Portugal & Spain Luxury Vacation

A 11 day trip to Portugal & Spain 
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This handcrafted journey will take you through the legacies of Iberia, as you trace the route of the great explorers and the unprecedented civilizations. From Lisbon to Madrid you’ll enjoy an in-depth exploration of what has made Iberia so special including azulejo tiles, olive oil and wine, Moorish design, fado, and flamenco, plus art, architecture, and passion. These 11 days will celebrate the delicate and the decadent, to create a unique impression of a region that remains as authentic as ever.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Lisbon, Tagus River, Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Baixa, Alfama, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Cabo da Roca, Sintra, National Palace of Sintra, Alentejo, Setubal, Evora, Temple of Diana, Chapel of Bones, Merida, National Museum of Roman Art, Andalusia, Seville, Reales Alcazares, Santa Cruz, Seville Cathedral, La Giralda, Ronda, Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, Palace of Mondragon, Granada, Alhambra, Nasrid Palaces, Court of the Lions, Generalife Gardens, Cordoba, Mezquita, Madrid, Palacio Real, Prado Museum

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Lisbon – Evocative Impressions of the Portuguese Capital

Upon your arrival, Lisbon will delight you from the first impression. Almost every building seems to hold you captive and every plaza has its own energy and style, which will encourage you to linger. Each neighborhood presents a different side to the city, and the contrasts between Baixa and Alfama will be just one example on your first day. You’ll be greeted at the airport by a guide and transferred to a 19th-century palace turned guesthouse, where the gardens are a tranquil place to relax and unwind. Spend the late-afternoon hours on an orientation tour, as you stroll through the Portuguese capital and get to know what makes it so unique. For the evening meal, you will have a choice of legendary Lisbon chefs, who each serve an iconic local dish at the vibrant Time Out Lisbon Market.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Lisbon – Manueline Beauty and the Haunting Art of Fado

Belem is the grandest of the Lisbon neighborhoods, an ode to the Age of Discoveries with an architectural style unique to the country. This morning, you’ll admire the two greatest expressions of Manueline as the guide helps you trace a link through the style’s influences including Gothic, Renaissance, Plateresque, and provocations of Spain. Nautical themes dominate the cloisters of Jeronimos Monastery and Vasco da Gama’s expeditions are carved into the Belem Tower facade. At the nearby Museum of Decorative Arts, gain a deeper understanding of the style as apprentices give a private demonstration of gilding and woodcarving.

The most famous of the design feats are the azulejos, hand-painted ceramic tiles that are pieced together to form vast mosaics. You’ll follow the centuries-old process, before you take a journey through Lisbon to witness the most spectacular azulejos, including those that line vernacular buildings. A relaxed few hours in the afternoon is followed by a haunting night of fado where the performers provide a private introduction to the musical style before their live showcase. The sound of guitar strings and throaty singing bounces through the small venue, and music of love and loss create an evocative evening atmosphere as a festive dinner is served. Like the Manueline, it’s a form of art unique to Portugal that originated in Lisbon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Lisbon – Day Trip to the Royal and Poetic Landscape of Sintra

Today, the corridors of Calouste Gulbenkian will easily impress you. A Rembrandt hangs, a Manet gazes across at a Van der Weyden, and a doorway leads to Egyptian mummy masks and unique Islamic art. It’s one of the world’s great art collections, a once private hoard that transcends 4000 years and many civilizations. An art historian will take you on a tour of the museum before you spend lunchtime gazing over the Atlantic waves. A seafood lunch at Europe’s westernmost point provides insight into the wild and rugged beauty of the ocean, not to mention the freshness of local produce.

From here you weave inland on the private tour, into a tranquil town of palaces and parks, where the rhymes of Lord Byron still hold credence. You’ll step inside the National Palace and continue admiring the azulejos from yesterday. Then, wander into forested hills to find other royal palaces from the past. Constructed more than one thousand ago, these palaces have been a residence of Portuguese royalty for more than four centuries. They are very different from the rest of Europe’s regal buildings, as the palaces are far more idiosyncratic than you may expect. Spend the evening back in Lisbon, where the guide will point you to bustling streets or serene viewpoints.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Evora – Exploring the Vast Beauty of Alentejo

This morning, you’ll find that Alentejo is both rural and wild, where forests of cork juxtapose with olive orchards and rolling wheat fields. Stop first at a small azulejos factory, where you have a chance to try out the ancient craft before you continue to the coastal cliffs and the colorful chaos of a fish market. Then, weave across the plains to the walled city of Evora. The Temple of Diana indicates Roman origins, and whitewashed houses suggest an influence from the Moors, then thick medieval walls point to an era of quarrel. Church bells chime and you wander into the Chapel of Bones, where femurs and skulls are cast into the plaster and cloisters. The evening will be very relaxed, as you’ll stay at a converted 15th-century convent, and watch the lights turn on from a terrace that overlooks Evora.

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

Day 5: Seville – Gourmet Olive Oil Tasting and a 2000-Year History

When you cross the border today, the landscapes will feel the same, as rolling colors and wild plantations dominate them. You’ll stop at an old, family-run olive oil estate, where the production has been passed down through many generations. It was the Romans who first cultivated olives and wines here, and the process has been perfected over the last 2000 years. Then, travel onward to more epic remains of the Roman era, including Merida’s theater and amphitheater, which are dominated by twin columns and ornate décor. The National Museum of Roman Art is nearby, full of finds from the best-preserved Roman ruins in the whole of Iberia.

This morning of tasting and history will be followed by a late-afternoon arrival in Seville, the elegant capital of Andalusia. Tomorrow you’ll be guided around the sights. You’ll gain a superb first impression when you walk around the city without a map and take a stroll through one of Europe’s largest old quarters. This is a city with soul and every corner seems to dance with choices. You can inspect an ornate vernacular facade, join the locals on an outdoor terrace, and embrace the sounds and smells that spill through the pedestrianized streets before you retire to a grand hotel which evokes a feeling of the time of the conquistadors.

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

Day 6: Seville – Strolling the Old City and Learning the Flamenco

Seville’s sights connect the centuries, monuments, and neighborhoods that each relate to their distinctive time. Reales Alcazares is a Mudejar palace that dances with artistic flair from the 13th and 14th centuries. Moorish gardens bring the scent of North Africa to Southern Spain. The charming Barrio Santa Cruz is a medieval quarter that entices each of your senses. Then, the Seville Cathedral is an enormous Gothic cathedral so packed with detail that the untrained eye often passes over the tomb of Christopher Columbus. After this full morning of exploration you will have an afternoon at leisure, which will provide further time to get lost in the beautiful streets.

In the evening, the soft sound of a guitar will entice you into a local tablao (tavern), as melancholic notes drift beyond the boundaries of traditional music. When the singer starts you can feel the emotion, and watch it on his face. Hands clap and feet stamp as the rhythm gets faster. Then, the dress will twirl and the crescendo approaches, while an improvised song takes your mood on a journey. You will notice similarities to fado but the two have contrasting origins and expressions. This can be explored in more depth after the performance, where you enjoy a narration of the style from one of Seville’s flamenco experts. Dinner is also typically Andalusian, as a lively mix of tapas dishes takes you into the night.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Granada – Pre-Medieval Villages and the Jewel of the Moors

The road to Ronda winds beneath the mountains, crossing the plateau before rising to a walled village that stands on two sides of a gorge. One half is Moorish, a classic pueblos blancos of picturesque alleyways and artisanal design. The other half is more Spanish in feel with a bullring that is the oldest and most celebrated in the country. Spend the morning here, discussing the fabled history and eating lunch with a breathtaking view over the valley. Then, you will travel onward to Granada, where your hotel has a superb location across from the Alhambra. This is the showpiece city of the Moors and the early evening will be a great time to take a walk and start discovering.

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

Day 8: Granada – The Extraordinary Legacy of the Moors

The following day, intricate stuccowork gazes down at you from the ceilings. Elegant archways lead to palace rooms from the 14th century. Courtyards burst with color and flowers. You’ll discover the Alhambra, one of the world’s great design legacies and the centerpiece of Moorish civilization that’s been preserved in its intimate state. This fortress and palace shows how Europe’s artisanal flair didn’t start with Gothic or Renaissance styles. You’ll spend the full morning in the complex, savoring both the architecture and the stories, and relive an era that is told through fine art. After a splendid lunch on a city square, in the afternoon you’ll take in the rest of the city, to admire the unique Moorish design.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Madrid – Delicate and Decadent – Two Contrasting Spanish Cities

While Granada is picture-perfect, Cordoba has a quaint charm that takes North African and Islamic influence into the 21st century, like the enormous Mezquita that is a delicate impression of ancient styles. Originally an eighth-century mosque, then a 16th-century baroque church, the building takes you on a journey through a forest of columns and a selection of stunning mosaics. It’s more than worth the side trip and some people find Cordoba to be even more enticing than more famed Granada. From Cordoba you’ll take a high-speed AVE train to the capital city, traveling in the first-class carriage. Arrive in Madrid and a guide will provide a quick orientation after they take you to the hotel. The iconic evening experience will be to dine on one of the city’s squares, as you watch people mill around before and after sunset.

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

Day 10: Madrid – An Art Historian Leads You Through the Prado and a Foodie’s Tour of the City

On your last full day, you’ll discover that Madrid is packed with treasures and it’s surprising how much you can experience in one day. This is a compact city and the streets that connect the icons also offer much to discover. Wander through Europe’s largest royal palace and dip into dozens of staterooms and medieval halls. Join an art historian for a tour of the Prado, a museum that paints a story of European art across ten centuries. Stop at statues and squares, opera houses and baroque townhouses, and you’ll begin to appreciate how the Madrid experience isn’t just about architecture but atmosphere. You’ll have some leisure time back at the hotel before a fitting tribute to Iberia, as you spend the evening on a foodie’s tour of the city and sample innovative local produce that originates from all over Spain.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Madrid – Departure

After ten nights and a complete suite of Iberian experiences you fly out of Madrid International Airport. There will be time for a final stroll in the city to enjoy the local ambience and style.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,415
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.