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Come on a signature tour through northern Spain and get to know the people, landscapes, customs and cuisine that make this part of the country so fascinating. From sipping delicious Rioja in Logrono and delighting in the seaside charms of bustling Barcelona to enjoying the lively tapas bars of San Sebastian and pulling up a seat in an atmospheric square in Madrid - this is an eight-day adventure that packs the essentials of Spain into one. Spain is full of culture, charisma and extraordinary cuisine, and this tour up north is no different.
Day 1: Barcelona
Hola! Welcome to Barcelona, where fabulous Catalan cuisine, a ground-breaking art scene, Gothic architecture, and a non-stop nightlife are just some of the many highlights. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 7 pm. After the meeting, head out for an optional group dinner for you to get to know your fellow travellers. As Barcelona is so big and you’ll be leaving on your adventure tomorrow, we recommend you arrive a day or two early to see the city for yourself. See great works of art in the Picasso Museum, head to the waterfront for a bowl of traditional paella, soak up the festive vibe of Las Ramblas, or catch the funicular to Montjuic for sweeping views of the city. While in Barcelona, be sure to find time to absorb the bizarre beauty of La Sagrada Familia – one of Gaudi’s most iconic creations.
Day 2: Pamplona
Leave Barcelona behind and travel by train to Pamplona, the heartland of the Basque country (approximately 4.5 hours). Upon arrival into Pamplona head out on an orientation walk and get acquainted with this well-preserved fortified medieval town. Pamplona, named after its founder, Pompey the Great, has served for centuries as both a military stronghold and an important point on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. It’s also world famous as the home of the annual San Fermin, a weeklong festival that features the running of the bulls. Meander down winding alleys and step inside ornate buildings like Pamplona's Gothic cathedral – one of the most important religious structures in Spain. The city has also recently opened a museum of modern art designed by a prize-winning architect, inspired by the cultural renaissance achieved by Bilbao and its Guggenheim. Your evening is then free to do as you wish – the quality of pintxos (Basque tapas) is incredible, so be sure to tuck into some tasty morsels.
Day 3: San Sebastian
Today, take a bus to the stunning seaside city of San Sebastian – a jewel of the Basque country and a place obsessed with food (approximately 1 hour). With its family friendly beaches and vibrant old city, San Sebastian is a fantastic place to stroll along the promenade, shop, or just to soak up the sun. When you arrive, get an overview of the most central beach, La Concha, with an included cable car journey to Monte Igueldo. Then, why not wander around the Parte Vieja (Old Town), a mix of alleyways wedged between the bay and the Urumea River? Otherwise, head to Playa de Gros and watch the surfers riding the waves of Biscay Bay. This evening make sure you hit the neighbourhood's streets and dig into the region's specialties.
Day 4: San Sebastian
You’ll have a full day to explore San Sebastian, giving you plenty of time to catch the 1-hour local bus to Bilbao, if you’d like. If you do decide to venture to Bilbao, the world-famous and architecturally sublime Guggenheim Museum is a must visit. If you have enough time in the afternoon, the San Telmo Museum displays history, art and photography of the Basque country. In the evening, it might be a good idea to enjoy another night of delicious food. San Sebastian is home to some of the world’s best restaurants, most experimental chefs and a distinct food culture, so be sure to get your fix tonight.
Day 5: Logrono
Take the short journey by public bus to the prized vineyards of the Rioja wine region and Logrono (approximately 2 hours). The town sits on the banks of the Ebro River and is the capital of Spain’s most renowned wine region. The city is rich in history and traditions, preserved since the Middle Ages. It also boasts one of the most distinguished culinary traditions in the county, home to some of the best tapas bars in the whole of Spain, all crammed into its small medieval centre. After checking in to your accommodation for tonight, the rest of the day is free to explore. Stroll the streets of this favourite stop for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela, a handsome city of medieval fortifications, where much work is being done to restore it to its full glory. This evening, head out on an included 'txikiteo' of pintxos: a Basque-style tapas crawl that will fill your senses (and stomach) with the unique tastes of the region. Don’t forget to wash them down with a signature fizzy white wine, known as a txakoli. The tapas bars right around the medieval Old Town compete to get your business which means incredibly high standards, so be ready to eat well.
Day 6: Logrono
Logrono is central to Spain’s wine industry, and their tradition of winemaking dates back to the first Phoenician settlers back in the 11th century BC. The city is not only surrounded by vines but has always treated wine with great respect. It is hard to imagine, but in 1635 the traffic of metal-wheeled carriages was forbidden in Old Town by law, as it was feared that vibration caused would disturb the wines resting in cellars below. Today you’ll head out on an included winery visit to enjoy sampling wines made from the indigenous grapes of La Rioja, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Viura and Malvasia at a local bodega. Visit the wine museum (season depending) to learn more about this region's famous tipple. If the weather is on your side, stroll through enchanting vineyards and learn what goes on behind the scenes.
Day 7: Madrid
Journey on the bus or train to Madrid this morning, which should take between 4 and 5 hours. On arrival, after checking in your hotel, set off for an orientation walk with your group leader. There is plenty to do and see in Madrid and you’ll have time to explore at your own pace. Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) gives a great panoramic perspective of western art history. Perhaps wander through the pristine gardens of Real Jardin Botanico and then delve deeper into the art of the city at Museo Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. If you're lucky enough for your trip to fall on match day, you could don a white t-shirt and head to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch the mighty Real Madrid.
Day 8: Madrid
With no activities planned for the final day, you're able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, it's recommended that you make arrangements to stay an extra couple of days to see all you can in the city. We’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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