You'll get all this!
From Gaudí and El Greco to tapas and flamenco, this tour captures the energetic diversity of Spain. Beginning in beautiful Barcelona and ending in sensual Sevilla, your Rick Steves guide will treat you to a sumptuous, two-week cultural buffet — with rich helpings of Catalunya's Gaudí, Toledo's El Greco, masterpieces of Madrid's Prado, and the Moorish and royal treasures of Granada and Sevilla. You'll also experience the delights of white-washed Andalusian hill towns, prancing horses, tasty tapas, and fine sherry. Join us for the Best of Spain in 14 Days!
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Spain come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 23 group sightseeing events • Barcelona walking tour • Sagrada Família tour • Segovia day trip • Madrid bus tour • Royal Palace tour • Madrid walking tour • Prado Museum tour • Toledo walking tour • Santo Tomé Chapel (El Greco's The Burial of the Count of Orgaz) • Toledo Cathedral tour • Sinagoga del Tránsito tour • Consuegra windmill visit • Granada Royal Chapel • Alhambra Palace tour • Ronda Bullring • Sherry tasting • Andalusian horse farm visit • Sevilla walking tour • Sevilla Cathedral tour • Sevilla Alcazar tour • Sevilla carriage ride (weather permitting) • Cultural performance...and more
- All group transportation from Barcelona to Sevilla
- 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff including Rick Steves' Spain guidebook, Spanish phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2013
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
Daily Activity Key
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Spain
We'll gather at our Barcelona hotel around 5 p.m. for a "Welcome to Spain" get-together. Then we'll head out for an orientation paseo (stroll), including a look at the swirling, Modernista architecture of Antoni Gaudí along the "Block of Discord." We'll finish by getting acquainted over a tapas-style dinner together. Sleep in Barcelona (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Lively, Artistic Barcelona
This morning, we'll explore Barcelona's maze-like Gothic Quarter, from its Roman foundations to the spires of its candle-, relic- (and geese-!) strewn cathedral. Then we'll hop the subway to Gaudí's towering, dizzying Sagrada Família church. Afterwards you'll be free to experience more of this magnificent city on your own, from the Picasso Museum to Gaudí's playful Parc Güell. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 3: Madrid and the Royal Palace
All aboard! After breakfast we'll take one of Europe's newest, speediest trains (the AVE) to Madrid. Upon arrival, we'll enjoy a panoramic bus tour of this energetic city's major monuments and classy boulevards then meet our local guide for a tour through the sumptuously-decorated Royal Palace. With 2,000 rooms, acres of luxurious tapestries, and a king's ransom of chandeliers, this is truly one of the great palaces of Europe. Later we'll stroll the lively streets of our neighborhood and enjoy dinner together. Sleep in Madrid (3 nights). Train: 3 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 4: Masterpieces of Madrid
This morning we'll take a walking tour from Madrid's bustling Puerta del Sol to its elegant Plaza Mayor. We'll also tour one of Europe's premier art museums — the masterpiece-packed Prado — where you'll see paintings by Velásquez, Goya, El Greco and others. Your afternoon and evening are free to visit the Reina Sofía, stroll through the majestic Retiro Gardens (Madrid's most popular park), and maybe even catch a performance of zarzuela, Spain's delightfully light opera. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 5: Day Trip to Segovia
We'll venture out of the city by bus, up to the history-rich town of Segovia and its beautifully-preserved Roman aqueduct. After an introduction to the aqueduct and town, you'll have free time to wander and visit Segovia's medieval Alcazar fortress. We'll regroup this afternoon for lunch to savor a Segovian specialty together — roast suckling pig. We'll return to Madrid in time for you to enjoy dinner on your own. Bus 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 6: Historic Toledo
It's a short bus ride to Spain's old capital city of Toledo (and back in time about 500 years). We'll take a morning walking tour that includes Toledo's magnificent cathedral, the medieval Sinagoga del Tránsito and El Greco's The Burial of the Count of Orgaz at the Santo Tomé Chapel. This afternoon and evening you'll have plenty of free time to enjoy the winding streets and varied sights (and some of Spain's best shopping). Sleep in Toledo (1 night). Bus: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.
Day 7: La Mancha and Granada
Today we'll drive through windswept "Don Quixote country," stopping to sniff the saffron and admire a whitewashed windmill or two. Our destination is Granada, where we'll begin with a visit to the ornate tombs of world-changing Ferdinand and Isabella, who reigned over a new age of religious zeal at home and exploration of the "new" Americas. Then we'll head up the Albayzín hill for dinner together and enjoy a sunset view of tomorrow's treat — the Alhambra. Sleep in Granada (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 8: Moorish Treasures of Granada
We'll spend our morning learning about Spain's Islamic legacy as we tour the sprawling palace and garden complex of the Alhambra with a local expert. This last and greatest of Europe's Moorish palaces will awe you with its grace and artistry. This afternoon and evening you'll be free to linger longer at the Alhambra, and make your own discoveries along the colorful streets and alleyways of Granada's Old Town. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 9: Ronda
Today's destination is the hill town of Ronda, home to Spain's oldest bullring and its most breathtaking gorge. The afternoon and evening are yours to explore Ronda's Moorish and Mercadillo Quarters, linked together by the famous gravity-defying stone bridge (towering over the rubble of an earlier one that wasn't). Sleep in or near Ronda (1 night, groups may be split between two hotels). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 10: Spain's Pueblos Blancos
Today we'll wind our way between the olive groves and whitewashed villages of Spain's Pueblos Blancos, stopping on the way to explore Grazalema — a peaceful pueblo surrounded by the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Then we'll press on to the quintessential hill town — Arcos de la Frontera — where we'll share dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 11: Sherry and Horses
It's a short hop to Jerez de la Frontera where we'll learn the history of the town's specialty at a traditional sherry bodega (sampling the local product). Nearby we'll marvel at the prancing horses at an Andalusian horse farm, where we'll learn about these magnificent horses and their connection to the local culture. We'll return with time to enjoy a free afternoon and evening in lovely Arcos. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 12: Sevilla's Barrio Santa Cruz
This morning we'll drive directly to Sevilla, Spain's most flamboyant and atmospheric city. We'll begin our visit with a guided tour that takes us to the famous Macarena (Weeping Virgin), through the narrow whitewashed lanes of the Barrio Santa Cruz, and ends with the world's largest Gothic cathedral. You'll have time to do more exploring on your own before we regroup tonight for a performance of sultry, swirling flamenco. Sleep in Sevilla (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 13: Sevilla's Royal Alcazar
We'll start today with a tour of the beautifully Moorish-style Alcazar palace, the Sevilla home of the Spanish Royal Family for the past 500 years. Afterward, you're free to walk in the footsteps of Carmen and Don Juan, linger in Sevilla's charming squares or stroll along the romantic Guadalquivir River. This evening we'll share travel memories and toast new friends at our final dinner together, capped off with a carriage ride through the streets of Sevilla. Salud! No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
Sevilla's airport is a bus or taxi ride away with easy connections throughout Europe. Alternately there is an AVE train to Madrid to continue your Iberian adventures on your own. Hasta luego!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Spain in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to four hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- In Arcos, walk 15 minutes up a steep street to the hotel (while bags are sent by minivan).
- Travel on a bus without a toilet.
Getting ready for your Rick Steves' tour can be overwhelming, so we've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Barcelona before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Spain guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Spanish and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Many of Barcelona's sights are closed on Mondays. See your guidebook for more details. Confirm all sightseeing plans with any tourist information office.
Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Barcelona that we do not do as a group: La Boquería Market (closed Sundays), Picasso Museum (free admission Sunday afternoons; closed Mondays), Casa Milà, Catalan Art Museum (closed Mondays), Fundació Joan Miró (closed Mondays), Parc Güell (closed Mondays).
If you are interested in attending zarzuela, the Spanish light opera in Madrid, you may want to check the schedule and buy tickets before leaving home. More information can be found in Rick Steves' Spain guidebook; schedules and booking information are at http://teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaws" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). Barcelona and Sevilla both offer good transportation options, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy.
The most direct option is to fly into Barcelona and home from Sevilla (which may require an overnight in Madrid or elsewhere within Europe). If you have extra time and flexibility, you might want to consider a round trip flight into and out of Madrid or Barcelona. This option will require either a train journey or low-cost flight from Sevilla and an additional overnight in the original city.
Flying within Europe can be reasonable. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425/771-8303 ext. 214).
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you are continuing on after your tour (especially to Portugal), we strongly suggest you research and consider booking your transportation before leaving home as last minute bus and air fares can vary greatly in price. If you do not book your post tour hotels or transportation in advance, be sure to make time at the start of the tour to make all your post tour travel needs.
For specific details about traveling elsewhere in Spain, please see Rick Steves' Spain guidebook. If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email email@example.com.
Spain is usually sunny and quite warm (or hot) in mid-summer but rain is always possible. Weather is more unpredictable in early spring and late fall but very manageable with smart packing.
For more specific weather information, see www.weatherbase.com or www.weather.com.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Nygil did an excellent job and went above and beyond the call of duty, in every way. He was very diplomatic, polite and pleasant to be with every day. His stories were very entertaining and his intimate knowledge about Spain, having lived there for a number of years, is excellent. He should be cloned!"
— Maxine in Edmonds, WA
"My favorite part of the tour was to sit on the bus and listen to Javier. He is a masterful storyteller. We learned so much about what it is like to grow up and to live in Spain. Javier's beautiful voice is still ringing in my ears."
— Sharon in Yuba City, CA
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"The tour completely met — and exceeded — our expectations! Our fellow tour mates were delightful people, all the tour personnel were outstanding, and the way the entire itinerary was selected gave us exposure to a wonderful cross-section of Spanish culture and environments! We loved the whole itinerary and agenda, and are SO GLAD that we took this trip."
— Katherine in Los Altos, CA
"Granada was the 'wow' experience for me especially Alhambra and the gardens. The next was Arcos which was beautiful and we had a great meal at the Parador."
— Eric in Powell, OH
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Le Grande Voyage (1980)
- Le Coiffeur du Quartier des Pauvres (1985)
- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
- The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves Audio Europe
- Classical: Joaquin Rodrigo, Andres Segovia
- Opera: José Carreras, Placido Domingo
- Pop/rock: Marc Anthony, Sergio Dalma, Julio Iglesias
- Flamenco: Paco de Lucia
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Spain
- The New Spaniards — John Hooper
- Iberia — James Michener
- Death in the Afternoon; The Dangerous Summer — Ernest Hemingway
- Days: A Tangier Diary — Paul Bowles
- Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes
- Tales of the Alhambra — Washington Irving
- The Sun Also Rises; For Whom the Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemingway
- The Shadow of the Wind — Carlos Ruiz Zafon