Pickleball and Spain - A Great Combination

Mar 8, 2016

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Imagine playing pickleball in a foreign country with the locals every morning, taking guided tours through castles, palaces and medieval villages every afternoon, and savoring the local fare every evening. That’s the experience you’ll have with Viva Spain Pickleball Tours, which launched in 2014. Since then pickleball players from throughout the US and Canada have packed their paddles and headed to Spain to enjoy a one-of-a-kind “pickleball tour” that combines the best of pickleball and Spain.

Pickleball Spain - Gate of Alcala - Madrid (2)

A Truly Unique Experience

The Viva Spain Pickleball Tours are designed to allow pickleball addicts to continue playing their favorite sport while traveling. In addition, the tours provide a unique opportunity to interact with the locals on and off the court in a way that does not happen with standard packaged tours. In the words of one previous traveler, “I’ve made new friends from across the globe and have memories for a lifetime - all because of playing pickleball. For anyone looking for a unique way to enjoy pickleball and visit an amazing country, this tour is worth considering. Viva Pickleball!” (Helen White, USAPA Ambassador for Northern Virginia)

Content of the Tours

Itineraries for the 9-day pickleball tours provide a perfect balance of on- and off-court activities. In the morning participants get plenty of pickleball with 3 hours of court time that includes a variety of open play, drills, clinics, demonstrations and competition. The court activity is prepared by tour organizer Mike Hess and the accompanying “Tour Pro” he invites on each tour. (Past Tour Pros have included Chris Thomas, Timothy Nelson, Jennifer Lucore, Bob Youngren, Jeffrey Shank and Prem Carnot.) While most of the court time involves open play, the coaches are there to provide as much personalized feedback and training as players desire. And of course, playing with the locals and learning some Spanish along the way is part of the package! Although pickleball is a relatively new sport in Spain, the locals are enthusiastic about playing with travelers and are improving their skills at a rapid pace.

Pickleball Spain

Fascinating Off-Court Activities

After getting their fill of pickleball each day, our tours allow travelers to immerse themselves in Spanish history, culture and festivities every afternoon and evening. After morning pickleball play, the schedule allows travelers to shower, have lunch, and relax until the organized tour activities begin in the afternoon. Whether you see the sights via our luxury bus or a guided walking tour, you will always be accompanied by a professional tour guide who will share expertise about the fascinating history of Spain and the centuries-old sites visited on the tours, such as the Royal Palace in Madrid or Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona. We also take two days off from pickleball to enjoy full-day excursions where you will explore surrounding areas of our host city.

The average temperature during the tour dates is 80° with sunshine, so travelers not only enjoy playing outdoors. but sightseeing under blue skies as we visit the different sites to experience history first-hand.

All Skill Levels Welcome, as well as Non-Pickleball Players

The tour welcomes pickleball players of all skill levels. Pickleball activities ensure that players from beginner to advanced enjoy their time on the courts and learn new things to improve their level of play. Non-pickleball playing spouses, family and friends are also welcome to join the tour as there are plenty of off-court activities to keep non-pickleball travelers active and entertained.

Tour Organization

Every detail of the tour is taken care of from beginning to end. The handpicked 4-star hotels in both Madrid and Barcelona are located in the city center within walking distance of many historic sites. As soon as travelers step outside of the hotel they can enjoy the ambience of these vibrant Mediterranean cities: shopping, dining, museums, shows, monuments, century-old plazas, eating tapas, sipping sangria and people watching. Travelers will enjoy the hotel’s amazing buffet breakfast and friendly service in English throughout their stay. Transportation is provided to and from the airport, and we travel comfortably in luxury buses on all of our sightseeing excursions. And for travelers with special requests or who want help planning an extended stay in Spain, all you need to do is ask.

Pickleball Spain Courts

Tour Organizer

The tours are organized and run by Mike Hess. Mike is a pickleball aficionado who fell in love with the sport the first time he stepped onto the court 10 years ago. Originally from Southern California, he has been living in Spain for the past 18 years, in both Barcelona and Madrid. He is fluent in Spanish and well-versed in the local customs.

Mike started the Spanish Pickleball Association back in 2012 and has been active in helping other European countries start and grow pickleball as well. On his visits home to pickleball hotspots throughout the US, Mike was always being asked to organize a pickleball tour to Spain by players interested in traveling. In 2014, he made that happen when he launched Viva Spain Pickleball Tours.

Three tours are scheduled for 2016. In addition to the original Madrid Tour, this year we have added a new destination - Barcelona!

The tour dates are as follows:

  • Barcelona Tour: May 31 – June 8, 2016 (with Tour Pro Jennifer Lucore)
  • Madrid Tour: September 7-15, 2016 (with Tour Pro Jeffrey Shank)
  • Madrid Tour: September 20-28, 2016 (Tour Pro TBA)

Tour Discounts

An Early Bird Discount of $100 applies to players who register by March 31st. We offer group discounts for 5 or more people. And there’s an additional $100 savings if you sign up using the Pickleball Central Tour Coupon Code by April 7th. The coupon code is “PBCTOUR”.

Tour Reviews

Our tours are amazing, but don’t just take our word for it. To truly appreciate our tours, we want you to listen to what others have to say about their experience. These unique pickleball adventures have received rave reviews from travelers like Peter Graham from San Diego who described his experience this way: “The tour far exceeded my expectations. It was more than a typical tour. It was a cross-cultural sport tourism experience. I would repeat (and certainly will) this experience at the next opportunity.”.