11-Days in Spain, Portugal and Morocco
Destinations & Sightseeing
NOTE: If you intend to join the optional excursion to UNESCO World Heritage Site – Gibraltar, please check visa requirements with your local consulate(s); responsibility for obtaining visas rests with the traveler.
Day 1-3 Madrid, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca – 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.
Day 4-8 Salamanca, Lisbon, Seville, Spain Portugal–Lisbon
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.
Day 8-12 Seville–Tangier, Morocco, Costa del Sol, Spain, Granada
Through the sunny sherry wine region of Jerez to Algeciras. Board your FERRY and sail across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa. Continue to Tangier, jumping-off point for the Moorish conquest of Spain and there are 19 different sightseeing tours to take, or shopping for Moroccan artifacts, or the taste of Tangier, or The Beaches! Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a spectacular panoramic drive to CAP SPARTEL. Marvel at the views and quench your thirst Bedouin-style with a glass of hot mint tea, accompanied by local biscuits. This evening, enjoy a lively Moroccan show after dinner at your hotel.
Day 13 Madrid
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
Transportation: Air, Motorcoach; ferry. Free Wi-Fi available; headsets throughout the tour
Meals: including welcome and farewell dinners in Madrid and a special dinner in Granada
New Tourism Developments in Portugal
The travel market in Portugal has been buzzing lately with new hotel openings, new tours highlighting some of the country’s historical and cultural sites, and new flights to the region. The southern European country, which is situated on the Iberian Peninsula bordering Spain, saw a record number of visitors in 2016, reporting that occupancy rates were up 1.7 percent from 2015, taking numbers to 60.6 million people.
New Land Tours
In response to the growing interest in travel to the country, several tour operators have introduced new itineraries to their set of offerings. Recently launched is an eight-day “A Week in Portugal” itinerary as part of a series of European land tours. Guests travel from Porto to Lisbon visiting seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as wineries, wine cellars, historic monasteries and churches, palaces and castles. A stop in Porto includes two-night stay at the Freixo Palace Hotel, a restored 18th-century rococo palace.
Additional stops include Coimbra and the 700-year- old university located there, and later travelers can view a historic 13th-century monastery in Alcobaça, before reaching Monte Real where they will spend a night at the Palace Hotel Monte Real. Opportunities for a wine country tour to the Herdade do Esporao winery, tasting and lunch will also be included, as well as a walk-through of the 500-year- old Jerónimos Monastery and a private tour and dinner at Palacio de Queluz, an 18th-century royal retreat.
In addition, a new 13-day small ship cruise featuring Portugal, ‘Treasures of Spain and Portugal,’ aboard either the Star Pride, Star Breeze or Star Legend. All six departures for 2017 are completely sold out! The existing two-week tour, “Spain and Portugal,” has also seen dramatic growth in popularity, noting that bookings are up double digits, percentage-wise, over where they were a year ago.
Prices for the new “A Week in Portugal” tour begin at $3,590 per person and run through October 2017.
New Foodie Tours
Also seeing an increase in popularity is an eight-day “Real Food Adventure – Galicia & Portugal” itinerary. The trip begins in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region and travels on to Porto, where guests take a ferry ride to a seafood market, then take part in a Galician cooking class and lunch. Also, while in Porto, travelers take part in a guided food walk through Mercado do Bolhao to sample local specialties including bacalhau, a Portuguese fish dish. Other activities include a full-day tour of the Douro Valley with visits to two wineries, a tour of an Alentejo distillery and small cheese-making facility and a stop at the Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon to sample local drinks and dishes such as a Portuguese wild cherry liqueur.
Trips through Spain and Portugal are a fit for families with children who are teenaged or older. Everyone can enjoy visiting a medieval fortress in the middle of cosmopolitan Lisbon and the parents can end the day with a port tasting in Porto. There’s also enough free time included in the itinerary to allow room to explore. A few tips for traveling in Portugal: pack light and use a backpack, because traversing the cobblestone streets is nearly impossible with a wheelie suitcase. Most museums are closed on Mondays and free on Sundays, so plan accordingly. If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s easy to pick up some snacks, light meals and sandwiches in bakeries for a few euros.
The new “Real Food Adventure – Galicia & Portugal” itinerary runs through summer 2018 and is priced between $2,375 and $2,575.
Foodies traveling to Portugal also have several new tours to choose from with The International Kitchen, an operator specializing in culinary excursions and classes throughout Europe and abroad. The International Kitchen is recently introduced three new seven-day itineraries: “Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora”, “Walking and Cooking in Portugal” and “Discovering Western Portugal”.
Portugal is a fabulous destination, surprisingly different than any other country in Europe. The ‘Discovering Western Portugal’ and ‘Walking and Cooking in Portugal’ itineraries are particularly suited for younger travelers. First, Portugal is much more of a bargain destination than Spain or France (a glass of wine is usually just a few Euros, a wonderful meal can easily be had for under 20 Euros). Also, Lisbon, Porto, and Braga are all full of young people due to the universities there.
The seven-day “Discovering Western Portugal” tour begins in Lisbon and includes a stop in Porto, the medieval town of Óbido and up to Arcos de Valdevez. Later, guests return south to explore Braga, a city with multiple architectural and religious sites. Porto is architecturally different than any city – sort of a Portuguese mixture of New Orleans and San Francisco, if such a thing can be imagined. And the pedestrian-only city center has musicians peppered throughout the streets, and a main square bustling with life.
The “Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora” tour, which takes travelers through the smaller city named a UNESCO world heritage site. The itinerary is appropriate for anyone wanting to learn more about Portugal’s culture and the modern lifestyle in the southern Alentejo region.
Meanwhile, the “Walking and Cooking in Portugal” itinerary travels through Porto and Braga ad includes visits to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Guests will take cooking classes, go on walking tours, hike trails and learn about the region’s famous Port wine. Travelers are recommended to try regional specialties during their visit such as grilled sardines along the coast or Black pig of the rural Alentejo region, where the half-wild pigs are free to forage for acorns.
The “Walking and Cooking in Portugal” tour is priced at $1,850 per person for two-to-three people. The “Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora” is priced at $2,775 and “Discovering Western Portugal” is at $2,200.
In hotels news, Avani Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel recently opened in the country’s capital, just off Avenida da Liberdade. The hotel, formerly Tivoli Jardim Hotel, has undergone a $1.6 million refurbishment which includes a redesigned entryway, updated guest rooms, lobby, reception area, the installation of an AVANIFIT gym and the relaunch of the hotel’s Olivier Restaurant. All 119 of Avani’s standard, premier, deluxe and family rooms have been updated with a contemporary style with shades of plum, black and white. Newly added modern amenities include a Nespresso coffee-maker, satellite TV, mini-bar and high-speed WiFi. All the hotel’s premier, deluxe and family rooms have balconies while standard rooms have garden views.
The nearby Palacete Conference and Events Center offers three floors of event space with a capacity for up to 260 people. The ground floor has a large reception area, the first floor offers three function rooms and the top floor houses a boardroom with its own foyer and elevator access. The hotel also relaunched the Olivier Restaurant which offers ingredient-focused food with a strong Portuguese influence. New décor includes wooden flooring, new furnishings, suede upholstery, wallpaper and mosaic tiles. In addition, an outdoor terrace surrounded by olive and fichus trees provides alfresco seating.
Also new on the scene is Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort. The hotel underwent rebranding earlier this year, along with its sister property, Tivoli, with updates including new décor, the addition of family suites, a new spa and Anantara’s Dining by Design program. Affording 280 rooms and suites, other amenities include an Arnold Palmer-designed Oceanico Victoria golf course, five swimming pools, Anantara Golfer´s Lounge, meeting, conference and event facilities with capacity for 950 people, Adventurers kids’ and teens’ clubs as a full fitness center. There is also the Anantara Spa, offering seven treatment rooms, an indoor vitality pool and a sauna. Treatments includes Mediterranean therapies, Turkish hammam rituals and exotic Asian treatments.
Delta Air Lines expanded its service from New York to Europe, including new flights between New York and Lisbon. The airline’s service to Portugal is a daily seasonal flight between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Lisbon Airport. The flight departs New York at 9:43 pm and arrives in Lisbon at 10 am the next day, while return flights depart Lisbon at 11:35 am and arrive in New York at 2:19 pm.
Or Perhaps a boat ride to the sea caves at Benagil, Portugal
Had your fill of all that sunshine on the Algarve coast? From the beach at Benagil you can hire a boat, pilot your own kayak—or for the more adventurous—swim out to the fantastic sea caves carved into the rocks just off shore. The Atlantic Ocean has been working on the architecture here for a very long time indeed. Visitors to this exquisitely rugged part of the Portuguese coastline are treated to surreally textured rock stacks, weathered pinnacles, and cavernous limestone ‘rooms’ carpeted by soft sand and surrounded by turquoise waters.
Or Maybe a drive through Dadès Gorges, Morocco
Some might imagine that a hot-air balloon ride would be the ideal way to travel through the Dadès Gorges in Morocco. Sounds lovely to us, anyway. But with a road like this, just driving the mountain pass gives a travel experience like few others. At the bottom of the valley lies the Dadès River, and to the north is Marrakesh. Between them lie the rust-toned slopes of the Atlas Mountains where we find this highway, full of hairpin turns to make the switchbacks, resulting in one of the most sinuous stretches of road on the globe. WOW!
Book with TravelKatz and you will have the time of your life…Book around the same time as the Running of the Bulls and have an even better time! 352-277-7300
Fly from Tampa to Madrid in October for only $7282 for two. That is $3641 PP. – Or only $300 per day! This is a guided tour with an English-speaking tour director.
36 Hours in Granada, Spain
Beyond the magnificent Moorish Alhambra, visitors will find a distinctive cuisine and a charming city that was once home to celebrated writers and artists.
Lose yourself in Granada and let your eyes and taste buds feast on the Moorish architecture, the Alhambra fortress and the tapas. Credit Video by Drew Gardner, Jean Yves Chainon and Joshua Thomas. Photo by Daniel Rodrigues for The New York Times. on Publish Date August 10, 2017
Like Agra, India, and the Taj Mahal, the Andalusian city of Granada in southern Spain is so well known for a single monument — the Alhambra, a walled fortress housing magnificent 13th- to 15th-century Moorish palaces and gardens — that the city itself is sometimes overlooked. With more than two million visitors descending on the Alhambra, a Unesco World Heritage site, every year, the city’s tourism industry had settled into a somewhat formulaic routine of shuttling visitors in and out of the city in about 24 hours. But recently some other ancient structures have been restored, and the region’s distinctive gastronomy has come into its own. The city that was home to the poet Federico García Lorca, the painter José Guerrero and the composer Manuel de Falla has deep cultural roots, but now a new crop of small foundations and independent exhibition spaces has revived its arty buzz. Let the Alhambra wait a bit while getting seduced by the city that has grown up around it.
5 P.M. Lofty Foundations
Nestled into the same hill as the Alhambra and with the same sweeping views over the red-tile roofs and elegant domes of Granada is the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation (5 euros, about $6). José María Rodríguez-Acosta (1878-1941), an accomplished painter of vibrant and moody Andalusian subjects, essentially gave up painting from 1916 to 1930 to create his greatest masterpiece, the stunning Art Deco studio that is now home to the foundation. Spread over five levels on the steeply pitched slope with stepped gardens, the foundation also houses the collection of the art historian Manuel Gómez-Moreno, including works ranging from pre-Roman Iberian tribes to early 20th-century masters like Joaquín Sorolla. Nearby is the Manuel de Falla House Museum (3 euros), where the celebrated Andalusian composer lived from 1921 to 1939.
8 P.M. Dinner at Sunset
Before entering the plush-and-perfumed realm of the Nasrid rulers in the Alhambra, see how the other half lived with a stroll through the Albaicín, the ancient Moorish neighborhood of whitewashed houses climbing the hill on the other side of the Darro River. The winding streets are packed with fine restaurants with fine views, but the fun and unfussy Bar Kiki San Nicolás, with tables spread across the plaza, offers the views and the stars, and a huge array of tapas and main courses highlighting local products and preparations. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get an impromptu guitar concert in an atmosphere scented with jasmine — and perhaps the occasional whiff of hashish. Dinner for two, about 65 euros.
10 P.M. Moonlit Moorish Magic
A visit to the Alhambra can now be split in two with an evening visit to either the splendid Nasrid Palaces or the lush Generalife gardens, preceding or following a daytime visit to the ramparts, museum and gardens. (The two evening tours take place at the same time, so seeing both would require returning a second night with a separate ticket.) The palaces feature room after room of intricate tile mosaic walls, delicate plaster reliefs and elaborate coffered ceilings linked by gleaming marble patios with gurgling fountains and lush gardens. Set apart on an adjacent outcropping, the Generalife gardens were the pleasure zone of the Nasrid rulers and have been a reference for garden designers for centuries. Tickets for each are 9.40 euros, including a 1.40-euro service charge for advance purchase with credit card. Book well ahead.
9 A.M. Breakfast Goal
Join the locals for a breakfast of thick Spanish hot chocolate ideal for dipping crisply fried dough called churros (5 euros) at Café Fútbol. Opened in 1903, the cafe has a spacious outdoor seating area that stays busy all day long, so circle back for some house-made ice cream. Bernabeu, the friendly gentleman who makes it, recommends a scoop of the dense almond-rich turrón flavor (1 euro).
10:30 A.M. Back to the Palace
Now for the daytime Alhambra visit. Taken as a whole, the complex is perhaps the most emblematic vestige of the highly refined and astonishingly luxurious lifestyle achieved by the Moorish rulers in medieval Spain. Tickets range from 7 to 21 euros. If you want to include the Nasrid palaces, note that visitors are given a specific time for entry.
2 P.M. There is a Free Lunch
Granada is one of the last cities in Spain where tapas are served free with alcohol. So, belly up to the bar — or better yet, find a table on the terrace — at Cunini, the city’s gold standard for seafood for more than 70 years. With each 2- to 3-euro refill of wine, another plate of free food arrives, quickly adding up to a full and satisfying meal that might start with tuna-flecked potato salad and move on to crispy croquetas de jamón. An individual pot of rice cooked with mussels and several varieties of tiny clams or rings of fried calamari may follow, along with lightly battered monkfish. Dessert is on you.
4 P.M. Divide and Conquer
After the conquest of Granada in 1492, the area just below the Alhambra and Albaicín became the stage for the display of Christian architectural might. The area is easily walked, with lots of history to see between the cafes and tearooms, ceramics shops and guitar makers that lend an extra bit of local color. Worth stepping into is the Cathedral (5 euros), which blends Renaissance, plateresque and Baroque architectural styles, and the late-Gothic Royal Chapel (4 euros), built between 1505 and 1516 to house the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella. Worthwhile sites of more recent vintage include the Centro José Guerrero (free), devoted to the work of this seminal 20th-century Spanish painter, and the new Centro Federico Garcia Lorca, which organizes exhibitions on subjects related to the life of the city’s most beloved modern poet and author.
9 P.M. Fabled Feast
In a city where tapas are famously free and dinner can be had for the price of a few glasses of wine, it’s been hard to get much traction for the alta cocina (haute cuisine) trend that swept Spain and the world in the past decades. The chef Ismael Delgado López is trying to fix that at La Fábula, in the Hotel Villa Oniria. The very formal service feels a little forced in groovy Granada, but the food does not disappoint. A 10- to 12-course chef’s menu might start with “gazpacho water and steamed brioche,” and end with local cheeses and three decadent desserts (75 euros, or 90 euros with wine pairings).
10:30 P.M. Dancing Shoes
The classic Granada experience has always included a late-night flamenco performance in the “caves” of the Sacromonte hill beyond the Albaicín. Venta El Gallo has a reliable roster of performers and draws the occasional star as well. Admission for performances starts at 26 euros; on some nights one-hour flamenco classes are offered for an additional price.
10:30 A.M. Literary Breakfast
Named after the British author Gerald Brenan’s book about his life in an Andalusian village, Al Sur de Granada is among the best places in the city to snap up delicious souvenirs. The shelves are lined with organic wines and olive oils, local honey and jam, craft beers and traditional almond-based sweets made in nearby convents. Breakfasts are simple, delicious and fortifying: yogurt and homemade muesli or toasted peasant bread rubbed with tomato, drizzled with fragrant olive oil and topped with succulent slices of jamón Ibérico.
11:30 A.M. Poetry Garden
Surrounded by a lovely park, La Huerta de San Vicente has become a mythic place for many residents. Huerta means orchard or garden, and the property — the family summer home of Federico García Lorca — was originally far outside the city limits. The house features both quotidian items and artworks made by the poet’s artist friends, like Salvador Dalí. The 45-minute guided tours offer a glimpse into the place the writer himself called “the poetry factory” for a remarkably productive period between 1926 and 1936. Admission is 3 euros.
1 P.M. Wash It All Away
Hammams, or bathhouses, were an essential part of daily life in Moorish Al Andalus, and they are making a comeback in Granada after being banned in the mid-16th century by the Christian kings. Hammam Al Andalus offers 90-minute sessions that start with the basic “water tour” (30 euros), which involves moving between hot and cold baths. Massages and other treatments can raise the price to a potential 115 euros, which includes an hourlong massage. Reservations required.
Parador de Granada is part of the state-run Parador chain of hotels in historic buildings. It is the only hotel allowed to operate inside the Alhambra. Set in a former Catholic monastery that replaced a Nasrid palace, the four-star hotel has 40 rooms with charming Andalusian décor and a beautiful terrace for drinks or dining. Doubles range from $83 to $122 per night
Palacio de Mariana Pineda is at the edge of the Albaicín and overlooks the river and the Alhambra. This antiques-filled five-room hotel serves a daily afternoon tea that lures guests back to restore themselves in the cool shade of its patios.
Flying from Miami: from $610 to $730 per person