Enchanted Corners of Spain: Alcalá de Henares, Burgos, and La Rioja

Accommodation Included

Private Transport

Full-Time Support

Spain is a treasure chest filled with enchantment and riches that few foreigners ever discover. Our tour is focused on bringing you closer to authentic Spain, away from the large bustling cities, and into an assortment of medieval villages and larger towns of major historical and cultural interest. On this adventure we will focus on three areas: the Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), the communities of Burgos, and La Rioja located in central and northeast Spain – journeying through an amazing variety of landscapes.

Why Choose This Program

Journey through three breathtaking areas: the Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), the communities of Burgos, and La Rioja located in central and northeast Spain

Explore rich history, culture, gastronomy, wines, artisans, and a famous and unique festival

Visit the hidden gem of La Rioja and sample the famed red wine of the region

Travel to the National Park of the Hayedo de Tejera Negra and witness the incredible 'Village of Black Architecture'

Explore the medieval center and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alcalá de Henares

Trip Details

Tour Duration

8 days


Availability

All our tours are individually customized to your interests. While we loved guiding this private tour, it is purely an example of what can be possible and we will tailor your day to day program to your interests. If you would like to go on this tour, or a similar trip, please get in touch.


Group Size

Min 10 | Max 20 people


How You’ll Travel

Private bus transportation and driver between sites.

  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($10,000,000)
  • Private bus transportation and driver for long drives between San Jose and San Vito and Ujarras
  • Accommodations in shared facilities or homestays on site (6 nights total) – San Jose Casa del Parque (2 nights), San Vito (2 nights), Ujarras (3 nights)
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
  • Demonstrations from LEAF International teaching artists and students
  • Site visits to LEAF International programs
  • Opportunities for free time on the beach (Dominical) and city exploration (San Jose)
  • Full time local interpreter and cultural guide (Member of Proyecto Jirondai)
  • Breakfast and dinner each day (lunches are on own)
  • All taxes
  • Complete tour participant accounting including an option to pay by credit card
  • “Cancel for Any Reason Insurance” (CFAR) – Cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a 75% refund minus the insurance premiums. This applies to all travelers (except New York residents) and is included in the trip price

Number/Type of Staff

Supporting you on your journey will be a full time professional tour director.

  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
  • Customs and immigration fees at airports or border crossings
  • Airport transfer to first night hotel (we will try to collect flight information from each traveler in an effort to help you share taxis with similar arrival times
  • Various meals or drinks listed as “on own” in the itinerary when the group is dispersed for self-exploration
  • Additional nights lodging or any additional days if one chooses to remain in country longer

Detailed Itinerary

Please note that this is simply a sample itinerary to give you an idea of what we've done before and what we could create for you.

Day One: Explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Welcome to the lesser-known historical and cultural hub of Spain! Today we’ll make our way north of Madrid to reach the medieval center of Alcalá de Henares. With its 17th century buildings and cobbled stone streets and arcades, it is no wonder the region was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1998. Tonight we are staying next to the University of Alcalá, the second oldest university in Spain founded in 1293. Miguel Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, was born in Alcalá de Henares, and the King of Spain presents the most prestigious award in the Spanish-speaking world, the Cervantes Prize, an award for lifetime achievement in literature, at the University of Alcalá. We will have an afternoon tour of the medieval center, followed by a group orientation with wine and tapas and a delicious welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Day Two: Sample Exceptional Wine & Tapas

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This morning we’ll travel to the National Park of the Hayedo de Tejera Negra, also known as Los Pueblos de Arquitectura Negra (Villages of Black Architecture). Built in the 1200s, the villages are located in a huge valley within the national park and are constructed entirely from black slate using oak trees for the internal structure. Next we will embark on a one-hour hike (weather permitting) through the beautiful countryside to Majaelrayo and stop for some delicious tapas and drinks at a local establishment. Then continuing by coach we make our way to our typical regional lunch awaiting us on the other side of the mountain in Riaza.
After lunch we head north to Aranda de Duero, one of the most famous areas in Spain known for its red wines. We will visit the Portico of Sta. Maria la Real with an expert local guide and later tour a remarkable centuries-old bodega (winery) that lies 56 steps below ground. Below the entire medieval town of Aranda de Duero there is a network of tunnels that served as bodegas for over a century. Topping off the day’s activities, we will travel to a newer family-owned and built bodega and Hotel El Vid to feast on their awesome tapas and excellent wine.

Day Three: A Day of History & Architecture

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Take a step back in time as we travel further north to the beautiful half-timbered village of Peñaranda de Duero. Prepare for a morning of historical insights as we visit the remarkable 16th century Palace of the Counts of Miranda. After a short coffee and rest break, we’ll head up to the 10th century Castle of Peñaranda de Duero for an incredible view overlooking the historic village. Enjoy a guided tour of the monastery and the cloister in the convent before heading to the village of Lerma for a regional lunch of roasted lamb prepared in a typical “asador” original brick and stucco wood-burning oven. Our final stop of the day is to Quintanilla del Agua for an unusual experience! This incredible construction project by artist Felix Yáñez includes a life-sized medieval village made purely out of recycled materials. Retire to your hotel in the evening, or take some free time to wander the enchanted stone-paved village streets.

Day Four: Hear a Benedictine Choir

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Our expert local guide will lead us on an inspiring tour this morning, including a visit to La Colegiata de San Cosme y San Damián and later a climb up the Tower of Fernán de Gómez. Take this opportunity to soak up the incredible country views and meet with the friendly locals! Lunch this afternoon is at El Gallin Restaurant, owned and operated by the same family for five generations. Next, we’ll set off by coach for Yecla and (weather permitting) a unique experience walking between two stone mountains above a stream, then on to the medieval village of Santo Domingo de Silos that boasts an incredibly well-preserved 1000 year-old Romanesque cloister within the Benedictine monastery. Our official guide will lead us through the cloister and old pharmacy where monks prepared herbal medications centuries ago. Free time to wander the monastery and small village before hearing the famous Benedictine monks sing the Gregorian Chants.

Day Five: Experience the Hidden Gem of La Rioja

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This morning we will head to yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Cathedral of Burgos – for an official guided tour. Known for its size and distinctive architecture, the cathedral is part of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that winds throughout northern Spain on its way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
Our next stop is La Rioja, known for its famous wines – the perfect opportunity to sample some of the delicious reds the region is famous for! Enjoy a regional lunch in the picturesque medieval village of Briones, followed by a very special tour of the unique Bodega R. López Heredia in the village of Haro, wine capital of La Rioja. Witness how the family-owned business has been making wine for the last 140 years. We will receive a gift of a bottle of reserve wine, presented in an old-fashioned tin canister, and of course do some wine tasting at the end of the tour with tapas provided.

Day Six: Explore the Arts of the Region

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Along the Camino de Santiago, we will stop at Navarette to meet legendary potter Antonio Naharro, who has been producing pottery for over 60 years. Observe the fascinating process of pottery making before continuing on to Laguardia, a beautiful village that lies in the Alava region (part of Basque country). Witness an ornately carved and painted Church of Santa Maria with our expert local guide, followed by a chance to climb the defense tower!
After our morning of exploration, we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch of fresh ingredients at the fabulous and locally renowned Asador of Jose Mari. Sit outside and enjoy stunning views of vineyards stretching below. Next visit the nearby town of San Vicente de Sonsierra, a beautiful village dating back to the Romans with a commanding view of the Ebro River below. Walk the narrow streets and take in the breathtaking views below.

Day Seven: Festival of Anguiano

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Today is the highlight of our adventure: the festival in Anguiano! Based on a Celtic celebration of harvest, eight young male dancers from the village twirl down the steps of the church on stilts and dance for two kilometers to the Hermitage. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, they dance backwards and uphill! A short mass then takes place to thank the Virgin Magdalena for the crops gathered, before they set off again – twirling down the very steep stone paved street. After all of the excitement, we’ll fill our empty stomachs with a traditional lunch at the nearby village of Badarán, before heading back to Alcalá de Henares to celebrate with a farewell dinner.

Day Eight: Time to Head Home

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After breakfast at the hotel, your arranged transportation returns you to Barajas Airport. Take the opportunity to soak up the breathtaking mountains and rolling hills covered with seemingly endless vineyards on the scenic drive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's Included?

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  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($10,000,000)
  • Transfers to/from Barajas Airport
  • Accommodations in shared facilities
  • Most meals included
  • Snacks and drinks at rest stops
  • Private bus transportation and driver between sites
  • Full-time professional tour director}
  • Radio headsets during guided tours
  • Licensed English-speaking local guides
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
  • Complete tour participant accounting including option to pay by credit card
  • Welcome package with detailed write-ups, maps, water bottle and luggage tags
  • All taxes and service fees
  • All gratuities (tour leaders, local guides, driver, and restaurants included)
  • Comprehensive Accident, Medical/Liability/Travel Protection/Cancellation/Interruption Insurance included
  • Optional Cancel For Any Reason Insurance available — cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive 75% refund
What's Not Included?

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  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
What Should I Bring?

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Refillable water bottle, good walking shoes. You must have a valid U.S. passport (not expiring in the next 6 months)

Good to Know Before You Go

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• A full time local interpreter and cultural guide will accompany this trip.
• Remember to bring some cash/credit cards for lunches and additional food/drinks.
• Dietary requirements can be catered for – just let us know when booking.
• This itinerary is entirely flexible and customizable. Simply get in touch with a member of our staff to craft your ideal trip.