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France, Spain & Portugal


Take on three of Europe’s cultural hotspots on a 22-day adventure through France, Spain and Portugal. Mix the iconic sights with the local spots recommended by your expert leader as you fall in love with Paris, explore Nimes’ Roman monuments and share tapas in Barcelona. Then head west and experience the elegance of Madrid, sip port in Porto and explore Lisbon’s grand boulevards and impressive castles. Join pilgrims along the last leg of the famous Camino de Santiago, then finish your journey back in Madrid with a well-deserved sangria at sunset.

22 days, from

$7,430

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: BMSAC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  France Portugal Spain
Accommodation: Hotel (21 nights)
Transportation: Train , Public bus , Metro , Taxi
Included Meals:

  • 15 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Explore Paris' Montmartre area – a favourite for artists for generations. See where Van Gogh and Picasso used to live and take hidden walkways to secret viewpoints that only locals know.

  • Get off the beaten track with a visit to Nimes in the south of France. Discover the well-preserved Roman monuments from 70 AD like the Arena of Nimes and Maison Carree.

  • Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of the Albaicin in Granada before crossing the river to visit the imposing Moorish fortress of the Alhambra.

  • Sit back, relax and watch the water flow by in one of Porto’s river restaurants while you sample a couple of varieties of the city’s signature wine – port!

  • Start and end your adventure in Madrid, home to art galleries, colourful architecture and some of the best restaurants in Spain.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Paris

Bonjour! Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights. Your trip kicks off with a welcome meeting at your hotel at 6 pm. After you meet your fellow travellers and trip leader, you might choose to head out for an optional welcome dinner at one of the gorgeous local restaurants or explore the surrounding neighbourhoods and discover why this city is known for its romantic appeal.

Day 2: Paris

This morning after breakfast, you’ll hop on local transport to Montmartre – one of the most romantic enclaves within Paris, over 2000 years old. Discover the squares, churches and why this district has been popular with artists for generations on an included Urban Adventure tour. Starting with a deliciously buttery croissant, your local guide will take you past the homes of Van Gogh and Picasso to a secret spot with awesome panoramic views. Discover the Sacre-Coeur Basilica from a unique perspective and the last remaining vineyard in Paris (maybe grab a glass of wine here if the mood calls). End your walk by joining the locals with an included lunch at a typical French brasserie that serves up all the delicious traditional specialities of the regions of France - sit back and enjoy the Parisian ambiance as well as the excellent food. This afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore Paris as you wish. Maybe head to the iconic Louvre or climb the Eiffel Tower to tick some major sites off the bucket list.

Day 3: Nimes

This morning, you’ll have some breakfast then leave Paris behind. Take a fast train to Nimes – a city in the south of France known for its well-preserved Roman monuments, left over from the Roman Empire. When you arrive, enjoy free time to explore and find some lunch and then head out on a leader-led walking tour. Marvel at the exterior of the Arena of Nimes – a magnificent Roman amphitheatre from 70 AD. Imagine the ancient spectacles that took place here and enjoy the panoramic views from the top, before heading to the Maison Carree – a remarkably well-preserved Roman temple. Admire the intricate facade and maybe visit the museum inside to learn more about its history. Continue to Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle – a lively square surrounded by beautiful buildings. This is a great spot to soak in the local atmosphere and people-watch. Walk past Nimes Cathedral, Jardins de la Fontaine and Place d'Assas – a charming square full of cafes and shops. Maybe find the perfect spot to sit and people-watch here, as you wait for sunset.

Day 4: Nimes

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and then head out on a day trip by public bus to Pont du Gard. This magnificent aqueduct bridge spans the Gardon River and is a marvel of Roman engineering. You can walk across the bridge and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the site’s museum for an insight into the history of the aqueduct, explore the exhibits and learn about its significance during the Roman era. The Pont du Gard is located on the Gardon River, and there are designated areas where you can swim to cool off. If the weather calls for it, consider renting a kayak and seeing the bridge from a different perspective. Maybe bring along a picnic or some snacks to enjoy by the riverside. This afternoon, you’ll take the bus back to Nimes, where you can spend the rest of the day however you wish.

Day 5: Barcelona

After a leisurely breakfast this morning, you’ll have some free time in Nimes to explore, relax or head to a local café and enjoy the local delicacies. After, take a local train to Barcelona – the capital and largest city of Catalonia in Spain. When you arrive, you’ll head to a group dinner at a local tapas restaurant. Enjoy an array of delectable small plates that represent the very heart of Spanish cuisine. From perfectly grilled chorizo to refreshing gazpacho, these dishes celebrate the diversity and the richness of local ingredients. Sharing dishes with your group and with the locals fosters a sense of community that lies at the centre of tapas culture. Raise your glass to the beauty of Spanish food and friendship as you get to know the locals and feast on endless delights.

Day 6: Barcelona

After breakfast this morning, you’ll head out on a leader-led walking tour of Barcelona. See some of the city's main sights, including a visit to Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The architect worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Along with the Camp Nou football stadium, it’s possibly the city's most iconic landmark. Gaudi was the master of the unique Catalan Modernista architecture that Barcelona is known for, and his work is dotted all over the city. Maybe check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace, or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Batlo this afternoon. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell, home to a long, mosaic-covered bench overlooking the city. Tonight, maybe finish the day with a sip of red wine from a porro – a traditional glass pitcher.

Day 7: Madrid

Have breakfast at your hotel and then hop on another train towards Madrid. When you arrive, head on an orientation walk that will introduce you to the city's most iconic landmarks. Discover the bustling Puerta del Sol – the symbolic centre of Madrid. Admire the iconic Tio Pepe sign, the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree (the city's emblem) and the impressive Plaza Mayor – a historic square surrounded by stunning architecture. Take note of Mercado de San Miguel – a gourmet food market where you can sample tapas, fresh seafood and local delicacies – you might want to return here later! Try some delicious churros along the way and then continue to the Royal Palace – an architectural marvel and testament to Madrid's royal history – and the Almudena Cathedral. Maybe step inside for a moment of tranquillity and end in the bustling Gran Via. Tonight, maybe ask your leader for the best dinner spots and join your group for a celebratory farewell dinner.

Day 8: Madrid

Enjoy a free day to explore Madrid. Perhaps spend the day along the Paseo del Arte or Art Walk for an expansive history of Western art. Start with the Museo del Prado, then discover modern Spanish masters in the Museo Reina Sofia, including Picasso and Dali. Finish at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays eight centuries of European painting. Lunch could be a chance to sample the Mercado de San Miguel wares! In the evening, you’ll have another meeting at either 6 or 7 pm depending on common area availability. After the welcome meeting and optional dinner, perhaps get into the mind of a Madrileno with some tapas and Rioja, or head to the Gran Via hotspots to dance the night away with your new friends.

Day 9: Granada

Take a bus to Granada today. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is packed with Moorish architecture, great tapas bars and natural beauty. Take a walk around the old Arab quarter of the Albaicin, a labyrinth of crooked alleys, fountains, plazas and whitewashed houses, or the 'Alcaiceria' (old silk market area) and observe the craftworks on sale that include ceramics, marquetry and leather goods. If you're feeling energetic, climb the steep streets up to the Mirador de San Nicolas for sunset views over the famous Alhambra. If you have time, perhaps check out the historic Renaissance Cathedral and Capilla Real, or watch the world go by as you indulge in some tapas at a bar. Granada is the kind of city to leave your guidebook behind and trust your intuition.

Day 10: Granada

Today make a visit to Granada's impressive Alhambra Palace. An entrance ticket is included in the trip and grants you the visit of the Palace and the Gardens. Discover this 11th-century marvel and its dominating red fortress towers, palace decor, architectural styles, and magnificent gardens. It's all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, this renowned palace will not disappoint. Make sure you allow enough time as the Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing which features spectacular views from its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans. After your visit ask your leader to take you deeper into Granada’s Moorish Albaicin quarter and to the area of traditional tea houses. The view from this area across to the Alhambra Palace is not to be missed. Tonight, perhaps meet up again with the group for dinner.

Day 11: Seville

Travel by bus and train this morning to the vibrant city of Seville. If the legends are to be believed, Seville was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World', and is today the capital of Andalucia and the largest city in southern Spain. Known for its important monuments and fascinating history, Seville is universally famous for being a joyous town. Sevillians are well known for their wit and sparkle, and the city itself is striking for its vitality and flamboyance – the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro. Seville is also famous for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. As the rest of the day is free for you to explore, why not go and experience it all in person. Barrio Santa Cruz, with its multicultural history, is a great place to start. This shaded warren was designed in medieval times to provide refuge from the great Andalusian heat. Or maybe spend your evening San Jacinto, the bustling main street of the Triana quarter, and discover the interesting and adventurous food on offer.

Day 12: Seville

Today is a free day to discover Seville. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also the climb the cathedral's adjoining Moorish tower, known as La Giralda. While you might have to line up, it's well worth it for the views over the city. Visit the magnificent Alcazar, a complex of palaces used by Moorish and Christian rulers through the ages, and now gaining international fame as a shooting location for ‘Game of Thrones’. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the Moorish and Mudejar architecture. If you feel like an injection of culture, explore Seville's Museum of Fine Arts or the Archaeological Museum. As Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, be sure to sample some of the tasty morsels on offer in one of the city's many tapas bars. In the evening, catch a local flamenco performance with the group. Charged with emotion and drama, this powerful, fiery show is a real highlight!

Day 13: Algarve / Lagos

Today board a bus and cross the border into Portugal. Travel through fertile plain landscapes of orange orchards, olive groves and maize fields to the Algarve, Portugal's stunning southern coast, where your destination is the seaside town of Lagos. Set on the banks of the Rio Bensafrim, Lagos is gifted with a temperate Mediterranean climate, a bounty of beaches and a rich heritage. When you arrive, you might want to take a walk around town. Wandering around Lagos’s old town enclosed within 16th century walls, on pretty cobbled streets and picturesque plazas and churches, is definitely a good thing to do. In the evening, why not head to feast on freshly caught fish at a restaurant or cafe overlooking the water and behold a golden sky at sunset, before throwing yourself into Lagos' pumping nightlife.

Day 14: Algarve / Lagos

Most of today is free to enjoy Lagos and its surrounds. At some point during the day (depending on availability) you will enjoy an included boat tour around Algarve’s rocky cliffs. Explore the jagged, weathered rockface of Pinta da Piedade, full of arches, towers, grottoes and caves that have been eroded into this fabulous limestone coast. Your leader will inform you about the exact time in advance so you can plan other activities around that. For the rest of the day, perhaps pack a book and towel and head to the beach. The vast sands of Meia Praia stretch for over 4 km, and it is peppered with beach bars, cafes and sun lounges. Also, plenty of water sports are on offer in the summer. In addition, there are numerous boat trip options, focusing on birdwatching, fishing, or even spotting the Algarve dolphins. Praia do Porto de Mos and Camilo Beach are also good options, lovely water and sands surrounded by great rock formations. Take a stroll through the quaint alleys of central Lagos, or head down to the waterfront to watch the boats come in. Just ask your leader for any tips if you’re unsure.

Day 15: Lisbon

Today head north by public bus to Lisbon. As one of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife. When you arrive, head out on an orientation walk of Lisbon to find your feet. There are some great modern and ancient art museums to check out, such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art or the National Coach Museum. Your afternoon and evening is then free, so maybe head to the grand Naval Museum for an insight into the history of Portuguese navigation. You can roam through the charming narrow streets of local neighbourhoods and see local life play out. Maybe simply sit back in one of many outdoors restaurants and cafes – watching the life go by is definitely one of the best ways to relax in Lisbon. As the sun goes down, some of Lisbon's best nightlife centres on the neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, where you can enjoy an emotional fado performance (traditional Portuguese music).

Day 16: Lisbon

Today is a free day to further discover Lisbon, which is located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River and is truly one of Europe’s great cities. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. Maybe head out this morning on a tour to visit to the medieval citadel in the city centre of Lisbon. Discover the medieval citadel of Sao Jorge Castle, which dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. From the citadel, this makes a contrasting panorama when viewed against the deep blue of the sky and ocean. With the rest of your free time today, perhaps catch a tram or hire a bike and cycle along the water to the historic neighbourhood of Belem. Make sure you try a sumptuous custard tart at the famous Casa Pasteis de Belem. Relax at a cafe in hilly Alfama, or check out the fascinating street art spread throughout the city.

Day 17: Porto

Continue north on a local bus to Porto, the capital of the north that sits between a river and the Atlantic Ocean. Stretching along the banks of the River Douro, Porto is one of Portugal's most romantic cities. Known for majestic bridges, medieval riverside district with its cobbled streets, merchants’ houses and cafes, Porto is also well known for one more thing – as the birthplace of the fortified wine, port. Indulge in an included group tasting of some famous tawny and ruby ports at one of the many wine houses across the river. Most of the grapes are grown and harvested in the nearby Douro Valley. If sampling the best from the region piques curiosity, why not learn more about the history of wine and port making at the Museu do Vinho later on in the afternoon. Alternatively, spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere of this coastal city in numerous cafes and restaurants that Porto has to offer.

Day 18: Porto

Today is a free day to explore Porto. The city's World Heritage-listed Ribeira district is packed with twisting alleys, staircases, and baroque churches, and is great to explore on foot. Sao Francisco church is known for its lavish interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors. For a sensational view of the whole town head to the Torre dos Clerigos (Clerigos Tower). Head down Allies Avenue to see the French-inspired buildings, then make a turn for Bolhão Market. This is the city’s most famed market, bursting with fresh produce and other goodies. Up in the cathedral area you’ll find the oldest neighbourhood in Porto and a place where you’ll see its true soul. Boat cruises along the Rio Douro operate several times a day, offering insight into the history of Porto's six famous bridges. A cruise is also a great chance to snap some great photos of the colourful tiled houses lined up along the riverbank. For dinner, make sure you try the country’s most famous sandwich – the francesinha – then head to Galerias Paris Street for nightlife.

Day 19: Santiago de Compostela

Today board a bus bound for Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The capital of Galicia became a symbol of the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam and is famous as the culmination point for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago. Soak up the religious energy in the cathedral where St James, one of the 12 Apostles, is purportedly buried. The cathedral was consecrated in 1211 and is the central point within the medieval walls of the old town, standing majestically on the Plaza del Obradoiro with its towers soaring above the town. Elaborately carved stone facades open onto grand plazas, full of pilgrims and locals spending their day in this atmospheric place. Maybe join them in one of the cafes, sitting back and listening to many of the street artists performing on the streets of the old town. Visit the cathedral and do as pilgrims do – circle the main altar admiring the greatness of the place. Tonight, maybe and explore the streets close to the cathedral for Galician specialties. Perhaps try peppers of Padron and empanadas (Galician pies, filled with meat or seafood).

Day 20: Santiago de Compostela

Today you'll have the opportunity to join pilgrims on the last stretch of the Santiago de Compostela route. Take an early bus to Amenal village where the 18 km walk begins. The trek will take you through the villages, fields and rivers of Galicia. In Lavacolla village you'll cross the river where medieval pilgrims traditionally bathed in the river to purify themselves before arriving in the holy city. From here, ascend again to the Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy), so called for the feeling when pilgrims would catch their first sight of the towers of Compostela Cathedral. Embrace the atmosphere up here on the mount, alongside some walkers who may have trekked over 800 km to be here. The entire walk takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to complete. It is important that you wear comfortable footwear and bring a rain coat, as weather in this region of Spain can be unpredictable, even during the summer months. Once back in Santiago the rest of the day is free for you to explore. Santiago de Compostela is a World Heritage site, an open-air museum that holds many delights within its walls – the lively squares, the market and the University buildings are must sees. For you final night in town, maybe wander down the streets of Rua do Franco and Rua da Raina to try some tapas.

Day 21: Madrid

Today, you'll take a train back to Madrid. When you arrive, check into your hotel and then head out on an orientation walk with your leader to get your bearings. Then, the rest of the day is free for your to explore how you wish. Maybe hang out in El Retiro Park or explore Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velazquez and other Spanish masters. Tonight, why not ask your leader the best spot for dinner and head out with your fellow travellers to cheers to a trip well-travelled.

Day 22: Madrid

Today your Spain and Portugal adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you'd like to extend your stay, just speak to your booking agent.