SF&T

Explore three great Spanish cities famed for their superb cuisine, iconic architecture and world class art collections. Madrid, Bilbao & Barcelona.

Spanish gastronomy has been on a culinary high in recent years. Spain is also the homeland of many famous artists over the centuries; painters & architects, sculptors & playwrightsSit back in comfort and enjoy this wonderful railway tour as you experience three very different Spanish cities.

Triangle of Spanish Gastronomy and Art - Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona

Our Services

Everything is organised for ease of travel from the moment of your arrival in the capital, Madrid. We work with first rate guides who will take you on a specialist private tours, to ensure you get the most out of your time in each city or town. The tour includes 5 star lodgings in each city centre.

Gastronomy

Barcelona boasts 23 Michelin starred establishments, Madrid is home to 14 restaurants with Michelin stars; Bilbao has 5 Michelin star restaurants - and many more as soon as you venture outside the city limits. We make recommendations and book your tables, but you do need to book well in advance.

Art & Architecture

Madrid offers the famed "Golden Triangle" of world class art collections & museums; Bilbao is the vibrant home of the Guggenheim Museum; Barcelona's has some of the greatest works of the Art Noveau movement. 

Discover Madrid

Take an Art Lovers Tour is focussed around Paseo del Prado, location of the golden triangle of The Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Reina Sofía (plus the Caixaforum-Madrid cultural centre makes 4 world class institutions). These are magnificent galleries and amongst the best architecture in Madrid. 

We also offer a Guided Architectural Route, to some of the most iconic buildings in the city, including the Town Hall on Plaza Cibeles, the Círculo de Bellas Artes Academy, the Torre Picasso tower and the Royal Palace building. 

Our Madrid Gastronomy Tour is an adventure through the narrow streets and wide open squares of the capital's historic centre. On the menu is a melting pot of traditional and contemporary cuisine from all over Spain. This food lovers trail has a satisfying and indulgent variety of tastings, served in a variety of restaurants, bars and cafe. As your guide explains the background of the the dishes, you can sample emblematic beverages such as Rioja wine, Spanish vermouth, traditional Asturian cider and refreshingly light draught beer. 

Discover Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum, has become the symbol of Bilbao, an avant-garde building and magnificent place to display masterpieces of modern and contemporary art. But there is much more to Bilbao, as you;ll discover on a short city tour of Bilbao covering its most attractive parts and C21st additions.

After that you'll be ready for a Gastronomical Experience.  Explore the gastro delights of the old centre and sit down to a traditonal Basque lunch. Or you can sit down to lunch in a fish restaurant by the sea, such as the lovely fishing town such of Getaria. Take a gentle stroll through charming medieval streets to see colorful fisherman's houses with beautiful wooden balconies. The town is perched on the hills overlooking the sea with spectacular views. Then a short visit to the coastal cliffs of Zumaia, where green mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean. 

Alternatively, choose an Art and History tour and discover one of the most important places in Basque history. Such as the town of Guernica where in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the town was razed to the ground by German aircrafs, sent by Hitler to support Franco's troops. When Picasso painted the Guernika in 1937, his vision of the atrocity became a potent anti-war symbol.

Discover Barcelona

Our Art Tour of the bohemian capital of Catalonia has an abundance of riches, from the medieval treasures of the Gothic quarter to the glamour of the Modernista buildings and the Picasso Museum which houses a collection of 3,800 pieces and is devoted entirely to Barcelona's favourite adopted son. In between, there's street art to enjoy...

Our Gastronomy Walking Tour, takes you wandering the tiny back streets, tasting a diversity of gastronomic foods and dishes. Stop at a local Market to sample local Catalan cheeses and Iberian Ham. Have a go at drinking from a Porrón, discover delicious tapas, pastries and sweets; then as you near the Meditéranean sea, enjoy fresh Sangria and authentic paëlla, in one of the most picturesque spots by the sea.

On our Market Tour visit La Boqueria market, for a 'behind the scenes' guided tour. Learn about locally grown products and sample some of the classic ingredients of traditonal and modern Spanish menus. Sample the wares at market cafes and soak up the atmosphere, colour, fragrances - a fest for the senses.

 

8 Night Tour by Rail - Madrid to Bilbao and Barcelona

Arrive by train or plane, then transfer to your central hotel.

We can work the tour to work in any direction, should you prefer to arrive into Bilbao or Barcelona airport.

Stay for as few or many nights as you wish - we'll tailor it to suit you.

Madrid - 3 nights

Choose from our art, architecture and gastronomy tours of Madrid.

5 hour train ride Madrid to Bilbao

Bilbao - 2 nights

Choose from our art, architecture and gastronomy tours of Bilbao

7 hour train ride Bilbao to Barcelona

Barcelona - 3 nights

Choose from our art, architecture and gastronomy tours of Barcelona.

Depart Barcelona by train or plane

 

SF&T RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONS

From Madrid:-  Toledo or the ancient university town of Alcala de Henares require an extra day each

From Bilbao:-  San Sebastian on the Basque coast requires an extra day

En route to Bilbao:- Valladolid or Burgos require an extra day each

En Route to Barcelona:- La Rioja or Zaragoza require an extra day each

 

Featured 5* Hotels in Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona

NH Palacio de Tepa in Madrid

Gran Hotel Domine in Bilbao

Casa Fuster in Barcelona 

We can provide a range of good, cenrtally located hotels from 2* to 5* and deluxe to suit your budget

 

Madrid's Cuisine 

The capital is a patchwork quilt of Spanish cuisine and culture, but it does have it's signature dishes that you could try while here. Cocido Madrileño is a chickpea soup made with meat and vegetables, a staple from the Middle Ages. Callos a la Madrileña is another old time staple of tripe with blood sausage, chorizo, trotters and beans.

Spain's 70+ wine producing regions are well represented in the capital. It's daunting to work your way through the wine list so perhaps you could request a wine pairing when out to dine. The sommelier will be delighted to provide a suitable glass of wine to accompany each course - or recommend a single bottle to cover the enrite menu.

Madrid offer great food experiences to suit all budgets. The tapas and gourmet scenes are both fantastic in this vibrant city, where you rub shoulders with local Madrileños as much as visitors.  The cafe & bar scene too is very lively. Grab a cafe con leche (latte) or cortado (espresso with a dash of milk) accompanied by pastries.

PALACIO DE CIBELES  The ornate white facade of this emblematic building in the historic center of Madridhas a wonderful formal restaurant and cocktail bar located on the sixth floor. The views here are quite wonderful - especially at the time of Madrid's famous red-sky sunset. The Palacio Cibeles menu features traditional cuisine with a modern twist has been created by Chef Adolfo Muñoz of the famed restaurant Adolfo de Toledo. (He flies between the two). Sample "cream of potato with caviar, carpaccio of prawns, pomegranate and passion fruit, pochas beans with partridge". Start with cocktails on the Cibeles Terrace, or choose the more informal Wine and Tapas Bar-Restaurant on the second floor.  

CINCO JOTAS is an airy chic restaurant, with a terrace, dedicated to Jamon, charcuterie and fine wines - especially sherry. Located in the Salamanca district, this place is a true gem. Fabulous service, wine and food - based around ham and pork dishes. The chefs have mastered the art of croquetas, soft and exploding with flavour, they simply melt in your mouth. The Iberico Jamon is out of this world and the Lomo with the Pedro Ximenez sauce delicious and rich. Good for lunch or dinner. 

CASA LUCIO is a Madrid institution, dating back beyond 1720 when ti was the legendary "Posada de San Pedro". In the C20th century it became the place for writers and artists.  Lucio and head chef Aurelio Calderon, use top quality ingredients to create their menu blending the new and the traditional, With a bar at the entrance and two floors for dining - you'll experience a piece of history.  

CAFE MURILLO, named for one of Spain's greatest artists is the perfect bistro for lunch after a visit to the Prado museum. There's been a cafe here since 1927. Choose from tapas and light lunches prepared on the grill. 

NICE TO MEET YOU SKY LOUNGE AND RESTAURANT, is a hip eaterie on top of "Dear Hotel" sited on the Gran Via andoverlooking the Plaza de España, with the best 360 degree views of Madrid. 

Neighbourhood Markets

The architectural gem that is the Mercado San Miguel is 100 years old. Join the locals here as the shop for their daily groceries and fresh produce. But make sure to stop for a glass of wine and some tapas. San Anton in Chueca is 3 floors of gourmet shopping, kiosks serving international cuisine and drinks and La Cocina de San Antón restaurant on the top floor with a rooftop view. 

Dining Basque Style

The old industrial image of Bilbao is a dim memory and the dramatic rejuvenation of Bilbao is best experienced through its gastronomy with a rapidy growing international reputation.

MANDOYA is in the  Old Quarter and has been serving traditional Basque cuisine for half a century. Fish arrives daily from nearby ports and along with excellent local produce of region for a very authentic Basque menu. Try the lobster, giant clams and chargrilled monkfish and the Basque classic "alubiada", a typical stew of beans, chorizo, Ibérico ham and black pudding.

ZORTZIGO, with 1 Michelin star, appears on just about every list of the Basque Country's best restaurants. It is run by renowned Basque chef Daniel García. You can dine in a choice of dining-rooms; the bright, contemporary dinign room, the traditional dning room, but the bodega in the basement is the prime choice being the most atmospheric situation. Past highlights are roasted garlic squid with black rice, foie gras terrine and guinea hen in truffle sauce. 

CAFE IRUÑA is a much-loved local institution. With a stunning Moorish-inspired interior it makes for a beautiful setting to enjoy typical Basque dishes and pintxos.

SIDRERIA ASADOR ARRIAGA, is a traditional 'sidrería' and an authentic taste of the Basque lifestyle. Located in the Old Quarter, it serves Basque cider along with local dishes of cod and peppers, omelette, steak, Idiazábal cheese, quince and nuts. 

Catalan Cuisine 

It may seem slightly unoriginal by the time you arrive here, but you simply cannot avoid tucking into tapas in Barcelona as you explore and stop for refreshment. 

Barcelona's Neighbourhood Markets
You simply must visit one of the fresh food markets -  an integral part of everyday life here and a great place to ge tto know the ingredients, flavours and scents of Catalonia. La Boqueria is one of the best food markets in Europe, and most ivisited so go early to avoid the crowds. Santa Caterina is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona, with a colorful sweeping roof and stuffed with gourmet treats to sample. Mercat de la Concepció is the Eixample neighborhood, and also has 24 hour flower market. Sant Antoni is in another impressive building covering a full block. It's like the Boqueria but bigger and without the tourists, and tons of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, fish & seafood and there are also has tapas bars here.

We recommend that you truly immerse yourself in Catalan cuisine, (but you can get everything in this Gastropolis). 

TICKETS is the new eatery by the prestigious Chef Albert Adrià. It's a tapas bar with a twist - the tapas are all avant-garde culinary ideas of Adrià. The chef will not be cooking at Tickets but has created every new tapa personally. Jamón de tono: Home-salted tuna belly painted with Iberian cured ham fat, spiced tomato tartare with crunchy bread, steamed razor clams with ginger, cayenne pepper and lemon air, liquid ravioli with Payoyo cheese, roast bonito with garlic jelly, to name but a few...

CELERI presents seasonal vegetables in an open and chic place for a green cuisine which is natural and gastronomic. Chef Xavier Pellicer has developed a menu around seasonal vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus, spinach.. mainly for vegetarians  but where meat and fish lovers catered for too.

MOMENTS, is located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where Chef Carme Ruscalleda and her son Raül Balam revisit Catalan classics. Choose from Arroz Caldoso de Gamba con picada de pescador (rice dish with broth), Fricandó (veal stew), Suquet (fish stew), Shrimp Tartar, Lubina - seabass with fig chutney and hibiscus salt -  Mejillas, veal cheeks with turnip vegetable ravioli and red fruits..
They have also created an "anti-aging" menu ijncluding mini pizza pies with artichokes and the Joselito ham, or macaroni with buckwheat accompanied by scallops and vegetables... a visionary idea!

CAN PINEDA opened in 1904 and loved by locals and gourmets. It's a kuxury restaurant disguised as a tavern. The best local products of the season are at the core of the menu; mainly local but  also feature foie gras from France, white truffle from Alba, the pata negra from Jabugo. Dinign here is of the highest standard - and you;d be well advise to take the tasting menu at 35€ (wine extra).  "poached eggs with foieand truggle, rice with cuttlefish, wild muchsroom and lobseter, anchovies from Getaria, oxtail stew with langostines". 

EL RACO DEL MARINER in the fishing village part of town Barceloneta, has daily fresh fish and seafood unloaded directly from fishermen's boats into this kitchen - fish of the day, fried fish, squids and shrimps, lobsters or paella de marisco (seafood paella). Open from 5 in the morning to 5 in the evening it's a gem.

DOS PALILLOS is where fabulous Spanish produce meets the Asian flavours of Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Chef Albert Raurich was head chef at El Bulli until 2007. Last year this restaurant earned it's first Michelin Star, starring dishes of tempura, raw, woked, steamed and grilled dishes...fresh seaweed sunomono with molluscs, Japanese burger, meat Gyoza, Cantonese style Iberian pork. There are two degustation menus at 55 and 75€ described as the "one and a half hour menu" or "the two hour menu"!

SPANISH RAIL TRAVEL 

Spain has an excellent rail network, with a variety of trains operating between the major cities, with an emphasis on traveller comfort and efficiency. The AVE network is the name of the high speed network and this is the key to discovering the rich history and flavours of this amazing country. You can travel quickly between Madrid & Barcelona, Madrid & Seville and Madrid & Bilbao. There are ticket prices to suit any budget, Economy Class & Comfort Class

  • Seating Option Economy Class
  1. Club 4 Seat -Four seats facing each other across a table.
  2. Duo Seats - Aisle and window seats next to each other with pull-down tables.
  • Seating Options Comfort Class
  1. Solo Seat - Seat on its own next to the window with a pull-down table.
  2. Club 2 Seat - Two solo seats facing each other across a table.
  3. Duo Seats - Aisle and window seats next to each other with pull-down tables.
  4. Club 4 Seat - Four seats facing each other across a table.

The AVE High Speed Network

Spain's fast trains allow you to explore the main centres of this country of contrasts;  between Madrid, Seville, Malaga, Bilbao, Barcelona and Valencia. Travel effortlessly inside one of the window-lined, high-tech AVE carriages.

Economy Class, offers reserved seats, a nursery and play area with children's board games
Comfort Class is roomier, with video and audio service at every seat
Premier had more room and services as the name suggests: air-conditioning, pay phones, buffet car. Generous legroom, room to roam ( not restrictive like an airplane). First-class carriages have dedicated staff.

  • Seating Options
  1. Club 2 Seat - Two solo seats facing each other across a table.
  2. Club 4 Seat - Four seats facing each other across a table.
  3. Duo Seats - Aisle and window seats next to each other with pull-down tables.
  4. Solo Seat - A seat on its own next to the window with a pull-down table.

Booking & Travelling Conditions

Ticket control and passport checksare the norm before boarding the AVE train.
Trains are non-smoking and the platform closing 2 minutes prior to the trains' departure time.
Seat reservations are required on the AVE trains and are included in the ticket price.
We will require your passport details to process your booking and reserve your train tickets.

Booking Enquiry

Please send in your enquiry or any question and we'll contact you within 24 hours

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Madrid Panorama from the Cibeles Palace
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Spanish Markets - Palaces of Gastronomy
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Gaudi's Cathedral in Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia
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Bilbao's Guggenheim & Koon's Flower Puppy
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Basque Fishing Village
  • Date

    Available all year round

  • Cost

    From £1500pp when sharing double/twin rooms; including a choice of guided tour in Madrid, Barca & Bilbao, plus standard class rail tickets in Spain.

  • Accommodation

    5 star ensuite lodgings, on bed and breakfast basis For Example - Bilbao Domine, Madrid Urban, Barcelona Casa Fuster

  • Grade

    Easy

  • How To Get There

    Tour usually begins in Madrid, finishing in Barcelona. We are flexible in which order you prefer to travel round these 3 centres.

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