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22311
Spain

Spain at a Slower Pace: The Best of Barcelona and Madrid

Madrid and Barcelona are two of Europe’s most culturally fascinating cities. Join our experts for an insider’s perspective of these Old World gems, all at your own comfortable pace.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22311RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,899
Flights start at
600
Spain

Spain at a Slower Pace: The Best of Barcelona and Madrid

Madrid and Barcelona are two of Europe’s most culturally fascinating cities. Join our experts for an insider’s perspective of these Old World gems, all at your own comfortable pace.
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,899
Flights start at
600
Program No. 22311 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 9 - Sep 18, 2021
Starting at
3,079
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

Oct 14 - Oct 23, 2021
Starting at
3,079
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

Nov 4 - Nov 13, 2021
Starting at
2,899
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 9 - Sep 18, 2021
Starting at
3,599
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

Oct 14 - Oct 23, 2021
Starting at
3,599
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

Nov 4 - Nov 13, 2021
Starting at
3,299
Itinerary Note

This departure starts in Madrid and ends in Barcelona.

At a Glance

First, enjoy the city of Barcelona, with its modernist architecture and considered the gateway to Europe and the Mediterranean. Then, visit Madrid, the great capital of Baroque culture and art, basking in the power and excitement of this historic city. Today, both cities boast magnificent architecture, prolific legacies of culture and cuisine, considered some of the best in the world. Come join experts to explore these two treasures of Spain as you learn their individual and connected stories, enjoying plenty of opportunities to explore at your own leisurely pace.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Climbing on and off the motor coach for city visits, 1.5 miles of walking, plus standing at sites and museums. Looking for the same great program but a more challenging activity level? Check out "The Best of Barcelona and Madrid" (#21336).
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 and see the architectural masterworks of Antoni Gaudi.
  • Take part in a hands-on cookery class and enjoy the meal you prepare.
  • Attend an authentic Spanish “Tablao” to witness a traditional Flamenco performance.

General Notes

You may be interested in a more active version of this program, "The Best of Spain: Barcelona and Madrid" (#21336).
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Pilar Arizaga
Pilar Arizaga was born in Chile, grew up in Canada and currently lives in Spain. She has been a Group Leader for the past ten years and has worked with high school and college students, alumni and other groups. She has experience working in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco and England and she speaks English and Spanish, with knowledge of Portuguese, Italian, and French. Pilar is a well-organized, patient and passionate person about her work, always willing and seeking to take on new adventures.

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

Profile Image of Pilar Arizaga
Pilar Arizaga View biography
Pilar Arizaga was born in Chile, grew up in Canada and currently lives in Spain. She has been a Group Leader for the past ten years and has worked with high school and college students, alumni and other groups. She has experience working in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco and England and she speaks English and Spanish, with knowledge of Portuguese, Italian, and French. Pilar is a well-organized, patient and passionate person about her work, always willing and seeking to take on new adventures.
Profile Image of Silvia Riera
Silvia Riera View biography
Silvia Riera was born and raised in Barcelona, where she developed her passion for arts and the Catalan culture. In addition to Spanish and her native tongue, Catalan, Silvia is fluent in French, Italian, English and Portuguese. Silvia has lectured about modernism and Gaudi since 1988. Beyond arts, Silvia is — like most Barcelonians — a big fan of FC Barcelona, the world-renowned soccer team.
Profile Image of Cecilia Ceriani
Cecilia Ceriani View biography
Cecilia Ceriani has been an art teacher and critic for nearly three decades. She holds degrees in art history and English philology from the Complutense University of Madrid. Cecilia spent four years in South America as an art critic and book reviewer for newspapers in Montevideo and Buenos Aires before returning to her native Spain in 1986. Since then she has been lecturing on Road Scholar programs and at the U.S. Cultural Center in Madrid and writing for respected Spanish publications.
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 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.
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.
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.
Barcelona Map
by Borch Maps
A detailed city map, laminated and folded for easy reference.
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.
Cadogan Guide Barcelona & Catalonia
by Dana Facaros
This savvy guide combines practical details and maps with illuminating background on history, culture and sightseeing.
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.
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.
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.
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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10 days
9 nights
20 meals
8 B 4 L 8 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Madrid, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Madrid
D
Meliá Madrid Serrano

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 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. Note that dinners in Spain generally take place much later than in North America, meaning that there is little or no free time in the evenings. 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: We'll walk to a local restaurant to enjoy a 3-course plated meal with a choice of entrée, plus a 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 Madrid, Prado Museum
Madrid
B,L,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, up to about 2 hours with stops. Walking at field trip locations; periods of standing.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet features a variety of hot and cold items, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll start out by joining our expert local lecturer at the hotel for a presentation on the art, history, culture and people of Madrid through the ages. While the local area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, the city itself developed out of a citadel built at the end of the 9th century when Al-Andalus — the Iberian peninsula — was ruled by Moors, the name Europeans applied to Muslims from North Africa. It changed hands several times during the Reconquista (reconquest) and was eventually controlled by the kingdom of Castile. The royal court settled in Madrid but it did not become the national capital of Spain until 1606, chosen at least in part because it had no ties to opposing factions as well as for its central location. During subsequent eras, the city’s neighborhoods were referred to as “Los Madriles” — the Madrids — in recognition of distinctive differences from one barrio (quarter) to another. The people, Madrileños, were called “gatos” (cats), perhaps a medieval reference to the alleged ability of troops from Madrid to scale castle walls, though it also suggests the local preference for late evening hours. After many years of war, unrest, and dictatorship, the death of Franco sparked a frenzy of energy and creativity. With 3.3 million residents, Madrid is the third most populated city in the European Union behind London and Berlin. Madrid is also known for its copious number of art museums, one of which we'll explore this afternoon.

Lunch: At the hotel, with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: Next, we’ll set out by motorcoach with our local expert to see some of Madrid’s most emblematic sites, ending at the majestic Museo Nacional del Prado — the Prado Museum — where we will have an expert-led exploration. In addition to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Spanish painting featuring Grand Masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Murillo, and many more, there are masterpieces of the French, German, and Italian schools, and early Flemish works. Then housing the royal collection, the museum opened to the public in 1819. It grew over many years into one of the world’s foremost collections of great art. Afterwards, we'll return to the hotel.

Dinner: We'll walk to a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated 3-course meal, with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Segovia, Alcázar, & Free Time
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 60 miles (95 km), approximately 1.5 hours to/from Segovia. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day during group activities; periods of standing at the Alcazar; many cobblestones and occasional steps without handrails. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Travelling by motorcoach, we’ll arrive in the historical town of Segovia for a field trip led by a local expert. Situated to the northwest of the capital in the Castile region and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Segovia boasts a wealth of monuments which span the centuries. Among these, we’ll see the remarkably well-preserved Roman Aqueduct (dating from around 50 C.E.) and enjoy an expert-led field trip to the renowned Alcazar (castle) which began construction in the 11th century. One of Spain’s most important historical sites, it was originally built as a medieval fortress on Roman ruins, but it also served as the royal residence of the ancient Kingdom of Castile up until the 17th century. Following the visit, we will return to Madrid.

Lunch: On your own to explore the local cuisine.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated 3-course meal plus complimentary red or white house wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Reina Sofia Museum, Art of Flamenco & Performance
Madrid
B,D
Meliá Madrid Serrano

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 4 miles each way, approximately 1 hour total with stops. Walking up to 1.5 miles with periods of standing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we'll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on 20th-century Spanish art. We’ll then board a motorcoach and ride to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía — Reina Sofia Museum — that opened its doors in 1990. This modern, contemporary Spanish museum on an international scale has a collection of more than 20,000 works including masterpieces by Dali, Miro, Picasso, and many others. Its most famous piece is Picasso’s “Guernica,” based on the bombing of that Basque town during the Spanish Civil War, but with broader symbolism as a plea against the barbarity and terror of all war. At the conclusion of the visit, we'll have the choice of taking the motorcoach back to the hotel or staying on in Madrid.

Lunch: On your own to sample the local fare.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. Afterwards, we’ll gather at the predetermined time and place and take a motorcoach ride to a local tablao (flamenco bar) for a complimentary welcome drink and an introductory presentation given by an expert on the art of flamenco.

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

Evening: While at the tablao, we’ll be treated to a traditional flamenco performance! The Universidad de Autonoma de Madrid describes flamenco: “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 a 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
6
Transfer to Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona
B,D
Catalonia Eixample 1864

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles in Madrid and Barcelona, approximately 1 hour in each city. Navigating large train stations for transfers; periods of standing. Getting on/off a high-speed train; trip to Madrid is about 386 miles, approximately 2.5 hours; luggage transferred separately by van. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; busy/crowded train stations, escalators, some steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We'll transfer to the rail station and board an AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola—Spanish High Speed) train for Barcelona. Reaching speeds of up to 190 mph on more than 2,000 miles of track, the AVE network is the largest high-speed rail network in Europe and second only to China.

Lunch: On your own aboard the train.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Barcelona, we’ll take a ride on a motorcoach and check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax. We’ll then gather in the hotel where we will meet with a local family to discuss life in Spain and Catalonia today

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Introduction to Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona
B,L,D
Catalonia Eixample 1864

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving mileage dependent on traffic and best route, up to 4 hours throughout the afternoon. Walking up to 1.5 miles during group activities throughout the day; the motorcoach drop-off point for La Sagrada Familia visit is approximately a ½ mile walk from the monument; additional walking dependent on personal interest. La Sagrada Familia entrance times are strictly regulated and subject to change; it may be substituted for another Modernist monument.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet features a variety of hot and cold items, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Gathering in the hotel meeting room, our expert lecturer will provide us with an introduction to Modernist Catalan art, architecture, culture, and life with a special focus on the modernist artists. This will set the scene for our time in Barcelona.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have a light buffet meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach and head out for a panoramic exploration through Barcelona to see some of the major emblematic sites of the city including a visit to Antoni Gaudí's masterpiece, the gigantic basilica known as La Sagrada Familia (the Sacred Family) (La Sagrada Familia entrance times are strictly regulated and subject to change; it may be substituted for another Modernist monument.) Construction began in 1882 and is due for completion in 2026. This enthralling and magnificent undertaking has become the symbol of the city, which we will explore inside and out with our local expert providing commentary. We'll then return to the hotel with some time to freshen up before walking to dinner.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Las Ramblas & Local Market, Catalan Cooking Class, Free Time
Barcelona
B,L,D
Catalonia Eixample 1864

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day; periods of standing, many cobblestones and uneven terrain. The cookery workshop is located in a pedestrian area of the city; the bus will take participants to the nearest drop-off point about ½ mile from the venue.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After riding to the old town via motorcoach, we’ll go on a walking field trip with our Group Leader around a local market where we’ll enjoy a tasting of local produce. Next, we’ll engage in a cooking class featuring Catalan and Spanish dishes and led by a local chef. This interactive class will include information on these dishes, as well as a demonstration and instruction while we learn how to prepare and cook these regional specialties.

Lunch: At the cookery class, we’ll enjoy lunch featuring the dishes that we have prepared; a complimentary glass of wine and water included.

Afternoon: 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. We’ll meet at a predetermined time and place and take the motorcoach back to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a light meal together plus a glass of wine and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Gaudi & Casa Mila, Picasso Museum
Barcelona
B,L,D
Catalonia Eixample 1864

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1.5 hours (depending on traffic). Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day; very uneven surfaces inside La Pedrera, some uneven terrain and many cobblestones in the pedestrian-only area near the Picasso Museum, periods of standing. Picasso Museum entrance times are strictly regulated and subject to change.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With a local expert, we’ll head out via motorcoach for a field trip to Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera or "the Quarry." This popular name was given to the Gaudi-designed modernist apartment building for its unusually rough and textured appearance. 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. We will visit the unique modernist building inside and out. Later, we will ride along Gaudi’s modernist art route and main thoroughfare in Barcelona, known as El Paseo de Gracia (Passeig de Gracia) on our way to lunch. Gràcia was its own town until the end of the 19th century and the passeig — passage — was the boulevard in and out.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a tapas meal – small plates featuring different tasty dishes – with wine, soft drinks, and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Led by a local expert, we will walk to the Fundació Museu Picasso de Barcelona – Picasso Museum – for an on-site presentation followed by time to explore independently and see what interests each of us most. Opened in 1963, the museum occupies five large houses dating from the 13th-15th centuries and has a permanent collection of more than 4,000 works displaying the genius of young Pablo Picasso. We’ll then return to the hotel by motorcoach.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated 3-course meal plus complimentary red or white house wine and mineral water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m. See your program’s “Transportation Information” regarding transfers at the conclusion of the program.

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 another rewarding program 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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