Mosaics of the Iberian Peninsula: Art & Culture of Spain and Portugal Tour

A 9 day trip to Portugal & Spain 
5
5 out of 5 stars
20 reviews

The many cultures found on the Iberian Peninsula bring a dreamy mosaic of both contemporary and historical life. Your custom tailored tour will provide the perfect discovery of art and architecture, cuisine, and lifestyle in both Spain and Portugal. Discover Seville’s medieval streets with their ubiquitous scent of orange zest and then linger in the shadow cast by Lisbon’s marble monument dedicated to celebrated explorers. Indulge in a vineyard that continues the 2,000-year-old traditions of winemaking. From the spires of Barcelona to the mosaic avenues of Lisbon, the Prado in Madrid to the shimmering beaches of Setubal, the beauty of the Iberian Peninsula imitates art. 

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Lisbon, Setubal, Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Seville 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Barcelona – Arrive in the Bustling and Enchanting City of Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a work of art in and of itself. The spires of the Sagrada Familia Basilica soar above the meandering streets like a surreal painting. The Iberian sunlight will wash over the golden sand beaches for an incredible view of the Mediterranean coastline. Vibrant music spills out of the cafes and restaurants at all hours of the day, and colorful mosaic tiles decorate the main boulevard of Las Ramblas. Your flight will land at Barcelona-El Prat Airport, and your private transfer will meet you upon your arrival and escort you to the luxuries of your centrally located accommodation.

The remainder of the day is yours to get acquainted with the bustling city at your preferred pace. Begin with the Gothic Quarter that retains its Old World charm with cobbled streets and stone archways. The pedestrian lanes narrow and lead to walled alleyways. Fountains trickle and offer a quiet plaza to rest from the endless movement of the city as musicians strum classical Spanish guitars to sooth café goers. The façade of Santa Maria del Mar Church invokes 14th-century architectural style with a receding archway over the main portal and marvelous stained glass windows that shimmer with radiant colors.

The rose window that adorns the center of the façade adds a symmetrical elegance to the gold and white bricks. For a personal introduction to art in Barcelona, you can enter the Picasso Museum in the Gothic Quarter, located inside an intricate late-Gothic palace. Decadent halls shimmer with natural light that spills through the windows. You can trace the history of Picasso’s career as the exhibits are displayed chronologically to offer the various phases of the famous Spanish artist’s life and artistic development.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Barcelona – Enjoy a Full Day Tour of Vibrant Architecture, Art, and Culture

In the morning, the bright colors of fresh produce radiate from the stands at Mercat de la Boqueria, located on Las Ramblas. The scent of fresh oranges and ruby red tomatoes drift through the aisles. Restaurants invite you to sit and enjoy a delicious snack of pan con tomate or Serrano ham sliced as thick as patrons would like. After breakfast, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby ready to lead you on a fascinating introductory tour of the capital of Catalonia. The Romanesque Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter retains the rich history of where the Monarchs of Spain met Christopher Columbus upon the voyager’s return from the New World in the 14th and 15th centuries. 

Trees shade the walkways of the shopping street Passeig de Grácia as the aroma of freshly baked bread and strong coffee emanates from the doors of Cafés el Magnifico. The windows display beautiful pastries whose honeyed and pistachio aromas fill the dining room. Your guide will lead you to Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, a church designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. Construction broke ground in the 1880s to erect a splendid neo-Gothic edifice with spires that reach a height of nearly 300 feet tall. The Basilica remains under construction more than 120 years later, and you can circle the perimeter to view the three distinct styles along the façade.

A Nativity scene adorns the East Portal with the fine detail found in the ornate sculptures. The interior contains lingering hints of spice from frankincense and myrrh, and you will enter into the nave and look up to view the honeycomb ceiling glowing with pastel colors. The vaults reach a height of 150 feet above the marble floor, lowering to 100 feet around the sides, accentuated by the thick pillars that frame the aisles.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Madrid – Transfer to Spain’s Capital of Madrid and Enjoy the Day at Leisure

In the morning, the aroma of enticing pastries will emanate from the cafes in the Gothic Quarter. The charming atmosphere and sweet scents of a celebrated café carry a historical ambiance, having served the community for more than 125 years. The café serves baked goods cooked by monks and nuns from different parts of Spain, including apple dumplings and buttery cookies dusted with cinnamon and lemon zest. The sunlight spreads across the verdant walls of Castel de Montjuïc, located atop the eponymous hill standing more than 650 feet above sea level.

The high cliffs plunge into the Mediterranean Sea as the water splashes against the boulders at the base and mists into the air. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the train station for a first-class scenic ride to Madrid. The high-speed train will reach the capital city in three hours, and your private transfer will meet you at Madrid Atocha Train Station. Madrid is a blend of classic Spanish culture and contemporary lifestyle as embodied in the architecture and fast-paced ambiance.

The excitement of the city pulses around the shopping district of Gran Vía in the city center. High fashion turns to art in the window displays set amongst the shading trees. The quintessential Spanish style emanates from the store of El Corte Inglés and the cupola of the Metropolis Building that represents the Art Deco movement of Spain with the Telefónica Building, built in the 1920s to imitate the Manhattan skyline. Once at your hotel, you can settle into the comforts of your luxurious surroundings at the heart of Spain’s capital city.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 4: Madrid – Discover the Splendors of the Capital City with a Full Day Tour

In the morning, the people of Madrid move with focus and intent through the city. The cafes open their doors to the fast paced life of the capital city. The aroma of espresso will blend with the herbaceous scent of the sycamore trees that line the boulevards. After breakfast, you will set out to tour the city’s grand facades and well-preserved history with your private guide. Puerta del Sol stands at the city center and circles around the statue of Charles III on horseback. Your guide will show you the Post Office, north of which sits a decorative plaque that marks Kolómetro Cero, the symbolic center of Spain from which all roads are measured.

In Plaza de España, the aroma of fresh cakes and rich coffee will drift out of the arcades and from the café tables that decorate the paving cobblestones. A statue honoring Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, stands near the trickling fountain at the heart of the plaza. The bronze figures of Don Quixote on his horse and Sancho Panza on his donkey will glint in the passing sun. Continue to the Prado Museum, which features more than 7,000 paintings with approximately 1,500 on display. The galleries offer insight into the traditional aesthetic of Spanish society through art.

Marble floors and large windows add brightness to the halls with the main galleries that personify the wonders and inspirations of Spanish and Western European art. The architecture is as grand as the artwork, with the western wing of the palace completed in the 1780s with neoclassical style. You will make your way to the southern end of the lower level to view the emblematic painting of El Tres de Mayo, painted by Francisco Goya that commemorates the Spanish resistance against Napoleon’s army in the 19th-century Peninsula War.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Seville – Stroll through the Streets of Medieval Toledo en route to Seville

In the morning, the ancient stones of an Egyptian temple reflect in the stoic pond at the heart of La Montaña Park. The structure dates back to the 2nd-century BC and was gifted to Spain in the 1960s from Egypt. The reflection will accentuate the majestic ambiance of the quiet park while surrounded by the continuous movement of Spain’s capital city. After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby and escort you out of bustling Madrid and over the 13th-century Alcántara Bridge into Toledo. The structure spans the remarkable gorge that frames the Tagus River. Romans erected the first bridge, which the Moors rebuilt in the 9th century.

The gate tower was built in the late 15th-century with crenulated walls to help sentries protect and defend the city. Toledo is the city of Spain’s diverse cultures, once home to Moorish, Jewish, and Catholic inhabitants alike. The Moorish influence remains in the inspired architecture of the city, along with the preserved city walls along the Moorish Town Gate. The 9th-century Muslim architecture features a horseshoe arch while the Church of Santa Maria la Blanca was originally a synagogue built in the 12th century and features rows of columns that support nearly 30 horseshoe arches.

A pinecone capital crowns each column beneath the coffered wood ceiling. The dramatic Alcázar strikes a commanding pose at the top of the hillside that overlooks the city where a fortress has adorned the summit since the Roman occupation. After exploring the medieval cobbled streets of the city, you can continue to an artisan workshop in which blacksmiths produce steel wares gilded with gold, silver, and copper. The studio is warm from the fire and contains hints mineral-rich steel and copper aromas. You can watch a demonstration as the artist clangs a mallet against the metal to shape a pendant into an inspired piece reflective of Toledo’s rich cultural history.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Seville – Relish the Marvelous and Enticing History and Culture of Seville

In the morning, the scent of zesty orange citrus will drift through the cobblestone streets of Seville’s Old Town. A gentle breeze may rustle through the trees in the Patio of Orange Trees in the courtyard of the Cathedral. The 305-foot tall Giralda Tower casts a shadow over the plaza like giant sundial. The tower was erected in the 12th century under the Almohad Moorish reign before being converted to a bell tower. After breakfast, you can set out into the narrow lanes of the former Jewish Quarter to wander the labyrinthine streets now decorated with whitewashed walls and geranium window frames that shine with geranium pots. Rose beds bloom in Plaza Santa Cruz and offer a sweet scent to accompany the ever-present aroma of orange zest.

A 17th-century wrought iron cross rises out of the center of the decorative roses. The waters of the Guadalquivir River rush against the verdant banks that edge the city. The grandeur of the past will inspire you as you take in the 538,195-square-foot Plaza de España. A canal and spectacular fountain offer accents to the surrounding Renaissance and neo-Moorish architecture designed to fit the semicircular curvature. The brightness of traditional style comes to life in the Casa de Pilatos, a 16th-century replica of Pontius Pilate’s home in Jerusalem. Moorish and Christian architects designed used Mudéjar, Gothic, and Renaissance designs to decorate the edifice. Colorful ceramic tiles known as azulejos decorate the central patio and radiate pearlescent and cobalt hues beneath the bubbling fountain.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Lisbon – Venture to Setubal, Portugal for a Wine Tour en route to Lisbon

The doors to the Museo de Artes y Costumbres open to display the ceramic tiles within the factory grounds that once held the Cartuja Monastery. The cafes of the city replenish the aroma of strong coffee that blends with the orange trees. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you over the border into Portugal. The scenic ride will take you along the rugged hills and lush valleys before reaching the Setubal Peninsula. The port town brims with fabulous seafood on display in the market while bottlenose dolphins frolic in the clear indigo waters offshore. White storks graze on the marshland in the summer and flamingoes turn the waters rosy in the winter.

The scent of pine emanates from the coastal forests and the golden beaches glint beneath the warm sun. Romans in search of lively fish settled the region in the 5th century, and today locals enjoy the relaxed cafes on Avenida Luísa Todi to sip carafes of refreshing white wine accompanied by fried cuttlefish. You will make your way to an unassuming winery that embodies the rich tradition of wine cultivation in the region that dates back to the Tartessians in 2,000 BC. Explore the 15th century estate to find views of the beautiful Arrabida Mountains rolling across the horizon.

The rugged terrain adds to the flavors of the wines, along with the sea breeze that drifts in from the Atlantic. An original Roman press decorates the estate house to symbolize the tradition of winemaking in the region. Run your fingers through the waxen leaves and the plump and juicy grapes of the vineyard before entering into the cellar. The winery produces 250,000 bottles a year, making the bottles unique to newcomers as the vineyard sells directly to customers. Your guide will pour a sample of a ruby red, which offers a harmonious aroma of currant and candied plum.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Lisbon – Delight in the Open Air Museum of Lisbon on a Full Day Tour

The morning light will spread over the sensational mosaic tiles of Praça dos Restauradores. The blue and gray hues offer lavish geometric designs that shimmer beneath the red-tiled roofs of the surrounding 19th-century palaces. Bairro Alto brings a mixture of the contemporary bohemian culture alongside the traditional 16th-century streets. Wine taverns stand beside boutique shops with avant-garde and old-fashioned ambiances blending. The bright yellow funicular traverses the hills of the Bica district squeezed between the narrow stairways and old homes. The views of the city overtake the turquoise waters of the River Tejo and the dramatic marble monument along its banks that commemorate Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery.

Your guide will lead you through both historical and contemporary life to reach the Sao Roque Church, home to the most expensive chapel in the world. The façade has a modest décor while the interior contains hints of frankincense. Natural light pours into the fourth chapel on the left, which erupts with golden hues. Ivory, lapis lazuli, gold, and silver blessed by the pope in the mid 18th century decorate the chapel walls along with detailed mosaics. The painted ceiling depicts the scenes from the Apocalypse which contrast with the lavish décor of its surroundings. You will continue to the Jerónimos Monastery to explore the stunning grounds and visit the tomb of famous explorer Vasco de Gama.  

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Lisbon – Depart for Home

The morning light will wash over the pastel colors of the 15th-century neighborhood of Cais do Sodré as you take one last wander on the riverfront. Ferries leave from the district in the tradition of connecting Lisbon to Cascais on the coast. Mercado da Ribeira bustles with vendors calling out to passersby beneath the huge dome. The aroma of sweet potato emanates from the produce stalls with the scent of chocolate drifting out of the Arcádia stand near the enticing aromatic herbs. Join in as the locals linger at long tables to savor the traditional Portuguese daily menus offered by the food court. When you are ready, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, airport transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$1,975
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.