Seville, Madrid & Barcelona: Semana Santa 11 days / Special Event Tours
About This Experience
Spain’s rich Catholic heritage is on full display during the festivities of Semana Santa. Seville, Madrid and Barcelona have distinct architecture, history and cuisine, but they share a religious tradition that dates back centuries. Explore Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and Modernist landmarks; wander Madrid’s imperial parks and palaces; and marvel at the mosques and Moorish castles in Seville. Then witness the Holy Week processions celebrating the faith that binds them.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
9 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
The devotion of the faithful during Semana Santa
Ornate carving & rich decoration on the pasos
The inspired aesthetic of Antoni Gaudí
Spanish art from Las Meninas to Guernica
The remarkable Mezquita in Córdoba
Mosaics & Moorish embellishments in Seville
Overnight Flight1 night
Barcelona3 nights - hotel info
Wake up in the creative, cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to begin your explorations of Barcelona. At a Welcome Dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.
Go from Gothic to Gaudí in Barri Gótic and Parc Güell
A professional local guide leads a sightseeing tour that passes by La Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s masterpiece. As you travel through the city, take in panoramic views of the Columbus Monument, the 14th-century Barri Gòtic and Montjuïc, where much of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games took place. You’ll also visit another Gaudí creation, Parc Güell, a garden village overlooking the city. The afternoon is free to explore at your leisure.
Parc Guell and Pedrera $79* pp
On today’s excursion, discover the magnificent works of Antoni Gaudí, the famed Spanish architect known for his bold, distinct designs. Casa Milà is the first stop. Take a guided tour of this building, popularly known as La Pedrera, built by Gaudí between 1905 and 1910. Everything about the building is visually unique, from the wave-like stone structure and grandly designed roof to the apartment that reflects the style of the 20th century bourgeois. Next, you’ll head to Parc Güell, also designed by Gaudí. Your guide will lead you through the park, which contains stunning buildings, intricate stonework and colorful mosaics. At the top of the park, marvel at the brilliant views of Barcelona.
Ramble on La Rambla or make a pilgrimage to Montserrat
Spend the day exploring Barcelona on your own. Stroll down Las Ramblas, visit Barceloneta beach and visit the fortress atop Montjuïc to take in some of the best views of views of the city. Alternatively, you may join an optional excursion to the nearby monastery of Montserrat. This evening, join our optional Flamenco Dinner Show.
Montserrat $65* pp
Journey to the ninth-century monastery of Montserrat, which inspired the composer Richard Wagner as he wrote Parsifal. Ride a high-flying cable car up the mountain and enjoy magnificent views of the Llobregat River Valley and – if skies are clear – the Pyrenees. A local guide leads the way to the secluded monastery, where you will see the iconic Black Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s beloved and miraculous Madonna statue. Take some time to explore the monastery before driving back to Barcelona.
Flamenco Dinner Show $109* pp
The clapping, the singing, the stamping—experience the dramatic art of flamenco dancing, one of Spain’s most celebrated traditions. Expressive and colorful, this Andalucian style of dance combines guitar playing (toque), song (cante) and rhythmic handclaps (palmas). Dinner will be served before the performance. Please note: This excursion requires advanced reservation and must be booked by 20 days prior to departure.
Madrid3 nights - hotel info
Look out for Goya and Velázquez in the Palace and the Prado
Prado, Royal Palace
A professional local guide leads today’s tour through Madrid to the Prado, an extensive art museum that began as the private collection of the Spanish monarchy. Masterpieces you’ll see here include Velázquez’s Las Meninas and Goya’s La maja desnuda. Next stop is the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), built by Bourbon King Philip V. Once the seat of the most powerful court in the world, it was here that Spain officially joined the European Union in 1986. This castle boasts more than 2,500 extravagant rooms, along with a marble staircase and the swords of El Cid. This evening, indulge in succulent Castillian cuisine served by one of Madrid’s finest restaurants at our optional Traditional Spanish Evening.
Traditional Spanish Evening $99* pp
On your way to dinner, walk through the illuminated streets of Madrid, taking in the local neighborhood ambiance in the evening light. After your walk, enjoy conversation, camaraderie and live music at one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Between traditional Castilian courses, you'll be entertained by tuna music, an artistic tradition with its roots in Spain's universities.
Sip cerveza on the Plaza Mayor or stroll Toledo’s cobblestone streets
You might choose to enjoy the day at your leisure by visiting more of Madrid’s museums, exploring its churches and parks or sipping a cerveza at a sunny cafe in the Plaza Mayor. Or join an optional excursion to Toledo. This optional guided sightseeing tour through Spain’s first capital visits the Gothic cathedral, the prime seat of the Catholic Church in Spain and home to an exceptional collection of ecclesiastical treasures.
Toledo $79* pp
Discover Toledo, the clifftop city often referred to as La Ciudad Imperial (Imperial City). Upon arrival, you'll have some free time to explore. Later in the afternoon, your guided tour 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 Santo Tome Church and one of Europe’s oldest synagogues, Santa Maria la Blanca. Please note: This tour involves some moderate walking over uneven terrain. Also, depending on the day of the week, the sites visited are subject to change. If the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca is closed, you'll visit the Synagogue of El Tránsito instead.
Seville3 nights - hotel info
Relive the glory days in the Moorish capital of Córdoba
This morning, you’ll transfer by train to Córdoba, nestled into the Guadalquivir Valley. Here, you’ll embark on a guided tour of the city that was once the center of Spain’s Islamic caliphate. The highlight of your tour is a visit to the ornate Mezquita, the beating heart of the Ummayad Dynasty’s rule during the days of the caliphate and, later, a Christian cathedral. Then, travel by bus to Seville. After checking in to your hotel, you’ll have time to begin exploring one of Spain’s most celebrated cities. Please note: during Semana Santa, tens of thousands of travelers journey to Seville for the festivities. You should be prepared for crowds in the streets, at restaurants and around other notable tourist attractions.
Join in on the services and celebrations of Semana Santa de Seville
Seville cathedral, Alcazar
This morning, you’re free to either attend Semana Santa services at a local church or explore on your own. Your Tour Director is also available to lead you to Seville’s one-of-a-kind Semana Santa celebrations. Watch as religious groups from around the city parade toward the cathedral while wearing colorful costumes. This afternoon, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of beautiful Seville. Behold the intricately tiled pavilion of the Plaza de España before entering the opulent Alcázar, once home to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. You’ll visit Seville’s Gothic cathedral, one of the world’s largest, as well as the burial place of Columbus.
Witness the pious processions of people and pasos
Semana Santa Festival
Today is free to take in the Semana Santa festivities as you please. Membership in the brotherhoods that organize the Semana Santa processions—known locally as hermandades or cofradías—is often passed down through families, and some of these fraternal organizations have existed for centuries. The oldest brotherhood, colloquially known as El Silencio, has been a part of Seville’s Semana Santa since the 14th century! Tonight, share your Semana Santa memories with your fellow travelers over a Farewell Dinner.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Spain, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Spanish consulate for your particular entry requirements.
There are no major health risks when traveling to Spain. It is always advisable to check with your doctor or health-care provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements. As mentioned, this tour does include a significant amount of walking. Travelers should be in reasonable health and should be accustomed to short hikes and walking on uneven terrain.
Transportation / Walking on tour
Round-trip flights arrive in Barcelona and depart from Seville (or Málaga on extension). Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach and by train where noted. The city centers in Seville and Córdoba are all easily accessed on foot. Take local buses and taxis to reach outlying areas. Madrid’s main center is compact and walkable, but you’ll want to take advantage of the fast and efficient metro system for most attractions. Buses and taxis (which are inexpensive compared to most European cities) are also readily available and well-regulated. Navigating Barcelona can be a little daunting, due to the city’s spread-out and ever-expanding design. However, most of the main attractions and tourist hangouts are near the area known as La Rambla (or Las Ramblas, actually a collection of streets) and the Barri Gòtic. For access to the other attractions, use the excellent metro system. You can buy tickets in singles or, for a better deal, in a package, from most tobacconists, newstands and metro vending machines.
Clothing & Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
In Spain, breakfast is very light, usually consisting of only rolls and coffee. Lunch is traditionally a three-course meal which takes much of the afternoon to consume. The traditional dish is known as paella and is made from chicken, meat, vegetables, seafood and saffron rice. Dinner is less hearty than lunch and is served late, between 9 p.m. and midnight. Tapas, a meal comprising small samples of various appetizers, is a popular evening repast in Spanish bars and cafes.
The euro is the currency you will be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available at your destination, although it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks, as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/ CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.