Carve a path through Spain and Portugal and witness the iconic imagery that defines these iconic European destinations. Follow fine wines and produce form farm to table, wander white-washed villages and medieval towns and immerse yourself in authentic culture with tours and excursions led by passionate locals. Over 27 days explore icons like Guimaraes and Santiago de Compostella while enjoying moments like a tour of Porto’s best-kept cafe secrets and a performance of melancholy fado music in Coimbra.
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most loved and dynamic cities. You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your centrally located hotel. There are no activities planned for before your group meeting in the evening (usually at 7 pm). Find more details about this meeting at the hotel reception. If you arrive early and are out and about, perhaps visit the excellent Picasso Museum. After your meeting, you will dine with your fellow travellers on some local Catalan specialties.
It's all about food this morning, so loosen that belt and venture forth to the morning markets with a passionate local guide who'll have the hot tips on all things food related. They'll talk you through both traditional Iberian foods and the new trends, then have you tasting some of the most delicious things on the planet: three types of olives, pickled garlic, lomo Iberico de Belotta, manchego cheese and olive oil. The afternoon is free for your own discoveries and a siesta, of course. Perhaps you'll visit Sagrada Familia, one of Gaudi's masterpieces and a wonderful icon of the city. Gaudi dedicated the majority of his life to the project, right up until his death in 1926, and although it's still unfinished today, the church has been declared a World Heritage Site and we highly recommend visiting though you will need to prebook tickets. After the visit, why not venture into the narrow medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, home to the La Boqueria, a colourful public market dating back to 1217.
Bid farewell to Barcelona today as you travel to the city of Valencia (approximately 4.5 hours). Valencia is your base for the next two nights. Spain’s third largest city, Valencia has a unique cultural identity and a wonderful old town centre that dates back 2,000 years. Discover the harmonious mix of Roman, Muslim and Christian influences in its buildings and monuments and magnificent gardens. After checking into your hotel, an orientation walk will familiarise you with the main sights of the city. The balance of the day is free for you to spend as you wish. You may want to visit the city's major landmark – the City of Arts and Science, a large and futuristic museum complex designed by Calatrava.
The morning is free to spend in the City of Arts, Science and Paella! And actually paella is just one flavour in this full-on, taste bud-tingling gastronomical heaven! Among the treats that Valencia has to offer, the choice is yours, from horchata to jamón to even artisan chocolates. Early afternoon, take a short drive south of Valencia to discover Albufera Lake, an important ecological site of the region. The lake is surrounded by beach, dunes, lagoons, wetlands and Mediterranean forest, and is home to six small islands. You will visit the island of El Palmar and discover its typical ‘barraca’ houses. Travel by boat to the middle of the lake and learn about the important agricultural crop of the area, namely the local rice. Finish off with included late lunch - paella lunch of course!
Depart Valencia and travel to Granada. Along the way you will travel through the distinctive countryside of the region and pass through Elche, capital of the region of Bajo Vinalopó. The historic quarter of Elche preserves part of its Muslim past and Baroque splendour. Walk around palm tree grove, one of the largest and the only one in Europe. It was established by the Phoenicians and expanded by the Arabs in the 8th and 9th centuries. The palmeral consists of several parts spreading across downtown. Then it's on to the city of Granada, one of the jewels of Andalucia.
Today's itinerary is kept free so you can visit Granada’s impressive Alhambra Palace (optional), one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces. Dating back to the 11th century and taking its name from the Arabic word for 'red castle', Alhambra represents Muslim art in its final European stages. The dominating red fortress towers, sumptuous palace decor, multitude of architectural styles and magnificent gardens of the 'Generalife' (literally meaning ‘architect's garden’) are all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With soothing pathways, fountains, impeccably-maintained hedges, pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, Alhambra is certainly very memorable. The remainder of the day is free for you to discover the other highlights of Granada, such as the cathedral and the Albaicin Quarter.
Today you will learn more about the importance of olive oil production in the Andalucia region by visiting an oil farm on your way to Cordoba. Let the passionate owner of the family-run business walk you through the process of olive oil production. Here there will be the chance to taste the different olive oils too. Then continue your journey to the city of Cordoba, where Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences are present in the architecture, culture and cuisine. Cordoba is also home to the Mezquita – a rare site which has served as both a mosque and a cathedral throughout the centuries. Today a cathedral stands within the centre of this amazing mosque – an interesting example of the interplay of Christian and Muslim cultures in Spain. Discover this supreme example of Islamic architecture on a comprehensive guided tour which continues outside of the Mezquita and explores the charming quarters and hidden corners of Cordoba.
Farewell Cordoba and head for Seville this morning. A town famous for its cultural vitality and dazzling architecture, Seville is the largest city in southern Spain. On arrival, explore the city, on an included guided walking tour. You'll see the Alcazar of Seville, a grand royal Palace. Known as one of the most beautiful in Europe, the Spanish royal family still to this day use the Alcazar as their residence in Seville. The rest of the afternoon is free, so you may wish to take an optional visit to the Giralda Tower and the famous Seville Cathedral, one of Europe’s largest cathedrals and home to Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb.
Today enjoy a free day in Seville. Discover this beautiful and intriguing city in your own pace. Perhaps visit a Cathedral de Giralda, on of the largest Christian churches in the world standing on the side of 12th century Almohad mosque. Plaza de Toros is the famous bullring in Seville and the oldest is Spain. As a Responsible Travel Company, Peregrine suggests not going to watch the bull fight, but rather visiting the venue to learn about the history and tradition. In the evening, join your fellow travellers for dinner and a flamenco show.
Travel from Seville to Madrid by train (approximately 5 hours). Upon arrival in Madrid, settle into your hotel before heading out on a walk through the Old Quarter of Spain’s capital with your Tour Leader. The rest of the day is free. If you're feeling artsy, while away the hours on the Art Walk, which offers an expansive history of Western art. Start with the Museo del Prado, home to one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th to the 19th century. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th-century collection. Finish at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays eight centuries of European painting. Take a break in the Real Jardin Botanico, a garden wonderland dating from the 18th century. Madrid is your base for the next three nights.
Today is a free day in Madrid. If you want, you can take an optional trip to the UNESCO-listed Alcazar of Segovia, about 1.5 hours north of the city, an incredible structure rumoured to be Disney's castle inspiration. There are plenty of activities to keep you educated and entertained if you choose to stay in the city too. Check out the Royal Palace, spend a day strolling around Parque del Retiro or pull up at a bar on the cobblestone streets and please your palate with a few glasses of vino tinto and a much-loved bocadillo de calamares. Madrid's nightlife is legendary, so maybe grab your fellow travellers, organise a late dinner (which will probably still be early for Madrid) and try dancing some salsa or bachata.
Travel to the city of Toledo this morning. The unique old town of this city sits on a high craggy rock and is encircled by the Tagus River. As a former capital of Spain, Toledo has immense historic significance and holds many architectural treasures. Examples of buildings from most architectural periods in Spain’s history can be seen here, from the Gothic to the Baroque. You'll explore the city with a local guide and pay particular attention to the Cathedral of Saint Mary, ranked among the greatest Gothic structures in Europe. After your visit to Toledo, drive back to Madrid and enjoy some free time there.
Enjoy a free day in Madrid. There will be a meeting at 6 pm where you’ll welcome some new travellers on the next stage of your European adventure.
Spend a day exploring Segovia on a daytrip. This World Heritage-listed city is full of sights such as the monumental aqueduct constructed by the Romans almost 2000 years ago. You’ll also see the rough-hewn stones that make up the narrow alleyway of the Old Jewish Quarter, stately churches and the fairy-tale-esque towers of the Alcazar de Segovia. Enjoy time to stroll along the city's green belt – lined in part with orchards – then return to Madrid, arriving in the late afternoon. Once back in Madrid, perhaps ask your leader where to find a bocadillo de calamares (fried calamari sandwich), a local favourite.
Travel to Burgos (approximately 2.5 hours) and take an orientation walk with your leader on arrival. This walk will introduce you to the historic Old Town, which is packed with medieval structures, limestone apartment blocks and features the majestic Burgos Cathedral. Spend the afternoon and evening as you wish. Named the Gastronomic Capital of Spain in 2013, Burgos is a great place to seek out traditional Castilian fare. Ask your leader for advice on where to find the best blood morcilla de Burgos (spiced blood sausage).
Today involves 5 hours spent on the road in a private vehicle. While the journey will be broken up with a handful of stops, it’s a good idea to have an audio book loaded up on your phone in case you need it. The destination today is Picos de Europa National Park, which holds the limestone mountain range from which so many historic Spanish buildings get their materials. This evening you can kick back and sample the so-called lifeblood of Asturias – cider. Enjoy a tasting of a few local ciders and learn about the significance of this tipple to the region.
Lace up your boots and take on a trail during a guided walk. The exact path will be determined on the day but no matter the direction you will have stunning vistas to contemplate along the way. Green meadows with low shrubs are dotted with grazing cattle, framed by impossibly tall mountains of grey and white. Stop along the way for a picturesque picnic, including some regional cheeses.
Drive towards Santiago de Compostela (6 hours) stopping en route at Oviedo. Enjoy a short walk around this historic town, taking in sights of white stone buildings, then stop to eat a carbayon. This local sweet was created to represent Oviedo and is made from almond meal and sweet alcohol. Wash it down with a glass of cider, then hit the road once again. Arrive in Santiago, check in to your hotel and then spend the evening at your leisure.
Spend a half day on the final leg of the Camino de Santiago, joining pilgrims as they finish their journey. Enjoy the fresh air of the woodlands and Galician countryside and drink in the sight of the Santiago de Compostella’s spires as they come into view. Spend the evening relaxing in Santiago, perhaps munching on a Galician specialty like piments de padron (fried green peppers).
Travel to colourful, coastal Porto (2.5 hours). Get your bearings on an orientation walk with your leader, then enjoy a free afternoon to explore. Perhaps visit the Clerigos Church and Tower or stop by the very popular Lello Bookstore. In the evening, gather with your fellow travellers for a feast and port tasting. Make a toast to new friends and old history.
Enjoy a free day in Porto. There will be a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your European adventure.
Discover Porto: Portugal’s second largest city and the capital of the north that sits between the River Douro and the Atlantic Ocean. The World Heritage listed Ribeira district is filled with a collection of twisting alleys, crisscrossing staircases and baroque churches. On a guided tour, discover one of Portugal's most romantic cities. You will pass majestic bridges, medieval riverside district with cobbled streets, merchants’ houses and cafes, stop by the cathedral, the Tower of Clerigos, and the impressive hall of Porto’s Sao Bento Railway Station. Clerigos Tower offers sensational sweeping views across the whole city, while the grand train station and its historic entrance hall panels evokes a more refined age of rail travel. On your exploration today, discover lesser known parts of the city to tourists (in fact they are known well, but only to the local people and experts). Go under the skin of this beautiful city with an included tasting of some of the region’s specialties, and go out and try some coffee and pastry in small, classic cafes, enjoying best local Port wine in a cosy local tavern with dishes like codfish and the Francesinha (Portuguese sandwich). You can spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere of this coastal town, strolling along the riverside or observing local life in action from one of many rooftop bars.
Today you will journey outside Porto to Guimaraes (approximately 1 hour). Portugal’s first capital and the birthplace of the country’s first king (the ‘conqueror’, which gives the town its name), the town consists of a well-preserved old city and an impressive castle. Explore Palace of the Dukes of Braganza located in the historical centre of the city and witness the grandeur of the Guimaraes Castle: one of the most complete medieval strongholds in Portugal, dating from the 10th century. As the believed birthplace of King Afonso Henriques, the castle is something of a national shrine. Next you will travel to Braga (approximately 30 minutes), considered by many to be one of Portugal’s most stunning cities. It has long been a religious centre, and overflows with churches, monasteries, and chapels. The charm of this place lies in its impressive Baroque buildings, most notably the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. On the western slopes of Monte Espinho, the sanctuary is lead to by a magnificent criss-crossing staircase that has 14 different chapels, each representing a station of the cross. Venture back to Porto for the evening and night’s stay.
This morning, farewell Porto and travel to your next stop, and base for the evening, which is the university city of Coimbra. Sitting dignified on the banks of the River Mondego, Coimbra was once the capital of the county, and its royal heritage can be felt in its ancient streets and buildings. Join your tour leader on a wander through the lanes and squares of the Old Quarter, passing the University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal. This evening, regroup and experience more of Portugal’s cultural heritage by heading to an included traditional Fado music show. Tonight’s dinner is at your own expense.
Today you’ll travel to Lisbon (approximately 2 hours), which is located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River and is truly one of Europe’s great cities. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. We will visit one of the most symbolic buildings in the city, Lisbon Cathedral, which was built on the site of an old mosque in 1150 by Lisbon’s first bishop, Gilbert of Hastings. Inside are nine chapels, each with their own story to tell, and the wonderful Gothic cloister. We will also have time to visit the medieval citadel of Sao Jorge Castle. The citadel dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Although much of the original castle has been destroyed throughout history, some sections of walls and 18 different towers remain today. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. The afternoon is free to make further discoveries of Lisbon – perhaps roam through the charming narrow streets of local neighbourhoods and see local life play out, visit Belem Tower (a wonderful building originally designed as a lighthouse) or the spectacular Monastery of the Jeronimos.
Travel outside of the city for a full-day excursion from Lisbon. First to Sintra, which is a jewel of Portugal. This bewitching place, with its fairy-tale atmosphere, is set amidst lush vegetation and rugged, mystical hills. The cooler climes made it a summer retreat for royalty, and it has drawn and inspired many poets, writers and travellers for centuries, including Lord Byron. Spend some time here exploring Sintra’s Pena Palace and Gardens. The views across the Serra de Sintra mountain range are stunning. Then, continue to Cabo da Rocha: a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe. After the colourful Bay of Cascais and its dazzling beaches, stop in cosmopolitan Cascais. Once a quiet fishing village, later Cascais became a residence of the Portuguese royal court in the 19th century and is now a glamorous holiday destination of designer boutiques and upscale restaurants. During your free time here, why not sit down in one of the little restaurants and try some local delicacies? On the drive back to Lisbon along the coast in the afternoon, see a different perspective of the capital as you approach from the other side of the Tagus River. After a great full day of sights, enjoy this evening at your leisure in Lisbon.
There are no activities planned for today, and as such, you are free to leave at any time. If you wish to spend some more time exploring Lisbon, we will be happy to arrange additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Minimum: 1 Maximum: 12
26 Breakfasts, 4 Dinners
Discover Portugal’s first capital and the birthplace of the country’s first king on a guided day tour of Guimaraes.
Gather around an upturned rustic port barrel for exclusive tastings of delicious cheese, meats, breads and (of course) port in Porto.
Hike beautiful paths under snow-capped mountains in Picos de Europa National Park and enjoy a picnic lunch in in a meadow framed by rugged grey mountains.
Explore the tranquil lagoon Albufera and is tiny islands by boat and learn about the local fishing industry and how it has changed in recent years.
Granada is a city like no other. Explore the outstanding Alhambra Palace with a guide, then lose yourself in the charming streets of the Old Moorish Quarter.
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