Spanish culture invokes images of expressive flamenco, wild summer fiestas, bold bullfighters, and the sultry Mediterranean climate and way of life. With seventeen autonomous regions – including Andalusia, Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, Balearic Islands, Castile-Leon, La Rioja and the Canary Islands to name just a few! – the locals themselves refer to Spain in the plural (Las Españas). For the traveler, this presents a landscape of subcultures that add to the intrigue and delight of this destination.
Madrid is an exciting capital with a preeminent collection of art museums and a late-night scene that caters to tapas bar crawlers and 3am clubbers. Surrounding Madrid is the region of Castilla la Mancha, characterized by arid plains dotted with grape vines, olive trees and castles. Come for the interesting cultural city of Toledo, the iconic windmills of Consuegra, and locally-produced Manchego cheese.
The large region of Castille e Leon holds a concentration of slightly off-the-beaten-track heritage sites, including the beautiful old towns of Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos and León. The wildlife is diverse, the cuisine is hearty, and the wine production is a big draw in Ribera del Duero.
Barcelona is the world-renowned capital of the independent-minded Catalonia region, which has its own proud language and culinary traditions. Come for a fun time on the sunny city beaches and in the lively streets of the Gothic Quarter after dark, and gaze in wonder at iconic modernist architecture. Then travel to the idyllic beaches and villages along the Costa Dorada and the Costa Brava. Art lovers can follow in the footsteps of Picasso and Dalí.
The landlocked regions of Aragon and Navarra are often overlooked by visitors. The mountainous areas close to the French border offer the amazing beauty of the Pyrenees, a haven for skiers and nature enthusiasts. Navarra is also known for the city of Pamplona, famous for the annual ‘Running of the Bulls’ at the Festival of San Fermin.
The region called Basque Country is fiercely independent, with its own language and way of doing tapas (called pintxos). Come for the inventive food scene including Michelin-starred eats, the pretty bay of San Sebastian, and the mind-boggling modern Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao. Just to the south lies La Rioja, a region that’s all about pretty vineyards and wine.
The lush green region of Asturias is bordered by the appropriately named Costa Verde, a rugged beautiful coastline that continues east into Cantabria. Come for adventure activities at the Picos de Europa National Park, an array of hidden coves and sandy beaches, prehistoric cave paintings at Altamira, and local specialties of cider and cheese.
The windswept Atlantic Coast of Galicia is both rugged and green, reminiscent of Ireland. Come for sandy inlets, picturesque fishing villages, and the best seafood in the country. The region’s star of tourism is Santiago De Compostela, the culmination of a pilgrimage route that rewards travelers with a massive cathedral and historic old town that is frozen in the medieval period.
Is Extremadura Spain’s best-kept tourist secret? It hugs the border with Portugal and is traversed by the Via de la Plata pilgrim route. Come for the pretty medieval centers of Cáceres and Trujillo, the Roman monuments of Merida, the Moorish architecture of Badajoz, and jamón iberico made from free-roaming Iberian pigs.
Sunny southern Andalusia is the most ‘Spanish’ region, at least according to the touristic notion of flamenco dancers, bull fighters, fiestas, gazpacho and golden beaches. Come for the spectacular coasts - Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz, Costa Tropical and Costa Almeria, the pretty ‘white villages’, dreamy Moorish architecture, fiery flamenco dancing, and unique gastronomy. Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Marbella, Cádiz, and Málaga are all names to remember.
Valencia is celebrated for its long summers and as the birthplace of nation’s favorite dish, paella. Come for the historic old town center, the modern City of Arts and Sciences complex, and the numerous beach resorts on the Costa Blanca. Neighboring Murcia is home to the Costa Calida, a perfect place for beach-goers and sun-bathers because it gets year-round rays. Come also for golfing, coastal walking and cycling, and scuba diving.
The islands of Spain are home to summer hotspots and scenic views. In the Balearic Islands, you’ll find fantastic nightlife and pretty inland towns surrounded by orange and olive groves on Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and smaller Formentera. The volcanic Canary Islands nearby the coast of Africa offer a different character, with major centers at Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. Come for incredible beaches, nightlife, characteristic villages, water sports like windsurfing, yachting, hiking and extraordinary scenery.
Our typical customizable program for first-time travelers to Spain incorporates overnight stays in the major cities of Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona. In an 8-day period, this gives just enough time for the major historical monuments and to get a sense of the culture and cuisine that are so special to these areas. If you want more emphasis on beach destinations, nature activities, art routes, food and wine, or sacred sites, we would be happy to create a Spain itinerary just for you!
In general, our custom travel itineraries include everything needed to ensure a smooth trip. This can always be modified according to your needs and where you are in your stage of planning:
We are also happy to provide when requested:
Our programs do not include: