Itinerary: Glimpses of Spain
No. of Days: 7nights/8days
Places Covered: Madrid (5nights) – Toledo – Segovia – El Escorial – Córdoba – Seville (2 nights) – Onward destination
Days 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: Madrid – Toledo – Madrid: Start for Toledo, one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments. Toledo is known as the “city of the three cultures”, because Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together there for centuries.
Much of Spain’s history took place behind Toledo’s old walls. Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. Go on to visit the fortified palace, the Alcázar, with its army museum; and the Catedral de Toledo, most famous of the monuments here. The famous painter El Greco lived here. His house-museum has a lot of his works, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz being the most renowned.
Toledo is known for its damascene work. This is the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold. If you want, you can buy some souvenirs from here before returning to Madrid. Overnight in Madrid.
Day 4: Madrid – Segovia – Madrid: Start the day after breakfast and take a train from Chamartín station to reach Segovia, a historic city northwest of Madrid in central Spain. Viewing Segovia’s Alcázar is an exciting option. It rises starkly above the plain like a fairy-tale castle created by Disney. Its centuries of settlement have actually resulted in a rich architectural legacy – the medieval walls, Romanesque churches, a former royal palace and a Gothic cathedral. The whole old quarter together has been put on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Feast on delicious lunch at one of the restaurants in Segovia. Return to Madrid by evening. Overnight in Madrid.
Day 5: Madrid – El Escorial – Madrid: Start for El Escorial, a historical town about 45 kilometres northwest of Madrid. This was the residence of the King of Spain.
It functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. El Escorial has two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance – the royal monastery itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda – a royal hunting lodge and monastic retreat about five kilometres away.
Philip II got this built in the 16th Century by engaging the Spanish architect Juan Bautista de Toledo. El Escorial was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Wander around the art galleries and state apartments, including the throne room.
Have Lunch and spend full day here. Return to Madrid in the evening. Overnight in Madrid.
Day 6: Madrid – Córdoba – Seville: Take a train early in the morning from Madrid and leave for Córdoba, a city in Andalusia, southern Spain. It is the capital of the province with the same name.
Córdoba was conquered by invading Islamic armies in the 8th century served as the capital of the Islamic nation in the West. Visit Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, the greatest Islamic masterpiece remaining in the Western world. It is known for its stunning labyrinth of columns and red-and-white-striped arches.
Visit Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a stellar example of military architecture where Ferdinand and Isabella once governed.
After lunch, take one of the trains from Córdoba to reach Seville, the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. Overnight in Seville.
Day 7: 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. Visit Catedral de Sevilla and Giralda Tower. The cathedral is the largest Gothic building in the world and the third-largest church in Europe.
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. Later visit Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, a converted convent housing some of Andalusia’s greatest artwork, including masterpieces by El Greco and Murillo.
Take a stroll through Parque María Luisa, which runs south along the Guadalquivir River. Have dinner in the Old Town and enjoy a flamenco show. Overnight in Seville.
Day 8: Seville – Madrid – Onward Destination: The next morning you can take a fast train back to Madrid for your flight home, saving the remaining wonders of Andalusia for another visit.