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Northern Spain: Basque...

Northern Spain: Basque Country to Madrid

12 days |  14 days with Madrid extension
12 days |  14 days with Madrid extension
Group size1538 travelers
Physical activity
OverviewItineraryDates & pricesReviewsHotels, flights & FAQ
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Discover diverse landscapes, delicious food, and provinces bursting with personality.

Travelers who venture to northern Spain will discover well-preserved medieval villages, postcard-perfect mountains and beaches, and some of the best food the country has to offer. On this tour of the region, you’ll explore historical, cultural, and culinary treasures in Bilbao, San Sebastián, Santander, Oviedo, and Santiago de Compostela. Then, head south, to the Castilla and Leon region, where you’ll explore Salamanca’s 13th-century university and marvel at Segovia’s imposing Roman aqueduct before making your final stop in bustling, cosmopolitan Madrid.

Your tour package includes

  • 10 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 10 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners with beer or wine
  • 1 cider tasting
  • 1 food tasting
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Included highlights

  • Guggenheim Museum
  • San Sebastián
  • Altamira Cave Museum
  • Oviedo Cathedral
  • Asturias cheese tasting
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Start planning today

An expert specializing in tours of this region is here to help.

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Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
Overnight Flight1 night
Day 1: Overnight flight

Board your overnight flight to Bilbao today.

Bilbao2 nights
Day 2: Arrival in Bilbao
Included meal: Welcome dinner

Welcome to Spain! Arrive in Bilbao, an industrial port city in the Basque Country that’s home to the iconic, Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, as well as a world-renowned dining scene. Get to know your Tour Director and fellow group members at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Bilbao
Included meal: Breakfast

Set off on a guided sightseeing tour of the port city of Bilbao with your Tour Director.

  • Admire the architecture in Bilbao’s Old Quarter, known as Casco Viejo
  • Enter the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, a showplace of modern and contemporary art, and admire the unique architecture alongside a local guide

Spend a free afternoon in the city or add an excursion.

Guernica, the Basque Coast & Pintxos Dinner

From $99 per person

Santander2 nights
Day 4: Santander via San Sebastián
Included meal: Breakfast

En route to the beautiful coastal city of Santander, join a local guide for a walking tour of San Sebastián, a town considered by many to be the culinary capital of Spain.

  • Pass by Playa de la Concha and make your way through the Old Quarter
  • Wander through the city’s main square, Plaza de la Constitución, a site that previously played host to bullfights
  • Take a moment to gaze up at the balconies of the buildings surrounding the square; they once served as box seating for bullfights held in the plaza below
  • Walk through the city’s fish market to see a variety of fresh, local catches on display
  • Learn from your local guide where in town to go pintxos-hopping and how to make the most of this regional dining experience
  • Enjoy free time to explore and to grab a bite to eat

Continue on to the coastal city of Santander, the capital of Spain’s Cantabria province. Enjoy a walking tour through the city’s center and past historic landmarks, such as the Cathedral of Santander and the Plaza Porticada.

Day 5: Free day in Santander
Included meal: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Santander or add an excursion.

Picos de Europa

From $115 per person

Oviedo1 night
Day 6: Oviedo via Santillana del Mar & Altamira National Museum
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting, Dinner

Head toward Oviedo, stopping to take in some of Spain’s impressive historical sites.

  • Take a guided tour of the Altamira National Museum and Research Centre, which houses an exact replica of the Altamira Caves and the Paleolithic cave paintings that revolutionized archaeology when Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola discovered them in 1879
  • Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the well-preserved medieval village of Santillana del Mar
  • View the 11th-century Collegiate Church before enjoying free time

Then, continue on to Oviedo—capital of Spain’s Asturias province and home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites—and take in its highlights on a walking tour with a local guide.

  • Make your way through the Gothic Quarter and enter the Roman Catholic Oviedo Cathedral, an important pilgrimage site along the Camino del Norte route
  • Sample some local Asturias cheese to cap off your tour

This evening, tour a cider house and learn about the cider production process from a staffer. Afterward, sample hard ciders, including some straight out of the barrel. Then, sit down for an included dinner at the cider house.

Santiago de Compostela2 nights
Day 7: Santiago de Compostela via Lugo
Included meal: Breakfast

En route to Santiago de Compostela, stop in the city of Lugo to explore its massive, UNESCO-listed Roman walls, which date back to the third century.

Continue along your way, and stop at the hilltop viewpoint known as Monte Viso to enjoy panoramic vistas of the Santiago de Compostela skyline.

Day 8: Sightseeing tour of Santiago de Compostela
Included meal: Breakfast

Walk through Santiago de Compostela, a town that once ranked just behind Jerusalem and Rome as one of Christendom’s most important pilgrimage sites.

  • Stroll along the ancient city’s narrow streets and stop at Parque de la Alameda
  • Enter the Gothic Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which marks the end of the Way of St. James

Enjoy free time in Santiago de Compostela or add an excursion.

Rías Baixas Cruise & Galician Lunch

From $115 per person

Salamanca2 nights
Day 9: Transfer to Salamanca
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel to the Castile and León region today to explore Salamanca, a city known for its ornate, sandstone architecture and its 13th-century university. Then, enjoy free time for the rest of the day or add an excursion.

Enjoy an included dinner with your group this evening in Salamanca.

Day 10: Sightseeing tour of Salamanca
Included meal: Breakfast

Get to know UNESCO-listed Salamanca, whose yellow-toned, sandstone buildings earned it the nickname the Golden City, on a guided tour this morning.

  • Explore Salamanca’s historic city center
  • Walk through Plaza Mayor as you make your way to Las Torres de la Clerecía, and to the Gothic-style, 15th-century Casa de las Conchas, whose facade features more than 300 carvings of scallop shells
  • Explore the 13th-century University of Salamanca, including the Escuelas Menores courtyard, the “Salamanca Sky” (or “Cielo de Salamanca”) mural, the Escuelas Mayores main building, and the Arzobispo Fonseca School
  • View Anaya Palace and the city’s new and old cathedrals

Spend a free afternoon in Salamanca or add an excursion.

Salamanca Food & Wine Tasting Tour

From $105 per person

Madrid1 night
Day 11: Madrid via Ávila & Segovia
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Make your way to Madrid, stopping first at a scenic viewpoint to snap photos of the Medieval Walls of Ávila, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Afterward, take a short ride to Segovia and join a local guide for a walking tour of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to a towering, well-preserved Roman aqueduct.

  • Explore the aqueduct, which was built in the first century A.D. and supplied water from the Frío River to the city into the 20th century
  • Visit Segovia’s Gothic-style, Roman Catholic cathedral, and the adjacent Plaza Mayor
  • Enter the Alcázar, the fairy-tale castle on the far end of the Old City
  • Spend some time exploring the city on your own, perhaps by trying its famous roast suckling pig

Continue on to Madrid and celebrate your trip with your fellow travelers at tonight’s farewell dinner.

Flight Home
Day 12: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your stay to explore Madrid.

Extension to Madrid
Soak in more of Spain's grand architecture—and the energetic buzz of modern, urban life—in Madrid, the country's vibrant and cosmopolitan capital city. Alongside local guides, explore the city's many cultural and historical treasures, with highlights including the Royal Palace, the Temple of Debod, and the Prado museum.
Madrid2 nights
Day 12: Sightseeing tour of Madrid
Included meal: Breakfast

Get acquainted with Spain’s cosmopolitan capital city with the help of a local guide.

  • View the Royal Palace, Spain’s largest royal residence
  • Pass by the Temple of Debod, a reassembled temple from ancient Egypt
  • View the city’s many squares, including Plaza Colón and Plaza Neptune
  • Explore the Prado, a world-class art museum that began as the private collection of the Spanish monarchy and is home to the works of Goya, Velásquez, and more
Day 13: Free day in Madrid
Included meal: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Madrid or add an excursion.

Tonight, enjoy a farewell drink as you celebrate your trip with your fellow group members.


From $99 per person

Flight Home
Day 14: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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Hotels, flights & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.


We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
Mercure Bilbao Jardines de Albia
Mercure Bilbao Jardines de Albia

This contemporary hotel is located in Bilbao, Spain’s business district. Guests enjoy the gym, spa and wellness center, and tapas bar. Nearby you’ll f...

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Silken Coliseum
Silken Coliseum

This unique hotel is set in a former cinema in the Santander. Guests enjoy the fitness center, on-site cafe, and overall charm of the building. Nearby...

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Hotel Silken Monumental Naranco
Hotel Silken Monumental Naranco

This modern hotel is located in Oviedo's Losa de Renfe area. Guests enjoy the indoor pool, fitness center, and on-site coffee house. Nearby you'll fin...

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Compostela Hotel
Compostela Hotel

This modern hotel housed in a historic building is located in Santiago de Compostela's Plaza de Galicia. Guests enjoy the on-site restaurant, bar and ...

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Hotel Soho Boutique Canalejas
Hotel Soho Boutique Canalejas

This boutique style hotel is located in Salamanca's Old Town. Guests enjoy the stylish rooms, on-site restaurant, and delicious breakfast. Nearby you'...

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H10 Tribeca
H10 Tribeca

This industrial-inspired hotel is located close to Paseo de la Castellana in the business district of Madrid. Guests enjoy a restaurant, lobby bar, an...

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Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights


Print FAQ
Passport, visa & entry requirements
  • In order to enter Spain, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
  • We recommend having at least one blank passport page for entry stamps.
  • Beginning in 2024, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must register for an ETIAS travel authorization in order to enter many European countries.
  • Passport holders from over 60 visa-exempt countries (including the U.S. and Canada) will need to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization in order to visit 30 European countries. That means that even if you’ve previously traveled to any of these European countries without a visa, starting in 2024, you’ll need to get ETIAS authorization to visit them again. If you’re traveling to multiple countries with this requirement, you only need to complete the form once. All Go Ahead travelers are responsible for obtaining their own ETIAS travel authorization before departure. For more details, please visit our Help Center.
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact your destination country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
  • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code NSP.
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Tour pacing & mobility
  • You will walk for at least two hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, with some hills.
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own luggage at times.
  • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
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Transportation & arrival information
  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in Bilbao and depart from Madrid. A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours for an additional cost.
  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.
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Baggage allowance
  • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
  • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights, which may include on-tour flights in addition to your round-trip flights to and from tour. Please note that your included on-tour flights may have more restrictive baggage limits.
  • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
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Clothing & packing tips
  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
  • It is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
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  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at
  • If you take daily medication, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies, please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.
  • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code NSP.
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  • In Northern Spain, enjoy breakfast like a local with just a pastry and coffee. Then, tuck into a three-course lunch featuring freshly caught seafood and other regional staples. Dinner is less hearty than lunch and is typically served late, between 9pm and midnight.
  • In Basque Country, pintxos—small, tapas-style snacks that are usually spiked with a toothpick to a piece of bread—are especially popular.
  • Spain produces a wide variety of both white and red wines throughout its many regions. Northern Spain’s Rías Baixas region is renowned for its white wines, which are made from Albariño grapes.
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Electricity & air conditioning
  • Spain operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and uses Types C, E, or F plugs with two small, round pins.
  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter.
  • The strength of the air conditioning in European hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
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  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply.
  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
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Time zones
  • Spain is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Time (ET).
  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s 6pm on tour.
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  • You will use the euro on this tour.
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s 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.
  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
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  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $8USD to $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD per local guide.
  • Tips can only be paid in cash.
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Purchasing excursions on tour
  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.
  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa, or MasterCard as payment for excursions.
  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged.
  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.
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