31. Spain & Northern Portugal

31. Spain & Northern Portugal

Departure point: Madrid
Every Monday from March 23 till Oct 21
Duration: 14 days

Price from: €1849
Duration: 14 days

Tour starts on every single MONDAY between March 23rd and October 19th.


Tour code: C-1142

Included in tour:

- accommodation in **** hotels

- 13 breakfasts, 8 dinners

- modern and air-conditioned bus

- multi-lingual tour escort

- sightseeing tours with local guides in Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona, Santiago and Porto

- tickets to Cordoba's Mosque

- tickets to Alhambra in Granada

- tickets to Santiago's Cathedral

- visit to a wine cellar with a tasting of Porto wine

- travel insurance

- free Wi- Fi on board 

- tips 

Join us for the two-weeks Spain & Northern Portugal tour - 14 days to explore the incredible natural and cultural diversity of both countries. You will see the hot and passionate Andalusia, the beautiful cities of the Mediterranean coast, and the green and windy regions of northern Spain, as well as upper parts of Portugal. 

From Madrid you'll be taken to the very heart of Andalusia, to the cities, that form the ''golden triangle'' of Southern Spain and are truly encompasses the spirit of the Spanish culture - Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Guitars, flamenco, wine, tapas, and passionate people – characteristics that are essentially Spanish and all this you will definetely find on this part of the trip. With its curious mishmash of Moorish majesty and Roman relics, rustic  charm and indelibly beautiful back country, where mountains tower above gushing rivers and canyons carve through the ground - it's hardly surprising that Andalusia remains one of the most visited regions in Spain.  

Later we'll get transferred to the east of Spain, towards 1000-mile stretch of Mediterranean coast, that boasts some truly stunning views, where we'll be exploring its main cities of Valencia and Barcelona. Enjoy the sandy beaches, marvel at the unusual architecture and taste delicious local seafood.

Heading from Barcelona to the Atlantic coast, we will stop in Zaragoza - the capital of Aragon region to see its gourgeous Cathedral of Nuestra Señora del Pilar and the surroundings. 

Next stage - the tour along northern provinces of Spain. North not only has a unique landscape and raw beauty, but the area also houses amazing cities with lots of hotspots: charming San Sebastian and its long sandy beaches; Bilbao with its world-famous Guggenheim Museum; enchanting villages that are typical for this area, like Santillana de Mar, Covadonga, as well as the National Park Picos de Europa

Then we'll continue even more to the west - to Galicia. With its spectacular rugged coastline, rolling green hills and soaring mountains, it's no wonder that this part of Spain's is home to many beautiful towns and villages. Galicia is also famous as a home to some of the Spain's most gourgeous beaches (however, water is colder comparing to Mediterranean beaches or Costa del Sol - since these are the beaches of Atlantic ocean), and some of the best seafood in the country (especially the octopus and the shellfish). This part of tour through north-west of Spain, with picturesque landscape, includes the cities of La Coruña, Santiago de Compostela and Vigo.

Later we'll continue towards Portugal - a country with a rich history and gorgeous landscapes, with the main city to visit - beautifl Oporto - the old fisherman’s town, nowadays the second largest city in the country. Slightly timeworn and weathered, the gray skies and dated buildings add character, while the twinkling lights along the Douro River reflect off the water and illuminate a central part of the city. Pair these features with the reserved yet friendly locals, the charming trams, beautifully adorned architecture, and the wine - and Porto’s charm may put anyone under its spell.  

The beautiful city of Salamanca is not to be missed on our way back to Madrid on the very last day of the tour.

Please click here to see the route on a map.

Day 1. Madrid - Cordoba - Seville (530 km ~ 329 miles)

Starting at 08.00am from Madrid towards southern city of Cordoba, passing thru the region of Castilla La Mancha, known for being the setting of Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century novel Don Quixote de la Mancha – probably, one of the most famous books ever to have come out of Spain.

Arriving to Cordoba - one of the most beautiful old towns in Andalusia as well as one of Spain’s most famous historical monuments. You will a proper tour through its historic center - conspicuously charming place, with its patios and courtyards, decorated with pots of aromatic jasmine and geraniums and walk narrow, winding streets, lined with what must be some of the prettiest and most colorful houses in southern Spain. Of course, you will enter the Mosque-Cathedral - the greatest dual-identity monument in Spain.

  • Mosque-Cathedral. Originally there was a Roman temple on this site, but it was replaced by a Christian church during the Visigoth era. After the Moors captured Córdoba in 711, the church was split in two and used by both Christians and Muslims as a place of worship. But the reign of religious pluralism in Córdoba didn’t last long: in 784, on the orders of the Emir Abd al-Rahman, the church was destroyed and work on a great mosque began. Construction lasted for over two centuries and, when the building was completed in 987, Córdoba’s mosque was the largest in the Islamic kingdom, save only for that of Kaaba in Arabia. When the city was reclaimed by Christians in 1236, the mosque was converted into a church and in the 16th century Charles V added a great Renaissance nave right on top of the original Moorish structure. The mosque’s most-photographed aspect is its vast main hall, which is supported by over 850 double-arched columns. Sunlight and shadows create unusual effects as you wander among them, contemplating the multifaceted history of this great building.

Extending in a tangle of cobbled streets and squares to the north of the Mosque-Cathedral is Juderia - the city’s former Jewish quarter. This is a great area to stop for lunch, packed as it is with smart restaurants as well as superb no-frills tapas bars. Free time to have lunch and buy some souvenirs. 

Later bus departures to Seville. Two-hour drive, arrival, dinner and accommodation.

 

Day 2. Seville

Breakfast in the hotel, followed by a proper city tour throughout Seville with a local guide, to admire this beautiful and also the largest city of Southern Spain. With a numerous sights and attractions, this city will never leave visitors stuck for choice. Main highlights of the tour:

  • Plaza de España was built as a centerpiece for the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. Described as one of Seville’s most impressive sights, this plaza (square) measures at 50,000 sq. meters. Only a twenty-minute walk from Seville Cathedral, this is one of Seville’s more popular locations and with a canal measuring 500 meters, the plaza is known as ''the Venice of Seville’’. It is a magnificent sight and a must see, with its colored ceramics and 48 tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. This place is not only popular with tourists and visitors as it has been used for the location of a number of films including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars.
  • Maria Luisa Park acted as the site of the Ibero-American Exhibition in 1929. Filled with orange trees, palm trees and flower beds, it is the perfect place to unwind. With a number of colorfully tiled benches and fountains erected in a Moorish style, this park brings a touch of the exotic to the city. It is surrounded by a number of historic sites and wonderful architectural buildings which allows visitors to indirectly appreciate the beauty of Seville.
  • Seville’s Cathedral is one of the largest in the world. It stands at an enormous 126 meters long and 83 meters wide with a ceiling height of 37 meters. The classical exterior draws visitors into an equally impressive interior. For example, the main alter piece, consists of 36 gilded panels, gently glimmering through the space. Globe-trotters can also pay their own homage to one of the world’s greatest travelers – the cathedral holds the sarcophagus of Christopher Columbus. A definite must-see.
  • Barrio Santa Cruz - Seville’s most famous area and a former Jewish Quarter. Its unfeasibly narrow streets, white houses, secret squares and small churches creates an unforgettable atmosphere, just enjoy it.

After the city tour you will have the afternoon off to rest or explore more on your own.

  • You can check out the inside of the Cathedral, or visit the famous Giralda Bell Tower , attached to it. This is most iconic representation of the Islam and Christian traditions that define Seville’s history. You can walk to the very top, and, except for the final section, which features stairs, the route almost all the way up (for stunning views!) is via ramps.
  • Go to Metropol Parasol, also known as the ''Mushrooms of the Incarnation'', built just a few years ago - and now is one of Seville’s newest architectural ventures. It is the largest wooden structure in the world, and from the top of it you can have a truly spectacular view. The structure also hosts a museum, which houses Roman remains found during the beginning of construction.
  • Another suggestion for your free time - to explore disrict of Triana - Seville’s former Gypsy quarter and one of the city’s most distinctive attractions. Its colourful, quaint streets are lined with old-style tapas bars, the walls of which are often plastered with faded bullfighting posters, photos of flamenco artists and weeping Virgin Marys. It is also known for its locally made ceramics, which adorn the walls of its old, whitewashed houses, and one of Seville’s best and most lively markets - the Mercado de Triana.

Dinner and a night in Seville.

 

Day 3. Seville - Granada (250 km ~ 155 miles)

Breakfast, then transfer to Granada - a beautiful city, that sits right at the foot of the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains. The popular favorite of the region of Andalusia, Granada has a rich history, fantastic range of sites to see, and a bustling nightlife. With Arab influences and Spanish charm, there is plenty of culture and history to explore here. Upon arrival you'll have a guided tour to see famous complex of La Alhambra, its Arabian palaces Nazaries, and its green and picturesque Generalife Gardens.

  • Alhambra is definitely number one on the list of unmissable things to see in Granada, and the most visited sight in the whole Spain. The world-renowned Alhambra gets its name from the Arabic for ''Red Castle'', and has been poetically described as the place where the air is clear and the fresh water from the mountains reaches. Partly palace, partly fort, the Alhambra is now a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts spectacular medieval architecture which captivates its thousands of visitors. It tends to get quite crowded, given its magical nature, with around 6,000 visitors a day, but its beauty can be appreciated even in the busiest of moments.

The tour to Alhambra, is already quite extensive and include a good part of walking, so it's your choice the rest of the day - to relax in the hotel or continue to explore the city of Granada on your own. Suggested places to visit on the second half of the day:

  • Alcaicería - best known as ‘mini Morocco’, the Alcaicería is the home of the Great Bazaar of Granada. Consisting of a series of streets that are very much reminiscent of a Moroccan souk, this is not only another example of the rich Arab history of the city, but also very similar to Morocco itself. Selling everything from spices to henna, there are many little treasures to be found in these streets. Look out for traditional Arabic handicrafts such as fajalauza - traditional, beautifully painted ceramics, or the gorgeous granadino farolas - rounded lamps made from intricate stained glass.
  • Albaicín - Another UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of the city of Granada, Albaicín is a district of the city boasting narrow winding streets that have stood here since its medieval Moorish era. Often described as a different world inside Granada, the strong Muslim influence makes Albaicín somewhat of an open-air museum. After touring the narrow and characterful streets to experience the charm of the past, you can relax in one of its many bars and terraces and enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Alhambra.
  • Granada’s Cathedral, located near the Plaza Nueva, was built on the site of a former mosque by Queen Isabella as a symbol of the Christian victory over the Moors. With parts of it decorated with beautiful intricate sculptures, there is much beauty and architecture to be admired. Complete with numerous chapels, each with their own character and artistic style, this iconic and historical building is definitely worth a visit.
  • Try free tapas ''culture''. Tapas (an appetizer or snack in Spanish cousine) is certainly one of the first things that comes to mind whenever Spain is mentioned, and Granada is probably the city most renowned for its popular tradition of free tapas. With the fantastic ''buy a drink, get free tapas'' phenomenon, this timely Spanish tradition is even more popular here. With countless numbers of bars and tapas restaurants, you’ll certainly be left with plenty of choice of where to get these tempting little snacks. Offering everything from gourmet and international tapas like sushi and caviar, to traditional Spanish jamón (dry-cured ham), you can't leave Granada without experiencing this culinary delight.

Dinner and night in Granada. 

 

Day 4. Granada - Valencia (498 km ~ 309 miles)

Breakfast. Departure towards Valencia. On the way you will pass by the beautiful, small towns of Guadix, Baza and Puerto Lumbreras. Arrival to Valencia in the early evening. Accommodation in the hotel. 

Valencia is a third-largest city in Spain, and has a lot to offer: from world-class restaurants to stunning beaches, and from museums to buzzing nightlife. Here’s our list of suggestions for your free time:

  • City of Arts and Sciences - if modern architecture is more your thing, Valencia is also home to this famous complex of futuristic buildings, mostly the work of famous architect Santiago Calatrava. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is a must-see during any visit to Valencia. Relax in the green gardens and serene outdoor spaces of the complex, take some photos and choose your favorite of the buildings.
  • Torres de Serranos - where Valencia’s Old City gives way to the Turia Gardens, that’s where you’ll find the impressive Torres de Serranos. A former gateway through the long-demolished ancient city wall - la Muralla Cristiana (''the Christian wall'') - these historic towers can be explored and make a great vantage point for photos.
  • La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Market) - Valencia’s medieval silk market was built to show off Valencia’s wealth at the time of the booming silk trade. Today it is one of the city’s main historical attractions, and is famously one of very few non-religious examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. You can explore the lavishly decorated rooms, including the main hall, with its soaring columns that represent palms reaching for the sky in paradise. Silk Market is deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Valencia Cathedral - another of the city’s most famous sights, the Cathedral de Santa Maria de Valencia tops the list for most visitors, along with the pretty Plaza de la Virgen square outside. Check out the incredible Gothic architecture inside and out, and don’t forget to go hunting for the Holy Grail, rumored by some to be located here.
  • You may want to try a Spanish dish of paella - it's a famous in the whole Spain, but origintaed precisely from Valencia. 
Night in Valencia.

 

Day 5. Valencia - Barcelona (355 km ~ 220 miles)

After breakfast you'll have some hours to scroll thru Valencia on your own. List of our recommendations:

  • Head for the beach - it’s no secret that Valencia is home to miles and miles of pristine golden sands. There’s plenty of space to soak up the sun at one of the two (connected) Blue Flag beaches, Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de las Arenas. In summer, many beach bars open up alongside, creating a fun atmosphere.
  • The Central Market - whether you’re a foodie or not, this art nouveau building in the city’s Old Town never fails to impress. Wander through hundreds of fresh food stalls beneath the market’s ceramic tiles and its stunning high-dome centerpiece to get a real taste of local life. Every day from Monday to Saturday the market is packed with local shoppers navigating the colorful displays of Mediterranean fruit and vegetables and choosing from the countless legs of jamon (Spanish ham) and bottles of locally-produced wine.
  • El Carmen street art - It’s completely free to explore the stunning Old Town of Valencia, and after checking out the architecture, head to the bohemian northern barrio of El Carmen to see the incredible art murals lining its walls. Local and international artists have turned the area’s crumbling buildings into their own outdoor canvas, often making statements about politics or local life. See huge murals around main square Plaça del Tossal and around Carrer d’En Gordo, with its abandoned, crumbling buildings.

On the second half of the day we'll continue to the to main city on the Mediterreanean coast of Spain - magnificent Barcelona.

Arrival, accommodation and overnight. 

 

Day 6. Barcelona

Breakfast in the hotel, as usual. With fantastic art and architecture, a rich Medieval history, as well as innovative modern additions, Barcelona is certainly not short of things to do and see. Few highlights that you will see during you morning city tour with a local guide:

  • Plaza Espana - is one of the most important squares of the city, and the second largest in Barcelona.
  • span class='popupword' data-imgurl='http://iberica-travel.com/files/pop-up pics/barcelona/barcelona monjuic.jpg'>Montjuïc - a hill in Barcelona, with its spectacular views over the harbor, the port and the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy stunning views from the panoramic viewpoint, located almost on top of the hill.
  • The Barcelona Olympic Park is part of all the attractions found at Montjuic Mountain. The Olympic Games in 1992 gave Barcelona many large-scale projects. As a result, it became the perfect setting for one of the most successful games in history.  The Olympic complex includes the stadium, the St. Jordi sports pavilion and the Calatrava Communications Tower.
  • Statue of Christopher Colom - standing on the pier at the very end of La Rambla, the Mirador de Colom is a homage to the explorer Christopher Columbus who paid a visit to the Catalan capital before setting sail to America.
  • Gothic Quarter. Without a doubt the most iconic of Barcelona’s neighborhoods, the Gothic Quarter as it is commonly referred to is the heart of Barcelona’s old town. Home to some of the most ancient and historic monuments in the city, not least of which being the majestic cathedral, this is the Barcelona of narrow streets and charming outdoor squares that have remained unchanged throughout the centuries.

Feel free to explore Barcelona on your own in the second half of the day. Suggestions:

  • Basilica of Sagrada Família - one of the most popular sights in Barcelona (tickets better to be bought online, beforehand).
  • Park Güell is another very popular outdoor attractions in Barcelona (same, tickets better buy online in advance)
  • Camp Nou Stadium- home of the world-famous FC Barcelona football team, it’s also the largest football stadium in Europe.
  • Barcelona's Cathedral - impressive 13th century Gothic Cathedral.
  • Villa Olimpica - the area in Barcelona, which was totally reconstructed, and for the large part – newly built, specifically to host the 1992 Summer Olympic games in Barcelona.

 Another night in Barcelona.

 

Day 7. Barcelona - Zaragoza - San Sebastian (575 km ~ 357 miles)

Breakfast, then deaparture towards Zaragoza. Stop in the city and some free time. Spain’s fifth largest city, Zaragoza is the capital of the Aragón region. Located south of the Pyrenees, it sits roughly halfway between Barcelona and San Sebastian, and is home to a range of fascinating sights, from Roman ruins to magnificent Islamic architecture and a striking Baroque cathedral. We will stop in the city center so you can have a time to explore the most notorious sights of Zaragoza: Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and Puente de Piedra (the Stone Bridge).

  • A striking Baroque Basilica, it is here that many believe that Santiago - one of Jesus’ disciples and referred to as James in the Bible – saw the Virgin Mary ascend a marble pillar. A chapel was built around that pillar and later added to and renovated, until it became the stunning cathedral it is today. If you want, you can head inside to look around at its magnificent interior, then take the elevator to the top to enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the city.
  • The Bridge Puente de Piedra (the Stone Bridge) is the oldest of all the bridges across the Ebro River. It was built in 1401 following a Gothic style. Measuring about 225 meters in length, the entire stone structure is held by seven arches, with cutwaters that help to break the water flow. It is very close to the Plaza del Pilar, so its silhouette with the Basilica del Pilar in the background has become one of the iconic images of the city.

After exploring the most notorious sights of Zaragoza, we'll continue to San Sebastian. Arrival, checkin, dinner and overnight.

 

Day 8. San Sebastian - Bilbao - Santander (205km ~ 127 miles)

Breakfast and transfer to Bilbao. The Basque city of Bilbao is particularly well known for its avant-garde contemporary designs and fascinating architecture, especially as it is home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, where we will make a stop to walk around and make pictures of this gorgeous and wicked structure.

  • Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum is the most emblematic building in the city, towering above the river like an undulating titanium ship. The celebrated modern art museum, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, resembles a huge metal ship, covered in shiny wavy patterns and quirky structures, and is just as impressive from the outside as it is from the inside. Surrounding the museum, you’ll find Bilbao’s Art District, home to world-famous artworks such as Louise Bourgeois’ Mamen spider sculpture, Jeff Koons’ Puppy and Anish Kapoor’s Tall Tree and the Eye

Later we’ll rmove further to SantanderSantander is the capital of Spain's Cantabria region and offers a whole host of attractions for visitors, from history museums to art centers and beaches. Spend your time shopping in the Mercado de la Esperanza, visiting the Palacio de la Magdalena or browsing the works in the new Centro Botín. Some highlights not to miss in your free time in the city:

  • Santander has two beaches – the Playa de los Bikinis and the Playa de la Magdalena, which are perfect for sunbathing in summer or strolling along in winter.
  • The Palacio de la Magdalena is situated on the vast Magdalena Peninsula, on the edge of the city, and has become somewhat of a symbol of Santander. Built between 1908 and 1912, it’s one of the best examples of this style of architecture in the whole of northern Spain. The palace was used as a summer residence for the Spanish royal family between 1913 and 1930, and today is open for visitors and grand events.
  • One of the most impressive buildings in the city is the Santander's Cathedral, which simply can’t be missed. It was originally built in the 13th century, although the upper part of the cathedral dates from the 14th century, and the cloisters were built in the 15th century. Inside, you can find the tomb of the writer, literary critic and historian Menéndez Pelayo.

Dinner and a night in Santander.

 

Day 9. Santander - Santillana - Covadonga - Oviedo (320km ~ 199 miles)

Breakfast. This day you'll be travelling throughout one of the most beautiful Spanish National Parks - Picos de Europa, which is characterized by high massifs, deep ravines, lush mountain meadows and vast glassy lakes.

First our stop for today is in Santillana de Mar.

  • This town, that has often been referred to as one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Spain, let alone just Cantabria. Sitting on the coast and surrounded by verdant green mountains, it offers the best of both worlds. Think caramel-colored architecture and steep, cobbled streets, perfect medieval stone and timber houses. Santillana del Mar was built around the collegiate church of Santa María and is also dotted with old defense towers and Renaissance palaces.

After some free time, we'll continue to Covadonga, - a place, located at the western edge of Picos de Europa, and is visited by thousands of people every year. Stop at Sanctuary of Covadonga

  • It’s located in a mountain grotto and features an image of the Virgin Mary - Virgin of Covadonga. This sight is an important site in Christian history. It was where Christian forces in Iberia defeated a Muslim army at the Battle of Covadonga, marking the beginning of the Spanish Reconquista. But though the cave is now linked to Christianity, it’s believed it was first a site for prehistoric pagan worship.

Another stop and a time to admire the Holy Cave. Later continuation to Oviedo. Arrival, dinner and overnight.

 

Day 10. Oviedo - La Coruna (347 km ~ 216 miles)

Breakfast and departure the very northwest corner of Spain - La Coruna (or A Coruna, how locals say). A Coruña sits in the very northwest corner of Spain, in the autonomous community of Galicia. A vibrant coastal city with plenty in the way of culture, history, gastronomy (it's famous for its seafood) and natural sights. Enjoy a panoramic city tour upon arrival and, later - a free time. Sights you'll see during the city tour (and some of them you may want to check later on your own) you can take a closer look later, while exploring city on your own:

  • Torre de Hercule - the oldest working lighthouse in the world, the Tower of Hercules has become somewhat a symbol of the city. Built in Roman times, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also some lovely nature walks around the area.
  • Galerias - A Coruña is known as the ''Glass City'' due to its unique architectural style of constructing galerías - enclosed glass balconies - onto the side of its buildings. Most date back to the 19th century and feature patterns, as well as colors and embellishments.
  • Castillo de San Anton, a 16th century fortress set on a small island, connected to the mainland via a bridge. Today the castle houses the Museo Arqueológico e Histórico – Museum of Archeology and History.
  • Estrella Galicia is one of Spain’s best-loved beers and its home is here in A Coruña. Founded in 1906 by Jose Mª Rivera, it’s possible to visit the original location of the first Estrella Galicia brewery in the neighborhood of Cuatro Caminos. The site is now the brewery-restaurant Estrella de Galicia, and you can enjoy food and fresh, unpasteurized beer straight out of the brewery.

Accommodation, dinner and night in La Coruna.

 

Day 11. La Coruna - Santiago de Compostela (75 km ~ 47 miles)

Breakfast in hotel in La Coruna, then transfer to Santiago de Compostela . In Santiago we'll have a proper city tour with the visit to its Cathedral. City is renowned for its shrine of Saint James the Great and was built to accommodate the thousands of pilgrims that would, and still do, gather there every year. The architecture and atmosphere of the city are impregnated with history and visitors may feel like they've taken a step back in time. Some highlights of the tour:

  • The Cathedral of Santiago de Composetela - you simply cannot go to Santiago and not visit its cathedral. Built during the 1300s, the changes over the subsequent centuries have added Gothic and Baroque features to its Romanesque architecture. The grand Plaza del Obradoiro leaves enough room to admire the Cathedral’s impressive size and design, and through the front doors you will find the Portico de Gloria, the Corticela chapel and the relic of Saint John. 
  • Casco Historico (or Historical Center). We’ll take time to explore the little streets around the cathedral and you will find lots of hidden squares, like the Plaza de Cervantes, with beautiful statues and intricate fountains. The district is alive with activity, and as you walk around the old streets you are likely to chance upon a mass or the gathering of a procession. There are also lots of cafés and restaurants where later on during the day you can sit down to enjoy some Spanish tapas and watch the world go by.

On your free time in the afternoon you can visit:

  • San Francisco Convent - if you’re feeling hungry you should head over to the San Franciscan convent, which housed Franciscan monks in the 18th century. The monks have now moved to a more modern building and the old convent serves as a restaurant. The food is delicious, and they offer a special Pilgrim menu with typical convent or monastery dishes. The unique food, combined with the architecture and décor, will make for an unforgettable experience. If you have time, check out the chapel and Holy Land museum next door.
  • Alameda park - this is a beautiful park with wonderful views of the cathedral and the old town from the Ferradura walk. Alameda park is great place to seek peace and quiet away from the busy center. One of the park’s many statues is Las dos Marias (''the two Mary''), which depicts a fun piece of local history, when two women became famous during the 1950s and 1960s by walking through the city center every day at 2pm sharp, dressed and made up in what was considered an eccentric manner, and flirting with the university students.
  • San Martin Pinario Monastery - this 10th-century baroque Benedictine monastery and church has a beautiful stairway and its walnut choir stalls made by Mateo de Prado are considered the most impressive in Galicia.

Dinner and accommodation.

 

Day 12. Santiago de Compostela - Rias Bajas - Vigo - Porto (90 km ~ 56 miles)

Breakfast, then transfer thru beautiful area of Rias Baixas (''lower rivers'').

  • Rias Bajas is a set of largest estuaries in the area. The coastline of the province boasts three magnificent inlets surrounded by cliffs, islands, ports, hills, beaches and stunning landscapes that make it a perfect destination to visit. On both the coast and inland, you’ll definitely enjoy unforgettable views.

First stop - at small town, called O Grove, in the Isle of Toja (Isla de la Toja - a small peninsula in the area). O Grove is a privileged location in the heart of the Galician Rías Baixas, a place that stands out for its history and traditional fishing. Highlights to see on your free time:

  • Chapel of the Shells – it was built for San Caralimpio and the Virgen del Carmen. It stands out because its structure is decorated with scallop shells and its conservation level is very high.
  • Aldea dos Grobits Village - the ''Grobits'' are mythical creatures that beings that live in the depths of the thermal waters in the Island of the Toja. On some special days, the soil of the well is transformed into water and the grobits rise up the well. They walk among the centenary pines, playing among them and when they are tired, they go to these houses to rest.
  • O Grove Beaches offer the ideal complement with international prestige. Starting from one of the most famous beaches for surfers, such as A Lanzada, we continue with recognized and appreciated sites such as ''Dogs beach''. The other beaches are: As Pipas in Reboredo, Area Grande, Area da Cruz and Raeiros. Most of them have plenty of places to eat nearby and spectacular views.

Later we will continue to Vigo and will stop for a free time in the city center, in the Old town.

  • Vigo’s old-town is set on a slope that meets the estuary at the old port, with alleys that lead onto handsome arcaded squares like, for example - Praza da Constitución. This is the part of the city where fishermen’s houses and grander buildings like plush townhouses, and the 19th-century church of Santa María were set side-by-side. Almost all were built with Galician granite, which gives the old-town a dignified atmosphere distinct from many Spanish old quarters. Many of the street names correspond to old trades, and Rúa Cesteiros you can still find basket-weavers in business and of course, Calle de las Ostras.

Later we will cross the beautiful Minho river, that also separates Spain and Portugal. Arrival to the second largest Portugese city of Porto (or Oporto, how locals say). Accommodation and overnight stay. 


Day 13. Porto

Breakfast in the hotel, then we'll head to a proper city tour of PortoThere are plenty of things that this lively and extraordinary city has to offer. Slightly timeworn and weathered, the gray skies and dated buildings add character, while the twinkling lights along the Douro River reflect off the water and illuminate a central part of the city. Pair these features with the reserved yet friendly locals, the charming trams, beautifully adorned architecture, and the wine, and Porto’s charm may put anyone under its spell. Here are some highlights of the tour:

  • Porto’s bustling Ribeiro district is the most eclectic part of the city, inviting everyone to sit by its banks from locals to students and tourists. As a historical center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is lots to see here, and the picturesque quality of the river, cafés, buildings, and statues only adds to the allure.
  • Porto’s Cathedral: (Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument. It is situated in the upper part of Porto. The building looks a bit like a fortress with crenels from the outside.
  • The Cathedral sits on a square with a column in the middle which offers impressive views over the city, the Douro River and the wine cellars on the waterfront.
  • Palacio da Bolsa is a 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace - the neoclassical product of a combined effort from several architects. It was created in the late 19th century to attract European businesses but today stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national monument.
  • Igreja de Santa Clara - the 15th century Santa Clara church may actually be one of the most exquisite examples of Portugal’s 17th century woodwork, reflecting Baroque and Rococo styles.
  • Dom Luís Bridge - Porto’s bridges are well known, but the Dom Luís Bridge is perhaps the most popular. This metal, double-decked arch bridge is a popular spot for photographers looking to snap a unique angle of the city and an easy way to traverse over to Vila Nova de Gaia and its wineries. Opened in the late 19th century, it was the longest arch bridge at the time.

Later we will continue our tour with a visit an antique wine cellar, experience the wine-making process and definitely taste famous local fortified wine – Port, which in many cases get served straight from the barrel.

 On the second half of the day fell free to explore the city on tour own. Some suggestions:

  • Experience Livraria Lello - this bookstore is one of the most beautiful in the world and has become extra famous as one of JK Rowling’s favorite haunts when she lived in Porto (and began developing the Harry Potter series). There is no doubt that the Livraria Lello & Irmão, which has been in business since 1906, is one of Porto’s most popular and busiest landmarks; there is even a cover charge to enter. Centrally located, near the locals’ favorite Piolho Café and a block from Igreja do Carmo, it’s easy to find, but be prepared to stand in a line to enter.
  • Appreciate the city’s azulejo art - azulejo (ceramic tiles) are unique to Portugal in the way they are used to decorate buildings, streets, and homes, and this is especially noticeable in Porto. A few landmarks popular for their stunning artistic and cultural mosaics include the Estação São Bento, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and the Igreja do Carmo. To see some amazing displays, you won’t need to try hard because azulejos are practically everywhere in the city.
  • Eat traditional and local treats - it’s impossible to visit Porto and not eat well. The gastronomy scene is among the best in the country and restaurants serve all sorts of recipes from the most traditional to modern and sophisticated. Porto is also a city that knows its comfort food.

Second night in Porto.

 

Day 14. Porto - Salamanca - Madrid (566 km ~ 352 miles)

Breakfast, and a transfer to Salamanca, Located in the north-western part of Spain, Salamanca is a city of exceptional beauty and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. You'll have a free time to enjoy the beautiful city center of Salamanca on your own. Highlights not to miss:

  • The Old Town - listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, the beautifully preserved old town in the center of the city is impossible to miss. The unmistakable sandstone architecture is scattered throughout and found among some of the city’s most famous monuments.
  • Old and the New Cathedralsl - Salamanca’s impressive New Cathedral lies next to the Old Cathedral and its construction first began in the 15th century, and lasted until the 18th. It is considerably larger than its historic counterpart and is one of Spain’s most impressive examples of Gothic architecture, while also featuring Renaissance and Baroque elements.
  • Salamanca University is located in the historic town center and was founded between 1425 and 1433. The building is considered one of the oldest universities in the world, and also one of the most beautiful ones - mostly because of its crafted facade.
  • The Plaza Mayor (The Main Square) - one of the largest squares in Spain, and is the heart of the bustling city. Small shops and restaurants are spread out around the bustling. Along with the University of Salamanca, Plaza Mayor is considered the emblem of the city and has been declared a National Monument.
  • The historical Casa de las Conchas (Shells House) – building of a 16th century, is known for its curious façade, which is decorated with more than 300 shells.

Later we continue to Madrid. Arrival and end of the tour. 

--------------- 

Please click here to see the route on a map.

Prices:

Per person in double/twin room: 1849€

Single Supplement: 595€

Supplement July to Oct.: 100€

Supplement for departure on April 6 and 27: 100€


Discounts:

- Children less than 4 years old: free, without granted seat in the bus

- Children between 4 and 7 years old: 25% discount off adult price, in a room with adults

- Teenagers between 8 and 18 years old: 5% discount off adult price 

- Seniors (65+ years old): 5% discount off adult price 

- Third person in triple room: 5%

Discounts cannot be combined.

 

What is the booking process?

- It is very simple. Once you have chosen the tour, there are 6 steps: 

   a) you confirm the tour by e-mail, indicating starting date, tour code, number of persons travelling and their names, also types of rooms preferred (Single/Double/Triple).   

   b) we send you an invoice,

   c) you pay 10% to book the tour,

   d) we issue the confirmation,

   e) 2 weeks before the starting date, you pay the rest of the monies due, and 

   f) you show up for the tour on the appointed date and time.

 

How much should I pay and when?

- We require a 10% deposit during reservation, and the remaining 90% in no less than 2 weeks before the tour commences.

 

How would I pay?

- You can pay in one of four ways:

1) Bank wire to our company's bank account. Our banking details are included on the invoice that you receive.

2) We can charge your credit card. Please keep in mind that in this case we charge an additional 2% on top of the amount (our bank charges), and we need you to sign an Authorization form (which we will provide) and you need to send us your passport copy and copy of the credit card (the front) to verify ownership.

3) Western Union (normally for short-notice reservations, and when amount needs to be received urgently).

4) Transferwise.com - an online system, allowing the transfer of different currencies, with a small fees (much smaller than bank charges). Ask us to send you an invitation to join a system if you are not a member - there normally is a bonus for new members.

 

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

- 10% paid at the time of reservation is non-refundable. The other 90% is fully refundable if cancelled in no less than 2 weeks (e.g., if you paid 100% upfront right away). There are no refunds for cancellations made in less than 2 weeks to go before the trip.

Seville

NH Viapol**** A modern hotel located in the heart of Seville’s business area, a pleasant 15-20 minute walk to Santa Cruz Quarter and Maria Luisa Park – some of the main attractions of the City. Tram (public transport) station is just few meters outside of the hotel too. This modern hotel offers plenty of peace and quiet, yet there are many of shops, tapas bars and restaurants nearby. The hotel has 96 rooms spread over 6 floors. Rooms are nicely decorated, and have elegant hardwood floors. Hotel’s restaurant, bar and outdoor terrace is at your disposal.


Granada

Abades Nevada Palace**** - located in the new residential area, this hotel is just a few minutes from downtown of Granada. Thanks to the elliptical shape of the hotel, all 258 rooms have spectacular views of Sierra Nevada and the Alhambra complex of Palaces, - a place that you will definitely enter during your excursion. Hotel is modern and perfectly equipped with Spa, Fitness center and outdoor swimming pool. 

 

Valencia

Silken Puerta Valencia**** is a luxurious 4-star property, conveniently located.  Drawings traced over its glazed facade are the work of Javier Mariscal, and brings an eye immediately. All rooms have satellite TV, Canal+, air conditioning, mini-bar, safe, and Internet. All have modern fittings and the contemporary and excellent design puts special emphasis on comfort with laminate floors and orange-beige colors. From the hotel you will have an easy walk to the beach that is only 10 min away. You can also walk to L'Oceanografic and City of Arts and Sciences - those are 20 min away. Cathedral and Gothic Quarter both are close too - only about 1km from the hotel.


Barcelona

Catalonia Barcelona 505**** hotel located in the sophisticated zone of Sarria – Sant Gervasi and not too far from the famous Park Guell – beautiful park, which was designed by the world-famous architect Antonio Gaudi. Hotel has an outdoor pool, is modern looking and offers a rich and satisfying buffet breakfast as well as a restaurant for dinner. Few train stations around makes a City center easily reachable, it will only take around 15 min. 


San Sebastian

Silken Amara Plaza**** is the hotel in a modern building, the work of renowned architect Peña Ganchegui. Its bold exterior and advanced technology contrast with an interior in harmony with the elegance of San Sebastián City. Located near the beginning of stunning walk to the Concha Bay and to the old part of the city, where you can try some of the best ’pintxos’ (local tapas) made with typical products from the region. Hotel’s restaurant offer a perfect mix between local Basque Cuisine and international dishes. 


Santander

Hotel Santemar**** enjoys a perfect location, just couple minutes away from the long Sardinero beach and its fine sand and very close to La Magdalena, - the old residence of King Alfonso XIII. Spacious and elegant rooms with parquet floor have all necessary for a comfortable stay: air conditioning, free wi-fi, television, hair dryers, safe boxes, magnifying mirrors and much more. Gym, currency-exchange point, restaurant and room-service are all at your disposal for a perfect stay.

 

Oviedo

Hotel Exe Oviedo Center**** - hotel with all the amenities is possibly the best located hotel of Oviedo, in the city center. It's walking distance from Calle Uria and close to Mafalda Statue, and within close proximity of Woody Allen Statue and Culis Monumentalibus - city's highlights. 

The hotel features comfortable and well appointed 118 air-conditioned rooms on seven floors. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and satellite programming provides entertainment. Private bathrooms with bathtubs feature designer toiletries and bidets. Conveniences include phones, as well as safes and desks. Cafeteria and buffet breakfast with fresh products of excellent quality at your full disposal. 


La Coruna

Tryp Coruña**** hotel is located in the leisure part of the city, next to huge shopping centers El Corte Inglés and Cuatro Caminos.  Also, it is only 20 min walk to the Riazor - Orzan beaches. TRYP Coruña provides 181 spacious and modern rooms; different dining spaces, such as breakfast room with show cooking and cafeteria; free high speed Wi-Fi internet and 24h mini gym. All rooms are outward facing, all large, bright and fully furnished.


Santiago

Gran Hotel Santiago**** is a luxurious 4-star property in Santiago De Compostella, located just outside of the City center. It is perfectly designed and will please you thanks to the natural plants that bloom in the yard throughout the whole year. Also, elevators have panoramic views of the hotel and in the main lobby a cascading fountain greets visitors in an atmosphere of serenity. Hotel’s restaurant offers nice variety of fish, that Galician region is famous for - sea bass, lamprey, monkfish, and hake. All 115 rooms are exterior and perfectly equipped

 

Porto

The Mercure Porto Gaia**** hotel enjoys a privileged location, in Vila Nova de Gaia, only 5 min from port wine cellars and 12 km from Porto international airport and the Exponor exhibition centre. The hotel is decorated with a port wine theme and offers a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, WiFi Internet and parking. Next to the Mecure Porto Gaia you will find the Arrabida Shopping Centre. 


In some cases hotels can be substituted with the ones of the same category and level.

Here you will find commonly asked questions regarding our tours. 


1. Are the tours for individuals, families, small groups of friends?

- Yes. Our tours are for single travelers, couples, families, and groups of friends whom we put together with other travelers to form a larger group.

 

2. How many people are normally included on a tour?

- We cannot guarantee an exact number per tour. Normally it ranges from 10 to 25 people per group, but these numbers can vary greatly depending on the time of the year. In summer, groups tend to be larger as this is a popular time of year, while the winter season usually attracts less people, thus smaller groups are formed. There are certain tours that combine travelers if the destinations follow the same routes, e.g. you may be on a 10-day tour package with companions travelling on a 5-day package. The tour will cover the same areas and the 5-day package guests will break off thereafter. Also, more people may be joining in for the other part of the package. 

 

3. Is there is a guide/tour leader in the bus?

- Yes. An accompanying guide (tour leader) usually travels with the group during the entire tour. An exception may occur when there are minimal numbers signed up for a particular tour. These small groups will travel with an experienced, English-speaking driver/guide. In all major cities, we use local professionals and licensed guides.

 

4. What languages do the guides use?

- English and Spanish. All our tour guides speak both languages fluently. If a tour group consists of an English-speaking group only, the tour will run in English. But most of the tours will have both English and Spanish (from Latin and Central America) passengers, so the guides will explain in English and then in Spanish. 

 

5. Do your tours run during certain times of the year?

- Most of our tours run all year long. Some tours, e.g., those running to the northern regions of Spain, only run from March till October. Each tour’s description provides all the relevant information needed. For example: ''Sundays all year'' means that a tour will start on every Sunday of the year, regardless of the numbers. Just look up at the Calendar the specific dates Sundays are falling on and make sure you arrive a day before. 

 

6. What cities do the tours start from?

- Tours start from Madrid or Barcelona. 

 

7. Where are the meeting points for the tours?

In Madrid, it is Calle Ferraz 3 (Ferraz str., 3). This meeting point is in the city center, right off Plaza España.

- In Barcelona, it is in the reception of the Hotel ''Catalunya Barcelona 505'' (Carrer de Muntaner, 505, 08022, Barcelona).

 

8. Do you pick up from the hotels on the first day of the tour?

- By default, no. We do not pick up from hotels because that would delay the tour launch time. However – if your hotel is enroute, using the same bus route on launch day, we will pick you up. A week before travel, we require the name of your hotel in Madrid, and will inform you if you can be picked up directly from your hotel or need to head over to the meeting point at 7.45am.

In Barcelona, the meeting point is always in the reception of the ''Catalunya Barcelona 505'' hotel.

 

9. What type of vehicles do you use?

- Buses for larger groups and minibuses for smaller ones. Vehicles are comfortable, modern and with air-conditioning.


10. If there is a Wi-Fi on your buses?

- There is a Wi-Fi on all our buses in Spain. But please keep in mind that sometimes during the transfers between the cities, Wi-Fi signal can be weak or intermitting, due to poor coverage from the main operators. Please do not expect to downoad or to steam movies during the transfers. In Morocco's buses there is no Wi-Fi. 

 

11. Are meals included?

- Buffet breakfasts with all the drinks are included every morning in all hotels our guests occupy during their tour. 

Lunches and dinners are included anywhere that's mentioned in the itinerary (sections ''Itinerary'' and ''Included in tour''). Normally dinners held in the hotel's restaurants, many times it will be buffet (''eat as much as you want''), and only drinks will be at an extra cost. Also, sometimes lunches and dinners will be held in the restaurants. 

 

12. I am a vegetarian or allergic to certain products, any problem?

- No problems at all. Inform the tour leader and he will assist you. On a side note, many dinners are of the buffet-type, so you can simply choose what you prefer. For those with allergies, if in doubt, please remind tour leader during mealtimes. Alternatively, ask the restaurant staff about the content of the dishes. 

 

13. What time do you arrive to Madrid on the last day of travel? Can I book a flight on the same day, flying out of Spain?

- Normally we return to Madrid between 17.00 and 19.00 on the last day of the excursion (depending on the specific tour). However, it is not recommended to book the flight out on the same evening/night, as traffic jams in Madrid or other possible events may delay your flight. Fell free to talk to us (before starting the tour!), and we'll organize your overnight stay in Madrid after the tour. 

 

14. I need a night in the hotel or transfer from/to the airport to be booked before or after the tour.

- Sure. Just let us know at the time you organize the whole trip. 

  

15. Can I just show up for the trip without reservation and pay directly in the office, on the spot?

- Unfortunately, not. The tour must be booked in advance, as we need to make all the arrangements beforehand.

 

16. How long in advance should I book a trip?

- If you book at least 2 weeks in advance, the trip is guaranteed, though we recommend booking even earlier, if possible, as in these cases we have wider range of hotels to accommodate the early reservations - better options. 

Requests received with less than 2 weeks to go prior to launch date, usually work out 80% of the time, just contact us. 

 

17. Can I customize one of the tours for myself?

- No, as there are more people travelling with you. However, if you are coming already as a group of 20+ persons, the route can be customized upon your request, as the tour could be run privately for your group. Please contact us for more information.

 

18. What is the booking process?

- It is very simple. Once you have chosen the tour, there are 6 steps:

   a) you confirm the tour by e-mail, indicating starting date, tour code, number of persons travelling and their names, also types of rooms preferred (Single/Double/Triple). 

    b) we send you an invoice,

    c) you pay 10% to book the tour,

    d) we issue the confirmation,

    e) 2 weeks before the starting date, you pay the rest of the monies due, and

    f) you show up for the tour on the appointed date and time.

 

19. How much should I pay and when?

- We require a 10% deposit during reservation, and the remaining 90% in no less than 2 weeks before the tour commences.

 

20. How would I pay?

- You can pay in one of four ways:

1) Bank wire to our company’s bank account. Our banking details are included on the invoice that you receive

2) We can charge your credit card. Please keep in mind that in this case we charge an additional 2% on top of the amount (bank charges), we need you to sign an Authorization form and you need to send us your passport copy and copy of the credit card (the front) to verify ownership

3) Western Union (normally for short-notice reservations, and when amount needs to be received urgently)

4) Transferwise.com – an online system allowing the transfer of funds. There is a small commission attached.

 

21. What is the cancellation and refund policy?

- 10% paid at the time of reservation is non-refundable. The other 90% is fully refundable if cancelled in no less than 2 weeks (e.g., if you paid 100% upfront right away). There are no refunds for cancellations made with less than 2 weeks to go before the trip.

 

22. Are there any discounts or surcharges?

- Yes. Discounts are listed under the section ''Prices'', under each package. 

 

23. Are taxes included in the tour prices?

- Yes, VAT and Tourist Taxes for different cities are included.

 

24. How do I know if I need a visa for Spain or Morocco?

- Please check the visa information for Spain here. The visa requirements for Morocco can be found here. Please note that all trips to Morocco will require your Schengen visa to be of an ''multiple entry'', as you will enter Spain for the second time.

 

25. I am ready to go ahead and book one of your tours, but I need a Visa to enter Spain.

- Yes, we do help our customers to get their Visas, after a trip is confirmed and the deposit of 10% has been paid. As we are a fully licensed tour operator in Spain, after the deposit paid, we can issue the confirmation, which you later bring to Spanish Embassy/Consulate. In this letter we confirm that you booked and partly (or fully) paid for a tour with us. Please note, we do not guarantee the issue of visa and cannot influence the process. The decision is up to the Embassy, as they have their own rules and regulations for each country. At the same time, we do our best to ensure we provide assistance where possible.