Join us for this fascinating tour of Madrid, the Rioja wine region, Basque Country, and El Priorat.
Fly from the USA to Madrid.
Arrive in Madrid and make your way to your hotel, which is in front of Prado Museum. This evening we will have a welcome talk and dinner together. Sleep in Madrid.
Today we will start the discovery of this beautiful city with a guided tour of its most significant sites, including the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor. You will have time to people watch in the vibrant Puerta del Sol and enjoy part of the afternoon on your own. Tonight we will enjoy a very special dinner. Sleep in Madrid.
Today we will visit one of the most important and comprehensive museums in the world, El Prado. You will also have the time to visit The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum on your own - where you will be able to enjoy Picasso's masterpiece: El Guernica. If you prefer to decompress and relax, and use the afternoon to shop, the city is yours with its many elegant and unique shops. Tonight we will enjoy a music concert. Sleep in Madrid.
This morning we will head to the picturesque medieval town of Segovia. Its pedestrian town centre is packed with monuments, an ancient Roman aqueduct, a gorgeous Gothic cathedral, and the fortress that served as inspiration for Walt Disney's Cindarella castle. Climbing up its Torre del Homenaje is a favorite! We will have lunch at a very picturesque local restaurant and make our way back to Madrid in the afternoon. Sleep in Madrid.
Today we will reach the region of La Rioja, world renowned for its wine production. En route we will stop and visit another very important area, the Ribera del Duero. Named wine region of the year in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, it will blow you away with the quality of its red wines and the beauty of its landscape. We will have lunch in Aranda, an enchanting city with lovely architecture and impressive wineries, and pay a short visit to Penaranda and its imposing castle. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.
We will explore the famed La Rioja wine region and learn more about the main varietal of the area, Tempranillo. The history of Rioja is interestingly connected to the history of Bordeaux, because when phylloxera hit Bordeaux, the French came over the Pyrenees in search of wines that bore some resemblance to theirs. They brought with them oak barrels which gave the wine a pronounced vanilla flavour -- a trademark of the region’s wines today. If you are interested you will be able to sample both traditional wines and more modern productions. A stop at the incredible Marques de Riscal’s City of Wine, designed by Frank. O. Gehry, will certainly be a highlight. The building, covered with titanium, displays the colors of Marqués de Riscal: pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the Riscal bottles, and silver like the bottle top. We will enjoy a lovely stroll around Laguardia and visit the incredibly interesting Vivanco wine museum. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.
This morning we will enjoy a trip to Bilbao, the most important city in Basque Country. Just a few miles away from the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao has a large harbor and an oceanic climate. Thanks to its privileged position there is an awesome culinary tradition, which is considered the most inventive in Spain. Fish, mostly cod and hake, is the star ingredient, but you cannot miss tapas-like appetizers called pintxos. The food alone is worth a visit, but we will also have the chance to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry. With more than ten million visitors to its credit, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums! Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.
This morning we will reach San Sebastian and enjoy a guided walking tour of its lovely historical centre. The town is well known for its idyllic beaches, world-class cuisine, cobblestoned old town, upscale shopping, and pinxtos bars that pair local wines with bite-sized delicacies. We’ll be sure to visit a variety of these bars and will have time to shop in the afternoon. Sleep in Villabuena de Alava.
Today we will drive from La Rioja to the secluded area of El Priorat and Montsant. We’ll arrive at Gratallops - one of the leading centers of the widespread wine and oil production in the area. After checking in to the hotel, we’ll take a stroll around this old settlement, overhanging the Siurana river. We’ll enjoy a nostalgic ride in the Gratallops’s tramcar and then walk to the Vinicola de Priorat for olive oil and wine tasting. Sleep in Gratallops.
Today we’ll visit the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria d'Escaladei - a monastery founded by French monks from Provence, who established here the first charter-house of the Iberian peninsula. The monks introduced the cultivation of the vineyards and the long lasting tradition of winemaking. We will visit a producer of a Priorat DOQ wine and will then take in some more sightseeing. We will enjoy beautiful views ot the Montsant mountain range and then explore the archeological site of Puig Roig. Hidden in woodlands and perched on the top of a small hill, Puig Roig dates back to the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. It is one of the best preserved sites in Catalonia. Sleep in Gratallops.
This morning we will start our explorations with a stop just outside Gratallops where we will visit La Concolacio hermitage. Built on top of a hill, this 12th century Romanesque building offers picturesque views of the vineyards and the countryside. We'll get back on the road to go visit Siurana, a small village in the comarca of Priorat. Located just a few miles outside the Montsant region, Siurana sits at the top of a cliff in the Prades Mountains. A beloved destination for climbers, Siurana was the last Muslim outpost to fall to the Christians in Catalonia in 1153. We'll visit the remains of the Moorish castle, presiding over the entrance to the village, and take a dramatized tour that re-stages the legend of the Queen Mora and other local fables. We'll then go visit the Celler Grau Escola de Terrers, marked as one of the wineries within the Montsant Do region. Similar to the wine produced in the DOQ Priorat, Montsant Do wine production features big reds, like Carignan and Hairy Grenache. Sleep in Gratallops.
On our way to Barcelona we’ll be stopping in the coastal town of Sitges - along the Costa Brava. Here we’ll enjoy its exquisite seafood and we'll take a stroll on the Ribera Beach. This is the most central beach in Sitges, famous for the so-called “Passeig Maritim,” a long stretch of beaches along which visitors can find gorgeous sand sculptures and street musicians. Time permitting we will visit the Museum Cau Ferrat, formerly home and workshop of artist Rusiñol, leader of the Catalan Modernismo movement and great painter. You will have your last night in Barcelona so that travelers may extend their trip there, or fly out the next morning. Sleep in Barcelona.