Our holidays to the Heart of Spain feature some of the best four and five star hotels in central Spain, featuring vineyard hotels, rural estates and city properties.Located at the geographical heart of Spain is its vibrant capital, Madrid, where days can be filled with art galleries and atmospheric outdoor cafes, and evenings promise an energetic nightlife . Surrounding the city are the dry plains of the country’s central plateau which are divided by spectacular mountain ranges and dotted with numerous castles, magnificent cathedrals and ancient Roman ruins. The regions which make up Spain’s central plateau have all played a hugely important role in the history of modern Spain, which is evident in the numerous castles which were built to protect towns and villages as the Moors fought the Christians in the 10th and 11th centuries. These are some of the least visited parts of Spain where few tourists venture outside of the main cities, ensuring that visitors will leave feeling like they have discovered something new…
At the centre of Spain is Madrid, where atmospheric cobbled streets link bustling squares which are filled with pavement cafes and flea markets, whilst tree-line boulevards are overlooked by neo-classical buildings. Surrounding the city are the dry plains of the country’s central plateau which are divided by spectacular mountain ranges and dotted with numerous castles, magnificent cathedrals and ancient Roman ruins. To the north of Madrid is Castilla y León, an elevated region which has played a hugely important role in the history of modern Spain. Rolling countryside is littered with historic cities, isolated villages and mediaeval castles, built by the Christians to defend against the Moorish invaders. Salamanca, Avila, Segovia, León, Valladolid and Burgos are all home to a wealth of art and stunning architecture, including Gothic cathedrals and Roman structures. Away from the cities are natural attractions including mountain ranges and nature reserves, with wheat fields and vineyards covering the high plateaus. To the south and east of Madrid is Castilla-La Mancha, an expansive region with dry plains stretching towards mountains in the distance. The predominantly flat scenery is made up of olive groves, wheat fields, extensive vineyards, hilltop castles and the iconic windmills described by Cervantes. Head to the historic city of Toledo, where Christian, Jewish and Arab cultures blend to create a popular tourist destination, or to Cuenca, a dramatic town where houses seemingly dangle over a plunging gorge.Further west towards the border with Portugal is Extremadura, a region with green pastures and rolling hills, forests and fertile river valleys, as well as charming towns boasting stunning examples of Roman architecture. Elaborate palaces and manor houses are found in clusters throughout the region, built by conquistadors with gold from the New World.
HighlightsThe three world-class art galleries which make up Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art, home to works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Francisco de Goya. The historical sights of Old Madrid, including the lavish Royal Palace, the grand Plaza Mayor and the city’s spiritual centre – Puerta del Sol. Parque del Retiro, a popular spot for relaxation in the centre of Madrid with a boating lake. El Escorial, a large royal residence just outside Madrid which also functions as a monastery and is where many Spanish monarchs are buried. The Gothic cathedrals of León, Burgos and Toledo which feature stunning stained glass, mediaeval art and elaborate sculptures. The numerous castles which are scattered across the region including the Gothic-style Belmonte Castle, the Mudejár Coca Castle and the Moorish Alcazaba of Badajoz. The university city of Alcalá de Henares, birthplace of Cervantes, the 16th century author who wrote about the adventures of Don Quixote. The walled city of Ávila. The university city of Salamanca. Segovia, with its Roman Aqueduct and distinctive castle. Cuenca, a picturesque old town with houses which appear to hang over a gorge. The iconic windmills which sit on the plains near Consuegra. Roman ruins in Mérida. Elaborate palaces and manor houses in Trujillo and Cáceres. The wine-producing regions throughout central Spain including Ribera del Duero, La Mancha and Valdepeñas where visitors can visit vineyards and enjoy wine tastings. Mountain ranges which divide the central plateau, with many opportunities for walking and rock climbing.Local eventsFebruary: Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival, February-March: Madrid Carnival, February – March: Madrid Contemporary Art Fair, March/April: Holy week celebrations, May: San Isidro bullfighting festival (Madrid), May/June: Toledo Corpus Christi processions (Toledo), July – August: Madrid summer arts festival, October: Saffron Rose Festival (Consuegra), October: Cervantes Week (Alcala de Henares), October-November: Madrid Autumn FestivalCuisineAs expected, Madrid is home to some excellent restaurants serving a great range of cuisine from throughout Spain and around the world. Roasted meat and game as well as a variety of broths and stews are common features on menus throughout central Spain, where traditional cooking is simple and hearty. Cuisine varies slightly between the regions, with more paprika and saffron being used in the south. Various pulses are grown on the plains of Castilla y León, whilst Manchego cheese produced in La Mancha and high quality Ibérico ham is produced in Extremadura. There are a number of wine regions which produce high-quality red and white wines. Local dishes include ‘Pollo a lo Padre Pero’ (chicken with a spicy sauce), ‘El frite’ (fried lamb), ‘Sopa de ajo’ (garlic soup), ‘Pisto manchego’ (similar to ratatouille), ‘Yemas’ (a rich dessert made with egg yolks).ClimateThe climate of central Spain is generally quite extreme, with extremely hot summers and bitterly cold yet dry winters. Rainfall is generally quite low thanks to the mountains which surround the region. Madrid can be almost unbearable in the summer months as temperatures reach 40 degrees, whilst during the temperatures regularly drop below freezing. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit as temperatures are warm and pleasant, although there is increased rainfall.
By air: Madrid-Barajas Airport is the largest within Spain, and is served by a huge number of flights to the UK and other destinations around the world. There are a number of daily flights from London airports with British Airways, as well as flights with low-cost airlines to regional airports. Madrid airport is linked to the city centre by metro and bus. There are a few small regional airports in central Spain, but these operate a very limited number of flights to other cities in Spain.By rail: High speed trains run between Madrid and other cities in Spain including Barcelona, Seville and Valencia. It is also possible to travel from Paris to Madrid, although it is necessary to travel via Barcelona. Most other towns and cities have a train station, allowing easy access to Madrid.Hire-cars: As many important towns and cities are easily accessible by rail a hire-car is not essential, but is advised as many local highlights are in rural locations. Hire-cars can be collected from a great range of locations.
The starting point for most holidays to central Spain is Madrid, so combine a stay here with a long stay in a relaxing rural hotel, or discover the region’s culture and history with a touring holiday visiting a number of important towns and cities.
The 5 star Hospes Palacio de Arenales near Caceres is well-placed for exploring Extremadura.
We are open Mon-Fri 9-17.30 Sat 9.30-16.00.
Let us know a convenient time to call you back to discuss your holiday.
E-mail us with an outline of your holiday requirements.
Las Arenas Balneario Resort Hotel is a large and striking property set beside Va
Mas de Torrent is a luxurious hotel with a very special feel, offering a peacefu
Finca Cortesin is an elegant hotel with plenty of special touches to guarantee a
Find out more about Spain
CapitalMadrid Airportthe main gateway to Spain is Madrid’s Barajas airport, although many airlines serve other centres, particularly Barcelona, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. CurrencyEuro (£1=1.24 Euros) Size195,000 sq miles Population46 million Average temperatureClimate varies dramatically from region to region, with the meseta (high tableland of central Spain), Ebro basin and Andalucia scorching in summer (up to 45 degrees Centigrade), cold and dry in winter. The Mediterranean coast and Balearic Islands get a little more rain than Madrid, and the south can be even hotter in summer. The Mediterranean, particularly around Alicante, also provides Spain’s warmest waters (reaching 27°C or so in August). Barcelona’s weather is typical of the coast – milder than in inland cities but more humid.
Rail holidays and train journeys, tailor-made.
Italian garden holidays and tours for individuals and small groups
Visit our selection of tailor-made family holidays to selected hotels and resorts around the world.
Tailor-made cookery holidays in Italy
Rejuvenating, relaxing, refreshing, good for the body and the soul; spa and well-being worldwide
Our selection of authentic experience and special interest holidays.
Luxury tours for individuals around the world
Summer holiday ideas in France, Italy an
The Sani Resort in Greece has just announced the opening of the Ozone Teens House.
Between the 21st and the 25th June 2017, Barbados is hosting the 12th World Flower Show, entitled ‘Flowers in Paradise.’
New gardens and villas added to our Italian Garden Tour Holidays.
Exciting developments to our Swiss programme have lead to many more personalised rail holiday options.
The performance and dates for the 2017 Verona Opera Festival have been released, and we have begun taking bookings.
Georgie gives us the low-down on her experience of Catalonia, and her most insightful recommendations.
The Viceroy Resort in St Lucia has been voted the Best Long Haul Hotel in the World at the 2016 Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards in Las Vegas this September.
At the 2016 Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards, Round Hill Hotel and Villas has been voted the Caribbean’s Leading Villa Resort for the 8th consecutive year, as well as Jamaica’s Leading Hotel.