Porto – Santiago – La Coruña – Oviedo – Bilbao – Burgos – Madrid
April 26 – May 9, 2019 (14 days)
• Get a taste of Portugal with a stay in the ancient port city of Porto, dramatically situated at the mouth of the Douro River on the Atlantic coast.
• Explore the lesser-known regions of Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Castile and León. With elegant cities, rolling green hills, rugged coastal cliffs, fishing villages and delectable cuisine and wines, the north of Spain offers a remarkable contrast to the rest of the country.
• Discover breathtaking cutting-edge architecture at Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, the Ysios Winery and Marqués de Riscal wine cellars.
Depart for Europe.
After arrival at Porto Airport, transfer to your hotel. Time to relax before dinner. (D)
Porto © Porto Convention & Visitors Bureau
This morning, enjoy a tour of Porto’s historic centre, known for its curved streets and blend of Moorish and Roman influences. See the Romanesque Porto cathedral – also known as the Sé – and stroll along Aliados Avenue to see the monument to King Peter IV. Continue to the historic Ribeira Square and embark on a short cruise on the Douro. Discover Porto’s bridges from the water, including the iconic Ponte de Dom Luis I, an iron double-decker bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel’s protégé. View the traditional wooden rabelo boats that once were used to transport grapes to the cellars where winemakers make famous Port (fortified wine). Afternoon at leisure to further explore Porto on your own. (B,D)
Ribeira, Porto © Porto Convention & Visitors Bureau
Depart Porto and drive along the river to Entre-os-Rios on the confluence of the rivers Douro and Tâmega, and across the mountain. Enjoy a wine tasting and lunch at the Quinta da Aveleda Winery and walk through its beautiful gardens. Continue to the charming medieval town of Guimarães for a tour of its UNESCO-listed town centre. Late afternoon arrival in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (B,L,D)
Quinta da Aveleda Winery © Gilles Messian
The final stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail, Santiago de Compostela receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Learn about the religious significance and cultural history of Galicia’s capital while you explore the city, which features dazzling examples of Gothic, Neo-classical, Romanesque and Baroque design.
Visit the monumental cathedral, which houses the earthly remains of St. James the Greater (Santiago), who brought Christianity to Spain. Admire the Pórtico de la Gloria inside the main entrance, featuring 200 figures referring to the Apocalypse. Afternoon at leisure. (B,D)
Santiago de Compostela © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sanchez (Lmbuga)
Head to the spectacular Costa da Morte on the Galician coast. Stop at Finisterre, a famous ancient port and fishing village at the westernmost point of Galicia. Continue to the stone-built fishing village of Muxía, a popular extension to the Camino de Santiago thanks to the belief that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. James while he was preaching here. Early afternoon arrival in La Coruña. Enjoy a tour of the city centre, which sits on an isthmus straddled by the port on its southeast side and the main ocean beaches on the northwest. An irregularly shaped peninsula extends 2km north out to the city’s Roman lighthouse – the Torre de Hércules. (B,D)
Cabo Fisterra © Concello Fisterra
Depart La Coruña. Stop at the Playa de las Catedrales on the Cantabria coast. Its extraordinary natural rock formations resemble the soaring arches found in Gothic cathedrals and are only revealed at low tide. Stop at the picturesque seaside village of Cudillero for lunch.
Continue to Gijón, a city with more than 5,000 years of history on the Bay of Biscay, for a walking guided tour. Late afternoon arrival in Oviedo, Asturias. (B,D)
Muelle de Gijon © Turismo Asturias
This morning, enjoy a city tour of Oviedo. The innovative pre-Romanesque style of Asturias, a precursor to the Romanesque and Gothic styles, is a heritage unique to the province. Afternoon at leisure to further explore Oviedo’s museums and parks on your own. (B,D)
Santa Maria del Naranco, Oviedo © Turismo Asturias
Oviedo Cathedral © Turismo Asturias
Depart Oviedo for the Cave of Altamira, renowned for its numerous parietal cave paintings featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of local fauna and human hands, created during the Upper Paleolithic. The earliest paintings in the cave were executed around 15,500 years ago.
Time for lunch in the nearby medieval village of Santillana del Mar, where you will have some time to walk along its bright cobbled streets and admire its flower-filled balconies and huddle of tanned stone and brick buildings. Continue to Bilbao – one of the great treasures of the Basque country. (B,D)
Santillana del Mar balconies © Margavela
Morning guided tour of Bilbao. Visit the old town (Casco Viejo) and see the cathedral of Santiago and the Mercado de la Ribera. Then, visit Bilbao’s most impressive modern masterpiece – the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the museum opened to the public in 1997 and is one of the most important structures of contemporary architecture. Discover its impressive collection of modern and contemporary art.
This afternoon, drive to the village of Guernica, whose bombing in 1937 during the Civil War inspired Picasso’s famous mural-sized oil painting. Visit the Peace Museum, before returning to Bilbao. (B,D)
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao © Erika Barahona Ede, FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa; all rights reserved
Depart Bilbao and drive through the Rioja wine-producing region. Enjoy a guided tour and a wine tasting at Ysios Winery. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava as a “temple dedicated to wine”, it features an aluminium wave for a roof and a cedar exterior that blends into the mountainous backdrop.
Continue to the town of Elciego, and stop at the Marqués de Riscal wine cellars, a colossal project brought to life with the special contribution by Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry. A wine tasting will follow your guided tour. Late afternoon arrival in Burgos, Castile and León. (B,D)
Ysios Winery © Basquetour
Hotel Marques de Riscal, Elciego
Enjoy a guided tour of Burgos – the historic capital of Castile and a major stopping point on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Visit the extraordinary Gothic cathedral of Burgos, a masterpiece of Spanish Gothic architecture which dominates the city.
This afternoon, drive to Madrid, the Spanish capital. (B,D)
Discover Madrid’s rich history and culture on a morning city tour. Follow its evolution from the Moorish times into the Habsburg and Bourbon periods, during which the city’s palaces and central squares like Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol changed dramatically. Visit the Royal Palace, official residence of the Spanish monarchy from 1765 to 1931. To date, the most stunning receptions of the Spanish Crown are celebrated here – audiences, dinner parties, signature of agreements and the traditional ceremony of presentation of Credential Letters from foreign ambassadors to His Majesty the King.
Afternoon at leisure to further explore the Spanish capital on your own and do some shopping. Celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a farewell tapas dinner and flamenco show at Tablao Flamenco. (B,D)
Macarena Ramirez, Tablao Flamenco, Madrid
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Canada. (B)