Wonderful art and delicate craftsmanship have brought an unparalleled artistic legacy in Spain and Portugal. Your customizable tour will immerse you in the mastery of tradition and evolution of culture that has inspired visitors from across the globe. From the Discoveries Monument in Lisbon to the Alhambra in Granada, the grandeur of the Royal Palace in Madrid to the enchanting castles of Sintra, you will find beauty along cobblestone streets, under the vaulted ceilings of former mosques, and...
Lisbon – Arrive in the Hills of Lisbon, the Charming Capital of Portugal
Lisbon is a fascinating city of movement the brings a feast for all the senses. Medieval buildings line cobblestone streets as the Tagus River brushes beneath the antique walkways and cafes along the banks. The scent of simmering salt cod drifts through the streets amongst the gentle hum of the trolleys that climb the fabled hills. Your flight will land at Lisbon Portela Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon arrival to escort you into the heart of the city to your hotel that is situated 19th-century palace.
The charm of a bygone era emanates from the tranquil garden filled with the scent of blossoming carnations and the textured paths adorned with detailed mosaics. For your first view of the city, you can make your way to Miradouro das Portas do Sol. The balcony overlooks the river with a spectacular view over the historical Arab district of the city. Red-tiled rooftops will glint in the sunlight above whitewashed walls, and a statue of Saint Vincent stands at the center of the balcony.
The patron saint of the city holds a boat that connects the protector of Lisbon to the Portuguese tradition of exploration. Your introduction to Lisbon will culminate as you take your dinner alongside a Fado performance, considered the music of Portugal. The aroma of sautéed onion and potatoes will fill the dining room as a woman stands at the front of the gallery to sing a rhythmic tune about fate and the sea. The folk sound immerses you in the connection of the city, the country, and the neighboring waters.
Lisbon – Traverse Historical Lisbon and the Traditional Craftsmanship
In the morning, the aroma of buttery pastries and cinnamon drifts beneath the red-tiled roofs of the Belém neighborhood. The sunlight will wash over the Torre de Belém, a 16th-century fortress that was built at the mouth of the Tagus River. Your guide will greet you at your hotel after breakfast eager to immerse you in the rich history and opulent artistry of Lisbon. After exploring the narrow lanes of the old neighborhoods, you will venture to the marvels of the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery. The expansive grounds feature an intricately designed 105-foot tall southern portal, and the stonework was carved to resemble filigree and brings more than 40 statues to life as they flank the entryway.
The interior has a bright gleam that flickers along the marble floor that guides your eye to the tomb of Vasco da Gama, the embodiment of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The lavish tomb contains embellishments of seafaring motifs, and outside of the grounds, you can continue to the popular Decorative Arts Museum, located inside the 17th-century Azurara Palace. The original wooden floors continue throughout the various galleries and lead you to preserved furnishings and decorative tapestries. A workshop on the grounds offers craftsmen-led demonstrations of woodcarving, gilding, and the historical methods of bookbinding.
Lisbon – Enjoy a Morning Museum Tour and Visit Enchanting Sintra
The morning light will wash over the red-tiled roofs of the old quarter and shine against the whitewashed walls. The Discoveries Monument was erected to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death, and the solid sculpture depicts a three-sailed ship ready to depart the city. After breakfast, you can follow in the tradition of Portuguese exploration as you leave the city behind to visit the European continent’s westernmost point at Cabo da Roca. Arrive next in the quiet town of Sintra, as the town burrows between the mountain ridges and verdant forests and is adorned with splendid palaces and villas reminiscent of a fairytale.
Pena Palace was built upon the fantastical Romanticist ideas, and the structure rises out of the wooded peaks with onion domes and decorative keyhole gates inspired by the Moorish history of the region. Crenelated towers contrast with the emerald trees covered with pastel pinks and lemon hues. The interior has hints of rosewater that embellishes the galleries. Natural light pours through the large windows and brings a shimmer to the Meissen porcelain and preserved Portuguese furniture. The detailed stucco will catch your eye beside the walls that are painted with trompe-l’oeil style works. Upon departing the castle, your guide will point to a balcony that is richly decorated with an allegorical triton, which adds to the architectural flourish.
Evora – Relish a Scenic Drive for a Fascinating Guided Tour of Evora
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee emanates from the doors of the oldest café in the city that opened in 1782. The tradition of coffee in Portugal is intrinsically tied to the country’s spirit of discovery. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you away from the capital city to pass through the cork oak forest and the wheat fields that rustle in the breeze. The herbaceous aroma of olive orchards passes through the window, and you can stop to visit a craft shop working in the art of azulejos, or decorative tiles. You will have noticed the ceramic tiles adorning palaces, walls, and subways across Lisbon, so learning more about the art will be engaging.
The tradition of the craft dates back to the 16th century as it gained popularity through the lavish glass and striking images that began to decorate the surface of buildings. The crafters will eagerly lead you through their workshop to showcase their efforts to carry on the tradition of crafting the tiles before painting the glossy surfaces. After a brief historical and cultural demonstration of the tiles, you will then have the opportunity to sit a drafting table and paint your own piece of tradition. Paint an oak tree or an olive orchard to connect the culture of the tiles to your time in Portugal before you continue to the town of Évora to wander along with one of Portugal’s oldest cities known for its Roman roots.
Seville – Transfer into Spain to Visit an Olive Oil Estate and Roman Ruins
The city walls continue to wrap around the narrow lanes of Évora, and the aroma of sunbaked stone fills the air, mixing with the scent of blossoming flowers that fill the cobbled squares. Cafes set tables beneath granite archways, and the Temple of Diana shimmers with Corinthian capitals atop a solid granite base. Your transfer will escort you over the border into Spain today as you leave the wonders of Portugal for the splendors of the Spanish countryside. You will make a stop at an olive estate near the city of Mérida where the olive trees grow in shady rows along the plain as it spreads to the nearby foothills. Your guide will lead you along the aisles where you can touch the smooth texture of the olives and the soft fuzz of the leaves.
The estate has produced olive oil since the early 1600s, refining its product over the centuries. The traditional whitewashed walls frame the orchard leading to an open archway and the aroma of mineral-rich earth blends with the herbaceous scent of the olives. After exploring the grounds, you enter into the tasting room for a unique opportunity of sampling the oil produced on the property. The golden hue offers subtle hints of apple, grass, and almonds. The flavor leaves a lingering sweetness before settling to a nutty note on your palate. The integrity of olive oil in the region is as strong as the importance of wine, with producers interested in flavor, texture, and cultivation.
Seville – Discover History, Charm, and Flamenco on a Tour of Seville
The sunlight will wash over the golden hues of the ancient stone that brings Seville’s captivating architecture to life. The Alacazar, a medieval Moorish fortress, continues to stand guard above the city and overlooks the meandering streets and spires of the old Cathedral. The narrow walkways of the Santa Cruz neighborhood lead to colorful frameworks, and blossoming flower pots hung alongside upper windows. The district was once the Jewish Quarter with each small church connoting what once was a synagogue. The marvelous Giralda Tower casts a shadow over the plaza at the forefront of the Cathedral, and the tower reaches a height of more than 305 feet tall and was originally a minaret connected to the mosque erected in the 15th century.
The architectural beauty of Seville transports you back to into the medieval city, crowned with the tranquil charm of Plaza de España. The neo-Moorish architecture along the balustrades embellishes the 538,195 square feet of the opulent square. In the evening, step into the movement of Flamenco as the traditional dance represents the passion and resilient folkloric culture of the region. The percussion of the dancer’s footsteps echo through the room, and your instructor will clap her hands together. Her traditional skirt will flutter and swirl as she steps onto the wooden floor. You will learn to follow her movements and push the limits of your steps against the hum of the guitar. The exhilaration will wash over you as you participate in a tradition dating back to the 15th century.
Granada – Visit the Lovely Town of Ronda en route to Moorish Granada
Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and lead you through the winding streets of Seville and into the countryside as you head toward Ronda. The famous Andalusian city overlooks the edge Tajo Gorge and stands at the height of nearly 430 feet above grounds below. Fans of literature know the town as the setting for various scenes in Ernest Hemingway’s award-winning novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, and your guide will lead you first to the stunning view of the New Bridge. The misnomer withholds the fact that the bridge was erected in the late 18th century.
You will stand along the zigzagging trail that leads to the lower mills to see the mastery of stone masonry. The archways support the structure at a height of more than 320 feet from the ravine floor to plateau and connect the Moorish quarter to the contemporary neighborhoods. The scent of oranges lingers along the streets of the town as you make your way to the Moorish Baths, and this jewel of history connotes the cunning of architectural design with a complex that offers cold, warm, and hot baths using preserved water from a natural spring. The mill wheels formed a hydraulic system that heated the water. The 13th-century columns create horseshoe archways and vaulted ceilings prevalent in Islamic architecture.
Granada – Wander the Alhambra and Enjoy Tapas on a Half-Day Tour
The natural sunlight of Andalusia washes over the preserved Moorish garden of Carmen de la Victoria. Vines sweep over the labyrinthine lanes that lead to the villa now connected to Granada University. The artistry of Moorish design comes into view today with your visit to the Alhambra, a testament to the creativity, beauty, and the perseverance of enchanting design aesthetic. The Alhambra was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and created a living museum of Islamic architecture. The once impenetrable fortress stands on a plateau that overlooks the city as ferns, and cypress trees frame the outer walls with the image of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.
The aroma of oranges and blossoming carnations will swirl through the air as your guide will lead you through a narrow passage in the Sala de la Barca to view the tallest of the remaining towers in the complex, Torre de Comares. In the Hall of Two Sisters, you can look up to view the breathtaking stucco work that adds remarkable honeycomb texture to the dome. The vaulted ceiling resembles a stalactite cave set above the shimmering marble floor. In the evening, your guide will lead you through the maze-like cobblestone streets of Granada to follow the seductive aromas that emanate from the hidden tapas bars across the city as you discover the crisp texture of fried fish dishes or the refreshing taste of bread with thinly sliced ham and tomato.
Madrid – Revel in Architectural Beauty at CÃ³rdoba en route to Madrid
The whitewashed walls of the old Arab quarter glisten as the sunlight spreads over the slopes of Sacromonte. The Gypsy quarter features artistic homes that are decorated with handcrafted ceramics and lead to the caves in which the first traveling bands settled. In the evening, families perform authentic flamenco in the caves around the Camino del Sacromonte to continue the tradition of their ancestors. After breakfast, your private transfer will lead you out of the labyrinthine streets of Granada to reach the marvels of Cordoba. The city surpassed Paris and Rome in the 10th century to become Europe’s academic, architectural, and artistic center.
The aroma of orange zest drifts from the shading trees as bakeries produce light and flaky pastries that are stuffed with citrus cream. Your guide will lead you to the Great Mosque, which you will quickly find to be an architectural masterpiece. The structure was erected in the 8th century and continues to captivate visitors from around the globe. Enter the complex as you pass through the Patio of Oranges where the zesty fruit continues to thrive in the climate of the city among the rustling palm trees. Once in the prayer hall, you will come to the 850 columns that support the dramatic arches. Marble and jasper add to the red and white striped colors that frame the prayer niches. Catholic monarchs converted the mosque to a Cathedral in the 16th century, embodying the city’s multicultural past.
Madrid – Explore the Prado Museum and Royal Palace on a Full Day Tour
Antique shops border the bustling crowds of Madrid’s largest flea market, located along C. Ribera de Curtidores. The aroma of fresh pastries dusted with cinnamon and granulated sugar emanates from the cafes that are hidden behind the shading sycamore trees of the city. Your guide will lead you on an in-depth tour of the city that will take you from the lavish grounds of the Royal Palace to the glided halls of the Prado Museum. The galleries overtake 100 rooms that spread across three stories and display more than 2,300 works of art. The natural light pours through the open windows that adorn the wide hallways, and each room provides a window into Spain and Western Europe’s historical aesthetic between the 12th and 19th centuries.
Wandering the halls will allow you to interact with history as you explore inside the 18th century Villanueva Palace. Experience the works of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, a grandmaster of Spanish art whose work adorns the walls of Room 12. Las Meninas was painted in the mid-17th century as a composition of the Royal Palace and the entourage of the child Margaret Theresa. In the late afternoon, you will meet a private chef who will lead you into a commercial kitchen filled with rustic aromas of traditional Spanish cuisine.
Madrid – Depart for Home
In the morning, the espadrille shop will open its doors along Divino Pastor having served the city for more than 150 years producing handmade canvas shoes. Cafes will set out their tables along the cobblestones of Puerta del Sol at the center of the city. After breakfast and one last leisurely morning, your private transfer will meet you in your hotel lobby and escort you to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport for your flight home.
- Learn the art of flamenco during a private dance lesson in Seville to discover the passion, speed, and focus inherent in every step
- Sample the distinctive flavors of quality Spanish olive oil on an estate with a history that spans more than three centuries
- Witness the splendor of Portugal’s collection of fairytale castles in the town of Sintra
- Try your hand at crafting a traditional azulejo, a Portuguese ceramic tile painted over with an image of daily life
- Traverse the breathtaking beauty of the Alhambra Fortress to view intricate details before visiting hidden tapas bars for a local experience
- Sample the delicacies of Spanish cuisine made by your own hand under the guidance of a celebrated chef in Madrid
- Witness the remarkable striped columns and archways of the 8th-century Grand Mosque in Cordoba for insight into the mastery of Islamic architecture
- Listen to a grand performance of Portugal’s national music, known as Fado, while relishing the tremendous flavors of a multi-course dinner
- View the tomb of famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama inside the staggering Jerónimos Monastery complex
Spain and Portugal maintain a deep connection to their authentic roots as they showcase their lavish history on medieval streets and opulent palaces. Your 11-day tour will immerse you in the charm and wonder of the Iberian Peninsula with discovery tours and hands-on activities for a different perspective on continuing traditions. Your tour of Spain and Portugal will begin with your arrival at Lisbon Portela Airport, and your private transfer will greet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel that is situated inside a former palace. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure to enjoy the cobbled hills and bohemian riverbanks of the city before partaking in a multi-course dinner and a traditional Fado performance.
The next day, your guide will lead you on a private tour of Lisbon’s celebrated neighborhood of Belém, home to the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém. In the afternoon, move to the Museum of Decorative Arts for a demonstration in woodcarving before venturing next to the town of Sintra to discover the different palaces spread across the foothills and rugged summits. The following morning, you will depart Lisbon for Évora, and en route to the town occupied by Celts and Romans, you will stop at a azulejos factory to learn the history of the artwork and try your hand at crafting your own tile. After reaching Évora, your guide will bring you on an introductory tour of the city streets that span more than two millennia. Cross into Spain the next day to visit a family owned olive estate producing olive oil since the 17th century.
Continue to Mérida, Spain to view the remnants of the Roman occupation before arriving in Seville for the evening. Explore Seville on a full day private tour the next day that will bring you through the medieval streets and the Gothic cathedral. In the evening, you can partake in a flamenco class to learn the art and beauty of the historical dance form. Travel next to Ronda to view the New Bridge and the preserved Moorish architecture before reaching the labyrinthine streets of Granada. Move next to a private tour of the famous Alhambra fortress to see the intricate artistic details that remain in the original architectural design. In the evening, you can wander the walkways with your guide to visit the hidden tapas bars like a local.
Your private transfer will escort you to Córdoba the following day and lead you through the stunning Mezquita and Baroque church. Step aboard your first-class train car at the train station for your high-speed ride to Madrid, and then settle into your gorgeous, centrally located hotel for the evening. Wake the next morning to follow your guide on a private tour through the capital of Spain to visit the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum for insight into the evolution of art and Western European aesthetic. In the evening, you can learn the secrets to a traditional Spanish meal during a private cooking class taught by a local chef. Conclude as your private transfer will escort you to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport for your flight home.
$2,415 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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