Living in Spain: A Month in Madrid
Discover the Spanish lifestyle during a 30-day stay in the heart of lively Madrid, offering a fun introduction to living abroad. Enjoy excursions to nearby towns, culinary and language lessons, and plenty of independent time for personal interests.
- A Q&A with Expert Francesca Casertano
- A Tale of Two Monuments (and Three Centuries of Tourists)
- A Magical Tour of the City of Light
- Incredible, unforgettable India!
Save $200 *per person when you book by February 6, 2015! Use promotion code LASTCALL online or when speaking to our travel specialists to secure these savings.
- April 5, 2015
*Offer valid on new bookings only.
Madrid provides the ideal location for a month-long immersion program to live abroad. Experience Spanish culture, history, art, and cuisine in this sophisticated city through exciting excursions featuring World Heritage sites, educational presentations and language lessons, and free time to pursue your own interests and get to know Spain in a uniquely intimate way.
Special tours of Madrid’s treasures, including the highly acclaimed Prado Museum and the Monastery of El Escorial, will broaden your understanding of Spanish arts and history, as will excursions to Ávila, Salamanca, Alcalá de Henares, Granja San Ildefonso, and Toledo. You’ll meet local residents to learn more about the Spanish lifestyle and gather with fellow travelers to feast on delicious tapas. Small-group language lessons (eight hours per week), will give you the edge in getting around on your own, and your local expert and resident director enhance your experience with educational presentations and workshops, including a culinary session. Plus, you’ll enjoy a semi-independent lifestyle while living in an apartment/hotel just a short walk from the historic Old Town (featuring a kitchenette, cable television, and Wi-Fi), while our resident director helps you tailor your free time. And that’s the beauty of this program—you shape your own experience.
April 5 — Depart the U.S.
Depart on your overnight flight to Madrid, Spain.
April 6 — Madrid
There is an early morning flight arrival at Barajas International Airport. After clearing arrival formalities transfer to Madrid where private, apartment-style accommodations await you at the Aparthotel Jardines de Sabatini, located near the Plaza de España and the Sabatini Gardens, formally a part of the Royal Palace. Your apartment is tastefully decorated with modern furnishings and a fully equipped kitchenette. After some leisure time, gather with other Smithsonian travelers for a welcome and briefing. You’ll receive a complimentary Spanish cell phone to use throughout your stay, programmed with the Resident Manager and emergency phone contacts. Bienvenidos! Welcome to Spain this evening at a reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (D)
April 7 — Madrid
Each morning you will have the choice of buffet breakfast in the Aparthotel restaurant, or you can enjoy breakfast on your own in your apartment. Madrid is one of the most artistically and culturally vibrant cities in Europe. Marvel at the historic sights of the city on this morning’s orientation tour. Discover Madrid and get an idea of the city’s design and plan. You’ll see the Plaza de España, the Gran Via an excitingly beautiful avenue in central Madrid. The orientation excursion will drive past the Puerta de Alcalá, a neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia. Further on you will see the Barrio de Salamanca, built in the 19th century and one of the most beautiful residential districts in the city. You’ll drive on the Paseo de la Castellana where you will pass embassies and palatial mansions that give way to modern skyscrapers. Following lunch, visit the Eureka Spanish Language School for an orientation to the facilities and a brief placement review. (B,L)
April 8 — Madrid
Contemporary Spain and Life in Madrid will be the topic of an educational morning lecture. Leave the hotel for your first language class. After class, and lunch at leisure join fellow travelers for an escorted walk around your new neighborhood to learn where to find the local pharmacy, food shops, cafes, and supplies you might want for your apartment. (B)
April 9 — Madrid
Enjoy breakfast this morning then leave the hotel for language classes followed by opportunities to try your developing language skills. This evening, join new friends and fellow travelers at a local restaurant for a casual dinner and to share experiences of your first few days in Spain. (B,D)
April 10 — Madrid
There is Spanish class this morning followed by opportunities to practice your new language skills while you explore the city. The balance of the day will be free of planned activities. There are many museums and points of interest in Madrid you might want to follow your own path this afternoon. (B)
April 11 — Madrid
El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen are the focus of today’s excursion. El Escorial monastery is a magnificently austere renaissance complex and historic burial place of Spanish kings and princes. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, El Escorial has influenced Spanish architecture for centuries. As a monument to those who lost their lives in the Spanish Civil War, an enormous monument known as the Valley of the Fallen was built between 1940 and 1959. An enormous basilica is carved into side of a mountain and topped by a huge cross to mark its place in history. After lunch, you’ll return to Madrid. (B,L)
April 12 — Madrid
Today’s excursion will take you to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Salamanca and Avila. You’ll discover the Old City on a walking tour of historic highlights. This beautiful city is home to one of the most important universities in Spain. Continue to the wonderfully preserved walled city of Avila, walk through the cobblestone streets, and admire the Romanesque city walls and the view of the valley below. Lunch will be served in a local Posada. Before returning to Madrid, you’ll attend an informative lecture on the History of Castile by Dr. Sonsoles Sanches Reyes, head of the Avila Campus of the University of Salamanca. (B,L)
April 13 — Madrid
A morning excursion will take you the Convento de las Descalzas Reales. Founded as a convent for widowed noblewomen in 1559, it was opened as a museum in 1960. You will see a magnificent collection of Titians, Rubens and Brueghels acquired from the estates of noble ladies who gave up their worldly goods and joined the holy order. After the excursion there is time to explore on your own. Language instruction is planned for the afternoon. This evening join fellow travelers at a Spanish Cooking Demonstration where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the dinner prepared during the demonstration. (B,D)
April 14 — Madrid
Enjoy a leisurely morning before attending your language class. After lunch, join an escorted walking tour of Madrid of the Hapsburgs. Madrid is one of the most artistically and culturally vibrant cities in Europe. Discover the history of Madrid through its buildings as you explore the Habsburg era of palaces and grand squares such as the Palacio Real, Palacio de Abrantes, Palacio de Uceda, the Plaza Mayor, and the Mercado de San Miguel. The balance of the afternoon is free of planned activities. Enjoy sampling local food and wine on this evening walking tour of some of Madrid’s renowned tapas bars. In Spain tapas is a national tradition and a way to enjoy wine and small plates of local specialties with friends. (B,D)
April 15 — Madrid
Language instruction this morning, and then there is time for lunch at leisure. This afternoon explore Spain’s Baroque Palacio Real or Royal Palace. This ornate building is of enormous proportions and contains a wealth of art, fine fabrics, and decor. The world’s most famous artists are represented in this magnificent collection of paintings, delicate porcelain, fine furniture, ornate clocks and beautiful silverware. The afternoon is free to explore independently. This evening join fellow Smithsonian travelers for a casual dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
April 16 — Madrid
Before language lessons this morning, attend an educational talk on General Franco and the Spanish Civil War. The balance of the day is free of planned activities. (B)
April 17 — Madrid
The day is free of planned activities to discover Madrid on your own and try your new language skills. (B)
April 18 — Madrid
Today will be at leisure so that you can pursue individual activities. (B)
April 19 — Madrid
Enjoy this Sunday morning with a leisurely breakfast, relax a friendly café or take a walk through one of Madrid’s beautiful parks. This evening enjoy a dinner with friends at a local Madrid restaurant. (B,D)
April 20 — Madrid
The morning will be at leisure. Optional Cooking Class #1 will be offered today. After lunch, resume your language class. (B)
April 21 — Madrid
This morning gather for an educational talk on Spanish Art. This informative session will prepare you for your visits to two of Madrid’s world-renowned fine arts museums. (B)
April 22 — Madrid
The Prado Museum is an icon of Spain and its artistic life. It is Spain’s national museum and features one of the world’s finest collections of European art from the 12th century to the early 19th century and finds its genesis in the Spanish royal collection. It is unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art in the world featuring the stunning work of Goya and the paintings of Velazquez and El Greco. (B)
April 23 — Madrid
Continue your language lessons this morning. After class, follow your own path to explore and to practice your improving language skills. This evening join friends and fellow travelers at a local restaurant to share your recent experiences and new discoveries. (B,D)
April 24 — Madrid
Twenty-first century Madrid is the focal point of this morning’s escorted walking tour along the Calle Alcala, the longest avenue in Madrid and perhaps in all of Europe. The excursion begins at the Puerta del Sol and concludes at the city’s most famous fountain, the stunning Fuenta de Cibeles. (B)
April 25 — Madrid
Spain has a great tradition in Moorish and Jewish culture. This morning attend an informative talk that explores historic Moorish and Jewish life that will prepare you for your visit to Toledo. The remainder of the day will be free to explore on your own. (B)
April 26 — Madrid
Toledo is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and is know as the “City of the Three Cultures.” It is a city where Jews, Muslims, and Christians have lived together in harmony since the 8th century. The city is well preserved and is of great importance to Spain and its heritage. You will see the famous Cathedral and visit the Church of Santo Tome to see El Greco’s masterpiece “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.” Continue the visit to El Transito Synagogue the San Juan Los Reyes Church symbols of Toledo’s historic diversity. (B,L)
April 27 — Madrid
Enjoy a free morning and then attend language class in this afternoon. Gather with new friends and fellow travelers for dinner this evening at a local restaurant. (B,D)
April 28 — Madrid
After morning language class, gather for a walking tour of El Barrio de las Letras. Located near the heart of Madrid, this quarter of the city was home to Spain’s most famous writers, poets and playwrights. It is here that Cervantes lived and wrote his masterpiece “Don Quixote” and Hemingway enjoyed his favorite bars and developed his passion for bullfighting. Today it is an area known for busy bars and cafes and a party hotspot by night. (B)
April 29 — Madrid
Language instruction is the order of the day. This evening for those who enrolled there is an optional Spanish cooking class #2. (B)
April 30 — Madrid
Today is the last in your series of Spanish language classes. Participate in a graduation ceremony to honor and recognize your accomplishment. The balance of the day is at leisure to enjoy and explore as you wish. This evening join friends and fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
May 1 — Madrid
Today, journey to the UNESCO World Heritage ite of Segovia. See the famous Roman Aqueduct built around 50 A.D. Continue to the 16th century Gothic Cathedral and the famous Alcazar begun in the 11th century. Enjoy an unhurried lunch at Candido, a traditional and famous Segovian restaurant. On the return to Madrid, visit the Royal Palace of La Granja. Its gardens and fountains are styled after those at Versailles and its elegant rooms are decorated with Carrara marble, Japanese lacquer and crystal chandeliers. (B,L)
May 2 — Madrid
The day is free of planned activities for packing or last minute sightseeing. (B)
May 3 — Madrid
Today motor to the town of Alcala de Henares located about 20 miles from Madrid. It is here that the famous author Miguel de Cervantes was born and is home to one of the most prestigious universities in Spain. The town is another UNESCO World Heritage site and is rich in history and culture. During the visit see the Birthplace of Cervantes and the house where he lived his early life. The town offers a glimpse of life in Castile during the Golden Age of Spain. Return to Madrid in late afternoon. Gather this evening with your fellow travelers at a local restaurant for a Farewell dinner, wine and camaraderie. Enjoy a performance of a celebrated Spanish Tuna band. These university student guitar bands, begun in the 13th century, perform today in traditional costume and perform lively folk music. (B,D)
May 4 — Depart for the U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the Madrid Airport to begin your journey home. (B)
Please note that itinerary inclusions and progression may be changed to accommodate operational requirements.