It won't take long for Madrid to get under your skin - this graceful capital was spruced up several centuries ago thanks to King Charles III and it remains an elegant city to this day. Once you've checked in to your hotel, you'll have some time to relax before meeting your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a glimpse of what's to come on your Spain value tour. When the sun sets, head out onto the streets to watch this football-mad metropolis come to life. You could join your group for an optional walking tour of the city with a chance to indulge in the tapas at a local restaurant. You'll soon discover why the city's vibrant nightlife keeps its hot-blooded residents up all hours of the night.
Gear up for a busy morning of sightseeing. Your Local Specialist will let you in on all the secrets behind some of the city's most iconic sights. Head up the Gran Vía, slicing through the heart of Madrid, and see the Cibeles Fountain, Paseo de la Castellana and the Royal Palace. History buffs will adore an optional visit this afternoon to the UNESCO-listed city of Segovia, with its famous Roman aqueduct and fairy-tale Alcázar, reminiscent of Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Returning to Madrid, there's a second chance to discover the city's vibrant nightlife, which spills out into open-air cafés and thronging plazas.
History comes to life when you visit Toledo this morning. Its hilltop vantage point, ancient city walls and legacy of traditional sword making will leave you in no doubt it was a city worth fighting for. Join your Local Specialist for a guided sightseeing tour - every corner revealing yet another spectacular sight with views of the cathedral, synagogue and grand plazas. Visit a steel workshop and learn about the tradition of sword making which dates back to Roman times, then head south to Puerto Lápice where the fictional Don Quixote was dubbed a knight by a local innkeeper. The plains of La Mancha give way to the hills of Andalucía with sleepy white-washed villages that march to their own time. Sizzling Seville awaits and we continue to our base for the next two nights.
The southern city of Seville oozes with the Spanish zest for life you'll come to treasure. A place of grand monuments, beautiful weather and the home of the flamenco, it's no wonder it has been the royal family's favourite retreat for centuries. Your Local Specialist will reveal some of the city's most iconic sites, including Plaza de España, constructed for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929. Spend some time getting lost in the narrow lanes of the city's Old Quarter or join a tour in the elegant 14th-century Moorish Alcazar. A free evening in Seville would not be complete without a fiery flamenco performance and our Optional Experience will take you to the best show in town.
From kings to emirs, our journey from Seville to Granada takes us back to a time when the Moors ruled the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, their last stronghold before being banished to North Africa. Their Arab influences remain to this day in the Moorish architecture and tetería tea houses you'll encounter this afternoon when you explore its narrow, cobbled streets your way. Consider an Optional Experience visit to the Albaicín Quarter, the city's oldest neighbourhood and the Arab Quarter. On the hilltop overlooking the city is the fortified citadel of the Alhambra - its opulent palaces and gardens are the former seat of Granada's Nasrid emirs. Tonight a fiery gypsy performance could be the perfect way to end the day.
Fanciful white chimneys rise up from hills of Guadix under which generations of the city's trogloditas have lived for several centuries. Capture these curious cave dwellings on camera before continuing to the modern metropolis of Valencia or "Bah-len-thee-a" as the locals refer to it. The scent of orange blossoms is never far as you embark on an orientation tour with your Travel Director to view the Town Hall, Towers of Serrano and Quart and Valencia Cathedral, consecrated in the 13th century. Stop to view Valencia's other-worldly City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic urban recreation centre for culture and science, then join your travel companions for dinner at your hotel.
Our scenic journey continues north through the Levant region to Peñíscola, "The City in the Sea" whose towering Templar castle, used as a palace by the Spanish Pope, was immortalised in the Hollywood classic, El Cid. We wind our way along the glorious Costa Dorada to the sun-kissed shores of Barcelona. Your Local Specialist will reveal some of the city's key highlights this afternoon including Gaudí's ornate La Sagrada Família and the Plaça de Catalunya. See street performers, artists and shoppers and soak up the most inspiring panoramas of the city from the top of Montjuïc. For dinner this evening, consider an Optional Experience to a Catalan-style restaurant to sample some of the local specialities.
This is your chance to get fully acquainted with the capital of Catalonia when you visit Barcelona on your Spain vacation package. You'll have a free day to see the fanciful façades of Spanish Art Nouveau architect Antoni Gaudí, stroll through the shadowy lanes of the Gothic quarter or join an optional visit to the monastery in the mountains of Montserrat to see the beloved Black Madonna. After a busy day of sightseeing, perhaps become a cava connoisseur at one of the bars overlooking the Mediterranean with new friends, before one final dinner together to reminisce about your epic experiencia española.
So long Spain! Our grand adventure through imperial cities and golden and green landscapes may have come to an end, but we'll keep its fiery passion burning long after our departure. It's time to bid our travel compañeros a fond farewell. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.
Please note: Your coach returns to Madrid from Barcelona on day 9. You are welcome to use this complimentary transfer. Drop-off in Madrid will be at the Costsaver Madrid hotel and not at the airport. Arrival will be at approximately 6pm, depending on traffic conditions.