Travel Spain and Portugal and discover their many highlights

Follow an enticing trail of delicious tapas, avant-garde art, architectural triumphs and centuries-old culture on this incredible tour through Spain and Portugal. Travel the scenic route from Madrid to Barcelona, visiting cosmopolitan metropolises, sleepy seaside villages, quaint towns set amid rolling green hills and atmospheric medieval citadels along the way. Admire the masterpieces of Picasso, Dali and Gaudi, experience the passion of flamenco, taste some of the best port in the world and be graced by the style and sophistication of Madrilenos, Lisboetas and Barcelonians – this history- and culture-packed adventure flaunts the very best of Spain and Portugal.

Start
Madrid, Spain
Finish
Barcelona, Spain
Countries
Portugal,
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSI
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
544kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Gaze in awe at the artistic feats of Spanish masters in Madrid
  • Luxuriate in the lavishness of Alhambra Palace
  • Get lost in the labyrinthine streets of Granada's Albayzin
  • Feel the fire of authentic flamenco in Seville
  • Unwind in a laidback fishing village in the Algarve
  • Explore a medieval fortress in Lisbon
  • Taste delicious port wines in Porto
  • Witness religious zeal in Santiago de Compostela
  • Drift through surreal spaces at Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia
  • Rub shoulders with the chic in cutting-edge Barcelona

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. Madrid offers a remarkable blend of sights, sounds and experiences. Soak up the culture, be wowed by the architecture and swoon over the exceptional food. If you're an art buff, don't miss the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk. Start with 12th-19th century European art at the Museo del Prado, discover modern Spanish masters including Picasso and Dali in the Museo Reina Sofia and finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Take a break in the 18th-century oasis of the Real Jardin Botanico.
Today take a five-hour bus to Granada. Set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is one of Andalucia's most enchanting cities. Take a walk around the old Arab quarter of the Albaicin, a labyrinth of crooked streets packed with alleyways, fountains, plazas, whitewashed houses and villas. If you're feeling energetic, climb to the top of the neighbourhood and watch a spectacular sunset from the Mirador de San Nicolas view point. Back in town, perhaps visit the city's 16th-century Renaissance cathedral, or watch the world go by as you indulge in some tapas at a bar.
Today make a visit to Granada's impressive Alhambra Palace. An entrance ticket is included in the trip, though you will need to pay a little extra to visit the gardens. Audio guides in multiple languages are available on the day for EUR 4. The Alhambra was first built by the Moors as a fortress during the Muslim rule of Spain. A walk through the compound's luxurious rooms and gardens gives you an idea of the decadent lifestyle of the Moorish kings. The Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing which features spectacular views from its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans.

Note: If you would like to take an in-depth guided tour of the Alhambra or enter the gardens and palace at nighttime, we strongly recommend you book tickets in advance. You can reserve these online at alhambra-tickets.es. To collect your tickets you will need to present the credit card that was used to make the booking. A maximum of 10 tickets may be bought for the same day on the same card. Please book any tickets for your second day in Granada only.
Take a two-and-a-half hour train to the vibrant city of Seville. Now the capital of Andalucia, Seville was one of the first conquests of the Moors. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World'. Seville is famous for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. On arrival, take a walk through the cobbled streets, or perhaps have a poke around in one the city's museums, such as the Archeological Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts. In the evening, catch a local flamenco performance with the group (included). Charged with emotion and drama, this is a real highlight.
Today is a free day to discover Seville. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also the climb the cathedral's adjoining Moorish tower, known as La Giralda. While you might have to line up, it's well worth it for the views over the city. Visit the magnificent Alcazaar, a complex of palaces used by Moorish and Christian rulers through the ages. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the Moorish and Mudejar architecture. As Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, be sure to sample some of the tasty treats on offer in one of the city's many tapas bars.
Today board a five-hour bus and cross the border into Portugal. Travel through landscapes of orange orchards, olive groves and maize fields to the Algarve, Portugal's stunning southern coast, where your destination is the seaside town of Lagos. Set on the banks of the Rio Bensafrim, Lagos is gifted with a temperate Mediterranean climate, a bounty of beaches and a rich heritage. On arrival, you might like to take an optional boat trip out on the water. In the evening, why not head to dinner at a restaurant in town before throwing yourself into Lagos' pumping nightlife?
Most of today is free to enjoy Lagos and its surrounds. Perhaps pack a book and towel and head to the beach. Meia Praia is over four kilometres long, and is peppered with beach bars, cafes and sun lounges. Plenty of water sports are on offer in the summer. Praia do Porto de Mos and Camilo Beach are also good options. Take a stroll through the quaint alleys of central Lagos, or head down to the waterfront to watch the boats come in. In the middle of the day, join the group for an included picnic on the beach.
Today head north by public bus to Lisbon (approximately four hours). One of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon offers fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife. On arrival, head out on a guided orientation walk of the city to see the sights. There are some great modern and ancient art museums to check out, such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art or the National Coach Museum. As the sun goes down, some of Lisbon's best nightlife centres on the neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, where you can enjoy an emotional fado performance (traditional Portuguese music).
Today is a free day to further discover Lisbon. Climb up the hill to visit the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the medieval citadel in the city centre. Great views can be enjoyed over the city's squares and terracotta roofs. Afterwards, perhaps catch a tram or hire a bike and cycle along the water to the historic neighbourhood of Belem. Make sure you try a sumptuous custard tart at the famous Casa Pasteis de Belem. Relax at a cafe in hilly Alfama, or check out the fascinating street art spread throughout the city.
Continue north on a three-and-a-half hour local bus to Porto. Stretching along the banks of the River Douro, Porto is one of Portugal's most romantic cities. Surprise surprise - Porto is also the birthplace of the fortified wine, port. Indulge in an included group tasting at one of the many wine houses across the river. Most of the grapes are grown and harvested in the nearby Douro Valley. If you're interested, why not learn more about the history of wine and port making at the Museu do Vinho?
Today is a free day to explore Porto. The city's World Heritage-listed Ribeira district is packed with twisting alleys, staircases and baroque churches, and is great to explore on foot. For a sensational view of the whole town head to the Torre dos Clerigos (Clerigos Tower). Boat cruises along the Rio Douro operate several times a day, and offer insight into the history of Porto's six famous bridges. A cruise also offers the opportunity to snap some great photos of the colourful tiled houses lined up along the riverbank.
Today board a three-hour bus bound for Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The city became a symbol of the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam, and is famous as the finishing point for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago. Soak up the religious energy in the cathedral where St James, one of the 12 Apostles, is purportedly buried.
Today you'll have the opportunity to join pilgrims on the last stretch of the Santiago de Compostela route. Take an early bus to O Amenal village where the 15 kilometre walk begins. The trek will take you through the villages, fields and rivers of Galicia. In Lavacolla village you'll cross the river in which pilgrims used to wash before entering Santiago. From here, head to Mont de Gozo, which offers the first view of the city's cathedral, the end point of the journey. The entire walk takes approximately four hours to complete. It is important that you wear comfortable footwear and bring a rain coat, as weather in this region of Spain can be unpredictable, even during the summer months. For those not wanting to do in the walk, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained in town for the day.
Today take a short flight from Santiago de Compostela to your final destination of Barcelona. Spain's cosmopolitan second city, Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife. Enjoy a free afternoon to wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter or navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard. You can take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of the city. Perhaps pay a visit to the Picasso Museum or the Museum of City History to brush up on your local knowledge. Don't miss a look at Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Gaudi was the master of the unique Catalan Modernista architecture for which Barcelona is famous, and his work is dotted all over the city. In the evening, why not head to the funky neighbourhood of El Born for some tapas with the group, and toast to the last night of your adventure?
Today your Spain and Portugal adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there's so much to see and do in the exciting city of Barcelona, however, we recommend extending your stay for a few nights. If you need further accommodation, our reservations team would be happy to assist (subject to availability).
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
7 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Transport
Bus, Metro, Plane, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (12 nights), Pension (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Alhambra entrance
  • Flamenco performance
  • Port Tasting

Dates

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Important notes

1) Names as per passport are required at the time of booking due to the internal flight on this trip.
2) A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Explore Spain and Portugal trips score an average of 4.64 out of 5 based on 66 reviews in the last year.

Explore Spain and Portugal , September 2015

Explore Spain and Portugal , October 2015