Port Wine region, the Douro Valley; Lisbon: Colonial elegance; Madrid: City tour & Prado; Granada & the Alhambra; Arab, Jewish, Christian, Roman, Visigothic legacies; Andalucia: Orange groves, flower-filled patios; off-peak dates = great value!


Dates & Prices

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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
Fri 10 Mar 2017Fri 24 Mar 2017 $3990 USD
Sat 14 Oct 2017Sat 28 Oct 2017 $3990 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $741 USD (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Spain and Portugal

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Madrid
Today we arrive in Madrid and transfer to our hotel.

The capital of Spain, located in the heart of the peninsula and right in the center of the Castillian plain, is a cosmopolitan city, a business center, headquarters for the Public Administration, Government, Spanish Parliament and the home of the Spanish Royal Family.

Overnight in Madrid.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 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 3 Madrid - Cordoba: City Tour
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. Next we arrive at the Mezquita-Catedral, or Great Mosque of Cordoba, one of the oldest structures still standing from the time Muslims ruled Al-Andalus. The buildings on this site are as complex as the extraordinarily rich history they illustrate. Historians believe that there had first been a temple to the Roman god, Janus, on this site. The temple was converted into a church by invading Visigoths who seized Cordoba in 572. Next, the church was converted into a mosque and then completely rebuilt by the descendants of the exiled Umayyads -- the first Islamic dynasty who had originally ruled from their capital Damascus (in present-day Syria) from 661 until 750.

Finally we will have a stroll in the Jewish Quarter where the synagogue is located.

Overnight in Cordoba.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Cordoba - Granada
First thing this morning we visit the Alcazar fortress, built by King Alfonso XI, and containing mosaics and sarcophagi. We then proceed to Granada by bus.

We'll include a visit to the Granada Archaeological Museum (likely today upon arrival if possible; please note, however, that 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. If the museum is closed, we can visit instead the royal chapel and cathedral.

Overnight in Granada.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 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 6 Granada - Reserva Tauro - 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 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.

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 7 Ronda - Pileta Caves - Sevilla
Today we travel to Seville via a stop at 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.

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 8 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 9 Sevilla, Spain - Lisbon, Portugal
Today we fly from Sevilla to 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: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 stop in Amarante to visit the local market before continuing to Porto.

Overnight in Porto.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 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 15 Departure
Departure from Porto.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*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

CLICK on photo for more information

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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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Hotel Da Urgeirica

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

Hotel Urgeiriça is situated in Canas de Senhorim about 25km from Viseu and Estrela mountains. For a long time it's
... a privileged place for some Portuguese people. In the hear t of Beira Alta, in the region Dão Lafões, offering you the quality of one of the best hotels in the country.

Its Beira architecture, granite façade and typical English decoration, turn the hotel into a unique and extremely delightful place, where comfort and mystique are constant.

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Trip Information

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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.


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, shopping, weather, food, etc etc

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered twice a year, early and late in the tourist season. That said, the climates in Portugal (warmed by the Gulf Stream), and southern Spain are relatively mild and conditions, though possibly chilly in some locales with a chance of showers. We do this for a couple of reasons: to avoid high-season crowds and heat, and to take advantage of lower rates for accommodation. This is one of the best places in Europe to travel off-season - grab a sweater and join us!

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.

We also travel by fast train in Spain - you must be independent with your luggage. Some hotels (smaller properties) may not provide baggage handling.

Overall, this trip is similar to our other offerings in Europe, on which we feature walking tours in towns and cities, with cobbled surfaces and some sites that are large. We also have short walks to dinner. You must be steady on your feet and prepared to walk at a leisurely pace for several hours at a time. 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 (no tub). 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

10-18 plus Tour Leader