A Gay Tour of Spain Cultural Tour. This gay holiday takes an intimate group of travelers to the most picturesque parts of Spain. Join us and explore the culture, history, and beauty of Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, and the scenic countryside between.
From afar, Spain is one big country that shares the Iberian peninsula with its smaller neighbor Portugal. However, at a closer look Spain is a rich collection of regions, each fiercely proud of its own identity. Vacation with a congenial group of gay travelers to sample the cultural life of the proud capital of Madrid then see the wonders of Toledo that have inspired generations of artists. Then you can immerse yourself in Andalucía, where Catholic, Moorish and Jewish traditions intertwine in Seville, Cordoba and Granada, sometimes in the same building! As we drive toward Malaga the Mediterranean coast, we will pause for a night in the renowned cliff-top village of Ronda, with amazing views of the chasm below. The main gay tour of Spain ends near the beaches of the Costa del Sol, including a cross-border visit to the British territory of Gibraltar. Those with enough time can also join us for our 2-night extension in Barcelona, the main city of the Catalunya region.
• Enjoy the easy camraderie of vacationing with a diverse group of gay travelers
• Explore Spain's political and cultural capital of Madrid
• Tour the Prado Art Museum and the Royal Palace in Madrid
• Take a side trip to gothic Toledo and its medieval alleyways
• See the juxtaposition of Christian, Jewish and Moorish traditions in Seville, including Christopher Columbus's tomb and the Alcazar fortress
• Stroll through Cordoba's old quarter and see the Catholic Cathedral built inside one of the finest surviving Moorish buildings, the Mezquita
• Walk the steep, winding streets of old Ronda and along the bridge over the river Tajo.
• Take a leisurely tour of the Alhambra Palace and the adjoining Generalife Gardens in Grenada
• Ride horses in the Alpujarras region, home of the white villages of Andalucia
• Relax with our fun gay group in centrally-located, historic 4-star hotels in each city
• Learn about the regions' culture and history from a national guide throughout the tour
• Visit Barcelona during an optional 2-day tour extension.
Days 1 - 2 -
Our driver will greet you at Madrid Airport to transfer to our hotel, a sleek and stylish hotel situated just off Plaza Mayor, the central plaza of Madrid. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure and meet the group for cocktails and a welcome dinner at Casa Botin, the oldest continuously open restaurant in the world (since 1725).
After a restful night, our group will enjoy a guided tour of Madrid, Spain's capital city and its largest metropolis. We'll take exclusive tour of the Prado Art Museum, which houses an extensive collection originally belonging to the Spanish monarchy. We will visit the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) of Bourbon King Philip V, with more than 2,500 rooms. Once the seat of the most powerful court in the world, it was here that Spain officially joined the European Union in 1986.
We'll take an informal lunch break in the style of local Madrileños: tapas at the Mercado de San Miguel, just off Plaza Mayor. Eating tapas at San Miguel is a unique experience. You can eat real gourmet food on small plates, or if you craving for a sweet you can head to San Ginez, the temple of Madrilenian Churros, the favorite pastry of local residents, or you can get some of the richest hot chocolate you can imagine (that may require a spoon to "drink"). Enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day 3 -
A trip to Toledo is a must when staying in Madrid. An hour-long scenic drive takes us south to visit this fortified town, an example of religious tolerance. Your guided tour of Toledo begins at the city's massive Gothic cathedral, which houses 750 medieval stained glass windows and a treasure trove of golden artifacts. Gaze upon the cathedral's sacristy, containing masterpieces by the likes of Van Dyck, El Greco, Rubens and Titian.
After exploring the labyrinth of medieval alleyways at the heart of the city, you'll visit the Church of Santo Tome' containing more of El Greco's famous works. We'll take a break to have a casual lunch independently before wrapping up our walking tour. We will end our tour at the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, built in 1180 then converted into a church in the 15th century in the time of Los Reyes Catolicos.
We'll return to Madrid, where you can enjoy your last evening in this vibrant capital at your leisure. You may want to opt for a night out in the La Chueca district, home to Madrid's gay nightlife.
Day 4 -
This morning we will take a 1,5-hour ride on the AVE high-speed train to Cordoba where we’ll check into our charming hotel near the ancient city walls.
In the afternoon we will take a walking tour to the fascinating 8th-century Old Quarter, where you will learn about the rich legacy wherein Moorish, Christian, and Jewish cultures mingled successfully during a Golden Age. The area was built around the magnificent Mezquita (mosque) and one of Andalucia’s few remaining synagogues. As you walk through the old town, learn about Averroes, an Andalucian Muslim master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory and the sciences of medicine, astronomy, geography, mathematics, physics and celestial mechanics. His school of philosophy is known as Averroism. We’ll gather for dinner tonight at one of the fun local restaurants.
Days 5 - 6 -
This morning we will take a 2-hour drive to Seville, where we will stay for two nights at a lovely inn that features several courtyards and traditional architecture. Seville is considered by many to be the cultural capital of Spain. We will visit an old finca before entering the city, which produce olive oil, the green gold of the the region’ We will do an olive oil tasting with a light lunch. Once we settled into our hotel in Seville, we will take an orientation walk of the Jewish Quarter (Barrio Santa Cruz), filled with small winding streets and generally regarded as the most charming part of the city. Celebrate the evening together in Seville with a tapas-bar-hopping night. We have selected bars that are conveniently located in the center of town.
The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast the next morning, we will meet our guide for a tour of the city, visiting the spacious Plaza de Espana (site of the 1929 international fair). The Fair was to celebrate and strengthen the relations among the South American countries, once Spanish colonies. The immense architectural complex is decorated with azulejos, painted ceramic tiles, typical of Seville, representing all provinces of Spain. Upon re-entering the old town, we will continue on a walking tour that features the famous Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the world’s largest Gothic building and home of Christopher Columbus’ tomb. We will also see the delicately ornate Moorish fortress of the Alcazar. Lunch and dinner are on our own tonight, selecting from a wide array of restaurants in some of Seville’s oldest neighborhoods.
The Fair was to celebrate and strengthen the relations among the South American countries, once Spanish colonies. The immense architectural complex is decorated with azulejos, painted ceramic tiles, typical of Seville, representing all provinces of Spain. Upon re-entering the old town, we will continue on a walking tour that features the famous Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the world’s largest Gothic building and home of Christopher Columbus’ tomb. We will also see the delicately ornate Moorish fortress of the Alcazar. Lunch and dinner are on our own tonight, selecting from a wide array of restaurants in some of Seville’s oldest neighborhoods.
Day 7 -
During today’s journey we will stop at Setenil de la Bodega, which is considered one of the most picturesque of the white villages within the Sierra Grazalema National Park, built within the rocks and topped by an Arab fortress. We will then continue southwest to Ronda, a stoutly fortified Iberian or Celtic settlement conquered by the Romans, who named it Arunda, meaning “surrounded by mountains”. For a time the Romanized town was known as “the Eagles’ Nest”, due to its placement high on the sheer walls of the famous gorge. We’ll check into one of the loveliest Paradors in Spain, a stunning hotel overlooking the breathtaking gorge. We have the afternoon at leisure before our wonderful gourmet meal together tonight at the Parador.
Days 8 - 9 -
Between Córdoba, the ancient capital of the Caliphate, and Granada, the last refuge of the Nazarí kings, we find a hill territory with many castles and towers, and vast groves of olive trees sprawling across the hillsides. Many legends tell about the long period of battles and conquests in the heartland of the Moorish era.
Our first stop today will be in the region of the mountain villages of Alpujarra on the southern flank of Sierra Nevada, also known as the region of the White Villages, famous for its natural beauty, incredible valleys and gorges. Enjoy horse riding followed by lunch in a local village.
Continue on to Granada, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada, the natural water reservoir for Andalucía. This area was the last bastion of Moorish rule in Spain, and is dominated by the opulent 14th-century Alhambra, the fortress palace of Spain's last Muslim rulers. Sprawled across a hilltop above the Darro River, the Alhambra commands breathtaking views of the city below.
After checking into our hotel, we'll take a scenic drive around this charming city. Explore the Royal Chapel, an elaborate mausoleum commissioned by Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand; the Albayzín, an open-air museum; and Plaza del Salvador, where a church was built on the site of the main mosque of Albayzín. We will stroll along cobblestone streets lined with gorgeous mansions and walled gardens in an area that survived as the Muslim quarter for several decades after the Christian conquest in 1492. We'll enjoy dinner together tonight.
The next morning we will continue the visit of this gem of Andalucia. We'll tour the splendid Alhambra citadel and the Generalife, the palace's acclaimed gardens. While living nearby, Washington Irving collected local legends—set in the Alhambra's courtyards. A fun read to prepare for this visit will be Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. Lunch will be on your own, with the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Days 10 - 11 -
This morning , we will depart for the Costa del Sol region to spend a couple of days in the subtropical Mediterranean port of Malaga, the capitol of Costa del Sol. Malaga’s history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. During its first millennium this strategic port was ruled by Phoenician, Carthaginians and Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was under Islamic domination for 800 years, but in 1487 reverted to Catholic rule during the Reconquista. The archaeological remains and monuments from these eras make the city’s historic center an “open museum”, and more recent cultural figures such as Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas have their roots in Malaga. This important cultural infrastructure and rich artistic heritage have culminated in the nomination of Malaga as a candidate for the 2016 European Capital of Culture.
We will explore Malaga during an informal afternoon walking tour, including a walk up the hill to the Gibralfaro Castle, offering panoramic views over the city. The castle is next to the Alcazaba, the old Muslim palace. Nearby are the Roman Theatre, the old Jewish quarter and the Cathedral. We will also walk along the Paseo del Parque, a promenade that runs alongside a grand park with many palm trees and statues, leading to the harbor and Calle Larios, the main commercial street of the city. We'll have our evening at leisure.
Our second day in the region takes us on a tour along the Costa del Sol, made up of several towns along the Mediterranean coast. This area has transformed from small fishing communities to a jet set tourist destination. Our first stop will be in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. The Rock of Gibraltar is the most visible landmark of the region. The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Enjoy a short visit up to the rock, but look out for the Barbary macaques, the only free living apes in Europe. The journey to the top of the Rock rewards you with a truly breathtaking view across the Straits of Gibraltar, where the waters of the Atlantic meet the Mediterranean, and separate Spain from Morocco, just 9 miles away. And very close by, you can stroll the quiet path to St Michael's Cave and be alone with nature.
We'll return to Malaga for our farewell dinner together. Several of us will be departing for home tomorrow, but we invite you to stay for an optional 2-night extension to Barcelona (see below).
Day 12 -
We'll say goodbye to our fun gay traveling companions today, and transfer to Malaga airport for flights home. For those staying on in Spain, we'll board our flight for Barcelona.
Days 12 - 13 -
We will transfer to the Malaga airport for a short flight from Malaga to Barcelona (included in price) to visit the capital of the Catalunya region and second largest city in Spain. Barcelona is one of the most eclectic capital cities in the world. Welcoming of gay travelers, the city is an open-air museum, displaying monuments from Roman times to a particularly renowned architectural era (Modernista). The works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Among the many remarkable buildings in Modernista style, the Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia remains the landmark of the city. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics and remains one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, cultural and sports centers. The official language is Catalan, although everybody is bilingual (Spanish and Catalan). Home of important foundations that exhibit works of famous artists such as Juan Miro and Pablo Picasso, the city’s charm is best reflected in its urban engineering: each building is planned wisely and with taste. The amazing nightlife and restaurants make Barcelona one of the top destinations for travelers around the world.
We will transfer to our hotel and have the evening at leisure.
The next morning, we’ll take a sightseeing tour of Barcelona, including visits to the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and the Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter). We’ll enjoy a casual lunch together, then visit the picturesque open air market La Boqueria. We’ll dine independently tonight and return to our hotel at leisure.
Day 14 -
After breakfast this morning, we'll transfer to the airport for our flights home.