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Carve your own path through Northern Spain and Portugal and capture the feeling that defines these western European havens. Travel from the buzz of Madrid through Burgos and the Picos de Europa, heading to Porto after a brief pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela. Continue to explore picture-perfect Portugal through Guimaraes, Coimbra and Lisbon, all teeming with rich history, vibrant regional cultures, stunning landscapes and refined cuisine. With plenty of time to explore at your own pace, this 15-day adventure captures the authentic sides to Spain and Portugal.
Day 1: Madrid
Ola! Welcome to Madrid! Your welcome meeting, which marks the beginning of your tour, does not take place until 7 pm this evening. Until then you are free to explore Madrid at your own pace, provided you arrive with time to spare. Following the welcome meeting, attend a group dinner with your leader and fellow travellers.
Day 2: Madrid – Segovia
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.
Day 3: Burgos
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).
Day 4: Picos de Europa
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.
Day 5: Picos de Europa
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.
Day 6: Santiago de Compostela
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.
Day 7: Santiago de Compostela
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).
Day 8: Porto
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.
Day 9: Porto
Today, you have a day at your leisure in Porto. Why not go deeper with an Urban Adventure tour, which takes you on a cultural, historical and culinary journeys, from an afternoon coffee and pastry to cocktail hour. Find out more and discover the options at urbanadventures.com/destination/Porto-tours. In the evening, meet with your tour leader and new travelling companions at 6 pm, where you will be given a briefing of what lies ahead on the tour. This is followed by a welcome dinner in a local restaurant – your group leader will know of some delicious options close by.
Day 10: Porto
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.
Day 11: Porto - Guimaraes - Braga
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.
Day 12: Coimbra
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.
Day 13: Lisbon
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.
Day 14: Lisbon
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.
Day 15: 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).
- Alcazar of Segovia tour inc audioguide
- Burgos leader led tour
- Locally produced Cider tasting
- Picnic lunch including locally sourced cheese
- Covadonga Lake walk
- Carbayon tasting in Oviedo
- Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage guided walk
- Porto - Port Wine Tasting
- Porto guided food tasting tour
- Guided tour of Guimarães
- Coimbra - Fado Show
- Explore Lisbon with a Local Guide
- Castle of Sao Jorge
- Pena Palace Sintra
14 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
3 Dinner(s) Included
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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