Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Spain.
Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is for you to relax or start exploring Madrid. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers. (D)
Day 2 Madrid–Toledo–Granada.
Drive south to Toledo. Spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River, the ancient Castilian capital attracts more visitors from around the world than any other Spanish town. Visit the walled Old Town with a Local Guide and marvel at the 12th-century CHURCH OF ST. TOME, known for its large-format painting by El Greco of The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. Later, cross the Guadalquivir River and head for the olive and orange groves that dot the rolling Andalusian hills. Overnight in history-steeped Granada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. (B,D)
Day 3 Granada–Loja Montilla–Cordoba.
Granada was the Arabs’ most treasured city, and they still mourn its loss in their prayers. With a Local Guide, visit the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX, built by Moorish kings. More grand scenery this afternoon as you travel to Loja. Captured and held by the Moors, it was formerly known as Medina Lawsa until it was recaptured by the Christians in 1486 during the Reconquista. Explore this “flower among thorns” before reaching Montilla to visit a local WINE CELLAR and taste some of its wine. Then, continue to Cordoba on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. (B)
Day 4 Cordoba–Ecija–Seville
. Visit Ecija, an ancient town in the Andalusian countryside. On to vibrant, festive Seville. (B,D)
Day 5 Seville.
Get to know Seville on the included city tour. Capital of Andalusia and the cultural and financial center of southern Spain, colorful Seville has much to offer: the Cathedral of Seville, the third-largest church in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London; the beautiful La Giralda minaret tower, a symbol of Seville; the Real Alcázar palace with its extravagant architecture and opulent gardens; Plaza de España, used in the filming of Episodes I and II in the Star Wars trilogy; and so much more. (B)
Day 6 Seville–Evora, Portugal–Lisbon.
Enjoy the scenery of the Sierra de Aracena before crossing into Portugal and the fertile plains of the Alentejo. Admire the forest of cork trees and make a stop to visit Evora, a delightfully attractive Moorish city with arches, alleys, flower-decked balconies, brilliant white houses, and the Temple of Diana. Continue to Lisbon. (B)
Day 7 Lisbon.
Henry the Navigator made Lisbon the 15th-century “Mistress of the Seas.” You’ll see his monument, the Belem Tower, the Moorish Citadel, the impressive Black Horse Square, and other highlights on the guided sightseeing tour. Spend the afternoon at leisure in the Alfama’s tile-decorated streets, or take an optional excursion along the Estoril Coast to Cascais and Sintra. (B)
Day 8 Lisbon–Fátima–Coimbra–Oporto.
Stop in Fátima to visit its world-famous SHRINE, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Continue to Coimbra, known for its university, one of the oldest in Europe, and to Oporto on the northern bank of the Douro River. For the perfect way to round out your day, why not join an optional Douro River cruise and dinner? (B)
Day 9 Oporto.
Discover Oporto’s highlights on the guided city tour. See its historical cathedral, overlooking the Port wine cellars along the banks of the Douro River. This afternoon, maybe join an optional excursion to Guimarães, considered the “cradle” of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tonight, enjoy the included dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 10 Oporto–Salamanca, Spain.
Enjoy the profusion of woodlands and mountains on your return to Spain via the scenic Douro Valley. Reach the ancient and beautiful university town of Salamanca in the early evening and maybe take a stroll in the Plaza Mayor. (B)
Day 11 Salamanca–Avila–Segovia–Madrid.
Journey to fortified Avila with its many towers and visit ST. THERESA’S CONVENT before continuing to Segovia, a medieval town picturesquely set on a rocky hill. Spend some time in Segovia before crossing the boundary between new and old Castile to arrive in Madrid. (B)
Day 12 Madrid.
Not only is it the capital of Spain, but because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards say Madrid is the nearest thing to Heaven. The day is dedicated to discover Madrid’s main highlights on the included guided city tour. (B)
Day 13 Madrid.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)