Cosmos

Grand Tour of Spain (6850) - 2014 / 2015

15 Day Tour from Madrid to Madrid


Grand Tour of Spain
The Alhambra features Islamic architecture and beautifully detailed gardens
The Alhambra features Islamic architecture and beautifully detailed gardens
Alhambra at Sunset
Enjoy the wonderful Andalusian city of Seville, Spain
Enjoy the beautiful architecture of the Royal Palace in Aranjuez
Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain
Enjoy the beautiful architecture in Madrid
Explore the beautiful city of Seville, the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of Southern Spain
The Plaza de Toros in Madrid
Valencia
800.276.1241

Vacation Overview

Get to know multi-faceted Spain on this exciting vacation. Start your journey in Madrid, the country’s grand capital. Visit the Aranjuez Royal Palace, marvel at the Cuenca “hanging houses,” and explore the ancient winding streets of Valencia. Drive along the Mediterranean Coast, stopping at Peniscola Castle on the way to beautiful Barcelona. Travel through Catalonia, stop in Saragossa, and continue to Pamplona, known for its running of the bulls. Carry on to Basque Country and visit San Sebastian, the port city of Bilbao, and Burgos. The heart of Spain reveals even more stunning cities, such as Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca, known for their unique historical centers and acclaimed wine production. Next, head south into sunny Andalusia for two overnights in spectacular Seville, as well as time in the white-washed village of Ronda; the exotic Alhambra complex, residence of Moorish kings, in Granada; and Cordoba’s labyrinthine old Moorish quarter surrounding the exquisite Mezquita. Also retrace Don Quixote’s footsteps as you travel among the windmills and castles of La Mancha. Back in Madrid, enjoy two final overnights and a guided sightseeing tour of this elegant city.

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Headsets throughout the tour

Sightseeing:
Visits to Royal Palace in Aranjuez; Cuenca, Valencia, Peniscola Castle, Saragossa, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Caceres, Seville, Jerez wine tasting, Ronda, Cordoba

Scenic Highlights:
La Mancha

Guides:

Local Guides for city sightseeing in Barcelona, Alhambra complex, Madrid. Professional Tour Director while touring


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. (D)

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. Tonight, enjoy a typical dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

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. (B)

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. (B)

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). (B,D)

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. (B)

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 to visit (entrance fee not included) the spectacular Guggenheim Museum. 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. (B,D)

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. (B,D)

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. (B)

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. (B,D)

Day 11Seville–Jerez–Ronda–Granada

A day to see the best of Andalusia. Head south by way of typical white-painted villages to the town of Ronda, famous for the ravine that literally cuts it in two and, of course, its bullfight connections. Overnight in Granada in the shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada. (B,D)

Day 12Granada–Montilla–Cordoba

Granada was the Arabs’ most treasured city; they still mourn its loss in their prayers. Enjoy included sightseeing with a Local Guide that features the Alhambra, a summer complex built by Moorish kings. More grand scenery in the afternoon as you travel first to Montilla for wine tasting (sherry wine) and then to Cordoba on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. (B,D)

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. (B)

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. (B)

Day 15Madrid

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)

Transportation:
Scheduled transatlantic flights and airport transfers in Madrid if Cosmos issues the air tickets. Touring by private first-class air-conditioned motorcoach


MADRID Praga (F)
VALENCIA Catalonia Excelsior (F)
BARCELONA Porta Fira (F) or Abba Garden (F)
PAMPLONA Maisonnave (ST)
BURGOS Corona de Castilla (F)
SALAMANCA Catalonia Plaza (F)
SEVILLE Don Paco (ST)
GRANADA Don Juan (ST)
CORDOBA Selu (ST)

Buffet breakfasts; 8 dinners


With Cosmos, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade... we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.

JULIAN HIDALGO

Years of Experience: 17 years

After so many years in this fascinating land, I never get tired of showing people the wonders of Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Every tour is an adventure...a unique cultural experience I share with my guests. Like a storyteller, I can´t wait to meet my audience and start the show. Introducing travelers to the people, colors, and flavors of the region is exciting-something you just can't get from a guidebook!

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