- Visit Sagrada Familia and taste tapas in Barcelona
- Trace Salvador Dali’s path in Catalan
- Immerse yourself in history and cuisine in Lyon
- Visit ancient religious sites in Girona
- Sample Beaujolais wine
|Day 1||Arrival in Barcelona & Self-Guided Afternoon Tour||Barcelona|
|Day 2||Art Nouveau & Tapas in Barcelona||Barcelona|
|Day 3||Guided Day Trip to Girona from Barcelona||Barcelona|
|Day 4||A Day With Salvador Dali||Barcelona|
|Day 5||Flight from Barcelona to Lyon & City Tour||Lyon|
|Day 6||Beaujolais, Bresse, & Perouges||Lyon|
|Day 7||Depart Lyon—Au Revoir, France!|
Day 1: Arrival in Barcelona & Self-Guided Afternoon Tour
Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival at Barcelona's El Prat Airport, a private driver will take you into the city where you can check into your hotel and unwind. You'll then have the afternoon free to explore on a self-guided tour.
We recommend first visiting Mt. Montjuic and the surrounding area. Montjuic is a famous hill that stands 1,988 feet (606 m) high and overlooks the Port of Barcelona. Take the Montjuic Cable Car from the metro station near Olympic Park, which takes you up to the 17th-century Castle Montjuic and offers panoramic views of the city. You can also access Montjuic via cable car from Barcelona Beach and by funicular elevator adjacent to the cable car.
The Poble Espanyol is also fun to visit. Constructed in 1929, this open-air museum features over 100 recreated buildings in the style of traditional Spanish villages. When the sun goes down over the city, make sure you're near the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, named for the dazzling display of water and colored lights that occur after dark. It's the best free show in the city, one with an effect heightened by the hundreds of spectators and a communal atmosphere.
Day 2: Art Nouveau & Tapas in Barcelona
After breakfast, make your own way to the meeting point for your tour. Your first stop today is the iconic Sagrada Família, the most visually impressive church in Barcelona. This Gothic/Art Nouveau basilica is another brainchild of Gaudí, and although construction began in 1882, it technically remains unfinished to this day. However, that didn't stop Sagrada Familia from earning UNESCO World Heritage status. It's a popular tourist draw but you'll be able to breeze right past the line with your prearranged tickets.
You'll then have the afternoon and evening to explore the cuisine of Barcelona with the help of an expert guide. The adventure kicks off at an old bodega turned tapas bar, where things have hardly changed since the 1930s. With a glass of the city’s favorite aperitif—sweet vermouth—in hand, you’ll enjoy a tasting of locally cured meats, cheeses, olives, and other Spanish delicacies.
Your foodie excursion continues with a stroll through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, during which your guide will point out sights of interest on the narrow medieval streets as they lead the way to the next eatery. This second tapas bar is a staple of Barcelona and a true local haunt. Although it only has a few dishes on the menu, they’re all excellent.
Afterward, head to another historic neighborhood where your guide will continue to reveal insight into the area's architecture, history, and culture. Eventually, you'll arrive at the third and final tapas bar. Pull up a seat, because it's time to indulge once more in traditional Catalan dishes paired with the region's globally renowned wine. Delicious must-try tapas include patatas bravas (fried potatoes with aioli), calamari, gambas (prawns), cured ham, croquettes, mussels, and chorizo.
And it wouldn't be dinner in Barcelona without something sweet to cap the meal. Be sure to save room for a traditional Spanish dessert, like crema Catalonia. This sweet custard is made with oranges and cinnamon and is Spain's answer to the classic creme brûlée.
Day 3: Guided Day Trip to Girona from Barcelona
The medieval city of Girona has historical roots in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures. Today, you'll meet your guide at the Barcelona train station for the 30-minute trip to Girona, where you'll witness its history and architecture on a guided tour.
Start by exploring the influence of Muslim culture on the development of Girona with a visit to the 12th-century Moorish baths. See the exceptionally preserved central pool covered by a cupola, then navigate through the ruins of the Banys Àrabs. Make our way through the Jewish Quarter, which was home to nearly 150 Jewish families until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Today it remains well preserved, containing a web of narrow medieval alleyways that wind through the ancient neighborhood. While navigating these serpentine streets, be on the lookout for mezuzahs, enclosed parchment attached to door frames that signify the faith of the occupants.
From here you'll climb up to the Basilica of Sant Feliu, a prominent structure nestled into Girona’s old city. Head into the interior of the basilica and discover a celebrated sculpture of a recumbent Christ by Spanish artist Aloy de Montbray, as well as 4th-century early Christian and pagan sarcophagi. Continue up the stoned pathways to arrive at la Catedral de Girona, an impressive structure that features the hallmarks of varying architectural styles. The cathedral is home to the sacred chapel of Narcism, the patron saint of Girona, and to the magnificent 11th-century Tapestry of the Creation, considered to be a true masterpiece of medieval artwork.
The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. Return to Barcelona in the evening.
Day 4: A Day With Salvador Dali
Today's full-day excursion is dedicated to Salvador Dalí. This is your chance to get to the heart of Catalan Mediterranean culture, architecture, traditions, and delicious cuisine.
At the designated time, your guide will meet you at your hotel for the trip to the northern border of Catalonia, where you'll explore where Dalí was born, raised, and later worked. You'll also discover the area's scenery, culture, and politic landscape, which helped shape and inspire this world-renowned artist.
From Barcelona, head to Figueres, a small town near the border of France and one of the three points forming the so-called 'Dalí triangle.' It's also Dalí 's hometown. Spend some time strolling along the streets and squares that defined the artist’s early years.
You'll also visit the Dalí Museum, the world's largest surrealistic object. Designed by Dalí himself upon the ruins of the old municipal theater, the surrealist museum gives visitors an unprecedented look into the artist's mind.
Continue along the Costa Brava coast to the village of Cadaqués. This village, famed for its dramatic landscapes framed by bright white homes and the Mediterranean Sea, is the easternmost town on the Iberian Peninsula.
Just a mile from Cadaqués lies Portlligat, where you'll end your tour. In 1930, Dalí, this tiny, charming cove for his home, building his house atop several fishermen's huts. Today it's been converted into the House Museum, which allows visitors to see Dali's studio and take an intimate tour of the home where Dali lived with his beloved wife and muse, Gala.
Return to Barcelona in the evening.
Day 5: Flight from Barcelona to Lyon & City Tour
In the morning, make your way to the airport to fly to Lyon.
Lyon is France's third most populous city—behind Paris and Marseille—and is more compact, allowing visitors to explore easily by foot. An excellent place to start is the city's UNESCO-listed Old Town and the Presque Ile—a piece of land surrounded by the Saône and Rhône Rivers. Here you can wander the narrow cobblestoned streets in search of the famous traboules (hidden passageways). Get a view of it all with a walk up to the Fourviere Basilica for a panorama of the whole city.
In the afternoon, take a private walking tour to explore the city center. Start at the gothic Saint-Jean cathedra to discover a cobblestone labyrinth of courtyards, passageways, gothic staircases, and Italian galleries.
For dinner, choose from hundreds of restaurants, from family-owned restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, informal brasseries, to Michelin-starred restaurants like the iconic Auberge de Collonges, founded by the famous chef Paul Bocuse.
Day 6: Beaujolais, Bresse, & Perouges
In the morning, enjoy your tour of Beaujolais, a historic province and wine-growing region just north of Lyon.
Often compared to Tuscany, this beautiful countryside dotted with hilltop villages offers a gentle pace of life. Your cultural and gourmet itinerary leads you around the southern part of Beaujolais, which is famous for its Beaujolais Nouveau and golden stone.
Stop for lunch in heart of the Bresse region, then continue to the town of Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne. Here you'll stop to see the medieval center and check out the farmer's market, before crossing the Dombes (region of a thousand lakes) to reach the medieval town of Pérouges. End your day here with a fresh-baked galette as you people-watch on the cobblestone streets.
Along the route, your knowledgable driver/guide will pass on their passion for the region to you during this rural excursion. You'll also get an introduction to wine and meet with a winemaker who will invite you to enjoy a tasting experience.
Return to Lyon for the night.
Day 7: Depart Lyon—Au Revoir, France!
After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!