12 Days Spain & Portugal Sampler Tour Package from $1999/- (Posted on Jun 18 2011)
12 Days Spain & Portugal Sampler Tour Package from Gap Adventures $1999/-
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL SAMPLER
12 Days | Trip Code: ESPS (2011)
Countries Visited: Portugal – Spain
Trip Style: Classic
Service Level: Standard
Physical Demands Rating: 2
Age Restriction: Minimum age 12 years
Next Available Departure: Sun Sep. 4, 2011
Wandering great cities and gazing at incredible cathedrals, hiking in national parks and feeling the Atlantic surf, discovering why Basque chefs are in such high demand.
From the stunning architecture of Barcelona to the ancient streets of Lisbon, experience the culture of the Iberian Peninsula in twelve well-packed days. Crossing northern Spain and following the Atlantic Coast south will reward you with incredible views of mountain peaks, intriguing Basque culture and a centuries-old pilgrimage site. Get off the beaten path and gain insight into the legendary culture of Spain and Portugal.
Day 1 Arrive Barcelona
Arrive in Barcelona at any time. As your fellow travellers are arriving throughout the day, there are no planned activities, so check-in to the hotel (check-in time is approx. 3pm) and enjoy the city. In the evening meet your fellow group members at 7pm to go over the details of your trip. Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact location of this group meeting. After the meeting, you can head out for a meal at a local restaurant with the group (optional).
If you arrive early why not spend the afternoon at leisure exploring Spain’s second largest city, known worldwide for its dynamic atmosphere and exciting style. Barcelona may be Spain’s second largest city, but it’s the capital when it comes to fashion, architecture, food and music. Renowned for its dynamic atmosphere and groundbreaking style, Barcelona is always fun and exciting. As the most cosmopolitan and economically active city in Spain it has always shown its will to be modern. Barcelona is always at the forefront of the latest international styles, whether it be in architecture, fashion or ways of thinking. There is plenty of history too: visit the old Gothic Quarter with its maze of dark streets, historic cathedral, medieval buildings, bars and cafes. Stroll the Rambla, a large tree-lined pedestrian boulevard perfect for people-watching and window shopping, ending at the harbour front facing the Mediterranean Sea.
For nightlife, the highest concentration of young and beautiful locals dancing the night away – both in the bars and on the street – can be found near the intersection of Santaló and Mariano Cubi streets. Here you can always find good music, good drinks and lots of fun. Another good nightlife spot for meeting the fashionable locals of Barcelona is on the Plaza Francesc Maciá.
Day 2 Pamplona
We transfer by train to Pamplona, where we have the evening and the following day to enjoy this beatiful city, capital of Navarra, one of the oldest of Spain. Pamplona is full of historic buildings, famous and popular because of the San Fermin “Running of the bulls” festival in July, when the city is visited by more than 500,000 tourists.
Pamplona is a city that just begs to be explored on foot. Its layout, design, numerous parks and gardens are full of charm and history – simply wandering is a most pleasurable way to discover Pamplona. Perhaps the best starting place is the Plaza de Castillo, which is the meeting point between the new city and the historic old town. It’s certainly appropriate that this square, with its many lovely 17th and 18th Century buildings clad with arches and balconies, is known as the heart of Pamplona.
Estafeta Street is the main focus during the San Fermin festival, where the locals (and daring tourists!) famously run with the bulls each morning of the festival in what’s known as the “encierro”. This particular event finishes in the Plaza de Toros where the bulls meet their traditional, yet still rather gruesome fate. The San Fermin “run” starts in Corralillos-Santo Domingo Street, and continues on Mercaderes street, Estafeta Street, and Plaza de Toros. The great writer and bullfighting aficionado, Ernest Hemingway, loved Pamplona for this spectacle and even set one of his most famous novels here in the city.
The history of the ancient kingdom of Navarre always has been marked by its border situation with France, Castile, Aragon and the Basque Country, and the fact that it is crossed by the pilgrim’s way or “Camino de Santiago” (Way of Saint James) – another reason for its extraordinary monumental wealth. Its beautiful towns, like Artajona which is surrounded by medieval walls, Estella, Olite, formerly seat of Navarre’s kings, Tudela and Roncesvalles are always worth a visit.
Estimated Travel Time Barcelona to Pamplona: 6 hours
Days3-4 San Sebastian, Basque country
After some time in the morning to explore Pamplona, we take a short bus journey in the afternoon to “La perla” of the Basque country. Most of the important sights in San Sebastian can be seen on foot where the sea is our constant companion, as we relax and take a break from our urban adventures to explore the beautiful coastline and its beaches.
Why not take an evening stroll through the old part of the city, which the Donostiarras (citizens of San Sebastian) refer to as Alde Zaharra or Parte Vieja (the “Old Part”). It is a pedestrian precinct full of local character. At the edge of the Old Quarter begins “La Concha” beach, one of the most famous beaches in Spain. Enjoy a very pleasant walk to the other side and you can admire the “Comb of winds”, one of the sculptures of Chillida, a Basque artist. From there you can climb, or take a cable car, to Monte Igeldo and enjoy the best views of the city.
Visit the Brecha market – the facade of this century-old establishment can be seen from the main Boulevard. What was once a traditional market is now a shopping and entertainment centre, occupying the so-called Brecha, the old fish market and the space connecting the two. Along with new shopping possibilities, fresh local products are still available. You may wonder why it is called “Brecha”. The reason is that this is the point in the old city wall where the Anglo-Portuguese artillery opened up a breach (brecha) during the 1813 seige.
San Sebastian was a fortified city until 1862, when permission was given to knock down the old walls. Local controversy broke out between the “pro-boulevard” and “anti-boulevard” parties; that is, between those in favour of leaving an open space between the Old Part and the “Ensanche” (the new city extension designed by Antonio Cortázar) and those who argued that the new blocks should be built without leaving open spaces. Fortunately the former won and today we may enjoy the Alameda del Boulevard. As a result of its recent facelift, the Alameda is now a pleasant pedestrian-only area ideal for strolling, sitting on one of the many benches, listening to music from the bandstand, or meeting up with friends before heading to the Old Quarter.
Estimated Travel Time Pamplona to San Sebastian: 1 hr
Days 5-6 Cangas de Onis
A scenic day’s travel by local bus through the various landscapes of the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias, takes us to the heart of the region of Asturias. Cangas de Onis is located in the beautiful “Picos de Europa” National Park, where it’s possible to hike in one of the most interesting Spanish sites, with its astonishing landscapes of mountains, valleys and lakes. Cangas de Onis offers excellent options for sampling Asturian cuisine, local cheese, favada and the famous “sidra tirada” (cider).
The Covadonga Valley is situated at the north of Picos de Europa National Park and the Cantabrico mountain range, within the Asturias Principado. Here, in 722, the Catholic Don Pelayo fought and won against the Muslim rulers of Al-Andalus and the Spanish re-conquest began. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous Sanctuary of the Virgen of Covadonga while you are in Cangas.
Asturias is the home of many ancient rites and beliefs, and this region’s popular customs are among the most interesting of Spain. Artesania and gastronomy are of high reputation, you may try excellent seafood along the coast and, in the mountains, typical dishes such as Fabada, made of a special sort of beans, blood sausage and various cheese specialities, together with a glass of cider.
Estimated Travel Time San Sebastian to Cangas de Onis: 8 hours
Days 7-8 Santiago de Compostela
A full morning’s travel takes us to Santiago to explore this fascinating city. We visit the cathedral on the magnificent Praza do Obradoiro, which houses the supposed tomb of St. James the Apostle. It is widely believed that his remains were buried here in the 1st century AD; from then onwards he became the patron saint of the Christian Crusades, and Santiago has attracted pilgrims from all over the world. Here we include a walking tour of the city in order to fully experience and understand the cultural and historical significance of this amazing city.
Coming into Santiago de Compostela, your first glimpse will reveal the city’s baroque, pointed towers. Serving as the region’s capital city, Santiago boasts nearly 90,0000 inhabitants that combines both the old and the new. Because of its history and the flocks of pilgrims constantly arriving, Santiago has acquired much religious and romantic significance over the years. Happy pilgrims who have made the journey along the “Way of St James” will discover a city full of flagstones darkened by humidity and the passing of time. The old city is full of narrow cobblestone streets, with beautiful architecture on all sides. The main cathedral in the Plaza Obradoiro symbolizes the culmination of the pilgrimage in its entirety.
Estimated Travel Time Cangas de Onis to San Sebastian: 6 hours
Days 9-10 Porto
Today we cross the border to Portugal, and continue on a pleasant bus ride to the city of Porto. This gracious capital of the north is Portugal’s second largest city and a thriving industrial hub, successfully blending commercial efficiency with an atmosphere of unpretentious charm.
Rich from centuries of trade, modern Porto is as much a cosmopolitan centre as it is a city steeped in the historical events of the past. Magnificently situated on the great gorge of the River Douro, which spills into the Atlantic after its scenic 927km journey from Spain, the ‘granite city’ is best known for its striking bridges and the much celebrated Port wine, which is stored and savoured by wine lovers all over the world.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1996, the ancient Ribeira riverside district is a warren of narrow, twisting streets and shadowy arches. UNESCO was impressed by its immense patrimonial importance and value, stating that Porto’s “historic centre, built along the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the River Douro, forms an exceptional urban landscape with a thousand-year history. Its continuous growth can be seen in its many and varied monuments, from the cathedral with its Roman choir, to the neo-Classical Stock Exchange and the typically Portuguese Manueline-style church of Santa Clara.” The ongoing restoration of this lively quarter is attracting a growing number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Proud of its selection as the 2001 European Capital of Culture, Porto boasts several important attractions, including the 12th Century Sé Cathedral, once a Romanesque building, and the magnificent São Francisco Church with its striking gold-encrusted interior. The Convent of Santa Clara also boasts one of the richest interiors in Portugal. The church, and especially the high altar, is a golden glory of carved woodwork. Constructed in the 12th Century, the little Romanesque church of São Martinho da Cedofeita is the oldest in the city. Some historians date the church from the 6th Century, due to a tablet over the door attributing it to Theodomir, king of the Visigoths. A visit to the Café Majestic is a must, to relax from all this culture in this historical coffee shop.
Crossing the spectacular two tiered Dom Luís bridge brings you to Vila Nova da Gaia, the true home of Port wine. Here, visitors can tour the world famous port wine lodges, which bear such familiar household names as Taylor’s, Grahams, Cockburns and Sandeman. The highlight of these optional tours is the obligatory wine-tasting session at the end! The Alto Douro Wine Region became the 13th classified site in the country and the 5th element of the viticultural group, joining the regions of Val du Loire and Saint Emilion (France), Cinque Terre (Italy) and Wachau (Austria).
Estimated Travel Time Santiago to Porto: 4 hrs
Day 11 Lisbon
A morning train will take us to the amazing capital of Portugal, with the afternoon to explore this city full of history and art.
Boasting springtime temperatures during the winter, and cool summers freshened by a breeze blowing in from the Atlantic, the Costa de Lisboa offers a rich and impressively integrated diversity. The capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. The Alfama is one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon, and since it largely survived the great earthquake of 1755, the area still retains much of its original layout. Adjacent to the Alfama are the Castelo and Mouraria quarters, on the western and northern slopes of the hill that is crowned by the Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George’s Castle). Every year in June, the streets of all three quarters come alive with the feasts in honour of the popular saints. The Graça quarter and the churches of São Vicente de Fora and Santa Engrácia are within walking distance of this area.
Radiant skies brighten the monumental city, with its typical tile-covered building façades and narrow medieval streets, where one can hear the fado being played and sung at night. But Lisbon is also the stage for popular festivities, the place for exquisite shopping, exciting nightlife, and interesting museums.
The city is divided into the following districts:
- Alfama Castelo Mouraria – The Alfama is one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon. Since it largely survived the earthquake of 1755, the area still retains much of its original layout and feel.
- Bairro Alto and Bica – Laid out in the 16th century, the Bairro Alto (literally “high quarter”) is one of the most picturesque quarters in the city. Its architecture, traditional shops, restaurants, bars, and fashionable boutiques give it a unique flair. It is also a popular meeting place for all nightlife lovers.
- Bairro Alto Cais do Sodre – At the top of the Gloria Funicular are the gardens and belvedere of S. Pedro de Alcantara. Continue past them along Rua D. Pedro V until you come to the Principe Real Gardens, under which there is a water cistern, built in 1864 that can be visited on weekdays.
- The Chiado is an elegant shopping district.
- Baixa – One of Lisbon’s busiest quarters. Many commuters cross the Tagus pass through here every day on their way to work.
- Baixa Chiado – Start by taking the Santa Justa Elevator up to the ruins of the Carmo Convent, destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. This is the only remaining example of early gothic architecture in Lisbon.
- Belem is linked to Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries as the site where the famous navigators set sail to discover the world. This western suburb has an enormous number of prime tourist sights and cultural attractions, such as the Estrela Prazeres, Estrela Gardens, Estrela Basilica, Mouraria Castelo, and the Church of Senhora da Sade, with its beautiful tiles and carved wood altar.
While in Lisbon you shouldn’t miss a day trip to Sintra. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, there you can admire the beautiful Castle of Penha with its garden, going there is like entering a fairy tale.
Estimated Travel Time Porto to Lisbon: 2.5 hrs
Day 12 Depart Lisbon
DATES & PRICES
Departure Date: Sun, Jul. 24 2011 – Thu, Aug. 04 2011
Availability: Wait List available
Price: 1 Adult $1999 USD
Departure Date: Sun, Sep. 04 2011 – Thu, Sep. 15 2011
Availability: 7+ spaces available
Price: 1 Adult $1999 USD
Departure Date: Sun, Oct. 16 2011 – Thu, Oct. 27 2011
Availability: 7+ spaces available
Price: 1 Adult $1999 USD
Start – Finish: Barcelona to Lisbon
Orientation walking tour of Pamploma, orientation walking tour of San Sebastian, and evening pintxos and wine bar walk, guided walking tour of Santiago de Compostela, Orientation walk of Porto and optional port wine tasting, Orientation walking tour of Lisbon.
Group Size Notes: Max 15, Avg 10
Group Leader: Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, Local guide in Santiago.
Meals Included: No meals included.
Transport: Local bus, Train, Walking.
Accommodation: Hotels (11 nts)
Meal Budget: Allow EUR 315-415 for meals not included.
My Own Room: Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room” option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops on tour.
For More Detail & Booking of Spain & Portugal Sampler Tour Package