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Historic Cities of Spain

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11 days From £3,295 per person
4.5 stars(34 reviews)
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Explore the sensational cities and superb sights of Spain, on a Grand Tour which embraces the diverse culture and unique history of this vibrant country.

Save up to £400

Save up to £400 per booking on July-October 2024 holidays, when you book by 29th February 2024.

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Save up to £200pp

Save up to £200pp on selected 2024 last-minute holidays, when you book by 29th February 2024.

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Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: ASG24

About the tour

Discover the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Spain, as we travel from the distinguished capital of Madrid, into the sultry cities of Moorish Andalucía to eclectic Barcelona. We explore Granada's magnificent Alhambra, breathtaking palaces and gardens, Seville's historic cathedral and Córdoba's stunning Mezquita. On a guided sightseeing tour we see Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece.

Unforgettable Experiences

Alhambra and Granada’s preserved Arabic Quarter, the Albaicín.
Alhambra and Granada’s preserved Arabic Quarter, the Albaicín.
Set beneath the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains and situated on adjacent hills, these two impressive areas form the medieval part of Granada. Enjoy dinner with stunning panoramic views of the Alhambra, with its nighttime backdrop of stars and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Explore Barcelona
Explore Barcelona
Explore Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and see the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s extraordinary creation. Based in Eixample, the Modernist district, we are well-placed to get around and see the many colourful facets of this exciting city.
Madrid
Madrid
Tour the city of Madrid – taking in its Royal Palace, artistic treasures and beautiful parks. We take a guided sightseeing tour of the Spanish capital, by coach and on foot, to discover the city’s great attractions, with plenty of free time to get to know the city at our own pace.
Seville
Seville
Discover the stunning city of Seville, the alluring Andalucían capital, on a guided tour of sites including the grand monument of the Plaza de España and the city’s impressive cathedral.
Visit the incredible Mezquita of Córdoba
Visit the incredible Mezquita of Córdoba
On a guided tour, with entrance included to this outstanding mosque-cathedral and a walk through the atmospheric cobbled streets of the Jewish Quarter.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - From London to the stylish resort of Biarritz, France

Our holiday starts at London St Pancras where we meet our Tour Manager and group to join the Eurostar to Paris, travelling in style in Standard Premier Class, with a light meal served at our seats. From Paris we continue our journey by First Class rail to France's glamorous coastal resort town of Biarritz for the night. Arriving in the evening, we check into our hotel before dinner at a local restaurant right on the 'Grand Plage', the main beach of the sweeping bay, overlooking the sea.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Light Meal
Day 2 – Arrival in Madrid, guided tour and an evening at leisure

This morning we're transferred by coach to the railway station at Irun for a First Class journey by high-speed rail to Madrid. On arrival in the afternoon, we check into our elegant hotel for two nights. We are centrally situated on Gran Via, one of Madrid's most stylish streets, lined with majestic buildings of the early 20th century.

After a little time to freshen up we are taken on a guided sightseeing tour, by coach and on foot, and introduced to Madrid's main sights, historical buildings and the city's vast green park, 'El Retiro'. These beautiful gardens were originally built for Spain's royal family in the 1500s, but the park is now a public space - a well-loved and much visited part of the city, used by local residents of all ages, and visitors to the city. Our tour takes us past the magnificent Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, still used for official state functions and filled with impressive paintings, sculptures and antiques.

This evening you are free to dine independently, and there are many enticing places to eat in the neighbourhood of our hotel - from fashionable cafés serving tapas to more traditional establishments. The district around Plaza Mayor has a number of excellent restaurants including a few of Madrid's oldest, and a little further away is Plaza de Santa Ana - a lively but authentic area with several characterful bars and restaurants where you can enjoy tapas, paella and many different varieties of cured jamón.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 – A full day to discover the many wonders of Madrid

Today is yours to explore. Although Madrid is the EU's second largest city, surpassed in size only by Berlin, thanks to its grid system, its streets are easy to navigate. Within ten minutes' walk you can reach Puerta del Sol in the heart of the city, and three of Madrid's world-class art galleries - the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Prado, which is a treasure chests of Spanish masters including Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya, and the Reina Sofía museum that has an impressive collection of 20th century art.

You could visit the popular Plaza Mayor for lunch in the busy square, or maybe try the San Miguel market nearby where you can select a tapas lunch from those on display - patatas bravas, Spanish tortilla, cured anchovies, olives, croquetas de bacalao (salt cod croquettes), berenjenas fritas con miel (crispy aubergine fritters drizzled in honey) and Jamón Ibérico are a few local favourites.

This afternoon you could walk along the wide boulevard of the Paseo del Prado to discover the famous Prado gallery, or one of the city's other great museums. If you haven't spent time there yet, El Retiro is a peaceful contrast to the lively streets - the park is like an oasis at the heart of the city, with a lake where you can rent a rowing boat, a rose garden, musicians and puppet show performers, and an impressive glass palace. The park also has many ancient trees, including a Mexican conifer which is 400 years old.

Tonight is another chance to discover one of Madrid's unique eateries, maybe in a nearby restaurant or in a part of the city you'd like to revisit.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Arrival in the magnificent city of Seville, guided tour and dinner

This morning we travel by First Class rail into Andalucía, arriving in the exhilarating city of Seville for a two-night stay. We are transferred by coach to our superb hotel in the Old Town, with facilities including a rooftop terrace and swimming pool and views across the city. After some free time to find lunch independently, this afternoon we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the city, by coach and on foot.

We are taken through the city's historic Santa Cruz district, a charming maze of narrow streets which, until the late 15th century, was the thriving Jewish quarter of the city. This beautiful quarter is now one of Seville's most popular tourist area and is packed with gift shops, cafés, restaurants and pretty squares.

Our tour includes entrance into Seville's impressive Gothic cathedral in the centre of the Old Town. The largest Gothic building in Europe, the cathedral was built on the site of a mosque. Lavishly decorated in gold, the cathedral's bell tower, La Giralda, was the minaret of the original mosque and rises above Seville's skyline. Look out for the cathedral's medieval stained glass windows, and the Patio de los Naranjos, a peaceful area which is part of the original mosque, containing a fountain and orange trees. Another interesting fact about the cathedral is that the remains of Christopher Columbus were interred here.

We complete our tour at the end of the afternoon, and you might like to stroll along the river to see the Torre del Oro, which was once a military watchtower and medieval prison. The golden tower is next to the Guadalquivir River and late afternoon or early evening is a special time to view it, as the tower glows as the sun's rays stretch across the river.

We meet up with our group again this evening to dine at a restaurant close to our hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – A free day to discover Seville at leisure

Today is a chance to continue sightseeing at your own pace, maybe combined with time on the rooftop terrace of our hotel. Our central location means that many of the city's landmarks are within easy walking distance. You could visit the grand monument, Plaza de España, an area of colourful tiled arches, ornate fountains and alcoves, created for the 1929 'Fair of the Americas'.

Another lovely way to spend half a day is to visit the Real Alcázar, or Royal Palace, whose interiors are a combination of Moorish, Mujedar and Christian architecture with elaborate patios and geometric tiles. The expansive gardens are a wonderful place to relax, with shady seating next to cooling fountains, orange trees, and peacocks wandering among the trailing greenery. In summer the palace hosts outdoor musical events in the gardens each evening.

Art buffs won't want to miss a chance to visit Seville's Fine Art Museum, or Museo de Bellas Artes, one of Spain's top art museums. Housed in a palace which was also a convent, its walls feature significant Spanish artists from Spain's 'Golden Age' in the 17th Century. Another emblematic site of Seville is the Triana Bridge, also known as Isabel II Bridge. Constructed of iron, the bridge crosses the river to the district of Triana, a neighbourhood known for its gypsy community and flamenco tradition. There are also several flamenco venues in the Old Town, close to our hotel. Shows usually start late in the evening and booking ahead is advised.

This evening you're free to dine independently, and you could choose to do so in vibrant Santa Cruz, where staff at the many tapas bars and restaurants are always ready to welcome visitors. Known as the birthplace of tapas, Seville is the place to sample some of Spain's celebrated dishes.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Exploring Granada’s Moorish Quarter - the Albaicín

We are transferred by coach to the station in Seville to join the train to the spectacular Moorish city of Granada, where we arrive around midday and stay for two nights. This enchanting city is dominated by the Alhambra, one of the world's most important and well-preserved examples of Moorish architecture, with its stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Our stunning hotel in Granada is a restored 16th-century palacio, with an authentic Andalucían interior courtyard with a cooling fountain, decorative tiles and original Renaissance paintings.

We begin our explorations with a sightseeing tour, visiting the Albaicín Quarter surrounding our hotel. Once the Moorish quarters of the city, the area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site which retains the narrow winding streets of its medieval past. After our tour of this fascinating neighbourhood you are at leisure to continue exploring at your own pace. In the older streets are Moroccan-style tea gardens, bohemian bars and colourful craft shops.

A must-visit area is the Mirador de San Nicolas, a wide terraced area with fantastic views up to the Alhambra - a popular spot to see flamenco players, or artists and craftspeople selling their work. There are several restaurants and cafés here to enjoy tapas, maybe with a glass of vino tinto, and the area comes alive at night with colourful market stalls, lively cafés and al fresco bars.

This evening you are free to dine independently and you may like to eat in the Albaicín neighbourhood, or wander down to the more modern area of the city - five minutes' walk from our hotel - where there's a great choice of restaurants.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Discovering Granada’s enchanting Alhambra on a guided tour

This morning we visit the breathtaking UNESCO-listed Alhambra itself. Once the residence of the Moorish leaders of Granada, this spectacular palace complex sits on a plateau overlooking the city, with the fairytale Sierra Nevada mountains as its backdrop. The Alhambra is listed as a World Heritage site for its outstanding aesthetic value as the world's only preserved palatine city of the Islamic period and the best example of its architecture.

We walk through a series of outstanding palaces with intricate carved wooden ceilings, colourful mosaics and astonishing plasterwork. You also enter the beautiful 14th-century Generalife, once a summer palace and country estate of the sultans, where there's time to soak up the tranquility and natural beauty. The Generalife Gardens feature decorative pebbled paths through shady pergolas, dripping with jasmine and other trailing scented flowers, cool patios and exquisite water features, framed by abundant flowerbeds and pavilions.

After this wonderful experience we're transferred back to our hotel where there's time to relax before dinner. This evening, we visit a traditional restaurant for an authentic Andalucían dinner, with spectacular views of the illuminated Alhambra.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - A guided tour of Córdoba’s stunning La Mezquita

After breakfast we travel by coach to Córdoba, the third of Spain's great Moorish cities - once the largest metropolis in Western Europe and another remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site. Arriving around lunchtime, we check into our modern hotel for the night. Set on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the hotel has an inviting rooftop swimming pool with views of Granada's most celebrated historic buildings, La Mezquita - the city's world-renowned mosque, and the delightful Real Alcázar palace and gardens.

After time at leisure to settle in and find some lunch independently we are taken on a guided tour of this beautiful city. Entering the Old Town area, we cross the Roman Bridge, passing the 14th-century Calahorra Tower, before continuing to the Mezquita, considered to be one of the greatest remaining works of Islamic architecture in the world.

Next we explore the characterful narrow streets of Córdoba's historic Jewish Quarter, which has a small ancient synagogue, a statue of the Jewish philosopher and astronomer known as Maimonides, hidden stone patios and other relics of this important period of the city's history.

This evening we have dinner at a restaurant in the neighbourhood of our hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Arrival in Barcelona, city sightseeing tour and an afternoon to explore

This morning we travel by First Class high-speed rail to the exciting Catalan capital of Barcelona. Arriving in the afternoon, we check into our central hotel for two nights. We then set out on a guided tour of Barcelona, by coach and on foot. We see the astounding Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's fantastical unfinished cathedral, walk along the tree-lined boulevard of Las Ramblas - with its market stalls, street performers and shops - and end our tour in the Gothic Quarter, signposted as Barri Gòtic.

The rest of your day is free to enjoy the city. It's impossible to visit Barcelona and not fall under the spell of renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. Our hotel is based on Passeig de Gràcia, an elegant shopping street in the Modernist district, where you can find the Gaudí buildings, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. You could also visit Park Güell, another wonderful Gaudí creation, with colourful mosaic sculptures - set high above the city, the park has open spaces and fabulous views. Of course you may also like to enter the spectacular Sagrada Familia, where it's possible to take a lift to the top.

This evening you're free to dine independently - maybe unwind at a local café, or take a stroll along the seafront and enjoy the catch of the day in a beachside restaurant as the Mediterranean sun sets over the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 10 - Free day to discover beautiful Barcelona

Today you're free to continue exploring this enchanting city. The city's main attractions are easy to reach on foot, but you may choose to use the city's efficient metro system. In the Gothic Quarter you could visit the impressive Picasso museum which has many drawings from the artist's early work. The city's botanical gardens provide a peaceful retreat from its lively streets.

There are several neighbourhoods dotted along Barcelona's coast, some previously fishing villages such as El Poble Sec, which can be reached by metro. There you'll find well-kept beaches, seafront cafés and restaurants, and may enjoy a swim in the sea.

Another area of the city to visit is the expansive park on a hill above the city, where you'll find the Montjüic Castle. Or why not visit the incredible Boqueria market, just off the Ramblas, and indulge in some mouth-watering tapas in an amazing atmosphere.

This evening we meet up with our group and Tour Manager for a final farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 - Barcelona and London

Our grand tour of Spain reaches its end today as we board our First Class train to Paris. There we join the Eurostar service, travelling in style in Standard Premier Class with a light meal served at our seats, we continue to London St Pancras. On our comfortable return journey there's free time to gaze out at the passing scenery and reflect on the highlights of this memorable holiday.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostat Light Meal

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Catalonia Gracia

Hotel Catalonia Gracia, Barcelona

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Hotel Hesperia Cordoba

Hotel Hesperia Cordoba, Cordoba

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Palacio de Santa Ines, Granada

Palacio de Santa Ines, Granada

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Hotel Catalonia Gran Via, Madrid

Hotel Catalonia Gran Via, Madrid

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Casa Romana Hotel Boutique

Casa Romana Hotel Boutique, Seville

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Trains

AVE
Eurostar
TGV

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Upgrades

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Reviews

4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 34 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (22)
  2. 4 stars
    (9)
  3. 3 stars
    (1)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

P Battman

4 stars

Submitted 24 Oct 2023

Our tour guide Ruth Morgan was exceptional. Her knowledge and personality and problem solving were brilliant and made our trip very enjoyable. My only observation about the tour is that we would have liked it to be longer! It felt a little rushed. If we had gone to San Sebastian on the first night and spent two nights there instead of one night in Biarritz and another night in Cordoba, it would have been perfect. It was unseasonable hot but not Great Rail Journey's fault! Would definitely recommend but not for the faint hearted as its a busy schedule. All hotels excellent as were group meals.

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David James

4 stars

Submitted 23 Oct 2023

Overall very good with a good, experienced tour manager. The itinerary was varied and allowed time for our own explorations. Some of the group visits felt a little rushed. Hotels were of a good standard. Travel problems were outside of the control of GRJ but Ruth, our tour manager handled them very well. It is a good tour to be used as a taster so that longer return visits can be made. It was wonderful to see the progress made on La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona since our last visit 20 years ago.

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Nicola Bell

5 stars

Submitted 22 Oct 2023

Great guidance from our tour manager and local guides meant we could wander confidently around the beautiful cities in our free time.

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Happy Customer

5 stars

Submitted 22 Oct 2023

Wonderful trip, great tour manager, great group of like minded travellers. Stunning scenery, only down side we could have done with an extra night at each city. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Colin Banyard

5 stars

Submitted 21 Oct 2023

Excellent Tour Manager. Problem at Madrid with no electricity for trains but she kept us informed. Eurostar back from Paris a disgrace. Train crew packed us into Standard class saying seats were broken in SPemium . No meal which we had paid for. I went to see the seats but could see no breakage. A steward told me to leave and he would get the Train Manager to explain to me. The TM never appeared so steward lied. The train crew were too lazy to give us what we had paid for. I require compensation for the three of us for the lack of meal and drinks of £90 which can be applied to our booking ref XXXXXX for 15 May24. I am sure you have some influence with Eurostar to complain about their catering crews appalling performance

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Jack

3 stars

Submitted 18 Oct 2023

Great destinations, but this holiday really needs stamina. There are too many destinations on the itinerary for 10 nights. You really needed at least 14. Too many early starts. We arrived home tired rather than relaxed. We only had one day in Cordoba and didn't even have time to unpack our suitcases before they were whisked away again. On a positive note the tour manager was brilliant, and coped reassuringly with the challenges that train travel inevitably throws up.

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