Port Wine region, the Douro Valley; Lisbon: Colonial elegance; Bilbao's Guggenheim; Comprehensive Barcelona city tour; Magnificent Guggenheim Museum; Magnificent Prado Museum; Granada's Alhambra Fortress; Seductive Seville; 'Imperial cities', Meknes, Fes, Marrakech; Volubilis, Morocco's only Roman site; Zagora - Gateway to Sahara; Relaxed seaside town of Essaouira


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Thu 07 Apr 2016Sun 08 May 2016 $8290
Thu 08 Sep 2016Sun 09 Oct 2016 $8290

Optional Single Supplement: $1640 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Now is the chance to see Portugal, Spain and Morocco in one solid 32-day adventure that will leave us with a stronger desire to expose ourselves to more worldly experiences. Once in Portugal, we will have the chance to see the country's collection of Gothic and Renaissance churches. They seem to coincide with the country's natural beauty so well that it seems as if the structures were extensions of the land itself. Glancing upon the antiquity in the halls of the Muse Archaelogique in Casablanca in Morocco can be compared to looking over a missing chapter in our history books. The most important lesson that this journey can impart is, "discovery does not end here."

Regions visited: Western Europe and North And West Africa
Countries visited: Portugal; Spain and Morocco

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Lisbon
Today we arrive in Lisbon.

The capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. This was the centre of Europe's first and largest overseas empire and, as a result, the city still has a feeling of colonial elegance.

Overnight in Lisbon.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Lisbon: City Tour
Lisbon is an enticing tangle of past and present -- funky and old-fashioned, unpretentious and quirky, restored and revitalised, booming with new confidence. With cultural diversity combined with a laid-back ambience and an architectural time-warp, this is one of Europe's most enjoyable cities.

Today's half-day city tour takes us along the banks of the River Tagus and the Belem Tower guarding the mouth of the river. We visit Jeronimo's Monastery with the tomb of Vasco da Gamma. We continue by bus to see the Henry the Navigator Monument, Praca do Comercio Square, and lower Alfama District.

We also drive along the Avenida da Liberdade, a fashionable tree-lined street through the centre of town. We continue on a walking tour through the oldest quarter -- Baixa, Rossio, and Restauradores. Afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in Lisbon.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Lisbon - Obidos - Nazare - Fatima - Leiria
Today we travel by road northward to Obidos, a medieval symbol of narrow streets surrounded by walls. Obidos is known for its typical white houses with blue trim, flowered windows, narrow streets and steps paved with beautiful stone. On arrival in Obidos we embark on a walking tour, passing through the 18th century entry arch covered in glazed tiles (azulejos). Small bright white houses lining narrow cobblestone streets, flower pots on window-sills, Gothic and Renaissance churches -- especially the beautiful Church of Santa Maria -- reminds of the importance of Obidos's past.

We continue to Nazare, the most famous fishing town in Portugal. Among the brightly coloured rowing-boats moored on the beach bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, one may watch the fisherfolk bring in the nets. A superb view is enjoyed from the "Sitio" for where you may observe women still wearing the traditional seven-skirted costumes near the Nossa Virgem de Nazare Basilica, an important pilgrimage centre.

Our final stop is nearby Fatima, the well-known Roman Catholic Marian shrine. We visit the Basilica and the Chapel of Apparitions that marks the spot where the three shepherd children had visions in 1917. We continue to Leiria, a charming town with small homes over archways and behind graceful arcades.

Overnight in Leiria.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Leiria - Coimbra - Bussaco - Urgeirica
This morning we travel to the university town of Coimbra, known for its twisting streets and terraced houses. We visit the 12th century Se Velho Cathedral, and 13th-century university with its magnificent library, Manueline doors and chapel. We also visit the Alameda Gate, the Cathedral and Santa Cruz Church.

We continue through the lovely Bussaco, a mountain forest located just northeast of Coimbra. Bussaco is a delightful refuge of cypress groves, ferns, statues, fountains, and formal gardens.

Overnight in Urgerica.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Urgerica - Douro Valley - Porto
We depart today for a picturesque drive through a landscape speckled with granite houses with wooden or wrought-iron balconies, before entering the Port Wine region, the Douro Valley, a UNESCO protected site. En route we have a brief stop in Viseu to walk through the historical zone. This is port country and was, in fact, the world's first demarcated wine region, established in 1756. Evidence of the port industry can be seen along the valley with all the famous company names -- Cockburns, Taylors, Sandeman and others -- appearing on large placards on the hillsides. En route we will stop for a cellar tour and tasting. We will also visit the Museum of Douro, a wonderful overview of the history of this region.

We will also stop in Amarante to visit the local market before continuing to Porto.

Overnight in Porto.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Porto: City Tour - Braga - Guimaraes - Porto
This morning we enjoy a tour of Porto, a World Heritage city. We will see the Church of Sao Francisco which dates to the 13th century. This was originally a Gothic church and has a fine rose window at its entrance. Walls, vaulting, and pillars are generously covered with carved and gilded wood vines, grapes, birds, angels, cherubs; a forest of carved, gilded wood covers the high altar. We will also see the Old Quarter, the modern section of the city, and the low section, fronting the River Douro.

We continue to Braga, a city famous for its churches, last count surpassing 300! As the religious centre of Portugal, Braga boasts the highest number of churches per capita in Christendom. The strategic location has always made it ripe for occupation and development. The Goidelic Celts, also known as the Bracari, are believed to have founded the city and given it a name several thousand years ago. The Romans occupied it in 250 BC and made it the hub of five major roads, all leading to Rome. Through them Christianity and the first Bishops of Braga eventually came. The Suevians over ran the city in AD 409, but were replaced in 485 by Visigoth invaders, who, in turn, were vanquished in 711 by a Moorish army. For more than three centuries, the Christians and the Moors jousted over Braga, until the Muslims were finally expelled at the end of the 11th century. In the old quarter of Braga, you can explore the ornate Renaissance and Manueline palaces, baroque churches, and narrow medieval streets.

After lunch we proceed to Guimaraes, birthplace of Portugal's first king and for 2012, European Capital of Culture. In this charming town (a UNESCO site) we offer a walking tour of the old mediaeval quarter. We begin in the Largo da Oliveira, with its varying styles of architecture. As we walk through the Old Quarter, notice the window boxes with fresh, colourful spring flowers. On our walk you will see workshops, bakeries, stores, and the like operating like time has never passed.

Overnight in Porto.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Porto, Portugal - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Today we travel by road to Santiago de Compostela (approx 2 hours). Built of golden granite, Santiago is one of the most beautiful of all Spanish cities. The medieval city has been declared in its entirety a national monument, and remains remarkably integrated, all the better for being almost completely pedestrianized. The buildings and the squares, the long stone arcades and the statues, are hewn from the same granite blocks and blend imperceptibly one with the other, often making it impossible to distinguish ground level from raised terrace.

En route we make a stop in Baiona, one of the most important coastal towns in Galicia because of its harbour and fishing fleet. The caravel Pinta landed here on her arrival back in Europe from Columbus's "discovery" of America. You'll have some time for enjoying a coffee or some Spanish tapas as well as local shopping.

Depending on our time of arrival, we may accomplish some of our sightseeing today after we check in to our hotel.

Overnight in Santiago de Compostela.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Santiago de Compostela: City Tour
This morning we have a walking city tour of Santiago, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Our tour begins at Obradoiro Square where some of its more prominent monuments can be seen: the Archbishop's residence which preserves some 12th century lounges; the Town Hall, former Raxoy Palace, with its classical facade; the San Jeronimo College, whose facade shows Roman influences.

We also include the city's famous cathedral, a truly grand building adorned with many statues of St James in his familiar pilgrim guise with staff, broad-brimmed hat, and scallop-shell badge. The cathedral's highlight is the Portico de Gloria, with its striking Romanesque sculpture of a host of figures. Christ presides over the main door, flanked by his Apostles, and surrounded by 24 Elders of the Apocalypse playing music. Saint James sits on the central column beneath Christ. So many pilgrims have prayed at this spot with their fingers pressed in to the roots of the marble Tree of Jesse below Saint James that five deep holes have been worn into the marble.

We also visit the Cathedral Museum, the Cloister and finally, the Platerias Gate, the only Romanesque one that is still preserved; and we take a guided tour of the Cathedral roofs, which allows us to climb to the very top of the building and look out over the historic centre from the heights. To do so we make for the Gelmirez Palace, located to the side of the Cathedral in the Plaza del Obradoiro square. We pass through the interior of the Gelmirez Palace, past the Cathedral gallery (above the Gloria doorway) and up to the roof of the cathedral for a stupendous view -- definitely a highlight of our day.

Overnight in Santiago de Compostela.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Santiago de Compostela - Leon
This morning we take the train (2nd class) to Leon.*

On arrival in Leon we visit the San Isidoro Collegiate Church, an important piece of western Romanesque, where 23 kings and queens are buried. The cathedral was built in the middle of the 13th century in a gothic style similar to the French cathedrals and is famous for the beauty of more than 100 glazed windows. Our Leon sightseeing continues with the old quarter of the city, which conserves a large part of the medieval wall and some remains of the original Roman wall. One can also find the Casa de Botines, a neo-gothic building and an excellent example of the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

* NOTE: We use the rail system quite extensively on this tour. YOU MUST BE ABLE TO MANAGE YOUR OWN BAGS ONTO / OFF TRAINS AND IN TRAIN STATIONS. Packing lightly is essential.

Overnight in Leon.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Leon - Cave of Altamira - Bilbao
Today we travel by road to Bilbao, via a stop at the museum connected with the Cave of Altamira. Dating from 12000 BC, the caves are full of prehistoric paintings of wild animals and impressions of human hands. When discovered in the 1870s the vivid and evocative paintings were nearly perfectly-preserved. Even Picasso commented on the paintings here: "After Altamira, everything is decadence."

We continue deeper into Basque country and toward Bilbao, tucked into the deep lush folds and clefts of Euskadi's coastal range. The name is "Bilbo" in Basque, but its inhabitants prefer to call it the "botxo," Basque for hole, or orifice. The orifice was originally a scattering of fish hamlets, huddled on the left bank where the hills offered some protection from the Normans and other pirates.

Overnight in Bilbao.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Bilbao: The Guggenheim
Today we explore the Old Town of Bilbao on a walking tour. We travel back in time to Medieval Bilbao with its cobbled streets, charming corners and squares, and trace its development through the centuries.

The major highlight today is our visit to the newest and biggest attraction in Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum. The 31 329 sq m (349,000 sq foot) colossus is one of the focal points of a $1.5 billion redevelopment plan for the city. The Frank Gehry design features a 50 m- (165 foot-) high atrium, more than one-and-a-half times the height of the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum is devoted to American and European art of the 20th century, featuring (on rotation) the works of such renowned artists as Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso, Ernst, Pollock, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Serra, and others.

Options for your free afternoon include: remain at the Guggenheim on your own, the Basque Museum, Fine Arts Museum, a guided boat tour of the estuary, etc. Your Tour Leader can help you plan your afternoon.

Overnight in Bilbao.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Bilbao - Barcelona: City Tour
Today we fly to Barcelona.

Barcelona, located on the Mediterranean Sea in the very north of the Spanish coast, is certainly the most cosmopolitan and economically active city in this country. Of course, Barcelona has an long history, and there are monuments of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods and before, but most characteristic is what has been built during the last 100 years.

We are aiming for the morning flight so that we might embark on the guided portion of our Barcelona sightseeing upon arrival (mostly on foot - leisurely pace). Our first stop is Parc Guell, a beautiful place in the morning. We have time to visit the Casa Gaudi with its collection of Gaudi-designed furniture. We'll walk through the Parc, ending up at the main entrance to visit the terrace and pavilion unit and Doric columns.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Barcelona: City Tour
This morning we travel by bus to Barcelona's most famous and most photographed attraction -- La Sagrada Familia Cathedral (Cathedral of the Holy Family), an amalgam of fantasy and Gothic impulses, and Gaudi's most unique piece of architecture. Our bus stops on the side of the Nativity facade (north) from where we walk around to the Passion facade. We explore the interior and also visit the cathedral museum during our stop. At some point during our time in Barcelona, we will also visit the Picasso Museum.

We also stroll down the avenue of Las Ramblas, the exotic "spine of Barcelona," with a stop to look at Palau Guell, another Gaudi creation. We continue to Placa Catalunya and Placa Reial via the central market, Bequiria; a very lively place, crowded with stalls selling caged birds and lush plants and the constant clamor of people haggling and selling.

We then walk into Barri Gotic, a densely-packed area of narrow lanes with a fascinating mixture of medieval and stately Renaissance buildings.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Barcelona: Montserrat & Leisure Time
This morning we include a half-day guided tour of Montserrat, one of Spain's most sacred sites, set in beautiful mountains about 1 hour's drive from Barcelona. Long before we reach Montserrat, we will see the jagged silhouette of the great peak, and understand how it got its name ('serrat' means 'serrated). This massive rock fortress is dotted with paths, stairs, caves, chapels and hermitages. We drive through the Montserrat Natural Park and up to the Sanctuary, around 725m (2,380 feet) above sea level. On a clear day you will see breath-taking panoramas of the Pyrenees.

We will arrive at the Sanctuary, where we can visit the Royal Basilica and the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat. Inside the Chapel is the famous 12th century Romanesque carved wood statue of La Moreneta (the Black Virgin). La Moreneta is the patron saint of Catalonia, and is a presence strongly felt and revered. This celebrated statue has made The Royal Basilica one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain. The tour also includes entrance to an interesting audiovisual exhibition ("Montserrat Portes Endins"), and the chance to taste four locally-produced liquors.

We return to Barcelona with time at leisure.

Overnight in Barcelona

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Barcelona - Madrid: Royal Palace
Today we travel to Madrid by fast train (+/- 3 hours).

This afternoon we include a tour of the Royal Palace where we see, among other things, its principal staircase, throne, gala dining room, museum of silver, and principal courtyard. This is the official residence of the royal family, but today it is used only state ceremonies. Otherwise known in Spanish as the Palacio Real, the Royal Palace was built during the 18th and 19th centuries, and is a monumental building. It replaced the former medieval Alcazar, which was burnt to the ground in 1794. The present day Royal Palace of Madrid was decorated to the tastes of Charles III, and is extremely lavish inside.

Overnight in Madrid.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Madrid & The Prado
This morning we have a panoramic tour of broader Madrid, terminating at the Prado Museum for a guided tour. Our route to the museum likely takes us past Plaza Espana point and the Cervantes Monument.

Originally opened to the public in 1819, the Prado houses all of the finest works collected by Spanish Royalty as well as Spanish paintings gathered from other sources over the past two centuries. The Prado is one of the most important repositories of art in the world, including a vast collection of Italian paintings. For the purposes of our visit, however, we will concentrate on works by Spanish masters -- Velasquez, Goya, Ribera, El Greco, Zurbaran, to name a few.

After our tour, we'll head off on foot for an informal stroll up Gran Via and into the old quarter of Madrid. You'll then have free time for lunch and an afternoon of independent exploration. Your Tour Leader can help you plan your free time, with recommended shopping, other historical sites and galleries. You may want to visit the nearby Reina Sofia for the important modern art collection, including Picasso's masterpiece, "Guernica." Or visit the Museo Naval, one of the world's most important Navy Museums, to learn about the history of the Spanish Armada.

Overnight in Madrid.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Madrid - Toledo - Madrid
This morning we travel to Toledo, a city with a unique blend of Arab, Jewish, Christian, Roman, and Visigothic elements. Toledo sits on a rocky promontory isolated on three sides by a looping gorge of the Tagus River. The history of several different cultures is contained within this region, represented by the houses, synagogues, churches, and mosques.

Our excursion includes a visit to the Cathedral, as well as the Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue, which shows the influence of the Granada Moors. It has an ornate ceiling and carved arabesques, not in Arabic, but in Hebrew. The most elaborate Mudejar interior in the city is hidden behind the deceptively humble facade of this former synagogue, built in the 14th century by Samuel Ha-Levi, the Jewish treasurer to Pedro the Cruel. The interlaced frieze of the lofty prayer hall harmoniously fuses Islamic, Gothic and Hebrew geometric motifs below a wonderful coffered ceiling. Adjoining the synagogue is an interesting museum dedicated to Jewish Sephardi culture.

We also see one of Toledo's most outstanding attractions, El Greco's masterpiece "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" located inside the Church of Santo Tome.

After lunch and some free time in Toledo, we return to Madrid.

Overnight in Madrid.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Madrid - Cordoba
Today we travel by fast train to travel by train to Cordoba (+/- 2 hours), crossing the Despenaperros Mountains and the border pass between Castile and Andalucia.

During our time in Cordoba (a World Heritage City), we will gain a sense of the city's long and varied past and multicultural nature. Our tour* starts at the Roman Bridge and the Calahorra Tower, an Arab defensive tower. We continue to the Cathedral-Mosque, the only Catholic cathedral built in the heart of a mosque. Next we arrive at the Alcazar fortress, built by King Alfonso XI, and containing mosaics and sarcophagi. Finally we will have a stroll in the Jewish Quarter where the synagogue is located.

Overnight in Cordoba.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Cordoba - Granada
Today we depart for Granada by bus.

We'll include a visit to the Granada Archaeological Museum (likely today upon arrival if possible; recently this museum has been periodically closed due to renovations). The museum is located in the Castril Palace from the 16th century. It hosts many artefacts from the many different civilizations that settled in Granada, including the Carthaginians, Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Arabs.

Overnight in Granada.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Granada: The Alhambra
Today we tour Granada, set in the heart of Andalucia with the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains as a backdrop. Conquered by the Moors in AD 711, Granada blossomed into one of Europe's wealthiest and most refined cities. The legacy of Granada's rich history and heritage remain visible throughout the city centre with its cobblestone streets and lovely plazas. In 1992 Granada celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Christian re-conquest by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.

The focus of our sightseeing today is Granada's main attraction, the Alhambra, a mighty fortress that houses an extraordinarily delicate and beautiful Moorish palace begun in the 13th century. This was the palace of the Nasrid Sultans, rulers of the last Spanish Moorish Kingdom. A fantasy of "lace in stone" surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, it affords superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte, a mountain occupied by gypsy cave dwellers. In many ways, the Alhambra represents the Moorish concept of life itself -- something glorious to be ennobled by learning and enlivened by every kind of pleasure.

We also visit the nearby Generalife Gardens as well as the old Moorish quarter of the Albaicin.

Overnight in Granada.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 21 Granada - Pileta Caves - Ronda: Town Tour
We continue our tour (by road) to Ronda, a historic town located on a towering plateau in the mountains of Malaga Province. En route we visit the well-preserved rock paintings at the Pileta Caves (walking required on wet stone with no hand rails - speak to your leader for further guidance). The 25,000 year old Neolithic and Paleolithic drawings of black, ochre, and red are mostly just lines or patterns, but there are also horses, goats, cattle, and a rare giant fish, made from a mixture of clay and fat. This is not a well-developed tourist attraction; you must be steady on your feet and prepared for some slow walking.

In Ronda, we will walk around the old town where you will learn the origins of this ancient town where Romans, Arabs, and Christians left their traces. We visit the Mondragon Palace, built in a Mudejar style and finally to the Bullring, the oldest in the country. Ronda is famous for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevin through its centre. We suggest a walk to the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m / 328 ft chasm below, for its unparalleled views out over the Serrania de Ronda mountains.

Overnight in Ronda.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Ronda - Reserva Tauro - Sevilla
Today we travel to Seville via a stop at Reserva Tauro, a 500 acre bull and horse breeding farm. Here we have the opportunity to get close to bulls and gain an understanding of the culture without attending a bull fight.

We then follow (by road) the route known as "the route of the white villages" for the singularity of the scenery. Lunch and time to explore Grazalema, a white hill down nestled in Grazalema National Park. Prior to arrival in Sevilla (Seville), we stop in the little hilltown of Zahara, for a nice walk up to the castle.

Overnight in Sevilla.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 23 Sevilla: City Tour
Sevilla, the fourth largest city in Spain, is the picture-perfect image of Andalucia, complete with restored Andalusian architecture, orange groves, flower-filled patios, and castanet-rattling Gypsies.

While in Sevilla we visit the largest cathedral in Spain, built in a Gothic style with lovely stained glass windows, choir, and chapels. We visit the Giralda Tower, with its spectacular views of the city. We will also see the Moorish Alcazar Palace, a 14th century palace, the oldest royal residence in Europe and still in use. King Juan Carlos resides here while in Sevilla, as King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella once did. Later we will walk along the Guadalquivir riverbank and view historic monuments like the Maestranza Bullring, the Torre del Oro, and the Monument to the Tolerance by Eduardo Chillida.

Overnight in Sevilla.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 24 Sevilla - Tarifa, Spain - Tangier, Morocco
Today we travel by road to the Spanish port of Tarifa from where we ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa and the Moroccan city of Tangier.

Tangier is a fascinating Moroccan city to visit. It has many of the things that travellers love -- a sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful vistas, unspoiled beaches, and friendly people. Tangier is an interesting mix of north Africa, Spain, Portugal and France. Upon arrival we'll have a tour of this quickly growing and very colourful city.

Overnight in Tangier.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 25 Tangier - Casablanca
Today we travel by road to Casablanca with a stop for lunch en route.

Casablanca is believed to have been a Phoenician settlement and later a Berber town. It was conquered by the Almohads in 1188, and developed by Sutlan Abd el-Moumen as a port. In the 14th century the Portuguese established a settlement here on the site of the village of Anfa, but when it became a pirates' base in 1468, they destroyed it, repeating this act in 1515. The Portuguese reestablished themselves in the late 16th century, renaming the town Casa Blanca, staying until 1755, when an earthquake destroyed the settlement.

Overnight in Casablanca.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 26 Casablanca - Rabat - Fes
This morning we visit the Hassan II Mosque, a glorious structure believed to be only second in size to Islam's most important site, Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The mosque was inaugurated in August 1993, the culmination of five years of intensive labour by over 30,000 workers and craftsmen. Non-Muslims may enter as part of a guided tour.

From Casablanca we travel to Rabat, Morocco's third oldest Imperial City and modern capital. Among the sites in Rabat that we will visit are the the Hassan Tower and the Mohammed V Mausoleum. Leaving Rabat we travel to Fes arriving in time for dinner.

The historic city of Fes lies in the Oued Sebou basin, astride the traditional trade route from the Sahara to the Mediterranean and the path from Algeria and the Islamic heartland beyond. For centuries the dominant axis within Morocco was of Fes and Marrakech, two cities linked by their immense power and rivalry. Fes is still seen as the spiritual and cultural capital and holds an enduring fascination for visitors with one of the largest historic medinas full of monuments reflecting the different periods of Morocco's imperial past.

Overnight in Fes.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 27 Fes - Volubilis - Meknes - Fes
This morning we visit the impressive site of Volubulis, the only Roman site in Morocco. Situated on the ledge of a long plateau, the dramatic site was once one of the Roman Empire's most remote outposts. Our local guide here will take you on tour of the site; we also allow free time for photographs.

We also see the sacred town of Moulay Idriss (photo stop only). Moulay Idriss is a dramatic sight, houses and mosques piled up around two rock outcrops, with the 'zaouia,' or sanctuary, in between.

We continue to Meknes, Morocco's youngest Imperial City. We feature the Bab El Mansour gate dating from 1752, complete with its Corinthian columns. The city was built by a massive army of slaves, both Moroccan and Christian, and the Sultan was in particular famed for his barbaric treatment of these people, supposedly interring them in the walls. The city contained within it all that was necessary for such a large population and military machine, with store houses, stables, armouries, exercise areas, gardens and ponds.

We return to Fes.

Overnight in Fes.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 28 Fes: City Tour
Today we will have a walking tour of Fes El Bali, the extraordinary medieval walled city. Once inside the gates of this great spectacle, you will see an entirely different view of life in Morocco. In contrast to the well-planned Ville Nouvelle, the old city is a labyrinth of alleys and lanes lined with shops, mosques, homes and schools. In 1980 UNESCO designated the medina a World Heritage Site.

Our guide will take us to the medina to view the market shops, or suqs. Everything from food to clothing can be purchased. We will see the famous dying works with the brightly coloured cloth hanging to dry. A visit to the Royal Palace, several mosques, theological schools, and shops where we can see craftsmen tailoring their work will round out the day's tour. Today's walk is an amazing look into the life of the Moroccan city dweller where little has changed over the centuries.

Overnight in Fes.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 29 Fes - Erfoud
We have a morning departure for the Middle Atlas, a region of folded mountains and high, windswept plateaux, vast forests of cork oak and cedar, and lakes and streams full of trout. This is Berber country and sheep and goat-rearing is the main occupation of these resilient, friendly people. We drive via the Berber villages of Imouzzer du Kandar; Ifrane, a fairy-tale town unlike any other in Morocco with white-walled French-style villas with steep red roofs and gables. As the altitude increases, we come to a bare, arid, sandy plateau with another range of mountains in the distance.

We continue to Erfoud, an attractive town -- red and sandy, exuding desert ambiance.

Overnight in Erfoud.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 30 Rissani & Merzouga Dunes
This morning we journey to the historic 8th century caravan town of Rissani to visit the Tafilalt Oasis. The first capital of the Tafilalt and the last stop on the caravan routes south, Rissani has a special place in Moroccan lore. The ruling Alaouite dynasty (from whom Morocco's current ruler, Mohammed VI, is a descendant) launched its bid for power here before triumphing finally in Fes and Marrakech. Today, a quarter of Rissani's population still inhabits a large 17th-century ksar in the center of town.

Later this afternoon we drive by 4WD vehicle to Merzouga to witness sunset over the dunes. We have time to explore the dunes on foot, or by camel! This is a magical landscape, with huge drifting expanses of sand dunes reaching heights of more than 45 metres (148 ft). Their colour shifts from pink to gold to red to white depending on the time of day.

Overnight at Merzouga. Merzouga Inn.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 31 Merzouga - Todra Gorge - Ouarzazate
This morning we depart for the Todra Gorge, one of Morocco's most spectacular sights. It is a vast fault in the plateau separating the High Atlas from the Jbel Sarhro, two sheer cliffs over 300 metres (958 ft) high separated by a narrow corridor only 20 metres (66 ft) wide.

Later we cross the southern slopes of the High Atlas before arriving at the captivating city of Ouarzazate. We stop en route in the heart of the Dades Valley at the oasis of Kelaa Mgouna.

Overnight in Ouarzazate.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 32 Ouarzazate - Casablanca - Depart
Today we fly back to Casablanca and connect with flights that generally leave late in the evening.

NOTE: Land only passengers need to take into account the timing of the flight from Ouarzazate before booking their air from Casa.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hotel Miraparque

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Lisbon
Country: Portugal

Hotel Miraparque, in Lisbon, is a magnificent 3 star property located in the heart of Lisbon, just a few steps
... Plaza Marques de Pombal. The beautiful 50's building has been recently renovated and it overlooks the Eduardo VII Park. Its 100 rooms soberly decorated are supplied with a mini-bar, satellite TV set, air conditioning, safe-box, direct dial telephone and hair-dryer.

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Hotel Eurostars das Artes

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Porto
Country: Portugal

For people who love art. For people with a feeling for the Douro. For people who appreciate a good port
... and know how to enjoy it with the necessary calm. For these people we have opened the doors of the Eurostars Das Artes, the essence of which is to be found in the art exuded by the grand capital of the Douro.

The Eurostars Das Artes Hotel, set in the very centre of Oporto, comprises two buildings, one historical and the other modern, with a sky-blue tiled façade welcoming its guests. Location: Porto

Rating: 4-star

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Hesperia Gelmirez

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Santiago de Compostela
Country: Spain

This cozy hotel is situated in the heart of Santiago de Compostela, near the railway station and just 10 km
... the airport. An ideal base from which to tour the splendid historical and cultural features of the city. The hotel boasts 138 fully-equipped rooms with heating, telephone, television and satellite TV.

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Confortel Auditori

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Barcelona
Country: Spain

The Confortel Auditori hotel is a modern property boasting an unbeatable location right in the centre of Barcelona. Among features,
... will find comfortable and elegantly-appointed accommodations, a bar, a pool bar and a restaurant. Sport lovers can also avail of the outdoor swimming pool and the gym to do a bit of exercise.

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Sol Melia Tryp Rex

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Madrid
Country: Spain

The Tryp Rex hotel is located in the Gran Via. Between the Plaza de España and the Plaza Callao, close
... the famous museums and the historical city center of Madrid. Rooms feature bathroom with hair-dryer, individual climate control, satellite TV, safe deposit box, wireless internet connection (WI-FI)throughout the hotel.

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Eurostar Maimonides

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cordoba
Country: Spain

Its privileged location in the very heart of the Jewish Quarter (in front of the Mosque) and 50 meters from
... Convention Center makes it a tourist reference point in the center of Córdoba. The Hotel has 82 bedrooms with spectacular sights of the old town, all of them completely equipped, provided with Air Conditioner, Central Heating, Amenities, PC and Fax connection, Minibar, Parabolic TV, Telephone, Hair Dryer and Desk.

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Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Casablanca
Country: Morocco

Located in the center of Casablanca just a short walk from the Casa Port train station at the heart of
... business district, this 281-room 4-star Novotel offers an unrivalled view of the Hassan II Mosque and the port of Casablanca. Our banquet team knows how to create the ideal setting in one of the 5 meeting rooms, equipped with the latest technology and able to accommodate up to 220 people. The Mohammed V Airport lies 19 miles (30 km) and 30 minutes away from the hotel.
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Hotel Fint

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Ouarzazate
Country: Morocco

Le Fint in Ouarzazate is one of the few international hotels among all the Hotels in Ouarzazate; this hotel is
... for tourists that want exemplary amenities and services.

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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All accommodation, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic & international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring and fall when temperatures are mild. Showers are possible in spring and possible in late fall and winter.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest.


Please note: This trip involves considerable walking up hills and stairs and on uneven or cobblestone streets. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.


Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-4 star) throughout. All hotels have en suite bath, though some may have shower only. Porter service is usually available (see 'inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)




TOUR ENDCasablanca