IBERIAN VACATION

(13 days from Madrid to Madrid)

This trip covers Spain, Morocco, and Portugal, concentrating on the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Start with an included welcome dinner in Madrid. Two-night stays in the cities of Madrid, Lisbon, and Seville allow enough time for in-depth sightseeing, including visits to Madrid’s Prado Museum, Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery, and Seville’s Alcazar. In Salamanca, a special dinner at a local restaurant has been included so that you can sample the local specialties. Another highlight is an elevator ride from lower to upper Lisbon to enjoy the views. The overnight in Tangier gives you a nice taste of Morocco, with a spectacular panoramic drive to Cap Spartel, where a glass of hot mint tea and biscuits await. Enjoy ferry crossings over the Strait of Gibraltar and a full day at leisure at the Costa del Sol, giving you the possibility to join an optional excursion to the Rock of Gibraltar. Continue to Granada to visit the famed Alhambra complex and the Water Gardens of the Generalife. Also stop in Toledo, where you’ll see one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Back in Madrid, a farewell dinner celebrates the success of your Iberian Vacation.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Madrid, Spain

Time to rest or to start exploring the Spanish capital. At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel. (D)

Day 2 Madrid

The capital of Spain since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Your Local Guide takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, the Parliament, Cibeles Fountain, elegant Calle Alcala, and Paseo de Castellana. Then, the highlight: a visit to the palatial PRADO MUSEUM with its priceless art treasures. In the afternoon, an optional excursion to El Escorial can be arranged. (B)

Day 3 Madrid–Segovia–Avila–Salamanca

A day in beautiful Castile. Cross the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama on the way to Segovia, famous for the 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Enjoy a walk through the walled town of Avila, where St. Theresa founded the Order of Carmelites. Overnight in Salamanca, where [LF] a special dinner with wine awaits you at one of Salamanca’s fine restaurants. (B,D)

Day 4 Salamanca–Fatima–Lisbon, Portugal

The majestic scenery of the Serra da Estrela mountain range forms the backdrop of your morning drive into Portugal. Before heading for Lisbon, melt into the stream of pilgrims from all over the world as you visit the SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY in Fatima. This evening, an optional dinner with Fado-style entertainment is the perfect introduction to Portugal’s capital. (B)

Day 5 Lisbon

Lisbon was the center of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive through the Baixa quarter’s main squares and a walk through the cobblestone alleys of quaint ALFAMA, the popular quarter of the seamen and Fado singers. Drive along the grand Avenida da Liberdade up to Pombal Square. Stop for pictures of Belem Tower, guarding the mouth of the Tagus, and the Monument to the Discoverers. Next, visit JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. In the afternoon, an exciting optional excursion is available to Sintra and the royal palace of Queluz. (B)

Day 6 Lisbon–Seville, Spain

Highlight this morning is the [LF] ELEVATOR RIDE to upper Lisbon, before a scenic drive back into Spain and to the vibrant capital of Andalusia, Seville, where dinner awaits you at your hotel. (B,D)

Day 7 Seville

During your sightseeing tour with a Local Guide, hear about the city’s role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712 AD, and its contribution to the discovery of the New World. Admire Maria Luisa Park, the Golden Tower on the Guadalquivir River, and the university that used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Then, stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming SANTA CRUZ QUARTER. Highlight is a visit to the ALCAZAR, founded in the 11th century as a Moorish fortress, with its Palacio de Don Pedro. For those interested, an optional extended guided visit to the cathedral is available, and tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show. (B)

Day 8 Seville–Tangier, Morocco

Through the sunny sherry wine region of Jerez to Algeciras. Board your FERRY and sail across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa. Continue to Tangier, jumping-off point for the Moorish conquest of Spain and home town of legendary medieval traveler Ibn Batuta. Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a [LF] spectacular panoramic drive to CAP SPARTEL. Enjoy the views and quench your thirst Bedouin-style with a glass of hot mint tea, accompanied by local biscuits. (B,D)

Day 9 Tangier–Costa del Sol, Spain

Visit Tangier’s exciting and colorful GRAND SOCCO square and explore the narrow streets of the kasbah. Return by FERRY across the Straits and back in Spain, drive to your hotel in Torremolinos on the elegant Costa del Sol. (B)

Day 10 At Leisure on the Costa del Sol

Today is your chance to join an optional excursion to the Rock of Gibraltar, in British hands since 1704. Later, enjoy the sandy beaches, and browse through the trendy boutiques. (B)

Day 11 Costa del Sol–Granada

Into the mountains to history-steeped Granada. A guided walking tour features its main attraction, the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX. A fantasy of “lace in stone” surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, it affords superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte, a mountain occupied by Gypsy cave dwellers. Also admire the magnificent WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE, the royal summer residence. This evening, a special dinner with wine and local specialties has been prepared for you in one of Granada’s fine restaurants. (B,D)

Day 12 Granada–Toledo–Madrid

The olive and orange groves of the rolling Andalusian hills and, later, the more barren landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha unfold before your eyes on the way north to Toledo, spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River. Your walking tour with a Local Guide features the Moorish bridge and visits to an early SYNAGOGUE, the 13th-century gothic CATHEDRAL, and the CHURCH OF SANTO TOMÉ with one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Time to visit a DAMASCENE STEEL WORKSHOP before returning to Madrid. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel. (B,D)

Day 13 Madrid

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)