Spain and France
Spain attracts every year millions of foreign tourists making it one the most popular tourist destination in the world. Experience the magic of Spain and Southern France with its lovely architecture, attractive, vibrant, and cosmopolitan districts on this 20 day tour.
Madrid, one of the world’s truly great cities, Santiago de Compostela, a world heritage site that attracts visitors and pilgrims from all over the world. Barcelona, the avant-garde and modern city, Bordeaux with over 350 historic monuments and UNESCO World Heritage sites… those are just a few destinations on this fabulous journey.
- Arrival to Madrid airport. Individual transfers to the hotel.
- Dinner at the local restaurant (without the coach transfer), located walking distance from the hotel. Overnight.
- Breakfast. Start a guided HD s/s tour of Madrid (4 hrs), a multi-faced city, with its Arab-fortress which origins to the court days during the reign of Philip II and that of Charles III, at which period some important building schemes were undertaken and, finally, present day Madrid, one of the most important European capitals. We’ll drive past such well-known avenues as those of Gran Vía and Castellana, famous squares such as the Plaza de España, Oriente, Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Atocha, Neptuno, Cibeles, Puerta de Alcalá, Colón and Plaza de Castilla, quarters of major historical relevance such as that of the Austrias, the Borbouns and Salamanca, the Oeste and Retiro parks, commercial and financial areas Coliseums such as the Bullring, the Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium, University Campous, etc.
- Time permiting we shall visit also the Basilica San Francisco. The afternoon is at leisure. Overnight.
- After breakfast begin a HD excursion to Toledo (total 5 hrs). In Toledo, guided HD tour of the city (3 hrs) with included inside visits to the Cathedral (entrance fee included) and Santo Tome Church (entrance fee included).
- From Toledo return to Madrid. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight.
- After breakfast departure toward Santiago de Compostela. On the way stop in Salamanca an ancient city famous for its university founded by Alfonso IX in the early 1200’s. All the buildings in the center of town, even the new ones, are made of the stone from Villamayor, which contains a high concentration of iron making possible very filigree works. Together with its characteristic golden color gives strong personality to all the town. During orientation tour (without local guide) see the highlights such as Casa de las Conchas, the Roman Bridge, Plaza Mayor, Old and New Cathedral and the University Quarter with its famous Salamanca University.
- Free for lunch on your own and then continue to Santiago de Compostela. Upon arrival check in your hotel and overnight.
- Breakfast. Start half day guided tour of Santiago de Compostela (3,5 hrs), a city with a simple structure: its centre is the so-called “casco histórico” (old town), which corresponds roughly to the area that used to be surrounded by 11th-century walls. Visit the Cathedral and the Cathedral museum, which borders the main Plaza of the old and well-preserved city. Continue by crossing the square and see the Pazo de Raxoi (Raxoi’s Palace), the Town Hall and the seat of the Galician Xunta, and on the right from the Cathedral stairway is the hostal Dos Reyes Catolicos, founded in 1492 as a pilgrims’ hospice by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon.
- In the afternoon free to discover the city on your own. The old town is home to an important number of monuments that can be visited, intensive shopping, numerous accommodation and gastronomic establishments, as well as institutions, museums, foundations and the oldest buildings belonging to the University of Santiago. The city is full of houses, markets, cafés and bars, which make it a lively, dynamic area. Overnight.
- After breakfast departure to the North of Galicia driving along the picturesuqe national road passing by the Cabo Ortegal (subject to the weather conditions) and on along the Asturian coast direction our final destination of the day, Oviedo. Overnight.
- Breakfast and then half day guided city tour of Oviedo (3 hrs) where one can visit the old city with the Cathedral, the Valdecarnaza Palace and the ruins of the San Tirso Church, the Porlier square surrounded by two famous palaces: the Toreno and the Camposagrado Palace and more.
- Afternoon at leisure. Overnight.
- After breakfast start the journey toward Bilbao. On the way to Bilbao stop in Santillana del Mar, one of the most picturesque Spanish village in the North Coast. Its architecture dates back to the Middle Age.
- In the vicinity of Santillana del Mar we visit the famous Altamira Caves, a site that houses one of the best samples of the Ancient Art.
- Proceed to Santander for the orientation tour (without local guide) featuring the lighthouse Faro de Cabo Mayor, la Magdalena beach, Piquìo gardens, el Sardinero beaches, and the Magdalena peninsula with the Royal palace. From there continue to the heart of the city centre to see the town hall, the central post office, and Plaza Porticada.
- Continue to Bilbao for overnight.
- Breakfast and half day guided tour of Bilbao (3 hrs), starting from the mount Artxanda, where from we can obtain one of the best views over the city. On the way down cross the “ensanche” of the city to take direction to the old part, pedestrian area with more than 700 years of history, where we see the Santiago´s cathedral, the “Plaza Nueva” and the Ribera market.
- After lunch (on your own) visit the Guggenheim museum with headphones (entrance fee included; without the local guide, only with the headphones), an architectural masterpiece that hosts a large collection of modern and contemporary art, a continuation of the Guggenheim legacy.
- The reminder of the day free. Overnight.
- After breakfast depart direction San Sebastian. Upon arrival start a panoramic tour of the city (without local guide): visit the Igueldo Mountain (with cable car), which offers a great panoramic view on Santa Clara island, Ulia mount and “La Concha” bay. Crossing la Concha and Ondarreta beaches, where we can see the comb of the wind by the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, to the heart of the city: the old part that corresponds to its initial walled town and located among the port, the river Urumea and the mount Urgull; the San Vicente’s church, view of the Museum of San Telmo), and the old Dominic convent with painting by José María Sert and the basilica of Santa Maria of the choir.
- Free for lunch (on your own).
- In the afternoon proceed to Pamplona for overnight.
- In the morning after breakfast begin a half day guided sightseeing tour of Pamplona (2,5 hrs) featuring the Ciudadela, the City Walls, the famous parks with gardens and hear the story about the famous event of the Bull Running at the San Fermin festivity.
- From Pamplona depart direction Biarritz. A prime destination forever branded by the passage of Napoleon III and the Famous, Biarritz has always been one of France’s most welcoming towns. A century ago, thanks to the Empress Eugenie, the little whaling town became a fashionable summer resort. Today, Biarritz is undoubtedly the only town where you can see neoprene-clad surfers with their boards under their arms crossing paths with business men in suits and ties carrying towels. Proceed to Bordeaux and on the way time permitting stop in Bayonne, the capital of the Basque country, a beautiful fortified city, from the defensive ramparts to the beautiful cathedral and cloister, listed by UNESCO as worldwide heritage.
- Late afternoon arrival to Bordeaux. Overnight.
- After the breakfast half day guided visit of the city (4 hrs). Bordeaux with over 350 historic monuments in a protected area of 147 hectares, as well as three churches (Saint-André, Saint-Michel, and Saint-Seurin) has been officially included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The sightseeing tour of Bordeaux is done walking and apart from splendid architecture of the XVIII century buildings features also the Theatre of Bordeaux (only outside view), the Cathedral St. André (inside visit), the Saint-Michel quarter with its gothic basilica, the Saint-Seurin church (outside visit), Place de Quinconces and the Hotel de Ville. After lunch departure without local guide to Saint-Emilion (inside visit of the underground part of the village), one of the most interesting towns in France because of the many old buildings confined within a very small space, and the poetic charm of its ruins. It has kept some of its fortifications: collegial church, monolithic church, the King’s castle, the square steeple of the Jacobins, the town wall, and the ramparts transformed into gardens. Tour the cellar and enjoy the wine tasting (included) in the chateau Laroze or chateau de l’Arosée or similar.
- Late in the afternoon return to Bordeaux. Overnight.
- Breakfast. From Toulouse we make a long transfer to Cordes-sur-Ciel, a medieval city which is a living piece of history and art. Its exceptional site, its remarkable architectural heritage, makes it one of the most significant medieval cities of France, and one of the key sites of European heritage.
- After free time to stroll around the city, proceed to Albi, the episcopal city that has managed to preserve its original, age-old layout, marked by the Pont-vieux, the riverfront fortifications, the palace keep the flowered terraces and the imposing cathedral, world’s largest brick of Sainte-Cecile Cathedral. This cathedral is not only a formidable fortress, but a vigilant guardian of the city which has grown peacefully by its side. See also the Berbie palace (only outside view), which adjoins the cathedral on the north side. Built by the inquisitor bishops at the time for use as military fortress, it bears little resemblance at first sight to a palace.
- Late afternoon continuation to Tolouse. Overnight.
- After breakfast begin a half day city tour of Toulouse (4 hrs), a city that is ideally situated in the heart of the Southern France, between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. 2.000 years of history have left the city scattered with a first-rate heritage that is representative of the Southern French style at various moments in history. Walk around the small streets of Toulouse’s historical center to discover the city’s not to miss tourist attractions such as Saint-Sernin basilica, a unique Romanesque piece of work (inside visit), the Jacobins church (renowned for its famous 13th century “palm tree column” and cloister), the Garonne river banks… Continue with the Capitole Square and stop in front of Notre-Dame du Taur church.
- End with a visit of the former hotel Assezat, nowadays a museum. Overnight in Toulouse.
- This morning after breakfast we say farewell to France and depart to Andorra. On the way we stop in Carcassonne. Located at the heart of the Toulouse-Montpellier-Barcelona triangle, Carcassonne blooms in the plains of the lower valley, inviting you to walk in and out of its streets. From the Bastide Saint-Louis to the medieval Walled City, Carcassonne offers a wealth of monuments to visit and discover. During a walking visit inside the walls get lost in the narrow streets and see the Chateau of the Viscount Transcavel, the former cathedral, Basilique Saint Nazaire, the Bastide Saint-Louis, and the Memorial House.
- From Carcassonne proceed to Andorra for overnight.
- After breakfast start an excursion through this green piece of Europe including stops in two beautiful villages of stone & wooden houses, Ordino and La Massana. The charming villages of Ordino and La Massana have a unique Romanesque legacy and medieval feel. As you walk their streets and experience their history first hand, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time to the Andorra of centuries past.
- Proceed to the capital, Andorra la Vieja (the Old Andorra) and free time for lunch, shopping (Andorra is a tax oasis!) or perhaps enjoying one of the numerous treatments in a famous Spa center La Caldea.
- Overnight in Andorra.
- Breakfast and departure to Spain. First stop is Figueres, a home of the famous Salvador Dali museum (inside visit). The Dalí Theatre-Museum, the largest surrealistic object in the world, occupies the building of the former Municipal Theatre, a 19th century construction which was destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War. On its ruins, Dalí decided to create his museum. From Figueres continue to Girona for a panoramic visit featuring the walls, the Cathedral (inside visit), the Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu, the Benedictine church of Sant Pere de Galligants in Romanesque style and a lot of relevant Art Nouveau buildings including the Farinera Teixidor by Rafael Masó.
- From Girona proceed to Barcelona. Overnight.
- Breakfast. Departure for a guided half day s/s tour of Barcelona (4 hrs), which includes Barcelona’s most important artistic sights: Gaudi’s famous buildings Casa Batlló, Casa Milá, the Cathedral Sagrada Familia and Guell Park, declared an artistic monument and mankind’s heritage by the Unesco. We pass by the Barcelona’s Monumental Bull Ring and the city park La Ciutadella.
- In the afternoon free time to stroll around on your own. Overnight.
- After breakfast begin a guided half day s/s tour of Barcelona (4 hrs) featuring Plaza Cataluña, Vía Laietana, the Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter and Plaza Sant Jaume. Continue to the Vila Olímpica and the Port Olímpic, pass the Montjuic Mountain, and see the harbour.
- Afternoon at leisure – opportunity for optional excursions. Overnight.
- Breakfast. Individual transfers to Barcelona airport for your home bound flight.
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