Meet your driver just past customs for the ride to Lisbon as you begin your Island Tour. First, Check in at your hotel in the Old Town. Secondly, meet your guide in the evening for a food and wine tour. Learn about Lisbon’s café culture near Rossio Plaza, try codfish cakes, stop at a wine bar in Bairro Alto for the local white wine. Visit Castle Hill to see the best views of the city and discover Lisbon’s best sausages and cheeses, paired with a glass of port. Then, enjoy a Fado show.
With your guide, drive through Sintra Natural Park to Palacio da Pena and the town of Sintra. Visit Sintra National Palace and Pena Palace. Then, have lunch in Sintra and head down to Cascais (surf town) in time for dinner. Spend some time on your own while you enjoy the beach and return to Lisbon in the afternoon.
Meet your driver and guide to start your day trip. In the meanwhile, we’ll stop in two important Catholic Portuguese towns. First on the list, Fátima convent where the Virgin appeared to two children with prophecies. Take some time for lunch before driving on to nearby Batalha. Finally, visit the historic Monastery and return to Lisbon in the evening.
Fly to Funchal. A lush green landscape will greet you on Madeira as the multitude of tones tumbles down the mountains to the ocean. The blue of the Atlantic stretches out just a few hundred meters from your hotel, and the view will be stunning. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to the old harbor city of Funchal, the capital of the archipelago. Gothic and Romanesque styles mix on the streets, most spectacularly in Funchal Cathedral as gardens stretch out behind the promenade and wine cellars provide an easy introduction to the wine of the region. Settle in for a day at your leisure with many avenues to explore in the city. A quiet beach is close by.
Take a day on your own in Madeira for a chance to settle into the rhythm of the islands and get over any travel fatigue. There are many beaches within easy reach of Funchal, including those surrounded by cafes, as well as those where very few people will be around. For cultural exploration, try the Contemporary Art Museum and for a spectacular sunset on the road that leads away from Funchal and into the verdant mountains that dominate so much of Madeira.
Meet your guide in the morning. Madeira may have changed since its days as a pirate retreat, but the island is still packed with myth and fable. Fishing villages like Ribeira Brava and Camara do Lobos exude color and charm, as well as the scent of fresh oceanic catches. Continue along the remote southwest coast, and you will climb into the mountains for breathtaking plateaus that bring endless views. Descend into volcanic rock swimming pools hide in the verdant landscapes as the road is dramatically cut into the cliffs of the north. Stop for lunch and then return to Funchal, where the second highest sea cliff in the world is just one of the sights. It will be a lot to fit into one day, but you will be entirely immersed in Mother Nature as you explore an island that can fill an entire memory card on your camera.
Meet your driver and catch a flight over the Atlantic to Portugal’s other chain of islands. Lakes of green and blue stand proudly on the west of Sao Miguel Island, hypnotically framed by forested slopes and endemic flora. Stand at Vista do Rei and soak up the panorama, the beauty of the old volcanic craters so postcard perfect from this point. Another guide will receive you with a panoramic tour of Sao Miguel. There are different routes, all lined with exotic Azorean flora. Eat lunch at one of the Sete Cidades villages before getting closer to the lakes’ colors on a kayaking tour. After the day’s adventure, you will pass pineapple plantations and cow fields to Ponta Delgado, the capital city of the archipelago and where your hotel is located in the heart of the historical center.
Meet your guide in the morning. Landscapes collide on the island of Sao Miguel as a tea plantation covers swathes of the interior for an idyllic sight for the morning. Botanical gardens are lush and almost overgrown, the volcanic soil and continual sun allowing thousands of species to flourish. Hot springs create swimming pools of soothing waters, full of minerals that once made them a 19th-century spa resort. As part of the private tour, you will have a classic lunch of cozido nas caldeiras, a meat and vegetable stew that will have been stewing underground for seven hours, heated by volcanic steam. Throughout the day, you will enjoy incredible viewpoints as Sao Miguel is an island with such rich and unusual landscapes.
Make another flight back to Portugal. Firstly, meet your guide at the airport for the transfer to the hotel. Take a tram tour of the old town while you see the fishermen’s village and walk down to the Douro River for a port tasting followed by a boat ride on the river, passing under all the bridges.
Meet your driver and catch short flight to Madrid. In the afternoon start a walking tour of the Madrid “Austrias” District” from your hotel. Continue to Plaza de Oriente, the center of 15th century Madrid. This walking tour will lead you through streets and squares belonging to the times of the Hapsburg royalty. Pass the Royal Palace, Royal Theater and Opera. Your guide will tell you the legends and history of the commoners and nobility during the Spanish Renaissance. A few other stops along the way are the Tower of Lujan, San Miguel Market, Plaza Mayor where bullfights were once held and Plaza de España. Meanwhile, we’ll stop for classic raciones and tapas.
Catch the train from Atocha to Toledo. The ancient capital is well-preserved and full of cultural wonder. As you approach, notice how the entire city crowds onto a high, rocky perch protected by the Tajo River. Pick up your Toledo Passes in the station and enter the Arabic city, to begin your tour through the Old Town and Arabic Quarters. Visit Zocodover Square where the main market was once set up. Enter Santa María la Blanca Synagogue and the nearby Cristo de la Luz Mosque. Finally, visit an artisanal sword maker, Toledo’s famous trade that was set in motion by the Umeyyad Dynasty. Return to Madrid in the late afternoon.
Catch the high-speed AVE south to the land of flamenco and music. As you arrive, feel the warm sun as you step out of Sevilla station. In the early afternoon, your guide will meet you in the lobby for a walking tour, beginning at the city walls, passing the Murillo Gardens with several stops in Barrio Santa Cruz while you see the Alcázar fortress, Cathedral and Giralda prayer tower. Finally, we’ll have an intimate flamenco show reserved for you.
Discover a small corner of Spain where traditional village life goes on as it has for thousands of years. Begin at Zahara de la Sierra, birthplace of Arab noblemen, conquistadors and bandits. Your guide will tell you some of the local legends before visiting an olive mill for a tour and tasting. Next stop is the village of Grazalema, a town within a natural park. Finally, we’ll take lunch just outside Ronda with a tour and wine tasting at a countryside winery. After that, your driver will leave you at your hotel. Take some free time before meeting your guide at the hotel for a late afternoon tour of Ronda, the birthplace of bullfighting. Go inside the bullring to step into the matador’s shoes. Cross the New Bridge spanning a plunging gorge that separates Ronda’s New and Old Quarters. Then, your guide will continue the tour down cobblestone streets into the Collegiate Church and Don Bosco’s medieval palace. Finally, Return to Sevilla in the evening.
Catch a short flight to Barcelona. Meet your guide in the hotel lobby to explore the beauty of Barcelona on a complete visit of the exquisite Catalonian city. The guided tour will show you the city’s most iconic sights, beginning with a panoramic tour of the Passeig de Gracia Boulevard, past Parc Güell, both Gaudí houses, las Ramblas and the Born district. Stop at the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló to get a better look at the inside of these fabulously designed buildings.
Catch the train with your guide up the mountain to the monastery-fortress built among finger-like rock formations. Visit the Monastery Chapel to hear the pure, angelic voices of the boys’ choir. Your guide will take you to the Cave of the Black Virgin where the monastery displays a large amount of important works. Finally, catch the cogwheel train to the mountain top for one last sight of Barcelona.
We’ll take you to the airport as your Island Tour draws to an end.
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