Day 1: Madrid
Arrive in Madrid for your two-night stay and enjoy the warmth and welcome of one of the western world’s great capital cities. You can experience a living example at the Plaza Mayor. Every Spanish town and city has a main square, often lined by a covered arcade and accessible from adjoining streets through arches of the surrounding buildings. It is the hub of community life and the vast Plaza Mayor of Madrid was the setting for mounted bullfights and the proclamations of kings. Near the square are the lavish Royal Palace and the Opera House. You will stay 2 nights in the beautiful city of Madrid, close to theaters and Gran Via.
Day 2: Madrid
Madrid is home to many museums, palaces and gardens. The city has, in fact, 73 museums including the famous Prado which hosts one of the finest collections of art in the world. Stroll through the old Moorish quarter of Moreria. Madrid boasts many large parks and gardens, making it one of Europe’s greenest capitals. There is tempting shopping at the many select shops, as well as world-famous outlets offering the finest international brands. Feast on paella and tapas as you sample a wide variety of the finest Spanish specialties in the friendly ambience of the city’s bars and taverns.
Day 3: Madrid – Burgos – Basq Country – Bilbao (ca. 255 mi/400 km)
Your drive this morning takes you from the High Plains of Castilla to the Province of Leon, passing many small villages before you see the spires of Burgos’ Cathedral rising high into the sky. Founded in 884, Burgos will charm you with its medieval ambience. It is here that you can see the tomb of El Cid. Continue your drive through the fertile landscapes of the forests and mountains of Basque country to Bilbao, where we have arranged your overnight stay. It is a city of vitality and home to the world famous Guggenheim Museum. American architect Frank Gehry composed the museum in the curvaceous, free-form sculptural style that has become his signature. Located alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city, it is made of glass, titanium and limestone and has been called “the greatest building of our time”. The museum features both permanent and visiting exhibits of both Spanish and international artists. Dinner tonight should be of the unique Basque cuisine, influenced by Spanish and French culinary traditions, with meats and fish grilled over hot coals accompanied with sparkling wine or Basque cider. Overnight Hotel Palacio de Oriol **** (or similar)
Day 4: Bilbao – San Sebastian – Navarra – Pamplona – Aragon – Zaragoza (ca. 225 mi/ 365 km)
Start your day as you drive along the coast road to San Sebastian, where the Belle Epoque is still alive. Renowned for its beauty, rich cultural activities, fine cuisine and old-world ambience it is ideally situated on the Bay of Biscay. The drive to Pamplona will take you by the picturesque mountain ranges of the Navarra region with some of the most original folklore of all Spain. Pamplona, made famous by Hemmingway’s description of the Running of the Bulls through the city every July, boasts 16th century town-walls that are still here today. Continue your drive through impressive landscapes and picturesque villages with old traditions and customs, cross into Aragon and arrive at Zaragoza, where we have arranged your overnight stay. Zaragoza is one of the great monumental towns in Spain founded some 2,000 years ago and where Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians have all left their mark. Overnight Hotel Palafox **** Zaragoza
Day 5: Zaragoza – Barcelona (ca. 150 mi/260 km)
This morning’s drive takes you from Spanish speaking Aragon to Catalonia, with its own language, customs and cuisine. Pass the monasteries of Poblet and Santes Creus which are well worth a visit. Continue on to the exciting Mediterranean city of Barcelona, where we have arranged your overnight accommodation. Its history dates back to the 2nd century B.C. but you can also see breathtaking modernist architecture. See Gaudi’s La Sacrada Famillia with its four amazing towers. The square of Sant Jaume was the Forum at the time of the Romans. At the Plaza del Rei is the Palacio Real Mayor, originally the palace of the Counts of Barcelona where Christopher Columbus is said to have been received by the king after returning from America. The 2 km boulevard Las Ramblas is perhaps quintessential of Barcelona where you will find all aspects of social life from small stands selling vegetables and flowers to many cafes, art galleries, street performers and some of the great theater of the city. At the end of Las Ramblas is El Puerto (the port), dominated by the tower of Colon from the top of which there is a fantastic view over the city. Barcelona offers a huge variety of things to do and see, flamboyant culture and fine Catalonian and Spanish cuisine. Catalan cuisine is some of the finest regional food in Spain. Try the famous shellfish dish in a white wine sauce called zarzuela.
Day 6: Barcelona – Tarragona – Peñiscola – Valencia (ca. 245 mi/400 km)
The ancient city of Tarragona on the shores of the Mediterranean is considered the most important Roman town in Spain. One of its most notable landmarks is the Roman Amphitheater. Stand in its center and imagine gladiators fighting each other, and beasts, to their death. Driving parallel to the Mediterranean coast and worth a stop is Peniscola. Here you can visit the Templar Castle, an excellent example of medieval castles with its moat and flag hall. Your day ends in Valencia, where we have arranged your overnight stay. It is here that Spain’s national hero El Cid fought against the Moors. The octagonal bell-tower, the Micalet, is the landmark of the city from which the great view encompasses some 300 more bell-towers. “City of Arts and Sciences” is a newly constructed area boasting extravagant architecture. As you explore the ramparts and narrow winding streets of the old town you can shop for souvenirs in the antique shops, artist studios and pottery stores that line the streets, together with many bars and outside restaurants. You cannot leave Valencia without sampling its most famous dish, Paella Valenciana. Overnight Hotel Eurostars Gran Valencia **** (or similar)
Day 7: Valencia – Murcia (ca. 160 mi/260 km)
Drive through fertile market-garden areas to Murcia, a city founded in 831 and one of Spain’s least known region even among Spaniards themselves who are surprised by the diversity of this small region and the friendliness of its people, Murcianos. A university town, whose pedestrian areas cover most of the old town with wide avenues and walks (Paseo del Malecon) from the original core of medieval streets, it is the most perfect city for strolling around as everything worth seeing is within walking distance. Here, in the old quarter, is the most sumptuous Calle de la Traperia, a late 19th century building with an inner Moorish patio and elaborate decorations. Murcia Cathedral is a masterpiece from the Spanish Barroque period. Among the city’s many museums is The Museo Salzillo which possesses many of Francisco Salzillo’s (a famous son of Murcia) religious masterpieces of wood carvings and terracotta sculptures. Murcia’s fruits and market-garden products are important to its economy. The city is famous for its excellent tapas, some of the most interesting in the whole of Spain, served at a large number of bars and taverns especially in the area around the Plaza de Flores (Flowers Square).
Day 8: Murcia – Andalucia – Granada (ca. 175 mi/280 km)
Continue your journey from Murcia into Andalucia and to the beautiful city of Granada, where we have arranged your overnight stay. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Grenada’s most brilliant jewel of Muslim architecture is the Alhambra (Red Castle). One of the most remarkable fortresses ever built, it contains a series of palaces and gardens including the beautiful summer palace, Generalife, set amidst fountains and cool green water gardens. The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens. End your day as you feast on fine food, and enjoy traditional Spanish Gypsy Flamenco in the place where it began. Try the region’s specialty of Jamon de trevelez, a snow-cured ham from the high mountain ranges around Granada. To accompany the local dishes try the wines which are produced in the Contraviesa Sierra, Grenada. Overnight Hotel Alixares **** Granada , next to the Alhambra Palace (or similar)
Day 9 and 10: Granada – Malaga – Marbella (ca. 120 mi/190 km)
From Granada drive south through the distinctive Andalucian countryside to the port city of Malaga on the Costa del Sol. La Alcazaba, a military fortress, sits on a hilltop with a good view of the town and sea. Follow the coastline of the Costa del Sol to Marbella, a favored haunt of the rich and famous, and where we have arranged a two-night stay. Although the area is steeped in history with many fascinating places of interest, Marbella has gained its worldwide reputation for the glitz and glamour of its seafront “Golden Mile”. Here at Puerto Banus are bars and fabulous restaurants where alongside you can see the most extravagant yachts. Head into the charming old quarter and explore the narrow streets with their jumble of bars, bistros, shops and galleries. Overnight Hotel Senator Marbella **** (or similar) for 2 nights.
Relax on the beautiful beaches. It’s also a great place to shop for high fashion, especially leather goods from purses to shoes to coats, and souvenirs. Time to play golf at this golfer’s paradise. Enjoy people watching as you sit at one of the many outdoor cafes. Try the delicious local cuisine at one of the oceanfront restaurants – barbequed baby lamb and the freshest of vegetables. A focal point of the Old Town is the lovely Orange Square, with its ancient stately buildings, tall trees and exotic tropical plants partially surrounded by the ruins of the old Arab Wall. Notwithstanding all the glitter and glamour, a short drive into the foothills will take you to Casares, an authentic Andalucian picture postcard village with its white sugar-cube buildings piled precariously high clinging to a hillside near the battlements of an Arabian castle.
Day 11: Marbella – Gibraltar – Cadiz – Jerez – Seville (ca. 200 mi/325 km)
Leave the glitz of Marbella for unique Gibraltar, one of the last remaining outposts of the British Empire. The Rock of Gibraltar is an impressive sight towering above the surrounding countryside. From here you can easily see the North African coast. Leave the peninsula of Gibraltar for the bastion of Cadiz. Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. The seaside promenade looks out over the sea and alongside are beautiful public gardens. From Cadiz your drive takes you across Anadalucia to Seville, certainly one of the most beloved places to visit in Spain, where we have arranged your overnight stay. The Moorish influence is most evident, it was a cultural center long ago when the Phoenicians and Carthaginians settled here and later the Romans. Seville was home to such famous figures as Don Juan, and from a nearby port Columbus set out to discover the New World. Seville is the very heart of Andalucian culture, the center of bullfighting and of Flamenco music. Take time for a glass of Sherry and tapas, the typical Spanish small dishes, at one of the many bars in the city. Walk through the shady lanes between beautiful buildings with courtyards filled with flowers in the Barrio Santa Cruz, the romantic historical center of Seville, formerly the district of Moors and Jews. Amongst the city’s major monuments is the immense Cathedral, the third largest in the world, and the beautiful Kings’ Palace Alcazar which is typical Moorish in style. Overnight in hotel San Gil **** in the Old Town of Seville (or similar)
Day 12: Seville – Portugal – Algarve (ca. 160 mi/255 km)
Leave Seville and drive west across Andalucia to the Algarve region of Portugal. Conquered from the Moors by the Portuguese, its Moorish presence can still be seen in the unique architecture and whitewashed houses. Argarve’s southern coastline consists of long stretches of fabulous sandy beaches, broken up by rugged cliffs and fantastic grottoes. End your day at Praia de Rocha or Albufeira, where we have arranged your overnight accommodation, a town internationally known for its sandy beaches sheltered by high cliffs. St. Caterina Fort is situated at the end of the beach near the marina, and offers a wonderful view over the surrounding area. With the town’s many bars, restaurants and Casino it is an extremely cosmopolitan vacation town.
Day 13: Algarve – Lisbon (ca. 175 mi/280 km)
Leaving the Algarve you drive north across the plains of Alentejo to Lisbon, where we have arranged a two-night stay. This legendary city has a history spanning 2,000 years. One of the oldest quarters in Lisbon is the Moorish Alfama, home to the city’s tallest hill and the area of Bairro Alto. Visit the state-of-the-art aquarium, experience the breathtaking view from the walls of a millennium-old castle, see fairytale palaces, interesting museums, World Heritage monuments, castles, open-air markets, narrow cobbled Medieval streets, exquisite shopping, fine cuisine, lively music – you will agree that Lisbon is a most captivating city. You will stay in Lisbon 2 nights.
Day 14: Lisbon & Sintra
Sintra is one of the most delightful places to be found in Portugal, picturesquely situated with stupendous views of the coastline its beauty is said to be “a garden of the earthly paradise”. The artistic heritage of the Old Town includes archaeological remains from the Roman period, ancient manor houses, churches and three magnificent Palaces. The town retains its essentially medieval layout of narrow streets, steps and arcades. Return to Lisbon for dinner. The area is famous for its seafood, a favorite is bacalhau a gomes de sa (a casserole of salted cod, potatoes and onions); delicious homemade breads and cheeses and a desert of lemon and cinnamon flavored rice pudding.
Day 15: Lisbon – Fatima – Batalha – Coimbra – Aveiro – Porto (ca. 230 mi/365 km)
Your first stop today is in the green hills of Cova da Iria and the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the most famous in the world. Its name comes from the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary by three shepherd children at Fatima on the 13th day of six consecutive months starting on 13th May 1917. Nearby is the small town of Batalha with its magnificent Monastery, one of Europe’s greatest Gothic masterpieces. Your next stop is the city of Aveiro. Known as the Venice of Portugal, it is surrounded by salt-flats, beaches, lagoons and dominated by the Central Canal which runs through the town. It is basically a mixture of neat fishermen’s cottages and Art Nouveau town houses with a few historic buildings. While in Aveiro taste the town’s specialty pastry, Ovas Moles, small almond shaped creations with a sweet filling. Your day ends in the fine city of Porto, built into the granite cliffs at the mouth of the river Douro, where we have arranged your overnight stay. Be sure to sample the country’s famous Port wine and fresh seafood.
Day 16: Porto – Santiago de Compostela (ca. 120 mi/190 km)
Your journey today takes you to one of the of the country”s most historic cities and most attractive places to visit, Guimaraes with its medieval streets and well-preserved monuments. The imposing medieval castle, with its eight high towers, was built to protect the population from attacks by the Moors and the Normans. Leave Guimaraes and cross back into Spain and the province of Galicia for one of Spain’s most monumental cities, Santiago de Compostela, where we have arranged your overnight stay. Its name and fame derives from Saint James the Apostle, whose holy relics are believed to be enshrined under the alter of Santiago’s Cathedral. Throughout history until today the Cathedral has been the final destination of the legendary Medieval Pilgrimage Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James).
Day 17: Santiago de Compostela – Leon (ca. 220 mi/360 km)
Leave Santiago de Compostela for a drive through the wooded and mountainous areas of the Province of Leon. Although the area was inhabited by the Moors, it was the Knights Templar who built castles and fortifications here in the Middle Ages. Its city walls of Roman and Medieval construction are very impressive, as is the spectacular Cathedral in the City of Leon, where we have arranged your overnight stay. This evening try the local cuisine of roasted lamb or roast suckling pig.
Day 18: Leon – Salamanca (ca. 155 mi/250 km)
Although it has the advantages of a large city, Salamanca maintains the intimacy of a village. This lovely university city of golden stone, domes and spires, narrow streets, splendid buildings and exuberantly rich facades is the home of the “purest” Spanish in Spain – Castilian. It is here that we have arranged your overnight stay. The Plaza Mayor is without doubt among the most beautiful in Spain and forms the real center of town where all the buildings, new and old, are made of the stone from Villamayor with its characteristic golden color.
Day 19: Salamanca – Segovia – Madrid (ca. 175 mi/280 km)
From Salamanca see Spain at its best as you enter the ancient city of Segovia. Its medieval wall is itself bordered by two rivers and extensive parklands. The ancient city’s center is pedestrian only streets of twisting alleyways and a high concentration of Romanesque churches. North-west of the wall the Alcazar castle stands on a cliff overlooking the valley (it is said to have inspired Walt Disney), and on the south-east is the world renowned Roman Aqueduct – the largest and best preserved of its kind anywhere. Today’s journey ends as you return to Madrid for your overnight stay.
|Daily arrival||Price per Person||Remarks|
- 20 days Self Drive Tour according to program
- 19 nights in double room in 3/4 star hotels incl. breakfast
- Hotel taxes and Service charges (tourist taxes not included)
- directions, maps and information in English including voucher package
- prices are always per Person
- your flight / Choose & Book here Low Cost Flights
- your carhire /Choose & Book here Low Cost Car Rental
- entrance -and parking fees, fuel, road tax etc.
- local tourist tax (payment on the spot)
- other meals
- supplement single room (on request)
- This trip can always be extended / shortened or adapted
- upon reservation you will receive directly reserved hotel confirmations