Northern Spain & the Pyrenees Tour
17 days from $7,597 pp twin share
- Leisurely 2 and 3 night stays
- Small group size from 10 to 28
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- 'My Time' guaranteed
From the rich, rolling vineyards of the Rioja region, follow Spain’s Costa Verde to elegant San Sebastian. Explore the mighty French Pyrenees and stay in the walled city of Carcassonne. Ride high in mountain cable cars, relax by the Canal du Midi and sip wine and dine as the lucky locals do.
- Stay 3 nights in an 800 year old Parador hotel in the Rioja region
- See the walled medieval city of Laguardia and beautiful Haro
Enjoy a tasting at the fabulous Marques de Riscal winery
Stay 3 nights in Santander on the Atlantic Coast
- Take the spectacular cable car ride up to the summit of the Picos de Europa
- Stay 3 nights in Spain’s culinary capital of San Sebastián
- Explore Bilbao and enjoy lunchtime in the grand old quarter
- See the world famous Guggenheim Museum
- Visit Saint Jean de Luz and the dramatic French coastal resort of Biarritz
- Stay 3 nights in the heart of historical Carcassonne
- Sip bubbly where it was actually first invented
- Visit the medieval time capsule of Mirepoix
- Visit Figueres, once home to Salvador Dali
- Spend your final night in the very heart of Barcelona
A peek at two peaks!!
Why do we include 2 cable car rides on this trip? Because the days are so different. You see, it is not just about the dramatic views from the top of each, it is about the journey, the mountain experience – it is about the whole day itself. Take the Picos de Europa ride. Our journey takes us up through the dramatic gorges and villages, deep into the wild Picos National Park. Here we also enjoy a ‘Fabada’ mountain lunch
(included, of course, after all this is Albatross). So the cable car itself is not the destination, but an excuse for a great day out. And in the Pic
Du Midi, in the French Pyrenees? Much higher, much bigger views, and a huge observatory at the top like something out of a James Bond
movie. And the journey? We follow a part of the famous Tour de France bicycle route over the Tourmalet Pass, an experience enhanced by
the struggling cyclists we pass up hill. Albatross always include those extra days to really experience additional, unusual, sensational sights. There’s more to travel than simply ticking highlight cities off a list. There’s also the experiences. Whether travelling from peak to peak, or visiting the cliff top citadel of Minerve, or the cafés by the Canal du Midi, we do these extra things because they simply can’t be missed!
Day 1: Madrid welcome
Day 2: Burgos El Cid and the Rioja Region
Day 3: Ancient Pamplona and Olite
This afternoon we will stop in the small town of Olite to visit the magnificent Palacio Real de Olite - the Royal Palace of the kings of Navarre, one of the ancient kingdoms of Spain. Your evening is at leisure in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Day 4: Haro, Laguardia and Marques de Riscal vineyard
This morning we visit Haro, one of Rioja’s most famous wine producing towns with its beautiful square and wonderful baroque church. After a scenic drive through the famous Rioja wine region, lunchtime is at leisure in the fortified hill top town of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa, a walled medieval town with spectacular views across the Sierra de Cantabria. On arrival we have included a visit to the Church of Santa Maria De Los Reyes, famous for its late-14th century Gothic doorway, adorned with beautiful sculptures.
This afternoon we will make a special stop at the flamboyant Marques de Riscal vineyard. On approach the winery is a sensational sight with a design looking more like a giant chocolate box covered with huge wild colourful ribbons. Here we enjoy a vineyard tour and tasting.
Day 5: Elegant Vitoria and coastal Santander
Day 6: Picos de Europa
Day 7: Santander ‘My Time’, Altamira Caves and Santillana de Mar
materials. A unique and fascinating visit! Later we will enjoy a relaxing stop nearby in one of Spain’s most beautiful towns – Santillana de Mar – with its private noble palaces and romanesque church. The town is also famous for its local handicraft and local produce. Your evening is at leisure.
Hand Selected Experience
Altamira Caves, so close, so real
admire them in the amazing replica cave built beside the cave entrance, as part of a fascinating museum. So close, so real,
our local guide will breathe life into the ancient story
Day 8: Castro Urdiales, Bilbao and San Sebastián
Day 9: San Sebastián sightseeing and ‘My Time’
Day 10: Seaside Saint Jean De Luz and Biarritz
Day 11: City of Pau, Lourdes and Tarbes
Day 12: Hautes-Pyrenees and Pic du Midi cable car
Day 13: Mirepoix and Abbey of St Hilaire in Limoux
A leisurely start today as we head across the vine covered hills to enjoy lunchtime in the perfectly preserved time capsule of Mirepoix. Without doubt this is one of the most beautiful medieval town squares in Europe, with its colourfully painted, half-timbered houses that date back to between the 13th and 15th centuries. Sitting atop centuries old wooden rafters carved at the ends with monsters, animals and gargoyles, these rows of shuttered houses provide shady covered walkways for cafés and shops.
We are now in the ‘Pays Cathare’, or Cathar country, in the lovely Languedoc Roussillon region. Just south of Carcassonne near Limoux we will make a special visit to the Abbey of St Hilaire, a jewel of Romanesque architecture. Originally dating back possibly 1300 years, the more recently added Abbey church and 14th century cloisters are a delight. The Benedictine monks
of the Abbey are also credited with inventing the sparkling wine known as Blanquette de Limoux, a full century before their counterparts created ‘bubbly’ in Champagne! Our stay for the next three nights is right in the very heart of the massive, UNESCO World Heritage Listed, walled city of Carcassonne.
Hand Selected Experience
Sip bubbly, where it was first invented
Everyone thinks ‘bubbly’ was invented in the Champagne region. Not so! A full 100 years beforehand, the monks of St Hilaire
Abbey created this celebratory brew, and they did it so well too! Known as ‘Blanquette de Limoux’, it tastes terrific. Maybe that is because the abbey and cloisters where it is made is a 600 year old jewel of Romanesque architecture, or maybe because sipping it, where bubbly was first invented, adds dreaminess and nostalgia to the flavour. Or maybe because it is just so good!
Day 14: Carcassonne sightseeing and ‘My Time’
Dating back to Roman times, the existing 13th century fortress city of Carcassonne is an extraordinary timepiece. This morning we are joined by a local guide as we explore the ramparts and old town of Carcassonne. The medieval castle, with its gigantic double walled fortifications and 53 watchtowers, is the 2nd most visited site in France outside of Paris. We have also included entrance into the château of the Counts of Carcassonne. The rest of the day is completely free to wander amongst the cafés, shops and boutiques within this exceptional town.
Day 15: Minerve, Le Somail and Canal du Midi
through the vineyards of the Minervois region to stop and explore the picturesque hamlet of Le Somail, sitting astride the Canal du Midi. Here we enjoy lunch on the leafy terrace on an Auberge, beside the humped back bridge that crosses the canal. To complete the day, we also enjoy a scenic cruise up the Canal du Midi on an authentic 'gabare' (barge). Delightful!
Day 16: Figueres and Barcelona
Heading into Spain we reach the Girona province where we will enjoy a morning stop in Figueres. Time to stroll amongst the shops of the tree lined La Rambla, the city’s shaded central avenue, and stop in one of the café filled squares. Make sure you visit the Placa Gala, with its Dali statues and the Salvador Dali museum housed in the old municipal theatre. In the afternoon we reach the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Barcelona. On arrival we will enjoy a panoramic drive past many of its famous sights, including Gaudi’s incredible Segrada Familia Basilica. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 17: Barcelona
Incredible Value Inclusions
ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
16 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
27 meals – including breakfast daily (B), 2 ‘Fabada’ mountain lunch in Potes (L) and 9 dinners (D)
Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
Hand Selected Albatross Experiences - cable car rides Picos de Europa and Pic du Midi
Local guides as described in the itinerary
ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
Personal audio system whilst on tour
Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels
Albatross Travel App and ‘On Tour’ Travel Map
Albatross Memories Photobook
Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Rioja- 3 nights
As defined by the Paradores Hotel organisation, a ‘Parador’ is a “kind of luxury hotel, usually located in a converted historical building such as a monastery or castle”. Our first class hotel for these three nights, the Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada, will not disappoint. Dating back to the 12th century and sitting in the heart of the old town, this former hospital building was built to house pilgrims on the Way of St James. It now boasts stone gothic archways and magnificent lounges and grand hallways.
Hotel Hoyuela, Santander - 3 nights
Mercure Monte Igueldo, San Sebastian - 3 nights
Set on Mount Igueldo overlooking the Bay of La Concha, this modern 4-star hotel is connected to the city by a fully functional 100-year-old funicular railway. The air conditioned guest rooms are spacious and functional. Enjoy panoramic ocean views from the hotel’s restaurant which specialises in Basque cuisine.
Le Rex, Tarbes - 2 nights
In a fantastic location right in the heart of town, ‘Le Rex’ is a superb first class, modern designer hotel.
The Best Western le Donjon, Carcassonne - 3 nights
Albatross you have done it again! I waited for this tour for 2 years and it has exceeded all expectations. From the wonderful countryside we travelled through to the small villages with so much character, all handpicked I'm sure. It was a gastronomic event unsurpassed, wow such delights! The tour was run at a leisurely pace and I still love the 3 night stops. It was so well organised you wouldn't believe it was an inaugural tour. The coach was excellent, the USB ports for each seat are terrific and WiFi exellent. Our coach driver Jose was superb driving in those small rural towns, missing by a whisker sometimes. He was always cheery and helped us with our bags and entering and leaving the coach, a cool customer indeed. Darren our tour manager was amazing. Extremely well organised. We knew what was happening all the time. His commentary was expansive and captivating. How he does it all amazes me. On top of that he is a very kind, courteous and caring person. I loved it all and shall treasure the memories always!
This tour exceeded all expectations. It was great to relax and have full confidence in both the tour manager and the coach driver as they handled their roles professionally, efficiently and calmly. On pre-arrival into our stops we were given a history of the area and optional activities which was extremely helpful for us to manage our time to it's full potential and our energy levels at the time. There were moments of free time as we strolled beside the beaches that it felt more like a holiday than a tour, then there were other times that it felt more like an adventure. I loved the mix of cultures that we experienced and the variety of countryside, and of course, the food. For the inaugural tour I felt it ran very smoothly only for the exception of Biarritz when it was a public holiday weekend and very busy.
We had a fabulous time. Thank you!!
We had 4 main reasons for choosing an Albatross tour:
- Size of groups
- Quality of the hotels
- Quality of the food
- No tipping
In each of these areas we were extremely happy.
Darren, our tour manager, was exceptional, very knowledgeable, extraordinarily talented and fluent in languages, helpful and caring. The tour was extremely well organised considering it was the inaugural tour. It was a wonderful tour, thank you very much.
I booked this tour with confidence having travelled with Albatross Tours on two previous occasions. Once again the varied itinerary, inclusions, high standard of hotels, restaurants, coach and driver was synonymous with Albatross. Pre and post-tour information (including the Travel app) was helpful but above all, our efficient and thoughtful multi-lingual Tour Manager was invaluable. I believe Albatross Tours deliver value for money and a reliability you can depend upon.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Three night stays in most places was really appreciated. Our guide, Darren Wheatley, was informative, caring and attended to the needs of us all. The mix of guided tours and free time was ideal. Pic du Midi excursion was the highlight for me. It was a wonderful day and the weather was perfect!
Lynette Paige, July 2018
Dates and Prices
|Start Date||End Date||Price Per Person||Guaranteed to Depart||Availability|
|26 Jun 2019||12 Jul 2019||NZD $7,809||Space Limited - Call Now|
|28 Aug 2019||13 Sep 2019||NZD $7,915||Sold Out|
|11 Sep 2019||27 Sep 2019||NZD $7,915||Space Limited - Call Now|
|27 May 2020||12 Jun 2020||Not Yet Open For Sale|
|17 Jun 2020||3 Jul 2020||Not Yet Open For Sale|
|1 Jul 2020||17 Jul 2020||Not Yet Open For Sale|
|19 Aug 2020||4 Sep 2020||Not Yet Open For Sale|
|9 Sep 2020||25 Sep 2020||Not Yet Open For Sale|
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No Additional 'On Tour' Costs
Over $100 value of extras per day are already included. There are no additional 'on tour' costs - even your end of tour tips are included!