- See the highlights of Barcelona on a helicopter tour
- Take a private gourmet cooking class from a master chef
- Tour the palaces and museums of Madrid
- Enjoy a flamenco show and dine at world-class restaurants
- Visit an olive-oil estate and learn how this famous product is produced
|Day 1||Arrival in Spain – Luxury Accommodation & Barcelona Tour||Barcelona|
|Day 2||Luxury Private Tour of Barcelona by Land & Air||Barcelona|
|Day 3||Private Gourmet Cooking Class with a Master Chef||Barcelona|
|Day 4||Train from Barcelona to Madrid - Luxury in the City||Madrid|
|Day 5||Private City Tour - Discover Madrid's Royal Legacy||Madrid|
|Day 6||Private Art Tour of Madrid||Madrid|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Toledo – Private City Tour & Gourmet Lunch||Madrid|
|Day 8||Free Day in Madrid - Evening Flamenco Experience||Madrid|
|Day 9||Train from Madrid to Seville||Seville|
|Day 10||Private City Tour of Seville||Seville|
|Day 11||Private Tour of an Olive Oil Estate||Seville|
|Day 12||Private Transfer from Seville to Madrid - Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Spain – Luxury Accommodation & Barcelona Tour
Welcome to Spain!
Upon arrival at Barcelona's El Prat Airport, a private driver will transfer you into the city where you can check into your four-star hotel and unwind. You'll then have the afternoon free to explore on a self-guided tour to stretch your legs.
We recommend first visiting Mt. Montjuic and the surrounding area. Montjuic is a famous hill that stands 1,988 feet (606 meters) 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 whose effect is heightened by the hundreds of spectators and a communal atmosphere.
Day 2: Luxury Private Tour of Barcelona by Land & Air
After breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet a local guide who will whisk you away in a chauffeured vehicle for a half-day tour of works by the legendary Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí.
First, you'll visit Park Güell. Located atop Carmel Hill in north Barcelona, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fine example of Gaudí's boundary-pushing modernist style. Interestingly, it also has a storybook quality due to the bright colors and smooth organic shapes. The park takes up 42 acres and you'll be able to marvel at every building as you stroll the myriad walkways and gardens. There are also incredible views at many points in Park Güell that look out over the city.
Next up is the Sagrada Família, the iconic Roman Catholic basilica that embodies an impressive mix of gothic, Catalan-modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Despite construction on the church beginning in 1882, it's still technically listed as being under construction and was only consecrated in 2010. Upon arrival, the guide will reveal insight into the Sagrada Familia's fascinating history, and you'll glean even more info as you explore the interior.
Then you'll head to the famous boulevard Passeig de Grácia. It's home to upscale boutiques as well as two buildings by Gaudí. The first is the Casa Mila apartment building, which earned the nickname "La Pedrera" because its facade resembles a stone quarry. Casa Batlló is another modernist masterpiece of a residential building. Locals have christened it Casa dels Ossos, or "House of Bones" due to the skeletal nature of its design.
After touring Barcelona's streets, you will then get an even more exclusive city tour as you take to the skies on a helicopter tour. This excursion lasts a brisk 10 minutes, during which you'll be able to look down on every major landmark in the city as well as the impressive coastline.
Day 3: Private Gourmet Cooking Class with a Master Chef
Today in Barcelona, food takes center stage as you participate in a private cooking class of traditional cuisine. You'll learn some skills that you can use to impress friends and family back home when you cook them authentic Spanish tapas.
This gastronomic workshop begins with a visit to a local market with your private teacher/master chef. With fresh produce in hand, you'll head to a private kitchen in downtown Barcelona, and under the tutelage of the chef, you'll prepare your very own Spanish tapas from scratch. A fitting end to this experience is when you get to sit down and enjoy your delicious creations.
After the cooking class, you'll have a few hours left to enjoy the city. If shopping is on your radar, try visiting the boutiques and stores around the Passeig de Gràcia. And if the cooking class piqued your appetite you can find many options for dinner complete with great local wine—head to Carrer De Blai (Blai St.) in central Barcelona, known as the "tapas route" for its abundance of spectacular tapas bars.
Day 4: Train from Barcelona to Madrid - Luxury in the City
After breakfast at the hotel, you'll transfer to the train station and embark on a 3.5-hour journey to the nation's capital. Upon arrival in Madrid, you'll check into your luxury hotel and then have the rest of the day free to explore the city at your own pace.
Perhaps you could take in a show. Gran Vía is Madrid's answer to Broadway, and on it, you'll find plenty of theaters showcasing plays and musical productions. Needless to say, the options for culture in this city are vast, and you could also visit museums, art galleries, and live music venues if the mood strikes.
When night falls, tap into Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to Botín in the city center. No less than Ernest Hemingway described it in his seminal novel The Sun Also Rises as the best restaurant on earth.
Day 5: Private City Tour - Discover Madrid's Royal Legacy
Enjoy a half-day tour of Madrid led an expert local guide today. Madrid has a long history, and today the city adorns itself with that history in its architecture, public spaces, and culture. An organized tour is ideal, and your guide will reveal insight into how different time periods influenced Madrid's neighborhoods and buildings, as well as point out the most interesting sights.
One area you'll visit that's awash in splendor is the Madrid de los Austrias. It was built in the 16th century during the reign of the Hapsburg Dynasty's first ruler, Charles I. Located in the city center, it's home to one of the grandest plazas in Spain, the Plaza Mayor, which was once the heart of Old Madrid.
Also here is the Royal Palace, which was the official home of the Spanish monarchs until 1931. You'll tour both the grounds and interior of this 3,418-room monument to opulence, entering the parade ground, the bedchambers of Charles III, several salons, the Royal Chapel, and the Hall of the Crown, which displays Charles I's crown, scepter, and throne.
Later you could visit El Retiro Park. This 308-acre expanse of verdure is the green lung of Madrid, abounding with sculptures, fountains, and a man-made lake perfect for taking a boat trip. There are also must-visit gardens here including the Jardín de Vivaces ("Garden of Vivacious Plants"), Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inspired by the Andalusia region), and a garden home to over 4,000 roses. The best time to see these blooms from May through June.
Day 6: Private Art Tour of Madrid
In Madrid’s city center, near the Paseo del Prado and El Retiro Park, you'll find what's known as the Golden Triangle of Art. This comprises not just some of the most important museums in the city, but in the entire world.
There will be no waiting in line as you breeze past the ticket counter and into the iconic El Prado Museum. Opened in 1819, today it houses an impressive collection of artworks dating from the 12th through the early 20th century and features works by Rafael, Rembrandt, Bosch, Tiziano, Velázquez, Rubens, Titian, Goya, Diego Velázquez, and others.
Next up is a visit to the Museo Reina Sofia, Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. There's no shortage of masterworks here either, and you'll find paintings by both Picasso and Salvador Dali.
If you thirst for more art and culture after the first few museums, then your guide will be happy to lead you to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, which includes a private collection of some 1,600 paintings predominantly of the Italian, English, and Dutch schools of art. Here you can find works by Cezanne and Van Gough, among others.
Day 7: Day Trip to Toledo – Private City Tour & Gourmet Lunch
In the morning, a driver will pick you up for the one-hour journey south from Madrid to Toledo, a city that enjoys a dramatic location atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo. This historic city was the capital of Spain in the 16th century.
It was back in the Middle Ages that Toledo was known as the "City of the Three Cultures," a place where—legend has it—Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. You can see remnants of this in the old Arab, Muslim, and Christian monuments that still stand. These include the 15th-century Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the former Roman palace Alcázar de Toledo, and the Moorish Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, which dates to the 12th century.
Accompanied by an expert guide you will visit these historic landmarks as well as others, including the grand 13th century Toledo Cathedral and the 12th century Church of Santo Tomé. Throughout it all, you'll tour the ancient streets of an incredible city that could aptly be described as an open-air museum. After all, Toledo does enjoy UNESCO World Heritage Status.
At lunchtime, you'll head to the outskirts the city, where the ancient metropolis gives way to pastoral landscapes dotted with Spanish manor estates known as cigarrales. Amid this scenic backdrop, you'll enjoy a gourmet lunch on the banks of the Tagus River with views looking back at Toledo.
This area is also famous for producing marzipan, a sweet made from almonds, sugar, eggs, and honey. After lunch, you'll visit another cigarrale that serves as a confectionary. Here you'll participate in a workshop where you'll learn the history of traditional Toledan marzipan, as well as how to make this delicious treat. Needless to say, the workshop ends with you indulging in your sweet creations.
Day 8: Free Day in Madrid - Evening Flamenco Experience
Today is a more relaxed day in Madrid free of rigid timetables. You can spend the morning enjoying the hotel amenities or get out and explore the city on foot. If you're a sports fan you can opt for a tour of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the 81,000-seat stadium home to the Real Madrid football club. You might also consider taking a stroll along Fuencarral Street, a popular downtown shopping area full of upscale brands and designer boutiques.
In the evening you'll have the chance to experience and appreciate one of Spain's premier cultural offerings: flamenco. This musical style enjoys a rich heritage that dates back to the 9th century when the music and dances of immigrants in the Andalusia region mixed with the cultures of local Moors and Jews. Over the centuries, the intermingling of these various influences synthesized to produce the style of Flamenco that has come to define Spanish folkloric music.
Taking in a flamenco show is a must for any visitor to Spain. First, you'll have a private tour of a guitar workshop where local artisans craft traditional instruments. Then, you'll stop at a dance academy that teaches the future stars of flamenco. Finally, visit a shoemaker who labors to produce the unique footwear for these dancers.
Afterward, you'll sit down for a sultry flamenco show. Throughout the performance, your guide will point out the intricacies and significance of the dance as professional dancers move about the tablao (dance floor). It's a show you won't soon forget.
RIght about the time the performance ends, Madrid should be coming alive. This is a city that thrives at night, and to this end we recommend heading to Calle Ponzano. Located in the north of the city, this bohemian enclave is the perfect area to enjoy a late-night tapas dinner followed by some bar-hopping.
Day 9: Train from Madrid to Seville
After breakfast in Madrid, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for the transfer to Atocha Train Station where you'll board a high-speed train to Seville. The journey is a pleasant three hours, during which you can relax in your reclining seat and watch Spain's beautiful landscapes pass by through the window.
Upon arrival in Seville, a driver will meet you for the transfer to your hotel for check-in. After settling in, we recommend you head out and explore a bit. Seville is the capital of Spain's Andalusia region, and there's no shortage of amazing sights here.
One example is the Plaza de España, which was built in 1928. For an impressive modern landmark, head to the old quarter and Plaza de la Encarnación. Here you'll find Metropol Parasol, a massive wooden structure designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer and which opened in 2011. Known locally as Las Setas ("The Mushrooms"), this icon of Seville is indeed fungi-like and capped with a curved honeycomb roof. You can take an elevator to the top where you'll be treated to views of the city.
And there's no better way to finish a day in Seville than with a sundowner at one of the city's famous tapas bars.
Day 10: Private City Tour of Seville
After breakfast, you'll head off with a local guide to explore this ancient hotbed of culture.
You’ll visit the Seville Cathedral, a 15th-century Roman-Catholic church that's home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest gothic church in the world, and an awe-inspiring testament to pious grandiosity. You'll also see La Giralda, the cathedral's looming belltower. There's a noticeable stylistic difference between the two structures, as this 12th-century pillar was originally built as a minaret for the Great Mosque back when Andalusia was ruled by the Moors.
You'll then walk to the fashionable Santa Cruz neighborhood, which was once the Jewish Quarter in the city. It's a colorful and well-preserved part of the historic center, with many cafés and tapas bars—the perfect excuse to take a break and enjoy some small plates and local wine. You can also visit markets and local shops where artisans produce intricate silverwork and elegant garment embroidery.
After completing the half-day tour, you can return to your hotel and relax or continue to explore the town. Not surprisingly, Seville's gastronomic scene is incredible. Know that locals love to compliment an evening of tapas with a nightcap at a favorite watering hole.
Day 11: Private Tour of an Olive Oil Estate
One of Spain's most popular exports is its high-quality olive oil. You'll witness the production process firsthand on an exclusive tour of an Andalusian olive oil estate. Located just 30 minutes outside Seville, this estate has quite the history, as it was right here back in the 17th-century that Christopher Columbus' son Hernando began exporting olive oil to the New World.
Upon arrival in the morning, you'll be treated to a typical Andalusian breakfast of coffee, hot chocolate, churros, and toast with olive oil and tomatoes. Afterward, you'll tour the old manufacturing center and view the 16th-century olive-oil presses. You'll also visit the estate's working presses, which use modern methods to produce the olive oil they export today.
Also at the estate is one of the biggest olive-oil museums in the world. It features exhibits detailing 150 varieties of olives from 13 countries. A visit to this museum reveals the characteristics and qualities of olives and how their oil has evolved to become one of the most popular culinary ingredients in the world.
Relax on the estate’s patios and enjoy some leisure time while basking in the Andalusian scenery. You'll find wide-open fields, purebred Spanish horses, Arabic gardens, and a private collection of horse-drawn carts dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
The excursion ends with a tasting of olive oils produced on the estate, allowing you to put your newfound knowledge to good use. After returning to Seville, the rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure. You could stroll the Plaza de América at Maria Luisa Park, walk around the neighborhood of Triana or have dinner accompanied by a flamenco show.
Day 12: Private Transfer from Seville to Madrid - Departure
After a leisurely breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the train station in Seville. You will then board a high-speed train for the three-hour journey to Madrid. You will then transfer to the airport for your flight home. Adios!