Discover the romantic sights of medieval Spain
Make a break from the usual tourist trail on this tour that explores the medieval heritage of the Spanish heartland. Follow in Don Quixote’s footsteps in undulating La Mancha, discover the homeland of the Conquistadors in Extremadura, and visit the cathedrals of Salamanca. Contrast this with wildlife watching in Monfragüe National Park, and complete the experience with tastings of the local wine and cuisine for a wonderful insight into this historic yet understated region.
9 nights in hotels
16 meals: 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 6 dinners
Excursions and visits
- UNESCO-listed Toledo guided walk with Santo Tomé and Santa Maria synagogue
- Touring Don Quixote’s La Mancha and bodega visit
- Historic Trujillo tour
- Wildlife and birdwatching walks in Monfragüe National Park
- UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cáceres visit
- Taste of traditional Montánchez
- La Alberca tour
- Visit to Ciudad Rodrigo
- Salamanca guided tour with visits to old and new cathedrals and the bullfighting museum
- Segovia visit
- Avila orientation walk
- Franco’s Valley of the Fallen visit
Plus all this…
- Optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a reduction if not required
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Welcome drink reception
- Porterage at all hotels.
Fly to Madrid and transfer to the locally rated 4-star Eurostars Toledo (3Q) in Toledo for a three-night stay. D
History enthusiasts and old romantics are sure to experience love at first sight in 2,000-year-old Toledo. Set on a rocky outcrop almost ringed by the River Tagus, medieval, Moorish, Jewish and Christian monuments crowd every spare inch of this UNESCO-listed walled town. An included guided walking tour is the only way to admire the sights, including the church of Santo Tomé – home of El Greco’s masterpiece, ‘The Burial of the Count of Orgaz‘ – and the splendid cathedral, which took three centuries to complete after construction began in the 13th century. The afternoon will be at leisure – a great opportunity to explore the city independently and perhaps visit the Museo del El Greco, home to more works of art by Mannerist who lived here for a spell in the 16th century. This afternoon your can explore the sights at your leisure, perhaps visiting the cathedral or touring Toledo by train. B
Aranjuez Palace Gardens and Chinchon |
Enjoy exploring the imaginative Aranjuez Palace Gardens, the Bourbon’s answer to Versailles, set in the lee of Aranjeuz Castle (entrance to palace not included). Then visit medieval Chinchón, a small town where the streets come to life at night with people dining alfresco and where you can enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant – be sure to try some anis, a local aniseed flavoured liqueur.
La Mancha tour
Head out across the rolling Spanish countryside on a tour of La Mancha; the backdrop to Don Quixote’s bumbling adventures in Miguel Cervantes’ 1604 book – the world’s best-selling novel to date. Highlights include the unusual arcaded square at Almagro, and a beautifully preserved example of a 17th century Corral de Comedias theatre, where you’ll have free time for lunch, and the 11 restored windmills at Consuegra, which march in a photogenic line across a ridge. B
Travel to Monfragüe, pausing in the Conquistador town of Trujillo en route. Your Tour Manager will guide a sightseeing tour exploring the labyrinthine lanes and seeing the bronze statue of the city’s most famous son, Francisco Pizarro who ruthlessly brought the Inca Empire to submission. Continue to Monfragüe for a three-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Hospederia Parque de Monfragüe (4Q). After settling in, join a half-day guided hike in Monfragüe National Park, one of Spain’s most important wilderness areas: there are more than 200 species that call the woodlands, pastures and scrubland home, including all manner of reptiles, otters, wild boar and even the rarely-sighted Spanish lynx. The hiking trail is steep in places so walking boots and poles are recommended. B, D
Monfragüe National Park
Turn your eyes to the skies as you venture into Monfragüe National Park, one of Europe’s best birdwatching habitats. Black storks, griffon and Egyptian vultures, golden and imperial eagles and cross-looking eagle owls can all be spotted here. Your full-day trip includes a walk up to the Devil’s Leap, where you can learn about the folklore surrounding the park, and Peñafalcón, a rocky crag that’s home to a large colony of griffon vultures – make sure you have your binoculars to hand! B,L,D
Cáceres and Montánchez.
This morning, continue to the small town of Montánchez, famous for its cured ham. Visit a local farm first where you can learn about the concept of La Dehesa, the natural environment which makes this ham the best in Spain, helped by a diet of acorns! Then you can see how the meat is cured at a secadero before enjoying a taste test to judge its flavour for yourself.
Cáceres’ historic tug of war between rival Christians and Moorish factions is evident in the walls of this large town, from the surrounding ramparts to 15th-century fortress houses and 16th-century palatial houses complete with towers. Spend the afternoon exploring the maze-like streets where stork nests indiscriminately cover the rooftops. B, D
Monfragüe-La Aberca-Ciudad Rodrigo-Salamanca
A busy day of sightseeing awaits you on your journey to Salamanca. Begin with a visit to La Aberca whose quaint ensemble of medieval half-timbered houses have earned it National Historical Heritage status. Despite its raised exposure, La Alberca retains a sleepy, rural ambience and it’s not unusual for chickens and horses to block the way! Continue to the walled frontier town of Ciudad Rodrigo. You’ll have some free time to discover its highlights which include the cathedral, castle and Renaissance mansions. On arrival in Salamanca, stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Exe Salamanca (4Q). B
Salamanca is an elegant city of golden sandstone buildings and is home to Spain’s oldest university, once one of the most prestigious in the world. It boasts a magnificent main square, the Plaza Mayor, while the joined 12-13th-century and 16th-century cathedrals dominate the skyline with their mix of domes, arches and towering Gothic spires. Your tour includes entrance to the old and new cathedrals as well as the bullfighting museum. Later, perhaps join an optional half-day trip to the beautiful Hacienda Zorita where wine tasting is taken to the next level. B, D
Wine tasting |half day
Go wine tasting at the Hacienda Zorita, an impressive bodega set within extensive grounds and vineyards.
Travel to Ávila, pausing en route in Segovia with free time to see the impressive Roman aqueduct and Alcazar which inspired the Disney castle. Continue to the old Castilian city of Ávila. An impressive set of ramparts and turrets encircle this UNESCO World Heritage city and incorporate the rugged Gothic cathedral, which was built partly as a fortress for protection from the Moors. Before dinner, explore the atmospheric streets on an orientation tour – you’ll have the option to walk along the city’s ramparts which offer outstanding views across the rooftops. End your holiday on a high with an overnight stay at the grand Parador de Ávila (4Q), a locally rated 4-star hotel set in a restored 16th-century palace. B, D
Avila-Valle de los Caidos-Madrid-UK.
This morning, visit the Valle de los Caidos – the Valley of the Fallen which was built by Franco, arguably to immortalise himself and his dictatorship. This Catholic basilica is topped with a 150-metre high granite cross which can be seen as far away as Madrid on a clear day. Afterwards, continue to Madrid airport for your return flight to the UK. B