Moving out from Madrid’s big-city glitz, scenic country drives will see you knit together the heritage treasures of central Spain. Enjoying the flexibility to explore with car hire included throughout, you’ll take in walled medieval towns, pretty hilltop villages and, yes, the country’s imposing castles. In fact, spending your nights in historic parador accommodation, you’ll stay in royal residences and the castles themselves, enjoying sumptuous included dinners of regional delicacies.
Days 1-2: Madrid
Depart the UK for Madrid where you'll collect a hire car and head to the luxurious Hospes Puerta de Alcala. Ideally positioned close to the Buen Retiro Park, you’ll have the capital’s ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ at your fingertips. Comprising the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, it’s a comprehensive introduction to Madrid’s rich cultural wealth, showcased in timeless masterpieces by such luminaries as Dali and Picasso. Spend the next day exploring the city at your own pace, taking in its broad sweep of architectural styles that range from the strikingly contemporary to the extravagantly Belle Époque.
Day 3: Ciudad Rodrigo
Step off the beaten path as you drive deep into Spanish countryside to Ciudad Rodrigo’s medieval splendour. Here, churches, chapels and convents surround its 12th-century focal point – the Cathedral of Santa Maria. You'll spend the night at the Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo, a 14th century castle whose hilltop perch looks out to the River Agueda and Campo Charro’s rural sprawl. There’s also the first of your included dinners, with your paradors’ kitchens serving up the best in local produce in evocative settings.
Stay: Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo (Superior)
Day 4: Jarandilla
Continuing on to Jarandilla de la Vera, you’ll arrive at its 15th-century parador eponym – a beautifully turreted castle palace. Here, stern stone walls, shaded courtyards and fortress towers are the ideal medieval springboard to such nearby attractions as the waterfall-dappled Olla Gorge and the Yuste Monastery, where Emperor Carlos V spent his final days. Closer still, the forests and shimmering lakes surrounding your hotel provide tranquil settings for walking, cycling and horse riding. And, in the evenings, return to classic regional cooking and perfectly paired wines.
Stay: Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera (Superior)
Day 5: Oropesa
Your final stop is the village of Oropesa in La Mancha, a region of arid plains and ancient folklore. The town itself is home to several notable treasures, including a 16th-century Jesuit school, the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church and the New Palace, ironically built in the 1400s. However, it’s the sprawling elegance of your 15th-century castle accommodation that dominates the skyline, its buttressed walls cloaking a pretty swimming pools and gourmet restaurant. Once the home of clergy and noblemen, it looks out to stunning views of the Sierra de Gredos.
Stay: Parador de Oropesa (Superior)
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, make your way back to Madrid, where you can enjoy some free time before returning your hire car and boarding your flight home.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
Sign up to our weekly Trip Finder email and get a selection of the best trips to feed your Wanderlust