Northern Spain & Portugal
|Northern Spain & Portugal
|Europe, Portugal, Spain
Explore spectacular natural beauty, works of art, famous architecture, unique cultures and delicious cuisine on your journey through Northern Spain and Portugal. In Toledo, step back in time as you stroll its medieval streets and alleyways. Stop for tours and tastings at great Spanish and Portuguese wine cellars. Be amazed at the architecture and art collection of Bilbaos Guggenheim Museum. Discover Santiago de Compostela, one of the most popular pilgrim destinations since the Middle Ages. Sleep in the famous paradores of Spain and Portugals wonderful pousadas. Spend time in Porto, birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator. Watch Portuguese cuisine come to life during an interactive cooking class. Feel like a member of the European royalty with a three night stay at the Baroque style Pousada de Queluz. In Lisbon, choose to marvel at the priceless treasures of the National Museum of Coaches or take in the local life of the historic Alfama district. Through history, art, wine, cuisine and breathtaking accommodations, experience the endless treasures of Spain and Portugal.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
From northern Spain to Portugal you will be immersed in spectacular scenery, famous works of art, unique cultures and delicious cuisine. Along the way, travel to medieval castles, quaint villages, captivating cities and golden beaches. History, great food and idyllic scenery are just the beginning.
Day 2: Toledo, Spain – Tour Begins
Welcome to Toledo, a national monument to Spain’s art and history, and a treasure trove of El Greco artwork. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Toledo
Get acquainted with Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the capital of medieval Spain until 1560. Toledo was known as the city of three cultures, where Christians, Jews and Arabs lived together in harmony. A walking tour highlights the magnificent Gothic cathedral, the medieval castle and towers, and Europes oldest synagogue, the Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue. Stop at the Church of Santo Tome to see El Grecos masterpiece painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. Walk along the labyrinth of lanes winding through the medieval walled town and view the citys stunning Moorish, Mudjar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore on your own.
Day 4: Toledo – Ribera del Duero – Burgos
Ease your way into the local culture as your Tour Manager teaches you a few key phrases of the native language. Travel to Ribera del Duero, one of Spain’s foremost wine-producing regions. Make a stop for a tour and tasting of its famed red wine at the spectacular winemaking facility of Bodegas Portia. Continue on to historic Burgos. Discover the beautiful town center and the famous 13th-century Burgos Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site and masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
Day 5: Burgos – Bilbao – Guggenheim Museum – Old Quarter – Burgos
Continue through the culturally and linguistically unique Basque country to Bilbao, recognized as a leader in architecture and contemporary art in Europe. Tour the Guggenheim Museum, a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture designed by architect Frank Gehry. This spectacular building is covered in titanium panels and has its own remarkable private art collection. Next, enjoy the local favorite a txikiteo (bar crawl) in Bilbaos colorful Old Quarter. Enjoy a light lunch of various pintxos the Basque equivalent of the Spanish tapas and drink the local cider. Later, an exciting experience awaits when you visit the Vizcaya Bridge (UNESCO), the first transporter bridge of steel structure in the world. Opened in 1893, its considered the engineering marvel of its time. Cross to the other side aboard the hanging gondola offering great views of the extraordinary panorama of the estuary.
Day 6: Burgos – León/Benavente
Traverse the picturesque countryside to Len, the ancient seat of the Reconquista during the Middle Ages. Upon arrival, join a local guide for a visit to the magnificent 13th-century cathedral, one of Spains most beautiful buildings, with its sculpture-covered faade and impressive stained glass windows. Continue on for a tour of the city featuring the Basilica of San Isidoro and the adjoining Royal Pantheon, the resting place of Len’s ancient kings. This magnificent crypt has been described as the Sistine Chapel of Spanish Romanesque art. Pause to marvel at Casa de Botines, designed by the famous architect Gaud. Then, settle into your parador accommodations.
Day 7: León/Benavente – Santiago de Compostela
Your travels continue to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most popular pilgrim destinations since the Middle Ages, and where the tomb of the Apostle St. James was miraculously discovered. Join a local expert for a leisurely paced walking tour that features the citys world-famous cathedral and Praa do Obradoiro, a monumental square of pure grandeur in granite, home to some of Europes finest historical buildings. Arrive at your hotel, the impressive Parador Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, considered to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the world and one of the most luxurious.
Day 8: Santiago de Compostela – Guimarães, Portugal
Your morning is at leisure to relax or explore the city on your own before saying farewell to Spain. Cross the border into Portugal and travel to medieval Guimar£es (UNESCO), the first capital of Portugal and birthplace of the nation’s first king.
Day 9: Guimarães – Cooking Class
Today you explore Guimar£es. Your local guide will lead you on a tour featuring the imposing 10th-century Guimar£es Castle; the Palace of the Dukes of Bragana, with 39 unusual brick chimneys; and the towns superbly restored buildings. Later in the day, learn the secrets of Portuguese cuisine during an interactive cooking class; this is followed by dinner featuring local food and wines.
Day 10: Guimarães – Porto – Guimarães
Travel to the charismatic city of Porto (UNESCO). This ancient port is known for its striking contemporary monuments and Baroque carvings, and is the birthplace of the legendary Prince Henry the Navigator. Join a local expert to discover the sights and sounds of Portos riverfront district. Make stops at Church of Sao Francisco to gaze at its spectacular golden adornments that line its walls and ceiling, and the Stock Exchange Palace to marvel at its exuberant interior. Along the way, see the 18th-century fortress-like Clerigos Tower; the impressive Dona Maria Pia Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel; and the medieval quarter with traditional boats floating by the riverbanks. Then, get a taste of the region at a local winery. Learn about the wine making process on a tour, then sample its famous port wine.
Day 11: Guimarães – Vista Alegre Porcelain – Coimbra – Queluz
Discover the traditional art of handmade Portuguese porcelain during a visit to Vista Alegre, in operation since 1824. Journey to Coimbra, home to one of the world’s first universities, and explore the city with your guide. See the Baroque Library, lined with 300,000 books; the 12th-century Old Cathedral; and the 16th-century aqueduct. Next we continue to Queluz. Feel like a member of European royalty with a 3-night stay at the Baroque-style Pousada de Queluz.
Day 12: Queluz – Lisbon Panoramic City Tour or Alfama District Walking Tour
This morning you choose! You may choose to join a panoramic Lisbon city tour (via coach), or perhaps youd prefer a walking tour* of Lisbons historic Alfama District. The Lisbon city tour features Jeronimos Monastery (UNESCO), Belem Tower (UNESCO), the Monument to the Discoveries, and youll cap it off with a visit to the National Museum of Coaches. The Alfama District is Lisbon’s most symbolic quarter. On this walking tour, step back in time and explore this residential neighborhood considered a village within a city. Stroll through its medieval alleys, narrow streets and tiny squares; and pass by beautiful churches and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers; then, climb the hill to explore the castle that has the most breathtaking panorama of the city.
Day 13: Queluz
Enjoy a day at leisure. Perhaps you will choose an optional excursion to the Portuguese Riviera featuring picturesque Sintra (UNESCO); Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on the European continent; and charming Cascais with its cobblestone streets, ocean side promenade and a wealth of picture-perfect views. Tonight, gather for a wonderful farewell dinner celebrating the end of a memorable trip to northern Spain and Portugal.
Day 14: Queluz – Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today.