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21336
Spain

The Best of Spain: Barcelona and Madrid

Find out what makes Barcelona and Madrid two of Europe’s most unique cities as you discover bold architecture, world-renowned museums, ancient monuments and celebrated cuisine. Olé!
Rating (5)
Program No. 21336RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,349
Flights start at
600
Spain

The Best of Spain: Barcelona and Madrid

Find out what makes Barcelona and Madrid two of Europe’s most unique cities as you discover bold architecture, world-renowned museums, ancient monuments and celebrated cuisine. Olé!
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,349
Flights start at
600
Program No. 21336 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 10 - Sep 19, 2021
Starting at
2,449
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Sept. 18, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Sep 17 - Sep 26, 2021
Starting at
2,449
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Sept. 25, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Sep 24 - Oct 3, 2021
Starting at
2,449
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Oct. 02, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Oct 15 - Oct 24, 2021
Starting at
2,449
Oct 22 - Oct 31, 2021
Starting at
2,449
Nov 5 - Nov 14, 2021
Starting at
2,349
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 10 - Sep 19, 2021
Starting at
3,029
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Sept. 18, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Sep 17 - Sep 26, 2021
Starting at
3,029
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Sept. 25, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Sep 24 - Oct 3, 2021
Starting at
3,029
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Oct. 02, 2021 departure of “The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today” (#20983) and receive free air from one program to the next!

Oct 15 - Oct 24, 2021
Starting at
3,029
Oct 22 - Oct 31, 2021
Starting at
3,029
Nov 5 - Nov 14, 2021
Starting at
2,849

At a Glance

Gaudí and Picasso. Paella and Tapas. Mediterranean chic and capital-city grandeur. There are no other cities in the world like Barcelona and Madrid. Join us to learn about what’s new in these two dynamic cities and reflect on what’s been around since antiquity, from fanciful architecture to wind-swept Roman ruins. With special insight from our local experts and plenty of time to discover on your own, you’ll get the most of these two bold European cities.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to two to three miles per day; cobblestones and many unavoidable stairs. Public transportation and subway used throughout the program. Looking for the same great program but at a more leisurely pace? Check out "Unhurried Spain: The Best of Barcelona and Madrid (#22311).
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about the incredible fairytale-like curved roofs and bright colors of one of the world's most intriguing parks and heritage sites: Parc Guëll.
  • Attend expert-led lectures and gain insight into Spain's fascinating historical and artistic roots.
  • In Madrid, explore two of Europe’s most renowned art museums with top-notch instructors.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials. You may be interested in a more leisurely version of this program, "Spain at a Slower Pace: The Best of Barcelona and Madrid" (#22311).
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Teresa de la Vega
Teresa de la Vega studied history and geography at Complutense University of Madrid and has received degrees in American Anthropology, Ancient History and Art History. She has taught courses in art history throughout her career.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Teresa de la Vega
Teresa de la Vega View biography
Teresa de la Vega studied history and geography at Complutense University of Madrid and has received degrees in American Anthropology, Ancient History and Art History. She has taught courses in art history throughout her career.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Arts in Spain, From Prehistory to Modernism
by John Moffit
From the cave painting at Altimira through the Golden Age, to the works of Picasso and Miro, this book documents the course of art in Spain, with 150 illustrations.
Cadogan Guide Barcelona & Catalonia
by Dana Facaros
This savvy guide combines practical details and maps with illuminating background on history, culture and sightseeing.
Homage to Catalonia
by George Orwell
Orwell's portrait of the Barcelona uprising and the spirit of a city at war is a classic, an observant and heartfelt report from the streets.
The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Set in the brooding atmosphere of post-WW II Barcelona, this gripping story-within-a-story has it all: murder, doomed love and a mysterious book which draws the young hero, Daniel Sempere, into the city’s dangerous underworld.
Food and Wines of Spain
by Penelope Casas
This classic collection of 400 recipes, interwoven with cultural commentary and culinary history, is a pleasure to read, but prepare to become hungry.
Barcelona Map
by Borch Maps
A detailed city map, laminated and folded for easy reference.
Antonio Gaudi, Master Architect
by Juan Bassegoda Nonell
This lavish little collection of Gaudi's work captures the evolution, imagination and exuberance of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.
Barcelona
by Robert Hughes
A Longitude favorite, this big, thoroughly enjoyable cultural history of the city touches on architecture, art, religion and literature from Roman outpost to the present.
Ghosts of Spain
by Giles Tremlett
Tremlett captures the Spanish character, history and modern politics in this masterful portrait, interweaving the story of his love for the country (where he has lived for 20 years) with interview, anecdote and observation.
Adventures in Spain
by Catherine Petit
From Madrid north to Santiago and south to Granada, join Catherine Petit as she shares her journeys through the countryside, hills, mountains and quaint cities and towns of the breathtaking country of Spain. Catherine serves as your personal guide through cathedrals, museums, parks, gardens, and architectural delights as she treks her way through the enchanting landscape. The photographs will bring the experience of Spain right to your door. The friends she made, the people she met, and the cultural extravagance she witnessed will ensure you make Spain your next destination.
Gaudi, A Biography
by Gijs van Hensbergen
A vivid account of the architect and his work.
Love and Revolutionary Greetings: An Ohio Boy in the Spanish Civil War
by Laurie E. Levinger
Follow the story of a boy name Sam Levinger who travels to Spain in 1937 to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Based off of letters home to his mother, this story will captivate and educate it's readers of the American involvement during the Spanish Civil War.
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10 days
9 nights
16 meals
8 B 1 L 7 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Barcelona, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Barcelona
D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After allowing some time to unpack and relax, our Group Leader will lead an orientation walk around the neighborhood as a way for us to get acquainted with the area. Orientation: 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Transportation will be primarily by private motorcoach and walking with use of public transit. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll gather for a 3-course plated welcome dinner with a choice of entrée, plus a complimentary glass of wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Introduction to Barcelona & Catalan Art, La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona
B,L
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators. Getting on/off a motorcoach; time spent aboard motorcoach about 4 hours total, including stops. Tickets to enter La Sagrada Familia are highly regulated and very difficult to secure. We are assigned a specific timeslot to enter the complex and the time inside the monument is restricted. Due to mobility concerns, we do not visit the towers.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet featuring a selection of bread and pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and cold cuts, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room, our expert lecturer will offer us an introduction to Modernist Catalan art, architecture, culture, and life. Afterwards, we’ll set out on foot and use public transportation to get to our lunch location.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we'll enjoy a characteristic lunch of "tapas" – appetizer-sized servings of many different kinds of tasty local cuisine.

Afternoon: We’ll then set out by private motorcoach for an expert-led panoramic field trip through Barcelona, which will include a visit to the Basilica of the impressive but unfinished Gaudí masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Next, we’ll also go to Gaudí's equally exotic Parque Guell and Montjuic Hill. Our local expert will lead us inside and outside at both sites with commentary provided. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Monastery & Museum of Montserrat
Barcelona
B,D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, steps, and slopes in and around the monastery. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 35 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After travelling north via motorcoach, we’ll reach the mountain of Montserrat, which has long cast a mystical spell with a spiritual heritage predating Christianity. An ancient hermitage on this spot grew to become an independent abbey in 1409. The buildings and contents were destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1811 and were reconstructed many years later. Gothic and Renaissance architecture of the basilica contrast with architectonic spaces created for the Museum of Montserrat by modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Among the abbey’s notable achievements are one of the world’s oldest printing presses and more recently a translation of the Bible from original Middle Eastern languages into Catalan. During an expert-led exploration, we’ll see treasures of history and culture from ancient Egypt to works by Caravaggio, El Greco, Dali, Picasso, Tapies, and many others. However, the most precious object is the 12th-century carving of a Black Madonna, Our Lady of Montserrat, Patron Saint of Catalonia.

Lunch: On your own to sample the local fare. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: We’ll then return to Barcelona by private motorcoach for free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions on how to use your T10 card for public transport.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll have plated 3-course meals with water and a complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
The Picasso Museum, La Pedrera
Barcelona
B,D
Abba Balmoral

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators. Both the Picasso Museum and La Pedrera entrance times are strictly regulated and are subject to change.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll take a walking field trip to one of Gaudí's creations, Casa Milà, popularly known as “La Pedrera” (The Quarry) for its Modernist façade. Constructed between 1906 and 1912 under the direction of Antoni Gaudi, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and now serves as the headquarters for the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation, which also includes a public cultural center. Later on, we will continue through Paseo de Gracia (Castilian/Spanish), or Passeig de Gràcia (Catalan), as we view the city's renowned Modernist route, which includes such iconic buildings as Gaudí's Casa Batlló and the newly refurbished building of Casa Lleo Morera.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Led by a local expert, we will take public transportation to go on a field trip to the Picasso Museum for an on-site presentation followed by time to explore on your own. The Museu Picasso is a key reference for understanding the artist’s formative years with more than 4,000 works in the permanent collection spanning his early work through the Blue Period and a large collection of prints. Afterward, we’ll return by public transport to our hotel where a local family will join us to provide insider perspectives on Catalan culture, the question of independence, and more. In addition, there will be a Q&A session before walking to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a tasty 3-course plated dinner with a complimentary glass of wine and water to bid farewell to Barcelona; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
To Madrid via High Speed AVE Train, Intro to Madrid
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and train; minimal driving; walking through 2 large train stations, up escalators and some steps. Train ride is about 386 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Participants will need to handle their own luggage on and off the train as there is no porterage available at the station.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will transfer by motorcoach to the train station where we will board the Alta Velocidad Española. The AVE is Europe's longest high-speed rail network that can reach 190 mph. The 386 mile trip to Madrid takes only about 2.5 hours. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Lunch: On your own aboard the train.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, we’ll transfer via motorcoach from the train station to the hotel where we will check in and have some time to freshen up and relax before joining our local expert lecturer for a presentation. We will learn about the art, history, culture, and people throughout the Ages of Madrid. We will also each receive a T10 travel card, allowing up to 10 journeys by bus or metro around the city.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course meal, plus a complimentary glass of wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
History & Culture of Madrid, Art of Flamenco
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, steps without railings. Comfortable footwear recommended. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet featuring a selection of bread and pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and cold cuts, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We’ll start our exploration of the city by joining a local expert on a motorcoach to see some of the most important highlights of historical Madrid while enjoying commentary focused on these places of interest. Ending the morning at El Prado Museum, our local expert will lead us as we see one of Europe's largest and finest collections of art focused on 12th to the early 19th century. It also includes the most comprehensive collection of works by Goya and Velazquez, in addition to masterpieces from the Italian, Flemish, and Dutch schools.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Take some time for free independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Afterwards, we’ll gather at a predetermined time and place for transfer via motorcoach to a local tablao (flamenco bar) for a welcome drink and an introductory presentation given by a performer on the art of flamenco.

Dinner: At the tablao, we’ll enjoy a simple dinner of tapas with wine, sangria, or beer.

Evening: While at the tablao, we’ll be treated to a traditional flamenco performance! The Universidad de Autonoma de Madrid describes flamenco as, “Voices filled with anguish and pain in cante jondo, rhythms of happiness and joy in sevillanas and rumbas. Flamenco is all that and more, full of passion and intensity.” Madrid takes pride as the hub of the recording industry, and starting place for aspiring artists performing in tablaos. We’ll revel in the sights and sounds of an evening filled with Spanish folklore, music, and dance. We will return to the hotel via motorcoach after the performance.

DAY
8
Toledo, Santo Tome Sacristy, Sinagoga del Transito
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; steep slopes, cobblestones and some steps without railings around the city. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 50 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Toledo is set on a steep hill and the motorcoach cannot access the old town.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out by motorcoach, we’ll transfer to the "Imperial City" of Toledo, set on a hill. The former Capital of Castile, Toledo is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for both its extensive cultural and monumental heritage, as well as for the centuries of peaceful co-existence that has taken place between Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures. Upon arrival, we will drive around the surrounding hill for breathtaking panoramic views before continuing with our local expert on a walk through the old city, including a visit to see El Greco's works at the Santo Tome sacristy, and to the former Sinagoga del Transito, which is now a museum.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: We will return to Madrid and, after some time to rest, we will enjoy a presentation followed by a Q&A session at the hotel. A local university professor will enlighten us on Spain's recent history and the country’s transition to democracy following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with water and a complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Madrid, Reina Sofia Museum
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano Galgos

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets. Use of public transportation; flights of stairs at stations, no escalators.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Arriving via public transport, we’ll enjoy a field trip led by a local expert to the Reina Sofia Museum, a contemporary structure housing over 21,000 works of modern and avant-garde art. Founded in 1990 after originally being created as an art center, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is one of the key symbols of the Spanish transition to democracy and modernity following the Franco regime. Pablo Picasso's Guernica is the museum's most renowned masterpiece.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Continue exploring some of Madrid's most emblematic sites on your own or join your Group Leader on a walk of the city.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll gather for a delicious 3-course plated farewell dinner with a selection of appetizers to share and a choice of entree. Complimentary red or white house wine and mineral water is included; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet, flight times permitting. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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