Founded by King Alfonso XII in the early 20th century, Spain’s paradors are a network of luxury hotels converted from some of the country’s most important heritage sites. And, with over 90 to decide between, one moment you could be enjoying some convent respite outside of Madrid and the next staying among lances and cannons in a Basque Country castle. To help decide, the following are a selection of our finest self-drive offers. What’s more, those aged 55 or over are treated to preferential rates while our five-night Parador Card offers discounted stays and meals at almost all of the collection – enquire now for more details.
Brushing up against the French and Andorran borders, this four-day drive brings you through the spectacular mountain scenery that best characterises the Pyrenees. Your first stop is La Seu d’Urgell for a stay in its delightful parador, arranged around a Renaissance cloister. After exploring its next-door cathedral, skiing on Olympic slopes or hiking in the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park, continue on to Viella and your spa accommodation. We recommend taking the Romanesque Route through the Aran Valley, stopping at pretty church villages to take in the snow-capped peaks of the region’s national parks. Your last stop is Bielsa for a mountain-lodge hideaway, returning to roaring log fires after exploring its nearby medieval castles.
Prices from: £370 Low Season / £505 High Season per person
Package includes: Return flights, 4 days car hire and 3 nights staying in parador accommodation on a B&B basis
Typical Pyreneen village scenery
On this eight-day loop around Madrid, discover the medieval sights and postcard-perfect scenery that influenced Spain’s greatest author – Miguel de Cervantes. You’ll be exploring La Mancha, a land whose feudal history lives on in such highlights as Oropesa’s turreted castle, Sigüenza’s medieval laneways and UNESCO-listed Cuenca. Here, 600-year-old houses hang from cliffs while galleries host some of the country’s finest contemporary art. In between, there’s whitewashed towns host to the country’s finest playhouses, and national parks awash with birdlife. You’ll explore it all with stays in a collection of Spain’s finest paradors; there’s everything from idyllic country houses to 500-year-old convents.
Prices from: £550 Low Season / £595 High Season per person
Package includes: Return flights, 8 days car hire and 7 nights staying in parador accommodation on a B&B basis
Andalucia is a land of ancient wonders, where Renaissance excess lives side by side with millennia-old Moorish grandeur. You’ll fly in and out of Málaga, pausing at its Roman amphitheatre and 11th-century palace-castle before spending two nights in a medieval fortress in Carmona, a Moorish town just outside the islamic treasures of sunny Seville. Then, it’s on to Córdoba’s atmospheric laneways and Arabic spectacles, enjoying spectacular city views from your hilltop parador – built on the site of an 8th-century summer palace.
Prices from: £705 Low/ £745 High Season
Package includes: Return flights to Málaga, 8 days car hire, 7 nights B&B parador accommodation.
Seville's Plaza de España
Our final tailor-made tour takes in the beautiful landscapes, medieval towns and world-class wineries of northern Spain, beginning and ending with Bilbao’s historic centre and Guggenheim icon. Your first night is spent in a Renaissance palace in Argomaniz, surrounded by the vineyards of Rioja, before you move onto Olite, a fairytale town of Roman walls and turreted spires. Here, you’ll stay in a 14th-century castle – the summer residence of King Charles III of Navarre, before moving on to the castle parador of Benavente, sitting at the crossroads between the northern and southern parts of the peninsula, and where various pilgrimage routes to Santiago pause for a breather to admire the Caracol Tower. Your next stop is a stay in the world’s oldest hotel – a 15th-century pilgrim’s retreat that’s opposite Santiago de Compostela’s world-famous cathedral. Then, end in a palatial mansion in San Gil Blas where you’ll be ideally poised to explore Belle-Époque Santander, the mountains of Picos de Europa and Altamira’s prehistoric cave paintings.
Prices from: £565 Low/High Season (save up to £210 per couple)
Package includes: Return flights into/out Bilbao, 6 days car hire, 5 nights B&B parador accommodation and 20% discount on parador meals.
Please note: The Gil Blas parador carries a supplement of approx €35, which is payable locally. This itinerary is also available with ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao; contact our team for options and dates.
It's worth bearing in mind that these itineraries are merely our suggestions; with such an extensive network on offer, the paradors are ideal for trips throughout Spain. And, as always, our country experts are on hand to customise your itinerary to suit you.
Pyrenees Route (Ruta del Pirineo)
departs Sunday on selected dates
First night: Parador de La Seu
Forests, rivers, mountains and breathtaking scenery full of great natural beauty await you. In Seu you can explore Santa Maria d’Urgell Cathedral and the Diocesan Museum. Another must-see is Canonges Street, with its arcades and shops. The Segre Olympic Park in Seu is just the place for sports and recreation, offering sports such as pirogue canoeing and rafting in facilities which were used for the 1992 Olympic Games, and which are still vibrant and busy today. The Cadi-Moixero Nature Reserve offers unsurpassed beauty, allowing you to discover this region’s natural resources on foot.
Second night: Parador de Vielha
Along our journey from Seu to Vielha you will discover the beauty of the Pyrenees. In the Arán Valley, we recommend the Romanesque Route, allowing you to explore such places as Bossòst, with its Era Mair de Diu dera Purificaciòn Church; Salardú, with Sant Andrèu Church; and Arties, with Santa Maria Church. Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurice National Park is incredibly beautiful and majestic, offering you the immense beauty of nature any season of the year. Another must is the spa at the Parador itself, allowing you even more rest and relaxation during your trip.
Third night: Parador de Bielsa
The mountain scenery here is as good as it gets anywhere in Spain. The Parador at Bielsa is located near the entrance to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here winter, autumn, spring and summer all offer you u...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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