Best of Spain & Portugal - Insight Vacations

Best of Spain and Portugal (Winter 2017-18)

Duration: 16 days Visiting: Spain, Portugal

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Highlights
  • Optional experiences
  • Accommodation
  • Reviews
  • Dates & prices

Follow the fortunes of the Spanish, Portuguese and Moorish Kingdoms as evidenced in their grand castles, stupendous religious buildings and incredible works of art. An ideal journey of discovery in autumn, winter or spring.

  1. Day 1

    Your Journey Begins

    Board your overnight flight to Europe (please ask about our great deals).

  2. Day 2

    Welcome to Madrid

    At Madrid Airport, transfers depart for your tour hotel at 09:00, 11:00, 13:30 and 16:00. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and a beautiful evening of dinner and wine.

  3. Day 3 - Relaxed Start

    Madrid of the Bourbons

    (Relaxed Start) Guided sightseeing takes you along the elegant Paseo de la Castellana past Madrid’s most famous fountain in the Plaza de Cibeles. Drive down the Gran Vía to the Royal Palace and Cervantes Monument before crossing the Puerta del Sol. The highlight of your tour is a visit to the magnificent Prado Museum to admire the paintings of Velázquez, Goya and many others.

  4. Day 4

    Toledo and Golden Salamanca

    The morning is devoted to Toledo. With your Local Expert, walk through the maze of narrow, cobbled streets. See El Greco's painting in the Church of Santo Tomé. Join a master craftsman in a Damascene workshop for a personal insight into this ancient craft handed down by the Moors centuries ago. Later, pass the ancient walls of Ávila, en route to Salamanca, with its handsome arcaded Plaza Mayor, honey-coloured cathedral and 16th century university buildings.

  5. Day 5 - Relaxed Start

    Porto, Grande Dame on the Douro

    (Relaxed Start) Cross the Portuguese border to reach Porto, situated on the River Douro and celebrated internationally as the capital of Port wine. See the Vila Nova de Gaia wine stores that house the famous wines. Walk along corridors of casks and get to know your tawnys and vintages during a tasting. Admire the multi-coloured houses and churches covered in glazed tiles, as well as the iconic bridges (or ‘Eiffel Towers on end’ according to one Frenchman).

  6. Day 6

    Holy Fátima, Obidos and Lisbon

    Head south for a visit to miraculous Fátima. See the basilica or visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, which commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three young shepherds in 1917. Then continue to the hilltop town of Obidos, where you'll walk inside the city walls to explore the flower-bedecked houses and narrow, medieval streets. Your next destination is the Portuguese capital.

  7. Day 7 - Relaxed Start

    Lisbon and the Age of Discovery

    (Relaxed Start) Sightseeing with a Local Expert takes you along the spacious avenues of the Lower Town and beneath the hilltop Bairro Alto to the Terreiro do Paco, the finest square in the city. Visit the Belem Quarter from where sailing ships once set forth to discover unknown lands. Stop by an old patisserie that has managed to hold on to the secret recipe of Portugal's finest pastry for almost 200 years and enjoy a tasting of the famous 'Pasteis de Belem'. See the Monument to the Discoveries and the more ancient Belem Tower - a fortress originally set in the middle of the river, but now left high and dry on the riverbank. Next, visit Jeronimos Monastery with its beautiful Manueline architecture. The afternoon is free, perhaps join us for an optional experience to the Portuguese Riviera, visited by surfers, royalty, and even James Bond?’

  8. Day 8

    Seville, the City of Carmen

    Leave Lisbon via a modern Tagus Bridge and cross the border to reach Seville. With your Local Expert, tour the immense cathedral, burial place of Christopher Columbus, and the slender Giralda Tower. Explore the labyrinthine Santa Cruz Quarter and see the Alcazar. At night, settle back for a Signature Evening of dinner and entertainment featuring a fiery flamenco show.

  9. Day 9 - Relaxed Start

    Free Time in Seville

    (Relaxed Start) The following day is completely yours to relax, explore, or continue sightseeing in this fascinating city. Our suggestion is an optional experience to the ancient city of Cordoba, where you will visit the magnificent Mezquita, see the old Jewish Quarter, and enjoy some free time to shop.

  10. Day 10

    Gibraltar and the Costa del Sol

    Head south to Gibraltar, attached to Spain yet an overseas territory under British... along the Costa del Sol through exclusive resorts where the rich and famous holiday.

  11. Day 11 - Relaxed Start

    At Leisure on the Costa del Sol

    (Relaxed Start) Enjoy the day at leisure on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol. Relax by the blue Mediterranean waters, stroll along the promenade, savour the specialities in the local restaurants or consider exploring Malaga, the birth city of Picasso.

  12. Day 12 - Relaxed Start

    Granada and the Alhambra

    (Relaxed Start) Drive through the green hills above the Costa del Sol to the white-washed village of Mijas. Stroll through the old streets and gardens and take in the views of the coast. Continue to Granada to visit the magnificent Alhambra Palace. With a Local Expert, see the Lion Court, as well as the water gardens of the royal summer residence. In the evening, choose your own personal ambience and cuisine from our Dine-Around selection of restaurants.

  13. Day 13

    On to Valencia.

    Journey to Valencia the 'City of Arts and Sciences'. Circumnavigate the old town, past the City Gates of Serranos, to reach your hotel. In your free time perhaps take a stroll to the Cathedral and El Miguelete? Valencia is home to one of the world's greatest dishes, paella. Learn the authentic recipe in a fun cookery demonstration with a local chef and savour the flavours of this classic dish, washed down with a glass of sangria.

  14. Day 14

    Peñíscola and Barcelona

    Follow the coast to Peñíscola to view the sea-lapped castle used in the film 'El Cid'. Continue along the Costa Dorada, to your hotel in Barcelona.

  15. Day 15 - Relaxed Start

    Barcelona Sightseeing

    (Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert to drive along the Passeig de Gràcia. Continue through the Eixample district for a visit inside Gaudi’s extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Família Basilica. In the afternoon, maybe experience the great Monastery of Montserrat and see the Black Madonna? At night, enjoy a Celebration Dinner with wine in true Catalan style.

  16. Day 16

    Depart Barcelona

    Your journey ends after breakfast. Departure transfers arrive at Barcelona Airport at 07:00, 09:00 and 11:00.

Highlights

 

SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES

  • Madrid: Witness the world’s finest collection of Spanish paintings, plus an impressive international collection, as you tour the Prado Museum with an expert art historian.
  • Toledo: With a Local Expert, visit the Church of Santo Tomé and see El Greco's masterpiece.
  • Lisbon: Stroll through the old Belém Quarter with a Local Expert and visit Jeronimos Monastery with its beautiful Manueline architecture, reflecting Portugal’s trade over the centuries.
  • Seville: From the Moorish Patio de los Naranjos, step inside the cathedral with your Local Expert. Past the altarpiece dripping with gold to the Tomb of Columbus, held aloft by four kings.
  • Gibraltar: With your Local Expert tour the Rock of Gibraltar, one of the pillars of Hercules, affording magnificent views and see the meeting of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Spanish Sierra. You will also visit St. Michael's Cave and see the Barbary Apes.
  • Granada: Best interpreted with the help of a Local Expert, the Alhambra Palace is the ultimate in Muslim architecture, an arabesque fantasy in stone, complemented by the gardens of the Generalife.
  • Barcelona: Explore Gaudi's extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Família Basilica, guided by a Local Expert.

TOP RATED HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fátima: Join the faithful at one of the world's holiest sites and pay homage at the Chapel of the Apparitions.
  • Obidos: Stroll through the medieval streets of this hilltop fortified city.
  • Mijas: Enjoy a walking tour of the village known for its white-washed houses typical of the region.

ADDITIONAL INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS

  • Madrid: Your guided tour shows you the statue of Don Quixote in the Plaza de España, Royal Palace, Gran Via, Cibeles Fountain, Parliament and Puerta del Sol.
  • Toledo: Walk the cobbled streets.
  • Avila: See the dominant city walls.
  • Salamanca: See the cathedral in the university town. Porto: See the bridges and buildings decorated in tiles. See the Vila Nova de Gaia wine stores.
  • Obidos: Visit this ancient fortified city.
  • Lisbon: Tour the spacious avenues and elegant squares. See the Monument to the Discoveries, ancient Belém Tower and visit Lisbon Cathedral.
  • Seville: Enjoy a walking tour through the squares and lanes of the Santa Cruz Quarter. Emerge by the walls of the Alcazar.
  • Mijas: Journey to this white-washed village.
  • Valencia: See the ultra modern Centre of Arts and Sciences. See the huge City Gates of Serranos and Quart.
  • Peñíscola: View the stone castle from the film 'El Cid'.
  • Barcelona: Drive down the elegant Passeig de Gracia to witness some of the finest Modernist architecture.

AUTHENTIC REGIONAL FLAVOURS

  • Autumn: See the ripe olives being picked and enjoy a tasting.
  • Winter: Sample fresh Valencia oranges of the season, artfully made into a delicious dessert.
  • Spring: Visit the Cava Bodegas for a taste of Spanish bubbly.
  • Porto: Sample a selection of famous Port wines at a tasting at the Vila Nova de Gaia wine stores.
  • Lisbon: Enjoy a tasting of the famous ‘Pastéis de Belém' - a Portuguese delicacy.
  • Seville: Tables are reserved for dinner, drinks and a fiery evening of Spanish dance and music! Get ready for throbbing guitars, lamenting solos, colourful dancers and the rhythmic stomp of flamenco.
  • Granada: For your Dine-Around Evening, choose from a selection of restaurants for a more intimate experience.
  • Valencia: Learn the authentic recipe of paella in a fun cookery demonstration and savour the flavours of this classic dish for dinner, washed down with a glass of sangria.
  • Barcelona: With fantastic sea views, be seated for an exceptional Catalan Celebration Dinner, incorporating classic cooking with only the freshest produce.
  • Included Quality Dining: 14 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 2 Three-course table d'hôte Dinners (DW), 2 Signature Evenings (SE), 1 Dine-Around Evening (DA) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee. Departures on tour for Christmas and New Year's Eve will enjoy festive Highlight Dinners which will replace an included meal.

STAY AT THE BEST ADDRESSES

  • Madrid: The newly built 5-star Barceló Torre de Madrid offers sophisticated comfort and impeccable service, all within walking distance from Madrid's major sights.
  • Salamanca: The centrally located Alameda is close to a range of restaurants and shops and only a short walk to the Plaza Mayor. The spacious rooms all have marble bathrooms and antique-style furniture.
  • Porto: : The NH Collection Porto Batalha was once an 18th century palace hosting lavish balls. It is now a state-of-the-art property offering impeccable service and maximum comfort.
  • Lisbon: Dom Pedro Palace is located in the Amoreiras, Lisbon's vibrant shopping district. This deluxe hotel offers elegant guest accommodation with great city views and a fantastic spa.
  • Seville: The Ayre Sevilla is fantastically-located in the centre of Seville. The property provides outstanding comfort and service, while being the first sustainable hotel in Seville and a pioneer in energy saving.
  • Costa del Sol: : The Melia Costa del Sol is located on a stunning seafront. The perfect setting to relax and fully take in the beautiful scenery.
  • Granada: The 4-star Vincci Albayzin is located in the Albaycin, the old town centre of Granada. Relax in the patio and soak in the typical Andalusian atmosphere of the hotel, in true comfort and style.
  • Valencia: The modern Barceló Valencia is situated right in the centre of Valencia opposite the Queen Sofia Palace of Arts, a building designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Don't miss out on the magnificent views of the city from the rooftop terrace!
  • Barcelona: The modern Hilton Barcelona is located on the city's main avenue. It promises an outstanding experience in Barcelona with all comforts and a spectacular view over the city!

OUR FIVE-STAR SERVICES

  • Our highly-skilled Insight Tour Director will ensure your journey is seamless, serving as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend in a foreign land.
  • Enjoy the comfort of Insight's luxury, air-conditioned, 40-seat touring coach, with extended Business Class legroom and on-board restroom.
  • Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary.
  • We carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips are included; you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus, we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi.
  • From time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with an Insight Flourish - a local tidbit representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
  • Complimentary airport transfers from Madrid Airport and to Barcelona Airport are available at scheduled times only on arrival and departure days. Should your flights not coincide with complimentary transfers, charged transfers are available on arrival and departure days, or when additional accommodation is booked through Insight Vacations. Alternatively, please make your own way from/to the airport.

Optional experiences

Most Insight trips already include a host of bonus highlights and comprehensive sightseeing. There may also be an exciting array of Optional Experiences which will turn an already amazing experience into the trip of a lifetime! These are entirely optional and can be booked through your Travel Director/Local Representative at the commencement of your trip. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations. The Optionals and pricing listed here are a guideline only and subject to change.

Accommodation

 

Barcelo Torre Madrid

Madrid (Central) - Spain

The newly built 5-star Barceló Torre de Madrid offers sophisticated comfort and impeccable service, all within walking distance from Madrid's major sights.

Hotel Alameda Palace Salamanca

Salamanca (Traditional) - Spain

The centrally located Hotel Alameda Palace is close to a range of restaurants and shops and only a short walk to the Plaza Mayor. The spacious rooms all have marble bathrooms and antique-style furniture.

Hotel NH Collection Porto Batalha Porto

Porto (Central) - Portugal

The NH Collection Porto Batalha was once an 18th century palace hosting lavish balls. It is now a state-of-the-art property offering impeccable service and maximum comfort.

Dom Pedro Palace Lisbon

Lisbon (Central) - Portugal

Dom Pedro Palace is located across the street from one of the largest Lisbon shopping Centres: the Amoreiras Shopping Centre with 250 top quality shops, cinemas and restaurants. On the top of the hotel there is the most exclusive Lisbon Penthouse Suite with a 360º degree view overlooking the city. This deluxe hotel offers elegant guest accommodations with great city views and a fantastic spa.

Ayre Sevilla Executive Rooms Seville

Seville (Contemporary) - Spain

A dominant hotel which is fantastically-located in the centre of Seville.

Melia Costa Del Sol Torremolinos

Torremolinos (Scenic) - Spain

Located in Malaga, in the resort of Torremolinos, in the heart of the Costa del Sol, and strategically located right on the beach, Meliá Costa del Sol is the best option for unwinding, having fun and working in Malaga, thanks to its excellent location, its complete and comfortable facilities and its superb service.

Vincci Albayzin Granada

Granada (Traditional) - Spain

The 4-star Vincci Albayzín is located in the centre of Granada and is typically Andalusian in style. It boasts a magnificent enclosed patio that bathes its rooms in natural light.

Barcelo Valencia

Valencia (Central) - Spain

The Barcelo Valencia hotel is situated right in the centre of the City of Arts and Sciences, opposite the Queen Sofia Palace of Arts, a building which was designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, and is situated in one of the most modern and attractive areas of the city of Valencia.

Hilton Barcelona

Barcelona (Central) - Spain

The modern Hilton Barcelona is located on the city's main avenue. It promises an outstanding experience in Barcelona with all comforts and a spectacular view over the city!

GUEST REVIEWS & EXPERIENCES

Our guests rate us 4.5 out of 5 based on 7787 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 04 February, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: DID A VERY GOOD JOB OF COVERAGE OF THE TWO COUNTRIES

    Service: THE TOUR DIRECTOR WAS FUN THE HOTELS WERE EXCELLENT MANY OF THE OPTIONAL TOURS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF THE TOUR. SOME OF SHOCK TO HAVE $1000 EXTRA FOR THE OPTIONAL TOURS

  • 03 February, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: We visited 21 cities in 14 days. The numbers speak for themselves!

    Service: Great tour, beautiful cities, and helpful tour guides. It was fast-paced with early wake-up calls and departure, but I didn't mind it because it allowed us to visit a lot of places in a day. Hotels were mostly reasonable. I probably did not like one or two hotels and dinners, but it is a bit unrealistic to expect everything to be pitch perfect and as you wish.

  • 03 February, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Very clear and simple to follow.

    Service: Information was clear. Tour director was great and very helpful. Helpful with all our needs

  • 29 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Was my first In Sight Vacation. Was very organised and I was impressed at how smoothly everything was run. Will do another and already praising your efforts to my friends.

    Service: This was my first In Sight Vacation. I was very impressed with how organised everything was and smoothly run. Yes, I'd do another In Sight tour, and am already praising your efforts to all my friends.

  • 28 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: I loved every place we visited - if I could make a change I would prefer to stay at Malaga in Costa Del Sol rather than where we stayed. I found the optional tour we did to Malaga was exceptional and wished we had more time. The accommodation at Costa Del Sol was rather poor - we were there in low season and the management at the hotel still could not give us a room on a higher level )we had level 1) and no views.

    Service: The itinerary for all trips have been well planned with great guides and if I found any issues with any trips they have been addressed.

  • 27 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: A nice overview of Spain and Portugal. A few changes to accommodate winter weather might be worth looking in to. For example, skipping rainy Gibraltar where we couldn't see anything in favor of an extra day in Granada or Valencia.

    Service: I appreciated the pre-trip contact and the follow-up. All the details were taken care of, and Elena took time to make sure our individual interests were addressed as we reached our destinations.

  • 27 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: A day extra in some of the cities would be nice. Stay in Malinga instead of Costadelsol.

    Service: In all very well organised and run. With all trips there are a few issues in our case one of the hotels was well below par. Guide was excellent and nothing was too much. The itinerary was good but it would have been nice to spend a day more in some of the destinations. I would recommend and am already booked on another Insight trip.

  • 27 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Most people would have liked more free time in Valencia and in Granada. The Costa del Sol session was excessive in that regard, although a valuable 'day off' in an intense experience.

    Service: We were well looked after

  • 17 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Too many cathedrals tours

    Service: Mostly good , coach & driver was excellent Not happy about large tip expected for something I had already paid for

  • 17 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: It would have been nice to have had a little more time in some of the smaller places that we visited.

    Service: Most of the tour was really good except I felt that the tour director needed to be more organised regarding what we were doing the following day not just on the day. Sometimes it felt as if there was no forward planning.

  • 11 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Beautiful places very good service

    Service: Very accommodating, knowledgable to their jobs

  • 10 January, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: The sights were wonderful but we just didn't get enough time to explore.

    Service: I thought Chad Hartin was very helpful as was both of our drivers. Chad solved problems and found very knowledgeable local experts to give us the history and show us the sights. I work in the hospitality industry and would love to do something like this after I retire this June (2018).

NB: Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. Note prices displayed reflect available discounted rates (i.e. Early Payment Discount, Last Minute Deals). All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however is subject to change, please confirm all details at time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.