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Top Trip Memories

  • Viewing Antonio Gaudi’s fanciful and enormously ambitious church of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, still a work in progress almost 90 years after the architect’s death.
  • Swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean off one of Spain’s alluring islands of Mallorca, Ibiza or Formentera.
  • Staring, amazed, at the detailed tile work in Granada’s 14th-century Moorish palace, the Alhambra.
  • Staying in a parador, one of the government inns converted from former castles, monasteries, and other atmospheric buildings.
  • Making the rounds of the tapas bars in Madrid, downing a complimentary olive there, a slice of roasted potato there, and perhaps splurging on a grilled prawn or two.
  • Throwing tomatoes at strangers in Valencia’s famous La Tomatina, a 40,000-person tomato fight held each August.
  • Admiring the Old Masters in Madrid’s Prado Museum and Picasso’s masterwork Guernica in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
  • Taking in a flamenco show at a club in Seville where you know the dancing is authentic.
  • Joining the pre-dinner crowds along Las Ramblas in Barcelona as they enjoy their evening paseo, while passing chic sidewalk cafes and lively street entertainers.
  • Marveling at the formal gardens and fountains in Seville’s Royal Alcazar Palace.
  • Spending an art-filled day in Toledo, home of the painter El Greco and a medieval masterpiece of a city.
  • Walking at least part of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, an ages-old, now newly popular pilgrimage route.
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Tour Tips

  • Don’t expect to absorb all of Spain in one trip -- it’s larger than California and even more diverse.
  • Consider taking a themed tour of Spain -- revolving around food, walking, or art and architecture.
  • If you’re a lover of great art and architecture, book a tour that includes as many of these cities as possible: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Toledo, Granada, and Seville.
  • If you’re a sun-worshipper, book a tour to southern Spain that includes some beach time.
  • If you’re a food lover, book a culinary tour to Barcelona and the Basque Country.
  • Taking a river cruise on the Guadalquivir through Andalusia is an often overlooked -- and very pleasant -- way to see southern Spain.
  • Booking a tour along the Camino de Santiago ensures you’ll find a place to stay every night and that you’ll have company -- and support, if needed -- along this well trammeled route.
  • The northern stretches of Spain in the Pyrenees are far less traveled but extremely scenic and greener and cooler than farther south.
  • If you’re looking for picture-postcard scenery that will leave you gasping, book a tour that includes the Andalusian town of Ronda, built on the edge of a deep chasm.
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Spain Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5

98%

recommend

436 Reviews

  • Excellent 440
  • Great 148
  • Average 17
  • Disappointing 6
  • Terrible 1

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.7
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.6
  • Lodging
    4.6
  • Transportation
    4.7
  • Meals
    4.6

Tour Reviews

Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama (2017)

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A whirlwind tour of 3 amazing countries. Nicaragua is still in its infancy as far as tourism goes. Lake Nicaragua, volcanoes, wild life are all mind blowing, particularly the visit to the Masaya crater (where visits are limited to 10 minutes owing to the effects of sulphur in the air). The scenery, landscape and rain forests of Costa Rica are not to be missed, especially walking around Arenal. The Caribbean coast of Panama is superb for dolphin watching and visiting indigenous villagers on their own island.
The wildlife and walking in the Costa Roca rainforest

Alex is, quite simply, the BEST tour guide we have had the pleasure of meeting. His knowledge of flaura, fauna, wild life, geology is unsurpassed. He always went the extra mile to ensure that our holiday remains one to last in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Many people mistakenly think malaria pills are required. We (as did the most of the party) used Deet50 spray and were absolutely fine.

Many of the hotels were on the edge of towns, requiring taxis to visit the town centre. It would be better to get some (if not all) hotels to be within walking distance of amenities.

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Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama (2017)

4.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
It was an amazing trip - I was attracted by the variety it offered and it didn't disappoint: wildlife/National Parks, colonial cities, Caribbean Islands, mountains and of course the Panama Canal. We got a great sense of Central America including its history which is fascinating. So many different boat rides too which were great.
It was the first time this trip had been run and they just need to sort a couple of the hotels out which they said they will do - the majority were lovely.
No one moment but 3 or 4 favourites: Granada, the slow boat trips early morning and evening in Tortuguero NP; the overnight stay in Cahuita/ Puerto Viejo (very lively coastal town, felt like being in Jamaica!); the day out on the boat from Bocas del Toro (take tour 2) - exceptionally good and very much worth the money; the Panama Canal.

Alex was absolutely excellent - the best Exodus guide I've had. He stayed with us throughout the trip and we had local guides also in Nicaragua (Elvis who was great fun and very knowledgeable and helpful) and Cesar and Philippe in Panama. Alex has this amazing telescope which allows you to take your own photos of the wild life through it - felt a bit like cheating but very good!

You go on 10 different boats over the 15 days - they were all amazing even if a couple were a bit "edgy"!
You definitely don't need anti- malarial tablets though you should take care to cover up/use insect repellent.
Although the trip is "Leisurely" be prepared for early starts (5.30 -7am) about 50% of the time.
It was hotter than the temperature chart indicated - mostly about mid 30s - though the mini-buses are all air-conditioned and almost all of the hotels were too. The internal flight to Panama City is great but watch your luggage weight. Nicaragua is quite cheap but Costa Rica is about as expensive as the UK.

About the food - a lot of rice and beans and rice and chicken as you would expect AND a lot of Italian Pizzas and Pasta almost everywhere which we did not expect!

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5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Very busy and fascinating insight into three beautiful countries, led by excellent guides and accompanied by an enthusiastic group of fellow travellers.
The experience of visiting two new countries,Nicaragua and Panama and the knowledge and communication of our excellent guides,Elvis and Alex.

Alex stayed with us throughout the trip and worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran smoothly.Could not have asked for more, first class.
In Nicaragua Elvis was the main guide and his knowledge and passion were shared at every opportunity, his zest was infectious and for me he was an outstanding guide and personality, hope to meet both again!!!!!

It is a very full and busy itinerary but worth every moment-book now!
Currency wise all three countries seem to favour US dollars.

Having already visited Costa Rica previously for the wildlife, the culture and history of Nicaragua and Panama were mesmerising,a real surprise as I thought this wasn't for me-how wrong I was!!!

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Travellers not tourist .....

Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama (2017)

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Just back from a wonderful adventure travelling the length of Nicaragua , Costa Rica and Panama .
Rid yourselves of preconceptions about war torn Nicaragua , over populated Caribbean beaches and that Panama is only about hats and canals and you will have a great experience .Travel from Volcano to jungle and experience the wildlife, geography and culture of this little travelled path through Central America . Be prepared for early starts and busy days along with the excitement of some rustic boat rides into the interior and you will not be disappointed - ..
Looking into the lava lake at Massaya and ALL of our wildlife encounters - too many other wonderful experiences to select from ....

If the Gods are on your side then you will be accompanied by the best guide we have ever encountered - Alex- and for Nicaragua, superb local guide and side kick Elvis . Well done Exodus for engaging Alex - his encyclopaedic knowledge , sense of dedication and all round great attitude made this trip near perfect .

Reality check - this isn't a foody trip - The food wasn't bad and matched the trip note budgets but not the highlight of the trip . The good news is that the local beers were excellent and not too expensive - water was freely available as part of the tour and don't forget to take your water container .

Malaria tablets aren't required but bring your insect repellent , plenty of sun cream and a hat as the temps and the sun high
Dollars throughout were easier than credit card .
Swimming opportunities at many places - if you have two swimming costumes take them - humidity is high and they don't always dry overnight before you travel to your next venue
If you don't have a complex camera / lens for those distant shots , iPhones are excellent for quick pictures and take great pics through a spotters scope - our lovely guide Alex took time to help us get great pictures through his excellent lens and then we air dropped the pic to each of the group !

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Amazing Europe Trip

Mega European

5.0
February 2017
Topdeck
Recommend: Yes
There are so many great things to say about my European trip of a lifetime. The people that made it was my fellow topdeckers and of course the Fab Tour guide Matt Stewart. This is a trip that I will never forget, so many lovely memories I will cherish forever. We was very lucky with Matt because he really took time to talk to us and make us all feel relaxed with each other and asked us what we wanted to do. He was so knowledgable about all the places we went to, I remember thinking to myself this guy is pretty cool the fact he knows so well about the history and culture of each place especially the amount of cities we travelled to. Matt made the trip fun, interesting, exciting and I hope that if I was to ever do a top deck again one day he would be the tour guide or I think I would be disappointed. Have recommended top deck to so many people, memories I will have for a lifetime.

Georgina staines
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Classic Itineraries

Classic Spain in 1 Week

Spain in one week will introduce you to the vibrancy of the country and leave you wanting more. You’ll get a taste of tapas, art, and countryside. Most 1 Week itineraries visit the main attractions through Southern Spain:

Day 1-2, Madrid: Explore the rich art history here though the Paseo del Arte, Museo Reina Sofia where works by Dali and Picasso live, and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Other highlights include the Real Jardin Botanico and the Plaza Mayor.

Day 3, Seville: Alcazar, the world’s largest gothic cathedral, Barrio Santa Cruz, Maria Luisa Park

Day 4, Cordoba to Granada: Explore a place where the extensive Moorish history of Spain comes to light in Cordoba a visit to The Mezquita. Continue on to Granada through beautiful Spanish countryside.

Day 5, Granada: Learn how to Flamenco dance, visit the historical quarter in the Albaicin, enjoy a shopping day among its ancient streets.

Day 6, Valencia: Take a long drive to get to Valencia, the “Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean”. Go on a guided tour of Valencia Cathedral, where the supposed Holy Grail sits. Take a free day to wander around this bustling city with beautiful beaches and busy markets.

Day 7-8, Barcelona: End your trip with a few days in Barcelona. Enjoy world famous Catalan cuisine, explore the rich art history of Spain at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and take in incredible Gaudi architecture like the La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Shop like a local at Santa Catarina Market.

See All Spain in 1 Week Trips

Spain in 2 Weeks

With two weeks, you can explore much of Spain in more depth, such as a visit to wine country, or a stay along the seaside in the North.

Day 1-2, Madrid: Explore the rich art history here though the Paseo del Arte, Museo Reina Sofia where works by Dali and Picasso live, and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Other highlights include the Real Jardin Botanico and the Plaza Mayor.

Day 3-4, San Sebastion & La Rioja: On your way to the seaside paradise of San Sebastion, stop in the La Rioja wine country to do some tasting.

Day 5, Pamplona: See the famous street where the running of the bulls takes place.

Day 6-8, Barcelona: Enjoy world famous Catalan cuisine, explore the rich art history of Spain at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and take in incredible Gaudi architecture like the La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Shop like a local at Santa Catarina Market.

Day 9, Valencia: Take in the “Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean”. Go on a guided tour of Valencia Cathedral, where the supposed Holy Grail sits.

Day 10, Granada to Cordoba: In Granada, see the spectacular Alhambra Palace, and learn of the cities strong Moorish heritage. Continue on to Cordoba, where much Moorish history also lies, and see The Mezquita (Great Mosque).

Day 11-13, Seville with Gibraltar excursion: Take a walking tour of Seville to see the Seville Cathedral, Giralda Tower, and Plaza de España. Take a full day to visit British territory Gibraltar, and see the famous “Rock of Gibraltar.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: to visiting Gibraltar you may need additional visa information, and don’t forget your passport!

Day 14, Madrid: End your tour back in Madrid.

See All Spain in Two Weeks Tours

Spain & Morocco Tour

Spain and Morocco are intrinsically linked, sharing much history due to their close proximity. A history tour will highlight how these two countries have influenced each other through culture, food, and architecture.

Day 1-3, Seville: Begin in Seville, the capital of the Andalucia region, which was under Moorish rule from the 8th-15th centuries. See Maria Luisa Park, Seville Cathedral, and Giralda Tower.

Day 4, Cordoba: A city that has maintained a lot of its Moorish heritage, including the impressive Mezquita (Great Mosque). Take a walking tour to see the Jewish quarter and learn about the city’s history.

Day 5, Granada: see the spectacular Alhambra Palace and visit a traditional tea house in the 'Albaicin' quarter.

Day 6, Ronda: In this, one of Spain’s oldest towns, enjoy spectacular views on a walking tour of the city. Feast on a local tapas meal.

Day 7, Strait of Gibraltar crossing and Tangier: Take the ferry from Spain to Morocco and enjoy a tour of historic Tangier before continuing to Fez for a few days.

Day 8, Fes: Enjoy the traditional old feel of this ancient city as you wind your way through the busy streets. Visit Funduk Nejjarine a restored 18th century inn, hear the call to prayer, and dine on a traditional Moroccan meal.

Day 9, Rabat: Explore ancient ruins in Morocco’s capital, see Hassan Mosque, Kasbah des Oudaias, and the royal palace.

Day 10, Casablanca: In the city made famous by cinema, soak in the history on a walking tour. See the Mosque of Hassan II, one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. If you look for Rick’s bar though, you’ll be disappointed.

Day 11-12, Marrakech: Explore the markets and spice shops. Visit the Koutoubia Mosque and the ruins of Palais Badi.

See All Spain and Morocco Tours

Spain Trips & Tour Advice

Spain -- the tempestuous land of Don Juan and Don Quixote, Carmen and Figaro, bullfighting and flamenco -- once ruled an empire that stretched across the Americas and points beyond. By the 20th century it had fallen into decline, merely another poor nation in southern Europe. Now, in the midst of a cultural renaissance, Spain is much like a theme park devoted to the good life -- a sensuous feast of fun, food, and fine art and architecture.

Start with the beaches, as many visitors do. (Northern Europeans, who search out sand and sunshine like heat-seeking missiles, have made Spain their holiday central.) The most crowded stretch, the Costa del Sol along the southern Mediterranean, sports highly developed resorts like upscale Marbella and carnival-like Torremolinos, once quiet fishing villages now packed with sunbathers and bar-hoppers. The Mediterranean island of Ibiza is another incredible party scene, though with better beaches; the smaller island of Formentera is quieter.

Art and Architecture

In Spain, you can spend hours or days with Spanish masters like Velasquez, El Greco, Goya, Dali, and Picasso in Madrid’s Prado and other top museums. Architecture? Frank Gehry’s sensational Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of the most talked-about buildings in Europe. You can even view ancient Roman ruins such as the two-millennia-old aqueduct in Segovia.

The Spanish have turned eating into an art form, not so much with the classical artistry of the French as with the playful palette of Picasso, a native Spaniard. Dining often begins by making the rounds of tapas bars -- grazing on small platefuls of delicacies washed down with glasses of local wine or sherry. It continues with multi-course meals that may run on till midnight. Seafood is often the centerpiece, sometimes topping giant platters of paella, the saffron-tinged rice dish that’s almost synonymous with Spanish cuisine.

The Backdrop

All of these cultural, culinary and recreational riches are set against a scenic backdrop as varied as any in Europe. To the east and parts of the west, the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines frame hundreds of miles of blue sea. To the north, the green and forested Pyrenees rise to form a mountainous border with France. In central Spain, arid brown valleys and high plateaus add dramatic contours to the landscape. And in the far south, the Andalusian countryside is reminiscent of Spain’s onetime New World outpost, southern California. Each region is wildly beautiful in its own way.

The Spanish people enhance it all with their exuberant approach to life, much of it played out on the public stage. In cities and villages across the country, they emerge to see and be seen on their evening paseos, strolling often arm-in-arm with family or friends, typically dressed to be admired.

Revelry and Recovery

The narrow streets of Barcelona’s old Gothic Quarter, the now-chic antiquity of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol area, and the winding medieval alleyways of Seville’s Barrio Santa Cruz and Granada’s Sacromonte (gypsy) district are often packed far into the night with diners and revelers who see daybreak not as the start of a new day but the end of the old. The country’s many fiestas rachet up the festive mood even higher. July’s annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, March’s Las Fallas de San Jose in Valencia, and Easter’s Feria in Seville, among many others, all provide spectacular pageantry.

But when do they sleep? A partial answer rhymes with fiesta: siesta, an afternoon tradition that is struggling to survive the economic pressures of modernization. Tour leaders know to plan sightseeing and shopping trips in the mornings or late afternoons since many museums, stores and other attractions often close for two or three hours at midday. Take a cue from the Spanish: enjoy a leisurely lunch and rest up during the hottest part of the day.

Key Sights

All roads lead to and from stylish Madrid, the centrally located Spanish capital, which combines world-class art museums like the Prado with alluring public parks and nightlife. Just south of Madrid lies the photogenic and beautifully preserved medieval city of Toledo, immortalized by the artist El Greco.

Much farther south, Andalusia is a sunny, Moorish-influenced land that spawned flamenco and forms many people’s mental image of Spain. Seville is a maze of courtyards, plazas, bars and restaurants, while Granada is home to the Alhambra, an ornately tiled 14th-century Moorish palace. Cordoba’s 1,100-year-old Great Mosque, with its hundreds of colorfully striped columns and archways, is so vast that an entire Roman Catholic cathedral (added later) seems almost lost within it.

Barcelona, in the northeast, is the epicenter of the Spanish revival. The old Gothic Quarter, with its jumble of twisting streets, opens onto Las Ramblas, one of the world’s great promenades, and Gaudi’s surreal architectural legacy is everywhere. To its south, vibrant Valencia, birthplace of paella and the world’s biggest tomato fight, is often overlooked -- mbut shouldn’t be.

Still a good value

While not the dirt cheap destination of old, Spain is still a good value for Europe -- especially if you consider all that it has to offer. If you haven’t visited Spain since the sleepy 1970s, you’re in for a huge surprise.

Stride can help you find the tour that best represents what you most want from your Spanish vacation -- whether it’s a tour of the classic sights, a multi-week trek along northern Spain’s Camino de Santiago, a riverboat cruise along the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia, or perhaps a culinary tour where you can discover the secrets of making a great paella.

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