid 19th century was still surrounded by the Mediaeval walls.
At this point, you will enjoy a stroll through the narrow winding streets of mediaeval Barcelona and a stop for a brief visit of one of Barcelona’s most traditional indoor food markets: Mercat de Santa Caterina.
From there, you will travel back in time, going from the Roman era through to the early Middle Ages, when the Catalan counts were controlling the Mediterranean sea and Barcelona was the capital of an empire. During this part of the excursion, you will visit the Jewish Quarter, the Royal palace, the original 2000 year old Roman Temple and part of the Cathedral.
The final part of the morning takes in part of the Born district, where the guide will point out a variety of restaurants and tapas bars suitable for lunch before ending at the magnificent Santa Maria del Mar church – one of the most beautiful in Barcelona.
The rest of the afternoon is on your own to enjoy.
Day 11Day Trip to Montserrat & Winery Visit
Capture the heart of Catalunya on this day tour to the iconic Montserrat and it’s Royal Basilica and enjoy some sparkle in the rural cava cellars of world famous cava producer, Codorniú.
The day starts with a morning visit to Montserrat where you’ll explore the monastic centre of Catalonia, home to the famous black virgin & la Escolania (children’s boy choir). You’ll also have time to explore the magnificent natural park & mountains with spectacular views over the plains of Catalonia.
After lunch, you’ll be transported through the back roads to the wine country, where you’ll visit the renowned local winery, Codorniu for a tour in their vast underground cellars followed by a tasting of the famous Cava ‘champagne’.
Day 12 (Departure Day)Barcelona
Tramsfer to the airport
SOUL OF SPAIN MAP
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