Jewels of Spain, Portugal and the Douro River (Reverse)

A 13-Day Uniworld River Cruises tour starting from $5,499

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Starting Price: $5,499 Printer Friendly Page
Tour Length: 13 Days
Countries Visited: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia , Turkey
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More Information About This Tour:
Tour Type:
 River Cruises
Tour Category:
Tour Operator: Uniworld River Cruises
Tour Code: UNI-19-2018R
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Cities Visited:
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Two intriguing countries and one dramatic river equal a grand adventureBefore setting sail on the Douro River, experience three legendary Spanish cities: Salamanca, the lovely “Golden City”; Madrid, renowned for its museums, stately royal palace and vibrant nightlife; and Toledo, the city of El Greco and a magnificent tribute to the three great cultures that forged Spain.Cruise through the UNESCO-designated Douro Valley, where grapes have been grown for 2,000 years, visiting picturesque quintas and meeting the winemakers who operate them, as well as tasting the wine. Get even closer to natural treasures at the Douro International Natural Park, where you can get a better understanding of the flora and fauna of the land with an intimate boat cruise, and at the Quinta Aveleda’s gardens, offering an enchanting landscape that boasts a cascading waterfall, graceful swans swimming, peacocks flaunting their colors and so much more. Visit the walled village of Castelo Rodrigo, a site that dates back to the 12th century, and the pilgrimage town of Lamego to see the monumental baroque Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. Travel through the verdant countryside to Óbidos, a charming hilltop town that has entranced visitors since the 13th century en route to Portugal’s colorful capital of Lisbon.Reward your inner explorer with the “Jewels of Spain, Portugal & the Douro River,” blending captivating cities, picturesque villages and unparalleled scenic cruising through this less-traveled corner of Europe.Who will enjoy this cruise/tourThose who seek to experience the best of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, culture, art and history, all while traversing the dramatic landscapes made famous by Don Quixote.

 
 

YOUR CRUISE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

TRUE ALL-INCLUSIVE BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISING™ All gratuities for all onboard and onshore services; unlimited fine wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages; shore excursions with local experts as your guide; free Internet and Wi-Fi; and all arrival and departure day transfers.

TRAVEL
7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the chic Queen Isabel
2 nights in Lisbon at the InterContinental Lisbon Hotel (or similar) with breakfast
3 nights in Madrid at the Westin Palace (or similar) with breakfast
All transfers on arrival and departure days

TASTE
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
Gala Dinner
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

EXPLORE
2 countries
11 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Gentle Walking” programs
7 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions

EXPERIENCE
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture: “Portuguese Seafarers and Spanish Explorers”

 
 

Day 1 - Lisbon
Day 1: Lisbon
Arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel.

Day 2 - Lisbon
Day 2: Lisbon
Everything old is new again in the Portuguese capital, which is undergoing a remarkable rebirth of late. Get to know this hilly metropolis with a city tour that shows you all the top sights and treats you to a unique pastry with an intriguing (and delicious) history.   Dynamic, colorful and picturesque, Lisbon will continually surprise you. Glorious historic architecture reflects the wealth brought in during the “Age of Discovery,” when the Portuguese owned the seas, but it is also a modern center of finance and international trade.
Featured Excursions:

Lisbon city tour
When you gaze out at the Tagus River, tile-roofed houses climbing the hills behind you, you are looking at the port where Portugal’s empire began. Here the kings of the newly independent nation launched an age of exploration—and then poured the profits of their new trade routes and colonies into their capital. Do you see the square tower rising from the water? Belém (the name comes from Bethlehem) Tower, built in the 16th century to guard the port, has housed cannons, prisoners and royalty over the centuries; its ornamented façade might strike you as unusual for a fortress, but that is typical of Lisbon—even fortresses have beautiful ornamentation. Another landmark nearby, the 20th-century Monument to the Discoveries, commemorates these voyagers and their founding patron, Prince Henry the Navigator. Leave the riverfront to embark on your own voyage of discovery: Head inland a short distance to the Hieronymites Monastery, which will have you reaching for your camera. A masterpiece of Manueline architecture—the Portuguese late-Gothic style is named for King Manuel I—erected during the 16th century and decorated with sculptures and elaborate scrollwork, Hieronymites Monastery is another shining example of Portugal’s golden era. Not all landmarks are architectural, however. Take a break and enjoy one of the city’s iconic pastries, the cream custard tart known as pasteis de nata, at Pasteis de Belém, which has been baking these yummy treats since 1837, before experiencing the rest of your panoramic tour. It will include the Rossio—the busiest square in Lisbon—and the Alfama district, the Old Town neighborhood that survived the devastating 1755 earthquake.  Note: Please note that we do not visit the cloisters at Hieronymites Monastery. Your local guide will make suggestions for lunch. You can choose to remain downtown and explore on your own or return to the hotel. Shuttles are available to take you to and from the hotel this afternoon. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. This afternoon, get out and see the city on your own. Ride the famous iron elevator from the Baixa district up to the Bairro Alto, the cultural and bohemian heart of Lisbon, and catch a fantastic view of the city from the vantage point of São Pedro de Alcantara Belvedere. Once you reach Bairro Alto, head for São Roque, whose plain façade hides a magnificent baroque interior. The city hosts remarkable museums and excellent shopping. Your options at Centro Comercial Colombo, the biggest mall in the Iberian Peninsula, are seemingly limitless. Or try a flea market, perhaps the Campo de Santa Clara, if you prefer to hunt for unique treasures. Natives of Lisbon boast that they have the best food in the world; the many cafés and taverns tempt you to verify that claim.

Day 3 - Lisbon, Óbidos, Transfer to Porto (Embark)
Day 3: Lisbon, Óbidos, Transfer to Porto (Embark)
The tiny whitewashed village of Óbidos is so charming that Portuguese kings traditionally gave it to their brides as a wedding gift. Need we say more? Climb up to the imposing hilltop castle for spectacular, Instagram-worthy photos of the countryside and the sea beyond.   You’ll board a motorcoach this morning, heading north through Portugal’s picturesque countryside toward Porto—but you’ll stop in fascinating Óbidos before you reach the colorful city.
Featured Excursions:

Guided stroll through Óbidos
Óbidos, a hill town that has entranced visitors since the 13th century, is so charming that the kings of Portugal traditionally gave it to their queens as a wedding present. In fact, as you stroll along the cobbled streets past whitewashed baroque churches and dazzlingly tiled houses, you’ll spot a couple of gifts the queens of Portugal gave their little town over the centuries: The pillory standing in front of the church of Santa Maria was presented by Queen Lenore in 1492, and the aqueduct— still intact—was funded by Queen Catherine in the 16th century. A great castle stands guard atop the hill and crenellated medieval walls still enclose the town; if you climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the countryside and the sea beyond.

Day 4 - Porto
Day 4: Porto
There’s much more to Portugal’s second city than its eponymous fortified wine—historic architecture, cutting-edge design, fabulous food and wine, and a hip, laid-back vibe. Discover its many charms with your choice of distinctively different tours today.   Today you cruise to the mouth of the Douro and Portugal’s second city (after Lisbon), Porto, which gave its name to the nation’s most famous export, Port wine, and to the nation itself. The city is a fascinating combination of historic buildings and cutting-edge architecture, tradition and vivacious modernity.
Featured Excursions:

Porto city tour
Of course it is the longtime hub of the Port wine trade, but Porto is also much more. Colorful multistory townhouses sheathe the hills that climb precipitously from the Douro estuary, medieval alleys snake through UNESCO-designated neighborhoods enclosed by 14th-century walls—which were erected on Roman foundations—and baroque church towers crown the hilltops. The Clérigos Tower is an unmistakable landmark, visible from almost anywhere in the Old Town—in fact, at one time sailors used it as a guide to navigate their way through the estuary. Get a feel for this vibrant town, which is simultaneously profoundly urban and moodily romantic, with a panoramic tour. Take in the UNESCO-designated, 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace, seeing its famous Moorish Revival–style Arab Room, before visiting Porto’s austere hilltop cathedral and the bustling pedestrian shopping street, Santa Catarina.

Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Porto walking tour
Begin your tour at one of the city’s most beautiful churches. The 14th-century stone walls of the Church of St. Francis enclose a dazzling baroque interior: Its structure may be the classic Gothic cruciform but when you enter it with your guide, you’ll find that almost every surface is gilded and decorated in extravagant 18th-century style. The altar is stunning, as are the ornate chapels built by the city’s wealthy families. Is it true that more than 800 pounds (400 kilograms) of gold gleam on the carved pillars and screens? Perhaps not, but it certainly looks like it! Your second destination is another landmark of the city: Clérigos Tower. From the hilltop here (you can climb the tower’s 249 steps on your own if you like), you’ll see the city roofs cascade down the hill below you, and at the bottom, the estuary with its ports and bridges spread out beyond. Stroll through the park (and the long-vanished Jewish quarter) to Oliveira Square, passing Carmelitas Church and the famous art nouveau bookstore Livraria Lello. You’ll explore another magnificent interior at São Bento railway station. A lovely example of French Beaux-Arts architecture, the station is celebrated for its spectacular blue-and-white-tile panels depicting scenes from the history of Portugal. No walking tour of the historic city would be complete without a stop at the cathedral, built in the 12th century. Step inside to see it on your own or just take in the wonderful views from the plaza outside.

Day 5 - Porto (Guimarães)
Day 5: Porto (Guimarães)
Guimarães or Porto? That’s the question of the day today (you really can’t go wrong either way). Guimarães is the town where Portugal was born and its well-preserved architecture and stylish young residents make it a pleasure to visit. Or opt to explore one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods, picturesque Ribeira, considered the soul of the city.   Today’s options include a visit to the historic town of Guimarães, where you can expand your acquaintance with Portugal’s various wine styles and traditions, and a chance to see Porto as the locals do with an adventurous walking tour.
Featured Excursions:

Guimarães city tour
“Portugal was born here.” So the sign on the city wall proclaims. Guimarães was home to the first king of Portugal, Afonso I, who managed to win his kingdom’s independence in the 12th century from neighboring suzerains. The wonderfully well-preserved Old Town, with its unique architecture (houses here combine granite with half-timbering) and charming little plazas, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; overlooking it is the grand castle that appears on Portugal’s coat of arms. Rove with your guide from the castle toward the beautiful main square, the Largo da Oliveira, and to the splendid Monastery and Church of Our Lady of Oliveira and the 14th-century Gothic Padrão do Salado. But remember that despite these historic beauties, Guimarães has the youngest population of any city in Europe, so the pedestrian area is full of lively cafés and fun shops. Guimarães happens to be in the midst of the Minho wine-growing district, home to Portugal’s beloved vinho verde.

“Soul of Porto” Ribeira district walking discovery tour
Prince Henry the Navigator was born in this waterfront neighborhood in 1394, and, more than 600 years later, the building in which he was born is still standing: It became Porto’s first customs house, which seems appropriate, considering that Prince Henry began Portugal’s international trade. It’s part of your tour today as you stroll with your local guide through the oldest part of the city—check out some of the Roman ruins excavated here—simply breathing in the atmosphere. It may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s no museum: People hang their laundry from upper floors of brightly painted houses, dogs mosey down the alleys, cafés nestle under 500-year-old arches and traditional rabelos (flat-keeled sailboats that once carried barrels of Port from the vineyards to the Port cellars) bob at the quay. At the same time, parts of this historic neighborhood are changing, so you will also notice elegant little shops tucked into newly restored areas. As lively as it is picturesque, Ribeira is indeed the soul of Porto.

Day 6 - Entre-os-Rios (Amarante)
Day 6: Entre-os-Rios (Amarante)
The family-owned Quinta Aveleda looks like something out of a fairytale, with its lush flower gardens, peacocks and swans, shady terraces and whimsical follies—the perfect place to relax over a glass of vindo verde, the preferred drink of the region. Or visit an ancient town known for an iconic pastry and a shrine dedicated to the patron saint of marriage.   You have a tough choice to make today: Would you prefer to venture overland to Amarante, an ancient town on the banks of the Tâmega River, or visit a lovely quinta? Regardless of which choice you make, you also get a crash course in the history of making Port during your visit to the Douro Museum.
Featured Excursions:

Quinta Aveleda visit with gardens
One family has owned Aveleda, a quinta in the heart of the vinho verde region, for 15 generations. The Guedes family has cherished their estate with a care that is evident in both the wines they produce and in the grounds, where you’ll find charming follies—a thatched house for geese, quaint moss-covered stone structures, a miniature “Swiss chalet”—manicured lawns and flower gardens, peacocks flaunting their colors, and graceful swans swimming in meandering streams. Ramble through the cool green gardens, then relax on the terrace, with its marvelous view of the vineyards, and sample some vinho verde, or green wine. “Green” in this case does not refer to the color but rather to the youth of the wine, which is fresh, slightly effervescent and low in alcohol—after just one sip you’ll understand why vinho verde is so popular among the Portuguese that very little of it is exported.

Amarante walking discovery tour
Saint Gonçalo figures prominently in the little town of Amarante. A hermit and Dominican priest, St. Gonçalo put Amarante on the map back in the 12th century, when the devout made him the object of veneration and Amarante a place of pilgrimage. St. Gonçalo is a patron saint of marriage—which has given rise to a distinctive local pastry made in a shape that might discreetly be called a fertility symbol. You will have a chance to taste this pastry as you stroll through town on your way to the handsome Dominican monastery named for the saint. St. Gonçalo’s tomb inside still draws the faithful, who have worn the image on his tombstone smooth. Step inside to spend a little time exploring the monastery church on your own.

Douro Museum
The Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine-growing district in Europe. Why? What makes Port the wine it is? Learn about the region’s unique geology and winemaking history—Romans planted vines in this region 2,000 years ago—during a special lecture at the Douro Museum. Exhibits laid out in buildings that were once home to Port winemaker Real Companhia Velha let you see how the process of making Port evolved over the centuries: You’ll find the tools of the trade and even a rabelo (a boat that carried wine from the vineyards to Porto) on display. An interactive map shows where the quintas are and how the region developed; and by sniffing vials of concentrated fragrance, you can learn to identify the many aromas that a good Port exhibits. It’s fun and informative—plus you can sample some Port.

Day 7 - Régua (Lamego), Pinhão
Day 7: Régua (Lamego), Pinhão
One of Portugal’s top pilgrimage sites is our destination today, Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego. The church sits high above the town, accessible via hundreds of zigzagging steps adorned with beautiful blue and white tiles. After seeing the sights with a local expert, enjoy a tasting of locally made wines at a picturesque quinta.   Today’s highlights include a visit to a picturesque hill town and a scenic cruise along the Douro river.
Featured Excursions:

Lamego city tour with a tasting at a local quinta
In tranquil and charming Lamego two ornate towers at the top of a hill beckon you to climb more than 600 steps—each landing of this amazing stone stairway is adorned with mosaics made of Portugal’s famous blue and white tiles—to reach the spectacular church, Our Lady of the Remedies. Fortunately, you’ll get the view without the climb, as a motorcoach will carry you to the top. You may walk down these steps, admiring both the beautiful tile work and the stunning scenery, if you wish. Later, you can enjoy a glass of wine at a local quinta.After visiting, you can relax onboard as your ship cruises the serene Douro, the third-longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, enjoying the scenery and perhaps sipping a glass of a wine. A scattering of farmhouses and olive and almond groves share the shores with vineyard terraces, along with the occasional chapel that marks places where the river used to be particularly treacherous. The Douro may be tranquil now that dams have tamed it, but many lost their lives transporting wine barrels from the vineyards to Porto, and these riverbank chapels commemorate the dead. Do you notice that some terraces seem to have been abandoned? Those are old terraces whose vines were destroyed by phylloxera; olive trees, oleanders and other greenery are taking over those areas.

Scenic Stroll at Pinhão station

Day 8 - Pinhão, Pocinho
Day 8: Pinhão, Pocinho
Today is all about wine, which has been cultivated in the Douro River Valley since ancient Roman times. You’ll head to the hills to a prestigious wine estate, where you can sip Port while savoring marvelous views. Or, take a scenic drive to a family-owned quinta, where you’ll have a firsthand look at grape harvesting.   Start the morning off by choosing a way to experience life in the Douro Valley: You can venture overland to Amarante, an ancient town on the banks of the Tâmega River, or visit a lovely quinta.
Featured Excursions:

Quinta do Seixo guided tour with tasting
As you journey through the hills to Quinta do Seixo, a prestigious Port wine estate, you will see a unique landscape that has been shaped by wine growers for two millennia. The stone terraces curving around the steep slopes hold soil that is largely the creation of human intervention: People have laboriously broken up the native silver schist stone over the centuries and turned it into usable sandy earth; it’s called “anthroposoil.” The process of producing Port wine is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity; the steepness of the slopes requires that grape vines be tended almost entirely by hand, but the wine itself is made using the most modern techniques. You’ll tour the state-of-the-art facility and sample some exceptional Ports in a tasting room whose wall of windows looks out over spectacular views of the Douro Valley.

Famous Pinhão wine estate with visit to a family-owned quinta
Although many Port wine estates are owned by international corporations nowadays, the tradition of the family-owned estate remains strong. Start this expedition with a drive through pretty Pinhão before heading up into the hills to a family-owned quinta, where you can get a firsthand look at how the vineyards are tended and grapes harvested. Although some 80 varieties of grapes are approved for the creation of Port, six grape varieties dominate. Discover which ones are grown here and learn why.

Whichever excursion you opt for, you’ll spend the afternoon cruising along a stretch of the Douro that is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Europe, boasting dramatic vistas, bountiful countryside and terraced vineyards, as well as picturesque villages tucked along the riverbanks.

Day 9 - Pocinho, Barca d’Alva (Castelo Rodrigo)
Day 9: Pocinho, Barca d’Alva (Castelo Rodrigo)
Go medieval today at Castelo Rodrigo, both the name of a hilltop castle as well as the village that surrounds it. The view from the top is incredible and the village is a charming place to ramble, relax and replenish. Or opt to take a small boat excursion into a national park to explore the Spanish side of the Douro.   A tiny village surrounded by mountains, Barca d’Alva is your base as you explore Castelo Rodrigo, which has been singled out as one of Portugal’s 12 historic villages for its medieval beauty, or opt instead to cruise through a nature preserve along the Douro.
Featured Excursions:

Castelo Rodrigo
Ride through wonderfully scenic countryside—the region is noted for its honey, which derives its flavor from the fields of wild lavender and the almond groves you’ll pass—to Castelo Rodrigo, the name of both a castle and the village it shelters. The castle ruins stand high atop Marofa Mountain, telling the tale of border strife and Portugal’s struggle for independence in a single structure. Construction on the citadel began in 1209 under the auspices of the king of Leon, but it became part of Portugal within a century—though its local lords sided with Spanish rulers from time to time over the next four centuries. That’s why the palace adjoining the castle lies in ruins: Outraged citizens destroyed it after its lord sided with Castile. Take in the amazing view from the ancient stone walls, then step down through the tiny cobbled lanes of the village, passing the old pillory, the Manueline church, and the town’s market square. It’s not all history, of course. You’ll also get to sample delicious local treats, such as honey, almonds, olive oil and cheeses, and a newly restored tea-house invites you to relax over a cup of tea or a cool drink.

International Douro Natural Park scenic cruise
Your ship cannot navigate the Douro beyond Vega de Terrón but you still have a chance to take in the spectacular scenery of the International Douro Natural Park, a protected area that lies on both sides of the river. Board a small boat to float through steep canyons the river has carved into the granite over the centuries. A mecca for birdwatchers, the banks host a variety of eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, warblers, storks, thrushes and shrikes, including some endangered eagle species that nest along the river. As you drift along, you’ll notice that the Spanish side of the river (the Douro marks the boundary between the two countries) is almost barren; that’s because it is blasted by the afternoon sun in summer, while the Portuguese side gets more shade and is therefore more lush. You can step off the boat and onto the shore upriver for a short, scenic hike through this extraordinary landscape.

In the evening, a special Gala Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 10 - Vega de Terrón (Disembark), Salamanca, Transfer to Madrid
Day 10: Vega de Terrón (Disembark), Salamanca, Transfer to Madrid
What adventures await you in Spain? Today, you’ll visit the historic university town of Salamanca—the “Golden City”—famous for its sand-colored buildings and abundance of churches. Walk with a local expert through the Plaza Mayor, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Spain, and visit the university and the city’s astounding Food Hall.   You’ll disembark today, heading toward Madrid. Along the way you’ll visit beautiful Salamanca, the university town where Columbus sought advice before sailing west in search of a new route to the Indies.
Featured Excursions:

Full-day Salamanca tour
Called the “Golden City” for its tawny sandstone buildings, Salamanca boasts a dozen beautiful and historic churches, including two cathedrals: the new one, built in the early 16th century, and the Old Cathedral, which dates to the 12th century and can only be entered from the New Cathedral. Walk with your guide through Plaza Mayor, lined with wonderful baroque buildings, to the university, which was founded by Alfonso IX in 1218. The ornate plateresque façade is stunning, and the interior rooms you see are equally beautiful. Salamanca’s food hall is one of Spain’s best, as you will discover when you sample chorizos, cheese, olive oil and ham with your guide’s assistance. You have time to browse through the shops on Rua Mayor and enjoy a tapas lunch on your own (your guide can recommend some great places to dine). Join a guided “Madrid at Your Doorstep” vicinity walk to begin getting acquainted with the city.

Day 11 - Madrid
Day 11: Madrid
Madrid may very well be Europe’s liveliest capital city, a place where people eat late and stay up even later. Get your bearings with a panoramic overview or a more intimate walking tour, both of which include a visit to the extraordinary Prado Museum. Tonight, enjoy dinner and a colorful, passionate, foot-stomping show at the city’s finest flamenco venue.   The capital of Spain, Madrid boasts incomparable artwork, an amazing range of architectural styles— from Moorish to postmodern—and exceptional food. Your Iberian adventure begins here as you sample some of its highlights.
Featured Excursions:

Madrid city tour
Get a sense of Madrid’s layout and architectural highlights today with a panoramic tour that ends at one of the most famous museums in the world, the Prado. Roll along Paseo de la Castellana, the broad thoroughfare that cuts a swath through the city, past 19th-century family palaces, modern high-rises and the soccer stadium, and then take a look at the affluent Salamanca district, home to exclusive boutiques and elegant residences. Stretch your legs and pose for the camera in front of the 1929 bullring before heading through the center of Madrid along Gran Vía, a lively street lined with extravagant turn-of-the-20th-century commercial buildings. You’ll pass a surprising range of monuments, which include tributes to Christopher Columbus and Miguel Cervantes, as well as a gift from Egypt to Spain—the ancient temple of Debod. Your next stop is the royal palace, where you’ll stroll through the grounds, and the neighboring cathedral, which was begun in 1883 and finally finished in 1993. Board the motorcoach again and wend your way through the streets of medieval Madrid—make a note of the location of Mercado de San Miguel, which you may want to explore on your own later—and glimpse the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s “living room” for four centuries.

Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Madrid walking tour
Put on your walking shoes, catch a ride to the Royal Palace (the motorcoach will pick you up at the hotel), and set out on an up-close exploration of old Madrid. The palace—all 2,800 rooms of it—stands amid beautiful grounds that are the perfect start for a walking tour. The palace itself is vast, housing a range of museums and national treasures, and is not far from the cathedral, so you can easily take photos of both. Head down Calle de Santiago toward Plaza Mayor; you’ll pass Mercado de San Miguel, an attractive early-20th-century marketplace whose glass walls tempt you inside, and stroll through Plaza de Ramales and Plaza de la Villa. Many of the spacious squares and broad avenues in this neighborhood date to the Napoleonic era, when Joseph Bonaparte had Renaissance and medieval churches and monasteries—as well as houses—demolished. You can still see the outline of the church of San Juan Bautista’s apse in the granite stones of Plaza de Ramales. Plaza Mayor, however, has held a significant place in Madrid’s history for many centuries; it was the site of public penance during the Spanish Inquisition, bullfights until the 19th century and innumerable royal celebrations. Board a motorcoach again for a ride that introduces you to Madrid’s Salamanca district, the gold standard for elegant shopping in the city, and the Plaza de Cibeles, with its beautiful central fountain, which is near your next destination—the Prado. Note: Because this tour includes a special viewing of the royal family’s private rooms, groups are limited in size; visits are subject to change depending on official royal events.

Prado Museum visit
With either excursion you choose today, you’ll have an opportunity to visit the world-renowned Prado Museum. A local expert will guide you through this vast and dazzling collection of artistic treasures. Of course there are rooms devoted to Spanish masters—Goya, Velázquez and El Greco, the Greek-born artist who is inextricably associated with Spain—but, given Spain’s long rule over the Low Countries, Flemish painters are also well represented. Gems by Brueghel, Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck hang here, and Hieronymus Bosch’s hallucinogenic Garden of Earthly Delights is not to be missed. At the end of the tour, you may remain to explore these extraordinary galleries further on your own or return to the hotel to rest up for your evening at Corral de la Morería, the legendary flamenco venue.

Dinner with flamenco show
Passionate, intimate and highly stylized, flamenco is Spain’s archetypal performance art, melding guitar, song, dance and a unique heritage. Born in the melting pot of Andalucia, where gypsies, Moors and Jews once mingled their cultural and musical traditions, flamenco has come to represent the nation. Experience the best flamenco show in Madrid at the world-famous Corral de la Morería, a tablao (literally, a floorboard, highlighting the importance of the floor as the dancers stamp out the rhythm of the dance) in the heart of the historic district. The featured dancers and musicians—considered some of the finest in the world—are sometimes joined by visiting stars in the art form, especially when the national competitions are held in Madrid. You’ll dine on Spanish specialties as you absorb the thrilling ritual that is flamenco. Will you experience duende, the mysterious, indefinable soul of flamenco, which Federico García Lorca claimed “could only be present when one sensed that death is possible”? Only you will know—but by the end of the evening you will certainly know why this tablao is listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Day 12 - Madrid (Toledo)
Day 12: Madrid (Toledo)
Toledo is said to be Spain’s spiritual heart, a timeless, UNESCO-listed city where Muslims, Jews and Christians have peacefully co-existed for three centuries. After your city tour you’ll have time to explore—and eat—on your own; the food here is so exceptional that Toledo was named Spain’s gastronomic capital in 2016.   A one-time ancient Roman colony, medieval Moorish capital and center for religious tolerance (that allowed Muslims, Jews and Christians to thrive), Toledo has been called Spain’s spiritual heart.
Featured Excursions:

Toledo city tour
It’s not far from Madrid to Toledo, but it is definitely a journey into the past. Layer upon layer of history climbs the hill above the Tagus River, crowned by the Alcázar, the fortress first built by the Romans that has been destroyed and rebuilt over and over again. Take in a sweeping view of the whole UNESCO-designated city from the Parador deToledo before beginning your walking tour. The moment you step through the medieval city gate into the holy city, you step into the three cultures and religions that shaped early Spain. Muslims, Jews and Christians lived peacefully together here for three centuries following the Moorish conquest in 712. The gate itself was built by the Moors—the lower part dates to the 10th century—and leads to the narrow lanes and stone houses of the Jewish Quarter. Synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca encapsulates the whole story: Built in typical Mudéjar style by Moors for the Jewish community, the synagogue was turned into a church in the 15th century, after Jews and Muslims were driven from the country, but the serene white horseshoe arches and Hebrew inscriptions remain as reminders of its origins.  Take some time to explore the area on your own after your tour: Santo Tomé is famous for housing El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (El Greco was just one of Spain’s cultural icons to reside in Toledo; Cervantes also made his home here, as did Lope de Vega), and the cathedral at the top of the hill is graced with a spectacular 16th-century silver-and-gold monstrance. Enjoy a glass of wine from La Mancha and a bite to eat at one of the nearby cafés; Toledo was declared Spain’s 2016 gastronomic capital, which gives you an idea of just how good the food is here. Locally grown saffron adds its distinctive flavor and color to many dishes, and marzipan (made with Spanish almonds) is a beloved sweet in Toledo.

Day 13 - Depart Madrid
Day 13: Depart Madrid
You’ve experienced the best of Spain, Portugal and the pristine Douro River, but now the journey comes to a close. If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Madrid-Barajas Airport for your flight home. Your Uniworld adventure may be over, but we know you’ll enjoy the memories you’ve made for years to come.

 
         
Touring Date
Land Only
Land + Air
Single
(Land Only)
Single
(Land + Air)
4/13/2018 - 4/26/2018
$5,999
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5/25/2018 - 6/7/2018
$6,199
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6/22/2018 - 7/5/2018
$5,499
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7/20/2018 - 8/2/2018
$5,499
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8/24/2018 - 9/6/2018
$6,499
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9/21/2018 - 10/4/2018
$7,199
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Note: Departures appearing above in green are guaranteed to operate by the tour operator.
         

Airfare Disclaimer
A NOTE ABOUT AIRFARE: We encourage you to buy your airfare from the tour operator, because if your tour cancels then your airlines tickets will be covered. Purchasing flights separately at a lesser rate and incorporating it with a Non-Guaranteed Departure Date can result in loss of total cost of your flight investment. Depending on the fare rules, flights may be Non-Refundable and/or Non-Transferable. Neither the tour operator and/or Atlas Cruises & Tours will be held responsible for loss if a tour is cancelled for Lack of Participation.

Documents
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Necessary Travel Documents such as Passports and Visas is the responsibility of the traveler. Passports must be valid six months from your return travel date.

 

YOUR CRUISE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

TRUE ALL-INCLUSIVE BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISING™ All gratuities for all onboard and onshore services; unlimited fine wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages; shore excursions with local experts as your guide; free Internet and Wi-Fi; and all arrival and departure day transfers.

TRAVEL
7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the chic Queen Isabel
2 nights in Lisbon at the InterContinental Lisbon Hotel (or similar) with breakfast
3 nights in Madrid at the Westin Palace (or similar) with breakfast
All transfers on arrival and departure days

TASTE
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
Gala Dinner
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

EXPLORE
2 countries
11 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Gentle Walking” programs
7 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions

EXPERIENCE
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture: “Portuguese Seafarers and Spanish Explorers”

 

Port Charges: $0.00

Base category: Category 5

 
 

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All prices are per person, double occupancy, subject to availability. These pages are not endorsed or supported by the tour operator in any way. All information presented is based on promotional material provided by the tour operator. All prices, itineraries, accommodations and dates are subject to change without notice and at any time by the tour operators. Availability is limited and must be reconfirmed at time of booking. The prices on this website are not guaranteed. We are not responsible for errors, omissions, or changes in pricing.