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SPAIN & PORTUGAL

The Best & Finest of Spain & Portugal

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

This fantastic 20 day private tour takes you, by chauffeur or train, to the best historic destinations in Spain and Portugal. Starting in Barcelona you will then head to Andalucia to discover the wonders of Granada, Seville and Cordoba. In Portugal you will then experience the delights of Estremoz, Evora, Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and Porto before heading back to Spain for Satiago de Compostela, Madrid and Toledo. Private chauffeur of high speed train will get you from place to place in comfort. Fascinating destinations, authentic foods, fine wines, lots of culture private guides and a fun cooking class will find you indulging in the Best & Finest of Spain & Portugal.

DAY 1 BARCELONA

On arrival at Barcelona Airport our Chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle ready to transfer you to your 4* boutique hotel, ideally located in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter, nearby to all major sights, but at the same time on the seafront. The rooftop terrace bar and pool provide an astonishing view of the city as well as the port, and your lovely room looks out onto the harbor. Formerly, your hotel was the residence of a wealthy Duke in the city and is deep-seated in history.

A representative of Gourmand Breaks will meet you at your hotel for a welcome drink and together you will discuss your personalized itinerary for the rest of your private cultural, food and wine tour. Apart from having available your Online Personal Travel Webpage, you will be handed your Personal Travel Journals containing all your itinerary details and plenty of suggestions for restaurants and free time activities.

On this first evening in Barcelona you might want to relax and unwind after your journey and settle into your lovely hotel. We have several dinner recommendations for fine restaurants, as well as informal tapas places nearby.

In a Nutshell: Luxury Private Airport Transfer from Barcelona Airport, Overnight in a 4* luxury palace hotel overlooking the port in Barcelona

DAY 2 BARCELONA

This morning, after a delicious breakfast, your Gourmand Breaks Officially Licensed Guide will await you at your hotel. Together you will beat the queues as you enjoy a private guided visit to the incredible La Sagrada Familia, a work on a grand scale which began in 1882. At the end of 1883 Gaudi, the most internationally renowned and emblematic architect of the city, was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea, but it remains unfinished.

You will then continue on your journey, now focused on the authentic gourmet foods in Spain, starting with a guided visit to La Boqueria market, Spains largest marketplace. La Boqueria is like a museum of the brightest and most delectable foods in Spain. Our expert culinary guide will lead you around the best booths and you will taste some of the most delicious local seasonal produce at one famous La Boqueria bar, frequented by celebrities. A glass of a fine brut nature cava will surely go down a treat with a tapa of Chantrelle mushrooms, or fresh cockles, squid or maybe even scrambled eggs with wild asparagus.

Continuing your private walking tour through the Gothic quarter of Barcelona you will see a few architectural feats: the famous Barcelona Cathedral, Sant Jaume Square and the amazing Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is a beautiful and important 14th-century church and considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture anywhere. You will, of course, enjoy a wander through Las Ramblas, the colorful must-see pedestrian area. Our guide is a real specialist in local history and will amuse you with fascinating local stories and funny anecdotes. Following this, your tour will take the path of Picasso on the famous Avignon Street. You will pass the Picasso museum (your guide will be able purchase tickets if you wish to visit this afternoon). Now you will taste some of the best natural artisan Spanish cheeses at a charming local cheese shop. The knowledgeable owner will divulge the secrets of the best Spanish cheeses while you taste some of the delicious specialties paired with some excellent Priorat wine. For something sweet, your tour will stop at the oldest venue in Barcelona for dried nuts and fruits, homemade nougats and chocolates. This quaint and local store, specializing in roasting coffee beans and nuts for over 150 years, is still decorated with its original furniture and old wood-burning stove.

Your luxury private tour will be rounded off with a light lunch of exquisite delicatessen produce which will include Spains best Iberic bellota ham - Joselito, fine cold meats and sausages, some of the finest local preserves of wild tuna, anchovies,or clams from Galicia, a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, etc., all enjoyed at one of the best delicatessens in the city. In addition there are English speaking sommeliers on hand to guide you through more than 6000 wines. Your guide will leave you at the finale of your tour when you are settled safely into this amazing delicatessen enjoying your meal.

The rest of your afternoon will be free to enjoy as you wish. Prior to leaving you, your guide will be happy to provide a lot of suggestions for really good places to eat, cafes, shops, etc.

In a Nutshell: Private guided tour of La Sagrada Familia and the Gothic Quarter and Born Areas of Barcelona with gourmet food and wine tastings, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 3 BARCELONA

This morning after a delicious breakfast, you will head off to continue your insight into Barcelona and it's Food. You will meet with your chef for this morning's small group cooking class.

But first, your chef will take you to La Boqueria, Spain's most important market place offering the freshest and most diverse selection of produce from all over Europe. You and your chef will choose the freshest ingredients for seafood paella or fideua and other specialties, that you will be cooking for lunch. The market is a hive of activity and a rainbow of color but your chef is on hand to answer any questions you have about the array of products you see before you.

Next, it's time to put your knowledge into practice - to make a wonderful paella or maybe a typical tortilla. You will set to work in the kitchen as your gourmet cooking class begins. Here, you will enjoy both chef's attention to detail and his tricks of the trade. An authentic and sumptuous Catalan lunch, of the fruits or your labor, will follow, and be accompanied by good local wine. You will also receive a copy of the recipes you have just made, so you can wow your friends back home with your new found skills!

Following this you can enjoy a free evening to do as you wish. We can happily provide you with suggestions for authentic local restaurants and bars for dinner this evening.

In a Nutshell: Tour of La Boqueria market with Chef followed by small group cooking class, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 4 GRANADA

This morning, our chauffeur will accompany you to the train station, from where you will be heading off, via high speed train with 1st class tickets, to your next destination - to the South of Spain. On arrival at the train station, our chauffeur will be waiting to drive you to Granada where you will check in to your excellent 5* hotel. Your hotel is a luxuriously converted former convent, a restored masterpiece that has also been declared an artistic and historic monument, and is ideally located in the historic center of Granada.

Granada has its usual quotient of churches, museums etc. typical for a southern European city. However, Granada also has the incredible Alhambra (which you will be visiting tomorrow or, of you prefer, this afternoon). While in Granada you may like to visit the Royal Chapel "Capilla Real" commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs and built in a flamboyant Gothic style. Here you will find the mausoleums of Isabel and Ferdinand and their children Phillip "The Beautiful" and Joan "The Mad". The Cathedral stands next to the chapel and is considered as the first renaissance church in Spain although it is a mixture of styles with it's Baroque exterior, Renaissance interior and Gothic Roof Vaults.

You may like to visit the Old Arab market "Alcaiceria". It is an interesting place to wander around and besides looking at the goods for sale, there are some good examples of Islamic architecture, and tiled wall decorations. The small archway off the famous Bib Rambla Square magically transports you to North Africa and into the narrow, tented streets of this market which is full of color, scents, music and vendors.

This evening we have many suggestions for dinner locally, perhaps something typically Andalusian.

In a Nutshell: High Speed train on a 1st Class basis to Andalucia, Private chauffeured transfer to Granada, Overnight in 5* Luxury Hotel in Granada

DAY 5 GRANADA

Today, after breakfast, our Officially Licensed Guide will be waiting for you at your hotel and you will leave to commence your private guided tour.

You will be heading to the incredible Alhambra which is considered, by some, to be one of the 10 wonders of the world. The Alhambra - gardens, fortifications and sumptuous palaces - was home to many Arab Sultans who ruled the whole province over the years. Stretched along the top of the hill known as La Sabika, the Alhambra is the stuff of fairy tales. From outside, its red fortress towers and walls appear plain, yet imposing, as they rise from cypress and elm woods, with the Sierra Nevada forming a magnificent backdrop.

The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD and was then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar who built the current palace and walls. Later, in 1333, it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada and in 1527 Charles V, demolished part of the architectural complex to build the palace which bears his name. With each new section that was added the consistent theme of "paradise on earth" was followed. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional intricacy. In each case, the exterior was left plain and austere. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing.

Today, the Alhambra exhibits the country's most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century, and later Christian, building and garden interventions. You will surely be marveled by this incredible place and the stories and anecdotes your guide will reveal.

The rest of your afternoon/evening is free to perhaps have a wander around the Albaicin, the old Arabic quarter located on the hill opposite the Alhambra. It is characterized by cobble stoned streets with white washed houses. Despite several centuries of neglect and architectural barbarities allowed by the town council it still retains a strong Arabic feeling (the Arabic population was ethnically cleansed just over 500 years ago).

There are many squares with terraces and places to laze about and have a bite to eat. The Albaicin is an oil painter's paradise and almost at every turn of the head there is an attractive view, almost always involving glimpses of the Alhambra.

In a Nutshell: Private guided tour of Granada including entrance to the Alhambra, Overnight Granada

DAY 6 RONDA & JEREZ

This morning, after breakfast, your private chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Seville, but on the way you will be stopping in beautiful historical Ronda with time for a bit of sightseeing and a delicious lunch, for which we have many recommendations.

The Serrania de Ronda is a mountainous area that is famous throughout the world for it's beautiful white villages, in Spanish known as the Pueblos Blancos. This part of Spain is unique, it is only here that the white villages exist in such abundance.

Ronda is remarkably appealing with a beautifully preserved old town, Arab Baths and many great bars and restaurants. Since the 19th century Ronda has attracted a whole host of illustrious visitors and with its stunning position, on the top of the sheer-sided Tajo gorge, it is much-photographed.

Alternatively, here's a proposal for the wine lovers - a detour in Jerez, the cradle of sherry:

If you prefer to go to Jerez (please advise) first, for lunch, you will enjoy a foray to the lively coastal town of Puerto Santa Maria, famous for its "cocederos" - seafood shops/restaurants. Eating sea food in Puerto has turned into an authentic institution and a tourist attraction, the Rivera del Marisco with its popular sea-food restaurants like Romerijo, will all the prawns, lobsters etc. you can dream of.

Your chauffeur will then take you Jerez, which is known as the capital of sherry wine. It is here that Spanish Sherry Grape cultivation dates back to the Roman era and where several different types of sherry are produced today by many famous bodegas.

You have a Sherry date at a fantastic winery, founded in 1896, one of the major producers of Sherry in Spain. After a full tour of the facilities with a bi-lingual wine specialist guide you will then be able to immerse yourself in the sherry culture with an extended tasting of their fabulous sherries.

After a a stroll around Ronda (or a delicious tasting of various sherries if you prefer to go to Jerez - please advise) you can sit back and relax as your chauffeur now transfers you to Seville, where you will check into your boutique 4* hotel in Seville. Situated in a delightful area, in the picturesque and authentic Barrio de Santa Cruz, the hotel is an attractive, converted manor house dating back to the 16th century. Take some time to relax after your journey and soak up the Seville atmosphere with a wander through the orange and jasmine scented Barrio.

This evening we have many suggestions for dinner locally, perhaps something typically Andalusian.

In a Nutshell: Private chauffeured transportation to Seville with a visit to Ronda, OPTIONAL Private Guided visit to a top Sherry Producer with Sherry tasting, Overnight in a boutique 4* hotel in Seville

DAY 7 SEVILLE

Today, after breakfast, your officially licensed Seville guide will be waiting for you and you will depart on a private sightseeing tour of the Barrio Santa Cruz, which is the old Jewish quarter. You will amble around its beautiful squares and narrow streets, which form a labyrinth, but beware, it is very easy to get lost! This is part of the charm of the jasmine and orange scented Barrio because, when one is lost, a convent or a palace may be discovered. Many of the palaces have wrought iron gates that allow a sneak peep into their beautiful patios. The area abounds in small stores and artisan shops, as well as good art galleries.

Your tour continues through historic Seville, including a visit to Seville Cathedral, the oldest and most spectacular Gothic cathedral in the World, and La Giralda, a tower which provides spectacular views of the city. You may also have time to visit The Reales Alcazares, the oldest royal palace in Europe and residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they stay in Seville.

You will have worked up an appetite on this fascinating tour so your guide will lead you now to a tantalizingly delicious tapas lunch. Seville boasts more than 4,000 tapas bars - roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they're talking about! Tapas hopping is part of Andalusian life and as you stop into some of the many foodie hot spots you can try a variety of dishes that come freshly out of the kitchen. Plate after plate of hot and cold food appears on the bar to tempt your palate, so maybe try cold roasted pepper salad or anchovies in vinegar, a hot dish of meatballs in sauce or a slice of Potato Omelet ..... the choice is yours. Of course, as is customary, you will accompany your mouth watering bites with a glass of dry Spanish Sherry, wine or draft beer.

In the evening prepare yourself to be wowed with a wonderful Gypsy Flamenco Show, where the swirling skirts and tapping heels of the dancers will excite and amaze the senses.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of Historical Seville to include the Cathedral, Authentic Tapas Hopping, Gypsy Flamenco Show, Overnight Seville

DAY 8 CORDOBA

This morning, after breakfast, you are off out for the day as you have tickets on the very comfortable high speed train to Cordoba. Once the biggest city in all of Europe, Cordoba thrived and expanded with its unique blend of cultures. These are beautifully expressed with a visit to Mezquita, the most significant Muslim architectural achievement in the Western world. This 8th century structure was first a church, then a mosque, and today has a cathedral oddly placed in its center.

Walk the street leading up to the Juderia, with its whitewashed houses and colorful courtyards and shops. Though not Jewish in its current expression, a few signs hint of the Golden Age of Jewish life. Note, for example, the statue of the great court doctor and Torah sage, Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon) and the tiny, gem-like Synagogue, (the one in which Maimonedes prayed) which is one of only three remaining synagogues in Spain from before the Expulsion of 1492. The Jewish Quarter is the best-known part of Cordoba's historic center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 and is one of the largest in Europe.

You are free to explore this beautiful city on your own, but as the Mosque "Mezquita" is a must-see, we will provide you with all the information and maps you may need. Alternatively, we could arrange a private guided tour with our Officially Licensed Guide who, on arrival in Cordoba will be waiting for you to explain the history of and to show off the city. Relax over lunch and watch the world go by on a restaurant terrace in one of the city's charming squares, such as Plaza de la Corredera which is like a mini Venetian St Marks Square. Then, after lunch, why not stroll down to the river to the famous ancient Roman Bridge before heading back to the train station for your return to Seville. We have many suggestions for a final Sevilliano style dinner tonight!

In a Nutshell: Return High Speed Train Tickets to Cordoba,OPTIONAL Private Guided Tour of Cordoba, Overnight Seville

DAY 9 ESTREMOZ & EVORA

Today, after a leisurely breakfast, you will be leaving Spain behind and your private chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to the Portuguese Wine Region of Alentejo, a vast, sun-drenched area covering around a third of Portugal. Only five per cent of the land is planted with vines and between towns you can drive for miles passing cork and olive groves, vines, crops and grazing livestock. Here you will be able to stretch your legs and admire the views from beautiful hilltop village of Estremoz, before visiting a prestigious and historical winery, where you will learn a lot about the Portuguese wine and sample some great reds as you enjoy a delicious harvest lunch of Portuguese Cuisine, with Alentejo bread, olives, cheeses, typical Alentejo sausages etc.

You are now heading to the walled city of Evora with a proud, rich and imposing past. The Romans were here, leaving their 1st century Temple behind, but so were the Moors who occupied the narrow streets with quaint small white washed houses. Evora is laid out over a gently sloping hill rising out of the huge Alentejo plain. It guards its historic center with a vast outer wall and represents a valuable cultural legacy that UNESCO has classified World Heritage.

On arrival our chauffeur will drive you around town and show you some monuments you might wish to visit this afternoon. Then, you will check in to your elegant 5* spa hotel, perfectly located in the historical heart of the city and within short walking distance from the sights.

In a Nutshell: Private chauffeured transportation, Visit to Estremoz, Tour and lunch at a prestigious winery, Visit to Evora, Overnight in a historical luxury 5* hotel

DAY 10 SINTRA & CASCAIS

After breakfast this morning, you will be leaving Evora behind. Your private chauffeur will be waiting and you will first leave for Sintra. Sintra is a gorgeous little mountain city, home to the one and only "Palacio da Pena" (Pena Palace), the greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal. The Pena Palace is the most extraordinary palace in Portugal, built in the 1840's for Queen Maria II by her husband and rivaling the castles of Ludwig of Bavaria. You will have a private guided visit to the Palace and then free time to stroll in the gardens. The palace was built in such a way as to be visible from any point in the park, which consists of a forest and luxuriant gardens with over five hundred different species of trees originating from the four corners of the earth.

Your chauffeur will then take you to Cascais - an old fishing-town, now considered a high-end district. Here we have arranged for a delicious and elegant typically Portuguese lunch with wine at a prestigious local restaurant with great views.

After such a delicious meal you will surely wish to stretch your legs, strolling the cobblestone sidewalks of this quaint and pretty place, admiring the traditional tile-work on the buildings and maybe indulging in some shopping at designer boutiques.

Onward now to Lisbon, where you will check into your elegant 4* Boutique Hotel, in an unbeatable location in the center of Lisbon and famed for top notch service. If San Francisco had a sister, it would be Lisbon. Both cities have twin bridges and famously foggy weather. Both are situated on the best natural harbors on the west coast of their respective continents. Both have trolleys rattling up and down their steep hills past characteristic buildings. And both have survived horrific earthquakes. In 1755, an estimated 9.0 earthquake leveled two-thirds of Lisbon. Within a month, a new city was designed, and downtown Lisbon was rebuilt on a progressive grid plan, with broad boulevards and square squares. Today, Lisbon is a charming mix of old and new. Bird-stained statues mark grand plazas, taxis screech around cobbled corners and the hip and trendy hang out in Art Nouveau cafes. Just like it did during the days of Magellan and Vasco da Gama, the city continues to welcome ships into its large port. Even today, Lisbon still feels like Europe's gateway to the world. We can recommend many restaurants in Lisbon for you to discover some local Portuguese cuisine this evening!

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transportation, Elegant lunch with wine, Private guided visit to Palacio da Pena in Sintra, Overnight in an elegant boutique 4* hotel in Lisbon

 

 

DAY 11 LISBON

This morning, after breakfast, your experienced, Officially Licensed guide will be waiting at your hotel to take you on a Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon. Your private visit will start with the Moorish St Georges Castle, renamed after conquering the Moors, where you will be able to take in the impressive views over the sea. Within the walls of the Castle you will stop at a friendly Cafe for your first Portuguese tasting of the day where you may like to try Ginginha, the famous Portuguese Cherry Liqueur, have a glass of the famous fortified wine Port or join Portugals strong cafe culture with an aromatic coffee.

Leading down from the castle to the river, you will then cross the Alfama, the salty sailors quarter. Its tangled street plan is one of the few parts of Lisbon to survive the big quake, making the Alfama a cobbled playground of Old World color. Urban-jungle roads are squeezed into a maze of confusing alleys, designed to frustrate invaders trying to get up to the castle. What was defensive then is atmospheric now. Gnarled houses snuggle together in their romantic shabbiness; the air drips with laundry and the smell of clams and raw fish.

Onward now to the Baixa and Chiado districts where there are many well-known cafes to enjoy another stop for a coffee and a typical Portuguese cake before heading to Rossio, passing by the famous Santa Justa elevator, where you will hear about the only tea produced in Europe, grown in the Atlantic Island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. You will be visiting a specialized gourmet locale stocked with authentic local delights such as the typical Bacalhau (dried, salted cod), exclusive wines, traditional sweets, chorizo sausages and much more. A taste of the authentic dried salted cod is a must!

From here you will head to Praca do Comercio - Commerce Square - a vast waterfront place, where the royal palace stood until the 1755 Great Earthquake. Here you will sample authentic Portuguese Beer and taste the delicious cod cakes. Your tour of Lisbon would not be complete without including Vinho Verde do Minho (the famous green wine of Minho) and you will able to enjoy a glass accompanied with Azeitao cheese, spicy chorizo sausage and delicious bread.

Your private guide will provide you with many personalized suggestions for further sightseeing in Lisbon for the rest of your day but you will surely appreciate a relax at your Lisbon hotel first.

This evening you are set for a fabulous Fado experience, the national music of Portugal. You will dine at an authentic, elegant Portuguese Fado restaurant in the picturesque Bairro Alto. Founded in 1931 this institution in Lisbon has entertained prime ministers and presidents. The show is composed of Fado Sessions until 2am so you can stay as long as you wish, although most of our guests leave around 11pm.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon, Fado Evening, Overnight Lisbon

DAY 12 LISBON

Today is a free day in Lisbon to do as you wish - perhaps you will want to have a wander and try some more local cheeses, ports or wines or make a visit to the Port Wine Institute, where you can sample a selection of ports - wander around the Alfama district and find a little local cafe for a port or two, or alternatively, just take it easy for the rest of the day, sip a glass of good Portuguese wine and watch the world go by.

Your Lisbon guide will have given you many ideas on further sightseeing options within the Portuguese Capital. Maybe ride on the famous tram's which were originally called americanos, with the first operational route being inaugurated in 1873, or, visit the Santa Engracia church , which is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the church that took the longest time to construct: started in the 17th century, the last dome was completed in 1966.

Lisbon is also known as the town of seven hills which are comprised of, not surprisingly, the seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela. An uphill walk will be tiring but the views well worth it!

In a Nutshell: Free day in Lisbon, Overnight Lisbon

DAY 13 PORTO

This morning, after breakfast, you will be leaving Lisbon behind and heading to Porto. You will have 1st class train tickets on the train to Porto and your hotel reception will be delighted to assist you with a taxi for the approximate 17 minute drive. Upon arrival to Porto, after a 3 h journey, you will take a short taxi ride (approximately 11 minutes) to check in to your luxury 5* Wine and Spa hotel. Your hotel has the perfect location in Vila Nova de Gaia in the midst of the famous Port Wine Lodges and descends from a family who entered the Port trade in 1838. They were among the most distinguished and enterprising of the Port families and their descendants maintain this tradition as owners of three of the most famous Port companies. Your luxury hotel is named in celebration of the family's historic link with the city, and it draws on its owners' expertise in both fine wine production and luxury hotel management to become one of the world's leading wine hotels. Relax and enjoy a dramatic and unobstructed view across the River Douro to the historic centre of Porto from your balcony.

Your officially licensed local guide will meet you at your hotel this afternoon to take you on a historical tour of the city with gourmet tastings en-route. The original home of Port wine, winding streets and an interesting old town that is a World Heritage Site - this is Porto. Henry the Navigator was born in Porto and the city had a minor role in "The Discoveries".

On your journey you will see and hear of the city's most emblematic monuments and will visit the 14th century Church Sao Francisco, well worth seeing for its Baroque decorations, as well as the Se Cathedral, a 12th century Baroque church with Gothic cloisters and ornately painted blue-and-white azulejos tiles, Sao Bento railway station, Clerigos tower, Ribeira square and the elaborately decorated Lello bookstore which was recently rated as one of top 3 most beautiful book-stores in the world.

You will pass by some interesting wine shops on your journey and, as you are in the home of Port wine, arrangements have been made for you to taste some of the very special famous ports - your guide will gladly share with you his deep knowledge on the subject.

Relax for the rest of the day and enjoy a dramatic and unobstructed view across the River Douro to the historic centre of Porto from your balcony. You may like to use the hotel's luxury spa facilities with its large indoor pool and hot tub or sit around the outdoor pool offering panoramic views of Porto.

You may like to have dinner at your hotel tonight, but if not, we have many suggestions for delicious restaurants for this evening.

In a Nutshell: 1st class train to Porto, Private guided tour of historical Porto including Port Wine tasting, Overnight 5* spa hotel Porto

DAY 14 PORTO

This morning after a leisurely breakfast and just a short walk from your hotel you are booked for a guided visit to a fantastic Port Wine Lodge which is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses and was established over three centuries ago in 1692. For many, it is the archetypal Port house and its wines the quintessential Ports. It is dedicated entirely to the production of Port wine and in particular to its finest styles. The history of the firm is in many ways the history of the Port trade itself.

Since its foundation the company has remained independent. Now well into its fourth century, it has thrived and prospered, establishing itself as one of the worlds most respected historic wine houses. This has been achieved through the perseverance, pioneering spirit and continuity of purpose of successive generations of family involvement. You will enjoy a private guided tour of the Wine Lodge concluded with a delightful tasting of some of their best ports.

You will then head to the Gaia riverfront, the meeting point for traders and fishermen since medieval times; it was here they crossed the river to sell the products from the Upper Douro. Your next visit will be to another fantastic Port Wine Lodge that combines tradition and modernity. The building dates back to the 18th century and was restored in 1881 with the expansion of the Port wine trade. After your visit of the premises you will discover some of their delicious Port Wines.

For lunch, why not take a stroll over the Dom Luis Bridge, an unmistakable icon of Porto, to the Ribeira district, and sit back and relax on the riverbank of Porto. We have many suggestions for further sightseeing for this afternoon or you might just wish to return to your hotel and enjoy a relaxing session of pool and spa.

In a Nutshell: Visits and Port Wine Tastings to 2 Prestigious Port Wine Lodges, Overnight Porto

DAY 15 SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, you will checking out of your Porto hotel and your chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Spain! You are heading to Santiago de Compostela today but on the way you will be stopping in Guimaraes with time for a walk around.

This historical town is called the birthplace of Portugal, as Afonso Henriques who went on to be the first king of Portugal, was born here in 1110. Guimaraes has beautifully preserved its illustrious past which you will find evident in the graceful iron verandas, granite balconies and porticos, mansions, arches, time-smoothed paving slabs, towers and cloisters. Its medieval center is a labyrinthine of lanes and picturesque plazas framed by 14th-century buildings. Its glory was officially recognised in 2001, when Unesco declared its old center a World Heritage Site.

Onward now to Santiago de Compostela. Please remember that Spain is an hour ahead of Portugal so remember to put your clocks forward! Your chauffeur will drop you off at your grand luxury 5* hotel, set in a beautiful 15th-century building, a former pilgrims' hospital.

Your hotel is a blend of history, art and tradition, the dream of pilgrims and an emblem of Santiago. It is located in the Old Town, on Obradoiro Square, near the cathedral, creating an area of spectacular beauty in one of the most visited provincial capitals in the world.

Santiago de Compostela is known as the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and is the alleged burial site of the apostle St. James. It became a symbol of the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam, being destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century; it was subsequently completely rebuilt in the following century. This town is a very well preserved historical city and a place deeply instilled with faith. St. James remains lie within the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, sanctified in 1211. The Cathedrals elaborately carved stone facades open onto grand squares within the medieval walls of the old town. The squares and narrow streets of the Old Town contain Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassicist buildings. The cathedral, considered a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture is home to the remarkable Portico de la Gloria, a medieval sculpture.

Please note : If you would like to experience Saint James Way, our chauffeur will take you to the most beautiful strip of the Padron/Escravitude/Santiago route, a trail of around 20km. You could then arrive to Santiago de Compostela in style, walking as an authentic Pilgrim!

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transportation from Porto to Santiago de Compostela via Guimaraes, Overnight in a Grand Luxury 5* Hotel in Santiago de Compostela

DAY 16 SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Today, after breakfast, your officially licensed guide will meet you at your hotel and you will set off to discover the sights of Santiago de Compostela, capital of northwest Spain's Galicia region.

You will first visit Santiago de Compostela Cathedral the most outstanding building of Romanesque art in Spain, and final destination of the Way of St. James, which, during centuries, has brought Christendoms pilgrims to the apostle’s tomb. The crypt of Saint James the apostle lies directly beneath the Baroque style main altar of the Cathedral. And in the Cathedral's Museum you will see all the historic and artistic treasures, from the earliest basilicas.

You will then meander through the intricate alleys and narrow streets of the old city center and be able to admire some of its most ancient stores and buildings. Santiago's old quarter has the UNESCO World Heritage designation and you will see why as you look at the palaces, churches, alleyways and squares in the historic center.

You will also make a visit to the traditional market where many of its traders are the producers, harvesters, butchers and fishmongers selling their very own fresh vegetables, fruit, local cheeses, catches of the day etc. En-route you will be introduced to the famous Galician gastronomy - the Galician Rias offer a wide variety of fish (mostly eaten boiled or grilled) and seafood, so you will surely delight in tasting the typical dishes such as Fair-style octopus, seafood, fried peppers from Padron and the famous empanadas or meat pies, accompanied by a glass of Albarino wine.

Your private guide will leave you with many personalized suggestions for some more great Galician food for lunch and for more sightseeing for the rest of your day. For example, a walk in the beautiful open space that is Alameda Park dating back to the 19th century offers a privileged and stunning view of ancient Santiago!

In a Nutshell: Private guided morning tour of historical Santiago de Compostela, Overnight in Santiago de Compostela

DAY 17 MADRID

This morning, after breakfast, you will be leaving Santiago and heading to Madrid. You have tickets, on a first class basis, for the comfortable intercity train and your cross-country journey will take just over 5h.

On arrival in Madrid you will check into your 4* boutique hotel, housed in an eighteenth century building which used to be the residence of the Duke of Noblejas and has maintained its frescoes, mirrors and stained glass whilst being equipped with modern comforts. The hotel's location is perfect, next to the famous Plaza Santa Ana, in the Barrio de las Letras and within the Golden Triangle of Art, so you will not have far to walk to get to the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia.

After time to settle into your hotel, perhaps a light lunch and a chance to make the most of the Spanish "siesta", you will join our excellent bi-lingual Officially Licensed guide for a tour of El Prado, Old Madrid and Tapas hopping. Your private guided tour will first take you to El Prado museum, which is the biggest art gallery in the world. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection due to lack of space. However, a recent addition to the museum increased the space by 50%, so more paintings will gradually be displayed. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. Your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art, will make sure you don't miss anything. You are in excellent hands.

Your private tour of Madrid will then take you to the Plaza Oriente to see and learn about the Royal Palace and the Cathedral. You will then walk through the Old town to the Plaza de la Villa, with the town hall, and on to San Miguel market, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid where its bars and restaurants make it the place to meet in old Madrid. You will also visit the Plaza Mayor and finalize your tour in Santa Ana Square (near your hotel). On your journey this afternoon/evening you will enjoy some fantastic bites to eat, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of wine and tapas the city has on offer!

In a Nutshell: High Speed train to Madrid on a 1st Class basis, Private Guided Tour of El Prado and Old Madrid with Gourmet Tapas Hopping, Overnight in Luxury 4* Hotel in Madrid

DAY 18 TOLEDO

Today you are off to Toledo for the day. You have return high speed train tickets to this beautiful town just 30 min away. You are free to discover Toledo on your own, however if you wish to have a private tour, with our Officially Licensed Guide, this can be arranged.

Toledo is famous for its Cathedral which is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city and is considered to be one of the high points of Gothic art. On its main facade the outstanding feature is the doorway, made up of three doors: Infierno (Hell), Perdon (Forgiveness) and Juicio (Judgement). Discover the famous Toledo synagogues; Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito, where the remains of the Jewish community are well preserved and the church of Santo Tome, famous for housing El Greco's famous picture entitled El entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz).

On return to Madrid, we have many suggestions for dinner this evening- be it in a Michelin starred restaurant with avant-garde cuisine or a traditional meson with the best suckling pig or lamb in town. Wherever you choose, a glass of fine Spanish wine will surely accompany your meal.

In a Nutshell: Return High Speed train to Toledo, OPTIONAL Private Guided Tour of Toledo, Overnight Madrid

DAY 19 MADRID

After breakfast, and based on the insider top tips your guide left you with, you have a free day to wander around Madrid and see all the fantastic Museums, art galleries and famous parks of this fantastic city.

Perhaps you wish to visit the Reina Sofia Museum or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in the company of your expert guide, this can be of course arranged. The Reina Sofia Museum - The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, also called the Museo Reina Sofia, (Queen Sofia Museum), is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain. The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the former Queen of Spain. The museum collection consists of more than 20,000 works from the late 19th century to the present day, mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including two of the greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picassos 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum - Madrid's acquisition of this treasure trove of art in the 1980s was one of the greatest coups in European art history. Amassed by a central European collector beginning around 1920, and formerly displayed in Lugano, Switzerland, its 700 canvases, with works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, are arranged in chronological order. This fantastic collection rivals the legendary holdings of the Queen of England herself.

Maybe you wish to return to the Royal Palace, Palacio Real (often referred to as Palacio Oriente after the nearby square of the same name), to view its interesting interior. The palace is used by the King for ceremonial purposes only; he actually lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of the city. Or, take a leisurely walk through El Retiro Park, a great place to enjoy the open air as you stroll along the paths, of this once royal garden, passing fountains, statues, the delicate Palacio de Cristal, the boating lake and maybe the odd street entertainer or art exhibition.

You might like to do a little shopping and if your pleasure is designer clothes why not spend some time wandering around some of the finest boutiques in Spain on Calle Serrano. Whatever you decide, enjoy your day! This evening we have many recommendations for fine dining in Madrid, be it old style Spanish food or Michelin starred extravaganza.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Madrid, Overnight Madrid

DAY 20 DEPARTURE

It is always sad to say goodbye, but this is the last day of your tour and after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and will have a chauffeured transfer to Madrid Airport for your onward journey home.

We do hope you will join us for this very exciting tour, which will surely be a truly memorable experience!

In a Nutshell: Private Chauffeured Transfer to Madrid Airport or OPTIONAL High speed train to Barcelona

Alternatively, if your flight is from Barcelona Airport (please advise) you may wish to add an extra night to this Luxury Food and Wine Tour and stay overnight in Barcelona. Therefore, after checking out of your Madrid hotel take a taxi to the railway station where you will have reservations for seats on the high speed train to Barcelona.

On arrival in Barcelona you will take a taxi (or private chauffeured transfer if you wish) from the station to your hotel, and then the rest of your day is free. Do a little extra sightseeing, last minute shopping or purely relax over a glass of wine prior to having a final farewell dinner, for which we have many suggestions.

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 4* boutique style hotel in the heart of Barcelona (port view room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 5* luxury former convent hotel in Granada (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 4* boutique palace-house converted hotel in the historical heart of Seville (premium room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in a 5* restored convent hotel in Evora (deluxe room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights at an elegant art deco 4* hotel in the very heart of Lisbon (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in an elegant 5* wine hotel and spa in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto (executive room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a Grand Luxury 5* Hotel in Santiago de Compostela (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in an elegant 4* boutique hotel, in the historical and cultural heart of Madrid (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Nineteen (19) full breakfasts

  • Chauffeured transfers in a luxury vehicle, as indicated in the itinerary

  • Train tickets: On a preferential basis (1st Class) from Barcelona to Andalucia, Lisbon to Porto and Santiago de Compostela to Madrid. On a standard basis for the return trips Madrid-Toledo and Seville-Cordoba

  • All the private guided tours, cultural visits,tastings and meals as indicated in the itinerary

  • Online Personal Travel Webpage including daily itinerary, general local information, details of places of interest, suggestions for restaurant reservations, and your free time, etc.

  • Handy elegant Personal Travel Journal, which includes the extended information from your Personal Travel Website, that you can take with you as you go and keep as a souvenir to look back on.

  • 24/7 Back Office Assistance

Your tour does not include:

  • Flights

  • Meals and drinks not stated in the itinerary

  • Personal expenses such as telephone, minibar, etc.

  • Tips and gratuities at restaurants etc. at your discretion, NOT obligatory

  • Travel Insurance may be included in your quotation on request. We strongly recommend you to take out separate cancellation insurance.

Prices:

Please note our tours are available for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY and are not scheduled mixed group tours. Price is available upon request and varies depending on the number of guests and time of year. Feel free to contact us for your personal quote