Northern Spain & portugal

Day 1  Overnight flight

Day 2  Barcelona

Ruijs Travel-Spain-Barcelona-Montjuic 2

Bienvenido a España! Arrival at Barcelona – El Prat Airport. Meet your driver and tour escort. Drive to Plaça d’Espanya for an first acquaintance with this marvelous city and to visit Montjuïc Hill. Admire the two Venetian towers at the square, the major fountain ‘Font Magica’, and the impressive Royal Palace ‘Palau Royal’ which  is the gateway to Montjuïc. The Green Montjuïc is Barcelona’s most famous hill. In connection with the 1929 World’s Fair in Barcelona, palaces, pavilions, parks, botanical gardens, sports stadiums and exhibition spaces were built here. Some of those buildings have been preserved and are museums nowadays. The sports stadiums were renovated and others were added for the 1992 Olympics. Afterwards you will drive to El Poble Espanyol, Catalan for Spanish village. In the open-air museum you will discover different Spanish buildings and architectural styles. The village was created on the occasion of the World Fair in 1929. There are no fewer than 117 replicas of existing buildings to admire and almost every Spanish region and particular style is represented. Enjoy your welcome dinner in the Poble Espanyol this evening. Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 3  Barcelona

Ruijs Travel - Spain - Barcelona - Gaudi - Parc Guell 3

Today is a real ‘Gaudí day’ on which you will see the best of Gaudí’s main creations. Antoni Gaudí was one of Barcelona’s greatest modernist architects and his unique architectural style is highly respected around the world. Start the day with a guided visit of the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece. He worked on this ambitious project for decades until his death, and still the basilica remains in constant construction . Following some free time,  you will visit Gaudí’s Parc Güell; this garden complex and park with architectural elements is situated on the hill of El Carmel. Stroll past playful shaped structures, intricate stonework, and colourful mosaics whilst enjoying the great city views. On your way to Güell Palace you will see two stunning creations of Gaudí, the wave-inspired Casa Batlló, also known as the “House of Bones” and Casa Milà or “La Pedrera”. Then you will arrive at Palau (palace) Güell. An expert guide will show you around in this Neo-Gothic mansion designed by Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. The impressive building is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites ‘Works of Antoni Gaudí’. End this interesting and colourful day at La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous tree-lined boulevard. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 4  Barcelona – Zaragoza

Ruijs Travel-Spain-Zaragoza 4

Following breakfast, enjoy a guided walking tour of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the Barrio Gótic. This part of the city dates from Medieval times, featuring narrow winding roads and impressive architecture. You will see the highlights of the Barrio Gótic such as Barcelona’s Cathedral, the political hub of Placa Sant Jaume, and some of Barcelona’s best preserved stretches of the Roman walls. After some leisurely time in the Old Town you will travel to Zaragoza, Spain’s fifth largest city and capital of the Aragón region. Zaragoza is home to a range of fascinating sights, from Roman ruins to magnificent Islamic architecture and a striking Baroque cathedral. Upon arrival, enjoy a guided walk through this magnificent city. 
Overnight in Zaragoza.

Day 5  Zaragoza – Rioja region – Bilbao  

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This morning you will visit the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar. A local expert guide will show you around in this striking Baroque Basilica. Afterwards you will visit the impressive Aljafería Palace, an UNESCO World Heritage Site whose origins are over a thousand years old. The palace is a masterpiece of Moorish architecture, one of the best outside of Andalusia. Built by Islamic rulers in the 11th century, it is an imposing castle-like structure from the outside, on the inside it is a graceful Moorish palace with an interior courtyard and intricately carved archways. Then you will leave Zaragoza and head for Spain’s La Rioja, a wine-growing region situated in the valley of the river Ebro, known for its high quality, mostly red wines. You will visit a bodega (winery), and will have a Tapas lunch here upon arrival. Afterwards enjoy a guided tour at a bodega see the vineyards and learn all about cultivating grapes. Conclude this delightful visit with a wine tasting. Journey onwards through the beautiful Rioja region towards Bilbao. Overnight in Bilbao.

Day 6  Bilbao

Ruijs Travel-Spain-Bilbao Guggenheim 6

After breakfast meet your local guide for a guided tour of Bilbao. This northern Spanish city is very different to many other Spanish cities, it is filled with a mix of art museums, impressive modern architecture and references to Basque culture and traditions. Afterwards you will visit the world-class Guggenheim Museum. Together with an expert guide you will explore the interior and exterior of the museum. Marvel at Frank Gehry’s distinctive architecture of undulating lines of titanium and the massive sculptures outside, like the ‘Puppy with flower coat’ designed by Jeff Koons and the giant ‘Spider Mamán’ by Louise Bourgeois. Inside the museum, you can admire the museum’s modern and contemporary art collection. One of the highlights of the permanent collection is Richard Serra’s large-scale installation of  steel sculptures .The afternoon will be at leisure to explore this miscellaneous city on your own. This evening immerse yourselves in the fantastic Basque food culture. Discover the tradition of Pintxos (Basque tapas) during a food tour. Visit several Pintxos bars and taste a variety of snacks and Spanish wines as you stroll through Bilbao’s old town. Overnight in Bilbao.

Day 7  Bilbao – Burgos – Salamanca

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This morning you will leave Bilbao and travel through the Castilla y León region to Burgos, situated in the middle of the fertile North Castillian Plateau. A local expert guide will show you this important pilgrimage city on the ‘Camino de Santiago’ pilgrimage route. During the tour you will visit the UNESO World Heritage listed Gothic Cathedral and see the fabulous painted ceilings, ornate alter pieces, carved altar seats, the beautiful dome with Mudejar style details, and the ‘Chapel of the Condestable’. Following some free time your journey continues to Salamanca. You will make an on route stop in Valladolid, in order to stretch your legs. Spend some leisurely time at Plaza Mayor, one of Spain’s finest focal squares. It’s surrounded by four-to-five storey buildings, all painted in earthy reds and boasting dainty balconies. The town hall, with an elegant clock tower stands in the middle. Travel onwards to Salamanca, where you will arrive at the end of the afternoon. Overnight in Salamanca.

Day 8  Salamanca – Viseu – Porto

Ruijs Travel-Spain-Salamanca 8

Following breakfast you will explore Salamanca, home to the oldest university in Spain, Salamanca is known for its beautiful historic architecture and authentic Spanish charm. The historic city centre is UNESCO World Heritage listed. Salamanca is known in Spain as La Dorada, the golden city. The majority of the buildings in the old city are built from Villamayor limestone. This honey colored stone comes to live when the sun shines on it it gives off a definite golden glow, sometimes tinged with pink. During a guided sightseeing tour you will see the fine arcaded Plaza Mayor, some of the golden limestone buildings, the ‘old’ Romanesque cathedral and the ‘new’ Gothic cathedral. Afterwards you will leave Spain and head to Portugal. Just before the border, you will have lunch at a local restaurant. Your journey continues to Porto, you will make an on route stop in the appealing town of Viseu. Spend some free time at Praça República, Republic Square with its Jardim das Mães gardens and the beautiful traditional tile mosaics, known as azulejos in Portuguese. Continue your way, you will arrive in Porto, ‘the Grande Dame on the Douro’ at the end of the afternoon. Overnight in Porto.

Day 9  Porto

Ruijs Travel-Portugal-Porto 9

Enjoy a guided walking tour of heartening Porto this morning. Walk down Allies Avenue to see the French-inspired buildings into the Ribeira district. The historical centre of Porto is of incalculable value and UNESCO World Heritage listed. During the tour you will see Clerigos Tower and visit Palácio de Bolsa,  the Stock Exchange Palace one of the most beautiful buildings of the city, and the stunning Gothic church of São Francisco. Following some free time in the enchanting old town you will get acquainted with Porto’s famous Port Wine.  You will drive to the UNESCO World Heritage listed, Vila Nova de Gaia, on the south banks of the Douro River, where the port wine cellars are located. You will start with a delicious lunch in the restaurant of one of the largest port producers, Taylor’s Port, and then you will have an informative tour with audio guide through 300 year old cellars. You will conclude your visit with a tasting of two types of Port wine. Enjoy some leisurely time in this thrilling district. You might want to visit WOW Porto (World Of Wine), located in old wine cellars, it pays homage to the region, and shines a light on the most important Portuguese industries and traditions, like the cork production. Here you will find museums, restaurants, shops, and an exhibition space. Overnight in Porto.

Day 10  Porto – Coimbra – Batalha – Lisbon      

Ruijs Travel-Portugal-Coimbra 10

Breakfast at the hotel, check out and drive to your next destination Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. On your way you will stop in Coimbra, situated on the Mondego River. Coimbra breathes history. This atmospheric city is home to one of the most impressive university buildings in Europe. Enjoy a relaxing walk, accompanied by the tour escort, from the grand university buildings to the Old Cathedral, the Monastery of Sé Velha and via Porta e Torre de Almedina to Igreja de Santa Cruz Church. Enjoy some free time in the Jardim da Manga Cloister area before continuing your way. Leaving the city you will pass the São Sebastião aqueduct. You will travel to Batalha where you will a visit the Santa Maria da Vitória Monastery, a Gothic masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage listed. Travel south towards Portugal’s capital. Enjoy a short stop at the cliffs of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe is offering great views. Before entering Lisbon, enjoy some free time in the charming former fishing village Cascais. Stroll through the narrow alleyways and see the traditional Portuguese white houses, elegant manor houses and mansions, or enjoy some time relaxing at the beach. Overnight in Lisbon.


Day 11  Lisbon

Ruijs Travel - Portugal - Lisbon - Rossio Square 11

This morning you will explore the grandeur of Lisbon on a guided tour by coach and on foot. The tour includes two Manueline jewels, the Belem Tower, guarding the estuary of the Tagus River and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Jerónimo Monastery with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. Drive past the Bull Ring to Pombal Statue and along the grand Avenida da Liberdade. Then enjoy a walk through the cobbled alleys of Alfama, the characteristic quarter of the seamen. Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon and it is name derived from the Arabic Al-hamma, means fountains or baths. Here you will see the castle of Sao Jorge and many Fado bars. Fado, the typically Portuguese style of melancholic music, is common in the restaurants of this district. The hart of the city is the Baixa, an elegant district, here you see the impressive Palace ‘Praca do Comércio’ with the Rua Augusta Arch. In the afternoon you will visit the National Tile Museum, located in the former Convent of Madre Deus. This art museum is dedicated to the azulejo, Portugal’s traditional tilework. The museum’s collection is one of the largest of ceramics in the world. Remainder of the day at leisure in this atmospheric city. Overnight in Lisbon.

Day 12  Lisbon – Sintra – Lisbon

Ruijs Travel - Portugal - Lisbon 12

A full day excursion to magical Sintra, Portugal’s most fairytale place is on the program today. Your day will start with a visit to the whimsical Pena Palace. This extraordinary palace is a jumble of colors and architectural styles ranging from Romantic to Islamic and Gothic. Afterwards explore Pena Park at your own pace. Discover secret caves and trails, admire the astonishing variety of plants and trees. Make sure that you will see  the Moorish Fountain, it is only a five minutes’ walk from the palace and one of the highlights of Pena Park. Afterwards you will drive up to Sintra’s old town. Enjoy some free time here to relax and soak up the atmosphere or visit the wonderful National Palace with Medieval, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Romantic characteristics. Make sure you will taste the Sintra’s traditional pasties, Travesseiro and Queijada. In the afternoon you will visit the intriguing and mysterious Quinta da Regaleria Castle. An impressive castle with a richly decorated facade and a surrounding estate full of mysterious corridors, underground crypts, and range of mystical symbols that refer to, for example, the Templars and Freemasons. On the site you will find, among other things, a very deep well, also known as the “inverted tower”. Spiral stairs lead to the bottom of the well. Mid-afternoon you will travel back to Lisbon. Conclude this fantastic journey across the Iberian Peninsula with a festive farewell dinner at a Fado restaurant. Overnight in Lisbon

Day 13 Departure

Ruijs Travel-Portugal-Port wine 13

After breakfast departure to Lisbon Airport for you flight back home.