Cosmos

Tour: 6850 - 2013 (6850) - 2013 / 2014


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Itinerary

Day 1Arrive in Madrid, Spain

Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to start exploring lively Madrid. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers. (Dinner)

Day 2Madrid–Aranjuez–Cuenca–Valencia

Start the day by driving to nearby Aranjuez in the Castilian Plain, where you stop to visit the Royal Palace, originally built in the 14th century. Although burned down both in 1727 and 1728, it was splendidly rebuilt and became a favorite residence of Spanish royalty. Continue traveling southeast to the magnificently located old town of Cuenca, which stands high above the precipices of the Rivers Jucar and Huecar. It is famous for its “hanging houses” that are suspended over the Huecar ravine. Journey on to Valencia for two overnights. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 3Valencia

Valencia is known mainly for its wonderful climate and the quality of its light. Enjoy a drive along wide avenues lined with fig and palm trees and along the old quarter’s narrow streets with its fine gothic houses and typical patios. Time to do some shopping or more personal sightseeing and, of course, the option of joining an excursion. (Breakfast)

Day 4Valencia–Peniscola–Barcelona

An interesting day starts with a drive north to the nearby Castellon for a visit of its Peniscola Castle, built by the Knights Templar in the 14th century. The promontory on which the castle and town are located is a fine reminder of medieval times. Continue your journey through orange groves and seaside resorts past Tarragona to Catalonia’s lively and beautiful capital, Barcelona. (Breakfast)

Day 5Barcelona

This morning’s sightseeing with a Local Guide will include a drive around Montjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and a great panoramic view of the port and city. The drive continues to the city center to Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia to admire the greatness and eccentricity of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in the Houses Batlló and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fees not included). (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6Barcelona–Saragossa–Pamplona

See more of Catalonia as you drive northwest to Saragossa on the banks of the River Ebro. During your stop you’ll have time to see the Sanctuary of our Lady of the Pillar. Continue north through fertile valleys and the Rioja wine-growing region to Basque Country and on to the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Navarra, Pamplona, for an overnight stay. (Breakfast)

Day 7Pamplona–San Sebastian–Bilbao–Burgos

Start the morning by driving further into Basque Country for a visit to San Sebastian (called “Donostia” in Basque), the seaside resort on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay. Journey northwest to the port town of Bilbao. Time for an optional visit to the spectacular Guggenheim Museum (entrance fees not included). Apart from its amazing collection of modern paintings, the building itself, by Frank Gehry, is considered one of the 20th century’s great architectural masterpieces. In the afternoon, travel south to Burgos. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 8Burgos–Segovia–Avila–Salamanca

Today, head southwest into Castile. Enjoy some grand scenery as you travel to the edge of the Sierra de Guadarrama, a green oasis in the Castilian desert. Stop in Segovia, magnificently perched on a rock formation at an altitude of 3,280 feet. The cathedral, the Alcazar, and the Roman aqueduct are some of its more famous sights. Next, drive west to Avila for a short visit before continuing to Salamanca in time to enjoy the extraordinary beauty of its Plaza Mayor. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 9Salamanca–Caceres–Seville

Leave early this morning and cross the mighty Tagus River and the Guadarrama. Stop in Caceres, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its blend of Roman, Islamic, northern gothic, and Italian Renaissance styles. Enjoy more Spanish landscapes before reaching Seville, one of Spain’s most colorful cities. (Breakfast)

Day 10Seville

A full day at leisure. Perhaps you’d like to spend this morning enjoying an optional sightseeing tour including the main highlights of the vibrant city. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 11Seville–Jerez–Ronda–Granada

A day to see the best of Andalusia. Head first into the Jerez region for a sherry-tasting stop. Next, journey by way of the typically white-painted villages to the town of Ronda, famous for the ravine that literally cuts it in two and, of course, its bullfighting connections. Overnight in Granada in the shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 12Granada–Cordoba

Granada was the Arabs’ most treasured city; they still mourn its loss in their prayers. Learn more about it on the included visit with a Local Guide. More grand scenery this afternoon as you travel to Cordoba on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13Cordoba–Madrid

This is perhaps Spain’s most Moorish city with its great mosque, the Mezquita, one of Islam’s most important pieces of architecture outside the Arab world. You’ll enjoy the small, white-washed houses, the winding streets, and the colorful squares. Later, journey into the very heart of La Mancha, famed for its castles and windmills. Reach Madrid in time to enjoy a relaxed evening. (Breakfast)

Day 14Madrid

This morning the optional trip to Toledo is most rewarding. The splendid setting of this old walled city above the Tagus was made famous in El Greco’s painting, and even now it’s like a great open-air museum of Spanish history and art. Later, join the included Madrid city sightseeing. Not only because it’s the capital of Spain but also because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards say it’s the nearest thing to heaven. (Breakfast)

Day 15Madrid

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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As recommended by Budget Travel