Paradors of Northern Spain
Explore the mosaic of diverse regions and cities of the north on this most unique of Northern Spain tours that includes a taste of Portugal. Discover Catalonia's distinct culture and proud traditions; the fiercely autonomous Basque region, with its own unique culture and language; and Castile, central to Spain's medieval history. Enjoy overnight stays in historic paradors – restored palaces, monasteries and castles – and special Tauck experiences including a choice of spa treatment or cooking demonstration at El Castell de Ciutat; a 7-course feast set within a medieval castle; a visit to the monastery atop Montserrat; a wine tasting and lunch at a Porto winery, and a cruise aboard a Rabelo boat.
Day 1: Welcome to Barcelona & Spain
Freedom Road Travel's most unforgettable of Northern Spain tours begins at 6:00 PM at Le Méridien Barcelona. A transfer is included from Barcelona Airport to Le Méridien Barcelona. At a welcome cocktail reception and dinner tonight, we invite you to meet those who will join you to discover the cultural diversity of Spain’s northern regions and Portugal.
(D) Le Méridien Barcelona
Day 2: Art & Architecture in Barcelona
Barcelona, capital of the unique Catalonia region of Spain, beguiles at every turn of your walking tour with a local guide. Highlights include Las Ramblas and the Cathedral in medieval Barrio Gótico. A drive through Montjuïc takes you past the 1992 Olympic Stadium, high above the city, then on to a visit inside la Sagrada Familia, architect Antonio Gaudí's famously unfinished, Gothic-yet-modern cathedral. Spend the rest of the day and evening as you wish in Barcelona.
(B) Le Méridien Barcelona
Day 3: Montserrat, Cardona & on to the Pyrenees
Admire delightful rural vistas of Catalonia when you travel along the Yellow Roads to the amazing mountaintop monastery at Montserrat; see the shrine of Moreneta, the Black Madonna, presiding over the basilica. Next stop is Cardona, where you'll savour a taste of Catalan cuisine when lunch is served in the medieval ambiance of the dining room of the Parador de Cardona, a 9th-century castle. Journey on to the small towns of Castellciutat and La Seu d'Urgell in the Pyrenees, where you'll spend the next two nights at an elegant resort. Enjoy dinner à la carte at your hotel tonight; most dinners at the paradors will be full à la carte on this ultimate of northern Spain tours.
(B, L, D) El Castell de Ciutat
Days 4: Pyrenees pleasures in La Seu d'Urgell
On a walking tour along the historic main street in La Seu d’Urgell, you'll be inspired by your visit to the 12th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria d'Urgell, the only Romanesque cathedral that has been preserved in the Catalonia region of the Pyrenees. After lunch, choices of activities for the afternoon include a cooking demonstration focusing on Catalan cuisine, a round of golf, a spa treatment, or a guided visit to Andorra, a tiny, sovereign principality bordering Spain and France in the Pyrenees. A highlight of FRT's most memorable of Northern Spain tours awaits this evening at a special 7-course dinner at the hilltop 9th-century castle located on the grounds of your hotel.
(B, L, D) El Castell de Ciutat
Day 5: Pamplona & San Sebastián in Basque country
Today takes you through the marvelous mountains of the Basque country to Pamplona, the city best known for the annual "running of the bulls," where you'll walk the route followed by this longstanding tradition. Continue on to the charming seaside town of San Sebastián; feast your eyes on this popular resort for the first time from the summit of Mount Igueldo, offering perfect vistas of the town. Your home for the next two nights is the Hotel Maria Cristina, among the most fabulous Belle Époque hotels in all of Spain.
(B, D) Hotel Maria Cristina
DAY 6: A day in seaside San Sebastián
Join your local guide on a walking tour of the Old Town of San Sebastián; the rest of the day is yours to enjoy as you please in this lovely town set on a shell-shaped bay. Further explore Old Town's medieval streets while sampling some tasty Basque specialties, or enjoy the city’s many waterfront attractions – not the least of which is the famous beach popular with the international surfing set. The remainder of the day and evening are yours to spend as you wish.
(B) Hotel Maria Cristina
DAY 7: Bilbao, the Guggenheim & Fuente Dé
Modern art is flourishing at the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, as you'll see during a visit to this extraordinary achievement by architect Frank Gehry and its eclectic collection. Continue on to medieval Santillana del Mar, then up into the magnificent Picos de Europa ("Peaks of Europe"); admire the scenic views of rural villages, gorges and valleys en route to Fuente Dé. Enjoy dinner à la carte this evening at your parador, set in the foothills of the Picos mountains.
(B, L, D) Parador de Fuente Dé
DAY 8: Across mountains & plains to Gothic León
Enjoy a morning at leisure, then make your way through the Cantabrian Cordilleras en route to central Spain's Meseta Plateau, leaving the mountains behind and journeying across the flat lands of Castile. Once the capital of the Kingdom of León, the city of León was an important pilgrimage site. A guided city tour, a visit to its magnificent Gothic Cathedral, and an overnight stay in at the Parador de León, one of the most luxurious in Spain, reveal the fascinating history of this venerable city.
(B, L, D) Parador de León
DAY 9: In pilgrims' footsteps on the way to Santiago
When the grave of Saint James was discovered in this region in the ninth century, hundreds of thousands began making the arduous pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago – the Way of St. James – on foot to visit it and the cathedral dedicated to the saint in Santiago de Compostela. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the town's historic quarter and a visit to the world-famous cathedral – home to the relics of the saint – prior to an overnight stay at a remarkable parador that began accommodating travellers in the 15th century; set on the same square as the cathedral, it's one of the oldest hotels in the world, and a highlight of your most intriguing of northern Spain tours with FRT. Enjoy dinner tonight at your choice of restaurants in the parador.
(B, L, D) Parador de Santiago de Compostela
DAY 10: Prosperous Porto on the Portuguese coast
After a morning at leisure and lunch in Santiago de Compostela, cross the border from Spain into Portugal, bound for the ancient port city of Porto, nestled on Portugal's Atlantic coast, with a long history that dates back to the Roman era. Today, Porto is Portugal's second-largest city and offers much to interest visitors; enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening. (B, L, D) InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas
DAY 11: A Rabelo cruise & a taste of port in Porto
In Porto, port wine is at the heart of the matter; the city that gave this libation its name has long been known for the quality of its port, an economically important export for centuries. Your locally guided exploration of the city's intriguing sights includes the Gothic Church of São Francisco and a visit to Livraria Lello, one of the world's most beautiful book stores. Learn first-hand how barrels of port have been transported for centuries on a cruise along the Douro River aboard a traditional Rabelo boat, beforetravelling to Taylor's winery to sample Porto's pride with a tour followed by a wine tasting and lunch at their Restaurante Barão de Fladgate. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening as you wish in Porto.
(B, L) InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas
DAY 12: To Coimbra en route to Lisbon
Delve into Portugal's history today as you explore Coimbra, liberated from Moorish occupation in 1064 and the site of the oldest seat of higher learning in Portugal, founded by King Dinis in 1210; join your local guide on visits to the university and historic St. Michael's Chapel. After lunch in Pombal, continue on to legendary Lisbon, arriving early this evening for a two-night stay.
(B, L) Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
DAY 13: It's all about discoveries in Lisbon
Everywhere you look in Lisbon, Portugal's beguiling capital city, you'll see reminders of the "Great Period of Discoveries" – when Portuguese mariners set sail to explore the then-unknown world and found what is now Brazil, among other notable places. During a sightseeing tour, visit Mosterio dos Jerónimos and the impressive Maritime Museum in its west wing; view the Tower of Belém, commemorating Vasco de Gama's expedition; and the Discoveries Monument, set at the point of departure of many 15th-century voyages. Explore and enjoy more of Lisbon at your leisure before joining us tonight to share memories of your journey with your travelling companions at a farewell cocktail reception and dinner. (B, D) Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
DAY 14: Homeward bound
Your most extraordinary of Portugal and Northern Spain tours comes to an end in Lisbon. Fly home any time. A transfer is included from the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon to Lisbon International Airport. Please allow 3 hours for airport check-in formalities. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.
TERMS & CONDITIONS
As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking. Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.
Inclusions and itineraries are subject to change without notice. Please contact one of our consultants for the most up to date itinerary, prices and availability.