FOOD AND WINE LOVERS NORTHERN SPAIN
In our “Food and Wine Lovers Northern Spain” tour, you will experience a 12-day adventure of some of Spain‘s most alluring destinations. These include Madrid, La Rioja, San Sebastian, and Barcelona, plus a day trip to Bilbao.
Spain is without a doubt one of the best food and wine destinations in Europe. With nearly 200 Michelin-starred restaurants. One must experience tapas in Spain at least once in your lifetime. The pintxos from San Sebastian is world-famous. The paella from Valencia is an art in gastronomic pleasure. The country’s, jamón (cured ham) is heavenly. There is an abundance of delicious and exotic fruits as well as excellent vegetable produce. No wonder there are more than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain. And of course, we must not forget the wine. Spain boasts nearly 3 million hectares of vineyards which happens to be more than any other country in the world! Our 12-day itinerary allows you to enjoy three different “tastes” of this amazing country.
MADRID – 3 NIGHTS
Welcome to Spain! The first stop on your Highlights of Spain itinerary will be the elegant capital of Madrid. After you arrive at Madrid Airport, we will arrange for a private transfer to your accommodations of choice in the city center. Bella Vita’s has a wonderful selection of 4 and 5-star hotels for you to choose from. These are all based on location, comfort, and travel style. From the hotel, you’re a short walk from many of the amazing sights and landmarks the city is so famous for. During your stay in Madrid, we will arrange the following special experiences:
- Our favorite way to start any trip to Spain is with our Insider’s Evening of Tapas & Spanish Wine. Your host for this evening is a genuine wine enthusiast and expert. During this exclusive tour, you will taste wines “off the beaten path” in authentic gourmet bars and taverns where the locals appreciate the quality served. You learn about the variety of Spanish wines and styles while savoring some fantastic tapas. It is very much an insider tour. Not only will you have a unique introduction to the city, but you’ll also start to understand Spain’s important gastronomic and wine traditions.
- A private “Madrid Essentials” Half-day tour with our private guide. Our expert guide will meet you at your hotel. Then, together you will enjoy the architecture, history, and anecdotes of Spain’s capital. Enjoy a walking tour that includes some of the capital’s most impressive sights. These include the Plaza de Oriente and the historic quarter including the 17th-century Plaza Mayor. Afterward, stroll through the peaceful Plaza de la Villa where the City Hall stands. Then, it’s on to the narrow streets of Madrid of the “Austrias”. This neighborhood today is a gastronomic center. With traditional favorites aplenty, including the famous Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world. The nuns of the Convento nearby occasionally offer their homemade cakes too! The tour will also include an in-depth visit to your choice of the Royal Palace or the Prado Museum.
- A wonderful culinary experience is in store for you with our Private Market Tour and Cooking Class. Along with a private guide, you’ll explore one of Madrid’s famous food markets before learning the secrets of the Spanish ‘cocina’ from a local chef. You will prepare a complete, authentic Spanish menu, based on seasonal ingredients. Afterward, sit down and enjoy the dishes you have prepared for lunch. Of course, they will be paired with fabulous Spanish wines.
- Enjoy a Day Trip to Toledo with Guided Tour. It’s a quick ride on the high-speed train to the ancient city of Toldeo. This thousand-year-old masterpiece was created by various cultures including the Romans, Moors, Jews, and Christians. Together with your expert guide, you’ll discover its architectural and historic wonders and priceless works of art. You’ll have time for lunch and shopping on your own before heading back to Madrid.
RIOJA VALLEY – 1 NIGHT
After checking out of your hotel, your private driver will be waiting to take 3 hours north to your second destinations on your Food and Wine Lovers Northern Spain tour. Welcome to the amazing Rioja Valley! Here you will stay in one of the most spectacular and interesting hotels in the heart of wine country.
During your stay here, we will arrange for a wonderful day of wine, vines, food, and architecture. On your Personalized Rioja Valley tour, drive through vineyards, enjoy wine tastings at some of Spain’s top bodegas (wineries), and see outstanding winery buildings designed by celebrated contemporary architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Zaha Hadid. Also, enjoy views of the medieval villages and beautiful mountains typical of the region. We will include visits to a couple of the most prestigious wineries in the area. Plus lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant to top off an amazing day!
SAN SEBASTIAN – 3 NIGHTS
The next stop on our Food and Wine Lovers Northern Spain tour will be the beautiful and delectable city of San Sebastian. Beautiful, white-sand beaches, verdant hills, beautiful architecture and an unparellel food scene, make San Sebastian such an alluring destination. Your private transfer from the Rioja will drop you off at your lovely accommodations in the city center. Our preferred hotels in San Sebastian have been hand-picked based on discerning taste and style and, of course, location. During your stay in San Sebastian, we will arrange for the following wonderful activities:
- A Welcome to San Sebastian Walking and Pintxos Tour. ‘Pintxos’ is the Basque word for tapas. San Sebastian is famous for it’s delicious and sometimes elaborate ones, which you can find at almost every corner of the city. Today, your private guide will introduce you to the city’s history and culture. While at the same time, sample together San Sebastian’s unique food scene. This is a great tour for your first evening as your guide can give you the insider’s knowledge as to where to find the best of the best. With almost one hundred bars to choose from, knowing where to go and what to order only comes with experience and local knowledge. Your host for the evening has plenty of both. Together you can enjoy an evening of fine food and good company.
- A Cooking Class at a Private Gastronomic Society. Basque men gather at sociedades gastronmicas to cook, eat, drink, sing, and socialize. (Until recently, women were excluded.) These clubs have nurtured the Basque culinary tradition, resulting in the current proliferation of top restaurants in and around San Sebastian. It is estimated that over 160 sociedades gastronmicas co- exist. Subsequently, we have arranged private access to the most prestigious gastronomic society of them all. Accompanied by your guide and translator, you will enter and learn about the club from the inside. You will spend the morning cooking traditional dishes and discussing Basque cuisine. Once prepared, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch accompanied by local wines.
- A Private Hiking Excursion in San Sebastian. The rugged coastline and countryside around San Sebastian are one of the most panoramic areas of northern Spain. Together, with your local guide, you will be able to experience the outdoors at your own pace. And work off some of that wonderful food and wine you have been enjoying to the fullest! Afterward, there will, of course, be time for another wonderful Spanish meal!
BILBAO – 1 NIGHT
Continue through Basque Country heading west to Bilbao. But along the way, you will have one of the finest gastronomic experiences in the country. We will make lunch reservations at Asador Etxebarri. Chef Victor Arguinzoniz has a remarkable ability to create amazing and explosive flavors from simple ingredients, almost grilled over an open hearth.
Afterward, your driver will deliver you to your lovely accommodations in Bilbao. As always, you will have several lodging choices to consider. The next day, you will have a morning Half-day Tour of the City.
Bilbao is a bustling metropolis and architecture mecca surrounded by lush forests, mountains, and beaches. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference and Music Palace, the Norman Foster Metro, the Calatrava Airport were all designed by important figures in the world of architecture. With your private guide, you will discover this interesting city, its port, the districts of Casco Viejo and Ensanche-Abandoibarra. You will also enjoy the Old City. Sites here include the Cathedral of Santiago and the Mercado de la Ribera. Lastly, you will arrive at the Guggenheim Museum. Here you will have a guided tour of its facilities to admire not only its works of art but also the wonderful building created by Frank O. Gehry.
In the end, you will have time for a quick lunch. Then, it will be time to head to the airport for your short flight to the last destination on your Food and Wine Lovers Tour of Northern Spain.
BARCELONA – 3 NIGHTS
Your last, but certainly not least, destination on your “Food and Wine Lovers Northern Spain” tour, will be Barcelona. There is a mix of everything on this lovely stretch of the Mediterranean. Nestled between the sea and the mountains, Barcelona’s location is impressive. The city is an architectural dream. With gems from legendary Modernist architects such as Antoni Gaudi, as well as the full range of contemporary avant-garde architecture dotted in between its 19th-century promenades and thriving local neighborhoods. In recent years, Barcelona has become the most talked-about city in Europe for its ever-evolving restaurant scene. There are more than 40 local markets, the best known being La Boqueria, and the range of specialist food and wine stores is staggering.
Upon arrival at Barcelona Airport, your private driver will be waiting to take you to your lovely accommodations. Our preferred accommodation choices are plentiful and range from boutique to elegant luxury. During your 3 days in Barcelona, you will enjoy the following experiences:
- A Private Half-Day Tour Of Barcelona Including La Sagrada Familia & Boqueria Market. With our expert guide, explore one of Europe’s most fascinating cities. First, your guided tour will cover how the city was reborn with the Olympics in 1992 and stress the importance of Catalan history and culture in its development. Then, you will visit the unique and magical Sagrada Familia, Gaud’s most famous work and a worldwide symbol for Barcelona. Afterward, head to the Passeig de Gracia, the most stylish street of Barcelona, lined with boutique shops and art galleries. Your next stop will be La Rambla with its outdoor cafes and colorful flower stands. Then, it’s on to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter which rests on the ancient Roman city of Barcino. Today, it is full of buildings from the 13th to the 15th century. Enjoy its peaceful plazas and winding alleyways leading you to its medieval Cathedral and the Picasso Museum. Lastly, enjoy a tour around the Boqueria market, getting plenty of tips on picking local, seasonal products, and exploring in depth some of the extraordinary and delicious fresh food that is sold here. And finally, sit at the counter for a delicious lunch at Direkte Boqueria. A hidden gem!
- One of our favorite excursions from Barcelona is our Electric Bike and Wine Excursion to the Penedès Wine Region. The sun-kissed wine country of Penedès located less than an hour from Barcelona. It is one of the most exciting wine regions in Spain. You will go deep into the heart of the Denomination of Origin Penedès wine and Cava region. This is the birthplace of cava and renowned for its green landscape where almost half of the area is covered by vineyards. Along with cava, today’s excursion is all about cycling effortlessly by electric bike, through vineyards of several beautiful wines and cava cellars. Hence, ride over several sorts of terrain to reach a hilltop with great views of Montserrat Mountain. Then, enjoy a day tasting a variety of wines in the Penedes region. You’ll cycle through vineyards and head to the Cathedral of Cava where you will try 3 different sparkling wines. Afterward, you’ll visit a contemporary wine cellar where you will taste 3 different wines, stroll to the barrel area, and then enjoy an assortment of wine and light tapas overlooking the vineyards. Return to Barcelona with your private driver in the afternoon.
- In addition to the excursion above, we will make reservations for dinner at the world-famous Tickets Restaurant. Ranked number 20 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2019, every dish is a work of art and gastronomic delight.
- On your last day, we will arrange for a private transfer to the Barcelona Airport for your flight home or your next destination.
If you are not yet ready to go home, we can add several options to your Food and Wine Lovers Northern Spain tour. A few days on the Costa Brava? Or a visit to the paella capital of Valencia (and its up-and-coming wines)? Or lastly, head to the Balearic Islands for a bit of sun, sea, and fun? The choice is yours and we would be happy to design your trip as you wish.