Day 1: Australia –– Madrid
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible European holiday.
Day 2: Madrid
Arrive in Madrid and make your own way to your hotel. You are then at leisure to enjoy this historic city and relax after your flight.
Your hotel: Dormirdcine (or similar)
DormirDcine is located in the Salamanca District, just steps from the Avenida de América, the Paseo de la Castellana, the best shops of Calle Serrano and the Golden Mile, the Financial District, the best restaurants and tourist attractions and perfectly connected with downtown, the airport and the train and subway stations. Rooms are uniquely decorated by international artists and offer all the facilities required by the modern guest.
Day 3: Madrid – – Granada (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a guided tour of the Spanish capital. You will see the medieval origins of the city, like the Arabic fortress, at the Barrio de la Moreria, characterized by the antiquity of its buildings and the taste of its typical restaurants. Admire the Hapsburg Madrid of Felipe II, with its Renaissance and Baroque buildings, then continue walking on Calle Mayor, Plaza Mayor and Plaza de la Villa. Moving on, experience Bourbon Madrid and the urban layout made by Carlos III, the Royal Palace, the Cibeles Fountain, Neptune Fountain and the Puerta de Alcala. Finally, you will get to know contemporary Madrid such as Gran Via, Paseo de la Castellana, Barrio Salamanca, Plaza de Castilla and Parque del Oeste, as well as the commercial and financial areas of Modern Madrid, like the emblematic Ventas Bullring or Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. During this tour, we will stop at the Hard Rock Cafe, where you will enjoy a free drink.
In the afternoon, make your way to the station for your train to Granada. Relax as the train takes you south to Andalucia. Make your own way to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Your hotel: Occidental (or similar)
This charming property is strategically located just a 10-minute walk from the historical centre and next to Granada’s new metro, which makes it perfect for visiting the city. Granada’s Conference and Exhibition Centre and Science Park, one of Andalusia’s prime cultural attractions, are just a few steps away.
Day 4: Granada – – Seville (B)
This morning, explore Granada with a Hop-on Hop-off day pass. The tour will stop at the Alhambra, the Basílica de San Juan de Dios, the Generalife Gardens, San Jeronimo Monastery and many other sights of this unique city.
In the afternoon, make your way to the station for your train to Seville. Enjoy the views as the train takes you west towards the capital of Andalucia. Make your own way to the hotel and drop your luggage.
Your hotel: Plaza Santa Lucia (or similar)
Set in Seville’s Old Town, this unpretentious hotel in a modern brick building is a 14-minute walk from the Metrapol Parasol structure, 1.5 km from Sevilla-Santa Justa train station and 3 km from Alcázar of Seville.
Day 5: Seville (B)
Start off your day with a guided tour and discover the most emblematic monuments of Seville, the University, the Old Tobacco Factory scene of the story of Carmen, Bizet’s famous character, San Telmo Palace, The Golden Tower, Isabel II Bridge and the Macarena Basilica. Visit the Plaza de España, the centrepiece of the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition.
Move on to Santa Cruz, the famous Jewish quarter: a labyrinth of narrow streets, which lead to the gorgeous Plaza de los Venerables. Later, continue with a river cruise trip along the Guadalquivir and enjoy the of views of the city. See the untouched sides of the Golden Tower, the famous calle Betis, the Bullring, and Triana bridge – the oldest of its kind within city grounds. There will also be the opportunity to get a glimpse of the famous Isla de la Cartuja and its Monastery where Cristopher Colombus lived.
In the evening it’s time for Flamenco dancing! Watch a performance in the Macarena district that expertly demonstrates the flair and fire of Spanish flamenco and enjoy a complimentary drink.
Day 6: Seville – – Cordoba (B)
In the afternoon, make your way to the station for your short journey to Cordoba. Make your own way to the hotel, drop your luggage and continue with a tour of Cordoba onboard a Hop on-Hop off bus service. See the Puente Romano bridge, the Bath of the Caliphates and many other sights showcasing the Arabic influence in the city’s architecture.
Your hotel: Soho Capuchinos (or similar)
The exquisite decor in the Soho Boutique Capuchinos Hotel & Spa rooms is combined with carefully selected services and facilities such as free Wi-Fi and a terrace bar with stunning views of Cordoba.
Day 7: Cordoba – – Valencia (B)
This morning, make your way to the station for your train service to Valencia. Kick back as the train takes you towards the east coast of Spain. Make your own way to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Your hotel: NH Valencia Center (or similar)
This hotel is located in the quiet Campanar-Tendetes area of Valencia, just a 15-minute walk from the historic centre, and even closer to a green park, movie theatre and the Valencia Institute of Modern Art. Metro services and shopping centre facilities are just around the corner, making for a perfect spot to explore this gem of a city.
Day 8: Valencia – – Barcelona (B)
After breakfast, explore Valencia onboard a Hop-on Hop-off bus service. The tour will stop at all the major sights including La Lonja, Quart Towers, Central Market, Serrano Towers and El Miguelete. In the afternoon, make your way to the station for your train to Barcelona. Enjoy the ride as the train takes you north along the coast to the capital of Catalonia. Make your own way to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Your hotel: Viladomat (or similar)
The Plaza de Cataluña and the famous Ramblas of Barcelona are just 10 minutes away on foot. The friendly staff are on hand to provide information on the city and the main places of interest. Sants train station is 500 metres from the hotel and beautifully connects to your journey.
Day 9: Barcelona (B)
After breakfast, join a guided sightseeing of Barcelona where history and traditions go hand in hand with emerging fashion and new trends in cuisine, culture and art. Barcelona offers the possibility to enjoy the sea as well as the mountains.
Start with the Paseo de Gracia, where you will see the most famous Gaudi houses, casa Battló and La casa Mila (La Pedrera) as well as other majestic buildings of the Modernism era. Learn about drastic changes the city underwent with the organisation of the Olympic Games in 1992. You will drive by the Olympic Village, the Olympic Port, the beach and the fisherman’s quarter, called Barceloneta, and finally the Plaza de Colon with its famous Columbus monument, indicating which way he sailed to discover the Americas. This point is also the beginning of the famous Ramblas of Barcelona.
Continue the visit driving up Mount Juïc where you will enjoy a cable car ride with precious views of the city. The bus will pick you up at the last station and you will pass by the sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympic games: the Lluis Companys stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi, the Olympic swimming pool Picornell and finally the Spanish Village. We will visit this charming place for your chance to admire a collection of traditional buildings from all over Spain, and a demonstration of a selection of the handcrafts made in this country. After, we head back down to the city centre. Take in the Venetian Towers, the Mount Juïc fountains, the MNAC and the commercial centre Las Arenas, which was rebuilt over the ancient Plaza de Toros.
Arrive at Plaza de Catalunya, the starting point of the guided walking tour of the old city. Your guide will take you to the Gothic Cathedral, through the narrow streets of the Gothic quarter and plaza Sant Jaume where the City Hall is located, ending with a visit of the headquarters of the Catalonian government.
Day 10: Barcelona – MSC Mediterranean Cruise (B,L,D)
Today, make your way to the port for your 7-night deluxe MSC cruise.
Your cruise ship: MSC Seaview
Inspired by a pioneering beach condo concept, MSC Seaview will bring guests and the sea closer, with special design elements that make the most of the warmer weather. Guests will be able to spend time outdoors eating, drinking and relaxing in the Mediterranean sunshine with some of the best sea views in the world. Guests will also enjoy an increased number of balcony cabins, sea views and public areas, with every element carefully planned to make the most of the sea and the sunshine.
Day 11: Ajaccio (B,L,D)
Ajaccio is a relaxed and good-looking place for a visit to Corsica, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of smart cafés, restaurants and shops. The core of the old town of Ajaccio – a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch, which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina – holds the most interest.
Nearby, to the west, place de Gaulle forms the modern centre and is the source of the main thoroughfare, cours Napoléon, which extends parallel to the sea almost 2 km to the northeast. West of place de Gaulle stretches the modern part of town fronted by the beach, overlooked at its eastern end by the citadelle. Once the site of the town’s medieval gate, place Foch lies at the heart of old Ajaccio.
Day 12: Genoa (B,L,D)
Today, explore the old town of Genoa: a dense and fascinating warren of medieval alleyways home to large palazzi built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Genoa’s wealthy mercantile families and now transformed into museums and art galleries. You should seek out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Renaissance palaces of Via Garibaldi which contain the cream of Genoa’s art collections, as well as furniture and decor from the grandest days of the city’s past, when its ships sailed to all corners of the Mediterranean Sea.
Day 13: La Spezia (B,L,D)
The port at the head of the majestic Gulf of La Spezia, an impressively sweeping panorama of islands and rough headlands renamed the Gulf of the Poets, is workaday La Spezia. A major naval and shipbuilding centre, it has a fine art gallery, the Museo Amedeo Lia, probably the finest collection of medieval and Renaissance art you can enjoy on a holiday to Liguria.
Sandwiched between the hills and the sea, La Spezia is now a largely pedestrianized grid of streets behind the palm-fringed harbour front promenade of Viale Mazzini and busy Via Chiodo, focused around the main pedestrian spine of Via del Prione and the central market square of Piazza Cavour, where there is a great selection of fish and other stalls. An excursion to this part of the port will bring you right into the heart of La Spezia where the Museo Amedeo Lia has a large and surprisingly interesting collection, including bronzes, illuminated manuscripts and a wide array of paintings, including lots of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian works, in a restored seventeenth-century Franciscan convent.
Day 14: Civitavecchia (B,L,D)
The port of Civitavecchia is one of the largest in Italy. Civitavecchia enjoys a millenary history due to its coves along the coast, which offered a perfect shelter for vessels, making it a natural port long before cruise ships sailed the seas, and in fact the port was known to the Romans as Centumcellae.
During your holiday in Civitavecchia you can easily visit its centre on foot. Amongst the most important monuments to visit are the Forte Michelangelo, built by Bramante in the 16th century, the ancient walls of the old port, where there is a fountain in travertine marble by Vanvitelli, and the Rock, an inexpugnable fortress that has been looming over the city and port for over a thousand years. In Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, Civitavecchia’s main square, one can admire the majestic baroque cathedral dedicated to St. Francis, built at the end of the 18th century on a smaller church which could no longer host a rapidly growing community.
Day 15: Cannes (B,L,D)
With its immaculate seafront hotels and exclusive beach concessions, glamorous yachts and designer boutiques, Cannes is in many ways the definitive Riviera resort, a place where appearances count, especially during the film festival in May. The not particularly attractive seafront Palais des Festivals is the heart of the film festival but also hosts conferences, tournaments and trade shows.
The old town, known as Le Suquet after the hill on which it stands, provides a great panorama of the curve of Cannes’ bay. On its summit stand the remains of the fortified priory lived in by Cannes’ eleventh-century monks, and the beautiful twelfth-century Chapelle Ste-Anne. The Musée de la Castre, in the remains of Cannes’ eleventh-century priory, holds an extraordinary collection of musical instruments from all over the world, along with pictures and prints of old Cannes and an ethnology and archaeology section.
Day 16: Palma de Mallorca (B,L,D)
Palma is a vibrant place and a world away from the heaving tourist enclaves of the surrounding bay. Finding your way around Palma is fairly straightforward once you’re in the city centre. The obvious landmark to see in Palma on your cruise holiday is the Catedral, which dominates the Mediterranean Sea waterfront and backs onto the oldest part of the city, a cluster of alleys and narrow lanes whose northern and eastern limits are marked by the zigzag of avenues built beside – or in place of – the city walls.
Five hundred years in the making, Palma’s Catedral is a magnificent building and a surprising one, too, with its interior featuring modernista touches designed by Antoni Gaudí. The original church was built following the Christian reconquest of the city, and the site taken, in fulfilment of a vow by Jaume I, was that of the Moorish Great Mosque. Essentially Gothic, with massive exterior buttresses to take the weight off the pillars within, the church derives its effect through its sheer height, impressive from any angle but startling when glimpsed from the waterside esplanade.
Day 17: Barcelona – – Australia (B)
Bid farewell to Spain today as you disembark the cruise and make your own way to the airport.
Day 18: Australia
Arrive home today.