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Portugal and Spain: From Algarve to Catalonia

Europe Adventure Cruise

  • National Geographic Orion
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 102 Capacity
  • 8 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : Trace the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula through the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. See the tangerine skies of a Rio Tejo sunset and the sparkling daybreak over Barcelona. Thrill to the juxtaposition of the exquisitely ornate interiors of Moorish fortresses (including a life-list visit to the Alhambra), with the gothic peaks of early Christian cathedrals. From the tranquil Algarve village of Alte to the splendors of Seville; experience flamenco, medronho, tapas and Picasso, the fossils of El Torcal and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


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

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Day 1
Lisbon, Portugal / Embark

Arrive in Lisbon and embark the National Geographic Orion. Take in splendid views of Portugal’s capital as you set sail. Tonight, enjoy a performance of authentic fado music aboard the ship.

Day 2
Portimao / Algarve

Portimão is your gateway to Portugal’s southernmost province, the Algarve, known for its whitewashed villages, lush farmlands, and remnants of Moorish culture. Travel north to Silves, home to a fortified sandstone castle built by the Moors, and learn about the tradition of harvesting cork oak. Alternatively, explore the sea caves of the Algarvian coast by small boat while savoring a glass of Medronho, a local fruit brandy. Your transport into the Portuguese countryside today will be by off-road jeep, returning by way of small river boats along the Arade River. Keep an eye out for the large stork nests nestled atop cottage chimneys!

Day 3
Cadiz, Spain / Seville

Arrive on the shores of Spain. From Cádiz, travel to the graceful Andalusian capital of Seville, where contemporary culture is interwoven with layers of history. In the old city, see one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedrals and the Alcázar palace, where the king and queen of Spain greeted Columbus on his return from the New World. Delve into the art of flamenco during a private performance at the intimate Museo del Baile Flamenco, and perhaps try some classic zapateado (footwork) yourself.

Opt to visit one stop on the famed sherry triangle. Visit a traditional sherry bodega, interesting not only for its extra-aged sherries (20 or more years old), but because it houses the Colección Joaquín Rivera, a private Spanish art collection that includes important works by Goya, Velázquez and Zurbarán.

Day 4
Gibraltar, U.K. / Malaga, Spain

Stand on deck as you pass the tiny British colony of Gibraltar, which presides over the strait between Spain and Morocco. Enter the Mediterranean Sea on your way to Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso and a gem of a coastal city surrounded by charming Andalusian towns. Explore the city’s artistic treasures; ride along the newly finished bike path hugging beaches and beautiful coastline; or go hiking in Torcal de Antequera, a nature reserve adorned with limestone formations and fossils dating back roughly 150 million years. Gather for dinner at a special wine bar, featuring local Andalusian products. Feeling energetic? Grab a mountain bike and cycle through the natural paradise surrounding Málaga, with a pre-mapped route in hand.

Day 5
Motril / Granada

A variety of excursions await today. For a deeply cultural experience, travel into Andalusian countryside past orange groves and olive trees for a specially prepared lunch in the homes of local women. Many of you will want to take the full day to see enchanting Granada, set high in the Sierra Nevada, exploring magnificent Moorish architecture including the 13th-century Alhambra Palace and Genera life gardens. Or, set out for an early morning trek following Mr. Henderson’s Railway to the neighboring city of Ronda, famous for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge.

Day 6
Mazarron Escarpment / Cartagena

With your naturalists, look for whales and dolphins along the submerged volcanic mountains of the Mazarrón Escarpment. Later, arrive in the deep natural harbor of Cartagena—a historic naval base where Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors all left their mark. Set out on foot to explore the city’s medieval fortresses and modernist houses, or glide along the streets on an electric Segway scooter—for a modern way to see this ancient city! For a striking visual of the times, walk to the lookout at Parque Torres and look down on the ruins of the Roman amphitheater, now placed back-to-back with a modern-day one.

Day 7

In sunny Valencia, old-world cafés mingle with Gothic cathedrals and futurist architecture. Visit the City of Arts and Sciences, an otherworldly cultural complex designed by native architect Santiago Calatrava. Explore the rich birdlife of Albufera Natural Park, one of the most important wetland areas on the Iberian Peninsula. Enjoy a lunch of traditional paella—Valencia’s signature dish. Hop aboard private fishermen’s boats along the marshy canals of the Albufera Lake ecosystem, where they cultivate rice and harvest shellfish for paella—and learn how to make a delicious paella in the city it was invented.

Day 8
Barcelona / Disembark

Wake up in Barcelona, and have breakfast on board. Disembark your ship and transfer to the airport for your return flight, or remain in Barcelona for an added stay.


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

Reverse Itinerary (Barcelona to Lisbon): 5/15/2016

Expedition Photography:
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 aboard ship; 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 expedition leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guide; services of a ship physician; all gratuities; all port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.

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