Join forces with your new wolf-pack tonight over dinner in the metro magic of Madrid. Tomorrow will be a whole world of discovery, so you'll be thankful for your luxe hotel sleep.
An epic collision of new-age vibes & tradition, Madrid is going to leave you love-struck. Artistic, vibrant and filled with culinary hotspots, your spare time between seeing the Gran Via, Plaza de Espana, Royal Palace (included entry) & Puerta del Sol (the city's main square) will not go to waste as you explore the heart of the city with our Trip Manager giving you the fast track on everything Madrid. Madrid's nightlife is pumping, so grab some tapas, sangria and your dancing shoes, for a night out on the town.
The first leg of our Iberian roadtrip kicks off this morning as we travel north in search of Segovia and Bilbao.We couldn't race to our night's stop without letting you in on the pretty hillside town of Segovia. We'll marvel at the ancient bridge of Roman Aqueduct, made up of 166 granite arches, and feel the pang of jealousy at this town's suite of mansions.Bilbao might get bragging rights to being an up-and-coming cultural hub of Spain, but that hasn't diminished its uber laid back spirit. Home of one of the world’s most famous museums, the Museo Guggenheim, use your afternoon to play art critique and absorb Bilbao's pretty surrounds and architecture. Tonight, you can choose to feast on regional delicacies until you are full to the brim, making sure that going home hungry is not an option. Nom.
Adiós Bilbao! Thanks for a delicious evening in your super cozy, culture buzzing nest. Next stop, ocean hangs.What a way to start your day - dipping in the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastian is a postcard town where cobbled lanes slope towards pristine beaches. Take a dip, do some shopping, or sit in a bar eating endless plates of pinxtos (the basque word for tapas).Our next stop is the colourful Pamplona. Opt to venture through the well-preserved old town and its incredible gothic cathedral on our walking tour, maybe ending the historical fix with a spot of fresh trout and red peppers - a regional specialty.
This morning we spread our wings and take metaphorical flight once again, this time in the direction of Zaragoza with an end goal of none other than bustling Barcelona.A colourful cathedral & traditional Spanish churros will set our hearts aflutter in Zaragoza, as we roam the casco (old town) soaking up historic architecture and good vibes aplenty. Even the pit stops are amazing on Contiki.With 2-nights in Barcelona, you'll be pronouncing Barcelona's C with a "tthh" like a true local by the time we make tracks. We'll kick things off with a walk through the Gothic Quarter & La Rambla district - two of the city's must-do's for an instant look at this pretty spot, and a sure way to feel like a local in no time.
Sample some paella, and take an unmissable wander through the colourful gardens of Parc Güell for a look at the architecture that has helped put this city on the map. Beach lovers could head to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea - the day is yours to do with as you please. And chances are the optional Barcelona Bike Tour should be very high on your Barcelona bucket-list.
A new day, a new glorious spot to explore. An optional Barcelona Bike Tour should be very high on your Barcelona bucket-list. Then we’ll wave goodbye to the beach vibes, buzzing La Ramblas and delicious tapas line streets and make track to Valencia.Spain's third largest city, and up and coming traveller favourite, Valencia has been putting itself on the map for all the right reasons. The city is situated on the banks of the Turia, this sits on the Mediterranean Sea, and offers year-round sunshine, for those perfect winter rays. On arrival, we'll get your bearings sorted out stat, as we discover the city sights and learn about the home of the Holy Grail. We love the Old Town as a place to head for where the action is at when the sun goes down, so hit your Trip Manager up for some recommendations in Barrio del Carmen, or for a more chilled scene there are endless bars around Plaza Cánovas, just waiting for you sweet traveller!
You were short, you were sweet, but damn Valencia you made an impact. They say that West is Best, and with that in mind we head to Granada for some Moorish vibes, a gorgeous palace and more delicious Spanish foods you can indulge in from sun up to sun down.Granada is brimming with romance and offering an eclectic mix of North African and Spanish feels, this is one place you may never want to leave.
Visiting the Muslim Quarter of the Albaicin and the Capilla Real and the incredible Alhambra are just some of the ways your day can be filled. Granada is also known for its incredible food - not least of all its Arab pastries - so you could also fill your whole day pleasuring your sense of taste.
Bouncing out of bed should be no problem this morning, given the day of exploration we have laying ahead. Fez is sitting patiently on our to-do list. Yes, we are crossing into another country today, exotic Morocco, where tagines and treats await.After we've caught the wind in our hair we'll disembark the boat and drive through dusty roads and palm trees to Fez, the medieval capital of Morocco & a time capsule of the ancient Arab world, it will tantalize you to your very core, and tomorrow is a full day to go deep.
Today will see us stepping back - just casually - to the remnants of 9th century North Africa. Today is going to be busy, because that's the best way to see it all. Amongst histoical sights, we'll see the Royal Palace or Wooden Galerie (Foundouk Nijarrine), marvel our way through the UNESCO-listed Medina with a Local Guide, looking for exotic mementos, and begin to uncover the layers of Moroccan mysteries hidden within the city. We'll even find time for a spot of carpet-shopping at the drool-worthy Cooperative of Handmade Carpets. Tonight, you can opt to go local or put on your party pants for an optional Moroccan feast & show.
We say farewell to Fez and her many traditions and head to perhaps the most famous city in the country – Marrakech. This evening, see exactly why they call Marrakech the Red City.We've made it to Marrakech, a place of pretty architecture, a bustling medina and shopping opportunities galore. This place is fast, fun and exciting, in every possible way. On arrival you could head to Jamaa el Fna Square to rub shoulders with the locals and grab some eats on the run. One place to get 'the shot' is from a restaurant overlooking the Medina, the smoky atmosphere, local music and people bustling under the twinkling lights, is something you'll never forget. And you won’t forget tonight’s accommodation in a hurry, either. Our Special Stay in Marrakech is Riad Africa, a retreat formed from 3 historical merchant houses. Here we’ll enjoy two swimming pools, a traditional spa, a rooftop restaurant and Morroccan cooking school, not to mention the gorgeous architecture and decor. Tomorrow, exploring galore awaits.
We'll guide you around the city's hotspots with our local Morroccan guide leading the charge. On our hitlist this morning is a berber pharmacy to pick up some argan oil and other exotic potions and lotions, then free time is yours. Taking on the markets of the Medina like a boss is a must while you're here, and an unforgettable experience. It's here you'll pick up treats and treasures, stopping for tagines to re-fuel but of course. Looking for a little bit of culture? The Marjorelle Gardens, owned by Yves St Laurent are a slice of paradise in amongst the madness, with the electric blues and yellow colours and lush green plants making for A+ Instagram opportunities. Tonight, getting your eat on is a must, and our optional feast and show is the best way to do just that as you indluge in tagines, cous cous and lip smacking desserts that guarantee you'll be rolling out of there but travellers, the night is young!
The intoxicating beauty and mayhem of Marrakech should have us well and truly hooked on all things Morocco. With this new found love we'll head north to Tangier, exploring the West Coast along the way.In the few hours drive from Marrakech to Casablanca, we suggest you fire up the iPad and watch the 1942 black and white classic that helped the world fall in love with this city. The seaside masterpiece of the Hassan II Mosque & tree shaded cafes with very legitimate tea will help you craft your own Casablanca love story.The political and administrative capital of Morocco, Rabat is a manicured city of palm trees and desert like architecture. We'll stop off, take it all in, then carry on to our next exotic stop - the thoroughfare between Europe and Africa. Just 20-minutes to the Spanish port of Gibraltar, Tangier is so close yet so culturally far from neighboring Europe. Absorb your last night of North African exoticism, enjoying every minute of this other-worldly city.
Say goodbye to Africa, stop off at the island of Gibraltar enroute to the Andalucian capital, Seville. Explore this passionate city known for its heritage of art and culture, visit the famous attractions, enjoy the 13th Century architecture and the world's biggest cathedral. Home of flamenco, enjoy a night of dance with the fun loving, laid back locals. Surely a night to remember!With an English rock (aptly named the Rock of Gibraltar), this English colony can be explored on an optional tour of the rock with our guide, where you'll see the far reaching landscapes, as well as get up close to the cheekier residents, monkeys or Barbary Apes if you're wanting to keep it official! Just try and make sure they don't steal your hat. Visit St. Michael's Caves, and the 'Den' but the views are the jewel in the crown. Utter bliss.
Now that we're settled into the smooth sailing slow paced vibes of Seville, let's not go ruining things by rushing around. A full free day to explore is just what you need, and a full free day is what you shall have. To make the most of it, you could sign up for our optional guided walking tour of Seville, passing by the Plaza Espana & through Santa Cruz (the Old Jewish Quarter) and gawping at the intricate exteriors of the Cathedral and Alcazar (while also mentally ticking off a Game of Thrones filming location), before cutting yourself loose to explore at your own pace. This evening you can opt in for our Eat With Seville experience, tasting traditional specialties cooked by locals in their own homes. Nothing like a bit of authenticity to round off our last night in Spain.
So long for now, Spain! We'll be kicking it in Portugal for a couple of days before we drift back your way for our grand finale in Madrid. Tough life innit?! Crossing the border, spirits are high as we cruise along the Algarve, where Portuguese tarts await us, and more about that tomorrow.Welcome to yet another example of incredible Europe...how these countries can sit so geographically close yet be so distinctly different is beyond our comprehension. Vintage looking trams roll down pretty streets, and tiny intricate tiles make everything gloriously cute. Today we'll get guided around the city and check out all the hotspots, like Portugal's Christo Rei (Christ the Redeemer), Rossio Square where people watching is premium, the Belem District, home to the famous tower of the same name, and feel some Moorish vibes at a monastery where Vasco de Gama's tomb is held. Afterwards we'll take to the streets for some food and a night out with the squad, no doubt feeling pumped for exploring tomorrow.
This morning you can choose to visit Sintra and Cascais, two local towns where packing your swimmers for a dip is essential. If you haven't already fallen in love then here's more of a picture about what's in store for you global roamers. Ruins with a throwback to Moorish and Roman times, cute domed cathedrals, plazas lined with sunny cafes and grand squares where stopping for drinks and peri peri chicken along the way is essential. Those looking for local vibes will fall head over heels for bohemian bars and riverside clubs, and plenty of cute boutiques for those feeling an itch for spending. Wrap things up by tasting the city over a traditional Portuguese dinner packed with seafood.
Our last full day on tour, last chance for some final Pastel de nata (those Portuguese egg tart pastry's we have no doubt come to know and love). Save the sadness for tomorrow, today we take the scenic journey back to Madrid for one final evening of mischief.Here we are, back where the party started 20 life-changing days ago. A traditional Madridlenos dinner is up for grabs this evening, a final salute to the culture filled extravaganza that has been our epic journey. We're talking fried squid, chorizo, Spanish tortillas...and that's just the start. All washed down with some wine, all in the name of culture of course!
Tears and tissues and pinky swears for a reunion trip will mark the blur of sadness that is our morning departure. These are the memories that will stay with you a life time; make sure your next Contiki adventure is just around the corner.