Join other discerning travelers on this Insight Gold itinerary, one of Insight Vacations' luxury journeys. Stay in the finest hotels, delight in epicurean dining in renowned restaurants and visit the most sought after destinations while traveling in comfort, elegance and style. From cultural Madrid and passionate Seville to Moorish Granada and cosmopolitan Barcelona – you'll be inspired by the Iberian zest for life!
Insight Gold highlights include:
• Tour Prado Museum with an art historian and visit the 14th century Alhambra Palace.
• Sample Catalan cuisine and see Gaudi’s amazing Sagrada Familia cathedral.
• Enjoy a comfortable travel pace with 2-night stays in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona and overnights in Toledo and Granada; flying from Granada to Barcelona allows more time to enjoy the Catalan capital.
$40 voucher per person toward an optional excursion
Your Spanish adventure begins in Madrid, Spain's capital and largest city. Explore the world’s finest collection of Spanish painting as you tour the city's Prado Museum with an expert art historian. Other highlights include the Cervantes monument in the Plaza de España, the Cibeles Fountain, the Royal Palace and the Gran Vía with its outstanding architectural examples of the Belle Époque at the turn of the 20th century. Visit Toledo, one of Europe’s oldest cities and home to the great 16th century painter El Greco. See many of his most famous paintings at the cathedral then sample Spain's most prized wines at a typical bodega in La Mancha.
Stop in the World Heritage city of Cordoba and learn about the history of the Moors in Spain on a guided tour of the Mosque of the Caliphs. The mosque is an architectural treasure containing columns that date back to the Roman and Visigoth periods. Then spend two nights in Seville, a vibrant cultural hub known for bullfighting, flamenco and its lavish Gothic cathedral that houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Bask in the city's romantic aura with a pleasant horse and carriage ride and savor a Highlight Dinner bursting with the flavors of Andalucía, complemented by wine and attentive service.
On to Granada, where no visit to Spain would be complete without seeing Alhambra Palace. The most renowned architectural legacy of Andalusian Islamic history in Spain, this 14th century masterpiece is more like a palace city. Within its fortified walls is a defensive zone, residential and formal state buildings, the Nasrid Palaces, a citadel, and the palace, gardens and orchards of El Generalife, the country estate of the King of Granada. Even after your tour, continue to bask in palatial splendor with an overnight stay at the deluxe Alhambra Palace Hotel, located right next door.
Conclude your journey in eclectic Barcelona, one of Europe's most dynamic cities and home to some of the finest and most eccentric art and architecture in the world. Outstanding even by Barcelonan standards is Antoni Gaudi's extraordinary architectural wonder, the Sagrada Familia cathedral, which you'll see on a guided tour. Also enjoy a walking tour of the old lanes of the Gothic Quarter and a Celebration Dinner with wine featuring the region's unique Catalan cuisine.
• 8 nights in Luxury Hotels in central and scenic locations: 2 nights in Madrid, 1 night in Toledo, 2 nights in Seville, 1 night in Granada and 2 nights in Barcelona
• Daily buffet breakfast, welcome reception and 3 dinners
• Local sightseeing by luxury air-conditioned, 40-seat motor coach with extended legroom and onboard restroom
• Air travel between Granada and Barcelona
• Accompanied by a professional Tour Director
• All guided visits and walking tours as per itinerary
• Airport arrival and departure transfers on Days 2 and 10
• Insight Traveler Welcome Pack
Day 1 - Depart the U.S.
Board your overnight flight to Madrid (cost of airfare not included).
Days 2 & 3 – Madrid of the Bourbons
Welcome to Madrid, Spain’s capitol city located at the center of the Iberian Peninsula. At Madrid Airport, transfers depart for your elegant hotel at 9am, 11am, 3:30pm and 4pm local time. Located near the Prado Museum, the hotel was commissioned by the King of Spain in 1912 and has been a center of Madrid society for almost 100 years. It was ranked as one of the world’s best by Condé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Gold List. This evening, join your Director for a Welcome Reception, drinks and light informal meal.
The following day, a local expert introduces you to the city, Drive along the elegant, tree-lined avenues to the grandiose Cibeles Fountain. Turn down the Gran Via to see the Royal Palace and the monument to Cervantes in the Plaza de España then continue through the Puerto del Sol. Then enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent Prado museum housing works by Titian, Botticelli, Rubens and many others. This afternoon you are at leisure to explore, relax and enjoy the rest of your stay to the full.
Accommodation: The Westin Palace - 2 nights
Day 4 – Toledo, Spain’s Ancient Capital
Today we drive to Toledo, situated on a rocky precipice high above the River Tagus. This was Spain’s capital during the golden era, where Arab, Jewish and Christian cultures flourished side-by-side during the Middle Ages. Within the city walls a local expert leads you through the narrow cobbled streets to visit the Gothic cathedral, as impressive as it is old, housing works by the artist El Greco. Toledo has something to enjoy at every step so the afternoon is yours to soak up the rich history. Located outside the historic center, your impressive hotel has been beautifully integrated into a restored 16th-century palace.
Accommodation: Hotel Buenavista - 1 night
Days 5 & 6 – Cordoba and Seville, the city of Carmen
Travel through the flat plains of La Mancha today, where Don Quixote tilted at windmills as his faithful Sancho Panza looked on. You’ll see several of these white-washed structures lining the ridge above Consuegra. In the famous wine center of Valdepeñas, its roads lined with bodegas, sample some of the local vino de mesa. Travel through the Despeñaperros pass, scene of desperate battles and great victories over the Moors and Napoleon. Then follow the valley of the river Guadalquivir to historic Cordoba, once considered the most civilized city in Europe. Important in the times of the Romans and the Visigoths, Cordoba knew its Golden Age under the Moors - the magnificent 8th century mosque with its 850 columns bears witness to their artistic genius. A local expert will take you inside the mosque, which has been used as a Christian cathedral since the 13th century. There is also time to stroll in the twisting maze of streets and across the Roman Bridge.
Continue to Seville for two nights in the stunning Andalusian capital. Your exquisite hotel is located on the historic city center and combines historical features with contemporary touches to create a warm and elegant environment. Spend the following day basking in the romantic aura of the city with a pleasant horse and carriage ride. At the leafy Maria Louisa Park, visit the iconic Plaza de España. Then a local expert shows you through the narrow lanes and pretty squares of the old Santa Cruz quarter. Emerge by the walls of the 14th-century Alcazar Palace. See the massive Cathedral and Moorish Giralda Tower and go inside to visit the tomb of Columbus.
The afternoon is entirely free for you to explore at your own pace. As the sun’s golden rays start to fade, enjoy a Highlight Dinner bursting with the flavors of Andalucía, complemented by wine and attentive service.
Accommodation: Gran Melia Colon - 2 nights
Day 7 – Granada and the Alhambra Palace
A beautiful drive through gleaming white villages and a sea of olive groves brings you to Granada. Here, overlooking the town, awaits one of the most remarkable fortresses ever built, the Alhambra. Explore this exquisite palace, a fantasy of stone cut lace, arabesque gardens and fountains, built as a royal palace and citadel by the Moors in the 14th century. Walk on to the exotic water-gardens of the Generalife, the royal summer residence. Relax here in the sunshine and enjoy the fine views over the town and its three verdant hills. Right next door, your exquisite hotel reflects the same Moorish splendor, enchantment and beauty.
Accommodation: Alhambra Palace Hotel - 1 night
Days 8 & 9 – Barcelona, City of Guadi
There may be time this morning to take a leisurely walk through the Albaicin neighborhood with its intriguing maze of narrow streets, whitewashed houses and patio gardens of a bygone Moorish splendor. Then transfer to the airport for your short flight to Barcelona, vibrant capital of Catalonia. Your iconic hotel, with its gorgeous old facade, is set in a restored modernist building. Maybe hit the terrace bar tonight for views over the city of the Sagrada Familia down to the sea.
The following morning, meet a local expert who takes you down the gracious Passeig de Gracia, past the wrought-iron street lamps and finest buildings of the Catalan Art Nouveau. Explore the narrow lanes of the Gothic Quarter with its old Cathedral. Then back out to visit the leviathan of the Eixample District, Gaudi’s extraordinary Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Gloopy spires search the sky like some epic Hydra. Inside, a stone tree canopy holds up the roof while sun pours through stained glass on to sea-creature caverns. Thoroughly original and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Tonight, discover why the cuisine of Catalonia is justifiably famous at a Celebration Dinner with wine.
Accommodation: Casa Fuster - 2 nights
Day 10 – Return home
Sadly, your tour comes to an end after breakfast today. Departure transfers arrive at Barcelona Airport at 7am, 9am and 11am local time.
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Current prices are based on 2014 Preview pricing and are subject to change after October 1, 2013. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
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