Iberia, rediscovered, on a journey unlike any other that explores scenic and cultural contrasts of Spain and Portugal, sharing the Iberian Peninsula.
There’s a lot of history to be rediscovered in Lisbon at places such as Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Discoveries Monument and the Tower of Belém, and in the World Heritage Site towns of Sintra and medieval Évora where rich cultural landmarks chronicle royal Middle Ages lifestyles. Neighboring Spain entices with landscapes dressed in romance, from storybook villages in Andalucía, flower-decked streets in Seville, fine sherry and horses in Jerez de la Frontera and sun-kissed beaches in Marbella. The Moors lingered in Granada and Córdoba the longest, and the royals set up palaces, elegant city squares and the treasured El Prado in Madrid. Rediscover them all, in depth, for two glorious weeks...
Tour begins: 2:00 PM, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. A transfer is included from Lisboa Airport to your hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. The afternoon's guided sightseeing tour in Lisbon provides an introduction to this intriguing city and its most famous landmarks. Visit the famous monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the National Coach Museum, and view the nearby Tower of Belém, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites from the mid-16th century; and see the Discoveries Monument commemorating Portugal's "Age of Exploration" of the 15th and 16th centuries. Meet your traveling companions this evening at a welcome reception and dinner.
Along the Portuguese Riviera to Sintra & Cascais
An excursion from Lisbon today takes you to Sintra – once a favored summer retreat for Portugal's monarchs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – for a visit to the 14th-century Royal Palace of Sintra, a highlight of every Portugal tour, and time to explore on your own. Continue to the fishing village of Cascais, its bay dotted with brightly colored boats, before returning to Lisbon to spend the rest of the day and evening as you please.
A mix of Roman, Moorish & more in Évora
Cross one of Europe's longest bridges – the Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River – en route to the medieval, walled city of Évora, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A city tour with your local guide reveals how Évora's Roman ruins, Moorish arcades, and a score of churches and monasteries create a fascinating cultural tapestry; see the Capela dos Ossos in the 15th-century Church of São Francisco, and the Cathedral of St. Mary. Spend this night of your Spain and Portugal tours at a 15th-century convent-turned-luxury hotel and spa in a picturesque location in Évora.
On to storied Andalucía & Seville in Spain
As your Portugal tour concludes, your exploration of Spain heats up! Spain's famous southern province of Andalucía is as famous for gypsies and flamenco dancing as it is for its seaside resorts and small, whitewashed villages; see the Roman ruins of Mérida, some of the best-preserved in Europe, on a guided visit. The provincial capital of Seville blends the vibrant Spain of today with centuries of history and old-world charm. Spend the next two nights in the heart of the city at one of Europe's most luxurious hotels, commissioned by the king of Spain for the famous Exposition of 1929.
A carriage ride, a historic cathedral & more in Seville
After taking in many of Seville's historic and cultural attractions on a sightseeing tour with your local guide, ride a horse-drawn carriage through the city's historic heart. Visit Seville's impressive Gothic cathedral, one of the world's most beautiful; see its renowned Giralda bell tower (once the minaret of a mosque during Seville's Moorish days), and the tomb of explorer Christopher Columbus. Enjoy a walking tour of fascinating Barrio de Santa Cruz, the city's Jewish Quarter, prior to exploring Seville as you wish for the remainder of the day, with lunch and dinner on your own.
Jerez de la Frontera, Gibraltar & coastal Marbella
Depart Seville for Jerez de la Frontera, known for its fine horses, sweet wines, and sherry (whose name is derived from the town's). Visit the palatial Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalucían School of Equestrian Art) – where you may watch the famous Andalucían horses that are bred here in a training session – and its renowned Carriage Museum (subject to availability due to holidays or other closures; alternative sightseeing may include a visit to the Royal Alcázar of Seville). Enjoy a true taste of the region during a tapas lunch at a sherry bodega; then it's on to Gibraltar, where you'll view the fabled Rock (weather permitting) and see the famed Barbary Macaques in the Apes' Den. Your final destination today is the glamorous coastal resort town of Marbella on the Costa del Sol, for a two-night stay.
A day by the beautiful sea in Marbella
The entire day is yours to enjoy the pleasures of your elegant resort hotel, Grand Meliá Don Pepe, a paradise for the senses in the heart of the Costa del Sol. On one side is the famous Port of Marbella; on the other, gleaming white boats anchored at the exclusive Puerto Banús. And on the horizon, you can see Gibraltar and the North African coast, majestic in the distance, against the magnificent backdrop of the mountain peak La Concha de Marbella. Long a favorite of celebrities in Marbella's privileged enclave of Sierra Blanca, the resort's guest list has included Sean Connery, Julio Iglesias, Prince, Maximillian Schell, Arthur Rubinstein, Begun Aga Khan, Alain Delon, H.R.M. Prince Edward, Bob Hope and many more... and you, spending a perfect day as you please.
Moorish influences in Ronda & Granada
As your tour continues, journey from the Spanish coast into the mountains to visit scenic Ronda, perched on a cliff overlooking the spectacular El Tajo gorge. Ronda is synonymous with the evolution of the art of bullfighting; along with revealing the town's Moorish heritage and remains, a guided walking tour includes a visit to one of Spain's oldest bullrings, the Plaza de Toros. Continue on to Granada, situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. The city boasts extraordinary architecture from over 250 years as the capital of a Moorish kingdom; your hotel is steps away from Granada's celebrated Moorish palace, the Alhambra. Enjoy a private flamenco show tonight, followed by dinner at your hotel.
Discovering the treasures of the Alhambra in Granada
A highlight of your Spain and Portugal tour is today's guided visit to Granada's famed Moorish palace, the Alhambra, constructed to be a "paradise on Earth" by caliphs who ruled here in the 13th century. Tour the palace itself, considered to be one of the world's most beautiful, and stroll through the Generalife, the grounds of the summer palace of former sultans. Enjoy free time to explore on your own and join us for an à la carte dinner at a popular local restaurant this evening.
Córdoba, home to La Mezquita & more
Travel from Granada to Córdoba today for a visit that begins with a guided walking tour through the cobblestone streets of the Judería, Córdoba's former Jewish Quarter; from its alleyways, you can see the walls and decorative details of the candy-striped La Mezquita (Spanish for "mosque.") Your visit to this masterpiece of architecture and art reveals its nearly 1,200-year history as an early Christian church, a Moorish mosque, and, since the 16th century, a Roman Catholic cathedral. Late this afternoon, board the AVE train in Preferente class for a rail journey to Spain's amazing capital city. Arrive in Madrid for four nights at The Westin Palace, Madrid – a Belle Époque landmark in the heart of the city, a short walk from the tapas bars that American novelist Ernest Hemingway made famous. Enjoy dinner at your leisure at the hotel tonight.
Discovering Madrid, Spain's capital city
On your first full day in the Spanish capital, join a local guide for an orientation tour of landmark sights that includes a walking tour of the city's vast Plaza Mayor and the Mercado San Miguel, and a guided visit to the Royal Palace. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring more of Madrid as you please.
An excursion to Toledo then back to Madrid
An excursion today from Madrid to Toledo features guided sightseeing of this monument-filled city. Join your local guide for a walking tour that includes the 12th-century Synagogue Santa Maria La Blanca, the Church of Santo Tome and a visit inside the 13th-century High Gothic-style Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Toledo before returning to your hotel in Madrid for an evening spent as you wish in Spain's storied capital city.
The Prado & more museums of Madrid
This morning, view the art treasures of the celebrated Museo del Prado, one of the best-known museums on Earth – and just a block away from your hotel – with a local expert. The rest of the day is free to spend as you please in one of the world's most popular cities. Tauck includes admission to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, illustrating the history of Western art through its collection of masterpieces by Titian, Goya, van Gogh and Picasso, which you can visit at your leisure. Please join us for a farewell reception followed by dinner with Castilian entertainment at your hotel, as we celebrate this most memorable of Spain and Portugal tours.
Tour ends: Madrid. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from The Westin Palace, Madrid to Madrid Barajas Airport or Madrid Atocha train station. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.