Day 1: Arrivals, Welcome Dinner
On your arrival in Malaga, you will be met at the airport by our chauffeur for your private transfer to our cosmopolitan hotel in Malaga, with views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the Costa del Sol. If your flight arrives in the morning, you'll get a chance to rest, or take a walk on the beach and get acquainted with the picturesque Puerto de Malaga. In the afternoon, we'll meet for an introductory meeting and welcome drink, then we'll take a leisurely walk to a beachside restaurant for our welcome dinner, featuring fine Andalucian cuisine and excellent wines.
Day 2: Seville
We'll start our exploration of Spanish Andalucia with the iconic city of Seville, wrapped in romanticism and the thick scent of orange blossoms. The highlight of our historian led tour of Seville will be the immense Seville Cathedral with its Giralda Tower. The adjoining Alcázar Palace with its stunning gardens (immediately recognizable to the "Game of Thrones" fans) was built for Peter of Castile on the site of a Muslim fortress and is associated with the lives and loves of several rulers. After all this history, we'll catch our breath at a tapas and Jerez sherry lunch in the photogenic barrio of Santa Cruz. In the afternoon, we'll explore Plaza de España, Seville's extravagant open space in El Parque de Maria Luisa, blending both Renaissance and Moorish Revival architectural styles, and we'll return to our hotel in the evening.
Day 3: Cordoba
This morning, we'll travel to the Moorish city of Cordoba. Once the capital of Al-Andalus, famous for its splendid court and cultured caliphs, Cordoba's opulent Islamic heritage resonates with a faded glory. We'll start the tour with the emblematic Mezquita, a majestic Moorish monument which, with its colossal dome, intricate courtyards, and richly ornamented interior of candy cane columns, is the most powerful symbol of the two cultures that have shaped Andalucia. Afterwards, we'll explore the medieval Synagogue in Cordoba's Juderia, a charming maze of cobbled lanes, white-washed buildings, flowers dripping from window boxes, and wrought iron doorways allowing glimpses of plant-filled patios. We'll conclude with a visit to the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a medieval fortress with exotic gardens and distinct architecture. After returning to Malaga in the late afternoon, we'll relax after a busy day over an elegant dinner.
Day 4: Granada and the Alhambra
Today, we'll set out in the morning for the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the glorious city of Granada. This ancient Moorish town is home to the Alhambra Palace, often described as the Jewel of Moorish Spain, as well as its fascinating, exotically tangled Moorish Quarter. We'll spend the morning touring the city's historic center, including its impressive Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, then we'll head to St. Nicholas overlook for a breathtaking view of the city and the Alhambra, and we'll finish in the Albayzin neighborhood for a traditional North African lunch. In the afternoon, we'll enjoy an in-depth, privately guided visit to the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, one of the world's great architectural and historical treasures, filled with stories, dreams and mysteries from the days of its glory. After touring the Alhambra, we'll return to Malaga in the evening.
Day 5: Malaga to Madrid; Prado Museum
In the morning, we'll take the express AVE train to Spain's vibrant capital, Madrid, where we'll check into our elegant, Old World style hotel, located in the center of the city, on Gran Via and right by the Spanish Royal Palace. After a short break to rest and have lunch, we'll set out to tour Madrid's Prado Museum, one of the world's top art galleries, filled with masterpieces of art and antiquities, especially by Flemish, Italian and Spanish superstar painters, and home to Diego Velazquez's Las Meninas, considered by many to be the world's finest painting. In the evening, we'll celebrate the region of La Mancha and its culinary traditions with a lavish dinner at a traditional Madrileno restaurant.
Day 6: Toledo
After breakfast, we'll set out for a delightful detour to Toledo, the capital of medieval Spain and one of Europe's artistic highlights. Sitting high on a rocky perch and wrapped on three sides by the Tajo River, the city still looks much like it did when the artist El Greco painted here in the 16th century. During our in-depth guided tour, we'll visit Toledo's most celebrated sites, including the Cathedral of Toledo, Santa María la Blanca (a former synagogue), and St. Tome’s Church, reflecting the city's tangled Roman, Jewish, Visigothic, Moorish and Christian history. We'll also have some unstructured time to explore the city according to our individual interests, before returning to Madrid in the evening, where we'll enjoy a relaxing dinner at one of the city's atmospheric restaurants, followed by a fiery flamenco performance.
Day 7: City Tour of Madrid
Today, we'll spend the morning with our private Madrid guide, slowly exploring the culinary, historical and cultural wonders of Madrid, as we wind our way through the city's medieval lanes and modern landmarks on a gourmet culinary tour, stopping at the city's most celebrated sites, such as Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. The tour will conclude at the Saint Michael's Market, where we will be spoiled with choices for a lavish lunch of freshly prepared dishes and locally grown food. In the afternoon, we'll tour the sumptuous Palacio Real, beautifully furnished with royal antiques and works of art, and the rest of the afternoon will be free to enjoy the city's festive atmosphere, great shopping and its many historical surprises.
Day 8: Madrid to Barcelona; Sagrada Familia and Park Guell
In the morning, we'll leave Madrid, as we take the express AVE train to Barcelona. After arriving in the proud capital of Catalunya, we'll settle into our boutique hotel in the city center and have some time to rest. In the afternoon, we'll enjoy a private, historian-led tour of the city's architectural treasures, including Gaudi's still unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, the mesmerizing Casa Batllo and the whimsical, otherworldly Park Guell. During the tour, we'll get to appreciate Gaudí's unique style and see examples of how his ideas shaped the way of thinking about architecture for a generation, and his immense influence on Catalan modernism. In the evening, we'll enjoy a relaxing dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
Day 9: Barcelona: Gothic Quarter, Cooking Class
Today, we'll spend the day enjoying Barcelona's sensual sights on a guided historical walk through its impressive Gothic Quarter, the labyrinth of narrow streets, undiscovered courtyards, grand squares, Art Nouveau storefronts, colorful cafes and classy antique shops, once confined by the medieval city walls, protecting its population and its colossal Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia Cathedral. After the tour, we'll get a chance to appreciate the nuances of Catalan cuisine, as we prepare a Catalan style paella during a private cooking class focusing on Mediterranean ingredients and Catalan preparation. In the afternoon, we'll have free time to stroll through Las Ramblas, check out the antiques market at La Boquería, visit the Picasso Museum or shop at the variety of creative artisanal displays.
Day 10: Montserrat and Cava Winery Tour
After breakfast this morning, we'll leave the city and travel to Montserrat. The 'Serrated Mountain' is a unique rock formation, sculpted by thousands of years of wind and rain which resulted in its dramatic scenery. Montserrat is home to a Benedictine monastery, with a 12th-century La Moreneta (Black Madonna), Catalonia's patron saint, and is an important Catholic pilgrimage site. As we reach the clifftop, we'll tour the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery, and if we're lucky, we may even be able to catch a performance by the famous L'Escolania boys' choir of exquisite altos and sopranos. We'll take in more of the spectacular scenery, as we ride two funiculars to scenic lookouts, then descend from the mountain by cable car. Montserrat's location in Spain's cava-producing region will allow us the opportunity to visit one of the nearby vineyards, producing the famous Catalan cava wines. After an exploratory tour of the vineyard, we'll enjoy a multi-course Catalan lunch, before we end the day with a cellar tour and cava wine tasting.
Day 11: Girona and Costa Brava
This morning, we'll set out from Barcelona to travel along the Mediterranean, past the breathtaking sea cliffs of Camino de Ronda, until we reach the medieval town of Girona on the scenic Costa Brava. Here, we'll take a guided walk to see the ancient Roman baths and the Romanesque buildings inspired by them, the immense Girona Gothic Cathedral and the Call, one of the best preserved Jewish neighborhoods in Europe. Then, we'll travel to the medieval village of Tossa de Mar, the last remaining fortified Old Town on the Catalan coast. A walk through the walled Old Town, along its narrow cobbled streets and alleys, past traditional fishermen dwellings and Romanesque and Gothic churches, will take us back to the middle ages. We'll end the walk at a secluded beach, where we'll have a chance to relax, walk along the sugary sand or swim in the crystal clear waters of the Costa Brava. After returning to Barcelona, we'll celebrate our Spanish adventures with a festive farewell dinner.
Day 12: Departures
Depending on your flight's departure time, you may have some free time in the morning before your private transfer to the airport, scheduled according to your departure time.