Enjoy a wonderful Spanish rail adventure
From the winding cobbled streets of Toledo to the imposing grandeur of the Alcazar of Segovia, travel back in time to discover the medieval splendour of Spain's illustrious history.
Our adventure begins when you meet your Tour Manager at Great Rail Journeys' dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras International today. From here, we depart on the Eurostar for Paris, travelling in Standard Premier Class with a light meal and drinks served on board.
We cross the city to board the train at Paris Gare de Lyon, travelling southwards through France, across the border into Spain with the Pyrenees visible from the right hand side of the train. Our destination is beautiful Barcelona, the fascinating capital of Catalonia - a city of architecture and style, art and culture, street life and parks, sun and sea.
Today begins with an introductory sightseeing tour of Barcelona, during which we see some of the city's famous highlights including unique Gaudí architecture and Las Ramblas, the wonderful tree-lined boulevard that is regarded as the beating heart of the city, running through the centre from the Plaza de Catalunya to the waterfront. Las Ramblas is full of street performers, food stalls, shops and museums, and is a true delight to explore.
This afternoon we travel on Spain's high-speed AVE rail network to Madrid. This bustling and dynamic capital city has been much transformed over the years and is home to a delightful mix of old and new architecture, as well as world-class art galleries.
Today we are introduced to Madrid on a sightseeing tour of the city, noticing the many architectural styles, and attractive green spaces. We admire the beautiful Royal Palace and the 17th century Plaza Mayor. Following the tour, we visit the Monasterio de las Descalzados Reales, or 'Monastery of the Barefoot Royals', a convent with a history of providing an escape from unhappy betrothals for aristocratic women. Although the monastery's modern inhabitants are mostly impoverished nuns, the monastery still houses the dowries of its former residents, including religious relics, priceless paintings, including Titian's 'Caesar's Money', and precious artefacts, all of which are on display during our tour.
Today you are free to continue exploring the vibrant city of Madrid at leisure, discovering its stunning architecture, lively plazas and grand boulevards. You have the opportunity to explore in depth some of the sights we passed on yesterday's tour.
Why not take a tour of the excellent Prado Museum, regarded as Spain's leading art gallery with one of the best collections in the world? Here you'll find some of the finest exhibitions of European art from the 12th to 19th centuries, with work from leading artists such as Goya, Velázquez, Titian, Rubens, and Bosch. Or simply find a table in a restaurant on the Plaza Mayor, one of Europe's great city squares.
After breakfast today we travel by train (Standard Class) to Toledo. The capital of Spain during the Middle Ages, Toledo shows strong Roman and Moorish influences with a rich history of sword-making and well preserved fortifications. We take an orientation tour of this stunning city, exploring the maze of medieval cobbled streets.
Today you are free to explore Toledo at leisure. The historic city centre is one of the largest in Spain, with more than 100 monuments. It sits on a craggy rock,almost completely encircled by a wide bend of the River Tajo. Since 1987, Toledo has had UNESCO World Heritage status, due to its unique history; the city was host to Christian, Islamic and Hebrew culture and the architecture of the city reflects each of these influences. A stroll through the streets of Toledo will reveal ancient mosques, Gothic and Mudejar churches, Romanesque and Visigothic structures, synagogues and Renaissance palaces.
Today we transfer by coach to Ávila, home of one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. Known as 'The City of Saints and Stones', Ávila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, owing in part to its magnificent walls, 88 watchtowers and over 2,500 turrets. After checking into our hotel, the superb Palacio de los Velada, which is set in an impressive 16th century palace, your afternoon is at leisure here to explore this fairytale city. This evening we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
We leave Ávila and travel by coach to Salamanca, where we enjoy a guided city tour. Strolling around this historic city, we see the 15th century Cathedral and the University, which dates back to 1218. Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known as 'La Dorada', or 'The Golden City', because of the glow of its sandstone buildings.
Today our excursion takes us to Segovia, a town of twisting alleyways, charming squares and the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in Europe. The historic heart is surrounded by medieval walls, and the entire city is bordered by two rivers. Stretching through its heart is a hugely impressive Roman aqueduct of enormous proportions. This monument to Roman ingenuity is in exceptional shape and has 167 arches.
During our visit, we take a guided tour of the Alcazar, Spain's most famous castle. This magnificent Royal Palace dates back to the 10th century, when it was originally constructed as a Moorish fort. Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the town, the Alcazar is said to be the inspiration behind Disney's famous logo.
We travel to San Sebastián (Standard Class) in the early afternoon. San Sebastián is considered to be one of the most elegant resorts in Spain, with an irresistible blend of Parisian-inspired architecture and Basque charm. You are free for dinner tonight; perhaps sample some of the famous local tapas.
We spend Day 11 at leisure here to discover more. San Sebastián has one of the finest city beaches in Europe, with its white sands and blue waters. You may wish to kick back and relax on the beach after a day of exploring the vibrant and colourful streets of the city itself. Alternatively, the Parque de Cristina Enea is a charming stretch of parkland built by a duke for his wife. Peacocks strut alongside ornamental water figures while locals and visitors lie back in the Spanish sun on the open lawns. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
After a short coach journey across the border to Hendaye in France, we board the high-speed TGV to Paris. After crossing the city by coach we connect with the Eurostar service to London.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
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.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
Enjoy a wonderful Spanish rail adventure