With exclusive wines, fresh and succulent seafood, and amazing museums and palaces to explore, Spain is more than just Barcelona and Madrid. Let Back-Roads Touring guide you to these buried treasures that have so much to offer!
The town where Salvador Dalí spent his childhood holidays and his later life, Cadaqués is a coastal town in the Catalonia region of Spain. 2 1/2 hours from Barcelona, Cadaqués’s remote location has helped preserve the natural and architectural beauty of the white-washed town. The town is pedestrian friendly, with many marked trails and paths that pass through the town and along the coasts and beaches. Casa Museu Dalí, the home of Salvador Dalí now functioning as a museum, is only a 15-20 minute walk from the center of Cadaqués in Port Lligat and is as surreal as its former owner. Cadaqués offers exceptional seafood thanks to its proximity to Costa Brava.
Founded after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 400’s, Santiago de Compostela still retains much of its history in the stone cobbled streets and ornate cathedrals. It was said that the apostle James preached and was buried in Santiago de Compostela after his death in Palestine. There is a small train that travels to all areas of the city with an English-speaking guide, one of the more comfortable ways to see it all. The Museo da Catedral features a collection of religious art, a large 16th-century Gothic cloister, and the tombs of kings of medieval León. Praza do Obradoiro is the heart of the city and the arrival point of the thousands of pilgrims who come to the city. Santiago de Compostela also features one of the oldest universities in Spain, the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), with more than 40,000 students from diverse backgrounds and languages.
San Sebastian is a curious blend of nature and man-made architecture, aged relics and new, chic businesses. Revered by culinary critics all over the world, San Sebastian takes tapas culture to a new level, and encourages visitors to take one tapas and one drink at one bar, then move on to another, diversifying your palate. Many restaurants also sport Michelin stars if you’re looking for a world-class meal, and seafood is featured because of the great quality found in the area. The two beaches, La Concha and La Zurriola, are popular for surfers and those wanting to learn how to surf (and plenty of places to rent equipment and take lessons), as well as water skiing and kayaking. The city is also full of high-end boutiques and shops, featuring couture clothing, shoes, purses, and jewelry.
Castilla La Mancha, the setting for Miguel Cervantes’s famous novel “Don Quixote”, is heavily wooded and still sports the windmills which the fictional hero bravely charged. The region is famous for its wine and cheese, specifically manchego cheese. The cheese gets its name from the manchega sheep the milk comes from and is aged between 60 days and 2 years. La Mancha is also the largest continuous vine-growing area in the world, with the reds and rosés considered the best the region has to offer. One of the reasons for La Mancha’s success in the wine industry is due to its climate and its soil with high contents of limestone and chalk, which retains the water the plant needs.
Famous for its fresh, high-quality seafood, Costa de la Luz is the epitome of quiet and tranquility. With beaches and small towns still untouched by the masses, Costa de la Luz is curious that is has not become a crowded tourist hotspot, but delightful because of its untouched beauty. This hidden gem on the Atlantic Coast has wide beaches popular with surfers and sand-castle builders alike!
Home to some of the most exquisite sherry wines in the world, Jerez de la Frontera is world-renowned for its incredible quality and long-established wineries. Sherry is made from white grapes, primarily the Palomino grape, and range from light to heavy. The wine is fortified with grape spirits to increase the alcohol content, and some are then aged, such as Amontillado and Oloroso, for a minimum of 3 years. Spanish sherry is highly protected by the Spanish government and the EU, and outside sherries are not permitted to be imported into Europe.
Overlooking the city of Granada, the Alhambra palace is a majestic and ornate sight to behold. Converted from a small fortress into a palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada, in 1333, Alhambra is what is left of the last of the Islamic dynasties that ruled Spain. Some damage was done to the palace during the Napoleonic wars, but the structure today has been respectfully restored to its former glory. The grounds include the Alcazaba, the ruins of the original fortress; the Palace of Charles V, commissioned by the monarch in the 16th century for his use; the PalaciosNazaries, the original Nasrid palace (and usually the most popular area of Alhambra); and Generalife, the breathtaking and lush gardens of the Nasrid kings.
This nine-day journey showcases the best of northern Spain, an undiscovered gem in this culturally diverse, vibrant country. See the natural beauty of the Costa Brava, travel through traditional villages on rolling green hills flanked by mist-covered mountains, taste wines in La Rioja, one of the most famous and prestigious wine producing areas in Spain and explore San Sebastian, the jewel of northern Spain’s Basque country.
Spain has perhaps the richest cultural heritage of any European country, particularly in the southern region of Andalusia, which boasts a fantastic blend of Roman, Arab and Catholic influences. This journey of discovery travels on the back roads and mountain passes of Andalusia visiting well-known sights and lesser-known gems along the way.
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