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Delights of Spain

Itinerary: Delights of Spain
No. of Days: 12nights/13days
Places Covered: Madrid (2nights) – Lisbon (2nights) – Seville (2nights) - Granada (2nights) – Valencia (2nights) – Barcelona (2nights)

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1: Madrid: Arrive in Madrid and transfer to hotel on arrival. After some rest and relaxation, have some breakfast and start a tour of Madrid.
Take Metro to Atocha and visit Museo Nacional del Prado, the main Spanish national art museum. This is located in central Madrid and has one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 19th century. There are many works of the famous artists like Velázquez, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens and Francisco de Goya.
Have lunch and afterwards walk over to the famous Puerta del Sol, Madrid's most central square. Located northwest of the square is Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid's art-filled royal convent from the mid-16th century. This resides in the former palace of King Charles I of Spain and Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter had established this convent. Today the monastery houses only a few nuns, and the site is a well-visited national monument.
Located a few minutes’ walk from Puerta del Sol is Plaza Mayor, a symmetrical rectangular square very popular with tourists and locals. This is Madrid's liveliest hub in the early evening. Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Madrid.

Day 2: Madrid: After breakfast leave for a visit to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain's national museum named after Queen Sofía. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Picasso's masterpiece Guernica is preserved here. In the afternoon, go on to visit Madrid's third great art museum, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
In the early evening, go for tasca (Spanish bar-restaurants) hopping. Go from one bar or tavern to another and sampling hot and cold tapas (small plates of Spanish appetizers). Spaniards rarely sit down to lunch before 2:30pm or to dinner before 10:30pm. Tapas are like for the Spaniards that keep them going from one four-course meal to the next. But for tourists they are meals in themselves.
Get back to your hotel once you are done or you can go to attend a flamenco show. Overnight in Madrid.

Day 3: Lisbon: After an early breakfast dive to the airport and catch a flight to Lisbon. Transfer to the hotel on arrival in Lisbon.
Lisbon enchants travelers with its white bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy going charm that makes it a popular year round destination. Visit Belem Towers, Portugal most photographed building. This is one the UNESCO World Heritage List. Also visit Padrao dos Descobrimentos, or the Discoveries Monument, built to pay homage to the legions of Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. You can have a nice view of the Tagus estuary from the top of this monument.
Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Lisbon.

Day 4: Lisbon: After breakfast embark on a full day sightseeing tour of the city. Go back to the Alfama quarter. Visit the impressive cathedral and the Castelo de Sao Jorge, royal residence until the early 16th century and now offering the best views of the city.
Go and visit the World Heritage Site of Jeronimos Monastery, located near the shore of the parish of Belém, in the Lisbon Municipality. Have a look at Vasco da Gama Bridge and Vasco da Gama shopping mall. Go to Parque das Nações and visit Oceanarium, said to be the second largest in the world.
Visit Sintra, around 30 km out of Lisbon and home to the magnificent Pena Palace. A walk around downtown Lisbon is also a good option. If you feel tired, use tram for moving around in the downtown.
Have dinner at one of the restaurants . Overnight in Lisbon.

Day 5: Seville: After a hearty breakfast take a train and leave for the vibrant city of Seville, the capital and largest city of Andalusia and the province of Seville.
Known for all its important monuments and fascinating history, Sevilla is universally famous for being a joyous town and its citizens are well known for their wit and sparkle. and the city itself is striking for its vitality.
Seville is famous for its oranges, tapas and flamenco dance show. There is no set itinerary for the day. Feel free to move through the city and enjoy it at your own pace. Try Spanish tapas for dinner. Overnight in Seville.

Day 6: Seville: Start the full day sightseeing tour of Seville after a nice breakfast.
Wander through the narrow streets of Barrio de Santa Cruz, the most evocative district, with its medieval streets, pocket-size plazas, and flower-filled wrought-iron balconies. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also climb the cathedral's adjoining Moorish tower, known as La Giralda.
The city is also known for its ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, and its 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza bullring. Visit these places after lunch. Alcázar is the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use, dating from the 14th century. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the Moorish and Mudejar architecture.
As Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, be sure to sample some of the tasty treats on offer in one of the city's many tapas bars. In the evening, catch a local flamenco performance. Overnight in Seville.

Day 7: Granada: Start the day with a nice breakfast and embark on nearly five hour bus journey for Granada, a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is packed with Moorish architecture, great tapas bars and natural beauty.
Get lost in the beautiful old Arab quarter of the Albaicin, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. Walk around the labyrinth of crooked alleys, fountains, plazas and whitewashed houses in this historic Arab quarter which is nestled into the slopes of Sacromonte.
Check out the 16th-century Church of San Nicolas, situated at the heart of the Albaicín quarter. The terrace of this church offers stunning views of Alhambra Palace and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If time permits also check out the historic Renaissance Catedral and Capilla Real.
Take a peek into the numerous cave dwellings in Sacromonte occupied by Gypsy families. You can find some cave venues in Sacromonte where authentic flamenco is performed. Have dinner at one of the eateries here. Return back to the hotel. Overnight in Granada.

Day 8: Granada: Start a full day sightseeing trip of Granada. First stop on the day should be the ever impressive Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site which stands majestically on a fortified hilltop with the snow-peaked Sierra Nevada Mountains as a backdrop.
Residence of the Moorish rulers of the Nasrid Dynasty for 250 glorious years, from the 13th to the 15th centuries, the Alhambra is a perfect place to see Islamic architecture in Europe. A walk through the compound's luxurious rooms and gardens gives you an idea of the decadent lifestyle of the Moorish kings.
Alhambra complex consists of four groups of buildings in carefully landscaped grounds. 1) The Alcazaba – The oldest part of Alhambra; Alcazaba was a Moorish fortress of which only ramparts and towers have survived. Towers offer some spectacular views.
2) The Nasrid Palaces – This is the centre of the complex and most splendid of all the buildings. These were used by the Sultans of the Nasrid Dynasty.
3) Palace of Charles V - This was built in the 16th century after the conquest of the Moors. This was used by the Spanish emperor as his summer palace.
4) Generalife –This is positioned on a hill situated at the rear of the complex overlooking the Alhambra palace. This includes the gorgeous Moorish gardens, fountains, fragrant roses, and flower-adorned terraces.
Visit Granada's Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación near the Plaza Nueva. The cathedral was built by Queen Isabella as a monument to celebrate the victory of Christian Spain over the Moors. It stands on the site of a former mosque.
Check out Hammam Al Andalus - traditional Arab Baths. These were brought to Spain by the Moors from North Africa. Some of these have been restored and opened to the public. Have dinner at one of the tapas or any of the restaurants you like. Overnight in Granada.

Day 9: Valencia: Have an early breakfast and start from Grenada on a five hour journey for Valencia, the third largest city in Spain. Valencia, a port town, is one of the oldest cities in Spain. Founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC, Valencia is situated where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea.
Valencia is known for its City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium, an oceanarium and an interactive museum.
Check into a hotel on arrival in the city. Feel relaxed and take a stroll in the busy markets of Valencia. Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Valencia.

Day 1o: Valencia: Start the full day sightseeing tour of Valencia. Valencia has some lovely clean beaches and a nice mix of old and new things. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike stations dotting around the city and visit these places. You can also rent a bicycle and go across the park that runs through the center of the city. Valencia is built with separate cycle paths, so it's really easy to get around the city. You can cycle to go and see Museu de les Ciencies Príncipe Felipe (Arts and Science Museum).
You are free to enjoy on the beaches, or go for shopping. Visit one of the many plazas in the city. Have a nice dinner. Overnight in Valencia.

Day 11: Barcelona: Board a five-hour train from Valencia to reach Barcelona, Spain's second largest city. Barcelona, cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, has medieval roots, but a modernist personality. This is well reflected in the contrast of Gothic Quarter and the new architectural styles.
Check into hotel on arrival. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia to brush up on your local knowledge. Visit the colourful La Boqueria market and grab a fresh juice there.
Feast on delicious tapas in the evening. Overnight in Barcelona.
Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife. There are plenty of things to keep you busy while you're here. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard.

Day 12: Barcelona: Embark on a full day sightseeing tour of Barclona after a hearty breakfast. Start with an orientation walk around Barcelona and see some of the city's main sights. This includes a visit to Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Gaudi worked on this for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Gaudi was actually famous for the unique Catalan Modernista architecture for which Barcelona is famous.
Check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Batlo. Also visit Montjuich Hill (site of the Olympic Stadium) to enjoy a spectacular view of Barcelona and its port area. Go for The Font Mágica Fountain water and light show if it is available on the day you are in Barcelona. You can enjoy some shopping here as well.
Enjoy tapas in the evening. Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 13: Barcelona – Onward Destination: After breakfast check out from the hotel and transfer to the airport. Catch your flight for your desired destination.