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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

99%

recommend

1,344 Reviews

Excellent 933 Great 274 Average 17 Disappointing 3 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7
Tour Reviews

Horrible disgusting company

Volcano Adventure – Antigua to San José

1.0 June 2017 G Adventures Recommend: No My tour guide organized a robbery where all my money and passport were stolen and then I was ditched for more than a month alone with nom money or documents in Honduras. G Adventures says "it's not their fault. No refund, no compensation. I wrote a bad review and was blocked. So immature. Disgusted. Read more

Outstanding experience! A few tips and thoughts on Barcelona to Rome.

Barcelona to Rome

5.0 April 2017 Intrepid Travel Recommend: Yes As with all small group travel, your group and tour leader have a lot to do with whether or not you have an enjoyable tour. For this trip, we were lucky enough to have a great group and an absolutely amazing tour leader. Adrian (tour leader) was a huge part of why this tour was a resounding success!

Just a couple thoughts on this particular trip:

- Bring a suitcase! Don't buy the hype and strap a big old backpack to yourself. You'll regret it (trust me). A suitcase is easier and quicker to pack than a backpack. True, many streets in older areas of European cities have cobblestones. If your suitcase has wheels, you're probably ok on these streets and sidewalks. The trek between train station and hotel can be quite a haul in some instances. As long as you can safely carry your luggage up and down a flight of about 30 stairs and lift it above your head on occasion to store it in the train, you're fine. If you can't lift and/or carry your suitcase for these short distances, you have either packed too much stuff or you just might not be in shape to make this trip. We had a group of 10 travelers and 8 brought suitcases. Hauling a loaded backpack up and down train station stairs and from station to hotel and back was way more effort than it was worth.

- Don't be afraid to sample the local cuisine (sometimes). Following local customs and eating local dishes is part of why you travel. That being said, there is a reason some of these traditional dishes haven't become worldwide sensations. Some of them just aren't that great. It's hard to know what you'll enjoy ahead of time, but trust your gut and try things you wouldn't normally try at home. Just don't be shocked if, every once in awhile, you don't ask for seconds.

- Wear comfortable shoes! We're not talking about shoes that are soft and comfy while walking around the house. We're talking shoes that can keep your feet intact while walking uneven surfaces and pounding those previously mentioned cobblestone streets and sidewalks for extended distances and periods of time every single day. Imagine a strenuous 7-8km hike in the mountains over rocks of all shapes and sizes. Now imagine walking your ever-loving backside off through town the very next day, and every day after that. You absolutely need shoes that will hold up to a lot of walking. I would advise bringing two pair of shoes for this trip. Better yet, get yourself used to walking long distances in your shoes of choice prior to the trip. You'll be glad you did.

- European bandaids suck. Bring your own. You will end up with a blister, or ten. If you don't bring your own adhesive bandages, you will not enjoy the outcome.

- Bring an extra t-shirt or two, a couple extra pairs of underwear, and enough socks to last until the apocalypse. There are opportunities to have your laundry washed while on this trip but you really don't want to run short of the essentials. I also found time to sneak off to a laundromat for an hour. You don't want to be the stinky one in the group. :)

- The stars of the trip for me, supply-wise: Febreze, an awesome travel adapter with 4 USB ports, a lightweight day pack, a travel wallet that attached securely to my belt, my own soap, and earplugs.

- Things I wish I had brought with me: a couple washcloths (You won't find any in these hotels), another pair of shorts, more bandaids, and a wheeled suitcase.

- Oh, I almost forgot. Get your phone/data situation figured out ahead of time. If your cellular provider offers coverage while you're in Europe for a somewhat reasonable cost, take advantage of it. If not, make certain to plan ahead and locate a reputable big-name cell service provider store as soon as your arrive. 15-20 bucks will get you a couple GB of data. Wifi is available in your hotel but you need data to use Google Maps. You need Google Maps. Trust me on this one. Download the areas you will be visiting for offline use before your trip. If you don't know how to do this, search the internet. Do not try to navigate any of these cities without some assistance. You will get lost. Guaranteed.

That's about it, I think. All in all, awesome trip! If you are lucky enough to have Adrian as your tour leader, enjoy! Your group plays a huge role in how much you enjoy this trip. Make sure you contribute positively to the group. Make friends. Go out of your way to make sure others have a good trip as well. Try new things. Enjoy the tremendous scenery. Know your limits but be willing to push them here and there. Good luck and safe travels!

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Sierra de Aitana Trek

Sierra de Aitana Trek

4.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Comfortable accommodation in wonderful surroundings, excellent meals, varied and challenging walks led by a knowledgeable and proficient guide with a real passion for the area, its history and culture. The packed lunches praised in previous customer reviews did not disappoint.
Finding two chairs that someone had thoughtfully carried up to the Castell de Castells.

Very capable and well organised. He contributed greatly to our enjoyment of the trip.

We believe that the trip notes had changed between the time that we made our booking in the autumn and the start of the holiday the following spring. Neither my wife nor myself recognised the passages warning about being exposed to heights, or of the walks being unsuitable for those with vertigo. These would probably have led us to discount the holiday as being unsuitable. As it is, we both enjoyed the holiday very much. However, we feel that we should have been informed of these changes beforehand and given the option of switching to a different one.

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Winter walking in a little known area of Spain

Sierra de Aitana Trek

5.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This area of Spain is little known and on three walks we saw no-one else and on one we saw just one couple. It is just behind Benidorm but is little touched by tourism and gives an insight into rural Valencia. The walks are demanding but the views are breathtaking and are either to and from the hotel door or after a short drive. The weather in February was mild and sunny and the lower slopes were covered with almond blossom, making it an unusual opportunity to do European mountain walking in the winter months.
Each of the walks had its own charm. I remember particularly a long descent from the Serrella massif down a hidden valley.

I have travelled frequently with Exodus and other similar trekking companies and Jose was one of the best tour leaders I have walked with. He was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about mountain walking and about the ways local people have responded to the challenges of the environment over the years. He combined this with a mischievous sense of humour.

Get fit in advance: the walking is 1000 metres ascent and descent in a day and the paths are often rocky and uneven.

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Natural Tenerife

Natural Tenerife

4.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Was a good trip with a good variety of hikes. Mixed group but fun.
The hike through the gorge was great. Hike around Tiede was also really good, Dinner on the last evening was fun.

Our guide was excellent and coped very well with the group of mixed abilities.

If not arriving with the group, take the local bus from the airport. DO not pay for the private transfer. And exodus does not give out the information about the local airport buses; instead you have to pay 85 euros for a private transfer (not really responsible travel!!)

The trip is only level 3 so if you want something a bit tougher then pick a level 4 trip.
Could have started 1 hour earlier each morning, 9am is a relatively late start.

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See all reviews for Spain Top Operators & Trips
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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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