The tour went really well. It was well organized, the bus was comfortable and the hotels good value - we went for the higher priced hotel and feel it was worth it. All of our tour operators were friendly and knowledgeable, particularly the lady who accompanied us on the tour Gracia. The only small issue is that we did not have enough time at some of the venues and I would actually recommend taking the 6-day tour if possible - hopefully this would allow more time at the Alhambra.
Be careful which of the optional tours you select the boat trip in Seville I think it was was a waste of money, and we did not have good seats at the Flamenco dancing, though the dancing itself was very good.
As another reviewer stated, this tour should be renamed, THE GAS STATIONS OF SPAIN
Hotels were decent I had the 4 star package
Get to see a lot of Spain in a short amount of time
You spend 75 of this tour on a coach bus
Lunches are usually at rest stops/service stops/gas stations
The included breakfast/dinners are hotel buffets
There is virtually little to no free time to explore on your own when visiting cities
The local tour guides can be a hit or miss
First off, take the train alternative from Barcelona! I took the coach bus option believing we'd be making stops at 2 towns, the first town Lerida, was basically a rest stop that we stopped at while driving through the area of Lerida. Then, we only got 1 hour to see the town of Zaragoza. Due to a Spanish law that mandates that the bus driver must stop every 2 hours basically meant that we spent most of our time on the bus and rest stops for the 1st day as well as the entire tour. It took us about 9 hours to go from Barcelona to Madrid.
This was basically how the rest of the tour played out where we drove and drove, stopped at gas stations or service stops for bathroom breaks and lunches. They only allotted a few hours in each city so there was virtually no free time to explore on your own unless you forgo the local walking tour with the guides. After seeing jewish quarters, mudéjar architecture, moorish styles and their history in each of the cities, you kind of get bored of seeing the same thing. Sure, I do like the history and the style but we don't need to see the same thing in each city, they could have mixed it up a bit and shown things like parks, local food markets, clothing markets, etc.
There were optional tours that were not included in this package, I only opted to go to one which was a flamenco show in Granada which I wouldn't say is a must see but worth it if you have nothing better to do at night. The other optional tours I can not vouch for but from what I heard, they were all pretty meh.
Overall, I wouldn't book anything with Julia Travels again but if you're a lazy traveler and want something that will provide transportation and accommodations where you just follow along, then sure go for it.
So Spain is amazing... obviously or you wouldn't be reading this. So I'm very happy to have seen all this in a such a short time. My wife and I wanted 2 weeks in Spain... She wanted Barcelona I wanted Andalusia. This tour allowed me to see the best of what I wanted to see in under 1 week and without me having to worry about lodging, travel, of even food for the most part. I'm not a fan of bus tours mind you but this got the job done. So that being said... this tour works. It's practical and efficient. You will never regret seeing what this tour allows you. You will however wish you could see so much more. By default it's A LOT of time traveling ... there's not much to see from the bus... it is what it is. Your food is hotel buffet food for breakfast and dinner and it's a highway rest stop for lunch. Again it's efficient but not ideal clearly. We did not see the Nasrid Palaces in the Alhambra... big disappointment to say the least. Great tour of the Alhambra but not even a glimpse of the finest part.
My point is this is something i would recommend but with he right expectations so as to not be disappointed. There were over 60 people on the tour with 2 hotel options so there's a lot of waiting and luggage and people that run late. there's a lot of info spewed over a pa in 2 languages... our guide seemed like more babysitter than historian so her voice and information grew tiresome after some time. Also they have a captive audience so they try to sell you on some tours. In Seville a boat tour and a flamenco show... we declined and saw the inside of the Real Alcazar and Seville Cathedral followed by a wonderful walk and lunch in town to ourselves. In Granada it was a Gypsy show in the caves ... this we also wanted to pass on but our hotel was so in the middle of no where it seemed the only way to get to do something not to mention before the show they took you to the ideal vantage point to see the Alhambra at night. the show was ok... touristy.
Tour booked through Viator mainly for Alhambra. Signed up for the 4 star package. Once in Spain, the main vendor was Julia Travel.
PROS: The Alhambra in Granada was breathtaking and worth seeing from the outside and inside. The Mezquita in Cordoba was also spectacular. Our main tour guide, Margarita, was very nice. She is proud of her heritage and LOVES to talk about the history of Spain. History buffs will appreciate this tour. Every major site includes knowledgeable local tour guides. Our driver, Francisco, was patient and provided us with a smooth/safe ride throughout our trip. There were a good amount of restroom stops on the tour. Most of the hotels were clean and 4 -star quality.
CONS: Viator and Julia Travel had some form of miscommunication and so our hotel got mixed up on our first day in Madrid. Initially dropped off at the wrong hotel and the front desk people spent the next 2 hours trying to figure out where reservation had been made. This was all fixed in the end however, 2 hours were wasted which couldve been spent exploring more of the city. Hotel Husa Princesa in Madrid is NOT a 4 star hotel. It needs major remodeling/repairs. We had signed up and paid for a 4 star hotel package meaning every hotel we stay at should be a 4 star hotel. Margarita failed to mention that the bus had wifi until Day 2 of the trip. The bus seats were very tight. We did not get the FULL Alhambra experience. After booking our trip, we twice made sure with Viator that the Alhambra visit would include the full grounds tour including inside the palace. Once we got to Alhambra, the tour guide said that we would not be able to see inside of the palace on that day. During the trip, we made about 3-4 stops at Abades truck stops which are like AM/PM's with basic gas station food. Would've been great if we had stopped at actual restaurants. Hotel breakfasts were OK i.e., eggs, fruit, bread, meats, etc. but dinners were not very good. Wish they had more authentic Spanish food.
1. I have booked this trip and overall it was nice way to explore Andalusia . Do not repeat my mistake do not reserve bus transportation from Madrid. choose a more leisurely trip by coach, stopping in the cities of Zaragoza and Lerida along the way this is what Viator have on this tour, but there is only one small stop in Zaragoza where you will have 1.5 hour to explore the city on your own.
THERE IS NO ANY STOP IN LERIDA.... I booked with the goal to see 2 cities, but actually I spent 9.5 hours in my way from Barcelona to Madrid and a chance to see Zaragoza but if you do so, you will be in Madrid at 19:00 ,means you will not be able to visit museums.
2. 4 Hotels were I was staying with, were too far to be called like this, but the worst one was Seville Melia Lebreros No tea/coffee amenities, no bathrobe etc.. Old, dusty rooms rooms with the worse service I have EVER seen. We arrived to Seville late evening and as this was my BIRTHDAY I approached the reception in order to have some advise where to go. The only thing that they were able to give was the map of the city with the beautiful lady didn't battered herself to say at least Happy Birthday.. So I decided to order a room service. The ONLY Cava Brut from the menu they delivered after 3 phone conversations and 1 wrong order.... EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER.
3. In general we spent a crazy amount of time at gas stations/rest stops getting food. All the included dinners were buffet style at the hotel. While the sights and tour guide were very nice, the tour itself was culturally lacking. I think would be better to cut the quantities of stops for toilets, lunches etc, that will give the travelers more time in Cities.
4. Optional boat tour was NOTHING and the night tour in Granada also was disappointment for the ones who has booked it
5. WiFi mostly was not working
P.S. Dear Viator, I think you should correct you the information about this tour!