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The Spirit of Northern Spain

Premier Tours & Travel will be exploring the diverse cultures of Northern Spain by way of our hand-selected local hosts, expert in the distinct wines of the region, as well as the unique cuisine, history, and traditions throughout. From the Pintxos, sidra, and Basque Txakoli, to tours of San Sebastián, Guernica, and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, quickly see (and taste) what makes the Basque region so special. The flavorful adventure continues in the DOCa Rioja region amidst its medieval walled village of Laguardia bursting with bodegas; the charming village of Briñas, home to our accommodations and 16th-century cellar of Palacio Tondón; and the renowned village of Briones celebrated for its exceptional vineyards and views. Explore wineries known as much for their brilliant wines as for the brilliant architecture of their wineries, including the modern Vivanco and Bodegas Ysios (among others). Cosmopolitan Madrid and its world-class museums to complete this epic journey.
 

May 25-June 3, 2022 (departing May 24, 2022)
August 31-September 9, 2022 (departing August 30, 2022)
October 5-16, 2022 (departing October 4, 2022)

From $6599 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit


May 24 - June 2, 2023 (departing May 23, 2023)
August 30-September 8, 2023 (departing August 29, 2023)
October 4-October 13, 2023 (departing October 3, 2023)

From $6699 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit

Optional Pre-Tour, 3-Night Extension to Barcelona
Pricing is based on the number of passengers. 

Highlights of San Sebastián (3 Nights)

Depart the United States on an overnight flight (if not participating in the pre-tour extension).             

Day 1: SAN SEBASTIÁN 
Arrive in San Sebastián — one of the most famous culinary destinations in the world. Our Premier Tours & Travel representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodations for the next four nights. En route, you will see that — although this coastal city is small — it is hugely cosmopolitan, and home to the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants and of the annual San Sebastián International Film Festival. The artful combination of historic and modern … traditional and contemporary makes San Sebastián a seaside gem.  

Hotel de Londres, a boutique hotel with a beach front location, offering the most amazing views awaits you (or similar hotel). After checking in, enjoy some time at leisure before joining our local guide to wander the old quarter of San Sebastián to enjoy the famous edible pieces of art — Pintxos — paired with specialty-of-the-house wines, such as Basque Txakoli, or famous Basque cider (sidra).

Day 2:  SAN SEBASTIÁN Both a guided, panoramic tour and a walking tour are planned for you following breakfast today. Drive along the Bay of Biscay and the glistening beaches of San Sebastián: Concha, Ondarreta, and Zurriola. Pass the Town Hall, which is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain. It was originally designed as a casino in 1886 during the Belle Epoque and became the Town Hall in 1947. View San Sebastián’s fishing port and world-famous marina overflowing with luxury yachts. Stroll the narrow streets of Parte Vieja — the Old Town — with the stunning Baroque Basílica de Santa María del Coro. Visit La Calle 31 de Agosto to learn about the historical significance of the street and the annual tradition honoring it. Enjoy a ride back in time on the 1912 funicular up Mount Igueldo with the most iconic, panoramic views of the city.

Lunch and the balance of your day will be at leisure to explore this beautiful city. Stroll the Paseo de la Concha and the tree-lined Alameda del Boulevard for fabulous shops or visit Museo de San Telmo, the museum of Basque culture and history. With its abundance of amazing restaurants and celebrated chefs, San Sebastián is widely considered one of the world’s premier culinary destinations. Enjoy dinner at leisure this evening in one of San Sebastián’s quintessential restaurants.

Day 3:  SAN SEBASTIÁN

After a morning at leisure to recover from the evening’s epicurean delights, experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at an elusive Txokos, or secret gastronomic societies. Premier Tours & Travel has secured exclusive access to experience a Txoko, including a guided visit to the San Sebastián market and a cooking class with the chef from the Txoko, as well as a traditional lunch and wine with the local members. This opportunity will be an immersive and authentic Basque cultural experience.

On the way back to the hotel, enjoy a traditional pastry from our favorite local shop for a sweet finish. The balance of your day and dinner will be at leisure.

Highlights of DOCa Rioja (4 Nights)

Day 4: SAN SEBASTIÁN – GUERNICA – BILBAO – BRIÑAS / RIOJA
Say farewell to San Sebastián today and depart to Guernica. Many around the globe have heard of Guernica thanks to Pablo Picasso. It was this town that was bombed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, the events of which inspired Picasso’s most famous piece of art, “Guernica.” Walk with our guide and learn about the rich history of Guernica before departing for Bilbao. Pay a visit to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, which is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry. Lunch will be at leisure at one of the local eateries suggested by our tour director.

Enter the village of Briñas, a little gem located in La Rioja and sits on the banks of the Ebro river, the spinal cord that meanders through the region.  Briñas dates to the Roman period and is home to your modern-day accommodations, Palacio Tondón. Its narrow streets dotted with stately homes, including this 16th-century palace with views of the Tondón vineyards, and the environs of Palacio Tondón will captivate you. 

Relax and refresh before joining your fellow travelers to enjoy dinner at Tondón Restaurant with local wines.

DAY 5:  BRIONES / RIOJA

Spend the morning at modern Vivanco — designed by Riojan architect J. Marino Pascual — visiting the Vivanco family private museum to see an incredible collection, including works from Picasso, Sorolla, and Joan Miró, as well as Roman mosaics and old wine making tools, such us wine presses, and the world’s largest collection of corkscrews dating back to the late 18th-century.

Get an up-close look at the picturesque town of Briones, which you will have seen from afar while visiting Vivanco. After a guided walking tour, you will have time to do a little shopping before departing for Haro, a town that has become the epicenter of wine, wineries, and gastronomy of the La Rioja region due to the concentration of world-class centenary wineries all within walking distance, including La Rioja Alta and Bodega Muga.

La Rioja Alta is one of the foremost estates in the Rioja region, formed in 1890 by five Riojan and Basque families, and located in the historic Barrio de La Estación (Station Quarter) of Haro. It is particularly known for its classically styled, spicy Gran Reserva reds that can age gracefully for many decades. The winery shares its name with the Rioja Alta (Upper Rioja) subregion in which many of its operations are based. La Rioja Alta, named one of the world’s most admired wine brands, offers the perfect way to introduce you to — or to deepen your knowledge of — Rioja wines through a tour of this century-old winery. Taste such wines as Viña Alberdi Crianza, Viña Ardanza Reserva, Viña Arana Gran Reserva, and Gran Reserva 904 (old vintage) (or similar) before enjoying an exceptional lunch cooked over an open fire.

A visit to Haro would be incomplete without a tasting at Bodega Muga. Bodegas Muga is a family business founded by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño in 1932, and is located nearby La Rioja Alta. It is particularly known for its traditional style Reserva wines that are only produced in vintages of utmost quality. You will have the opportunity to taste from its portfolio of wines, such as the Prado Enea Gran Reserva, a red blend of Tempranillo, Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano.

The evening will be at leisure to relax at the hotel, explore Briñas, or visit the lively town of Haro just a few minutes taxi ride away.

DAY 6: LAGUARDIA / RIOJA

Today, visit Laguardia — the capital of Rioja Alavesa and one of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. A private, guided city tour will unveil this medieval, hilltop, walled village as you stroll its narrow streets and winding alleys, meandering past mysterious doorways, countless artisanal shoppes, beautiful church, and happy discoveries. After time at leisure to explore the quaint shops, experience the first wine tasting at Casa de la Primicia. Casa de la Primicia is the oldest building of Laguardia village and is a magical place … a temple of wine. Its well-conserved cellars are silent witnesses to other periods and other people, and its restoration by the Madrid Family is an homage to the dream of vine grower and patriarch, Julian Madrid. Travel through the tunnel of time to the place where the history of wine began in Rioja Alavesa at Casa de la Primicia.

En route to our next vineyard tour, tasting and lunch, view the work of famed architect and Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, the architectural wonder of this winery (designed inspired by the outline of a row of barrels as well as curves of the mountains behind it).

The gorgeous vineyards of Luis Cañas await you next today. Embark on more than a tour this afternoon — a private “More than Vines” experience with showcase the old vineyard (Finca El Palacio) while providing an understanding about sustainability and ecosystems and getting to know the grape vines. Enjoy a snack under the shade of a holm oak before visiting Grandfather Luis’s Tasting Room, El Mirador de Luis, for a pairing of three wines, such as Viñas Viejas and Luis Cañas Reserve, with elaborate tapas. Upon returning to the hotel, the balance of the day and evening will be at leisure.

DAY 7: SUSO & YUSO MONASTERIES — EZCARAY

Spend the morning at leisure at Palacio Tondón further enjoying this exceptional property, visiting the spa, experiencing a hot air balloon ride (not included), or taking a stroll around this impeccable vineyard setting.

Mid-afternoon, visit the San Millán Suso and Yuso Monasteries, an UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastic community, founded by St. Millán in the mid-6th century, became a place of pilgrimage. A fine Romanesque church built in honor of the holy man still stands at the site of Suso. It was here that the first literature was produced in Castilian, from which one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today is derived. In the early 16th century, the community was housed in the fine new monastery of Yuso, below the older complex; it is still a thriving community today.

Enjoy free time wandering in the beautiful town of Ezcaray, Spain. Sitting in the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, on the banks of the river Oja, the town of Ezcaray and its surrounding area are incredibly picturesque. Visit the church of Santa María la Mayor, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, and declared a Historic-Artistic Site; make your way to the buildings that form the Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Bárbara, from the 18th century, and the dyeing house popularly known as “El Fuerte,” or simply visit the quaint boutiques and purchase some of their renown Ezcaray scarves for yourself or gifts.

Reconnect with the group for dinner at one of Rioja’s finest restaurants, Echaurren, with Chef Francis Paniego.

Highlights of Madrid (3 Nights)

DAY 8:  RIOJA – PORTIA WINERY – MADRID

Depart for Madrid, the vibrant capital of Spain, this morning. En route, visit Bodega Portia in the Ribera del Douro. Portia is a winery designed by the famous and prestigious architectural studio Foster & Partners and is yet another architectural icon in the world of wine. Enjoy tasting their wines paired with tapas.

Continue to the sophisticated city to check in at Pestana Plaza Mayor Hotel on the vibrant Plaza Mayor — located in the heart of the city, near the markets, shops, and museums in Madrid. After checking in, enjoy the balance of your day at leisure to experience the nearby shops, sights, and dining options, including the nearby incredible Mercado San Miquel with myriad dining options; Posada de la Villa to experience the best roast lamb in the city from the Castilian grill in this rustic 1600s inn; a more gourmet tapas experience at Ferreteria; or stay closer to home at one of the many restaurants lining Plaza Mayor.

DAY 9:  MADRID

It is now time to go deeper into Old Madrid through its narrow, cobblestone streets in the Hapsburg quarter. See fantastic buildings and plazas of Renaissance and Baroque style, and discover the Royal Palace, one of the best-preserved palaces in Europe. Following your guided morning tour, your afternoon and lunch will be at leisure to enjoy this vibrant city.

Join us for a Farewell Dinner and Flamenco Show at the most traditional and emblematic Tablao in Madrid. With more than 60 years of history, Corral de la Moreria is the most prestigious flamenco Tablao and the world’s only with a Michelin star.

 

DAY 10:  MADRID

As you know, all good trips must come to an end. Transfer to the airport this morning based upon your departure time. ¡Adiós por ahora, Spain!

Highlights of the Pre-Tour Extension to Barcelona, Spain (3 Nights; Optional) 
Pricing Upon Request

Depart the United States on an overnight flight.

Day 1: BARCELONA
Extend your exploration of Spain with a three-night stay in Barcelona prior to joining the full group tour in San Sebastián. Upon arrival, our Premier representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the Hotel Condes de Barcelona. Located on the luxurious Passeig de Gracia, Hotel Condes is conveniently located in the Dreta de l’Eixample neighborhood, in what was once a 19th-century palace, combining historical design feature with modern comforts. Spend the balance of the day relaxing at the hotel or exploring Barcelona at leisure.

Day 2: BARCELONA 
Enjoy a half-day, panoramic and guided walking tour of Barcelona to experience the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, known for its art and architecture. Gain an overview of the sheer size of Barcelona via coach as well as an up-close look at iconic sites such as the lively Plaça Catalunya (considered the heart of Barcelona), La Rambla (the famous boulevard lined with shops and cafes amidst towering trees), Mercat de La Boqueria (the most vibrant market in Barcelona), and the Gothic Quarter (the medieval neighborhood with its palazzos, mansions, and Gothic churches) on foot. Following the tour, the balance of your day will be at leisure.

Day 3: BARCELONA 
Today, walk in the footsteps of Antoni Gaudi, the famous architect who lived and worked in Barcelona. Considered one of the greatest inventors of his time, Gaudi left behind numerous treasures in Barcelona that you will visit, including Sagrada Familia Basilica, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece and Barcelona’s most famous landmark. As well, view Casa Batlló, which is a perfect example of how Gaudi got his inspiration from nature, and discover Park Güell, his bizarre park that has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure.

This evening, enjoy an exclusive gourmet experience in the Gothic Quarter. Under the guidance of our local chef, visit La Boqueria to select local ingredients and return for a private cooking class. Learn to make authentic Spanish dishes for dinner — and to replicate once you are back home. 

Day 4: BARCELONA – SAN SEBASTIÁN
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for a short flight to join your fellow travelers on The Spirit of Northern Spain tour in San Sebastián.  

Standard rooms are included for this tour (per hotel designation for same). Upgraded rooms are available upon request and based upon availability.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Itinerary subject to change. Premier Tours & Travel reserves the right to modify programs and itineraries (including arranged sightseeing, accommodations, dining experiences, aircraft, trains, vessels, and so forth) at any time due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances beyond Premier Tours & Travel’s control, including force majeures. In the instance our Expert host cancels due to unforeseen circumstances, Premier Tours & Travel has the right to substitute another Expert host, such as a chef, in such an emergency (timing allowed) and/or the tour will continue in its entirety. Every effort is made to operate our itineraries as planned but alterations may need to be made after the final itinerary has been issued. Airfare is not included. Deposits are utilized to secure services on your behalf and are nonrefundable. Deposits are transferrable to a future Expertly Done Culinary & Wine Travel tour. One glass of wine is included with applicable meals unless noted otherwise. All other alcoholic beverages are the responsibility of each adult guest. Guests are limited to one carry on and one checked baggage and will be responsible for any additional fees charged for additional luggage. Please see Key Items to Know Before You Leave Home attached.

PREMIER EXPERIENCES, PREMIER ADVANTAGES

  •  English-speaking Premier representatives
  •  Airport Meet & Greet
  •  Private, small group tour (Limited to 20 passengers)
  • Private transportation & baggage portage
  • 3-night stay in Hotel de Londres (or similar), San Sebastián
  • 4-night stay in Palacio Tondón (or similar) in Briñas, Rioja
  • 3-night stay in Pestana Hotel Plaza Mayor in Madrid (or similar)
  • Daily breakfasts; lunches and dinners as noted
  • Hand-selected, private experience, including Guggenheim Museum tour, wine tasting at Casa Primicia, Bodegas Muga, and flamenco and dinner at Corral de la Moreria
  • Guided, private walking or panoramic city tours in San Sebastián, Guernica, Haro, Laguardia, Madrid
  • Internet (where available)
  • 24/7 Premier support