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Premier Tours & Travel will be exploring the diverse cultures of Northern Spain with our Ana Fabiano, author of The Wine Region of Rioja and DOCa Rioja Brand Ambassador, by way of the distinct wines of the region, as well as the unique cuisine, history, and traditions throughout. From the Pintxos, sidra, Basque Txakoli, and Michelin-starred tastings, 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 Haro celebrated for its exceptional vineyards and Haro Wine Festival. Spend time at wineries known as much for their brilliant wines as for the brilliant architecture of their wineries, including the iconic centurion Marques de Riscal, the modern Vivanco, Bodegas Muga, and Bodegas Ysios (among others). Cosmopolitan Madrid and its world-class museums to complete this epic journey.
May 26 - June 5, 2021
July 13-25, 2021
September 1-11, 2021
From $6,399 Per Person (Double Occupancy)
Single Supplement $1,500Based on 16-20 passengers (max); $1000 Per-Person Deposit*
Optional Pre-Tour, 3-Night Extension to Barcelona
Pricing is based on the number of passengers. **
May 25 - June 4, 2022
August 31-September 10, 2022
October 5-October 15, 2022
From $6,599 Per Person (Double Occupancy)
Single Supplement $1,500
“Rioja has emerged to take its rightful place among a small group of great red wine regions of the world.” — Ana Fabiano, Author of The Wine Region of Rioja and DOCa Brand Ambassador.
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. 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 SEBASTIÁNBoth 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 Michelin-star restaurants and celebrated chefs, San Sebastián is widely considered one of the world’s premier culinary destinations. Therefore, a trip to San Sebastián would not be complete without a fine-dining experience in this mecca of Michelin stars. Bask in the atmosphere and culinary phenomena of a Michelin-starred restaurant tonight!
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 a tour of their 16th-century cellar followed by the gastronomy at Tondón Restaurant with some of the region’s best wines selected by Ana Fabiano.
DAY 5: 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, and happy discoveries. After time at leisure to explore the quaint shops, experience one of the numerous vineyards in the DOCa Rioja that represent not only some of the world’s finest wines, but also some of its finest architecture: Bodegas Ysios. 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) provides an exceptional home to some of the best wines in Rioja. During the private tour, enjoy the spectacular views of the Rioja valley and the Cantabrian mountains, and drink in the seamless blending of traditional wine-making techniques with modern technology.
Afterwards, continue to a wine tasting and lunch at Casa de la Primicia (XI century), the oldest building of Laguardia village. Casa Primicia is a magic 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 Primicia.
“Aside from the lush vineyards, Laguardia is absolutely gorgeous […] The town has the beauty of a dollhouse with manicured streets and alleys within its walls.” — Ana Fabiano
The balance of your day and evening will be at leisure.
DAY 6: HARO – LAGUARDIA – ELCIEGO / RIOJA
Late morning depart for Haro, which 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. Enjoy a guided walking tour to take in sites such as Casco Viejo (the Old Quarter) and the surround La Herradura, Palacio de Tejada, and Iglesia de Santo Tomás. Learn about the architecture and the wine-themed sculptures that showcase the history of wine making in Haro and La Rioja and take time at leisure to enjoy the shops along the way.
“Wine is so integrated into the fabric of life [in Haro] that its patron saint is honored with a Battle of Wine (Batalla del Vino) in late June each year.” — Ana Fabiano
We will return to Laguardia for a personalized visit to Bodega El Fabulista wine cellar, one of the oldest, family run wineries in Rioja. Greeted by the owner himself, your visit will be customized by Ana Fabiano, including select wine tasting and a Pintxos lunch.
A visit to the Rioja wine region would not be complete without experiencing this “wine temple” — the oldest winery in the region that was integral to instilling barrel ageing in Rioja. The Marqués de Riscal City of Wine offers the experience of exploring the history of the bodega since its foundation in 1858 to the modern day, with the chance to enjoy the wine through the use of all five senses. Make your way to the heart of this complex, the Plaza del Reloj (Square of the Sun Dial). From there, see the Original Bodega, built in 1860, where the treasures of Marqués de Riscal are kept, the Bottle cellar for ancient wines, also known as the Cathedral. Next visit the first enlargement of the bodega, a building dating from 1883 constructed in the Bordeaux style and known as El Palomar (the Dovecote) where these days the company’s premium wines are made. Finally, the last visual impact will hit you from above, where, contrasting with the tradition of the various different sandstone buildings, you can distinguish the avant-garde style of the 21st century of the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, designed by the renowned architect, Frank O. Gehry. By the end of your visit you will understand why this winery is held in such reverence.
DAY 7: RIOJA
Spend the day at modern Dinastía Vivanco — designed by Riojan architect J. Marino Pascual — and be delighted with an incomparable experience with our Expert Host, Ana Fabiano. Access 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.
“[Not far from] the small city of Logroño [..] is the greatest wine museum in the world. The Dinastía Vivanco Museum of the culture of Wine is situated amid fields of lavender and surrounded by vineyards […] It should hold a prominent position on every wine aficionado’s lifetime to-do list.” — Ana Fabiano
As well, enjoy an exclusive visit throughout the winery and vineyard to experience Vivanco’s world-class wines by Eonologist, Rafael Vivanco. Complete the experience with a traditional Rioja lunch amongst their vineyards, paired with Vivanco cellar wines selected by Senor Vivanco. There also will be time for you to meander the gift shop at Vivanco, which is full of local artisanal treasures you may wish to take home. The balance of your day and evening will be at leisure to explore the shops, restaurants, and bars of Briñas or relax at Palacio Tondón.
DAY 8: RIOJA – SUSO & YUSO MONASTERIES & WINERY – MADRID
En route to Madrid, visit the San Millán Suso and Yuso Monasteries and Winery, 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.
“It is enlightening to see how the modern-day term ‘biodynamic’ employs practices guided by Mother Earth and honored by the human hand so many centuries ago [at the YUSO and SUSO Monasteries’.” — Ana Fabiano
Following a traditional lunch, continue to the sophisticated capital of Spain, Madrid, 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. After checking in, enjoy time at leisure.
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. Stop at an emblematic café for a drink 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 your fellow travelers this evening for an authentic Flamenco experience with dinner.
Indulge in the artistic offerings of Madrid today and choose to visit either the Prado Museum — where our expert guide will lead you through the different rooms to admire the pieces of famous painters such as El Bosco, Tiziano, Velázquez, Rubens and Goya, or the Reina Sofía Museum — the iconic Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art. At the Reina Sofia, see the Guernica by Picasso and several Salvador Dalí artworks at the site.
Your lunch and afternoon are at leisure. Join your fellow travelers for a delightful Farewell Wine Dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin Restaurant.
DAY 11: MADRID
After breakfast take a transfer to the airport.
Highlights of the Pre-Tour Extension to Barcelona, Spain (3 Nights; Optional) **
May 22-May 26, 2021
August 29-September 1, 2021
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.
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.
Superior and/or deluxe rooms are included for this tour (per hotel designation for same). Upgraded Seaview rooms are available at Hotel Londres an additional $300.
* PREMIER TOURS & TRAVEL NOTES: Deposit is nonrefundable. 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, such as force majeures. Every effort is made to operate our itineraries as planned, but alterations may need to be made after the final itinerary has been issued. If your tour includes an Expert host and the Expert host cancels due to unforeseen circumstances, Premier Tours & Travel has the right to substitute another Expert host (e.g., a chef) in such an emergency (timing allowed) and/or the tour will continue in its entirety. Wine will be served with Chef’s dinners and as noted throughout the itinerary. Additional beverages will be the responsibility of each passenger at the time of service. Airfare is not included. Transportation is provided if your flight arrives during the designated time for group transfers; if not, transportation from the airport will be your responsibility. Each passenger is allowed one checked luggage and one carry-on item; if you bring more than the allowed amount of luggage you will be charged for same based on the charges required by our local vendors at the time.Please see our General Terms & Conditions on this website.
** PRE-TOUR OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO BARCELONA
Domestic airfare is included. Pricing per person will be based on the number of travelers as follows:
Number of Passengers
Price Per Person (Double Occupancy)
PREMIER EXPERIENCES, PREMIER ADVANTAGES
About Ana Fabiano
Ana Fabiano is currently the DOCa Rioja Brand Ambassador and Senior Trade Advisor. She was the first American hired by the Embassy of Spain’s Commercial Office and became one of the three founders of Wines from Spain. For over 25 years she has passionately researched and traveled extensively through wine country of Spain with great professional concentration in Rioja. In 2007, she earned a Mastery Certification in the Castilian language, a credential that allowed her to research and write the award-winning book, The Wine Region of Rioja, which released in 2012. The second edition released in 2017. Ms. Fabiano has dedicated her professional life and vast research to the wine and food industry of Spain. Her highly respected work and milestone achievements for Rioja have equipped her with mastery in her subject matter, as well as the marketplace. She is recognized and respected as a Rioja expert inside and outside the DOCa of Rioja. Her passions include her four heroic children, Rioja, her garden, and mentorship.