The museum at La Brea Tar Pits and the William S. Hart Museum will remain closed until further notice. Advanced tickets are required for entry for NHM’s Nature Gardens and Butterfly Pavilion. See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

NHM Journeys: Spain (Cancelled)

NHM journeys fellows spain key art

In light of the outbreak and spread of COVID-19, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County has cancelled the NHMLAC Journeys trip to Spain, originally scheduled for April 24-May 7, 2020. Please contact the Fellows Office at 213.763.3253 or at with any questions about the cancellation of this trip.

New and Improved Spain: Prehistory to Picasso

April 24-May 7, 2020


Key: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner

Day 1
Arrive in Bilbao Arrive at Bilbao Airport (BIO) in the heart of the Spanish Basque country.

A private transfer from the airport takes you to the luxurious Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, directly across the street from the famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao that was designed by architect Frank Gehry. After you check into your room, the balance of the day is for relaxing, resting, and dining on your own. Overnight at the 5-star Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao.

Day 2
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao | Santillana del Mar (B,D) 

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then cross the street for a two-hour guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum. After an independent lunch in Bilbao, we transfer by coach to the picturesque ancient village of Santillana del Mar, deep in the Cantabrian countryside. After checking in to the Parador de Santillana Gil Blas, we take a guided walk through Santillana, followed by the first of three conversations with Dr. Chiappe. Later we meet again for a welcome drink and dinner in the hotel restaurant. Overnight at the 4-star Parador de Santillana Gil Blas for two nights.

Day 3
Altamira II | Ribadesella | Museo del Jurásico de Asturias | Santillana del Mar (B)

We depart early this morning on the short drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Altamira to visit the exact facsimile of the famous cave with its astonishing wall and ceiling paintings of animals dating back to the Paleolithic period, some 30,000 years ago. From here we take the coach to Ribadesella, an old fishing port situated at the mouth of the River Sella on the rugged Bay of Biscay coastline. Enjoy an independent lunch in the village before driving on to the Museo del Jurásico de Asturias. Constructed in the form of a giant dinosaur footprint, the museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of dinosaur artifacts in the world. Later we return to the Parador in Santillana, where dinner is on our own this evening.

Day 4
Burgos: Old City and Cathedral (B,L)  

Check out of the hotel and head east to the historic city of Burgos. Check-in to the Palacio de Burgos, a converted monastery five minutes’ walk from Burgos Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. After lunch together at a local, traditional restaurant, we have a guided tour of the old part of the city and the Cathedral, which contains the tomb of the 11th-century Spanish warrior, El Cid. The rest of the afternoon and evening are at leisure. Overnight at the 4-star Hotel NH Collection Palacio de Burgos for two nights.

Day 5
Atapuerca | Burgos: Museum of Human Evolution (B,D)

This morning we drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Atapuerca, a series of pits and caves that contain the earliest evidence of human life found in Europe. After an independent lunch in Burgos we tour the impressive Museum of Human Evolution, which helps put into context the finds from Atapuerca. Later we have the second of our conversations with Dr. Chiappe before dining together at a mesón (typical local restaurant).

Day 6
La Rioja | Laguardia | Winery Tour (B,D)

We check out of our hotel and set off to spend the day in La Rioja, Spain’s principal grape-growing and wine-producing region. In the morning we drive to the old, hill-top village of Laguardia with its sweeping, panoramic views of the Ebro valley. After touring the town, we separate briefly for an independent lunch before driving the short distance to the Bodegas Marqués de Riscal with its spectacular, Frank Gehry-designed hotel, where we will spend the night. We tour the winery and vineyard, and meet later for dinner in the hotel’s Michelin-Starred restaurant. Overnight at the 5-star Hotel Marqués de Riscal.

Day 7
Paleontological Centre at Igea | Valdecillo | Virgen del Campo | Paleontological Centre in Enciso | Madrid (B,L,D)

Get an early start today as we check out and drive to the Paleontological Centre at Igea to begin our day of visiting dinosaur sites in the area. These will include the adjacent site at Igea itself before moving on—after lunching together—to view the fossilized dinosaur footprints at Valdecillo and Virgen del Campo, ending the day at the Paleontological Centre in Enciso. We then drive south to the Spanish capital, Madrid, where we check into the Hotel Paseo del Prado in the heart of the famous city and across the street from the Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado). Gather this evening to dine at a nearby restaurant. Overnight at the 5-star Hotel NH Collection Madrid Paseo del Prado for four nights.

Day 8
Madrid City Tour | At Leisure (B,L)

The day begins with our third conversation with Dr. Chiappe before we embark on a guided city tour that takes in La Castellana, La Cibeles, the Neptune Fountain and, of course, the Royal Palace. See Madrid’s very own Central Park, the Retiro, and stroll through the city’s two main squares, the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor. The latter lies at the very heart of the old town and is surrounded by a maze of narrow, winding streets. After the tour, enjoy the rest of the day by exploring this wonderful city, at your leisure.

Day 9
Cuenca: Museum of Paleontology and Lo Hueco Fossil Collection | Madrid (B,L)

This morning we drive to Cuenca, where we visit the Museum of Paleontology and the Lo Hueco fossil collection. The artifacts, which date from the Late Cretaceous period, were discovered when cuttings were made for the high speed train through the hills in the area. The small cathedral city of Cuenca itself, with its castle and old, walled town, sits high up in the mountains on a limestone spur and is perhaps best known for its casas colgadas (houses built on the side of vertical cliff faces, suspended in the air over perpendicular drops of hundreds of feet). We lunch here, surrounded by breathtaking views, returning afterwards to Madrid where we dine on our own this evening.

Day 10
Madrid: El Prado | At Leisure (B)

After breakfast we walk to the nearby Prado Museum for a guided tour of the world’s most comprehensive collection of Spanish art through the ages. One of the most visited art museums anywhere, Spanish painters on permanent display include Goya and Velasquez, and there are also numerous works by other, renowned European masters such as El Greco (“The Greek,” who produced his most important works while living in Toledo, Spain), Rubens, Bosch, and Titian. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 11
Fast Train (AVE) to Málaga | Picasso Museum (B,L)

We check out of our hotel and take the AVE south to the region of Andalucía and the splendid city of Málaga on the Costa del Sol, nestled on the shore of the Mediterranean. After settling in to the Gran Hotel Miramar we meet for lunch and then take a guided visit of the Picasso Museum in the town center—Málaga, of course, being the great Spanish painter’s birthplace. Dinner is on our own this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Gran Hotel Miramar for three nights.

Day 12
Granada | Alhambra Palace and Generalife | Sacromonte Frigiliana | Málaga (B,L)

This morning we drive to Granada for a guided visit of one of the most famous building complexes in Spain, the Alhambra Palace and Generalife. From their lofty position high above the city, these magnificent Moorish constructions with their fortifications and royal residences, gardens, courtyards, and fountains, dominate the surrounding area. Originally dating from the 9th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site boasts the finest Islamic architecture in Spain. After our visit we cross the river to the Sacromonte, the old, gypsy quarter set on the hillside directly opposite the Alhambra, where we have lunch and are entertained by traditional flamenco dancers in one of the many ancient caves honeycombed into the hill. Later, on the way back to Málaga, we stop at the picturesque village of Frigiliana, where we are free to stroll past its white-washed houses and along its narrow, cobbledstone streets. Dinner is on our own in Málaga this evening.

Day 13
Ardales | El Caminito del Rey | Farewell Dinner (B,L,D)
After breakfast we journey to Ardales and explore El Caminito del Rey (“The King’s Little Pathway”), part of which runs spectacularly along the cliff face high up above the Gaitanes Gorge. In the company of our local guide we traverse this exhilarating walkway, stopping en route for a picnic lunch. Back in Málaga there is time to freshen up and pack before meeting again for a farewell dinner in the Parador Málaga Gibralfaro, impressively sited high up in the hills over the town and offering wonderful views over both city and sea.

Day 14
Fly Home (B,D)

There are two group transfers today (times TBD) to Málaga Airport (AGP).

What's included

  • Leadership of NHMLAC Sr. Vice President of Research and Collections, Dr. Luis Chiappe and host Dr. Bettison-Varga, NHMLAC President and Director, plus special colleagues of Dr. Chiappe
  • Professional Tour Manager plus expert guides throughout
  • 13 nights’ accommodations as outlined in the itinerary
  • Delicious meals: all breakfasts / 7 group lunches / 5 group dinners including water and wine
  • Private individual arrival transfers on April 24, 2020
  • Two group departure transfers on May 7, 2020
  • All entrance fees to sites included in the itinerary
  • Surface transportation in air-conditioned motor coach with bottled water provided
  • Local taxes and service charges
  • Gratuities to the Tour Manager and guides, drivers, waiters, and porters
  • Handling of two pieces of checked luggage per person
  • Practical and cultural information, suggested reading guide, name badge, passport wallet, and luggage tags


Tour Prices Per Person (13 nights)

Double per Person:  $11,445 (15-20 guests)
Double per Person:  $13,245 (12-14 guests)
Single Supplement: $2,445

With fewer than 12 participants, a small group surcharge may be added. Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

Download full information brochure.

For booking questions and reservations please contact 800.856.8951 (M–F 9 am to 5 pm EST) or e-mail:

For other questions please contact Dominic LoBuglio, Donor Engagement Coordinator at 213.763.3348 or