1. Madrid: Prado Museum Guided Tour & Lunch at Sobrino de Botín
Begin at the statue of Francisco Goya, where you’ll meet your expert guide and start your exploration of the Prado Museum. Before skipping the line and heading inside, your guide will set the scene of the storied halls you’re about to enter. Your extensive tour of the museum will span 15–20 masterpieces that highlight Spain’s fascinating history, including the influence of the monarchy on art. You’ll learn about the characters and events that served as inspiration for these pieces and get to know the artists behind each one. Delight in the master strokes of Velazquez, Goya, Bosch, and so many more as you wander the museum’s halls. Next, discover another aspect of Madrid’s history on a stroll through the charming Literary Quarter, where many of Spain’s literary geniuses have trodden these very paths. Along the way, you’ll stop at a century-old tavern to whet your appetite and try one of Madrid’s classic aperitifs. Afterward, it’s time to step inside the world’s oldest operating restaurant, Sobrino de Botín. Cooking and perfecting the same delicacies since it opened its doors in 1725, eating here is a chance to explore both Madrid’s cuisine and its history. What’s more, before it opens its doors to the hungry lunchtime crowd, you’ll get to take a VIP tour through its hidden underground tunnels, historic kitchens, and storied dining rooms. Hungry yet? Time to get off your feet and sit down to a delicious three-course lunch. The star of Botín’s menu is suckling pig, slow roasted in the original ovens from when the restaurant first opened, joined on the plate by seasonal vegetables. Enjoy a specially prepared dessert afterward, along with plenty of Rioja red wine throughout the meal. Take the opportunity to chat with your guide during this intimate meal and get insider tips for the rest of your time in Madrid. By the end of your meal, you’ll have checked two must-visit sites off your list and gained a unique insight into Madrid’s past and present.