Spain and Portugal grand tour - SPT17
Number of Days: 18
Because we have specially designed this unique tour itinerary with 2 and 3 night stops we have been able to include numerous additional excursions to extraordinary places such as Guimarães, the wonderful Palace de Pena in Sintra, the medieval fortified village of Obidos, and Braga. Along with numerous other visits we enjoy Portuguese Pastel de Nata (custard pies) in Lisbon, sip port in Porto, Vinho Verde in the magnificent gardens of the Aveleda Wine Estate and enjoy a cruise along the incredibly scenic Alto Duoro.
Spain and Portugal grand tour - SPT17
Day 1: Madrid
Your tour commences this evening with a welcome drink and dinner in your central Madrid hotel. This is an ideal chance to meet your fellow travellers. Accom: Madrid. Meliá Madrid Princesa Hotel or similar.
Day 2: Cordoba
We travel by express train to Cordoba this morning, where our local guide shows us the major sights of the famous 8th century, UNESCO Heritage listed Mesquita – the Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Córdoba. Later we drive to Granada our base for 2 nights. Accom: Alhambra Palace Hotel or similar.
Day 3: Granada
This morning we visit the incredible Alhambra and Generalife Gardens - dating from the 9th century and named for its red walls. In the 13 & 14th century the Moorish Emirates built the Nasrid Palaces surrounded by lavish gardens and courtyards. It was described as "a pearl set in emeralds" and one of the great sights of the world. Then free time in Granada's old town with a mix of Arab and Christian architecture, the Cathedral and Royal Chapel.
Day 4: Ronda, Seville
We travel to Ronda - famous for being divided by the deep El Tajo gorge of the Rio Guadalevín. The 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which spans the chasm has stunning views. Walk over the bridge and explore the old quarter. Accom: Sevillefor 3 nights.
Day 5: Seville
This morning we visit the enormous cathedral and highlights of this wonderful city - home of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro. Afternoon at leisure. The Santa Cruz quarter is famous for its narrow streets, flowered balconies and patios. Plus the Giralda Tower and the royal palace, the Alcazars of Seville. Dinner and traditional Flamenco show (included) tonight.
Day 6: Seville
We visit the Atlantic port of Cadiz - the seafront is lined with centuries-old houses and the grand cathedral surrounded by a historic centre of honeycombed narrow streets. Returning to Seville, the rest of your afternoon is free. The old town is bursting with tapas bars, lively cafes and restaurants.
Day 7: Lisbon
Passing into Portugal we stop at UNESCO World Heritage listed évora where a local guide shares the town's rich history of 2,000 years. The compact town is easily explored on foot and boasts a Roman temple, Moorish buildings, Christian monasteries and convents. Later continue Lisbon our base for 3 nights. Accommodation: Pestana Palace Hotel or similar.
Day 8: Lisbon
We explore the major sights of this wonderful, historical city - from the Belem Tower, to the fairytale palaces and the Discoveries Monument, built on the bank of the Tagus River. The highlight will be a guided tour through the Jeronimos Monastery. Later we stop to enjoy coffee and Portuguese Pastel de Nata (small custard pies) in the famous Pastelaria de Belem - a 175 year baking tradition. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 9: Lisbon
Today we visit the Palace de Pena and the old town of Sintra. Due to its imposing location Ferdinand II rebuilt it as a luxurious summer royal palace – one of the greatest expressions of 19th century architectural romanticism and classified as one of the '7 Wonders of Portugal'. Lunch in Sintra which Lord Byron said was "perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe". Tonight we have dinner and traditional Portuguese Fado performance.
Day 10: Porto
Travelling north enjoy a morning stop in medieval Obidos - one of Europe's most romantic medieval villages. See picturesque cobblestone streets lined with colourful houses adorned with geraniums and bougainvillea and whitewashed churches – all encircled by 12th century castle walls. Lunchtime is at Nazare traditional fishing village. Then take a funicular to the village of Sitia and breath taking coastline views. Continue to Porto our base for 3 nights. Accom: Pestana Porto Hotel or similar.
Day 11: Porto
We have a city tour then cross the River Douro to Cais de Gaia to visit a port wine warehouse and sample this famous brew. Free time to visit the Avenida dos Aliados - a boulevard of grand buildings, the medieval streets of the Ribeira meandering down to the picturesque riverfront Praça da Ribeira. See traditional boats moored by the quayside and colourful trader's houses.
Day 12: Porto
First stop today is at Braga where we take a funicular train to the famous Bom Jesus Sanctuary. Built in 1784, this twin towered neoclassical hilltop church has an enormous baroque staircase lined with chapels. Lunchtime in the medieval streets in Guimarães - the birthplace of Portugal. Later we sample Vinho Verde at the Aveleda Wine Estate with its magnificent gardens.
Day 13: Salamanca
Crossing the country we join the River Douro at Régua for our cruise on the most scenic stretch of the Alto Douro river to Pinhao. Includes an aperitif and tapas lunch with wine and tea/coffee. Relax as we cruise past vineyards and riverside wine estates. We cross into Spain for Salamanca our base for 2 two nights. Accom: Parador Hotel Salamanca or similar.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14: Salamanca
Salamanca has a largely pedestrian centre and the city brims with striking monuments and buildings such as the ancient university and cathedral, many of which are constructed out of golden stone. After a fascinating walking tour with a local guide, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Make sure you relax in a café on Plaza Mayor, one of the finest squares in Spain.
Day 15: Segovia
Passing the walled city of Avila we visit El Valle de los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen). Set in the woodlands of the Sierra de Guadarrama hills, the Basílica de la Santa Cruz is underground - hewn out of the a granite ridge and topped by the tallest cross in the world. Lunch break in leafy El Escorial square before visiting San Lorenzo de El Escorial palace monastery. Later continue to Segovia. Accom: Plaza Acueducto or similar.
Day 16: Segovia
This morning we have a guided tour of this amazing city. Dating from Celtic times, the beautifully preserved hill top town revolves around the huge main square flanked by heritage buildings, picturesque restaurants and al fresco cafes. See the impressive Alcázar fortified stone palace jutting out on a rocky crag and a Roman Aqueduct that cuts across the base of town. Balance of day free.
Day 17: Toledo
On arrival in Toledo mid-morning, we have a tour of the old city. Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together here for centuries hence the name "city of the 3 cultures". A city of churches, palaces, fortresses, monuments, mosques and synagogues. Visit to Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo, considered Spain's finest cathedral. The shopping is excellent and the rest of your day is free. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner (included). Accom: Parador Toledo Hotel or similar.
Day 18: Madrid
After breakfast transfer to Madrid city centre or the airport.
Spain and Portugal grand tour - SPT17
Madrid to Madrid
This tour includes escorted by our experienced Tour Host, first class air-conditioned touring coach, AVE train Madrid to Córdoba, hotel accommodation, breakfast daily, Tapas lunch and port warehouse visit and tasting in Porto, 10 dinners including welcome and farewell dinners, Flamenco Dinner show, Fado Dinner show, local guides, excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances asper final itinerary, free WiFi available on most coaches and at hotels
- $8588 pp/ts. Departure dates for this tour are: 9 or 23 May 2017, 6 or 20 June 2017, 22 August 2017, 5 or 19 September 2017