9 reasons why Best of Spain & Portugal is a simply unmissable tour

by | 17 Apr 2023

If you’re seeking stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, spectacular scenery and contrasting regions, our Best of Spain & Portugal tour delivers all this and more.

We spoke with Travel Director Philippe, an expert in Iberia, to find out some of the highlights that await you on this incredible adventure.

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“The Alhambra Palace is probably one of the most beautiful palaces in the world,” says Phillippe. “The Moorish architecture and gardens are just spectacular.”

The Alhambra was constructed in the mid-thirteenth century under Muhammad ibn al Ahmar, Emir of Granada. It was built to serve as the palace and fortress complex of the Moorish Nasrid dynasty. The Palace premises comprise of attractive courtyards and numerous fountains, as well as the Nasrid buildings that served as living quarters for the monarchs and their servants.

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“It always feels very special to be in the Alhambra Palace,” Philippe tells us. “It’s actually quite difficult to get booking there, but Insight Vacations whisks you in without long queues. Under the guidance of a local expert guests love to see the Patio de los Leones/Patio of the Lions, the view of the Albaycin (old Arab district) and to walk the magnificent gardens.”

“The Palace has a remarkable history. It could’ve been totally destroyed during Napoleon’s wars. We are lucky to see it as it is nowadays, very well preserved.” Between 1810 and 1812 Granada was occupied by Napoleon’s army during the Peninsular War. When Napoleon‘s troops seized the Alhambra, the General intended to blow up the palace. The story goes that a wounded soldier left behind in the palace diffused the bomb, thus saving this beautiful building for future generations.

For travel inspiration: Spain destination guide, Portugal destination guide


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“In Seville we visit the Cristina Heeren Foundation, a flamenco dance school and a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. “Guests feel the passion from the start as they get introduced to the Flamenco. Some of the teachers and students we meet are going to be the Flamenco stars of the future.”

With a mission to promote the teaching and conservation of flamenco, this is an exclusive chance to feel the passion behind the choreography. You’ll be invited to put your rhythm to the test during a dance lesson, learning some simple moves.

“We get to enjoy a very intimate show, featuring some of the best dancers in the country. It feels really special because, having learned the basics of flamenco before watching the show, you can understand and connect much deeper with the performance. Its amazing how much you can learn in a short space of time from a professional Flamenco dancer.

“Guests also love the Sangria after the Flamenco class, it is well deserved, and we all have a good time talking about our performance!”

Read more: Discover the art of flamenco with the Christina Heeren Foundation


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“At the Prado Museum you can see the best collection of paintings in the whole of Spain, and one of the best in the world,” Philippe says. “On Best of Spain & Portugal we tour the museum with an exceptional art historian, who talks though these highlights of Spanish art.”

One of the most important museums in all of Spain, the Prado Museum Madrid (Museo Nacional del Prado) is known to have the most comprehensive collection of Spanish art and one of the most outstanding collections of European Art between the 12th century to the early 20th century. Its collection comprises 8,600 paintings and over 700 sculptures, from artists including Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez.

“Guests love understanding and discovering spanish painters. It is a treat to view outstanding and famous works like Diego Velázquez’s 1656 masterpiece Las Meninas.”

You may also enjoy reading: Insight investigates: Why Spain is considered the most passionate of all European destinations


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“Without any doubt the Sagrada Familia is my highlight of Barcelona,” says Philippe. “In my opinion its the most beautiful church in the world. One of the emblems of Barcelona, and visited by millions, this Roman Catholic church was designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

“Guests are impressed by its unique architecture and often surprised the contrasting interior and exterior. It is also interesting to know that construction of the church commenced in 1882 and continues today.” The original designs included 18 spires, representing the 12 Apostles, the four Evangelists, Mary and Jesus. Currently eight spires have been completed. It is expected that when the building is complete, it will be the tallest church in the world.


Situated on the banks Tejo Estuary, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a bold and imposing monument. “This is one of the highlights in Lisbon,” says Philippe. “And it gives us a real insight into the importance of Portugal in world history. The monument tells us the history of Portuguese navigators who discovered so many territories in the 15th and 16th centuries. These explorers and visionaries made Portugal the most powerful seafaring nation of the era.”

You might also be interested in: All the ways you’ll experience the Insight difference when you travel to Portugal


“In Gibraltar we visit the Saint Michael’s cave and its monkeys, known as the Barbary Apes,” Philippe tells us. “The caves themselves are beautiful and are illuminated with light installations. And they are rich in history and stories.”

One of Gibraltar’s most famous legends, this network of limestone caves were long believed to be bottomless. As the Rock of Gibraltar was thought to be one of the legendary Pillars of Hercules, the Ancient Greeks also believed the cave be the Gates of Hades, an entrance to the underworld.


“The Best of Spain & Portugal tour is packed with superior hotels, but the Vincci Albayzin is worth an extra mention,” Philippe says. “This charming Grenada hotel has typical Andalusian decoration. The building is filled with exotic details, unique spaces and Arab-inspired décor.”

Guests can enjoy the gym, sauna and steam room, or sip a cocktail on the Arab inspired patio. “It is superbly located also,” Philippe notes. “You’re walking distance from everything with very friendly staff.”

Read more: 5 benefits to staying in a centrally located hotel with Insight


Situated in a natural mountain paradise in the Malaga area, the village of Alfarnatejo if ready to offer a warm Spanish welcome. “Here you get to dine with the locals, with an invitation into their home,” Philippe explains. “It’s incredibly special, and guests have often described this as the “best meal of the trip.”

“You’ll dine on rustic, delicious and honest food, made with fresh, local produce. Everything is made with flavours typical of the region and served with passion. And get to experience local life with very friendly people. This is such a fun experience, our guests love it.”

You might enjoy reading: It all comes back to the plate: food’s role in understanding culture


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“This traditional Portuguese custard tart is just delicious, especially when served warm,” Philippe tells us. “The original Pastéis de Belém came from Belem in Lisbon and the recipe is still kept a secret. It is a really special treat whilst in the capital, you are tasting the best of Portugal.”

Pastéis de Belém were created in the 19th century by Catholic monks in Lisbon. At that time a large amount of egg white was used by convents and monasteries to starch white clothes. It was common for the leftover yolks to be used to make pastries and sweet pastry recipes proliferated across the country. Today’s Pastéis de Belém have crisp, puff pastry crusts and are filled with a luscious baked custard.

To tickle your taste buds read: 10 must-have traditional Portuguese foods to try on your next trip

To enjoy all this and more, with stylish hotels and delicious dining every step of the way, take a look at our Best of Spain & Portugal tour.

I'm a writer, editor and interview specialist with a lifetime's love of travel. There’s nothing more inspiring to me than meeting, and writing about, the world's leading destination experts and travel industry insiders. The thing I love most about writing for Insightful is that I'm always learning something new.