Take in the Pyrenees, inspirational coastal villages, and aromas of Rioja wine on this return trip from Madrid.
Costa Brava – ‘The Rugged Coast’ of Catalonia dotted with golden sand beaches, hidden rocky coves, and inspirational seaside towns.
Montserrat Monastery - Feel the serenity of the old Benedictine priory perched on the slope of a magnificent mountain.
Nîmes and Pont du Gard – Explore the city nicknamed the ‘Rome of France’ and stare in awe at the extraordinary three-tiered Roman aqueduct.
French Riviera – The beauty of the azure blue sea and golden beaches in south-east France has attracted the crème de la crème of society for years.
Carcassonne - With its zigzagging battlements, 52 watch towers and spiky turrets, this medieval citadel is picture perfect.
Gavarnie Waterfalls & the Pyrenees - Stare in awe at the beauty of the tallest waterfall in France in the majestic Cirque de Gavarnie.
Lourdes - Situated in the Pyrenean foothills, Lourdes is an important Catholic pilgrimage site and a town of rich cultural and natural heritage.
La Rioja – The famously delicious wines here perfectly compliment the views of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Like the best trips, this journey never goes in a straight line.
You go up, down, left, right, over, under and all around.
You weave along a jagged Mediterranean coastline via the beaches of Costa Brava, the fishing villages of France, and the glamourous sights of the French Riviera. You clamber over the Pyrenean mountains, into medieval castles, and through Roman remains. And you glide over the rolling olive fields of La Rioja as you search for the best glass of wine you’ve ever tasted.
Take the scenic route through Spain and France on this thirteen-day journey.
If you love this itinerary but want to start in Nice, have a look at this tour.
You leave the grand metropolis of Madrid and head east through the landscapes of Castile-La Mancha.
Your first stop of the day is Cuenca, a medieval town perched upon cliffs overlooking a river canyon. This unusually well-preserved city is famous for its ‘hanging houses’. Feeling curious? Then wander around the old town and try to spot these architectural marvels. With their balconies jutting out over the gorge, these houses appear to defy gravity.
After early lunch, you leave the Cuenca’s mind-boggling engineering behind and continue east to the Utiel-Requena region. This undulating plain surrounded by mountains is home to countless vineyards. And its wine making tradition goes back to the 7th century BC. Get your taste buds ready because you have a chance to taste wine on a tour of a local vineyard.
After savouring regional specialities and tipples; you continue the adventure towards the Mediterranean coast and travel past Sagunto Castle, a hill-top fortress that’s history spans over four civilisations.
In the evening, you arrive in Peñíscola, nicknamed the City in the Sea. Spend the evening strolling along the promenades and probing into the secrets of its old town.
Today, you continue exploring the coast of Spain and head to Tarragona on the Costa Dorada.
Here, you have enough time to discover the city’s rich history and heritage. And you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re a history buff, visit some of Roman archaeological sites like the Tarragona Amphitheatre, Praetorium, and Roman Circus. Or if it’s atmospheric photos you’re after, head to the old town or the city’s golden beaches.
Now it’s time to contrast the coastline of Costa Dorada with the serrated peaks of Montserrat. This majestic mountain with strangely shaped crags is home to a Benedictine Monastery and one of Spain’s most venerated statues of the Madonna and Child. Enjoy your lunch here, contemplate the life of monks and hermits, and admire the magnificent basilica or follow the footpaths.
Full of nature and spiritual delights, you travel through the green hills and mountains and arrive in Girona in the evening. This medieval city will be your home for two nights.
There’s more to Costa Brava than the beaches, and today is all about discovering different faces of this fascinating region.
You start off with a visit to the lush Cap Roig Botanical Gardens perched on a cliff near Palafrugell. This is a truly special place where nature, art, culture and history come together. Wander through the romantic paths, breathe in the smell of over 1,000 plant species, and admire sculptures from renowned artists.
After you’ve taken in all the beauty of Cap Roig, you head to Begur, one of the most stunning spots on the Costa Brava. You’re free to choose how you spend your time here. Roam the medieval streets, enjoy your lunch, and visit a striking 11th-century castle with panoramic views of the area. Or, head to one of the nearby dreamy little coves and spend some time on the beach.
In the afternoon, you can embark on a surreal journey as you discover Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. Known for his eccentricity and grand visions, the surrealist genius converted an old theatre into a museum showcasing his most spectacular sculptures and painting. And he did it in a very flamboyant style. From a rooftop decorated with giant eggs to an interactive way of experiencing his work, this wonderfully bizarre place will give you an insight into the life and art of Salvador Dalí.
After a day full of artistic and nature experiences, you return to Girona in the early evening. Spend your time wandering through the beautiful walled medieval old town and the Jewish Quarter or explore the Game of Thrones s locations.
Picturesque towns, colourful harbours and stunning vistas. This is the route along the Mediterranean Coast you take today as you leave Spain.
Your first stop of the day is the romantic seaside village of Collioure. This little slice of Mediterranean paradise will steal your heart with its pastel houses, bobbing boats, and beautiful beaches. And you won’t be the first to fall under its spell. Matisse, Derain and Picasso all loved this location.
Next, you travel north through the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. Nestled in the remote area of the Séranne Mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an oasis of serenity. Enjoy a walk through the cobbled streets and visit the abbey that witnessed more than a thousand years of history.
Then, you travel through the rolling countryside and arrive in Nîmes, where you spend two nights. The evening is yours to uncover this fascinating city full of Roman remains.
In the morning, it’s time to explore the Regional Park of Camargue. This is where the Petit Rhône and Grand Rhône meet the Mediterranean to create an unforgettable sanctuary to flora and fauna. The vast wetland encompasses land, salty lagoons, marshland and beaches. And did we mention it’s roamed by black bulls, white horses and pink flamingos?
Then, it’s on to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a little town almost completely surrounded by water with numerous beaches and dunes. Here, grab a coffee and explore the charming centre, or bask in the sunshine on the beach.
Next stop is Arles, the city that has it all; fascinating history, Roman treasures, shady squares, and rich art heritage. You’ll have time to discover some of the Roman remains or follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh. And remember, lunch in one of the picturesque cafes is a must while exploring this place.
Back on the road, you head to Pont du Gard to admire a masterpiece of Roman engineering, a three-tiered aqueduct built almost two thousand years ago. Ponder over the engineers’ precision and walk across the tiers of this UNESCO World Heritage Site before you head back to Nîmes in the early evening.
Say au revoir to Nîmes and head to Cassis, a fishing village on the French Riviera. Hidden away from the glamour of the rich and famous, it is as charming as it is authentic.
You’ve got free time to explore Cassis; or if you feel more adventurous, you can go on an optional boat tour to the nearby Calanques National Park. With the fjord-like inlets, azure waters, and pine-clad gullies; this stunning coastline will steal your breath away.
Whatever you choose to do; absorb the Mediterranean vibe, enjoy your lunch, and try some local lavender ice cream.
With all this newly discovered joie de vivre, you continue your leisurely ramble along the coast towards Fréjus on the glamorous French Riviera. Feast your eyes on the stunning vistas of this town that dates to the Romans before you arrive in Nice la Belle in the evening.
Bonjour! Today is your free day to explore Nice La Belle, the capital of the French Riviera. This city is famous for its sparkling sea, 19th-century mansions, and glamorous promenades and boulevards.
Sun worshippers can familiarise themselves with the city on a quick hop on hop off bus and then spend the rest of the day on the beach.
Intrepid explorers can grab a map and delve into the Vielle Ville (the Old Town): a maze of shady alleys, colourful facades, and local shops and restaurants. When you explore this area make sure to stroll to Cours Saleya, the lovely market which will make you crave a few more breakfasts than you usually have.
Next, you can pop into an art museum or a gallery. Among the more prominent ones, there’s the Matisse Museum with the world’s biggest collection of the impressionist’s work and Masséna Museum inside a magnificent Belle Époque mansion.
Once you’ve had your art fix, choose a café or a restaurant and try some of the unique Provençal and Niçoise flavours of the region.
In the afternoon, you can burn some of these delicious calories off as you stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais. This gorgeous stretch along the coast is framed by the azure water on the one side and lined up with the palm trees on the other.
In the evening, head to the Old Port to explore wine bars and pubs and absorb the city’s nightlife. But remember, don’t let your soirée become too crazy because you continue your tour tomorrow morning.
You say ‘au revoir’ to glamorous Nice and head west towards Aix-en-Provence. This classy city is full of lively streets, elegant fountains and leafy squares. You can delve into the winding streets and visit local cafés or walk in the footsteps of Paul Cézanne and follow a special pedestrian route through the city.
Continue your journey south into the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne. This peaceful area is a haven for Fontfroide Abbey which held considerable power during the Middle Ages. Enjoy the tranquillity of this place and breathe in the fresh air before you travel to the walled city of Carcassonne, your base for the night.
Wake up, enjoy your breakfast, and start exploring this fascinating medieval city. Carcassonne has more stone towers, spiky turrets, and zigzag battlements than you can shake a sword at. So, it will come as no surprise it boasts a UNESCO World Heritage title.
All this sightseeing must have worked up your appetite, so we travel to a small town on the edge of the Pyrenees for lunch. After you’ve enjoyed the local specialities, we head deeper into the Midi-Pyrénées.
Next, instead of travelling up the mountains, you descend to the fascinating underground world of The Mas d’Azil Cave. The immensity of the grotto (the only one in Europe you can drive through) and the rich discoveries will leave you speechless.
In the early evening, you arrive in Lourdes, a small Pyrenean town; a spiritual centre and your home for two nights.
Today, it’s up to you how you spend your time.
You can stay in the Lourdes and discover the sites at your own pace. There’s the soaring sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes, a nearby castle, and a funicular ride to the top of Pic du Jer for a great view of the Pyrenees.
Alternatively, you can spend the morning on tour exploring the village of Gavarnie deep in the Pyrenees.
And if you feel the wilderness calls you, why not spend the whole day in the mountains and go on a hike to Cirque de Gavarnie? The effort is worth it: this majestic amphitheatre-like valley with tumbling waterfalls will reward you with one of the Pyrenees’ most stunning vistas.
Whichever option you choose, you return to Lourdes and enjoy the local atmosphere in the afternoon.
It’s time to travel through the impressive Pyrenean mountain passes into Spain. You venture through this massive national park and descend into Lanuza, a small town boasting spectacular views. Grab a coffee and continue your mountain crossing to Jaca.
This Spanish town is nicknamed ‘Pearl of the Pyrenees’ and has a captivating history. It was founded by the Romans, conquered by the Moors, and taken over again by the Christians. Ponder over the bravery of the locals as you explore the city and savour your lunch.
Next, you head west to the Sea of the Pyrenees, Yesa Reservoir and the peaceful Leyre Monastery. Built on a mountain range overlooking the reservoir, this serene place has been a refuge for the ancient monarchs and bishops of Navarre.
After the afternoon’s adventures, you head to La Rioja region, the wine connoisseur’s heaven, to spend two nights in Haro.
You wake up in a town surrounded by the vineyards of La Rioja. This is a fantastic base for exploring this rich region where wine has been cultivated since Roman times.
In the morning, you travel through mountains and forests of Montes Obarenes Nature Park to a hilltop town of Frías. This tiny medieval city is adorned with a ruined castle that will make you stare in wonder.
Next, you jump over to the Basque Country. Here you drive through Sobrón Gorge and the River Ebro, which nurtures the precious vineyards of La Rioja.
You have a chance to call on a local bodega where you can savour the aromas and flavours of this beverage. You may also try a superb food and wine pairing to complete your experience.
Now you know the local wine, uncover the culture and history of this drink in Vivanco Wine Museum in Briones. After discovering the long-lasting relationship between human and wine, you return to Haro where you can spend your evening discovering gastronomic delights.
Say farewell to La Rioja and the vineyards because it’s time to travel to Burgos. This proud city, situated on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, is famous for its Gothic cathedral looming over the skyline. Marvel at this jewel of Spanish architecture and visit the tomb of Burgos’ favourite and most roguish son, El Cid.
You then travel through the vast plains of Castile and León and arrive in Segovia. This place still has the spirit of an old Spanish city and is steeped in history.
Start uncovering the city’s rich heritage by gazing in awe at the perfectly engineered Roman aqueduct now standing in the vibrant centre. Then wander the cobbled streets and get dazzled by Alcázar de Segovia. With soaring towers and turrets topped with slate witches' hats, this castle looks like straight out of a fairy tale. So much so it supposedly inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.
Drink in the last panoramas of this magnificent city and travel south where the grand metropolis of Madrid awaits you in the evening.
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You stay one night in Peñíscola, two nights in Girona, two nights in Nîmes, two nights in Nice, one night in Carcassonne, two nights in Lourdes, and two nights in Haro.
To get more information about your accommodation, please contact our friendly team 3 weeks prior to departure.
A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.
So, we’ve hand-picked three to four-star hotels in remote coastal villages, bustling towns, and mountain valleys.
Your accommodation is included in the tour price; and when you book your trip, you can choose whether you want double rooms, twin rooms, or single rooms.
In Paris, Nice, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome, you stay at a hotel by the airport. These have excellent transport connections all across the city and let us avoid contributing to central traffic congestion.
The price you see is for all your tour's accommodation and for the tour itself. This figure is based on shared accommodation. When you're booking your tour and select a single room, an additional single room supplement will be added to the price.
A few European destinations charge tourist taxes. These funds help them keep the locations clean, safe, and beautiful. You usually pay these at the accommodation suppliers, and cost between 1€ and 5€ per night.
You may need a Schengen Visa to travel throughout Europe. Check the official tourism website of the country you’re visiting for up-to-date and reliable information. Travel between countries is easy because there are no passport checks at the borders.
Our Europe Tours have flexible payment options to help you budget for your dream holiday.
If you book more than three months before your tour departs, you can reserve your trip with a deposit of 10% or more. The full payment is required three months before your departure.
Call us on +44 (0) 131 226 3133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to pay a deposit, discuss more payment options, or let us know of any changes to your travel arrangements.
Most people can comfortably enjoy our tours, but it's worth bearing in mind that we often include optional short walks in scenic locations. Please also be aware that many of the old European towns are built on steep hills with cobbled lanes, and you may have to carry your own luggage at times.
So that we can ensure you're comfortable travelling with us, please let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. If you have any more questions, simply email email@example.com .
Europe's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure and avoid contributing to congestion issues, we only start our trips from the airport hotel specified in your departure information.
Our friendly team will send you more information about your departure location closer to your departure date.
Arrive at the hotel lobby 15 minutes before your departure time. Unfortunately, we’re unable to wait for you if you’re late due to vehicle restrictions. But depending on your situation, we may be able to help you catch up with your tour.
We have a cancellation period of 42 days for our Europe tours. If you cancel your trip before this period, we give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this timeframe, you’re liable for the cost of the tour package.
We understand how disappointing it is when you have to cancel a trip with us, so please contact our friendly team who will try their best to resell your ticket and refund you.
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It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.
Your friendly driver and guide are passionate about the places they visit and know all the local gossip. This means your tour itinerary can change a little due festivities, attraction opening hour changes, and spontaneous photo opportunities.
Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable mini-coaches have huge windows, So you always get a good view.
We like to keep our coaches small, nimble, and odour free. This means we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you frequently stop in local towns and villages for comfort breaks.
Unfortunately, we’re unable to have children under the age of five on our Europe tours.
You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.
We want you to enjoy your trip to Europe. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of stops to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.
We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.
You don't need to pack or bring along food on the mini-coach. We stop in small European towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.
It’s more enjoyable to travel with light luggage. You can take less by cleaning clothes along the way. Most hotels provide affordable laundry service.
But if you are travelling with more than 20kg of luggage, we are very happy to help you. Options include storing your excess luggage or a courier service to ship it to a destination of your choice.
Let's be honest, our drivers and guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.
We highly recommend you take out travel insurance, so you can enjoy a stress-free journey.
You're protected by ABTOT when you choose to let us book your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we run into any issues. Read our terms and conditions for more information.
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Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer
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