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Culture and Cuisine from Oporto to Basque Country

Western European Cruise

Summary : From Oporto’s local Port Houses to the chocolate makers of Bayonne, this voyage is sure to satisfy your appetite for the cuisine and culture of the upper Iberian coast. Explore the splendor of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, tour a Galician mansion, meander through the local villages of A Coruña and Bilbao, and hike the beautiful Basque coastline. Visit Hercules Tower and the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum; thrill to the melodies of the gaitas and trikitixas; and savor a Basque-style dinner in San Sebastian. Compare and contrast French and Spanish Basque cultures, and learn about the Celtic influence on the region as well. Satisfy your palette & cultural curiosity on this carefully curated voyage.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!

Prices from
$7,990 to $16,610

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Day 1
Lisbon, Portugal / Embark

Arrive in Lisbon, and embark National Geographic Orion. After lunch, relax on the ship or explore on shore. Then take in the view on deck as you navigate the Tagus River at sunset, drinks in hand.

Day 2

Arrive in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Oporto in the late morning. The birthplace of port wine, Oporto straddles a gorge on the Douro River, linked by numerous bridges and filled with medieval architecture. See the famous azulejo tiles of the region and take in the views from the iron masterpiece Ponte Dom Luis. Later, learn the secrets of port-making during a tasting at a riverside port house. Explore with a range of transport modes: vintage tram or auto, tuk-tuk, or on foot.

Day 3
Villagarcia De Arousa, Spain

Anchor in Villagarcía de Arousa and drive to Santiago de Compostela. Visit a historic mansion with impressive gardens, and listen to the melodies of a gaita, a Galician bagpipe. In the heart of Santiago de Compostela, visit the cathedral that has welcomed millions of pilgrims over the centuries, and enjoy lunch and a vibrant musical performance at the adjacent Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. Immerse yourself in the culture. Choose to join fishermen along an estuary as they collect mussels, which your Orion chef will season and prepare. Or, walk in the steps of the pilgrims’ path to the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Your guides have even set up river rafting for you on the Rias de Galicia.

Day 4
A Coruña

Cruise into A Coruña, passing the impressive Tower of Hercules in the morning light. Pay a visit to the tower, the only working Roman lighthouse in the world, visit the local market, and learn about the architectural phenomenon that earned the town the nickname “The Glass City.” Take a late morning stroll or a bicycle ride around the area’s picturesque coastal villages before sailing east.

Day 5

Arrive in Bilbao after lunch. Explore the titanium curves of the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, learn how it has transformed the city, and have a guided tour of the interior in small groups. Wander through Bilbao’s old quarter, or go for a scenic hike along the coast. After dinner on the ship, enjoy a free evening to experience the city at night. Your musicologist has arranged for a private performance from famous Basque musician Kepa Junkera.

Day 6
St. Jean De Luz, France / San Sebastian, Spain

Explore both the French and Spanish Basque cultures today. At a market excursion in the village of Saint Jean-de-Luz, get an introduction to French Basque culture and cuisine, followed by a journey to the French Basque countryside for a wine and tapas tasting. In Spain’s Basque capital of San Sebastian, discover the connection to the Celts and hear the bouncing rhythms of a trikitixa, a traditional accordion. Cider houses rule in Basque Spain, and your guides ahve planned a special Basque dinner and cultural event in San Sebastian. Grab a glass and do as the locals do, sit at the long farm tables and sidle up to the barrel tap for a cider refill.

Day 7

Take a walk through the picturesque old port town of Bayonne and learn about the rich chocolate industry for which this area is so well known. On an excursion to the former imperial retreat of Biarritz, stroll along the coast to the Rock of the Virgin, once used by Napoleon III as an anchoring point. Chocolate lovers may attend a demonstration at a small, private French chocolate house.

Day 8
Bordeaux / Disembark

After breakfast the next morning, disembark in Bordeaux and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Or, remain in Bordeaux for an added stay.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Photo Expeditions:

The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

All accommodations aboard ship; all meals; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; services of expeditions leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guides; services of a ship physician; all gratuities; all port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Air transportation; passport; visa; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc.

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