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
10 days
Starts at
Flights start at

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
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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.

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Cecilia Ceriani
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Teresa de la Vega
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Sonia Formoso
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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.
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.
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.
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.

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