Jet off to the trip of a lifetime awaiting you in Europe!
Check-in to the hotel and head straight out into Madrid to get a feel for the city’s high energy life style. Moving to a whole lot of different beats, Madrid is packed with diverse barrios (neighbourhoods), lively plazas and a healthy nightlife. Later, meet up with the other Contiki travellers and your Tour Manager over dinner.
This morning, get inspired as your Tour Manager opens up Madrid’s monumental heart with a look at its bustling centre, complete with the Gran Via, the Plaza de Espana and Puerta del Sol. Then, step into the largest palace in Europe with our Local Guide and experience a slice of the royal lifestyle as our expert shows you through the Royal Palace’s lavish rooms. If there’s a state function happening, we’ll head to the world-famous Prado Museum instead. In your free time, snack on the local favourite, churros (Spain’s version of the doughnut) or grab a chilled cerveza (beer) and put your feet up. Otherwise there’s time to explore more of Madrid’s arty side and to visit its world class galleries, like the Reina Sofia National Art Museum. There’s also a chance to explore the Valley of the Fallen where our Local Guide will tell you the story about the bloody Spanish Civil War and give you the background on heroic battles. This city never sleeps, so get some pointers on the city’s hot spots, head to a little wine bar or check out some traditional salsa.
Head North to Bilbao, the Basque country’s busiest city. Stop by the pretty cliff-top town of Segovia, with its grand mansions and many squares. See the jaw-droppingly beautiful Roman Aqueduct, made up of 166 granite arches. This bridge is an impressive feat of ancient engineering. Onwards to Bilbao. An up-and-coming cultural hub, Bilbao is the down-to-earth home of one of the world’s most famous and iconic museums, the Museo Guggenheim. Use your free time to check out its amazing collection of 20th century art and keep a camera handy for the extraordinary architecture of the museum itself.
Start the day off with free time in San Sebastian - beach resort and surf hot spot. With one of the world’s most stunning urban beaches, a gorgeous Art Nouveau shopping district, loads of restaurants and the best pinxtos (bite-sized snacks on toothpicks) in Spain, you’ve got many ways to spend your time here. Later, pull into Pamplona, home to the extreme Running of the Bulls. Your Tour Manager will walk you along the route taken for the Running of the Bulls and show you the bullring, as well as the well-preserved old town and its incredible Gothic cathedral. Then take some time to explore Basque culture at the table by tasting regional specialties like barbecued lamb, fresh trout and red peppers.
Chill out on the coach, plug in your headphones and watch the world go by. Heading to the coast, our next stop is the Baroque city of Zaragoza, set on the banks of the Rio Ebro. Check out the town’s fantastic cathedral, with its colourfully tiled cupolas and towers. For lunch, you could grab a table in the casco (old town), order a traditional Spanish tortilla and take in the unique, historic architecture and atmosphere. Next up is Barcelona. A sizzling, festive capital any night of the week, Barcelona is all about action. In Spain, fiesta time starts late, so settle in at one of Barcelona’s many outdoor squares to enjoy a glass of sangria, before a fun night out exploring the city’s nightlife with your new friends.
First stop: Montjuic. The hilltop has full-blown vistas of the city and it’s where we stop to check out the 1992 Olympic Games complex. Afterwards, get a look into Spanish architect Gaudi’s wild imagination with his Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church. Your Tour Manager walks you through the cobbled lanes of Barcelona’s oldest district, the Gothic Quarter. There’s free time to discover more of Barcelona’s creative core. Pick up some quirky buys in the side streets or hit the big label shops on Plaça de Catalunya. Take in all of Barcelona’s buzzing street life on the tree-lined La Rambla – a boulevard packed with street performers, artists, shops and stalls. Give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Barcelona's side streets with our Local Guide. Other ideas for your afternoon off include hanging out in the colourful gardens of Parc Güell or kicking back with the locals on the beach and taking a swim in the Mediterranean sea. For lunch, there’s plenty of delicious local seafood to try as well as Spain’s signature dish, paella. Finish off an unforgettable time in this hot city and get into the local flavours with tonight’s optional flamenco dance show and dinner, including sangria. Afterwards, get the low down on Barcelona’s hottest spots and maybe hit the pumping clubs of Port Olympico by the water.
Jump on a plane to Ibiza, Spain’s party paradise. Dishing up a bit of everything, Ibiza is popular with sun worshipers, backpackers and those that want to party! Honour the birthplace of the rave by checking out Ibiza’s world famous clubs, which keep going until the sun comes up.
Hang out on Ibiza’s beautiful beaches during the day. Relax, catch up on some sleep, soak in the sun and people watch. Ibiza’s sea life is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and with so many water sports available, it’s a great way to experience it. Try snorkeling or take an underwater dive. Rummage through the fun portside boutiques of Sa Penya or the street stalls of Carrer d’Enmig. As the sun sets, grab a table at the famous Café del Mar and chill out to lounge music while sipping on a cocktail. There’s more of the island’s famous nightlife to explore. With some of the world’s top DJs always on hand, playing in the hottest clubs, you’ve got loads of choices.
Ferry back to the main land and wind down on the coach as we head to Granada. Granada is crammed with romance and is filled with reminders of its North African heritage. With the famous palace fortress of Alhambra dominating the hills, the town is soaked in age-old atmosphere.
Start the day with an optional excursion through the old Muslim quarter of Albaicin. Walk past historic mansions with walled gardens and find cute little tea and cake shops on the cobbled streets. Our Local Guide will show the group through La Cartuja Monastery and the Capilla Real where you’ll see the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella – heads of the fallen Spanish empire. Next up: the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Alhambra. We’ve got a specialist Alhambra guide who will bring the magic of this former home of the sultans to life. Take a walk through the complex of fortifications, sumptuous palaces and gardens. Tonight, learn why Granada’s got such a reputation for amazing food. Try their fresh seafood, eat some more tapas (perfect for trying a bit of everything) and for dessert, the specialty Arab pastries are just right!
Pass the port cities of Marbella and Malaga. We stop in the unusual and quirky territory of Gibraltar, with its interesting mix of British culture, Spanish influence and some North African wildlife! Make sure you check out Gibraltar’s world-famous monkeys and learn about the legends surrounding how they got here all the way from Morocco. On a clear day, you’ll get views across the strait to the continent of Africa. Back on the road, unwind on the coach before our final stop in Seville.
We spend the morning in the region’s stylish capital, Seville. It’s a fun, laid back city where the locals focus on the good life – siestas, late dinners, long lunches and dancing. With a run down on Seville’s background, your Tour Manager will show you the flamboyant Plaza d’Espana, the world’s 3rd largest cathedral, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Alcazar, still used by the royal family. In your free time, you could visit Christopher Columbus’ tomb, or check out one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. For something different, head to El Jueves street market and pick out some bargains. We keep travelling into the heart of rural Andalusia, through to Cordoba. It’s soaked in history and serves up an old-world atmosphere, with little patios, time-worn lanes and flower-filled balconies. Your Tour Manager kick starts your experience of the city by taking the group to the Mezquita (Mosque of the Caliphs). This famous site combines Islamic and Roman Catholic structures in a stunning series of buildings, complete with an orange tree garden and courtyards. Then there’s free time to wander around Cordoba’s historic centre and to take in its famously beautiful streets, like the Calle de Flores (Street of Flowers). Otherwise, learn about Spain’s checkered past with a visit to the 13th century Alcazar fortress, the former hub of the Spanish Inquisition.
Hit the road and travel to the hill-top town of Toledo. With its mix of mosques, churches and medieval buildings, this gorgeous town is known as the “Imperial City” and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll see Toledo’s enormous Gothic cathedral, El Greco’s house and the site of sieges, revolutions and treason: the Alcazar fortress. Then it’s back in to the Spanish capital. Make your last night on tour one to remember and head out with the group for an optional traditional Spanish tapas dinner (a feast of plate-sized nibbles) in the heart of the city, right on the famous Plaza Mayor.
Your tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends.