Explore Spain & Portugal’s hidden gems. The perfect mix of culture, gastronomy, nature and history.
Arrive at Barcelona El Prat airport. You are met at the airport for transfer to your accommodations.
The exquisite views of Barcelona’s picturesque skyline are best enjoyed from the glistening waters of the Mediterranean Sea – completely unobstructed and with peacefulness to be truly appreciated. In a busy city of over 1.6 million inhabitants, sailing out into the Mediterranean provides a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle. An afternoon sail. Soak up the sun and fresh air before returning to your starting point to end your 2.5-hour sailing cruise. Includes snacks and drinks.
Today, you will start with a drive to the famous hill of Montjüic, which offers excellent views over the city and was the site of the 1992 Olympic games. After a brief stop at the Catalunya National Art Museum (MNAC) we will make our way down to Plaça Espanya and on past the Modernist buildings of the Eixample area.
You drive to the iconic Sagrada Familia will take us up Passeig de Gracia, home to the famous designer stores, and the setting for two of Barcelona’s most talked about Gaudï buildings: La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
Before arriving at the Sagrada Família, you will stop at the Hospital de Sant Pau I de Santes Creus, built between 1901 and 1930. Well away from the tourist route, this hospital has been declared a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ and is one of the greatest symbols of the Modernist Architecture in Barcelona.
Finally, you will arrive at Sagrada Família, stopping there for a visit inside the building. Entrance tickets will have been pre-purchased and there will be no waiting in line.
You will then head to the oldest part of Barcelona, the Barrio Gótico, which, as late, the mid 19th century was still surrounded by the Mediaeval walls. At this point, we will enjoy a stroll through the narrow winding streets of medieval Barcelona. At the start of the short walk through the historic streets of Barcelona, you stop for a brief visit of one of Barcelona’s most traditional indoor food markets: Mercat de Santa Caterina.
From there, you travel back in time, going from the Roman era through to the early Middle Ages, when the Catalan counts were controlling the Mediterranean sea and Barcelona was the capital of an empire. During this part, you also visit the Jewish Quarter, the Royal Palace, the original 2000-year-old Roman Temple and part of the Cathedral.
The final part of the excursion takes in part of the Born district, where the guide points out a variety of restaurants and tapas bars suitable for a meal before ending at the magnificent Santa Maria del Mar church – one of the most beautiful in Barcelona. Excursion duration: 4 hours.
Today you can explore Barcelona on your own, visiting one of the many museums or opt for one of the several day trips – you can choose between mountains, beaches and pretty little towns, all just a short ride away.
Day 4Barcelona to San Sebastián
Take the train to San Sebastian. Sit back and enjoy the scenery for the journey to the Basque Country.
In the evening, you have a special cider experience. Cider holds a prized spot in any Basque’s glass, and an annual visit to the cider house is a sacred ritual. Experience this incredibly unique yearly local rite of passage with one of our guides in this tour, perfect for groups and friends.
You visit an authentic cider house, whose walls are lined with barrels of freshly fermented cider, waiting to be tapped whenever thirst strikes. You will feast family style on chorizo a la sidra, a spanish omelette with salt cod, cod with sweet peppers and onions, and txuleta (grilled bone-in prime rib cooked over an open fire). Dessert is local sheep’s cheese with walnuts and membrillo. The meal is always punctuated with laughs and unlimited visits to the cider barrels.
You will line up with the locals to catch cider arching in a stream across the room. Perfecting the art of the pour is not easy, but the practice is fun. A lunch or dinner at the cider house is synonymous with having a great time and eating even better!
Today, explore San Sebastian in a unique way: On electric Bike! Go over all around San Sebastian in this awesome experience and enjoy riding the bike while traversing both the Old Quarter and the more modern parts of the city, learning all about its history and local culture as well the off the beaten path parts of the town!
The rest of the afternoon to enjoy this beautiful city and the famous Playa de la Concha.
In the evening, your rental car will be delivered to your hotel.
San Sebastián to Bilbao
Today you will drive to Bilbao. Travel time: 1 hour.
Today you are met by a local guide to get to know Bilbao. Staggering architecture, a venerable dining scene and stunning landscapes just outside the city center.
Basque culture takes on many forms in this thriving waterfront city. Evocative museums like the Euskal Museoa and the Arkeologi Museo provide a glimpse into centuries past, with their collections of ancient Basque carvings, Middle Age treasures and everyday implements of the mariners, artisans and landowners of this age-old people.
After your city tour, the evening is on your own to enjoy. We can do reservations at one of the many fabulous restaurants in the city.
Today can visit the icon of Bilbao, shimmering titanium Museo Guggenheim Bilbao. Is one of modern architecture’s most iconic buildings. It played a major role in helping to lift Bilbao out of its postindustrial depression and into the 21st century – and with sensation. It sparked the city’s inspired regeneration, stimulated further development and placed Bilbao firmly in the international art and tourism spotlight.
In the afternoon, you will head north to Plentzia, where you will visit the world’s first undersea winery. You visit the laboratory, learn all about the innovative project and taste some of their products along with local pintxos. Once the visit has finished, you will head back to Bilbao to enjoy the city at night.
Bilbao to Oviedo
Today you drive to Olviedo Travel time: 3 hours
In route, you can make stops at the Altamira Caves: Spain’s finest prehistoric art, the wonderful paintings of bison, horses, deer and other animals in the Cueva de Altamira, 2.5km southwest of Santillana del Mar. These magical carbon-and-ochre illustrations are particularly special for depicting completely colored-in beasts, rather than animal outlines (as in other Cantabrian caves).
You can also stop in Santillana del Mar for lunch: Santillana is the town of the three lies: not holy (santi), flat (llana) or by the sea (del mar). This medieval jewel is in such a perfect state of preservation, with its bright cobbled streets, flower-filled balconies and huddle of tanned stone and brick buildings – it’s a film set, surely? Well, no. People still live here, passing their grand precious houses down from generation to generation.
After lunch, continue to Oviedo.
In the afternoon, enjoy a self-guided tour of the historic center of Oviedo.
Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela
Today you drive to Santiago de Compostela. Travel time: 3 hours
En route there are several interesting places to stop for lunch and explore before arriving to Santiago de Compostela.
In the evening, enjoy your first taste of Galicia cuisine.
Santiago de Compostela
Today, you will be met at the hotel by a local guide for your visit of Santiago de Compostela. There is much more to Santiago then just the cathedral: you will visit Santiago’s Old Medieval Town with its impressive Baroque buildings in granite, the grandiose 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, its 18th century lively market of Abastos and medieval frame to discover all the treasures this wonderful city.
The rest of the day is your to explore the city.
Explore the Galician countryside
Today opt for an excursion outside the city to experience the Galician countryside.
A Wine-Lover’s Paradise
The seaside resort of Cambados (45 minutes) is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Galicia. If you love wine, then this picturesque village is a must as it’s known as the capital of Albariño wine. Albariño is a delicious white grape variety grown in Galicia.
Cambados is also the starting point of the Ruta del Vino, or wine route, which covers 22 wineries that are part of the Denomination of Origin Rías Baixas. The Denomination of Origin is a seal that ensures the quality and origin of the product. Visit during the first weekend of August and participate in the Albariño festival!
There’s nothing more relaxing than a stroll through picturesque vineyards!
The City of the Celts
A Coruña is a city of many faces; culture, beaches, history and sports live side by side. These elements make it one of the most interesting day trips from Santiago. One of its fascinating facets is its past as the roaming ground of the Celtic king Breogan. Take a trip to the Torre de Hércules or Hercules Tower to see the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world, which is still in service today. Built in the second century, legend has it that Breogan and his sons saw Ireland from this very same tower and decided to conquer it. They eventually did, which has led historians to believe that there might be a genetic connection between the Galicians and the people of the British Isles!
A Roman-Walled Foodie Haven
Lugo is a fascinating and interesting city for history buffs and gastronomes. Get a bird’s eye view of Lugo’shistoric city center by walking on top of the impressive Roman walls all the way around the city! The city is famous for its tapas that come free with any drinks you order. Don’t miss the Praza do Campo square and the streets surrounding it for fantastic tapas dishes. Definitely, a fun way to spend an evening in this atmospheric city!
Lugo’s Roman walls are a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the city—and a good workout! Photo
The Galician Caribbean
Though the view of the Cíes Islands may convince you that you’ve somehow ended up in the Caribbean, a quick dip in the refreshing water will remind you that you’re still in northern Spain! These amazing views are just 9 miles (15 km) from Vigo’s coast, and Vigo is about an hour’s drive from Santiago. Go for a hike and bird-watch, or just swim and relax all day at Rodas beach. Only 2,200 visitors are allowed to travel to this paradise daily, so make your boat reservation in advance!
Santiago de Compostela to Porto, Portugal
Today, you leave the car rental behind. You are picked up for a private transfer to Porto, Portugal. Travel time. 2,30 hours.
In route, you make a stop in Viana do Castelo, the jewel of the Costa Verde, Viana do Castelo is blessed with an appealing medieval center, an attractive riverfront and lovely beaches just outside the city. The old quarter showcases leafy 19th-century boulevards and narrow lanes crowded with Manueline manors and rococo palaces, all dramatically presided over by the pearly white, neo-Byzantine Santa Luzia church on the hilltop high above the town. The town’s setting just by the Rio Lima estuary makes Viana a handy base for exploring the lower Lima valley.
A self-guide visit to this fantastic seaside town, time for lunch before continuing to Porto.
Today head out to start your half-day excursion in Porto. This excursion will lead you through the most important landmarks of Portugal’s second most populous city. Settled by Romans, this is an emblematic city known for its delicious Port wine, medieval townhouses stack up beside the beautiful Douro River and churches wearing their blue-and-white “azulejo” tiles.
The guide will explain to you the rich history of this city, also called “Invicta” (the Unbeaten City), its heroes and battles and will guide you towards the trendiest and most cultural area of the city. Boavista Avenue, one of the most important streets, and Foz, the place where the river meets the sea, have some of the most important museums and modern local treasures. Then, the city center invites a long visit. Being a UNESCO site, here we will admire the most renowned Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical monuments and sites, like the São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, the Church of St. Francis, Lello Bookshop, Sta. Catarina Street, Majestic Café, Bolhão Market, and much more.
And after a visit to the imposing Cathedral with its superb silver altarpiece, we will be able to enjoy the riverbanks of the immense Douro River, its Ribeira plaza and the D. Luís Bridge.
In the afternoon, be sure and visit one of the famous port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Excursion to Duoro Valley
Today you will be picked up at your hotel for this full day excursion to discover Douro Valley and national cuisine at the highest level! Having lunch “on” the Douro river, it will be the perfect combination of landscape, river, wines and signature cuisine of Chef Rui Paula from DOC Restaurant: a unique moment in life!!!
You will also have the opportunity to walk through the stunning grounds of one of the many terraced “Quintas” of the Douro and taste their extraordinary wine.
After you excursion this World Heritage site, you will return to your hotel in Porto.
Porto to Lisbon
Today you will be picked up at your hotel for the transfer by car. In route, you will make a stop in Coimbra. Travel time: 3 hours.
Coimbra is the medieval capital of Portugal for over a hundred years, and site of the country’s greatest university for the past five centuries, Coimbra wears its weighty importance in Portuguese history with dignity. Its atmospheric, beautiful historic core cascades down a hillside in a lovely setting on the east bank of the Rio Mondego: it’s a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium.
After lunch, continue to Lisbon.
Today, you will discover Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, a city which was built on seven hills, located near the meeting point of the Tagus River with the ocean. It is the only European capital with sunsets on the sea, so close to golden beaches, with a captivating mild climate even in winter, when most other European cities are freezing. A charming and friendly city, with a cosmopolitan population, World Heritage monuments, impressive museums. A place where every corner breathes history, culture and art.
You will have an all-in-one overview of the main city sites and some well-kept secrets, exposing you instantly to the special atmosphere and authenticity that make up the character of this vibrant Atlantic city. This unforgettable visit takes you on the winding tracks of the famous Lisbon trams, through the narrow streets of the Old Town districts; Santa Justa iron lift rising to the Downtown heights, offering your eyes an everlasting memory of the city, providing the natural breaks to a relaxed stroll on foot across historic Lisbon.
In the evening, you will dine at one of the best Fado restaurants. These are places to sample traditional Portuguese cuisine with interludes of authentic Fado singing and music.
Excursion to Sintra, Cascais & Estoril
The surroundings of Lisbon offer an incredible variety of attractions, from fairytale places to romantic towns and breathtaking viewpoints.
You will head to romantic Sintra. This village is a harmonic combination of History and fantasy and it was described as a “glorious Eden” by the British poet Lord Byron, in the 18th century. Stroll through its medieval streets and admire the special handicraft. You will have free time to explore this marvelous village and our friendly driver/guide can recommend you some imposing monuments and wonderful palaces that worth a visit. Free time for lunch.
The next stop will be the Roca Cape, the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal, where the land ends and the sea begins. With an impressive view over the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, the crashing waves make this place even more gorgeous. And on our return to Lisbon, you will appreciate the fishing harbor and the center of Cascais, the former summer residence of the Portuguese royal family and nowadays an excellent place for surfing, and the famous Estoril, known for its Casino, the largest in Europe, with attractive gardens.
After the excursion, you will return to Lisbon.
Day 18Lisbon Depart
Time to say goodbye to Lisbon, transfer to the airport. Tchau Portugal!
NORTHERN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL MAP
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