Welcome to Madrid, the city full of masterpieces. Home to breathtaking architecture, gastronomic gems and Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica. This charming city has revolutionised itself into being known as the richest culinary capital in Europe, not to mention boasting a nightlife fit for socialites, and yet it somehow still manages to hold onto its historic charm.
Our favourite thing about Madrid, however, is not the fact that there are more bars here than anywhere else (although that is definitely a plus). It is what can be found just outside the boundaries of the city, in our Spain Tours from Madrid.
With direct flights from all over the world, Madrid is the ideal starting point for further exploration of Northern Spain. Whether you have a few extra days in the city or a couple of weeks, there are a number of private tours available that could take you into the depths of the Spanish countryside - where you can experience the real, authentic Spain.
Madrid may be the perfect location to land but with a mass of tourists, it is hard to immerse yourself into Spanish culture here. After a few days of exploring all the masterpieces, it is time for you to abandon city life in search of new pastures.
A few hours outside of Madrid, we can dazzle you with tantalizing local delicacies cooked straight from a family-run farmhouse kitchen, take you truffle hunting with four-legged specialists and go running down the streets of Pamplona as we follow the ‘Running of the Bulls’ all the way to the arena.
When you cast your eye beyond the borders of Madrid, you will see picturesque quintas perched on hilltops, vineyards as far as the eye can see and a stunning coastline that can only be fully appreciated with a glass of local wine from some of the best wine estates in the world.
The backroads of Northern Spain are like the Wild West. History oozes from every corner and the locals cannot wait to show you how magical their home is.
Organising Spain Tours from Madrid
Madrid may have an excellent public transport network and a large population of English speaking locals - but the rest of Northern Spain requires a little more organisation. When travelling into the Spanish countryside, speaking the language would be beneficial and driving a car is essential. But exploring an unknown region, trying to read the road signs, speak to locals and sniff out the hidden gems can be difficult when you don’t know the area. That is why we recommend taking a local with you.
A local tour could see you entering the depths of the Spanish countryside without any of the hassle that comes with organising such a trip. Imagine driving into the Ribera Del Duero wine region with a private chauffeur playing your favourite music and a local on hand to translate, make reservations and point out all the wonderful sights in the place they grew up.
Our favourite way to experience this part of Spain? On a multi-day food and wine expedition with Eat Northern Spain.
Why Eat Northern Spain
We don’t produce the type of tours that you can find in a travel brochure. Eat Northern Spain tours are one-of-a-kind - authentic luxury, tailor-made to you.
If you are keen to avoid large crowds, hate following a rigid schedule and wish to not consume subpar food from busy restaurants, then we have something especially for you. Spain Tours from Madrid should be life-changing, luxurious moments (completely personalised to suit your interests) and filled with incredible experiences that only a handful of locals know about.
We are a small, family-run business with deep roots in Spain. In fact, our founder and food enthusiast, Elias, has lived here all his life and handles every itinerary from start to finish. There is a reason we only run 12 tours a year - staying small has allowed us to provide unrivalled exclusivity and first-class service.
We are obsessed with Northern Spain and our ethos from the beginning has been to show our clients a side of the country that can’t be seen on a typical tour. From Agustín, the master ham carver; José, the cattleman; and Jesús and Pepe, the artisan cheese-makers - we have a whole team of people helping us to make sure every tour is unforgettable.
Imagine exclusive, authentic experiences off-the-beaten-track alongside secluded, luxury hotels - all while eating and drinking your way through Northern Spain. We have tempted you haven’t we?
We are so excited to welcome you to our home. Until then, allow us to introduce you to the interesting places that are close by private car from Madrid on a multi-day tour. Here are some potential Spain Tours from Madrid…
Ribera del Duero and Rioja Wine Regions
Spain Tours from Madrid that involve copious amounts of world-class wine are our favourite. Particularly in the Ribera del Duero and Rioja wine regions. The idyllic landscape here is the perfect climate for growing grapes, with a number of secluded wine estates dotted along the river producing the finest wines in the world.
The rows of vineyards are undeniably picturesque and a panoramic drive through the region is our favourite way to start the day.
Clients of Eat Northern Spain will be the recipients of an exclusive invitation to the best family-run winery in Northern Spain, Pago de los Capellanes. Here you will learn how the team perfect those tantalizing flavours before embarking on a guided tasting session. Wine lovers will be in their element here.
The Ribera del Duero wine region is also home to one of the most luxurious hotels in Spain, Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine, a former abbey turned heritage hotel with almost 900 years of history. The perfect place to rest your head after a busy day of exploration.
The Camino de Santiago
Spain Tours from Madrid should be about cultural immersion and what better way to immerse yourself into Spanish culture than following the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago trail. Also known as the Way of St. James, this network of pilgrimages leads straight to the shrine of apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and provides a beautifully scenic journey through Northern Spain.
Located along the pilgrim route is the incredible city of Burgos. Home to a stunning Gothic cathedral located in the historic centre, the resting place of El Cid, the city also provides an opportunity to sample the signature dish of the region. A gastronomic journey in itself, ‘Lechazo’ is roast lamb slow-cooked using a technique that is centuries old. It is truly delicious but of course can only be fully appreciated with a glass of locally produced red wine. A trip to Burgos would not be complete without visiting the Human Evolution Museum, where you can cast your eye on the earliest evidence of humans from world-famous archaeological sites in Atapuerca. Who said Indiana Jones was the only explorer who could go looking for the Holy Grail?
Also on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim route is the lively town of León. Full of history, a trip to this town could see you sleeping like royalty in a luxury 16th century monastery, brushing shoulders with the locals at a farmers marketing or tasting the unique local delicacy, Jamón Ibérico, straight from the knife of a professional Master Ham Carver. The highlight of the city however, is the Santa María de León Cathedral, also known as The House of Light. It is one of the most relevant examples of Gothic architecture in Spain and has the most extensive and best preserved collection of medieval stained glass windows in Europe.
Santiago de Compostela is the final stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. This UNESCO Heritage Site is arguably Northern Spain’s most iconic city and holds a unique atmosphere filled with historical monuments and cobbled streets. The city draws thousands of visitors each year and is also home to Spain’s oldest hotel located a few steps from the stunning Gothic Cathedral.
Best steak in the world
Welcome to the most intense meat experience of your life, nestled in the back roads of Northern Spain.
The tour of all Spain Tours from Madrid, allow us to introduce you to Bodega El Capricho. The family-run farm has been honoured with the title of ‘best steak in the world’ and it’s not hard to see why.
The farm house and restaurant is run by José Gordón, who not only understands the work that goes into creating world-class steak, but also invites guests to meet the beautiful animals up close. A trip here could see you standing face to face with a seven-foot ox that weights close to 1.400kg before sampling the meat that has been dry-aged for up to 180 days, which is a natural way to enhance the flavours.
This slower approach to food production is popular in this region of Spain and with each animal costing around $3000 a year to raise, your tasting session is guaranteed to blow you away.
The Basque Country
The Basque Country is an autonomous community with strong cultural traditions, providing the perfect backdrop for your Spain Tours from Madrid. The region has a distinct language and a celebrated cuisine that has laid the foundations for a number of incredible world-recognised restaurants to emerge.
The local market are big producers of apple cider and the cider lovers among us will be invited to spend an evening on a guided tour of a traditional cider house, followed by an exquisite traditional menu including chorizo sausage cooked in cider.
In the heart of the Basque Country is the vibrant riverside city of Bilbao, where cultural traditions and cutting-edge architecture live side by side. The architectural hub is where you will find the famous Guggenheim Museum, nestled on the waterfront.
Then we have the pearl of the Cantabrian Sea, San Sebastian. A destination in itself, the elegant coastal town boasts the biggest collection of internationally awarded restaurants in the world and is a must-visit for anyone on a culinary tour through Northern Spain. Enjoy a walking tour through the farmers market, sample local ingredients on a pintxos bar crawl and stop for a drink on San Sebastian beach after a blissfully sunny afternoon.
Every summer, a legendary multi-day festival takes over the streets of Pamplona, the capital of Navarre province. It is difficult to find Spain Tours from Madrid that are as unique and authentic as the Running of the Bulls.
The festival kicks off with a group of cattle, usually six, being set loose on a sectioned-off part of the town’s streets. You may be mistaken in thinking the aim is to steer clear, but daredevil runners lead the bulls through the streets and straight down to the Bullfighting Arena.
The most famous bull-run around the world is Encierro, held during the nine-day festival of Sanfermines in Pamplona. It has become a major tourist event but still has a firm hold on Spanish traditions.
The origins date back to the old practice of transporting bulls from the fields outside the city, where they were bred, down to the arena. The story goes that during the runs, local kids would jump among them in a display of bravado and hence the tradition began.
The festival is a beautiful testament to an age-old tradition in Northern Spain and provides a unique cultural immersion.
Asturias and Picos de Europa National Park
Spain Tours from Madrid are nothing if they do not assimilate you into Spanish life. In Asturias, Northern Spain, an essential part of life is cider. Learn how to pour the traditional drink of the region the same way the locals do on a cider bar crawl (with tantalising tapas included).
Aside from apple cider, Asturias is also home to the largest population of wild brown bears nesting in the Cantabrian mountains nearby. You can join an expedition and go searching for these beautiful bears. Admire them from a safe distance and learn all about how these animals survive in their wild habitat.
Also hidden in the mountains is Cabrales, a breathtaking region with natural caves that produce a delicious blue cheese. Hike to one the stunning locations and assist an artisan cheese-maker in transporting the local delicacy from the farm to the cave. You will learn all the tips for ageing cheese naturally before being treated to a tasting paired with wine and stunning mountain views. A truly unforgettable morning for any cheese lover, but you may never be able to eat cheese from a supermarket again.
Picos de Europa is the biggest national park in Europe and forms part of the Cantabrian Mountains. This mountainous landscape is home to hundreds of hiking trails - mostly unused - that provides a secluded backdrop to reconnect with nature.
Enjoy a picnic in style with stunning views of the mountains, where you can sample ‘Gamoneu’, Iberico Ham and local specialities paired with only the best wines.
Picos de Europa National Park also holds another secret, our favourite restaurant that only a handful of insiders know about. If you are looking for an authentic culinary experience away from the crowds, this place will blow you away. ‘Pitu de Caleya’, free-range chicken, will be on the menu this evening. The most delicious chicken in Northern Spain, which is most likely why the locals want to keep it to themselves. Paired with delicious comfort food and finished off with a mouthwatering cheesecake, this meal will be the final treat of an incredible visit to Asturias.
The choice of Spain Tours from Madrid are endless and we cannot wait to show you the real, authentic Spain on a multi-day tour with Eat Northern Spain. The countryside really is the perfect backdrop for an incredible gastronomic adventure. Click here to see our itineraries or get in touch to tailor-make a bespoke tour personalised to you.