Taste the Fruit of the Vine
Though France seems to have the European wine market cornered, Spain has a large number of exceptional vineyards that produce world-class wines. Because the country itself is geographically diverse, the types of wines differ from region to region, but La Rioja near Bilbao is one of the premier wine-producing regions and a perfect destination for vino lovers. Vintage Spain offers fun and fascinating wine tours, including a Northern Spain Gourmet Wine Tour that indulges guests in six days and nights of wine, gastronomy, cooking, architecture, and art. Beginning in Bilbao and ending in Madrid, you’ll be transported to a more refined world of artisan vineyards, underground cellars, the Wine Culture Museum, Michelin-starred restaurants, and Gothic architecture. Participants also enjoy plenty of free time to explore the memorable destination cities.
Discover Moorish Architectural Wonders
There’s arguably no grander site in Spain than the illustrious Alhambra, a spectacular complex composed of palaces, gates, soaring towers, and gardens. It’s located in the southern city of Granada, which was occupied by Moorish rulers who left their imprint on the region through intricate, gorgeous architecture—most notably the Alhambra, which was begun in the 9th century and continued for centuries. It became a Christian stronghold in 1492 when Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella drove the Moors out of power. A tour of the Alhambra includes the exquisite Golden Room, marble columns, fountains, “lion’s room,” engraved poetry, and ceilings decorated with gold and lapis lazuli. Afterward, you’ll understand why many consider the Alhambra to be one of the wonders of the world. Other fascinating Moorish architecture in Granada can be found in the remains of majestic mosques, palaces, and Arabian houses inside modern-day churches that were built over them.
Get a Ring-Side Seat
The glorious tradition of bullfighting is alive and well in Spain, a cultural phenomenon that attracts royalty and high society to this very Spanish pastime. Tradition says that the first bullfight took place in the 8th century to celebrate the crowning of Alfonso VIII and was originally reserved for the aristocracy. Today, everyone is invited to view this unique spectacle that includes life-and-death danger, dramatic twists and turns that seem like a beautifully choreographed dance, and the surging excitement of the crowds. Though there are many impressive bullrings in Spain, Madrid’s “La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas,” is considered to be the most important in Spain—and, hence, the world. Built in 1929, Las Ventas can accommodate 25,000 spectators and is most exhilarating in early summer during the Festival of San Isidro, when bullfights take place nightly for three consecutive weeks.
Escape to an Island Paradise
Spain’s Canary Islands are a popular holiday spot for Spaniards and international visitors alike because of the delightful beaches, glamorous resorts, and long list of leisure activities. Tenerife, the largest of the seven islands, is a sunny paradise that’s ideal for both romantic getaways and group travel. While on the island, the sumptuous Gran Melia Adeje Hotel Bahia del Duque provides a perfect home base. This Venetian-influenced architectural masterpiece sits along a stretch of pristine beach and features 19 restaurants and lounges, hundreds of elegant rooms and suites, shopping mall, six swimming pools, land and water sports, and children’s activities. From cultural experiences to stunning beaches to upscale shopping to exciting nightlife, Tenerife is truly an elite escape for refined travelers looking for a little piece of beach resort heaven while on holiday in Spain.
Zoom Into a Novel Setting
You’ve read the book—now see the famous setting. The area of La Mancha in central Spain, best known as the backdrop for Miguel de Cervantes’ illustrious novel, Don Quixote, still greets visitors with statuesque white windmills. Get to the area by hopping aboard the AVE, Spain’s high-speed trains that run at speeds up to 300 kilometres per hour, for a day of exploration on the “Don Quixote route.” Step into the pages of one of the most important works of fiction ever written by taking in the giant windmills of Consuegra; journeying to the village of Toboso to view Dulcinea’s House (Don Quixote’s lady love); and wrapping up the adventure with a trip to Esquivias, the location of the 16th-century house where Cervantes likely wrote much of the book. In addition to its Don Quixote connection, La Mancha also can brag that it’s the largest wine region in the world. Winery tour opportunities abound; you can discover Europe’s largest organic winery here, as well as spend the night at vineyards that incorporate tours, tastings, and haute cuisine.