The Paradors of Spain

by Train

Paradors of Spain by Train. Enjoy a 10 day tailormade tour from £2290 per person.


Spain’s rail network isn’t perhaps as well-known as that of France, but following considerable investment over the last decade or two it now rivals the services offered by its neighbour to the north. RENFE (Spain’s national train company) offers its own version of the TGV – the high-speed AVE trains (Alta Velocidad Española) which link major cities at up to 186mph. Together with a wide range of local and regional services, there really is no better way to explore Spain than by train.

Perhaps more famous than its trains, many travellers will have heard of Spain’s chain of Paradors. Located throughout the country, these luxury hotels offer captivating and idiosyncratic accommodation in castles, palaces, convents, monasteries, fortresses and other fascinating historic buildings. The group also boasts a handful of modern hotels, built in a traditional style, often in areas of outstanding beauty.

 

We have put together this sample tailormade itinerary which takes in some of the very best Paradors, including the magnificent Hostal dos Reis Catolicos in Santiago de Compostela. This is one of the oldest lodgings in the world.

On this rail based tour using the Paradors of Spain, you will travel by modern train from Galicia in the North West via UNESCO World Heritage-listed Segovia, located in the middle of the country, down to Andalucia.

Your journey will end in Granada where you will have the privilege of staying at the exceptional Parador de Granada. This Parador offers the visitor a unique opportunity, namely to stay within the iconic Alhambra. Here you stay in this beautiful reminder of the medieval Spanish world, so heavily influenced by its Moorish conquerors. It is undoubtedly one of the best Paradors of Spain.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace

Moderate

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary

Begin your holiday in some of the best Paradors of Spain. Arrive in Santiago de Compostela where you will be met at the airport and transferred to the 5 star Parador de Santiago, also known as the Hostal dos Reis Católicos. After check-in, the remainder of the day will be free for you to explore the delights of this intriguing city independently. Overnight Parador Santiago de Compostela (D).

Santiago de Compostela

The final stop on the epic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail, Santiago is a unique city imbued with the aura of a millennium’s worth of journeys. Long-departed centuries live on in its arcaded streets and magnificent stone architecture, of which the famous cathedral is the jewel in the crown. Annually, some 300,000 Camino pilgrims and many thousands of others still venture here, lending Santiago an almost greater international dimension than ever before. Yet this is also the capital of the Spanish autonomous region of Galicia, with a strong local character – a place where the skirl of bagpipes wafts across plazas and the countless restaurants and bars proudly specialise in fine Galician seafood and local wines.

Parador de Santiago – Hostal dos Reis Católicos

Considered to be the oldest hotel in the world, the Parador Santiago de Compostela was built in 1499 on the orders of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Once a royal hospital, which provided lodging and shelter for the multitudinous pilgrims who arrived in the city following the ‘Camino de Santiago’, the impressive building,  along with the Romanesque cathedral  beside it and the Plaza de Obradoiro, have been designated a UNESCO Heritage site and are proclaimed as historic jewels by international and Spanish travellers alike. The Parador has maintained its tradition to this day of granting those pilgrims staying at the hotel free meals and stamps for their passport.

Experience the historic city of Santiago de Compostela on a 4 hour private walking excursion with a local English-speaking guide. Your tour will be tailored to suit your interests but will typically include must-see sites such as Plaza del Obradoiro, Palacio de Raxoi, and Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Admire its architecture and learn about the history of Santiago’s UNESCO-designated old town from a passionate local. At the time of booking, please inform us of the time at which you would like to start your tour. Your guide will meet you in the reception area of the Parador. After the tour return to the Parador. Overnight Parador Santiago de Compostela (BD)

A free day for you to explore the city on your own, heading to some of the more obscure corners, or revisiting some of your favourite sites in greater depth. Alternatively, simply make the most of your stay at one of the most luxurious and beautiful Paradors in Spain. Overnight Parador Santiago de Compostela (BD)

After an early breakfast make your own way to the railway station for a morning train to Segovia. Leaving the 1870s mock-mansion arches of the station, your route takes you first through the forest-clad hills of Galicia, before the untamed heights, huge upland reservoirs and scrubby grasslands of the Cantabrian Mountains take over. As the line sinks back down to the cultivated plains of the Douro River, the jagged peaks that frame Segovia start to appear across the expanses and Segovia is reached.

Train Schedule (subject to change)

Depart Santiago de Compostela – 07:48

Arrive Segovia – 12:41

At present the above service is the only direct train of the day between Santiago de Compostela and Segovia. Other trains are available, but these will involve making at least one connection and journey times can be considerably longer.

Upon arrival at Segovia’s Guiomar station, which is located about 8km out of the city, you will be met and transferred to the Parador de Segovia where you will stay for 3 nights. After check-in, the remainder of the day will be free for you to relax or to explore a city simply oozing ancient opulence on your own. Overnight Parador de Segovia (BD)

Segovia

UNESCO World Heritage–listed Segovia has always had a whiff of legend about it, not least in the myths that the city was founded by Hercules or indeed by a son of Noah. It may also have something to do with the fact that nowhere else in Spain can there be found such a stunning monument to Roman grandeur – the soaring aqueduct – surviving in the very heart of a vibrant modern city. Or maybe it’s because art really has imitated life Segovia-style – Walt Disney is said to have modelled Sleeping Beauty’s castle on Segovia’s Alcázar. Whatever the reason, the effect is stunning: a magical city where oceans of rippling terracotta pantiles lap against the piers of flaxen mediaeval masterpieces of architecture, all set amid the undulating hills of Castilla that rise to the backdrop of the Sierra de Guadarrama.

Parador de Segovia

This beautifully designed Parador is located just 3km from the medieval city of Segovia and boasts stunning panoramic views of the old quarter, the site of Castile and León’s renowned 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct. From the hotel, many of the city’s famed medieval structures can be seen rising from its captivating skyline, including the spectacular Alcázar fortress and the city’s grand Gothic Cathedral. The interesting multi-level structure and large windows of the Segovia Parador are designed to capture the best of the historic panorama on offer. Sequestered a short step from the city, the location of the Parador de Segovia allows you to keep the city in sight, whilst proffering an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of visitors the historic centre attracts. With spacious lawns and carefully-designed shaded areas around the pool, you can cool down after a day’s sightseeing with a swim framed by Segovia’s illustrious prospect.

Explore the ancient city of Segovia on a 3 hour private walking excursion with a local English-speaking guide. Your tour will be tailored to suit your interests, but will typically include the city’s highlights such as the famous Roman aqueduct, the ‘Alcazar’, the delightfully mediaeval Jewish Quarter and ‘La Muralla’ (the ramparts). At the time of booking, please inform us of the time at which you would like to start your tour. Your guide will meet you in front of the Parador. After the tour, return to the Parador. Overnight Parador de Segovia (BD)

A free day for you to explore the city, perhaps enjoying the world passing by as you partake of a local delicacy or caňa on the edge of the elegant Plaza Major, or delving into the labyrinthine streets of the old centre. Instead you may prefer to relax and enjoy your stay at the Parador. Overnight Parador de Segovia (BD)

Make your own way by taxi to Segovia’s Guiomar station. Ensure that you allow plenty of time as the station is located outside of the city and the journey is likely to take at least 25mins depending on traffic.

As there are no direct trains from Segovia to Granada it will necessary to make a connection in Madrid with a change of stations.

Train Schedule (subject to change)

Depart Segovia – 12:43

Arrive Madrid Chamartin – 13:12

Make your own way to Madrid Atocha station (see notes below)

Depart Madrid Atocha – 14:35

Arrive Granada – 17:52

Connection in Madrid

Local trains from Chamartin station (normally platform 8 – but do check) leave every 5 to 10 minutes and take about 10 to 15 minutes (3 stops) to Atocha. Unless otherwise advised, you will need to buy a ticket for the local train from a machine at Chamartin station. The fare is around €1.70; the machines accept Euro notes & coins.

If you prefer, for a small supplement we can arrange a private car transfer to take you between Chamartin and Atocha stations. This is a good option when travelling with luggage. Please contact us for further details.

After leaving the fascination of Segovia behind, the train plunges into the 28 km Guadarrama Tunnel which slices through the Sierra de Guadarrama, emerging in the more arid hills and groves that in turn give way eventually to the capital city of Madrid. Here you transfer to the glorious Atocha Station, a late 19th century testament to the engineering skills of its architects who included the celebrated Gustave Eiffel. Beyond, the plains of the Tagus and Castilla-La Mancha open up and offer an intriguing window of the towns, villages and farmland that dominate this southern region. Eventually the aridity and altitude start to rise, landmasses soaring out of the fertile plateau as you head into the uplands of Andalucia. Upon arrival at Granada’s station you will be met and transferred to the Parador de Granada where you will stay for 3 nights. After check-in, the remainder of the day will be free for you to relax or to explore the city on your own. Overnight Parador de Granada (BD)

Grenada

At the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between the rivers Darro and Genil, lies one of the most interesting cities in Eastern Andalusia. As well as its impressive Al-Andalus heritage, here Renaissance architectural gems await, alongside the most modern of facilities, a city truly fit for the 21st century.  Granada has an unmistakable Moorish essence, owing to the fact that it was the last city to be reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. The gastronomy, craftwork and urban planning are influenced by its glorious past. Fountains, viewpoints and “Cármenes” – houses surrounded by typical gardens of this city – create unforgettable corners to the city. It is no surprise that one of its old neighbourhoods, the Albaicín, has been awarded World Heritage designation, together with the Alhambra and Generalife.

Parador de Granada

The exceptional Parador de Granada offers the visitor a unique opportunity – to stay within the Alhambra, unarguably one of the greatest wonders of the medieval world. Built between 1238 and 1358 on a hilltop site overlooking the city Granada, the citadel of the Alhambra was the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain, finally falling to the Christians in 1492. This is possibly the best of all the Paradors of Spain.

The Alhambra (from al-hamra, Arabic for ‘the red’, referring to the crimson stucco of the walls) consists of a complex of palaces and fortresses, and the Parador San Francisco, as it is known, was originally part of a 14th-century palace and mosque, later converted into a Franciscan convent. Part of the building was once a chapel where the Kings of Spain were buried (though later moved and reburied elsewhere), the Parador also features a fine tower and an arcaded courtyard of breathtaking beauty and serenity. The interior combines both Moorish and Christian styles, and the bedrooms – each one unique – all have views of the gardens and buildings of the Alhambra.

Meet your guide at the entrance of the UNESCO listed Alhambra and enjoy a 2½ hour private walking tour. Discover the history of this emblematic structure, delving back into its Moorish roots as you stroll through this most opulent of royal palaces. Learn about the last historically Arabic city in Spain and listen to stories of its origins as a military fortress from your guide. Admire the beautiful architecture and surrounding areas as you walk around the complex. Later, return to the Parador after which the remainder of the day will be free. At the time of booking, please inform us of the time at which you would like to start your tour – 09:00, 13:00 or 15:00. Overnight Parador de Granada (BD)

Today you are at liberty to immerse yourself in the extraordinary diversity of Granada’s different cultural quarters, from the whitewashed and jasmine-scented squares of Arabic Albaicín where tapas restaurants offer a dizzying fusion of dishes and the glorious Cathedral offers a myriad of architectural wonders, to the inimitable gypsy quarter that echoes to the sound of flamenco as you enjoy a tipple at a street-side tavern. Of course, at the end of your journeying, you may decide that to lie back and drink in the grandeur and intoxicating sense of history at the incomparable Parador is adventure encapsulated. Overnight Parador de Granada (BD)

We end our tour of the Paradors of Spain when you check out before 12:00 and transfer to the airport for your departure. (B)

Dates & Price.

The Paradors of Spain tour operates on a private basis. Price starts from £2290 per person based on 2 people travelling sharing a room.

Tour Notes

Flights from London to Santiago de Compostela to start the Paradors of Spain holiday and return from Granada start at £150. Contact us for a quotation.

We know that for many of our destinations flying cannot be avoided. But we also believe that for some of our tours, taking the train is a practical, affordable and most of all a very enjoyable alternative. Even flying in just one direction will have a very positive benefit on the environment. To compare the emissions for your next trip take a look at this easy to use emissions calculator – https://uic.org/ecopassenger.

Contact us for further details about how we can help you plan the perfect environmentally friendly addition to your Paradors of Spain holiday. In addition to train tickets, we can arrange stopovers along the way, including hotels and guided tours.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Map of Paradors of Spain Train tour

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Station to hotel transfers in Segovia and Granada
  • All accommodation
  • Daily breakfast and dinner
  • City tours in Santiago de Compostela, Segovia and Granada with an English-speaking local guide
  • First class rail travel
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)