Authenticity and atmosphere dominate the experience in Northwest Spain. Rugged fjords that hide deserted beaches, a city completely encased in Roman walls, gastronomy and glorious history untrammeled by tourism. This is how Spain used to be before it became the third most visited country in the world. Starting in neighboring Porto, this luxury 12-day tour encompasses the great highlights of the northwest, traversing Galician towns, Salamanca, then culminating in Madrid.
Porto – The Laid-Back Ambience of the Atlantic Coast
It is the Atlantic Ocean that creates the atmosphere, the long rolling waves visible from afar and the soft scent of salt that hangs throughout this part of the world. You can see and smell it from your hotel, tucked away in the hills of old Porto. Beneath the grand hotel windows, there are new smells, like those of post-siesta coffee and sweet red wine. Further down the street is a plaza that hums with chatter and laughter as afternoon slips into evening. Porto is delectably old-world, as inscribed by its World Heritage status. But rather than being a city of monuments, it is a city for absorbing the atmosphere and exploring at leisure. You are greeted at the airport and transferred to the hotel, where the afternoon and evening are at your leisure, with much to uncover in the old city center.
Porto – World Heritage History and Crossing the Bridge to the Port Wineries
Braga to Guimaraes to Vigo – Old-World Portugal and the Octopus of Galicia
Day 4 - 5
Pontevedra and Rias Bajas – Rugged Spanish Fjords and Europe’s Most Unspoiled Beaches
Santiago de Compostela – The Legend of Saint James
La Coruna – Lighthouse of Hercules and Glazed Window Balconies
Lugo – A City Behind Completely Intact Roman Walls
Villafranca del Bierzo to Ponferrada – Iconic Stops on the Camino
Day 10 - 11
Salamanca – A City of Magnificent History and Beauty, Hardly Touched by Tourism
Salamanca to Madrid: An Afternoon in the Capital and Departure
- Discover Europe’s most untouched beaches with two days in the Rias Bajas, the rugged land of fjords on Spain’s Atlantic coast
- Explore the legacy of Saint James with a day in Santiago de Compostela and two historic stops on the Camino de Santiago route
- Find enchantment in Lugo, the only city in the world that remains completely enveloped by original Roman walls
- Allow your senses to be aroused by World Heritage Salamanca, a majestic city that rivals any in Spain, yet it virtually devoid of tourism
- Start the 12-day adventure across the border in Porto, where a World Heritage old city and plenty of traditional wineries provide two days of discovery
- Dine on the best of Galicia and acquaint yourself with the world’s best octopus, the trademark dish of the region
- Uncover the secrets to the Galician region, like the Lighthouse of Hercules, the glazed window balconies of La Coruna, and seaside villages that pack in the charm
- Travel by a mix of private tour and first-class train, journeys that weave across the dramatic landscapes that northwestern Spain has always been known for
In a world of must-see destinations and mushrooming tourism, northwestern Spain is the gem that’s somehow managed to remain a secret. Easily overlooked as the country’s iconic destinations come to the fore, it has remained the most traditional and authentic of all Spain’s regions. It is incorrect to say that time has stood still, more that tourism has not altered the way of life or the culture, even in the more recognizable of the destinations. While it shies away from fame, northwestern Spain is also strangely inaccessible. The locals like it this way, particularly where proud Galician culture sticks true to its roots.
Northwestern Spain is not just under-visited in localized terms; it is massively under-appreciated and under-visited on a Europe-wide scale. You can be alone on dramatic Atlantic beaches, backdropped by rolling fjords, with nothing but the odd fishing boat sailing past. It is possible to tour remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites without another tourist in sight. Often you will wonder why it is so quiet; such is the old-world glamor and effervescent ambience of the region. Perhaps it is because Galicia and the surrounding region is so understated. There is no clamor for check-list sights, no monument or experience that is trending on Instagram. Instead, a journey here is an immersion in the culture of old and a laid-back atmosphere as escapist as any.
This private 12-day tour is a showcase of Galicia, wider northwestern Spain, and its charming neighbor, North Portugal. It is an insider’s perspective on a land that enchants and evokes, a journey that captures so many landscapes, from beaches to villages, medieval cities to wine valleys. Start in Porto for your first impression of the Atlantic coastline tranquility. Explore wineries and World Heritage monuments before passing through two more sublime Portuguese cities en route to Vigo, a colorful insight into Galician culture. Try your first grilled octopus here, a tapas dish that accompanies most orders of beer.
The next days are spent on the Spanish fjords, Pontevedra a base for uncovering a landscape of hidden bays and lost beaches. Santiago de Compostela fills the following day, the only destination of any real fame in the region, founded on the legend of Saint James and the imposing cathedral he is buried in. The next two days are a real delight, hopping between the inland destinations of Galicia, each overnight stop a beautiful insight into architecture and culture. La Coruna, Lugo, and Ponferrada are wonderful places to get lost without a map, while tiny Villafranca could not be more photogenic.
Your final three days journey south, towards a departure from Madrid. Open your senses to Salamanca, where al fresco terraces stand beneath gothic spires, and golden sandstone is tinted with Latin inscriptions. Vitality comes from the huge local student population, breathing so much life into a World Heritage city with almost countless monuments. It is then a short train journey eastward to Madrid where you have an afternoon in the city before your departing flight.
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$6,595 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
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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