Private Tour of Spain & Portugal
Spain : Madrid & Lisbon
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Based on double occupancy
The gritty and yet picturesque city of Lisbon lies draped across a string of seven hills on the western Iberian Peninsula and is the westernmost and oldest city in western Europe. Its long and tumultuous history has resulted in an aesthetic characterised by a haphazard combination of old and new; however, the aesthetic chaos of Lisbon only adds to its appeal and its undeniable charm. Bright yellow centenarian trams rattle their way up steep, tree-lined, cobbled streets; ornate ironwork balconies overrun with bougainvillaea sit above elegant outdoor cafes housed in ancient whitewashed, red-roofed stone houses; and a flurry of detailed mosaics decorate the sidewalks. Ancient statues adorn grand squares and hidden gardens. A diverse culinary scene, a plethora of fascinating museums, and numerous castles make it easy to see why Lisbon is one of Europe’s most misunderstood and underrated cities.
Set on the west coast of Portugal in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, the town of the same name is a wonderland of historical castles and palaces. These architectural jewels range from the 12th-century Moorish fortress, with its imposing stone walls and the elegant white facade of the medieval Sintra National Palace, to the eerie Gothic extravagance and exquisite gardens of the Quinta Regaleira. The most famous of its ancient citadels is the hilltop Pena Palace, a Romanticist masterpiece with fantastical turrets, domes, vaulted arches and crenellated walls, recently restored to its original purple and ochre colours. Make sure to take a wander through the city’s old quarter, where a network of narrow alleys lead past exclusive boutiques and souvenir shops, cosy taverns and traditional bakeries; or head to Pena Park for a stroll along its beautiful forested trails.
Situated just 30 kilometres west of Lisbon, the coastal fishing town of Cascais, also a cosmopolitan suburb of Lisbon, is known as the region’s most popular holiday destination. Cascais provides the perfect setting for a day trip from Lisbon city. Once a favoured destination for Portugal’s nobility, today the town features impressive 19th-century architecture and traditional Portuguese charm. It has everything from excellent restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and world-class hotels blended with the traditional streets of the historic centre. Visitors can enjoy a wide selection of exciting activities including: surfing at Guincho Beach, soaking up the sun at the beautiful Carcavelos Beach, hiking the hills of the Serra de Sintra National Park and discovering the picturesque town of Sintra. Make sure to try the delicious, fresh seafood specialities: sea bass, calamari, and cod served with olives, bread and Portuguese wine.
Once a small farming village, Fatima was forever changed in 1917 when, according to witnesses, the Virgin Mary appeared several times to three shepherd children. A marble pillar with a statue of Our Lady marks the exact location of her visit and four million-pilgrims make the journey to see it each year. Fatima is now a bustling complex with a vast esplanade book-ended by two large churches. It is, however, a welcoming place no matter your religious inclination. Visitors can enjoy tours of the town's Wax Museum, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Casa-Museu de Aljustrel, along with the splendid surrounding countryside and the multitude of souvenir shops selling everything from rosary beads to glow-in-the-dark statues of the Virgin Mary!
Spain’s enormous central capital, Madrid, lies on the River Manzanares and is a city of contrasts. Historical monuments like the impressive Royal Palace stand in stark contrast to state-of-the-art skyscrapers; masterpieces by Picasso, Dali and Velazquez adorn the walls of the city’s world-class galleries alongside contemporary modern works; local chefs display a passion for Spanish food at traditional eateries while chic fusion restaurants operate next door. Madrid’s real attraction lies in the seductive lifestyle of its hedonistic inhabitants; indulging in tapas, hunting for treasures at the El Rastro flea market or partying the night away in one of the many lively nightclubs. Make sure to soak up the vibrant street life of the grand, historic Plaza Mayor, Madrid's central square, and spend a leisurely afternoon on the landscaped lawns at the Parque del Buen Retiro.
Perched majestically on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha, overlooking the Tagus River, Toledo is an ancient city in central Spain’s province of the same name. Once dubbed the ‘city of the three cultures’ due to its successive Islamic, Hebrew and Christian occupants, the city now boasts an incredible legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques, synagogues and traditional houses heaped into a cobble-stoned spiral. Beyond the impressive medieval walls, the maze of pedestrian streets is lined with artisan shops exhibiting pieces of jaw-dropping, masterful craft work, most notably glass pieces created using traditional glass blowing (which visitors can try themselves). The city is a prime culinary destination, as well as being home to a prolific number of museums, galleries and entertainment venues.
Lisbon district is located in southwestern Portugal and encompasses the country’s trendy capital, as well as beautiful Atlantic beaches. Lisbon City’s culture has distinctly modern elements such as street murals, quirky boutiques, hip cafes, and a thriving live music scene. However it is infused with reminders of ages past in the form of the ancient stone streets and candy-coloured buildings of its old town, as well as its hilltop Moorish castle and 16th-century monastery. Beyond the confines of the city, you can explore fairy-tale castles and manor houses in the forested area of Sintra, or relax on picture-perfect beaches in Cascais or Ericeira.
The Costa de Prata is an enchanting strip of Portugal’s west coast, combining spellbinding scenery, idyllic beaches and a wealth of activities with ancient history and rich tradition. Those looking for sea, sun and R&R should head to Nazare, a summer resort town with a wide half moon of softly burnished sand and some of the country’s most formidable surf breaks, or Peniche, a stony peninsula with dramatic ocean views. Immerse yourself in history at the university town of Coimbra, famous for its medieval architecture, or the fortified city Obidos (one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders), enclosed by high ramparts and crowned by an imposing 12th-century stone castle that now functions as a luxurious hotel. The Costa de Prata is also a favourite golfing destination, with a string of world-class courses across the region.