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Best of Northern Spain

Tour Map

Tour style - Culture & History

8 days

Spain has been described as less of a country than a collection of small nations all working together. Each region has its own distinct character, style, even language. This quick 8-day trip introduces you to Spain’s Basque and Catalan provinces the best way: through food, art, culture and first-person contact. Vibrant Barcelona, unhurried San Sebastián, Bilbao’s fabulous architecture, Logroño's famous cuisine, cosmopolitan Madrid and the mighty Pyrenees, all in just over a week? Yeah, we did that. Come find out how.
  • Day 1 Barcelona

    Arrive at any time. There will be a welcome meeting around 6pm where you will meet your CEO and fellow travellers. Check for a note with details about this important meeting in the lobby of the hotel. We recommended arriving a day or two early to fully explore this vibrant city. Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, but it is the capital when it comes to fashion, architecture, food and music. Known worldwide for its dynamic atmosphere and exciting style, Barcelona never disappoints. There is plenty of history too: visit the old Gothic Quarter with its maze of dark streets, historic cathedral, medieval buildings, bars and cafes. Stroll the Rambla, a large tree-lined pedestrian boulevard perfect for people-watching and window shopping, ending at the harbourfront facing the Mediterranean Sea. Make sure to view Gaudi’s most famous life work, the cathedral La Sagrada Familia, an inspiring yet bizarre testament to the artist’s unique vision. Opt to find some quiet time away from it all with a visit to the imaginative Park Guell, to stroll the tree-lined paths and admire more of Gaudi’s creative genius at play. Choose to tour the beautiful Palau Musica, built between 1905 and 1908 as a home for catalan music, it is full of light and of colour. For nightlife, the highest concentration of beautiful young locals dancing, both in the bars and on the street, can be found near the intersection of Santaló and Mariano Cubi streets. Here you can always find good music, good drinks and lots of fun. Another good nightlife spot for meeting the fashionable locals of Barcelona is on the Plaza Francesc Maciá.

  • Days 2-3 Pyreness (2B, 2D)

    In the morning enjoy an included orientation walk of Barcelona, visit the Gothic quarter and Las Ramblas. If there is extra time explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Park Güell and marvel at Gaudí's architecture. In the afternoon travel by private transport to Pyrenees. For two nights stay in a "casa rural", or converted farmhouse in the Pyrenees. Enjoy home-cooked meals and some optional hiking in the area.

  • Day 4 San Sebastián (1B)

    Take a public bus to San Sebastián, the first stop in the unique Basque region of Spain. Opt to take a Pintxos (tapas) tour and learn the different food, dialect and culture of the area. San Sebastián is a scenic and historic city in the Basque region of Spain. It has a gorgeous beach bumping up against buildings and churches that give this city such character. The city has a cozy feel with many restaurants, bars and shops. Getting around this city by foot or by bike is easy and a great way to get the true flavour of the area. Bike rentals are available around the city. Opt to take a funicular or walk up Monte Igueldo for a stunning view of town. Don't miss checking out the sculpture called The Wind Comb, it was made by a local artist and has become a symbol for San Sebastián. There are tons of other optional activities for anyone spending time in this unique city. Check out the beaches, go surfing or hiking- either short or long depending on what you're up for! Visit the aquarium, rent some kayaks or even go waterskiing! The real treat in this part of the country is the eating. Basque cuisine is famous in Spain and around the world, with many believing this is the best food in the country. While San Sebastián didn't invent tapas, they are well-acknowledged to have perfected them. Wander through the streets before lunchtime or int he evening and check out what each bar has on offer. Stop in each place for some wine or beer and sample their tapas (pinxtos in Basque) selection. Move on to the next bar and repeat! Delicious seafood abounds here as well, so if yuo're looking for more than just pinxtos, head to the harbour and hole up in a traditional simple tavern. Don't leave San Sebastián without trying the famous Jamon Iberico. The speciality drink in this area is call the Kalimotxo- half wine (usually red table wine) and half coca-cola!

  • Day 5 Bilbao/San Sebastián (1B)

    Take a day trip to Bilbao, known for the stunning Guggenheim museum. About 1 hr from San Sebastián, Bilbao is a bigger city nestled amongst green hills and the Nervión River. The Guggenheim Museum is a must see- even if just to marvel at the outside of the building. Frank Gehry designed this titanium-clad twisting, curving and angular building to much praise in the 1990s. The building has a maritime theme, supposedly representing the ships along the docks of the city, with titanium squares acting as fish scales and the skylights inside designed to look like fish fins. There are also many churches of interest, in particular the Basílica de Begoña. Take some time to wander through the piazzas and the Casco Viejo, marvel at the buildings and spot the art sprinkled throughout the city. Climb the Mallona stairs to Parque Etxebarria for beautiful views over Bilbao. And, as always, try the pinxtos!

  • Day 6 Logroño (1B)

    Travel to Logroño and enjoy an included wine tasting in the Rioja region. Logroño is located on the Ebro River and is the capital of the Rioja region. Originally settled by the Romans and then the Celts, this region is overflowing with history and charm. Most famous for its Rioja wine, Logroño has made a name for itself in the culinary world as well. There are over 50 tapas restaurants located in a 4 block area in the centre of town and visiting these establishments is an excellent way to get your Rioja wine fix, too. With tons of churches, roman bridges, parks, plazas and ancient buildings, there's no shortage of sights to be seen by wandering around this city. Enjoy an included wine tasting where you can indulge in the local specialties like Tempranillo.

  • Day 7 Madrid

    Travel back to Madrid by bus and enjoy some free time in the capital.

  • Day 8 Madrid (1B)

    Depart at any time. We recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this lively city has to offer.

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