Welcome to Madrid.
Your transfer will depart Madrid airport at 09:00, 11:00, 13:30 or 16:00. Join your Travel Director at 18:00 for a Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant and get to know your fellow travellers over a beautiful evening of delicious food and wine. (DW) Stay: Barceló Torre de Madrid.
Madrid of the Bourbons.
Enjoy sightseeing with your Local Expert as they take you along the main historical areas in the Capital of Spain known as Madrid of the Bourbons. Your drive continues through the Old Quarter discovering the origins of the city. A highlight of your trip is a visit to the magnificent Prado Museum with an art historian to admire the paintings of Velázquez, Goya and many others. (B)
Segovia and Golden Salamanca.
Travel to the fortified city of Segovia where you will walk through the medieval streets from the ancient aqueduct to see the magnificent Alcazar fortress. Journey west, passing the ancient walls of Ávila, en route to Salamanca. During your orientation see some of the golden stone buildings the city is famous for, including the handsome arcaded Plaza Mayor, the honey-coloured cathedral and the 16th century university buildings. (B) Stay: Hotel Alameda Palace, Salamanca.
Porto, Grande Dame on the Douro.
Cross the Portuguese border to reach Porto, situated on the River Douro and celebrated internationally as the capital of Port wine. Visit the Vila Nova de Gaia wine stores that house the famous wines and walk along corridors of casks. Get to know your tawnys and vintages during a tasting. Continue your exploration of the city, admire the multi-coloured houses and churches covered in glazed tiles, as well as the iconic bridges (or ‘Eiffel Towers on end'according to one Frenchman). (B/DW) Stay: NH Collection Porto Batalha.
Holy Fátima, Ancient Obidos and Lisbon.
Head south for a visit to miraculous Fátima. See the Basilica or visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, which commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three young shepherds in 1917. Journey to the fortified town of Obidos and walk inside its walls, exploring the narrow, medieval streets with houses covered with flowers. Your travels continue to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. (B) Stay: Dom Pedro Lisboa, Lisbon.
Lisbon and the Age of the Great Discoveries.
Sightseeing with a Local Expert takes you along the spacious avenues of the Lower Town and beneath the hilltop Bairro Alto to the Terreiro do Paco, the finest square in the city. Visit the Belém Quarter from where sailing ships once set forth to discover unknown lands. Enjoy a taste of the famous Pastéis de Belém from a traditional patisserie that has managed to hold on to the secret recipe of Portugal's finest pastry for almost 200 years. View the modern Monument to the Discoveries and the more ancient Belém Tower. This fortress was originally set in the middle of the river, but is now left high and dry on the riverbank. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jerónimos Monastery with its beautiful Manueline architecture. With the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps join an Optional Experience to the Portuguese Riviera? It is often visited by surfers, occasionally royalty, and even James Bond. (B)
Seville, the City of Carmen.
Leave Lisbon via the modern Tagus Bridge and cross the border to reach Seville. With your Local Expert, visit the immense cathedral to see the Tomb of Christopher Columbus and the slender Giralda Tower, the former minaret of the Great Mosque. Explore the labyrinthine Santa Cruz Quarter and see the Alcazar. (B) Stay: Ayre Hotel Sevilla (Superior Rooms), Seville.
Free Time and Flamenco in Seville.
Enjoy a relaxed start and a day to relax, shop or continue exploring this fascinating city at your own pace. Our suggestion is to join an Optional Experience to the ancient city of Córdoba, where you will visit the magnificent Mezquita, see the old Jewish Quarter, and enjoy some free time to shop or explore as you wish. In the evening you are treated to dinner, wine and entertainment featuring a fiery flamenco show. (B/DW)
Head for Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol and Mijas.
Head south to Gibraltar, part of mainland Spain yet an overseas territory under British control since 1704. With your Local Expert, visit the Rock of Gibraltar and St. Michael's Cave to see the Barbary Apes, legendary guardians of the colony. Relax as you travel the scenic route along the Costa del Sol through exclusive resorts where the rich and famous holiday. Your journey continues through the green hills to the white-washed village of Mijas. Stroll through the old streets and gardens and take in the views of the coast. (B/DW) Stay: Meliá Costa del Sol, Torremolinos.
At Leisure on the Costa del Sol.
Enjoy the following day at leisure on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol. Relax by the blue Mediterranean waters, stroll along the promenade, savour the specialities in the local restaurants or consider exploring Malaga, the birth city of Picasso. (B)
Dining with Locals and the Alhambra.
Travel to the oldest olive grove in the region and stop at the rural mill-factory of Almazara to taste a selection of different oils with locally made farmer bread. Continue to Alfarnatejo, a quiet town with a population of just 500 people and surrounded by stunning mountainous landscape. Walk the town centre to see the 18th century Iglesia del Santo Cristo de Cabrilla. In small groups, you are invited to into the home of a local family to join them for a delicious Highlight Lunch made of fresh, local produce with flavours typical of the region. Continue to Granada to visit the magnificent Alhambra Palace with your Local Expert. Built as a citadel by the Moors in the 13th century, it is a wonder of beautiful gardens, fountains and stone cut like lace. (B/LW) Stay: Vincci Albayzín, Granada.
On to Valencia.
Journey to Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences. Pass through the Old City and see its ancient gates. In your free time perhaps take a stroll to the Cathedral and El Miguelete? Or sit back with a drink and watch the Valencian's go about their day. Valencia is home to one of the world's greatest dishes, paella. Meet the chef of a local family-run restaurant in the heart of the old town and learn the traditional recipe during a Cooking Demonstration, before savouring the delicious flavours of this classic dish, washed down with a glass of sangria, during your Highlight Dinner. (B/DW) Stay: Barceló Valencia.
Along the coast to Peñíscola and on to Barcelona.
Follow the coast to Peñíscola to view the sea-lapped castle used in the film'El Cid '. Continue along the Costa Dorada to the Cava Bodegas at Sant Sadurni d'Anoia. During a delicious light lunch, enjoy a tasting as you learn the sparkling secrets of Spanish bubbly. Continue along the coast to reach Barcelona. (B/LW) Stay: Barceló Sants, Barcelona.
A Local Expert joins you for a drive along the Passeig de Gràcia adorned with elegant wrought-iron street lamps and some of the most flamboyant Modernist buildings. Continue through the Eixample district to visit inside Gaudi's extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Família. See the central nave with its giant, tree-like pillars, spectacular vaulting and the beautiful rainbows flooding in through the intricate stained-glass windows. At a local restaurant, join your fellow travellers to toast newfound friends and a wonderful journey as you enjoy a Celebration Dinner with wine. (B/DW)
Your journey ends after breakfast. Departure transfers arrive at Barcelona airport at 07:00, 09:00 and 11:00. (B)