A Drive Down The Spanish Coast To Andalusia
Alacant, Barcelona, Cordoba, Figueres, Granada, Madrid, Sevilla, Tarragona, Toledo, Valencia
Spain on your travel bucket list? Here’s a tour itinerary that promises to far exceed all your expectations from this exciting country; romantic cobbled street towns, energetic flamenco performances, a generous dose of history and culture, and a gastronomy that endorses its world fame! Start at lively Barcelona, making your way down the coastline to exotic Andalusia, and culminate your Spanish holiday at Madrid, from where you can fly back to your home country.
Begin the day with a visit to the Picasso Museum (timings: 10 am – 8 pm). The museum stocks the treasured the works of Pablo Picasso from the early years in his life till the Blue Period. Your tour guide can book the tickets for you in advance.
My personal tip: A few doors away from the museum, you will find a few ceramic and earthen pottery shops selling colourful crockery and Gaudi inspired showpieces like nowhere else!
For Lunch, Quimet & Quimet - Tapas Bar can be a good option. Try out their salmon with yogurt and truffled honey.
Take a walk in the popular boulevard, Las Ramblas. You will stroll by prominent places such as the Gran Teatre (Opera House) and Museum Maritime. By evening the human statues that line the lanes add to the entertainment value of this area.
If you wish to get a super view of the city, take the lift to Mirador de Colom.
As the day ends, enjoy some traditional Catalan dishes at La Ramblas.
My personal tip: El Quim de la Boqueria is a family restaurant business run by Mother, Father and Son. A stall in the beautiful and bustling Boqueria market, they serve traditional Catalan dishes around the bar. Mostly crowded, sometimes, even the locals must wait to get a seat!
A day dedicated to Gaudi
Marvel at the stunning architectural masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí in La Sagrada Familia. This unusual church is still under construction, with its pace of construction dependent on the visitor revenues it garners.
Useful Information: Source your tickets for Sagrada Familia well in advance either through your guide or online. The onsite ticket lines can be serpentine. Additionally, a tour guide would augur much better than the audio guides available there so that you can prioritise amongst the very many things to see.
Take a relaxing walk in Park Guell, another of Gaudi's famous signature constructs. Stroll amongst its unusual sculptures, visit the Gaudi house museum (separate tickets required) and enjoy the panoramic views of Barcelona from the higher tiers of the park.
Passeig de Gracia-Barcelona's most luxurious shopping strip is the next place to visit. If photography is on your mind, then make your way to the rooftop of Casa Batllo; Gaudi's most astounding contribution to Modernisimo.
The appreciation of the area’s architectural wonders continues at the Block of Discord, with Casa Lleò Morera, designed by Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Amatller completing the trio.
End the day at Plaza España, with a free show of the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. There are a series of interesting buildings around the plaza as well, from the regal Museum of Catalan art to the refurbished Arenas de Barcelona (Bullring Museum), where you can find a bar or restaurant for dinner.
Take a walk around the Barri Gotic area, the centre of the old city of Barcelona and home to a handful of medieval landmarks. From afternoon till evening, you will have ample time to wander down its labyrinthine streets that are otherwise closed to regular traffic.
The Barri Gotic area, apart from just landmarks, is dotted with some popular restaurants, food joints, Mediterranean Spanish Wine Bar serving European vegetarian dishes. In the evening, look for a tapas bar for the best patatas bravas.
Ask your guide for advice on the best spots to experience Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife amongst the locals.
Barcelona – Figueres
By 9 am, get ready to leave the hotel for a one and half hour drive to Figueres.
The main highlight at Figueres is the famous Dali Museum, where, you will get to witness the artistic journey of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), one of Spain’s most prominent figures.
Around late noon return to Barcelona; have lunch and take some rest.
If you wish to go for another round of sightseeing, there is still a lot to be seen at the Plaza Espana area; the Poble Espanyol, a fantastic representation of various architectural styles of Spain; the German Pavilion, another futuristic architectural phenomenon; the Caixa Forum, a spacious art museum where you even might catch a musical concert if lucky.
Tarragona: Ancient Roman City & World Heritage Site
Leave your hotel in Barcelona at 7.30 am and arrive at the port city of Tarragona by 9.00 am.
Your tour guide will begin your sightseeing tour of this erstwhile Roman capital city from the Tarragona Cathedral and proceed to Museu D'Historia de Tarragona, Roman Circus, Amphitheatre Roma, Archaeology Museum; all located in the city center.
The tour should be over by mid-day, after which you start your drive towards Valencia.
Stop for lunch en-route, in the cozy town of Benicarlo, which has some great Spanish restaurants.
Reach Valencia, approximately by late noon.
By 5 pm, leave the hotel to visit City of Arts and Sciences to marvel at the architectural masterpiece created by the great Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela.
There is a lot to see and experience within the City of Arts & Sciences, from the Science Museum (10 am to 9 pm) and Oceanographic park (10 am to midnight) to the Hemispheric cinema. (11 am/10 pm).
For dinner, tuck into a meal of seafood Paella; this world famous Spanish rice dish was invented in Valencia after all.
Valencia – Alicante – Granada
Granada is around a 5 hr 30 min drive from Valencia; hence coordinate accordingly with your tour guide to pick you up.
Have a relaxed lunch at the sunny beach town of Alicante. The place has a plethora of restaurants which have earned a reputation for their Catalan cuisine. The beach here is popular, and a great place to relax and get some fresh air.
Continue driving and by evening, you should be able to reach Granada just in time for dinner.
Today morning, your guide will give you a comprehensive 4-hour tour of Alhambra & Generalife. This includes visiting attractions like Nasrid Palaces Alhambra, Carlos V Palace, Medina, Generalife Garden.
My personal tip: Near Alhambra, try out Bar Kiki, San Nicolas, Albayzin. The lookout plaza offers great salad, paella, seabass in coconut sauce, fois gras and Pedro Jimenez for lunch.
Post lunch, stroll around the city to see some exquisite Moorish architecture. Whether fortress, houses, streets or towers, every entity harks back to the Nasrid era (1238 - 1492).
Granada – Cordoba
Today you leave for Cordoba, a two and half hour drive from Granada.
Post lunch, your tour guide will commence your tour of Mezquita (Mezquita of Cordoba). Spend time admiring Spain's eclectic culture and religious evolution at the Mezquita of Cordoba and see how it combines Moorish and Western architecture in an astounding way.
By evening, make your way to the Camino Del Sacromonte, to enjoy an authentic gypsy flamenco performance..in a cave! This magical experience is not to be missed, as the sounds of the music and the dancers’ beats get heightened by the cave’s percussion effects.
Today we leave Cordoba and drive for 45 min to Seville.
The Moorish Castle in Alcazar (opening hours: 9.30 am to 7 pm) was built between 8th and 15th centuries. The castle is renowned all over Spain for its outstanding Mudéjar architecture; perhaps the best in the entire Iberian Peninsula.
The afternoon will take you to the Bull Fight Museum (La Maestranza). Dating back to the 17th century, this is a virtual Mecca of Bullfighting, having meticulously chronicled the importance of bullfighting sport in the life of the Andalusians. Even if you are not someone who would attend such a fight, browse around the museum to see its artwork, costumes and the mounted heads of their animal nemeses. There is also a bullring attached to the museum, where fights used to take place in the earlier times.
Begin the day with prayers at the famous Seville Cathedral. The awe-inspiring Gothic Cathedral was built between 1434 and 1517. Counted among the world’s largest churches, the building is a treasure trove of notable works by Murillo, Zurbarán, Goya and many other noted artists.
Take a leisurely walk along the Bario Santa Cruz, the oldest part of the city. Here you will find some walls that were built in the 1st century BC. The narrow and twisting streets replicate the intrinsic charm, beauty and atmosphere of the bygone era. A walk around Seville’s streets in later spring and summer reveals orange trees heavily laden with fruits. These bitter oranges called Naranjos are made into marmalades that are world famous!
End the day with a visit to Plaza España which is inarguably the most beautiful building in Seville, after the Cathedral. The semi-circular brick monument in Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style is also known as the Venice of Seville.
Did you know: Plaza de España has been a filming location for Hollywood movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars movie series - Attack of the Clones (2002), The Dictator- 2012 film and City of Theed on the Planet Naboo.
Train Travel – Seville to Madrid
Have an early breakfast and transfer to Seville Santa Justa station to take a train to Madrid.
After reaching Madrid spend the day at leisure; you can go boating in Retiro Park in the afternoon and catch enthusiastic street performances of the flamenco here.
Take a walk around the Salamanca district. The upmarket area has some aristocratic residents, high-end malls and quality Spanish restaurants that also serve International cuisine.
My personal tip: Stop for dinner and drinks at Ramon Freixa Madrid or Flavia Restaurant & Bar. You will be spoilt for choices!
Have an early breakfast and then join your guide for a visit to Museo Nacional del Prado (Timings: 10 am – 8 pm). The museum is full of masterpieces from the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools, including Velázquez’ Las Meninas and Goya’s Third of May, 1808. The collection is fantastic, comprising 8,600 paintings and more than 700 sculptures. Dali and the Goya collections are surely not to be missed.
My personal tip: People with children/ short on time can ask their guide for an abridged tour, showing them the highlights of the museum.
After a traditional Spanish lunch, visit the Royal Palace - official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Worth seeing here is the armory (cameras not allowed). Timings: 9 am – 6 pm, buy tickets onsite. The palace at present is used for State Ceremonies.
Enjoy an evening drink at the La Cava Baja locality. One of the most lively and beautiful streets of Madrid, La Cava Baja has a pleasant atmosphere and charming lanes. It boasts of being home to some of the best traditional and popular tapas bars and restaurants that provide the ultimate local flavours and excellent wines.
Madrid – Toledo Day Trip
Your guide/driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to Toledo as per your preference of road or train.
Useful information: the train station from Madrid is Puerta Atocha station. Trains run every hour and journey itself is about half an hour. Shuttle services run between the station and the Toledo city centre.
Toledo is an ancient town comprising a cathedral, synagogue and a mosque. Its narrow-cobbled streets are charming and make it Spain's most visited cities. On arrival, you will spend the day seeing the Santa Cruz Museum and the Great Cathedral. Take a lunch break near the Alcazar Fortress, which teems with a choice of cafes.
Return to Madrid. The evening is free for leisure, but a wine and tapas tour can be organized if you wish.
Alacant, Barcelona, Cordoba, Figueres, Granada, Madrid, Sevilla, Tarragona, Toledo, Valencia
Contributed By : Monisha KrishnaTourHQ Experiences
This itinerary is contributed by Monisha, an experienced traveler. If you request this tour, different guides will give you their versions of this itinerary. Be sure to confirm with them on what's included before booking.