Join our friend Contessa Alessandra, one of Europe’s most connected tourism operators, for an unforgettable food, wine, and art sojourn across Portugal and Northern Spain. You’ll be mesmerized by Fado music in the oldest districts of Lisbon and inspired by ethereal Gothic churches and other architectural wonders both old and new. We’ll visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilabo, “the museum that changed world opinion of museums,” and sample the fine wine of La Rioja and delicious fortified port of O Porto. We’ll pay a visit to mysterious Fatima, the famed Piazza Mayor of Leon, and take a soulful stroll in Santiago de Compostela. We’ll visit a castle built by King Ferdinand II for his friends and wander through the garden that moved Richard Strauss to tears. We’ll head to Lello, one of our favorite haunts. It’s one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and the inspiration for Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts. And let’s not forget the romantic “rias” (deep, wide inlets) of Basque Country. Perhaps you will succumb to romantic San Sebastian or the quaint seaside village of Santander. We hope so! If this culture-packed 13-day itinerary isn’t enough for you, consider joining us on our four-day extension to bustling Barcelona and majestic Madrid!
Fly from the USA to Lisbon, Portugal.
After your arrival in Lisbon, you'll be picked up and transfer to Cascais. There, you’ll have a few hours to relax before joining your fellow travelers for a welcome drink followed by a Portuguese feast. Sleep in Cascais.
This morning we will visit the impressive UNESCO World Heritage site of Palacio de Pena in Sintra. This romantic castle is an architectural masterpiece that was built to host the friends of King Ferdinand II. The gardens that surround the castle are arguably the most beautiful of Portugal and inspired Richard Strauss to create a few of his masterpieces. In the afternoon you will visit the charming city of Obidos. With its tiny alleys, quaint white houses and bright flowers, Obidos is a truly enchanting place. Sleep in Cascais.
Our travels today will take us first to Fatima, best known for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will visit the Sanctuary of Fatima, where the tombstones of the three young visionaries lie, and behold the Madonna in the Chapel of Apparitions. Next we will visit the Monastery of the Dominicans of Batalha, a breathtaking Gothic style church which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sleep in Lisbon.
Lisbon is well known for its dynamic character, culinary delights (you must try bacalhau!) and mesmerizing Fado music. We'll start our day with the city's most important sights including Jeronimos Monastery, the Castelo de Sao Jorge, and we'll take time to walk the enchanting streets of Alfama, Lisbon's oldest district. Tonight you will experience Fado -- a form of ballad characterized by soulful tunes and lyrics, usually about the sea, love or desperation. The rhythm and tones of the music are deeply connected with the character of the people and capture the atmosphere and beauty of a city -- something that can't be fully explained if not experienced first-hand. You will have time on your own in Lisbon to enjoy a bit more of this awesome city prior to our departure tomorrow. Sleep in Lisbon.
We will say adeus to Lisbon this morning, and drive to Oporto, the Jewel of the North. Oporto is the second most important city in Portugal and it is also a UNESCO Heritage site. En route we will stop in Coimbra, Portugal’s most intellectual city. Coimbra is home to Portugal’s oldest University, Universidade de Coimbra -- a public university dating back to the 13th century. We will inspect the area’s Roman archeological remains before heading towards Oporto. Upon arrival we will start our exploration of Oporto’s beautiful historical centre, the Clerigos Church and the riverfront (Ribeira). Tonight you will enjoy another feast of local specialties. Sleep in Oporto.
Today you will travel across to Vila Nova de Gaia, a lovely town across the Douro River famous for lodges -- the traditional storage caves for Port wine. You will visit one of the best producers of Port wine in the world and then have an awesome lunch overlooking the river and the city. You will then head back to Porto, where you can tour the city with a great local guide and take a river cruise. In the late afternoon you will have time to soak in the lively atmosphere of Porto’s city centre and pay a visit to Lello, one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and the inspiration for Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts. Sleep in Oporto.
The North of Spain awaits you today– with one of the most beautiful areas of the country – the Rias Baixas in the Galicia region. A beautiful green area, Rίas Baixas is characterized by rίas – deep, wide inlets encroaching many miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The southern group of these rίas is known as Rίas Baixas (the lower estuaries). This afternoon we will reach timeless Santiago de Compostela -- world famous for the pilgrimage route of the same name. This afternoon you will enjoy a great visit of this wonderful place! Sleep in Santiago de Compostela.
Early this morning you will visit one of the most important and beautiful markets in Spain, Mercado de Abastros in Santiago, and enjoy more of this vivacious city. You will then continue your journey towards the Asturias region and the city of Oviedo. You will explore its unique city centre, which hosts one of the best gothic cathedrals in Spain, and have some time on own. Sleep in Oviedo.
Today we will visit Leon -- the ancient capital of an important, historic kingdom. You will be blown away by Leon's great piazzas (Plaza Mayor and Plaza St. Martin), its imposing cathedral and lively historical centre. If time permits we will also pay a visit to one of the many charming villages that dot the Northern coastline of Spain. Sleep in Oviedo.
This morning you will head towards Bilbao, the most important city in Basque Country. Just a few miles from the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao has a large harbor and an oceanic climate. Due to its privileged position there is an awesome culinary tradition, which is considered the most inventive in Spain. Fish, mostly cod and hake, is the star ingredient in the cuisine here. You must not miss miss the tapas-like appetizers called pintxos. You will also visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry. With more than ten million visitors to its credit, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums! En route you will visit the charming seaside village of Santander. Sleep in Bilbao.
Today you will explore the countryside of the world-famous La Rioja wine region. You will pay a visit to Laguardia, the region's most enchanting village and sample wine at Marques de Riscal’s innovative City of Wine. Designed by Frank. O. Gehry, the titanium-covered building displays the colors of Marqués de Riscal: pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the Riscal bottles, and silver like the bottle top. Sleep in Bilbao.
On your way to the city of Donostia-San Sebastian, you will explore small bays and quaint villages, and stop at amazing viewpoints between Guipuzcoa and Biscay. You will then have time to explore San Sebastian before you head back to Bilbao for your farewell dinner tonight. Sleep in Bilbao.
Your journey ends this morning after breakfast! Fly out to the US or continue your journey to Madrid and Barcelona.