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.
Barcelona to Madrid
Today travel to Madrid on the fast train.
Today, you have an in-depth experience to understand how the city works as we explore its cultural highlights. The guide traces the history of Madrid and its development from its medieval roots to the modern times, when it became the thriving capital of Spain, and we will fill you in with the latest news, shows and exhibitions.
This is effectively a briefing on what’s on in Madrid, what to do and see (and what to avoid) while you are here as you get a sense of social and cultural events. This orientation walk will also provide you with the essential historical background you need to understand what is happening in 21st century Madrid.
In the evening, why not dine at one of the many rooftop bars.
Day trip to Toledo
Today take the train for the short ride to Toledo (30 minutes), upon arrival you are met by our local guide for a half day city tour. Toledo, home to three civilization, is the former capital of Spain and has been a world heritage site since 1987. The city has layers of history; the cathedral built on the site of a mosque which was built on the site of a Visigoth church, the Santa Maria la Blanca – a former synagogue with Muslim design and a Christian name and the Transito synagogue, now a Sephardic museum. You will also visit El Greco masterpiece in the Santo Tome Church, the San Cristo de la Luz mosque and the elaborate cloisters of San Juan de Los Reyes.
The afternoon to explore the city on your own before returning to Madrid
Madrid to Granada
Today you take the train to Granada
In the afternoon, you will have a city tour of Granada by bike (or walking tour if you prefer). You visit Plaza Nueva, the Albaicín (the historic center), Realejo, the Cathedral area, as well as lots of little hidden away places along the way! You will end the experience at a tapas bar to enjoy the fantastic food or refreshment (not included in the price). the many rooftop bars.
This morning you will head out to see the Alhambra, a mystical fortress and palace that many called the
eighth wonder of the world. With countless rooms and the charming Generalife gardens filled with lush, colorful flowers and serene fountains, this fortress perched on a mountaintop makes for an unforgettable visit. You can opt for a private visit or with a group.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on your own.
Granada – White Villages – Sevilla
Today you have a private transfer by car.
After leaving Granada, your journey takes you through the Sevillian countryside, heading towards National Park Sierra Grazalema. Then continue through the mountains stopping at the picturesque white village of Grazalema. You will enjoy a range of amazing landscapes and views over the provinces of Cádiz, Málaga, and Seville, from Puerto de las Palomas which is 1157 meters above sea level. You also get the chance to witness the wildlife in their natural habitat. These mountains are home to the largest colony of Griffon vultures in Spain. Once in Grazalema, there is time to have a nice meal, surrounded by the picturesque white houses decorated with colorful flowers.
After lunch, you will leave Grazalema, you can stop in another picturesque white village, of Zahara de Sierra, located at the top of a steep hill Zahara is famous for its views and history. If you stop you can walk around the town, have a coffee and even visit a small olive oil factory which makes one of the best olive oil in Andalusia.
Leaving Zahara, you will continue to Seville.
Today, you will meet with our local guide to show you the highlights of Seville, a lively, likable city. You’ll view the Cathedral, home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus, then visit the Giralda tower, the Alcazar Palace and its majestic gardens and the hidden Santa Cruz quarter, discovering local haunts along the way. You will also visit a workshop of local artisans.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on your own.
Day trip to Córdoba
Today take the 40 minute train to Córdoba.
You can visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, one of the most visited monuments in Spain, conserving the style from an Islamic Mosque together with the Cathedral. Its construction belongs to the 8th century and it became the second biggest Mosque in the world. You will discover inside a forest full of columns and double arches, the Maqsura, the Mihrab and the impressive chorus located close to Mayor Chapel.
After a visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, you will have a free afternoon to enjoy the rest of Córdoba.
You can opt for an afternoon visit to Medina Azahara located on the outskirts of town which was commissioned by the first Caliph of Córdoba, Abd al-Rahman III in the 10th century that had an extension of 120 hectares. Medina Azahara was a medieval town and the de facto capital of al-Andalus, you will walk around the ancient palace and learn about how it once served as the heart of administration and government. You can stop by the new museum that lies on the edge of the site for a quick look at the impressive and fitting architecture. This is one of Spain’s most impressive archaeological sites.
After returning to Seville, you have the rest of the evening on your own.
Seville to Lisbon
Take your picked up for your private transfer to Lisbon.
In the late afternoon, This evening, you enjoy a gourmet food tour in Lisbon’s authentic winding alleys and taste the incredible flavors of Portuguese gastronomy. Campo de Ourique is a city within the city! Wake up your taste buds for the flavors and your senses for the history and culture of this pioneer neighborhood that sets the food culture and gastronomic trends of Lisbon. You will visit seven spots that brilliantly link tradition with modernity. They have reinvented restaurant concepts – from the market to the hotel-school – and have created culinary recipes that have become world famous.
Today you’ll get to discover Lisbon on a half day excursion, visiting key sites and some well-kept secrets, exposing the city’s unique atmosphere and authenticity. This will be a fun adventure as you travel around the city utilizing the yellow tram system broken up with relaxed strolls.
The tour includes the following:
Praça do Comércio: the largest of Lisbon’s plazas
Baixa: the ‘new city’, built after the devastating 1755 earthquake
Praça da Figueira: Lisbon’s traditional market square
Rossio: the heart of downtown Lisbon
Iron Lift Viewpoint: a stellar 360º view over the downtown district
Largo do Carmo: the setting for the democratic revolution of 1974
Carmo ruins: the only Gothic monument of the city
St. Roque Church: a Baroque extravaganza
Bairro Alto: the lively bohemian district
Chiado: the city’s most elegant shopping area
Portas do Sol: a breathtaking view over Alfama (the Old Town)
In the evening, you’ll wine and dine at one of the best Fado restaurants in Lisbon for traditional Portuguese cuisine with interludes of authentic Fado singing and music.
Sintra, Cascais & Estoril
The area surrounding Lisbon offers an incredible variety of architecture and scenery, from fairytale palaces to romantic towns and breathtaking viewpoints. Today’s guided excursion is the ideal way to experience some of these attractions.
After breakfast at your hotel, your guide will deliver you to the first stop on the tour: Sintra. This village—about 30 minutes by car from the capital—is a harmonic combination of history and fantasy, described as a “glorious Eden” by the British poet Lord Byron in the 18th century. You will have free time to explore on your own and have lunch, and your guide can recommend some imposing monuments and wonderful palaces that are worth a visit.
Your next stop will be the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe. Enjoy the gorgeous views across the Atlantic Ocean as waves crash onto the shore. On the return trip to Lisbon, you will have time to appreciate the fishing harbor and tourist center of Cascais, the former summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, and nowadays an excellent spot for surfing. You’ll also be able to visit the luxury entertainment town of Estoril, known for its casino (the largest in Europe) and attractive gardens.
After the excursion, you’ll have the remainder of the day to enjoy Lisbon any way you’d like.exploring on your own.
Lisbon – Óbidos – Porto
After breakfast at your hotel, it’s time to make the journey to Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. It won’t be a direct route though: About halfway through the drive, you’ll make a morning stop in the charming walled city of Obidos. The historic center here offers a labyrinth of narrow cobblestoned streets and flower-bedecked, whitewashed houses, livened up with dashes of vivid yellow and blue paint.
Historically, Obidos was recaptured from the Moors and presented to the Queen of Portugal on her wedding day—not once, but a long-lasting tradition that began with Queen Urraca in 1214 and continued until the 19th century. You’ll have time to enjoy a self-guided tour around the village including its stunning centuries-old castle.
Following lunch, continue driving the rest of the way to Porto where you’ll have the rest of the day to relax and explore the city streets on your own.
Explore Porto with a Local
After breakfast at your hotel, get ready for a half-day tour of Porto with a local guide. This excursion will lead you through the most important landmarks of Portugal’s second most populous city as you travel from place to place in a comfortable private vehicle.
Your guide will explain the rich history of this city, also called Invicta (the Unbeaten City), with stories of heroes and battles, as you make your way to the trendiest and most cultural area of the city. Here you’ll explore Boavista Avenue, one of the city’s most important streets, and Foz, home to some of the most important museums and modern local treasures.
Next, you’ll head to the city center—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—to admire the most renowned Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical monuments and sites, including the São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, Church of St. Francis, Lello Bookshop, Sta. Catarina Street, Majestic Café, and Bolhão Market, to name a few.
After visiting the imposing Porto Cathedral with its superb silver altarpiece, you will finish the tour along the banks of the immense Douro River with views of Ribeira Plaza and the D. Luís Bridge.
The rest of the day is on your own. Be sure and visit one of the famous Port Houses in Villa Nova do Gaia.
Explore Porto & Northern Portugal
After breakfast in Porto, you will have a free day to explore more of the city on your own. You can also opt to take a day-trip in Northern Portugal, whether it’s hiking, hitting the beach, wine tasting, or visiting some noteworthy towns and historical sites. Some recommendations include:
Douro Valley: Known for port wine production, rolling hills, and a crystal-clear river, Douro is considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe.
Braga: Check out this café-filled center, where students from the nearby university meet to socialize and discuss ideas. Meanwhile, a short distance away is the famous Bom Jesus do Monte (Bom Jesus Sanctuary) and the oldest cathedral in the country.
Aveiro: Nicknamed the ‘Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro’s charming canals are quieter and arguably more colorful than the Italian city, with brightly painted boats and buildings. The town is an easy jaunt from Porto, whether you choose to drive, take a train, or hop on a bus.
Guimarães: History buffs shouldn’t leave northern Portugal without seeing where the country’s origins began. Home of Portugal’s first king, Guimarães Castle is where the royal family lived, but there are plenty more medieval structures where that came from.
Esposende: Just a quick, half-hour drive away, Esposende offers white sand beaches and picturesque dunes for a relaxing retreat—especially if you’re in need of soaking up the sun and catching up on literature.
Viana do Castelo: A little further north of Esposende is this larger beach town—listed as one of the more visually appealing cities in Portugal with a medieval center. As a fishing port, it’s also an excellent spot for devouring seafood.
Peneda-Gerês National Park: For some physical activity, take a trek or mountain bike ride through Portugal’s only national park. Located in the districts of Viana do Castelo and Braga, it’s an easy place to add into your itinerary.
Depart from Porto
It’s time to say goodbye to Portugal! Depending on the time of your flight, squeeze in one more walk through the streets of Porto, perhaps picking up some last-minute souvenirs. At the designated time you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your departure onwards. Tchau Portugal!
SOUTHERN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL MAP
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