Departure point: Barcelona
Every Sunday from March 29 to Oct 25
Welcome to this eight-day tour, dedicated to Northern Spain. We start in Barcelona and head north to the regions of Aragon, Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, as well as Northern Portugal.
The north of the country has a unique and beautiful landscape, with amazing cities that harbor numerous highlights. These include the charming San Sebastian with excellent sandy beaches; Bilbao with its world-famous Guggenheim Museum; and many small villages that are typical for this area, like Santillana de Mar and Covadonga. You will also see the National Park Picos de Europa; the most western city of Spain – La Coruna, and one of the main pilgrimage centers in Europe – Santiago de Compostela. The trip also includes a day in the former fisherman’s town – Oporto (Porto), nowadays known as a main port and second largest city in Portugal.
We end off with the beautiful Salamanca, not to be missed on your way back.
The tour starts in Barcelona and ends in Madrid.
Day 1. Barcelona – Zaragoza – San Sebastian (575km ~ 357 miles)
Departure from Barcelona at 8am towards Zaragoza. Arrival to Zaragoza. Spain’s fifth largest city – Zaragoza – is the capital of the Aragón region. Located south of the Pyrenees, it sits roughly between Barcelona and San Sebastian, and is home to a range of fascinating sights, from Roman ruins to magnificent Islamic architecture and a striking Baroque cathedral. We will stop in the city center so you can have a free time to explore the most notorious sights of Zaragoza: Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and Puente de Piedra (the Stone Bridge).
- A striking Baroque Basilica, it is here that many believe that Santiago – one of Jesus’ disciples and referred to as James in the Bible – saw the Virgin Mary ascend a marble pillar. A chapel was built around that pillar and later added to and renovated, until it became the stunning cathedral it is today. If you want, you can head inside to look around at its magnificent interior, then take the elevator to the top to enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the city.
- Bridge Puente de Piedra(the Stone Bridge) is the oldest of all the bridges across the Ebro River. It was built in 1401 following a Gothic style. Measuring about 225 meters in length, the entire stone structure is held by seven arches, with cutwaters that help to break the water flow. It is very close to the Plaza del Pilar, so its silhouette with the Basilica del Pilar in the background has become one of the iconic images of the city.
After some free time in Zaragoza we’ll continue to San Sebastian. Arrival in early evening, dinner and accommodation.
Day 2. San Sebastian – Bilbao – Santander (205km ~ 127 miles)
Breakfast and transfer to Bilbao. The Basque city of Bilbao is particularly well known for its avant-garde contemporary designs and fascinating architecture, especially as it is home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, where we will make a stop to walk around and make pictures of this gorgeous and wicked structure.
- Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museumis the most emblematic building in the city, towering above the river like an undulating titanium ship. The celebrated modern art museum, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, resembles a huge metal ship, covered in shiny wavy patterns and quirky structures, and is just as impressive from the outside as it is from the inside. Surrounding the museum, you’ll find Bilbao’s Art District, home to world-famous artworks such as Louise Bourgeois’ Mamen spider sculpture, Jeff Koons’ Puppy and Anish Kapoor’s Tall Tree and the Eye.
Later we’ll transfer to Santander. Santander is the capital of Spain’s Cantabria region and offers a whole host of attractions for visitors, from history museums to art centers and beaches. Spend your time shopping in the Mercado de la Esperanza, visiting the Palacio de la Magdalena or browsing the works in the new Centro Botín. Some highlights not to miss in your free time in the evening:
- Santander has two beaches – the Playa de los Bikinis and the Playa de la Magdalena, which are perfect for sunbathing in summer or strolling along in winter.
- The Palacio de la Magdalenais situated on the vast Magdalena Peninsula, on the edge of the city, and has become somewhat of a symbol of Santander. Built between 1908 and 1912, it’s one of the best examples of this style of architecture in the whole of northern Spain. The palace was used as a summer residence for the Spanish royal family between 1913 and 1930, and today is open for visitors and grand events.
- One of the most impressive buildings in the city is the Santander ‘s Cathedral, which simply can’t be missed. Inside, you can find the tomb of the writer, literary critic and historian Menéndez Pelayo.
Dinner and night in Santander.
Day 3. Santander – Santillana – Covadonga – Oviedo (320km ~ 199 miles)
Breakfast. This day you’ll be travelling throughout one of the most beautiful Spanish National Parks – Picos de Europa which is characterized by high massifs, deep ravines, lush mountain meadows and vast glassy lakes. First our stop for today is in Santillana de Mar.
- This town, that has often been referred to as one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Spain, let alone just Cantabria. Sitting on the coast and surrounded by verdant green mountains, it offers the best of both worlds. Think caramel-colored architecture and steep, cobbled streets, perfect medieval stone and timber houses. Santillana del Mar was built around the collegiate church of Santa María and is also dotted with old defense towers and Renaissance palaces.
After some free time, we’ll continue to Covadonga, – a place, located at the western edge of Picos de Europa, and is visited by thousands of people every year. Stop at Sanctuary of Covadonga.
- Sanctuary of Covadonga(the Holy Cave) – is a small church, located in a mountain grotto and features an image of the Virgin Mary – Virgin of Covadonga. This sight is an important site in Christian history. It was where Christian forces in Iberia defeated a Muslim army at the Battle of Covadonga, marking the beginning of the Spanish Reconquista. But though the cave is now linked to Christianity, it’s believed it was first a site for prehistoric pagan worship.
Some free time to admire the Holy Cave. Later continuation to Oviedo. Arrival, dinner and overnight.
Day 4. Oviedo – La Coruna (347km ~ 216 miles)
Breakfast and departure the very northwest corner of Spain – La Coruna (or A Coruna, how locals say). A Coruña sits in the very northwest corner of Spain, in the autonomous community of Galicia. A vibrant coastal city with plenty in the way of culture, history, gastronomy (it’s famous for its seafood) and natural sights. Enjoy a panoramic city tour upon arrival and, later – a free time. Sights you’ll see during the city tour, and on same you can take a closer look later, while exploring city on your own:
- Torre de Hercule- the oldest working lighthouse in the world, the Tower of Hercules has become somewhat a symbol of the city. Built in Roman times, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also some lovely nature walks around the area.
- Galerias- A Coruña is known as the ”Glass City” due to its unique architectural style of constructing galerías – enclosed glass balconies – onto the side of its buildings. Most date back to the 19th century and feature patterns, as well as colors and embellishments.
- Castillo de San Anton, a 16th century fortress set on a small island, connected to the mainland via a bridge. Today the castle houses the Museo Arqueológico e Histórico – Museum of Archeology and History.
- Estrella Galiciais one of Spain’s best-loved beers and its home is here in A Coruña. Founded in 1906 by Jose Mª Rivera, it’s possible to visit the original location of the first Estrella Galicia brewery in the neighborhood of Cuatro Caminos. The site is now the brewery-restaurant Estrella de Galicia, and you can enjoy food and fresh, unpasteurized beer straight out of the brewery.
Accommodation, dinner and night in La Coruna.
Day 5. La Coruna – Santiago de Compostela (75km ~ 47 miles)
Breakfast in the hotel in La Coruna, then transfer to Santiago de Compostela. In Santiago we’ll have a proper city tour including the visit to the Cathedral. This city is renowned for its shrine of Saint James the Great and was built to accommodate the thousands of pilgrims that would, and still do, gather there every year. The architecture and atmosphere of the city are impregnated with history and visitors may feel like they’ve taken a step back in time. Some highlights of the tour:
- The The Cathedral of Santiago de Composetela- you simply cannot go to Santiago and not visit its cathedral. Built during the 1300s, the changes over the subsequent centuries have added Gothic and Baroque features to its Romanesque architecture. The grand Plaza del Obradoiro leaves enough room to admire the Cathedral’s impressive size and design, and through the front doors you will find the Portico de Gloria, the Corticela chapel and the relic of Saint John.
- Casco Historico(or Historical Center). We’ll take time to explore the little streets around the cathedral and you will find lots of hidden squares, like the Plaza de Cervantes, with beautiful statues and intricate fountains. The district is alive with activity, and as you walk around the old streets you are likely to chance upon a mass or the gathering of a procession. There are also lots of cafés and restaurants where later on during the day you can sit down to enjoy some Spanish tapas and watch the world go by.
On your free time in the afternoon you can visit:
- San Francisco Convent– if you’re feeling hungry you should head over to the San Franciscan convent, which housed Franciscan monks in the 18th century. The monks have now moved to a more modern building and the old convent serves as a restaurant. The food is delicious, and they offer a special Pilgrim menu with typical convent or monastery dishes. The unique food, combined with the architecture and décor, will make for an unforgettable experience. If you have time, check out the chapel and Holy Land museum next door.
- Alameda park – this is a beautiful park with wonderful views of the cathedral and the old town from the Ferradura walk. Alameda park is great place to seek peace and quiet away from the busy center. One of the park’s many statues is Las dos Marias(”the two Mary”), which depicts a fun piece of local history, when two women became famous during the 1950s and 1960s by walking through the city center every day at 2pm sharp, dressed and made up in what was considered an eccentric manner, and flirting with the university students.
- San Martin Pinario Monastery – this 10th-century baroque Benedictine monastery and church has a beautiful stairway and its walnut choir stalls made by Mateo de Prado are considered the most impressive in Galicia.
Dinner and accommodation.
Day 6. Santiago de Compostela – Rias Bajas – Vigo – Porto (90km ~ 56 miles)
Breakfast, then transfer thru beautiful area of Rias Baixas (”lower rivers”). Rias Bajas is a set of largest estuaries in the area. The coastline of the province boasts three magnificent inlets surrounded by cliffs, islands, ports, hills, beaches and stunning landscapes that make it a perfect destination to visit. On both the coast and inland, you’ll definitely enjoy unforgettable views.
First stop – at small town, called O Grove, in the Isle of Toja (Isla de la Toja – a small peninsula in the area). O Grove is a privileged location, a place that stands out for its history and traditional fishing. Highlights to see on your free time:
- Chapel of the Shells– it was built for San Caralimpio and the Virgen del Carmen. It stands out because its structure is decorated with scallop shells and its conservation level is very high.
- Aldea dos Grobits Village– the ”Grobits” are fictional creatures that, as story tells, were living in the depths of the thermal waters in the Island of the Toja. On some special days, the soil of the well is transformed into water and the grobits rise up the well. They walk among the centenary pines, playing among them and when they are tired, they go to these houses to rest.
- O Grove beachesoffer the ideal complement with international prestige. Starting from one of the most famous beaches for surfers, such as A Lanzada, we continue with recognized and appreciated sites such as ”Dogs beach”. The other beaches are: As Pipas in Reboredo, Area Grande, Area da Cruz and Raeiros. Most of them have plenty of places to eat nearby and spectacular views.
Later we will continue to Vigo and will stop for a free time in the city center, in the Old town.
- Vigo’s old-town is set on a slope that meets the estuary at the old port, with alleys that lead onto handsome arcaded squares like, for example, – Praza da Constitución. This is the part of the city where fishermen’s houses and grander buildings like plush townhouses, and the 19th-century church of Santa María were set side-by-side. Almost all were built with Galician granite, which gives the old-town a dignified atmosphere distinct from many Spanish old quarters. Many of the street names correspond to old trades, and in streets like and Calle de las Ostras Rúa Cesteiros you can still find basket-weavers – the craft, locals were mastering for hundreds of years.
Later we will cross the beautiful Minho river, that also separates Spain and Portugal. Arrival to the second largest Portugese city of Porto (or Oporto – how locals pronounce). Accommodation and overnight.
Day 7. Porto
Breakfast in the hotel, then we’ll head to a proper city tour of Porto. There are plenty of things that this lively and extraordinary city has to offer. Slightly timeworn and weathered, the gray skies and dated buildings add character, while the twinkling lights along the Douro River reflect off the water and illuminate a central part of the city. Pair these features with the reserved yet friendly locals, the charming trams, beautifully adorned architecture, and the wine, and Porto’s charm may put anyone under its spell. Here are some highlights of the tour:
- Porto’s bustling Ribeiro districtis the most eclectic part of the city, inviting everyone to sit by its banks from locals to students and tourists. As a historical center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is lots to see here, and the picturesque quality of the river, cafés, buildings, and statues only adds to the allure.
- Porto’s Cathedral: (Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument. It is situated in the upper part of Porto. The building looks a bit like a fortress with crenels from the outside.
- The Cathedral sits on a square with a column in the middle which offers impressive views over the city, the Douro River and the wine cellars on the waterfront.
- Palacio da Bolsa is a 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace – the neoclassical product of a combined effort from several architects. It was created in the late 19th century to attract European businesses but today stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national monument.
- Igreja de Santa Clara – the 15thcentury Santa Clara church may actually be one of the most exquisite examples of Portugal’s 17th century woodwork, reflecting Baroque and Rococo styles.
- Dom Luís Bridge – Porto’s bridges are well known, but the Dom Luís Bridge is perhaps the most popular. This metal, double-decked arch bridge is a popular spot for photographers looking to snap a unique angle of the city and an easy way to traverse over to Vila Nova de Gaia and its wineries. Opened in the late 19th century, it was the longest arch bridge at the time.
Later we will continue our tour with a visit an antique wine cellar, experience the wine-making process and definitely taste famous local fortified wine – Port, which in many cases get served straight from the barrel.
On the second half of the day fell free to explore the city on tour own. Some suggestions:
- Experience Livraria Lello – this bookstore is one of the most beautiful in the world and has become extra famous as one of JK Rowling’s favorite haunts when she lived in Porto (and began developing the Harry Potter series). There is no doubt that the Livraria Lello & Irmão, which has been in business since 1906, is one of Porto’s most popular and busiest landmarks; there is even a cover charge to enter. Centrally located, near the locals’ favorite Piolho Caféand a block from Igreja do Carmo, it’s easy to find, but be prepared to stand in a line to enter.
- Appreciate the city’s azulejoart – azulejo (ceramic tiles) are unique to Portugal in the way they are used to decorate buildings, streets, and homes, and this is especially noticeable in Porto. A few landmarks popular for their stunning artistic and cultural mosaics include the Estação São Bento, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and the Igreja do Carmo. To see some amazing displays, you won’t need to try hard because azulejos are practically everywhere in the city.
- Eat traditional and local treats – It’s impossible to visit Porto and not eat well. The gastronomy scene is among the best in the country and restaurants serve all sorts of recipes from the most traditional to modern and sophisticated. Porto is also a city that knows its comfort food.
Second night in Porto.
Day 8. Oporto – Salamanca – Madrid (566km ~ 352 miles)
After breakfast you will leave Oporto behind and get back to Spain, making your way to the medieval city of Salamanca. Located in the north-western part of Spain, Salamanca is a city of exceptional beauty and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. You’ll have a free time to enjoy the beautiful city center of Salamanca on your own. Highlights not to miss:
- Old Town – listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, the beautifully preserved old town in the center of the city is impossible to miss. The unmistakable sandstone architecture is scattered throughout and found among some of the city’s most famous monuments.
- Old and New Cathedrals- Salamanca’s impressive New Cathedral lies next to the Old Cathedral and its construction first began in the 15th century, and lasted until the 18th. It is considerably larger than its historic counterpart and is one of Spain’s most impressive examples of Gothic architecture, while also featuring Renaissance and Baroque elements.
- Salamanca University is located in the historic town center and was founded between 1425 and 1433. The building is considered one of the oldest universities in the world, and also one of the most beautiful ones.
- Plaza Mayor(The Main Square) – one of the largest squares in Spain, and is the heart of the bustling city. Small shops and restaurants are spread out around the bustling. Along with the University of Salamanca, Plaza Mayor is considered the emblem of the city and has been declared a National Monument.
- The historical Casa de las Conchas (Shells House) – building of a 16thcentury, is known for its curious façade, which is decorated with more than 300 shells.
Afterwards continuation to Madrid. Arrival to the capital and end of the tour.
- accommodation in **** hotels
- 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners
- modern and air-conditioned bus
- multi-lingual tour escort
- sightseeing tours with local guides in Santiago and Porto
- tickets to Santiago’s Cathedral
- visit to wine cellar with a tasting of Porto wine
- travel insurance
- free Wi- Fi on board
- Air Tickets
- Any Meal not mentioned in inclusions.
- Any services, activities, Taxes not mentioned in Inclusions
- 5 % GST
Terms & Conditions
- Mentioned prices are valid till 31st March’2021.
- Mentioned prices are based on per person on twin sharing
- Prices are Dynamic & Subjected to Change as per travelling dates.
Cancellation & Refund Policy:
10% paid at the time of reservation is non-refundable. The other 90% is fully refundable if cancelled in no less than 3 weeks (e.g., if you paid 100% upfront right away). There are no refunds for cancellations made in less than 3 weeks to go before the trip.