Spain, Portugal & Morocco Classes
The vibrant capital of the Catalunya region beckons with outstanding art, dreamy architecture, and fabulous food. We'll explore Barcelona from tip to toe as we trace the footsteps of Gaudí, Picasso, and others while strolling the lively Ramblas past the Gothic Quarter and down to the revitalized port, where sandy beaches are just steps away.
Barcelona & Madrid
Spain's two biggest cities are also two of its greatest draws for travelers — and lie just a 3-hour train ride apart. We'll start with tips for experiencing the Catalunyan pride and energy of Barcelona — rambling on the Ramblas, digging into delicious seafood, and marveling at the works of Gaudí and Picasso. Then it's on to Madrid for its terrific tapas, masterpiece-packed Prado Museum, and pleasant late-night paseo scene.
The Basque Region of Spain and France
The Basque region is known for its independent spirit, lush scenery, and amazing cuisine. Our travels go from the laid-back seaside town of San Sebastián to the modern architecture of urban Bilbao to the charm of French Bayonne, and introduce you to a corner of Europe that many Americans have yet to experience.
Portugal combines history-rich Roman, Moorish, and Baroque architecture with charming small towns, beautiful seacoast, delicious food and wine, and soulful music. We'll begin our travels in lively Lisbon, then meander south to the Algarve coast and Évora, and north to the coastal town of Nazaré, Coimbra, the vineyards of the Douro Valley, and Porto.
Portugal Q & A
Planning a trip to Portugal? Ask questions just like you would during a private travel consultation, but for free. An expert will be on hand to help you plan the journey of a lifetime. Learn about when and where to go and how long to stay, money-saving tips, transportation options, and more.
Our journey begins in Barcelona, gawking at astounding architecture and rambling down the Ramblas. Then it's on to Madrid, where we'll fill up on tasty tapas, visit top museums, and venture out to the smaller towns surrounding this metropolis. We'll finish up in the south with Granada, Sevilla, and the whitewashed hill towns of Andalucía.
Spain Q & A
Planning a trip to Spain? Ask questions just like you would during a private travel consultation, but for free. An expert will be on hand to help you plan the journey of a lifetime. Learn about when and where to go and how long to stay, money-saving tips, transportation options, and more.
The Andalucía region, steeped for hundreds of years in Moorish culture, remains colored with the intricate architecture, bold flavors, and passionate traditions of that time. Together, we'll explore the exciting cities of Granada, Cordoba, and Seville; traverse olive groves; ascend to white hilltop towns; and cruise miles of beaches in Spain’s most iconic region.
Spain & Portugal
Our journey begins in exuberant Barcelona, then it's on to majestic Madrid, we'll finish up in the south with Granada, Sevilla, and the whitewashed hill towns of Andalucía. Onto Portugal, we'll visit lively Lisbon, meander south to the Algarve coast and Évora, and north to the coastal town of Nazaré, Coimbra, the vineyards of the Douro Valley, and Porto.
Walking Portugal's Rota Vicentina
The seaside of southwest Portugal — along the western edge of the rugged Alentejo region and down along the beachy Algarve — boasts one of the best-preserved coastlines of southern Europe. It's perhaps best experienced on foot, and the Rota Vicentina network of walking trails offers stunning scenery and a chance to encounter unique animal and plant life. Learn about the area's various walking routes, and get tips on what to pack, how to physically prepare, when to go, and more.
Walking Spain's Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago, one of three major Christian pilgrimage routes of the Middle Ages, is still walked by thousands of people every year. Learn about walking the trail, including understanding way markings, where to eat and stay, what equipment you'll need and how to pack it, and get some background on the spiritual and mental aspects of the journey.
With its richly textured culture, Morocco offers plenty of contrast: from whitewashed beach towns to bustling medina markets, from jagged mountains to exotic desert dunes. We'll start our exploration with the coastal city of Tangier, then cover the desert mecca of Marrakesh, labyrinthine streets of Fez, and bustling capital of Rabat, plus lesser-known destinations such as the blue city of Chefchaouen and the seaside resort of Asilah.
What’s New in Spain and Portugal for 2019
Like many travelers, last spring I visited Barcelona dreaming of seeing Antoni Gaudí's breathtaking Sagrada Família church. When I got there, the ticket office was closed, with a posted sign: "No more tickets today. Buy your ticket for another day online." Thankfully, I'd known to book tickets in advance.
Along with Sagrada Família, Spain's sights to book ahead include Barcelona's Picasso Museum, La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, and Park Güell; the Palacios Nazaríes at the Alhambra in Granada; and the Royal Alcazar Moorish palace, Church of the Savior, and cathedral in Sevilla. Barcelona's Casa Amatller and Palace of Catalan Music, and Salvador Dalí's house in Cadaqués all require a guided tour, which also must be booked ahead. Advance tickets for the Dalí Theater-Museum in nearby Figueres are also a good idea. While it may be technically possible to buy tickets on-site, in my guidebooks I simply say you must reserve in advance. It's much smarter.
Barcelona continues to evolve. After a long renovation, the Maritime Museum has reopened, displaying 13th- to 18th-century ships (restoration continues on the later-century ships). The El Raval neighborhood is rising up as the new bohemian zone. While this area has rough edges, its recently reopened Sant Antoni market hall, new Museum of Contemporary Art, and pedestrian-friendly streets contribute to its boom of creative shops, bars, and restaurants.
In Spain's northern Basque country, San Sebastián's old tobacco factory has been converted into the free Tabakalera International Center for Contemporary Culture, hosting films and art exhibits — and knockout views from its roof terrace. In Pamplona, a new exhibit gives a behind-the-scenes look at the town's famous bullring.
In the south of Spain, the cathedral in Sevilla now runs rooftop tours, providing a better view — and experience — than its bell tower climb. In nearby Córdoba, you can now climb the bell tower at the Mezquita, the massive mosque-turned-cathedral. But Córdoba's 14th-century synagogue is closed for renovation.
Spain's transportation is also improving: Uber is now available in both Barcelona and Madrid. Madrid's Metro has a new rechargeable card system: A red Multi Card(tarjeta) is required to buy either a single-ride Metro ticket or 10-ride transit ticket. Spain's high-speed Alvia train now runs between Segovia and Salamanca in about 75 minutes, making it faster than driving.
Portugal has fewer blockbuster sights than Spain and nowhere near the crowds. The only sight where you might have a crowd problem is the Monastery of Jéronimos at Belém, just outside Lisbon proper (buy a combo-ticket at Belém's Archaeology Museum to avoid the ticket line at the monastery).
Riding in most of Lisbon's classic trolley cars — a quintessential Portuguese experience — can also be frustratingly crowded (and plagued by pickpockets targeting tourists). A less-crowded option is trolley line #24E — which is back in service after a decades-long hiatus. Although this route doesn't pass many top sights, you can see a slice of workaday Lisbon. (Or, better yet, get your trolley experience in Porto, which has almost no crowds.)
On my last visit I realized that Lisbon's beloved Alfama quarter — its Visigothic birthplace and once-salty sailors' quarter — is salty no more (except with the sweat of cruise groups hiking its now-lifeless lanes). The new colorful zone to explore is the nearby Mouraria, the historic tangled quarter on the back side of the castle. This is where the Moors lived after the Reconquista (when Christian forces retook the city from the Muslims). To this day, it's a gritty and colorful district of immigrants — but don't delay your visit, as it's starting to gentrify just like the Alfama has.
In other Lisbon news, the Museum of Ancient Art finished its top-floor renovation, and plans to renovate its second floor in 2020. One of the city's leading restaurants, Pap'Açôrda, has moved to the first floor in the Ribeira market hall (a.k.a. the Time Out Market). It's still recommended and still serving traditional Portuguese cuisine.
In the pilgrimage town of Fátima, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1917, the new Fátima Light and Peace Exhibition run by the Roman Catholic Church complements a visit to the basilica, and offers a more pleasing experience than its more commercial competitors.
In Coimbra, ticket options for the University of Coimbra sights, including the beautiful Baroque King João library, now cover the nearby and impressive Science Museum — go there first to buy your university tickets and book your required timed entry for the library.
In Porto, the Bolhão Market is closed for a much needed renovation until mid-2020. In the meantime, vendors are in the basement of a nearby department store…carrying on the warm shopper relationships that go back generations.
Spain and Portugal have a continually evolving sightseeing scene, so it's important to travel in 2019 with the latest information to get the most out of your experience.
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Heart of Portugal in 12 Days Tour
In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to the tour departure, you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour in the Documents section of your tour account.
Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.
Most tour members arrange to fly into Lisbon (LIS) and out of Porto (OPO) — choose "multicity" on flight-booking websites. Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in Portugal.
We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Portugal guidebook.
Download Spain & Portugal Audio Tours
Choose from these three free options to listen to Rick Steves' Spain & Portugal Audio Tours:
- Get the Audio Europe app! It's the easiest and best experience if you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android. Learn more about the Rick Steves Audio Europe app or download the app now:
- Prefer podcasts? Get Rick Steves' Spain & Portugal Audio Tours on Apple Podcasts, or find it in your favorite podcast app. Need help? Read our Podcast FAQ.
- Download the mp3 files below and transfer to any mp3 player, or play them on your computer. Mp3 audio tours do not have chapter breaks or subheadings.
How to download: The option to save will appear with the following action on your device:
- PC: Right-click the download links below
- Mac: "Control click" the download links below
- Android: Tap and hold the download link
- iOS: iPhones, etc. don't allow this (get the app instead!)
Spain Audio Tours
Barcelona City Walk
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Barcelona's Eixample Walk
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Madrid City Walk
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Sevilla City Walk
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Portugal Audio Tours
Lisbon City Walk
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Portugal and steves spain rick
Best of Spain in 14 Days Tour
In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email, as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to the tour departure, in your customer account you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying in the Documents section of your tour account.
Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements are completely up to you.
Most tour members arrange to fly into Barcelona (BCN) and out of Sevilla (SVQ) — choose "multicity" on flight-booking websites. Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in Spain.
We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Spain guidebook.
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