Tour in a Nutshell

A mixture of vibrant cities, idyllic countryside and seaside

Hands-on food experiences to taste the best of Iberia

Understand the rich cultural heritage of Spain & Portugal

Discover at your own pace on this easy self-drive vacation

14 days/13 nights, boutique hotels & private guides

Tour description

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

See and taste the rich mix of Spain & Portugal on our Independent Spain & Portugal food, wine & cultural tour. Not only will you visit some marvellous cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon, you will also experience the lush wine country of Portugal’s Douro Valley, and see incredible architecture in Andalucia. With our private city guides, you will see both monuments and hidden aspects of each place, as well as taste their regional delicacies and the wines on offer! This is your opportunity to visit both Spain and Portugal in style on one very special and private, luxury tour, covering destinations you have always dreamed of visiting! Experience the regional varieties of food, wine and culture these intriguing places have to offer. The warmth and charm of the people and places of the Iberian Peninsula will leave imprints for years to come!

DAY 1 BARCELONA

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

On arrival at Barcelona Airport our chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle ready to transfer you to your 4* boutique hotel. Located in the vibrant Barcelona Gothic Quarter, the hotel is near to all major sights but at the same time on the port front. 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. A representative of Gourmand Breaks will meet you for a welcome drink, and together you will discuss your personalized itinerary for your private Highlights of Spain food, wine & cultural 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. Our excellent guides and chauffeurs will attend you throughout your tour with us and you will also have our 24/7 back office assistance, for anything you might need.

Barcelona has a long and ancient history, but the city was replanned, with its medieval walls demolished in 1854; as the modern and eclectic place visited today. Over the next sixty years, much of modern Barcelona was built, its architecture funded by the bourgeoisie and designed by Antoni Gaudi and his Modernista contemporaries, Lluis Domenech and Josep Puig. The Eixample district, where most of the new building was happening at the time, is where you will encounter the majority of these examples of Catalan Renaissance architecture; often arresting you as you turn a corner, with their lavish decoration and detail. On this first evening in Barcelona you might want to simply relax and unwind after your journey, otherwise we have several dinner recommendations for Barcelona’s best restaurants or informal tapas places nearby.

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Barcelona airport. Overnight in a 4* luxury palace hotel overlooking the port in Barcelona.

DAY 2 BARCELONA

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

This morning our charismatic Officially Licensed guide will await you at your hotel. Together you will beat the queues as you enjoy a private guided visit to Antoni Gaudi’s incredible architectural feat, La Sagrada Familia. Following, you will visit La Boqueria market, Spain’s largest marketplace, which is a display of the brightest and most delectable foods Spain can offer. Our expert 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. Continuing your private walking tour through the Gothic quarter of Barcelona you will see Barcelona Cathedral, Sant Jaume Square and the amazing Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Next you will taste some of the best Spanish cheeses at an artisan cheese shop, paired with Priorat wine. For something sweet, your tour will stop at the oldest venue in Barcelona for dried nuts, fruits, nougats and chocolate. This quaint store, having specialized in roasting coffee beans and nuts for over 150 years, is still decorated with its original furniture and wood-burning stove.

Your private Barcelona food & wine tour will be rounded off with a light lunch at one of the best delicatessens in the city! Produce includes Spain’s best ham & cold meats, local preserves of wild tuna, anchovies, or clams and a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, etc. In addition there are English speaking sommeliers on hand to guide you through more than 6000 wines. The rest of your afternoon will be free to enjoy as you wish. Prior to leaving you, your guide will be happy to provide suggestions for really good places to eat and shop, etc.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided tour of Barcelona. Gourmet food & wine tastings. Overnight Barcelona.

DAY 3 BARCELONA

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Barcelona is yours for discovering solo today! You may have had your curiosity piqued by a certain area you visited yesterday with your guide, maybe an interesting cafe or a local atelier in the Born quarter. Otherwise, you might want to explore more of Barcelona’s architectural curiosities; there are many remarkable buildings to see. Gaudi’s first work, Casa Vicens, is a spectacularly decorated house in the up-and-coming Gracia area north of the centre. Here several small food and design businesses thrive; be it a bakery, a gelateria or a potter’s studio. Optionally, we can arrange for you to have a gourmet cooking class today at a prestigious Barcelona cooking school, where you will learn the secrets of the best seafood paella, suquet or crema catalana. You will not only learn to cook a few key Spanish dishes, but with our fantastic Spanish chef, you will head to La Boqueria market to choose the best ingredients for your 4-course Spanish feast. Enjoy the attention of our chef and a delicious lunch with wines to follow.

Alternatively, take time to do a little shopping on the Passeig de Gracia, the place for Barcelona’s best shopping, with over a kilometre of incredible designer shops and interesting boutiques where few major international designers are not present. Otherwise have a casual lunch, stroll along the seafront, visit Parc Guell, Montjuic or maybe there is another area you wish to see. We can recommend a few fine dining venues nearby for a sumptuous meal to say goodbye to Barcelona in style!

Tour in a nutshell: Free day Barcelona. Optional Barcelona cooking class. Overnight Barcelona.

DAY 4 SEVILLE

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Andalucia is your Independent Gourmet Tour’s destination today. Arriving with the high-speed train in Seville, you will check into your 5* hotel. Once in Seville you can either choose to rest your feet at your hotel, or if you have the energy to discover this Andalusian gem, you may wish to wander through the charming streets nearby to your hotel, discovering the essence of this vibrant city. Amble around its beautiful squares and narrow streets, which form a labyrinth, but beware, it is very easy to get lost!

Seville is the capital of Andalucia and has distilled Spanish life into its purest and most intense form. Here you will find romantic medieval lanes, hidden plazas soaked in the scent of orange blossom and a nightlife which rivals Barcelona’s. Seville has made enjoying oneself an art form, with tapas bars filled with people spilling out onto the pavements, music and chatter filling the air. Tapas hopping is part of Andalusian life and as you step into some of the many foodie hotspots you can try a variety of dishes that come freshly out of the kitchen. Of course, as is customary, you will accompany your mouth watering bites with a glass of dry Spanish sherry, wine or draft beer. This evening we have many suggestions in your personal travel journal for a local dinner where you will have the chance to soak up Seville’s atmosphere. To be out at night amongst relaxed and fun-loving Sevillanos is an experience you won’t forget!

Tour in a nutshell: 1st class high-speed train tickets from Barcelona to Seville. Overnight in a 5* boutique hotel in Seville.

DAY 5 SEVILLE

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Today your officially licensed Seville tour 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. Part of the charm of the jasmine and orange scented Barrio is the ability to discover a lovely corner of the world; a convent or a palace – many of which have wrought iron gates that allow a sneak-peek 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 private walking tour of Seville, 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. 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. 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.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided tour of Historic Seville to include the Cathedral. Lunch of authentic tapas-hopping. Gypsy Flamenco show. Overnight Seville.

DAY 6 CORDOBA

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Discover more delicious food and culture with a day-trip to Cordoba! On arrival to Cordoba train station, your excellent Officially Licensed tour guide will be waiting to give you a private tour of this beautiful city. 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. 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.

Your private tour guide will then take you to some local taverns to savor some typical Cordobese tapas. Taverns in Cordoba used to be the place where the local people could go to drink wine and every tavern had an interior courtyard with a well, that was not only for decoration but also to refresh the drinks. Nowadays Cordoban taverns are designed as lively, yet less frenetic, venues to taste tapas. Try the specialties such as Flamenquin (battered pork or ham), Salmorejo (cold tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs), Rabo de Toro (Bulls tail) and for dessert the typical Pastel Cordobes – a pastry filled with sweet pumpkin. On returning to Seville, we have many suggestions for a final Sevilliano style dinner tonight to complete this day of your Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal!

Tour in a nutshell: High-speed return train to Cordoba. Private guided tour of Historic Cordoba to include the Mezquita. Lunch of typical tavern tastings with wine. Overnight Seville.

DAY 7 LISBON

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

From Spain to Portugal today! This morning a representative of our car rental company will be waiting with your luxury rental vehicle (Mercedes E, Audi 4 or similar) equipped with GPS. Now you can hit the road to drive across the border to Lisbon! En route, you will be stopping at a unique family run estate with a long tradition of Iberian ham produce, established in 1818! Nowadays the 4th generation of the family continues the tradition of producing the finest Iberian ham and cold cuts. Located in a village of only 600 inhabitants, the area enjoys a unique microclimate and is very beneficial for the Iberian pigs to pasture freely. You will learn about the land and the life of the business; as you are given a full tour of the premises; including the traditional elaboration of their products. At the end of your tour you will enjoy an Iberian ham tasting lunch in their bodega, accompanied with cheese and wine.

When you arrive in Lisbon, you will check into your genuine 4* Art Deco hotel, which echoes the glamour of the 1940’s. Classified as a historic building, this small and unique hotel is located on a quiet street right alongside the cosmopolitan Avenida da Liberdade. We are sure you will be tired after your journey, but a short siesta is the answer before you start to get acquainted with this fabulous city! Lisbon is a charming mix of old world architecture and modern city life, still welcoming ships into its large port; as it has done for centuries. In your Independent Gourmet Tour personal travel journal, we can recommend many restaurants in Lisbon to discover some Portuguese cuisine this evening!

Tour in a nutshell: Rental of a luxury vehicle with automatic transmission and GPS. Tour & tasting lunch at Jabugo ham producer. Overnight in a 4* hotel in Lisbon.

DAY 8 LISBON

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Discover the soul of Lisbon today, when our Officially Licensed tour guide will be waiting at your hotel to take you on a private gourmet and historical tour of Lisbon! Get ready to excite your eyes and taste buds! You will start with an introduction to Portugal’s coffee culture. You will have the chance to take a look at delicious and exotic products; from dried and salted Bacalhau to sausages, hams and cheeses. Learn the history of the famous fortified wine, Port, and then try some with delicious Azeitao cheese. Discover the local sweets and pastries and sample the famous custard tart; Pastis de Belem. Hear about the only tea produced in Europe that is grown on the Atlantic Island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. Try some Portuguese beer in beautiful Rossio Central Station and finally make a visit to the Moorish St George’s Castle, from where you can enjoy impressive views over the sea. Venturing into the Alfama, one of the areas that survived the earthquake of 1775, you will find a maze of confusing alleys, designed to frustrate invaders on their quest to get 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. You will pass by some interesting wine shops on your journey where arrangements have been made for you to taste not only the very special famous ports from Douro, but also Portuguese wines, such as Vinho Verde de Minho (the famous green wine of Minho).

On returning to your hotel, relax before enjoying an evening of fabulous Fado, the national music of Portugal. You will dine at an authentic Portuguese Fado restaurant in Lisbon’s picturesque Bairro Alto.

*You may like to have an extra night in Lisbon to explore more, or take a drive out to visit the amazing Pena Palace in Sintra. Please advise and we will be happy to customize your itinerary accordingly.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided gourmet and historic tour of Lisbon. Fado evening. Overnight Lisbon.

DAY 9 DOURO VALLEY

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Your Independent Gourmet tour leads you to the stunning Douro Valley today, but first off you will be stopping by Coimbra; one of Portugal’s oldest cities. In 711 the city was occupied by the Moors and remained Islamic for more than 300 years, despite brief interludes when Christian troops regained control. With the final Reconquest, in 1064, Coimbra was ideally situated to be a point of contact between the Muslim south and the Christian north and became home to an important Mozarabic community. Today, its atmospheric, beautiful historic core cascades down a hillside in a lovely setting on the east bank of the Rio Mondeg: it is a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium. Take time out to see the Old Cathedral Se Velha – the present church, and Torre de Almedina, which was built above the Almedina Arch in the 11th century.

Onward now to one of the finest wine regions of the world – arrive in Pinhao, the heart of the Douro Valley, and check into your hotel, a charming 5-star property. Your hotel was once a Port winery, so enjoy a privileged location overlooking the Douro River. Later on you may wish to explore Pinhao, itself. Spectacularly located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhao rivers, this small town is the epicenter of the Port wine making area and a place where the soil and climatic conditions are considered to be at their very best. This afternoon, you may like to enjoy a guided visit to a great Douro Valley winery that is just a short stroll from your hotel. We will be delighted to include a visit and a tasting of their wines in your itinerary if you so wish. For dinner tonight we have many suggestions in your Independent Gourmet tour of Spain & Portugal travel journal.

Tour in a nutshell: Drive to the Douro Valley via Coimbra. Optional Douro Valley winery tour with wine tasting. Overnight in a 5* hotel in the Douro Valley.

DAY 10 DOURO VALLEY

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

More wine is to be tasted by you today! You will head to a fantastic Quinta, famous for its sophisticated wines as well as for its dramatic views. This single vineyard property dates as far back as the early seventeenth century, long before the Douro became the world’s first demarcated wine region in 1756. In the company of their in-house expert, you will have a full private tour of the vineyards and cellars, followed by a tasting of their incredible wines and ports, with lunch included. What better place to enjoy a gourmet lunch, than overlooking the Douro Valley? After lunch you will return to Pinhao where you will join a cruise along the Douro River. You will be able to revel in the fantastic area that surrounds you, as you head upstream toward the mouth of the river Tua. This stretch of river is not visible from national roads and is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Douro river. You will most definitely be able to imagine how Port wine was carried downriver from the Quintas of the Douro Valley to the Port Wine lodges in Porto on the traditional Portuguese cargo boats known as Rabelos. Please note: The group cruise is taken on normal river boats but should you wish to have a private cruise on one of the Rabelo Boats then this can be arranged in advance.

This evening, why not take a walk beside the Douro River or even take a train which follows the river? Pinhao station is considered one of the symbolic locations on the Upper Douro wine circuit, with 25 blue glazed tile panels covering the main building, representing the local landscapes and habits, predominantly of wine making.

Tour in a nutshell: Private Douro Valley winery tour. Gourmet 3 course lunch with wine. Cruise on the Douro River. Overnight Douro Valley.

DAY 11 MADRID

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

This morning you will leave for Madrid, but on the way you will be able to visit Salamanca: one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. The city is large enough to be able to offer the advantages of a real city, but at the same time it retains the intimacy of a village. The city’s historic center has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is particularly impressive; considered to be one of the finest squares in Spain and known as the living room of the Salamantinos. A private guided visit of Salamanca can be arranged, if you so wish. Please note: We will be delighted to include an overnight stay for you in Salamanca should you wish to break the journey up to Madrid.

You will then continue your journey to Madrid and on arrival you will drop your rental car off, at the Atocha station, and then check into your 4* 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 all the 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. For this evening we have many suggestions for the best restaurants and tapas bars just a stone’s throw from your hotel; all contained within the pages of your Independent Gourmet tour of Spain & Portugal travel journal.

Tour in a nutshell: Drive to Madrid via Salamanca. Overnight in a luxury 4* hotel in Madrid.

DAY 12 MADRID

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Explore Madrid in the company of our Officially Licensed guide today, for a tour of El Prado and Old Madrid. El Prado museum is the biggest art gallery in the world, with more than 7,600 paintings. Prado means meadow, and the museum received the name 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, where the town hall sits, and then on to San Miguel market. San Miguel market is the hottest and most vibrant gastronomic spot in Madrid; whose bars and restaurants are the place to meet! Here 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 to offer! You will also visit the Plaza Mayor and finalize your tour in Santa Ana Square (right near your hotel).

Today Madrid is renowned for its cultural life and ability to have a good time. Many restaurants in Madrid do not open until 11pm at night; let alone serve food! No matter what you choose to do with your free time today, Madrid offers a fount of options: large open park spaces, ambling through quirky and offbeat neighbourhoods like Chueca and Malasana; where you can grab a coffee or drink and watch the array of Madrilenos pass by.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided tour of El Prado & Old Madrid. Tapas-hopping meal with wine. Overnight Madrid.

DAY 13 MADRID

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

Today you are free to do as you wish. You may want to travel to Toledo for the day, a beautiful town just 30 min away by high-speed train. If you choose to visit Toledo, we can always arrange for our Officially Licensed guide to meet you at the station and give you a walking tour of the city. A must-visit is Toledo Cathedral, one of the most outstanding buildings in the city and 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). Continuing your tour you will visit the famous Toledo synagogues; Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito, where the remains of the Jewish community are well preserved, and finish with a visit to the church of Santo Tome, famous for housing the famous El Greco picture entitled El entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz).

Alternatively, you might like to do a little last minute shopping or wander around other parts of Madrid – we have many suggestions contained within your Independent Gourmet tour of Spain & Portugal travel journal. Perhaps you wish to visit the Reina Sofia Art Gallery or the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection? Otherwise if you enjoy the fresh air, why not take a leisurely walk through Retiro Park and stroll along the paths, passing fountains, statues and the delicate Palacio de Cristal. You could even hire a row-boat for a relaxing hour on the lake. This evening we have many suggestions for a farewell Spanish dinner – 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 as you recall your last days in Spain and Portugal on this incredible tour!

Tour in a nutshell: Free day Madrid or optional private guided tour of Toledo with high-speed train tickets. Overnight Madrid.

DAY 14 DEPARTURE

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal

It is always sad to say goodbye, but this is the final day of your tour and after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and have a chauffeured transfer to Madrid Airport for your onward journey home. We do hope you will join us for this dynamic gourmet tour of Spain & Portugal. No doubt your tastebuds will have learned some new things!

Alternatively, if your flight is from Barcelona Airport you may wish to add one night and stay overnight in Barcelona. We would include high-speed train tickets from Madrid back to Barcelona.

Tour in a nutshell: Private chauffeured transfer to Madrid airport or optional high-speed train to Barcelona.

Tour quotation

Independent Gourmet Tour of Spain & Portugal Quote Request

We are excited that you are considering joining us on one of our fabulous custom-built tours of Spain, Portugal, SW France and/or Italy! Please fill in the form below and we will happily provide you with a non-committal initial quote for the sample tour itinerary chosen.

In case you would prefer us to build a personal tour proposal for you from scratch, please e-mail us at [email protected]com and we will be delighted to start working with you on your personal and very special travel itinerary with us.

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