Spain and Portugal

Updated: Feb 23

Reserve through the month of November 2020 for $1!

My favorite travel partner has just announced this incredible sale on small group travel for 2021! Through November 2020, you can reserve your spot on a dream trip for only US$1; one dollar gives you something to look forward to in 2021. I’m highlighting sample itineraries in this blog, but won’t be able to cover the HUNDREDS of options. If you have a travel wish, contact me for details!

Why I love this travel operator …



SMALL GROUPS

Join a small group of like-minded travelers that, like you, are eager to safely and confidently experience all the things that make our world worth exploring.


SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES

They have always created their tours by building meaningful relationships with local communities, directly benefiting the people and places they visit.


BOOK AND TRAVEL WITH CONFIDENCE

They have measures in place to help keep you safe from the moment you book to the moment you (reluctantly) head home, earning a badge from the World Travel and Tourism Council. WTTC’s Safe Travels Protocols



FLEXIBILITY, FREEDOM AND FUN

No matter the Travel Style, their tours balance well-planned itineraries with the flexibility to do your own thing and make the experience your own.


LOCALLY-BASED GUIDES

They don’t have tour guides — they have Chief Experience Officers. And they are all locally based, meaning they know the area you’re exploring like the back of their well-traveled hand.


REGENERATIVE TRAVEL

When you travel with them, you experience first-hand their commitment to making travel a force for good is in everything they do.

STARTING AT $2421

DAY 1: LISBON

Arrive at any time.

If visiting the historic district of Belém is on your bucket list, we recommend arriving early on this day to explore its major sites like the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower.

Meet your trip leader and fellow travelers, and learn more about your tour. Opt to join the group for a local meal afterwards.

Optional Activities:

Belem Tower, 6EUR/person: Take a trip to the coastline to see this charming fort, built to protect Lisbon from raiders invading from the sea. Climb up the tower for great views of the ocean and surrounding city.

Sao Jorge Castle, 10EUR/person: Climb up to this Moorish castle for a wander around the impressive grounds on a guided tour, and a great view over Lisbon and Tagus River.

Rossio Square, free: Stop in this lively square to get a taste of the local hustle and bustle.

Santa Justa Lift, 6EUR/person: Take a ride up 147ft from the lowest to highest points of Portugal. Sit back and enjoy the views.

Alfama District, free: Explore Lisbon’s past in Alfama, one of the city’s oldest quarters. Wander along narrow medieval streets lined with typical tile-covered façades and take a step back in time; the area largely survived the great earthquake of 1755, and still retains much of its original layout. Listen for Portugal’s traditional music, fado, gracing the streets at night.

Mercado da Ribeira Market: Take a wander through this traditional food market, Lisbon’s main market since 1892.

Belem District, free-10EUR/person: Discover Belém, a western suburb that’s linked to Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries – it was the site where famous navigators once set sail to discover the world. While there, take some time to tour nearby must-see attractions: the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, the Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Berardo Museum of contemporary art.

Accommodation: Residencial Florescente (or similar)

DAY 2: LISBON

Enjoy an orientation walk of Lisbon. The rest of the day is free for exploration. In the evening enjoy a Fado performance and traditional Portuguese dinner in one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods.

Opt to take a day trip into the foothills of the surrounding mountains to Sintra. Get lost in the city’s winding streets lined with pastel coloured houses, palaces, majestic gardens and lush forests. It doesn’t get more postcard-worthy than this.

Optional Activities:

Sintra: Take a break from reality to visit the fairytale-like town of Sintra. Get lost exploring the colorful manors, medieval palaces, and lush gardens of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Alfama District, free: Explore Lisbon’s past in Alfama, one of the city’s oldest quarters. Wander along narrow medieval streets lined with typical tile-covered façades and take a step back in time; the area largely survived the great earthquake of 1755, and still retains much of its original layout. Listen for Portugal’s traditional music, fado, gracing the streets at night.

Rossio Square, free: Stop in this lively square to get a taste of the local hustle and bustle.

Santa Justa Lift, 6EUR/person: Take a ride up 147ft from the lowest to highest points of Portugal. Sit back and enjoy the views.

Mercado da Ribeira Market: Take a wander through this traditional food market, Lisbon’s main market since 1892.

Belem District, free-10EUR/person: Discover Belém, a western suburb that’s linked to Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries – it was the site where famous navigators once set sail to discover the world. While there, take some time to tour nearby must-see attractions: the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, the Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Berardo Museum of contemporary art.

Accommodation: Residencial Florescente (or similar)

DAY 3: LISBON/COIMBRA

Leave Lisbon behind and head north to the small hill town of Batalha, best known for its ornate gothic monastery built to commemorate Portugal’s victory in the infamous battle of Aljubarrota. Visit the historic Monastery of Batalha with free time to wander the grounds. The monastery was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The elaborate, Gothic-style architecture of this UNESCO site is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the region.

Continue to the medieval capital of Portugal, Coimbra.

Accommodation: Hotel Astoria Coimbra (or similar)

DAY 4: COIMBRA

Enjoy a free day to explore Coimbra. Opt to visit the famous Coimbra University, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013 (and also the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts). Explore the winding streets and the riverfront filled with restaurants and bars, or opt for a day trip to the nearby coastal town of Aveiro or the pilgrimage sites of Fátima.

Optional Activities:

Conimbriga Ruins, 3EUR/person: Take a visit to the best preserved Roman ruins in Portugal.

Joanina Library: Located in Coimbra University, the Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina) is a must see and one of the most ornate libraries in the world with it’s breathtaking frescoes, intricate carvings and gold-leaf touches.

University of Coimbra: Portugal’s most prestigious university, the University of Coimbra is a must see landmark. Explore the World Heritage Site as you enter through the Porta Férra, the old entrance to the citadel of Coimbra constructed in the 10th century. Walk through the campus along mosaic cobblestone paths, explore it’s botanical gardens and Chapel of S. Miguel and opt to visit the ornate Joanina Library.

Aveiro: A popular local getaway, Aveiro is known for its eye-catching Art Nouveau architecture and colorful boats (called moliceiro) that cruise through the city’s canals. Dubbed the “Venice of Portugal”, a moliceiro ride costs around 8-10€ person and is a lovely way to see this coastal town, approx. 1 hour from Coimbra by public transport.

Fatima: Fátima is known as a place where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared in front of three local children in 1917. Stroll through the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, an astounding complex of churches and shrines in this rural Portuguese town that millions of pilgrims travel to every year. From Coimbra, direct buses run with approx. 1 hour travel time.

Accommodation: Hotel Astoria Coimbra (or similar)

DAY 5: COIMBRA/PORTO

Continue to the historic and vibrant coastal town of Porto in the morning, and take an orientation walk upon arrival.

Optional Activities:

University of Coimbra: Portugal’s most prestigious university, the University of Coimbra is a must see landmark. Explore the World Heritage Site as you enter through the Porta Férra, the old entrance to the citadel of Coimbra constructed in the 10th century. Walk through the campus along mosaic cobblestone paths, explore it’s botanical gardens and Chapel of S. Miguel and opt to visit the ornate Joanina Library.

Accommodation: Hotel da Bolsa (or similar)

DAY 6: PORTO

Free day to explore Porto. Opt take a cruise down the Douro Valley, or explore the city which gained UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1996. In the evening enjoy a visit to the port wine cellars and a tasting.

Head down Allies Avenue to see the French-inspired buildings. Bargain at the Bolhão Market. Wander the city’s World Heritage-listed Ribeira district, visit São Francisco church, the palatial former 19th-century stock market Palácio de Bolsa or head to the Clerigos Tower for a panoramic view of the city.

In the evening, become an Port wine connoisseur with a visit to the cellars and a port wine tasting. Finish off the day with a tour of the cellars of the region’s famed export – Port wine. Learn about the art of Port making and the processes that render its rich taste. Indulge in a tasting and raise a glass to a day well spent. Saúde!

Optional Activities:

Lello Bookstore, 5EUR/person: Take a wander around this incredible, and beautifully ornate bookstore built in 1906.

Ribeira Square, free: Take some time to walk around this charming square and get in with the local hustle and bustle.

Sao Bento Railway Station, free: The blue painted tiles on the inside of São Bento railway station makes it one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. See for yourself.

Clerigos Church and Tower, 4-6EUR/person: Built by the same architect who constructed the Porto Cathedral, the Clérigos Church and Tower is a beautiful Baroque landmark in its own right. Opt to climb over 200 steps to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of the city and the Duoro River.

Porto Cathedral, free: The Porto Cathedral (called Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is a National Monument and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Adorned with high ceilings, an exquisite courtyard and light-filled cloisters, the Sé has held deep religious and cultural significance for the people of Lisbon for centuries.

Palacio da Bolsa, 10EUR/person: Join a half-hour guided tour of this neoclassical monument.

Porto Ribeira Cruise, 20EUR/person: Board a boat down Portugal’s Douro River, or “river of gold”. Float along this ancient route used for centuries as a port wine shipper’s route. Marvel in the beauty of the terraced hills along the way.

Accommodation: Hotel da Bolsa (or similar)

DAY 7: PORTO/MADRID

Catch an early morning flight to Madrid. Arrive mid morning with the rest of the day to explore Madrid at your own pace.

Lively, passionate Madrid is a treasure trove of art and architecture, with its royal palaces and works by masters including Goya, Picasso, and Dalí. Be sure to take in some tapas. Madrid is one of the richest culinary capitals of Europe, and showcases food from all over Spain.

Optional Activities:

Plaza Mayor, free: Enjoy some spectacular people watching with a visit to the Plaza Mayor, the true heart of the city. Enjoy a coffee in one of the plaza’s many cafes and watch the world go by.

Royal Palace (Palacio Real), 17EUR/person: See how kings and queens live, with a visit to the Palacio Real, the official (and uninhabited) palace of the King of Spain. Wander the rooms to take in some of the most elaborately decorated and furnished rooms you’ll ever see.

Museo Nacional del Prado, 15EUR/person: Take in some culture with a trip to the Museo del Prado, one of the greatest art galleries in the world, and a definite highlight of any Madrid trip. Be inspired by its collections and exhibitions: the museum’s main emphasis is 15th to 19th century Spanish, Flemish, and Italian art, but there is plenty of Goya and a wealth of paintings by Diego Velázquez.

Accommodation: Hotel Europa (or similar)

DAY 8: MADRID

Take a brief orientation walk with your trip leader, then enjoy a full day to explore this bustling capital. Discover Plaza Mayor or opt to visit the famous Royal Palace. Indulge in delicious Spanish tapas or get your art fix at the Prado Museum.

Lively, passionate Madrid is a treasure trove of art and architecture, with its royal palaces and works by masters including Goya, Picasso, and Dalí. Be sure to take in some tapas. Madrid is one of the richest culinary capitals of Europe, and showcases food from all over Spain.

Optional Activities:

Plaza Mayor, free: Enjoy some spectacular people watching with a visit to the Plaza Mayor, the true heart of the city. Enjoy a coffee in one of the plaza’s many cafes and watch the world go by.

Royal Palace (Palacio Real), 17EUR/person: See how kings and queens live, with a visit to the Palacio Real, the official (and uninhabited) palace of the King of Spain. Wander the rooms to take in some of the most elaborately decorated and furnished rooms you’ll ever see.

Museo Nacional del Prado, 15EUR/person: Take in some culture with a trip to the Museo del Prado, one of the greatest art galleries in the world, and a definite highlight of any Madrid trip. Be inspired by its collections and exhibitions: the museum’s main emphasis is 15th to 19th century Spanish, Flemish, and Italian art, but there is plenty of Goya and a wealth of paintings by Diego Velázquez.

Taurino Museum, 15-20EUR/person: Ever wanted to learn everything there is to know about the history of bullfighting in Spain? Here’s your chance.

El Escorial, 10EUR/person: Witness the power and wealth of Spain during the 16th century with a visit to the Escorial, a magnificent palace and mausoleum constructed by Felipe II that became a great centre for learning.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, 13EUR/person: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum displays an overview of art from the 13th century to the late 20th century.

Reina Sofia National Art Museum, 10-15EUR/person: The Reina Sofia is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, and currently boasts an art collection of over 21,000 works.

Accommodation: Hotel Europa (or similar)

DAY 9: MADRID/GRANADA

Journey south to Granada. Upon arrival enjoy an orientation walk. Wander through the whitewashed historic quarter of the Albaicin. Try to head there for sunset. With its narrow lanes and fantastic views back to the Alhambra, visitors are rewarded with a spectacular color-washed skyline when the sun goes down.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa del Pila (or similar)

DAY 10: GRANADA

Enjoy a guided visit to the architectural masterpiece, the Alhambra, one of the greatest accomplishments of Islamic art and architecture. Learn about Granada’s reign as one of the region’s most regal cities during the Muslim rule of Spain, which is captured in time within the Alhambra.

After visiting the Alhambra, opt to take a wander through this historic city. In the evening, opt for a night on the town. Granada is filled with trendy tapas bars and has a lively music scene.

Optional Activities:

Albaicin, free: Wander through the historic quarter of the Albaicin. Try to head there for sunset. With its narrow lanes and fantastic views back to the Alhambra, visitors are rewarded with a spectacular color-washed skyline when the sun goes down.

Granada Cathedral, 5EUR/person: Be taken by the beauty of one of the largest cathedrals in Spain on this visit to the Cathedral of Granada. Tour its beautiful facades and interiors that house a grand altar and numerous chapels. Built by Queen Isabella, it is a masterpiece of Spanish-Renaissance style.

Granada City Center and Tapas Gourmet Tour: Explore Granada beyond the Alhambra on a guided walking tour of its historic city centre, where centuries of Moorish influence, incredible architecture and a lively university town await visitors today. Immerse yourself further in Andalusian culture by enjoying some tapas (light bar snacks and appetizers) at bars where the locals hang out. Sample local fare and the region’s excellent wine – this is one of the world’s gastronomic capitals for a reason!

Accommodation: Hotel Casa del Pilar (or similar)

DAY 11: GRANADA/CORDOBA/SEVILLE

Travel to Seville via picturesque Cordoba. Go for a stroll through the historic Jewish quarter, wandering among narrow winding lanes, traditional houses, and charming cafés. Discover one of Spain’s three remaining synagogues.

And visit the iconic Mezquita de Cordoba (mosque). Be amazed by the diverse and stunning architecture of Córdoba’s most famous monument, the extraordinary Mezquita. Built as a mosque in 785 by the Moors, the Mezquita was converted in the 16th century by the remarkable addition of a Christian cathedral inserted into the centre of the building. We highly recommend booking a guided tour to get a fuller understanding.

In the early evening, continue towards Seville and end your day with a dramatic flamenco performance in the city known for the energetic dance. Be swept away by the flamenco’s passion, fire, and grit!

Accommodation: Cool Sevilla Hotel (or similar)

DAY 12: SEVILLE

Spend a day enjoying this city and its Moorish influence. Opt to explore the district of Santa Cruz, the Alcázar palace or the world’s largest Gothic cathedral.

Take the time to see all this great city has to offer. Opt to explore the interiors and gardens of the Alcázar, a magnificent palace dating from Moorish times, or the true heart of Seville, the Santa Cruz quarter— a charming area with winding alleys, picturesque lime-washed houses, flowery patios, and small squares.

Seville is home to the world’s largest gothic cathedral — climb the adjoining tower for great views of the city. Other attractions include the Museo Arqueológico, the Casa de Pilates and the Parque de María Luisa, which has a maze of paths, garden beds, pretty little patios, fountains, and shaded lawns.

Please note that if you wish to visit popular sites and want to avoid waiting in line, it is advisable to reserve tickets in advance. We recommend pre-arranging your visit to the Alcázar of Seville.

Optional Activities:

Santa Cruz Quarter, free: Visit the true heart of Seville, the Santa Cruz quarter. A charming area with winding alleys, picturesque lime-washed houses, flowery patios, and small squares, you can wander, shop, or just soak in the neighborhood’s quaint atmosphere while enjoying a refreshing drink (sangria, perhaps) at one of the local restaurants.

Alcazar Palace, 13EUR/person: Explore the wonderful interiors and gardens of the Alcázar, a royal palace that was originally a Moorish fort. Arrive during the evening in the summer months (until mid-September) and enjoy a series of concerts in the beautiful setting of the Reales Alcázares.

La Giralda, 9EUR/person: Climb the tower known as La Giralda, adjacent to the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, for spectacular views and a walk among historic walls. The 76m (249 ft) Giralda was constructed by the Moors as a mosque between 1184 and 1197. In 1568, after the reconquest, Christians fit the minaret with its bell tower.

The Golden Tower (Torre del Oro), 3EUR/person: Dating to 1220, the Golden Tower is the last major building constructed by Seville’s historic Muslim population.

Casa de Pilatos, 10-12EUR/person: Take a visit to marvel at one of the grandest mansions in Seville. The home is still inhabited by the Medinaceli family, but remains open to visitor tours during operating hours.

Santa Paula Convent, 2EUR/person: Take a visit to this beautiful historic convent. Established in 1475, this convent is still home to the Jerónimas nuns. Infrequent tours in Spanish are run here, but visitors are welcome to the modest museum displaying 16th-18th century ecclesiastical art and sculpture.

Accommodation: Cool Sevilla Hotel (or similar)

DAY 13: SEVILLE/BARCELONA

Hop on the train and get comfortable on the journey north to Barcelona. Take an orientation walk, including visits to the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas. In the evening participate in a paella cooking class at Mescladis- Catalan for “Mixed Space” – is a migrant training kitchen and cafe in the heart of Barcelona featuring a unique feel that fuses old Catalan favorites and migrants’ home recipes. With the help of migrant students, learn how to make paella with the resident chef, accompanied by a discussion that promotes social reflection – with the kitchen and food at the centre of it all. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Accommodation: Hotel AA Viladomat (or similar)

DAY 14: BARCELONA

Depart at any time.

We highly recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this lively city has to offer. Please note that if you wish to visit popular sites and want to avoid waiting in line, it is advisable to reserve tickets in advance. We recommend pre-arranging your visit to La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà.

Optional Activities:

Montjuic, 5EUR/person: Climb to the top of Montjuïc hill for fantastic city views and a visit to a 17th-century fortress, once used as a prison and execution site.

La Sagrada Familia, 17-37EUR/person: Visit Gaudí’s most famous life work, the cathedral of La Sagrada Familia, an inspiring, yet, bizarre testament to the artist’s unique vision.

La Barceloneta, free: Take a stroll on the boardwalk in the neighborhood of La Barceloneta, an area known for its beaches and waterfront walkway. Visit local restaurants and nightclubs or check out the monuments while there.

Parc Guell, 10EUR/person: Get away from it all with a visit to the imaginative Parc Guell. The fantastical works of Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) are scattered throughout Barcelona, a grouping of these including Guell Parc, Casa Mila, and the Crypt of La Sagrada Familia were established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Stroll the tree-lined paths and admire Gaudi’s creative genius at play.

Las Ramblas: See and be seen on Las Ramblas, a large tree-lined pedestrian boulevard perfect for people watching and window shopping that ends at the harborfront facing the Mediterranean Sea.

Casa Batllo, 25-30EUR/person: Deemed the crowning architectural work of Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló is a must-visit on anyone’s trip to Barcelona.

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