Tour description

Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour

Uncover Iberia’s history as you travel through the regions of Spain & Portugal on this private luxury tour. On this 15 day itinerary you will discover the historic monuments in Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Coimbra, Obidos and Madrid. Starting in Barcelona and ending in Lisbon, you will witness the architectural wonders and richly varied culture of Spain and Portugal. Relax in comfort as your chauffeur drives you through scenic countryside to visit artisan food producers as well as to wine tastings in the Douro Valley. On this easy vacation, you will take comfortable trains for the long journeys and day trips to must-visit places. This cultural tour includes wonderful regional lunches, private guided city tours and an opportunity to uncover the fascinating heritage of the Iberian Peninsula. Do your soul a favour and visit Spain & Portugal!



Your arrival at Barcelona Airport signifies the start of your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour. 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. A representative of Gourmand Breaks will meet you for a welcome drink, and together you will discuss your personalized itinerary for your private food, wine & cultural tour of Spain & Portugal. 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’s history is ancient and varied, 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 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.



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.



Your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour allows you to discover Barcelona as you wish. Maybe you would like to see some more of Gaudi’s fantastic architecture? Parc Guell is located in uptown Barcelona and is one of the most beautiful icons of the city, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll surrounded by nature and modernist works. On the Passeig de Gracia, in the city center, you can see other famous works of Gaudi, including his famous Casa Batllo and la Pedrera. Throughout the work of Gaudi, you will see much of his architectural inspiration came from his experiences in nature. His famous La Pedrera was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Mila family. This is one of the main Gaudi residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses of the history of architecture, this building is more a sculpture than a building.

If learning more about Spain’s cuisine piques your interest, you may like to join a small group cooking class today. After meeting with the chef and heading to the market to buy the ingredients required for your cooking class, you will then return to the cooking school. On the instructions of the chef, you will prepare your own lunch which you will then be able to enjoy with local wines. If wine is more your style, we could arrange for you to join a sommelier for an exclusive tasting of some top Spanish wines from the best Spanish wine regions. Maybe you would like to do your own thing today and take advantage of the great shopping, stroll along the beachfront of Barceloneta or return to the old Gothic Quarter, the choices are yours! We have many suggestions for restaurants which will suit your mood of the moment, whether you are looking for an informal dinner or a Michelin Starred experience.

Tour in a nutshell: Free day in Barcelona. Optional cooking class / exclusive wine tasting in Barcelona. Overnight Barcelona.



Andalucia, Spain’s Moorish southern region, is the next destination of your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour. On the train heading south, your cross-country journey will showcase the changing Spanish landscape. Your boutique 5* Seville hotel is situated in the picturesque and authentic Barrio de Santa Cruz, and the hotel is a converted manor house dating back to the 16th century.

This afternoon, our Officially Licensed guide will be waiting for you at the hotel and you will depart on a private sightseeing tour of Seville’s 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! The jasmine and orange scented Barrio abounds in beautiful palaces, artisan shops and interesting art galleries. Your tour will include a visit to Seville Cathedral, the oldest and most spectacular Gothic cathedral in the world. Having worked up an appetite on this fascinating tour, your guide will lead you now to a delicious tapas dinner. Seville boasts more than 4,000 tapas bars – roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they’re talking about! Plate after plate of hot and cold food appears on the bar to tempt your palate, so you can 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 draught beer.

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer. 1st Class high-speed train tickets to Seville. Private guided tour of Seville. Tapas dinner with wine. Overnight in a luxury 5* hotel in Seville.



Seville is yours to discover today on your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour. Your guide will have given you many ideas and top tips for further sightseeing options and foodie hot spots to experience the best of Seville.

Otherwise, we could arrange a chauffeured excursion through some beautiful countryside, first of all, to Almonaster la Real, a small village famous for its mosque high on a hill dating back to the 10th Century. Then, onwards to enjoy the most exquisite Spanish Iberian Hams. You will visit an authentic and unique family run estate with a long tradition of Iberian Ham produce, started in 1818! You will see where the Iberian pigs roam freely in the pasture and will have a full tour of the premises. The ham drying process is achieved on three levels and you will have a full tour of these areas, but be careful – the hams drip onto the floor below, so you should watch your step! At the end of your visit you will enjoy an extended tasting lunch in the bodega of this small, but excellent producer. You will be served their exquisite Jabugo Ham, made from acorn only fed pigs, as well as other fine cured hams, accompanied with cheeses and of course wine. 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! You may wish to have a relaxed dinner, perhaps something typically Andalusian before or after the Flamenco Show for which we have several suggestions in your personal travel journals for a delightful dinner.

Tour in a nutshell: Free day in Seville. Gypsy Flamenco show. Overnight Seville.



Today you will journey to Cordoba via high speed train. 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.

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 Mark’s 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!

Tour in a nutshell: Return high-speed train tickets to Cordoba. Optional private guided tour of Cordoba. Overnight Seville.



Today you depart Andalucia and head to Spain’s capital, Madrid, for the next step on your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour. Your 4* boutique hotel is 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, within the Golden Triangle of Art, so you will not have far to walk to get an art fix.

This afternoon, our Officially Licensed guide will take you on a tour of El Prado and Old Madrid. Starting with the Prado museum, which is the biggest art gallery in the world, your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art; will make sure you don’t miss anything. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection due to a 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 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 Madrid’s old town to San Miguel market, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid whose bars and restaurants make it the place to meet! On your journey, you will enjoy some fantastic bites to eat, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of tapas the city has on offer!

Tour in a nutshell: 1st Class high-speed train to Madrid. Private guided tour of El Prado & Old Madrid. Tapas-hopping meal with wine. Overnight in a luxury 4* hotel in Madrid.



Your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour takes you today to Toledo! You have return train tickets to this beautiful town just 30 mins from Madrid. You are free to discover Toledo on your own, but should you wish to have a private tour with our Officially Licensed Guide, this can be arranged. A must-see in this Castilian town is Toledo Cathedral, considered to be one of the high points of Gothic art. On its main façade the outstanding feature is the doorway, made up of three doors: Infierno (Hell), Perdon (Forgiveness) and Juicio (Judgement). The exterior is topped by the two cathedral towers, one of them in flamboyant Gothic style and the other in Gothic-Renaissance. Other wonderful architectural monuments are the Synagogue of Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito, testament to Toledo’s cultural Jewish influences. In the synagogue of El Transito, built in 1357, you can admire one of the best Mudejar coffered ceilings of all those preserved in Toledo, along with walls richly decorated with geometrical and botanical designs and Hebrew inscriptions. Nowadays, this Jewish place of worship houses the Sephardic Museum, in which an interesting collection of art and objects used in Jewish ceremonies are exhibited. Finish your tour of Toledo with a visit to the church of Santo Tome, famous for housing El Greco’s El Entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz). You will then have free time to enjoy Toledo and have lunch, for which several suggestions are contained in your personal travel journal.

Once back in Madrid, the evening is free to do as you wish – relax, have dinner, wander around the city and enjoy the Spanish capital.

Tour in a nutshell: 1st class high-speed return train tickets to Toledo. Optional private guided tour of Toledo. Overnight Madrid.



Today you have a free day to explore more of Spain’s sumptuous capital! We have many suggestions for things to do in your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour personal travel journal. For a change of pace, we suggest a leisurely walk in El Retiro park. Within its 125 hectares El Retiro park is home to over 15,000 trees and includes some delightful gardens: the Jardin de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez (classical gardens of an Andalusian style), the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, the Rose Garden, and the Parterre Frances with the oldest tree in Madrid, a bald cypress that is believed to be 400 years old. As you stroll along the attractive boulevards and walkways, you will find that the park is home to some great architectural and historical elements such as the Monument to Alfonso XII, the Velazquez Palace (inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and used by the Reina Sofia Museum for temporary exhibitions), the Glass Palace (a romantic pavilion), the Galapagos Fountain (created to commemorate the birth of Isabel II) and the fountain of the Fallen Angel, the only sculpture in the world representing the devil.

Nearby El Retiro on the Calle de Alcala, you will find one of the icons of the city – The Puerta de Alcala, built for Carlos III in the 18th century. Further on you will arrive at another icon of Madrid – Cibeles Fountain, created in 1782 and situated in its current location since 1895. The Fountain depicts the Roman goddess of the same name (Cybil in English); symbol of the Earth, agriculture, and fertility, atop a chariot drawn by lions. Whatever you decide, enjoy your day!

Tour in a nutshell: Free day Madrid. Overnight Madrid.



Portugal awaits you today, as you leave Spain behind, for the next chapter of your history and culture tour. Our chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you in comfort and style to the pretty village of Pinhao, at the center of the Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is considered one the most spectacular wine regions of the world; with its characteristic terraced vineyards as the sloping hills meet the meandering river below. Your hotel here is a charming 5-star property dating back to the XVIII century when it was an old Port winery, with a privileged location overlooking the Douro River.

This afternoon, and just a short walk away from your hotel, you will be visiting a prestigious Douro Valley winery, owned by a family who have worked here for five generations. You will be able to enjoy the heritage of this famous estate, with an in-house expert, while visiting the winery, the beautiful old wine cellar and the vineyard. At the end of your tour you will enjoy a tasting of the family-made Ports and Douro DOC wines on the terrace (weather permitting) with wonderful views of the Douro River and surrounding vineyards. After your introduction to some Douro Valley wines you may like to visit Pinhao train station which is considered one of the most symbolic locations on the Upper Douro wine circuit. The picture postcard train station has 25 blue glazed tile panels covering the main building, representing the local landscapes and habits, predominantly of wine making.

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Douro Valley. Private guided tour of a prestigious Douro Valley winery. Overnight in a 5* riverside hotel in the Douro Valley.



More Douro Valley wineries await you on your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour today! Your first private winery visit is to a very special and world famous Douro Quinta. Sitting in a privileged location in the Douro Demarcated Region, this winery is famous for its sophisticated wines as well as for the spectacular 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. Recently they have begun a new venture with Jean Michel Cazes from one of our favorite wineries of the Bordeaux region, Chateau Lynch Bages. At the winery you will have a full private visit to the vineyards (with mind blowing views of the River Douro!) and cellars, followed by a tasting of their incredible wines and ports with an exceptional lunch. Your traditional lunch will be perfectly paired with their top wines from aperitif through to dessert.

After lunch a local taxi will return you to Pinhao where this late afternoon you will join a small group Rabelo boat cruise along the river, a wonderfully romantic way to relax. This allows you to absorb the beauty of the area and see the many wineries and vineyards set up along the river’s edge. On return to your Pinhao, you may like to take a walk beside the Douro River before dinner. As always, we have many suggestions for a great local meal in your personal travel journal to experience the best of Portuguese food and wine.

Tour in a nutshell: Taxi transfers. Private guided visit to a prestigious winery with tastings of their finest wines. Gourmet lunch with wines. Boat cruise on the Douro River. Overnight Douro Valley.



Your tour of Portugal continues as you visit the wonderful cities of Coimbra and the beautiful walled town of Obidos, on the way to Lisbon. Coimbra is one of Portugal’s oldest cities and home to one of the world’s first universities. 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 core cascades down a hillside on the east bank of the Rio Mondeg: it is a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium. Take time out to see Cathedral Se Velha and the Almedina Tower (Torre de Almedina) which was built above the Almedina Arch in the 11th century. In Coimbra you will have a delicious lunch of Portuguese cuisine to be accompanied, of course, with excellent Portuguese wine!

Obidos is one of the hidden gems of the Portuguese countryside. This completely walled city presents itself with pride and the white washed houses that the Moors left behind are arranged amongst narrow cobbled streets leading to the castle. In Obidos it will be hard to choose either to explore the little ceramic shops you pass by, or enjoy the pleasures of the famous local cherry liqueur known as Ginjinha. This evening you will arrive in Lisbon, your boutique 4* hotel is a renovated 18th century townhouse located in the city center.

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Lisbon via Coimbra and Obidos. Overnight in boutique 4* Hotel in Lisbon.



Your Officially Licensed guide will be waiting at your hotel, to take you on a private gourmet and historical tour of Lisbon. You will start with Moorish St George’s Castle, from where you will have impressive views over the sea and city below. Leading down from the castle to the river, you will traverse the Alfama, the old 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. 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 a coffee stop and a typical Portuguese cake. You will be visiting a specialized gourmet delicatessen stocked with authentic local delights such as the typical Bacalhau (dried, salted cod), exclusive wines, traditional sweets, chorizo sausages and much more.

This evening you are set for a fabulous Fado experience, Portugal’s national music. You will dine at an authentic, elegant Portuguese Fado restaurant in Lisbon’s 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.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided gourmet & historic tour of Lisbon. Delicatessen lunch with wine. Fado Evening. Overnight Lisbon.



Today your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour has you discovering Lisbon on your own. Lisbon is also known as the town of seven hills which are composed of: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela. An uphill walk will be tiring but the views over the beautiful bay well worth it! Alternatively, maybe take a ride on one of the famous trams which were originally called Americanos, none of which are more iconic than Tram #28. Starting below the palm-spotted hills of Graça, the journey weaves around the hair-pin alleys of Escolas Gerais, before pulling up to a halt beneath the gorgeous domes of the Estrela Basilica. This neoclassical monument is one of Lisbon’s most eye-catching landmarks and the serene pink and black marble interior contains an elaborate Empire-style tomb of Queen Maria I, who vowed to build it when she gave birth to an heir. It has a huge rococo dome and a façade with twin bell towers decorated with an array of statues of saints and allegorical figures. For fantastic city views, head up to the dome. Across from Estrela Basilica is the beautiful park of Jardim da Estrela, one of the loveliest in the city and a favorite with families. There are exotic plants and trees, a small duck-dotted lake, and an attractive wrought-iron gazebo that serves as an old-fashioned bandstand. The pond-side café is a good place for a well-earned coffee break to rest your feet and watch the people passing by.

Otherwise you may like to head to Belem, a picturesque harbor district west of Lisbon from where ships set sail around the world, and from where many of the 14th century ‘Voyages of Discovery’ departed.

Tour in a nutshell: Free day in Lisbon. Overnight Lisbon.



It is always sad to say goodbye, but this is the last day of your Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour and after breakfast you will check out of your Lisbon hotel and have a chauffeured transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

We do hope you will join us for this fascinating and fun history and culture tour, which also showcases the best food and wine of Spain and Portugal. No doubt an experience to remember for life!

Tour in a nutshell: Private chauffeured transfer to Lisbon airport.

Tour quotation

Spain & Portugal History & Culture Tour 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] and we will be delighted to start working with you on your personal and very special travel itinerary with us.

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Tour in a Nutshell

Sublime Spain: Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, Madrid & Toledo

Picturesque Portugal: Douro Valley, Coimbra, Obidos & Lisbon

Iberian Culture: regional food and wine, Flamenco & Fado

Chauffeur driven, high speed trains & private guided tours

15 days/14 nights, boutique 4* and 5* hand selected hotels

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