Paradors of Northern Spain - 14 Days

Paradors of Northern Spain

Nature lovers revel in the majesty of the spectacular Pyrenees and Picos de Europa. History buffs marvel at San Sebastián, and art and architecture aficionados find paradise in Barcelona and Bilbao. Pilgrims seek miracles along the Camino of Santiago; visitors, Hemingway included, have been invariably moved by the traditions of Pamplona; and lovers of food – and fun – savor the taste of tapas and pinxtos in neighborhood bars and cafés tucked in narrow medieval lanes. In neighboring Portugal, seaside delights pair with robust port wine to bring travelers together as they rediscover monuments to 15th-century explorers like Vasco de Gama, religious sites and an esteemed university. Linking people and places with history and charm, Spain’s unique paradors and Portugal’s elegant resorts offer a legacy of genuine hospitality and service along the way.

Only With Tauck

TAUCK’S YELLOW ROADS – Cultural charms and spectacular scenery entice during overnight stays in historic paradors, authentically restored castles, palaces and monasteries.

Tour prices are per person in U.S. dollars. All hotel accommodations, motor coach transportation, entertainment, special dinners, sightseeing, porterage, and the services of local guides, drivers and the Tauck Director are included. Transportation from Barcelona Airport or Franca or Sants Train Station to Le Méridien Barcelona is included, regardless of the time you check in to the hotel, provided you have furnished us with accurate flight information at least three weeks prior to the start of your tour. If you are arriving into another local train station please retain a receipt for your transfer and submit it to your Tour Director for reimbursement. Transportation from the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon to Lisbon International Airport or a local train station is also included when you check out of the hotel. Transportation to and from airports and train stations may be shared with other Tauck guests.

Rates and schedules are not guaranteed until booked and will vary based on departure date.

Day 1
Welcome to Barcelona and Spain

Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Le Méridien Barcelona. A transfer is included from Barcelona Airport or the Barcelona Franca Train Station to Le Méridien Barcelona, ideally located on Las Ramblas. Join us for a private welcome reception and dinner tonight at the hotel as you get your first taste of life in Northern Spain.

Meals – Dinner

Lodging – Le Méridien Barcelona

Day 2
Gothic sights & whimsy in Barcelona

Walk along the tree-lined pedestrian promenade of Las Ramblas this morning with a local guide who leads you through the cobblestone lanes of its 14th-century Gothic quarter, Barri Gòtic, a medieval warren of Roman relics, hidden courtyards, shops andalfrescocafés,tothePlaçadelaCathedral. Setapartfromotherchurches,Barcelona’sCatedralwasbuiltbetween1298 and 1460 although its richly decorated façade, guarded by gargoyles, was added in 1870. Go inside to see its medieval origins, from its exquisitely sculpted choir stalls and elegant pillars to the fine workmanship depicted on the pulpit and the alabaster sarcophagus of the crypt of Santa Eulàlia. Your city tour continues with a drive through hilltop Montjuic, rewarding with panoramic views, and a visit to Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral, la Sagrada Família, artistically and architecturally unique, and awe- inspiring in every detail. Spend the rest of the day exploring Barcelona as you wish.

Meals – Breakfast

Lodging – Le Méridien Barcelona

Day 3
Montserrat, Cardona & on to the Pyrenees

Venture into the mountains today, stopping at the saw-toothed mountain of Montserrat, just northwest of Barcelona, to visit the Benedictine monastery and see the shrine of la Moreneta, the Black Madonna. According to the legend, the statue was discovered in the year 880 by shepherds who saw a strange light in the sky and heard music coming from a cave in the mountain. Since then, it has become one of the most famous pilgrimage sights in Spain. Continue on to Cardona for a visit to the Romanesque Church of Saint Vicenç, consecrated in 1047. Enjoy lunch in the medieval dining room at 9th-century Parador de Cardona, holding court over the countryside from its hilltop perch. Drive through the snow-capped Catalonian Pyrenees to your hotel in La Seu d’Urgell for a memorable two-night stay. Dinner tonight is at the hotel, with wine included.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Pyrenees pleasures in La Seu d'Urgell

A morning walking tour on the cobblestone lanes of La Seu d’Urgell brings you to the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, renowned as the finest in the Pyrenees. Following a traditional paella demonstration at lunch, you have a choice of a hike with a local guide, a Catalan cooking demonstration or a 30-minute massage in the hotel’s on-site spa. Feast on a seven-course wine- tasting dinner in a medieval 9th-century castle tonight.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Pamplona & San Sebastián in Basque country

Drive to Pamplona this morning, immortalized in Hemingway’s famous book, The Sun Also Rises; walk the route followed during the running of the bulls as you visit here today. Then it’s on to coastal San Sebastián in Basque Country, where your first view of this popular oceanfront town is from the top of Mt. Igueldo. Regarded by many as Spain’s culinary capital, this ancient town also boasts great surfing beaches, stunning architecture and myriad pintxos bars tucked into the maze of medieval lanes in its old town of Parte Vieja.

Meals – Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6
A day in seaside San Sebastián

Join a local guide for a walking tour along the cobblestone streets of the historic Old Town (Parte Vieja) before exploring San Sebastián on your own. Sample typical Basque food and enjoy the many waterfront activities, including world-class surfing.

Meals – Breakfast

Day 7
Bilbao, the Guggenheim & Oviedo

Visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao this morning, discovering its collection of modern art as you wish. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a showcase for large-scale, site-specific contemporary works of art by international and Basque artists, as well as exhibiting a selection of modern art from the Guggenheim Foundation’s collection. Continue on to the Cantabria region, stopping for lunch and time at leisure in the perfectly preserved medieval town of Santillana del Mar. Wind your way through hills and valleys to Oviedo this afternoon for an overnight stay at a restored 18th-century hospice that was featured in the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Enjoy an artisan cheese tasting and wine pairing tonight.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
A pilgrimage centuries old to Santiago

Explore Oviedo on a walking tour this morning, seeing a mix of historic and artistic monuments from various periods across the centuries. Stop for lunch in a picturesque fishing village on the coast en route to your historic parador in Santiago de Compostela. Considered to be one of the oldest hotels in the world, it has welcomed travelers since the 15th century. Dine tonight at your choice of restaurants in the parador.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Lodging Parador de Santiago de Compostela

Day 9
Sights of Santiago de Compostela

When the grave of St. James the Greater was discovered in this region in the ninth century, hundreds of thousands began making the arduous pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago – the Way of St. James – on foot to visit it. Legend has it that a bright star led a shepherd boy to the forgotten tomb of the apostle; today your local guide leads the way on a guided walking tour of the town’s historic quarter and a visit to the world-famous 11th-century Romanesque Cathedral of St. James, home to the relics of the saint. The rest of the day is free to spend as you like, walking in the footsteps of pilgrims who have made their way here from around the world for centuries.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Lodging – Parador de Santiago de Compostela

Day 10
Prosperous Porto on the Portuguese coast

Turn your clocks back one hour on a drive along the coastal route from Spain to Porto, Portugal. This ancient port city is nestled on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Douro River with a rich port-wine trading history. Enjoy a private visit and tasting dinner at one of Porto’s oldest port houses, learning about the history and processing of this prized fortified wine produced exclusively in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11
A Rabelo cruise & more in Porto

Explore Porto on a walking tour, a panoramic drive along Avenida da Boavista and the coast where the river meets the sea and aboard a traditional rabelo boat on the Douro River. Look for Portugal’s iconic blue tiles (azulejos ) on the façades of many churches, buildings and inside the Sao Bento train station, once a convent. Visit the Church of Sao Francisco, built in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, where the interior is literally gilded in gold, and enjoy time at leisure to stop in Livaria Lello, considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. On your cruise along the Douro River, your local guide will point out the sights you will see, including the six bridges that span the Douro, one of which was designed by Gustave Eiffel In 1877. The remainder of the day is yours to experience the delights of Porto as you like.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12
To Coimbra en route to Lisbon

Journey to the riverfront city of Coimbra today, the medieval capital of Portugal for over one hundred years and home to the historic University of Coimbra. A walking tour of the hilltop University campus includes a guided visit to the Baroque King John University Chapel. Home to some 60,000 ancient volumes in the study of law, philosophy and theology, the interior is a picture book in itself with rosewood, ebony and jacaranda tables, elaborately frescoed ceilings and gilt chinoiserie bookshelves. A look inside the ornate Baroque St. Michael’s Chapel, dating back to the 16th century and recently restored, reveals a brightly painted ceiling, stunning tilework on the floor, Manueline features and an 18th-century gilded organ with some 2,000 pipes which is still operational today. Stop in Pombal for lunch en route to Lisbon, where your evening is free.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Lodging – Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Day 13
It's all about discoveries in Lisbon

Everywhere you look in Lisbon, Portugal’s beguiling capital city, you’ll see reminders of the “Great Period of Discoveries” – when Portuguese mariners set sail to explore the then-unknown world and found what is now Brazil, among other notable places. Guided sightseeing today includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mosterio dos Jerónimos, commissioned by Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India in 1498; today it houses da Gama’s remains in an ornately sculpted tomb inside the chapel and the Maritime Museum in its west wing. See the Tower of Belém, built on the bank of the Tagus River between 1514 and 1520, and the Discoveries Monument, honoring world explorers in stone, before spending an afternoon at leisure. Join us tonight for our farewell reception and dinner at your hotel.

Meals – Breakfast, Dinner

Lodging – Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Day 14
Homeward bound

Tour ends: Lisbon. Fly home anytime. A transfer from the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon to Lisbon’s International Airport or

Santa Apolonia Train Station is included. You should allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in at the airport.

Meals – Breakfast

What's Included

  • At El Castell de Ciutat, a choice of a spa treatment, cooking demonstration of Catalan cuisine, or a round of golf A seven-course feast in a medieval castle featuring cultural entertainment and regional cuisine
  • Port wine tasting and lunch at Taylor’s in Porto, one of Portugal’s most famous port houses
  • Cruise on a Rabelo boat, used for 200 years to transport port wine, along the Douro River
  • A self-guided visit of the beautiful Benedictine enclave atop saw-toothed Montserrat Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 30 meals; service charges, gratuities to local guides, admission fees, taxes and porterage

Nights 1-2
Barcelona, Spain

Le Méridien Barcelona

Located in the very center of Barcelona on world-famous Las Ramblas, Le Méridien Barcelona is convenient to many of the city’s most intriguing sights. Long a favorite of celebrities, its guests have included the likes of Pavarotti, Rostropovich, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and the Rolling Stones. A newly redone and fully equipped fitness center and an Internet center are available for guests’ use. Haute cuisine made accessible is the hallmark of the hotel’s new Cent Onze restaurant, representing an innovative gastronomic option that masterfully combines the very best of French tradition, the fresh flavors of the Boquería market, and Catalan creativity in an open, cosmopolitan space with direct access to the Ramblas.

Nights 3-4
La Seu d’Urgell, Spain

El Castell de Ciutat

A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, this small, elegant hotel occupies a hilltop in the heart of the high Catalan Pyrenees, thus providing commanding scenic views from its Panoramic Terrace. Guest rooms are spacious and comfortable. El Castell de Ciutat offers an elegant fitness complex with facilities that include an outdoor swimming pool, a beautiful indoor swimming pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi and hot tub with stunning views of the region and a gym equipped with cardiovascular and weight machines.

Nights 5-6
San Sebastián, Spain

Hotel Maria Cristina

Hotel Maria Cristina is a most impressive Belle Époque beauty located in San Sebastián’s historic city center, just blocks from the beach. Beautifully appointed guest rooms offer every amenity that sophisticated travelers expect. An indoor swimming pool and the Hydra Wellness Center & Spa beckon during leisure hours. The beautiful Easo Restaurant offers classic Basque cuisine while the Café Saigon features a Vietnamese-styled menu. The readers of Condé Nast Traveler awarded the Hotel Maria Cristina a place on the 2010 Gold List.

Night 7 Oviedo, Spain

Hotel de la Reconquista

Once an 18th-century hospice and children’s home built in 1742, the grand 142-room Hotel de la Reconquista is all about luxury in a historic setting that balances tradition with comfort for a memorable stay.

Night 7
Fuente Dé, Spain

Parador de Fuente Dé

This fine mountain retreat is nestled in the foothills of the Picos de Europa and is the terminus for a mountain cable car which travels up to the Aliva viewpoint high above. Surrounded by forests and scenic hillsides, its décor of warm wood and leather furniture creates a welcoming ambiance. Its restaurant offers traditional Cantabrian cuisine. Guest rooms are well appointed and most comfortable.

Nights 8-9
Santiago del Compostela, Spain

Parador de Santiago de Compostela

Having first opened its doors to shelter pilgrims in 1499, the Parador de Santiago de Compostela is reputed to be the oldest hotel in the world. Enjoying a superb location next to the glorious cathedral of St. James, today this Santiago landmark retains much of its medieval magnificence while offering every comfort and amenity that 21st-century travelers demand. Lovely guest rooms, elegant living rooms, four extraordinary cloisters and a wonderful dining room surround today’s guests with beauty and luxury at every turn.

Nights 10 – 11 Porto, Portugal

InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas

InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas offers a sense of heritage and authenticity in the heart of the city. Located in a newly renovated 18th century palace overlooking the imposing Avenida dos Aliados, the hotel is the ideal place for those looking to experience Porto’s true essence, close to such cultural highlights as the Bolhão Market, the Ribeira District and the Baroque Clérigos Church. Spacious guest rooms have been designed to evoke the authentic spirit of Porto; from their classical decoration to stunning views over the historic city center, everything aims to create a unique sense of place. Guest rooms are equipped with Individually Controlled Air Conditioning, Cable / Satellite TV, Work Desk w/ Lamp, Phone with Voicemail, Private Bathroom with Bathrobe & Hairdryer, Iron / Ironing Board, Trouser Press, Coffee Maker, Tea Maker, Minibar, Mini- Refrigerator, Plates and Glassware. The hotel’s Astoria Restaurant welcomes you for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a stylish Portuguese atmosphere, with direct access from the street and a unique view over Liberdade Square. Astoria serves typical Portuguese dishes with a contemporary twist, as well as a selection of Portuguese wines, mainly from the Douro region; a charming terrace where you can enjoy a fresh cocktail and tapas is available during the summer months. And the Bar das Cardosas offers an intimate and stylish ambiance where a wide range of Port Wines and cocktails are offered. Decorated in an exquisite English Library style, it is the ideal place to experience a real 5 o’clock tea.

Nights 12 – 13 Lisbon, Portugal

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Regally set atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon has long reigned as the city’s finest hotel. Welcoming guest rooms offer a private terrace, refrigerated private bar, in-room safe, plasma/LCD television with DVD/CD player, working desk, dual-line telephone, and a full marble bathroom with twin basins, a separate glass-enclosed shower, and plush cotton towels warmed on heated racks. The rooftop Ritz Spa Fitness Center, with three floor-to-ceiling glass walls providing extraordinary views of the city, is comprised of an exercise room with state-of-the-art equipment, two studios, an outdoor running track and a solarium. Guests can enjoy a spa treatment or take a dip in the swimming pool while gazing out over the hotel garden and Eduardo VII Park.

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