Across Northern Spain and Portugal
Stay in historic lodgings as you journey from Lisbon to Barcelona on this tour featuring fortified cities and tiny fishing villages, rugged Atlantic coastline and Pyrenees peaks.
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Fortified cities and tiny fishing villages, rugged Atlantic coastline and commanding Pyrenees peaks, iconic shrines to both religion and fine art, and intimate lodgings in historic paradores and pousadas—it all awaits as you travel from Lisbon, across northern Spain, to vibrant Barcelona.
In Portugal, discover the treasures of Lisbon, the Rococo-style Queluz Palace, and Obidos and Nazare. Then journey north to the lovely town of Oporto, a World Heritage site, for a cruise along the Douro River and a port wine tasting. Cross into Spain to visit Santiago de Compostela, the final stop on the celebrated pilgrimage route and a World Heritage site. Tour other pilgrimage sites in Leon and Bilbao, as well as the Fine Arts Museum and the Guggenheim Museum, notable for Frank Gehry’s modern architecture. You’ll travel along the rugged, beautiful Basque coastline, featuring small towns like Gernika (Guernica), and spend two nights in the Pyrenees Mountain region exploring such towns as fabled Pamplona. Conclude your journey in vibrant Barcelona—where highlights include the Gothic Quarter and works by architect Antoni Gaudi (World Heritage sites)—and a day excursion to Montserrat.
Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Lisbon, Portugal
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This afternoon is at leisure to relax before tonight’s welcome dinner. (D)
Day 3 — Lisbon
A morning tour introduces you to the city on the River Tagus. The afternoon is free for independent exploration. (B)
Day 4 — Oporto
Leaving Lisbon via the coastal route, stop in the small fortified town of Obidos and in the seaside village of Nazare. Mid-afternoon you'll reach lovely Oporto, Portugal’s second largest city and World Heritage site. (B,D)
Day 5 — Oporto
Highlights of today’s city tour include colorful Bolhao Market, the historic city center, Baroque Clerigos Church, and the sophisticated Foz oceanfront district. Then enjoy an hour long cruise on the Douro River. End the tour with a visit to a port lodge for a tasting of the fortified wine exclusive to the region. (B,D)
Day 6 — Santiago de Compostela, Spain
En route to Santiago, stop in the old Galician town of Pontevedra. Then continue to Santiago, capital of Spain’s northwest Galicia region, arriving mid-afternoon at your parador. (B,D)
Day 7 — Santiago de Compostela
Last stop on the celebrated pilgrimage route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) and presumed repository of the remains of St. James the Apostle, Santiago de Compostela also ranks among Spain’s most beautiful and visited cities. Discover this important cultural and educational capital on today’s tour, featuring the Cathedral housing the silver crypt believed to hold the remains of St. James. From here enter Plaza de Obradoiro, the monumental square surrounded by Santiago’s most important buildings. This afternoon is free for independent exploration in this eminently walkable and lovely World Heritage city. (B,D)
Day 8 — Leon
Leaving Santiago this morning, travel east to vibrant Leon, another stop on the Way of St. James pilgrimage route and known for its religious festivals and Easter Week processions. Upon arrival, encounter the city’s impressive historical and architectural heritage as you visit the 12th-century Leon Cathedral, one of Spain’s most beautiful with its sculpture-covered façade and impressive stained glass windows; Casa Botines, a Modernist structure by architect Antoni Gaudi; and the notable Castille Leon Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC), known for its outstanding architecture and up-to-the minute modern art collection. (B,D)
Day 9 — Santander and Bilbao
Stop today in the elegant port city and Cantabrian capital of Santander for a tour and lunch. Then travel to Bilbao, the industrial port city almost magically transformed by the construction of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997. (B,L)
Day 10 — Bilbao
This morning’s tour begins in Bilbao’s medieval Old City, with a charming mix of narrow cobblestone streets and inviting squares. See the Catedral de Santiago (c. 1379), once a stop on the pilgrimage route; monumental Plaza Nueva; and busy seaside La Ribera market. Then take a guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and its contemporary art collection. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the jaw-dropping structure of limestone, titanium, and glass has drawn acclaim, attention, and visitors to this popular, revitalized city. Your last stop is Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum, with a rich collection of Spanish and Basque artworks. (B,D)
Day 11 — Basque Country
A day-long excursion takes you through countryside that is historically home to the Basque people of Spain’s Atlantic Coast and western Pyrenees. Your first stop is a poignant one: Gernika (Guernica), heart of the Basque region and the town razed by Nazi bombing in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War that was immortalized in the namesake painting by Picasso. At the seaside village of Bakio, follow a coastal road of wild beauty to the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, with its hermitage to St. John the Baptist. Stop in the key fishing town of Bermeo then continue to the medieval fishing village of Mundaka to enjoy magnificent views of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve featuring streams and a salt marsh surrounded by sheer cliffs. (B,L)
Day 12 — Pamplona and Bielsa
Travel today to the Pyrenees town of Bielsa, stopping en route in fabled Pamplona, known for its annual Running of the Bulls tradition. (B,D)
Day 13 — Bielsa
Fresh mountain air and stunning scenery are on tap as you visit Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Touring by coach and on foot, see the limestone Pyrenees chain, its lush valleys dotted with clear blue streams and beech, fir, and pine trees. (B,D)
Day 14 — Lleida and Barcelona
En route to Barcelona, we stop in the Catalonian city of Lleida, with an impressive historical and architectural legacy. (B)
Day 15 — Barcelona
This morning’s city tour of Barcelona features Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), a maze of medieval streets, and Las Ramblas, the tree-lined pedestrian mall that attracts locals and visitors alike, day and night. Pay homage to Barcelona’s native son, flamboyant artist Antoni Gaudi, visiting his curving stone-faced Casa Milà; fanciful Parc Guell, and the landmark Sagrada Familia, the surreal – and unfinished – cathedral. Following a tapas lunch, the remainder of the day is free. (B,L)
Day 16 — Barcelona and Montserrat
Travel today to nearby Montserrat, and take the rack railway up the mountainside to visit Santa Maria de Montserrat, the Benedictine abbey hosting the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary. Tonight bid !adios! to Spain, and to your fellow travelers, at a farewell dinner. (B,D)
Day 17 — Depart for U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for flights to the U.S. (B)