Portugal and Spain can easily be combined in a tour of 10-14 days to include the cities of Lisbon, Porto, Salamanca and Madrid. It is also possible to begin a tour in Barcelona and travel across northern Spain, ending in Porto, Portugal. The latter follows closely the St. James Way pilgrimage route and can include Santiago de Compostela.
If you have only one word with which to describe Spain, it would be “festivals.” From the smallest village to the largest city, the country abounds in colorful spectacles of music and culture.
No other country in Europe offers visitors so many opportunities to experience local dance, music, and traditions. Spain is also one of the most diverse and visually stunning countries in Europe. Where do we begin? Although Madrid is the political capital and also hosts several excellent museums, Barcelona reigns as the culture capital of the country. Most travelers begin their discovery of Spain with a stay in this vibrant, quirky, cosmopolitan city. Barcelona has several structures dating as far back as the Middle Ages but it is best known for its magnificent “modernista” (art nouveau) architecture dating from the turn of the last century. Heading west, your tour can easily include Basque region with its unique culture and language – in a linguistic family all its own! Northern Spain also includes the region of La Rioja where you’ll find the best wines of the country and Galicia on the Atlantic Ocean which, contrary to the common portrayal of Spain, is a land of lush, green, rolling hills. Here you’ll find the rich architectural heritage dating from the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage route of the Middle Ages and the best seafood in the country! In the south of Spain, you may feel you stepped across the Straits of Gilbraltar to North Africa. The Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula for 700 years and the southern Spanish region of Andalusia is where you will see and hear the Moorish influence the most. From the colorful dresses to the pulsating rhythm of Flamenco.
Portugal exudes authenticity. It is a modern country, member of the European Union, that has managed to maintain many of the more appealing aspects of centuries past. Towns and villages may not have the funds for perfect restoration. Older structures are often left in a beautiful state of slight disrepair. The hills of Porto, Lisbon, Tomar, and many other jewels will wear on your legs but afford incredibly picturesque vistas, very often with the Atlantic in the background. Moorish influence can be detected nearly everywhere: in the beautiful Azulejos ceramic tiles which adorn many homes and buildings, in the handmade jewelry, and the Arab arches found in many palaces. You will see and taste the influences of former colonies: Brazil, Africa and Asia. Ethnic restaurants abound, bringing a welcome diversity and “spice” to the dining-out experience in Portugal. You’ll enjoy fish and seafood prepared in a myriad of ways. One cannot deny either the influence of the British, especially in the production of Porto, the sweet, fortified, red wine that originates from the Douro Valley.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how far your dollar will go in Portugal. You won’t want to miss Lisbon, even if prices are more comparable to other European cities, but the country offers a wealth of other sites: the jewel that is Porto, picturesque small towns such as Aveiro, Obidos and Evora; magnificent religious monuments such as the monasteries of Batalha, Mafra, and Alcobaça, cork plantations of the Algarve, the unique terraced landscape of the Douro River Valley, and so much more.
We can create a tour around your group’s passion and ensure it is enriched by all the unique venues Portugal and Spain have to offer! Just look for your special interest, under Tour Ideas.
The beautiful sites, cities, and landscapes of Spain and Portugal are too numerous to summarize here. Be sure to visit the official website of the Tourist Office of Spain and the website of the Tourist Office of Portugal for more information.