Across Spain & Portugal
Day 1: Depart U.S. for Lisbon, Portugal
Day 2: Arrive Lisbon We arrive in the Portuguese capital and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times vary, we have no group activities planned during the day. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner. D
Day 3: Lisbon A morning tour introduces us to the city on the River Tagus; the afternoon is free for independent exploration. B
Day 4: Lisbon/Oporto Leaving Lisbon we head north, stopping in the small fortified town of Obidos and in the seaside village of Nazare. Mid-afternoon we reach our pousada in lovely Oporto, Portugal’s second largest city and UNESCO site. B,D
Day 5: Oporto Highlights of our city tour include the historic city center, Baroque Clerigos Church, and the sophisticated Foz oceanfront district. Then we enjoy an hour-long cruise on the Douro River. Our tour ends with a visit to a port lodge for a tasting of the fortified wine exclusive to the region. B,D
Day 6: Oporto/Santiago de Compostela, Spain En route to Santiago, we stop in the old Galician town of Pontevedra. We continue on to Santiago, capital of Spain’s northwest Galicia region, arriving mid-afternoon at our parador, where we dine tonight. B,D
Day 7: Santiago de Compostela Last stop on the celebrated pilgrimage route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) and presumed repository of the remains of St. James the Apostle, Santiago de Compostela also ranks among Spain’s most beautiful and visited cities. We discover this important cultural and educational capital on today’s tour, featuring the Cathedral housing the silver crypt believed to hold the remains of St. James. From here we enter Plaza del Obradoiro, the monumental square surrounded by Santiago’s most important buildings. This afternoon is free for independent exploration in this eminently walkable and lovely UNESCO World Heritage city with historic buildings lining its winding, narrow streets. B,D
Day 8: Santiago/León Leaving Santiago this morning, we travel east to vibrant León, another stop on the Way of St. James pilgrimage route and known for its religious festivals and Easter Week processions. Upon arrival, we encounter the city’s impressive historical and architectural heritage as we visit the 12th-century León Cathedral, one of Spain’s most beautiful with its sculpture-covered façade and impressive stained glass windows; and Casa Botines, a Modernist structure by architect Antoni Gaudí. We reach our hotel early this evening and dine there tonight. B,D
Day 9: León/Bilbao Today we stop in the elegant port city and Cantabrian capital of Santander for a tour and lunch. Then we travel on to Bilbao, the industrial port city almost magically transformed by the construction of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997. B,L
Day 10: Bilbao This morning’s tour begins in Bilbao’s medieval Old City, with a charming mix of narrow cobblestone streets and inviting squares. We see the Catedral de Santiago (c. 1379), once a stop on the pilgrimage route; monumental Plaza Nueva; and busy seaside La Ribera market. Then we take a guided tour of the Guggenheim and its contemporary art collection. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the jaw-dropping structure of limestone, titanium, and glass has drawn acclaim, attention, and visitors to this popular, revitalized city. Our last stop is Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum, with a rich collection of Spanish and Basque artworks. B,D
Day 11: Bilbao/Basque Country A day-long excursion begins with a poignant stop: Gernika (Guernica), heart of the Basque region and the town razed by Nazi bombing in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War that was immortalized in the namesake painting by Picasso. Then we pass through countryside historically home to the Basque people of Spain’s Atlantic Coast and western Pyrenees. At the seaside village of Bakio, we follow a coastal road of wild beauty to the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, with its hermitage to St. John the Baptist. We stop in the key fishing town of Bermeo then continue on to the medieval fishing village of Mundaka, where we enjoy magnificent views of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve of streams and a salt marsh surrounded by sheer cliffs. B,L
Day 12: Bilbao/Pamplona/Bielsa We travel today to the Pyrenees town of Bielsa, stopping en route in fabled Pamplona, known for its annual Running of the Bulls tradition. B,D
Day 13: Bielsa Fresh mountain air and stunning scenery are on tap as we visit Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Touring by coach and on foot, we see the limestone Pyrenees chain, its lush valleys dotted with clear blue streams and beech, fir, and pine trees. B,D
Day 14: Bielsa/Barcelona We travel today by coach to the world-class city of Barcelona, arriving mid-afternoon. After a brief orientation walking tour, we are free for dinner on our own in this most gastronomic of cities. B
Day 15: Barcelona This morning’s city tour features Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), a maze of medieval streets; and Las Ramblas, the tree-lined pedestrian mall that attracts locals and visitors alike, day and night. We pay homage to Barcelona’s native son, flamboyant artist Antoni Gaudí, visiting his fanciful Parc Guell and the landmark Sagrada Familia, his surreal – and unfinished – cathedral. Following a tapas lunch, the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. B,L
Day 16: Barcelona Our Gaudí tour continues this morning at Casa Mila, whose curving stone face inspired the nickname “La Pedrera” (stone quarry). Now housing a cultural center, Casa Mila is a UNESCO site. This afternoon is at leisure; tonight we bid !adios! to Spain, and to our fellow travelers, at a farewell dinner. B,D
Day 17: Depart for U.S. We transfer to the airport this morning for our connecting flights to the U.S. B
B = Breakfast included, L = Lunch included, D = Dinner included
Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, Lisbon / Days 2-3 / Deluxe
The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon offers a sophisticated retreat in Portugal’s capital of Lisbon. The hotel claims the largest spa area in Portugal’s capital, a 33,000-square-foot space offering massage therapies, beauty treatments, indoor swimming pools, hot tubs, and a fully equipped fitness center. Other amenities include two restaurants and an indoor/outdoor lounge, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, solarium, and laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Pousada do Porto, Oporto / Days 4-5 / First Class
The public areas of the Pousada do Porto were converted from a former palace built in 1742 on the banks of the Douro River, which exemplifies Portuguese Baroque architecture and has been classified as a National Monument. The 87-room hotel features pieces from various Porto museums along with contemporary furnishings, and its amenities include a restaurant and bar; fitness center; outdoor and indoor pool; spa with sauna, Turkish bath, and massage treatments; complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; and laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms include private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Parador de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela / Days 6-7 / First Class
Considered one of the world’s oldest hotels, the Parador de Santiago de Compostela (also known as the Hostal dos Reis Catolicós) was built by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1486 as a hospital for pilgrims. The 137-room parador is situated in the historic Plaza do Obradoiro, adjacent to the famed cathedral, and includes architectural flourishes such as a carved entrance façade, vaulted ceilings, stone archways, a Renaissance chapel, and four courtyards. The hotel features two restaurants and a bar, coffee shop, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, library, gift shop, and laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms offer private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Parador de Leon, León / 8 / First Class
Once the convent of San Marcos, the majestic Parador de León stands as an architectural gem in the town of León. Gardens and terraces surround the Plateresque-style building, and the parador’s Rey Don Sancho Restaurant provides a traditional menu made with local products. The hotel’s amenities include the restaurant, bar, laundry and dry-cleaning services (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Each of the air-conditioned guest rooms has a private bath with hair dryer, minibar, phone, and TV.
Melia Bilbao, Bilbao / Days 9-11 / Superior First Class
The contemporary Melia Bilbao is located in the city center close to the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and other cultural attractions, shops, and restaurants. The 211-room hotel has two restaurants featuring Basque specialties and a bar; wellness center with gym, heated outdoor pool, sauna, and massage and beauty treatments; complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; and laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.
Parador de Bielsa, Bielsa / Days 12-13 / First Class
Perched on the mountain slopes of the Pyrenees in Monte Perdido National Park, the 39-room Parador de Bielsa features traditional regional architecture with local stone and offers a restaurant and bar, terrace, garden, laundry service (for a fee), and gift shop, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access (Note: due to this parador’s remote location, Wi-Fi internet access signal may vary in strength). Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Hotel Avenida Palace, Barcelona / Days 14-16, Extension / Superior First Class
Built in 1952, Hotel Avenida Palace stands in the heart of Barcelona and offers an excellent location from which to explore this world-class city. The 151-room hotel is just minutes from La Ramblas, the Picasso Museum, and the museum housing the works of modern architect Antoni Gaudí. This elegant hotel features a restaurant and bar, rooftop pool area with views of the city (including the famed Sagrada Familia), complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms offer private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.