Spain is a mix of old and new, modern and traditional and offers something for everyone. For the tourist, Spain may be defined as bullfights, massive cathedrals, world-class art, Muslim palaces, vibrant folk life, whitewashed villages, and bright sunshine. Yes, you’ll find those things…but this country’s special charm lies in its people and their unique lifestyle. From the stirring sardana dance in Barcelona to the sizzling rat-a-tat-tat of flamenco in Sevilla, this country creates its own beat amid the heat.
Nestled between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal contains striking landscapes ripe for exploration, from the exceptional beaches of the Algarve to the lush vineyards of the Douro River Valley. Beyond the Algarve’s cliff-flanked beaches, Portugal is a country of bucolic landscapes and culture-rich cities. The distant strains of fado music, scents of freshly grilled fish and a party-loving spirit suffuse the Moorish alleys of Lisbon and Porto’s medieval Ribeira. But don’t stop there. Head inland to stroll cork and almond forests, sip port in the Duoro’s tumbling vineyards and hike in the Peneda-Gerês National Park’s Lake District. Everywhere you’ll be greeted with a heartfelt bemvindo (welcome).
Words from our Vacation Travel Consultants:
“Explore a hidden gem as a side trip from Madrid: Escorial & the Valley of the Fallen. This is an all day tour, but one not to be missed! Escorial was conceived by Philip II as a monastery but now the Royal Pantheon has become a symbol of the greatness of the Spanish Empire. Visit the Basilica, Royal Palace, Royal Pantheons, Infantes Pantheons and the Chapter Rooms. You will also have the opportunity to visit The Valley of the Fallen, a monument built as a memorial of those who died during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.”
“I have been to Central Portugal (Lisbon, Lieria and Cascais) and loved it. It’s full of winding streets and steeped in history and charm. The coastline is amazing. The food was not my favorite, however, the wine was delicious! I was totally impressed with the pottery – there were three basically different styles coming from the South, Central and Northern regions…the delicate, ornately painted pieces, the all-green leaf pattern pieces and the heavier clay-type pottery.”
*Photos from 2013 Select Group Vacations Trip to Portugal
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