Treasures of Southern Spain and Portugal
Stay in historic inns in Spain and Portugal and discover the spirit of Iberia's rich Roman and Moorish past.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This was my first Smithsonian Journeys tour and I loved it. I would recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in history, art, architecture and culture of Spain and Portugal.”
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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.
An exciting history of explorers and invaders is etched across the gentle landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula. Hilltop citadels reign over ancient olive groves, village lanes lead to striking Roman sites, and elaborate cathedrals and palaces feature architectural styles that speak of seafarers and Moors. Spend eight nights in historic inns called paradores in Spain and pousadas in Portugal—including a medieval monastery, historic fortress, stately palace, and old town hall—as your Smithsonian expert illuminates the spectacular monuments of an illustrious past.
In Portugal, you’ll tour Lisbon, visit the National Palace of Queluz, and enjoy a traditional musical performance in Evora, a World Heritage site. Highlights in Spain include such World Heritage sites as lovely Cordoba, Seville’s renowned palace (or Alcazar), Granada’s Alhambra, Moorish Toledo, and the Roman ruins at Merida. Conclude in sophisticated Madrid with visits to the richly furnished Palacio Real and the world-famous Prado Museum.
Days 1-2 — U.S. and Lisbon
Depart the U.S. for Lisbon. Upon arrival the next day, enjoy an afternoon at leisure, then gather for a welcome dinner. (D)
Day 3 — Lisbon and Queluz
On a tour of Portugal’s lively capital city, visit the waterfront area of Belem. See the medieval Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Monument to the Discoveries, which commemorates Portugal’s storied explorers. In the nearby town of Queluz, visit the National Palace, the former residence of Portuguese royalty now used for state occasions. (B)
Day 4-5 — Evora
Travel through a landscape of olive groves, vineyards, and wheat fields en route to Evora, capital of the Alentejo region. Relax at your pousada, one of Portugal’s finest, and enjoy a performance of traditional music that dates to the Middle Ages. Spend a day exploring this university town, which is a World Heritage site. A morning walking tour highlights the well-preserved Roman and Moorish heritage, while the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the city on your own. (2B,1L,2D)
Day 6 — Merida and Carmona
Travel east through a countryside checkered with the ruins of fortresses to the Spanish border town of Merida. Upon arrival, explore the Roman ruins and then enjoy time at leisure for lunch and personal interests. Continue to Carmona and your parador, a dramatic 14th-century Arab fortress. (B,D)
Day 7 — Carmona and Seville
Today visit nearby Seville, the splendid Moorish capital of Andalusia and considered by many to be the cultural capital of Spain. A walking tour passes by the famous cathedral, the world’s largest Gothic building, and tours the delicately ornate Moorish Alcazar. Return to Carmona late this afternoon and dine at your parador this evening. (B,D)
Day 8 — Carmona and Cordoba
During another special day excursion, travel to Cordoba, once a major European center for art, science, and culture during the Middle Ages. Here, explore a rich legacy where Moorish, Christian, and Jewish cultures mingled successfully during a Golden Age. Cordoba features an old Quarter built around the magnificent Mezquita (mosque) and one of Andalusia’s few remaining synagogues. (B,D)
Days 9-10 — Ronda
Travel south to tiny Ronda, scene of the last great rising of the Moors against Ferdinand and Isabella. The town's white-washed houses and your parador (Ronda’s original town hall) are perched dramatically near the edge of a plunging gorge, spanned by an 18th-century arched bridge. This afternoon, visit a local olive farm. The next day, following a brief walking tour, your afternoon is free to explore Ronda and its environs. Dine both evenings on regional specialties at your parador. (2B,2D)
Day 11 — Granada and Ubeda
Granada, the former stronghold of Moorish Spain, is set in the foothills of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. The city’s undisputed highlight is the Alhambra, the extraordinary palace of Spain’s last Moorish rulers. Sprawled across a hilltop above the Darro River, the Alhambra commands breathtaking views of the city below. This afternoon, tour this splendid citadel and the Generalife, the palace’s acclaimed gardens. Continue traveling north to Ubeda and your next parador, a former palace dating to the 16th century. (B,D)
Day 12 — Toledo and Madrid
Toledo, capital of medieval Spain, still looks much like it did when the artist El Greco painted here in the 16th century. See Toledo’s most important sites on a guided tour, including the massive Gothic cathedral. Continue to Madrid, arriving late in the afternoon. (B)
Days 13-14 — Madrid
Conclude your journey in the monumental and dignified capital city of Madrid. During a morning walking tour, learn about the history of the vast Plaza Mayor and the opulent 18th-century Royal Palace. Enjoy free time to view the outstanding collections of the world-class Prado Museum, including the art treasures by Spanish Masters Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, and its important collection of Flemish and Italian masterpieces. Spend your final day enjoying this vibrant city as you wish. Tonight bid adios to Spain at a farewell dinner. (2B,1D)
Day 15 — Madrid and the U.S.
Depart Madrid for the U.S. on individual flights. (B)