Day 1:ARRIVE IN LISBON, PORTUGAL.
Welcome to Lisbon! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and travelling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel.
Lisbon was the centre of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Portugal’s imperial ambitions date back to Prince Henry the Navigator’s 15th-century discoveries in West Africa. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive through the Baixa quarter’s main squares and walk along 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 Discoveries. Also visit JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. An optional excursion to the royal palace of Queluz is available, as well as dinner at a typical taverna with Fado-style entertainment.
Day 3:LISBON-AZEITAO-SEVILLE, SPAIN.
In Azeitao, visit a traditional TILE WORKSHOP. Next, enter Spain and reach the vibrant capital of Andalusia, 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 was once the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Also visit the magnificent CASA DE PILATOS, a mixture of Moorish and Roman architecture with a splendid collection of Roman sculptures. Then, stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming SANTA CRUZ QUARTER. For those interested, an optional extended guided visit to the cathedral is available. Tonight, for a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional Flamenco show.
Day 5:SEVILLE-ALGECIRAS-RABAT, MOROCCO.
Travel through the sherry wine region of Jerez to Algeciras and enjoy a FERRY RIDE across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. Follow North Africa’s infamous Barbary Coast to Rabat, once a lair of the corsairs and now the country’s capital.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide focuses on the massive medieval battlements, the Royal Palace, MAUSOLEUM OF MOHAMMED V, Hassan Tower, and the Kasbah of Oudaias. Also visit the fine ROMAN RELICS OF CHELLAH. Continue to Casablanca, Morocco’s modern seaport. Lunch will be served at Rick’s Cafe Americain, famous for the movie Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and the song As Time Goes By. Your guided panoramic drive features a visit to the HASSAN II MOSQUE, a splendid monument designed to mark the end of the century. Evening arrival in Marrakesh, beautifully situated in an oasis.
Follow your Local Guide and visit BAHIA PALACE, the 16th-century SAADIAN TOMBS (if closed, visit the BADIA PALACE instead), and to Djemaa El-Fna, the vibrant town centre dominated by the 222-foot-high Koutoubia Minaret.
Today, travel to Morocco’s “Hollywood,” Ouarzazate. Deep in the desert, the city has been immortalised in movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones. Later, visit the KASBAH TAOURIRT, by many considered a must-see site for a glimpse into the lifestyle of people from long time ago.
Take a fascinating drive through the desert via the Dades Valley with its oases filled with olives, dates, and figs. Then, head through Morocco’s Grand Canyon, Todra Gorge, to Erfoud in the heart of the Sahara. A special treat awaits: enjoy a spectacular FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE to the sand dune of Erg Chebbi. Admire the unforgettable, romantic sunset and sip the traditional mint tea before heading back to your hotel.
Day 10:ERFOUD-ER RACHIDIA-FEZ.
Enjoy your last views of the desert and turn northward. Stop in Er Rachidia, originally built as a French settlement, and travel via the Ziz Gorges and the Middle Atlas mountains to Fez. Blessed with an ample supply of water and strategically situated, Fez became the capital of Morocco when the country shook off foreign rule under Berber King Idris in the 8th century. To this day, Fez has remained Morocco’s spiritual and artistic centre. Tonight, why not sign up for an optional folklore dinner?
See the magnificent entrance to the Royal Palace, drive through the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, and travel on to Bab Bou Jeloud, the traditional entrance to Old Fez. Your Local Guide also leads you through the labyrinthine MEDINA and MEDERSA BOU INANIA. Continue to Tangier, jumping-off point for the Moorish conquest of Spain, and enjoy an orientation drive of this busy seaport.
Day 12:TANGIER-COSTA DEL SOL, SPAIN.
Board the FERRY for the trip back across the Strait to Europe. Continue to the elegant Costa del Sol, where you will stay for two nights.
Day 13: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, browse through the trendy boutiques, or just relax. Tonight, why not try out local specialties at one of the lively restaurants?
Day 14:COSTA DEL SOL-GRANADA.
Leave the Mediterranean coast and arrive in Granada. A guided walking tour features a visit to the ALHAMBRA COMPLEX, a fantasy of “lace in stone” surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, with superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte. Also visit the WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE. This evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Drive via Don Quixote’s La Mancha to Toledo, where a Local Guide takes you to the Moorish bridge, an early SYNAGOGUE, the CATHEDRAL, and the CHURCH OF SANTO TOME with one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Visit a DAMASCENE STEEL WORKSHOP before arriving in Madrid.
The capital since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Espana 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, founded in 1819, and considered to have one of the finest collections of European art of the last 8 centuries, with the works of Goya, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, and more. An optional excursion to El Escorial is available, and tonight, a special paella farewell dinner awaits at a local restaurant as a proper way to say adios to Spain!