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Northern Spain & the Douro Valley

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Fares
  • Accommodation

A journey overview

  • Barcelona
  • San Sebastian
  • Bilbao
  • El Transcantábrico Train
  • Northern Spanish Coast
  • Santiago de Compostela
  • Douro Valley Cruise
  • Porto
  • Lisbon

23 Days Explorations
  • Departing:
  • 26 Aug 2019

Discover the Iberian Peninsula – a place of ancient history and swarthy landscapes, best enjoyed by rail and river.

Northern Spain & the Douro Valley 2019 Map


Tour Manager

Jo Taylor

We look forward to immersing ourselves in the relaxed culture of Spain as we meet our group at our home for the next three nights, El Palace Hotel, close to Las Ramblas. The afternoon is for relaxation, or to explore the city on your own schedule. A Welcome Reception will be held on the roof terrace, beside an organic garden with views of the Mediterranean and Sagrada Familia.

Our discovery of Barcelona roves from architecture to fine dining. We explore the world-famous concert hall Palau de la Musica and marvel at Gaudí’s genius with a visit to Sagrada Família, La Predrera, Casa Batlló and a private tour of Casa Vicens. All punctuated by a paella lunch and a Welcome Dinner paired with oceanic views. Your World experiences delve deeper into the region’s artisanal artistry or cultural heritage, with a gourmet immersion into Catalan cuisine or a cultural exploration of nearby Girona.

Gourmet discovery remains high on the agenda as we fly into San Sebastián (the haute-cuisine heart of Basque country). We reside in the beachside Hotel Londres for two nights and dine on traditional Basque pintxos in the town’s historic centre. Followed by a day of exclusive exploration at the Chillida Leku Museum and a by-invitation-only visit to a gastronomic society, rounded off with dinner at the Michelin-starred Akelarre.

Driving to Bilbao, we embark the privately chartered El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo train, which traces the sights and secrets of Spain’s northern coast on an elegant eight-day sojourn. Sparing no detail, we start with a delicious detour and overnight stay in Villasana de Mena.

Returning to Bilbao to explore the iconic architecture and art of the Guggenheim Museum, we then continue to Santander in the Cantabria region to saunter through this pretty port city.

Every twist and turn in this rail journey transports us back in time through Spain’s historic and artistic legacy. From the spa town of La Hermida to Cabezón de la Sal, where we reacquaint ourselves with Gaudi’s work at El Capricho, before visiting the medieval town of Santillana del Mar and the nearby Cave of Altamira, whose remarkable rock etchings date back to the Upper Paleolithic period.

The alpine majesty of Picos de Europe National Park prefaces our two-day discovery of northern Spain’s Asturias region. Where rugged mountains conceal stories of Moor conquests, and the region’s capital Oviedo invites us to explore striking examples of Romanesque architecture. Then we divert our attention to the ancient town of Gijón, which takes centre stage in the Bay of Biscay.

Today, the Galicia region welcomes us as our train continues to Ribadeo, where we follow the dramatic coastline to reach the soaring rock arches and caves of Las Catedrales Beach. After time to explore this natural wonder and the city of Ribadeo, we rejoin our train and travel on to Viveiro for the night.

As our rail journey ends this morning in Ferrol, further discovery awaits on Portugal’s waterways. First, we make our own pilgrimage to the World Heritage-listed city of Santiago de Compostela for a tour of its heralded religious sites, before crossing the border to Porto in Portugal. Then, we board the M/V Spirit of Chartwell, a vessel with a royal heritage and our residence for the next six nights.

Baroque architecture and terraced slopes characterise our Douro Valley cruise, which starts with a tour of Lamego and the artwork of 16th-century artist Vasco Fernandes. Continuing with more cultural and culinary treats ahead of an overnight stay in Regua. The next morning brings us the hilltop highlights of Castelo Rodrigo, a medieval town with views to Spain, before docking at Barca D’Alva tonight.

Dipping into the delights of Salamanca today, we explore Spain’s ancient university town and its array of influences throughout the ages, under Carthaginian, Roman, Visigothic and Moorish rule. We indulge in regional fare and a flamenco show before returning aboard this evening.

Our return along the Douro allows for a more detailed discovery of the region’s history and fortified winemaking legacy. Spending time touring the Baroque beauty of Mateus Palace and the enchanting Quinta da Aveleda estate, as well as sampling its quintessential vinho verde (green wine) before a Farewell Dinner is set for us to enjoy a last sunset over the Douro.

Disembarking in Porto this morning, we rediscover our land legs as we explore the alleyways and allure of this charming city during a tour on foot. Tomorrow promises further exploration with a visit to nearby Guimarães, long regarded as Portugal’s birthplace, to meander through its medieval lanes and sample traditional cuisine in a 16th-century manor.

Today, our sights are set on Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, with a stop off in the nation’s medieval capital of Coimbra. Lisbon serves up a tour of the Belem District, a private tram ride and delicious seafood dining. Leaving us replete before tomorrow’s Your World experience offerings, which head for the hilltop majesty of nearby Sintra or to indulge in more time spent in Lisbon.

Enjoying breakfast early this morning, we farewell our group as our journey comes to an end.


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