Oct 6 - 25, 2017
20 days
$8,630per person, twin share (land content only). $1,950 supplement for sole use of a hotel room

Tour Leader

Dr Jeni Ryde
Oct 6 - 25, 2017

Tour Leader

Dr Jeni Ryde$8,630per person, twin share (land content only). $1,950 supplement for sole use of a hotel room
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


This journey takes us through the fascinating regions of Northern Spain via Porto to Lisbon, centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. We marvel at the architecture of Bilbao and sample world-class wine in Rioja, then explore Spain’s medieval history in Castilla and León and the Asturias regions, including the charming city of Oviedo. In lush Galicia we witness the devotion of medieval pilgrims on the Camino Francés and the spectacular cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. We then travel to Lisbon via Porto and the Duoro Valley, where we explore a city of outstanding art collections, spectacular monuments and vibrant neighbourhoods.


  • An architectural tradition that extends from Visigothic, Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals to striking contemporary structures
  • Medieval pilgrimage along the Camino to Santiago de Compostela
  • The celebrated regional food of Spain’s north, the fine wines of the Rioja and Rias Baixas regions and the port wine of Porto
  • A varied landscape of turquoise coastlines, lush river valleys and rugged interiors
  • The legacy of explorers in the many layers of history and art in Lisbon


  • Frank Gehry’s extraordinary design at the Guggenheim in Bilbao
  • Wine-tasting at the avant-garde Bodega Ysios winery in the Rioja
  • The exquisite Romanesque and Gothic churches, cathedrals and monasteries in and around Burgos, León and Oviedo
  • A mountain walk and lunch in the clear air of the majestic Picos de Europa in Asturias
  • Fine tapas in San Sebastián, and Spain’s most renowned seafood restaurant in Galicia
  • An exceptional range of museums and galleries in Lisbon
  • A full day in Sintra exploring exquisite palaces decorated with tiles

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–3: In Bilbao, visit the Guggenheim, the fine arts museum and San Sebastián.

Days 4–6: Explore the Rioja wine region, including Burgos cathedral, Romanesque monasteries and Visigothic churches.

Days 7–8: Follow the Pilgrims’ Way to León and enjoy a stay at an iconic parador.

Days 9–10: Visit the Romanesque churches in Oviedo, take a market tour and taste some of the local cider.

Days 11–13: Visit Santiago de Compostela, and enjoy seafood and wine in Rías Baixas.

Days 14–19: Travel to Portugal and enjoy a night in Porto followed by five nights in vibrant Lisbon.

There are currently no places available on this tour. If you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour, please register your details above.

Getting There

Emirates flies to Barcelona, and home from Lisbon. A connecting flight is necessary from Barcelona to Bilbao with Vueling Airlines. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.

Detailed itinerary

Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.

Friday October 6: Bilbao

Our tour starts in Bilbao today. We recommend taking the late afternoon flight from Barcelona to Bilbao with Vueling airlines. After settling into our hotel just across from the Guggenheim, we meet for a welcome drink in hotel reception and have dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Bilbao (D)

Saturday October 7: Guggenheim and Casco Viejo

Today we explore the striking Guggenheim museum by Frank Gehry, only steps from our hotel. Mid-afternoon your tour leader will lead a walking tour along the Nervión river to the Casco Viejo (old heart of the city) via the famous Calatrava bridge. Overnight Bilbao (B)

Sunday October 8: San Sebastián

This morning we visit Bilbao’s renowned Museum of Fine Arts before an excursion by coach to discover the beautiful resort town of San Sebastián. We sample some of the famed local tapas before doing exploring the centre on foot with a local guide. Overnight Bilbao (B, Tapas)

Monday October 9: La Rioja – To Castilla-Leon

Departing the Basque country, we head to the wine growing region of La Rioja. We stop for coffee in Laguardia, a medieval walled city perched on a rocky outcrop, before a visit to the contemporary architect Santiago Calatrava’s extraordinary Bodega Ysios winery. Lunch will be a typical bodega (winery) lunch at a smaller more intimate family owned vineyard.  Overnight Burgos (B, L)

Tuesday October 10: Explore Burgos

This morning we set off on foot to explore the centre of Burgos, a city at the heart of Spain’s history and a principle crossroad of the Camino de Santiago. We marvel at the world heritage Gothic cathedral, built on the pilgrim’s route and inspired by the cathedrals of Paris and Reims. In the afternoon we visit the Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cistercian monastery with a fascinating history dating back to the twelfth century. Overnight Burgos. (B)

Wednesday October 11: Pilgrim Route and Roman Mosaics

Departing Burgos for Leόn we witness sections of the Camino from our coach, passing pilgrims with their iconic staffs and scallop shells tied to their packs. We pause at Frόmista to admire its eleventh century Romanesque church with fine carved capitals. Closer to León, we stop at the Roman Villa of Olmeda where we can view superb Roman mosaics; hidden for centuries under the rural landscape. This evening we have dinner at Los Delirios, an experimental and highly regarded local restaurant. Overnight Leόn (B, D)

Thursday October 12: Explore Leon

Today we enjoy a walking tour of the well preserved medieval centre of Leόn. Our first stop will be the glorious French-style Gothic cathedral with its fine carvings and huge rose windows. We also stop at the Pantheon of San Isodoro to relish some of the best preserved Romanesque murals in Spain. Overnight Leόn (B)

Friday October 13: To Asturias

Today we head over the mountains to the enchanting city of Oviedo. We explore the old town on foot, pausing to watch the peacocks roaming the Campo de San Francisco, and to delight in the well-tended parks and squares lined with Baroque palaces. We enjoy an early evening meal in the Bulevar de la Sidra, ‘cider boulevard’, a superb place to people watch and marvel at the waiters pouring this local speciality, in the traditional way – from a great height. Overnight Oviedo (B, D)

Saturday October 14: The Picos de Europa

For some of Spain’s finest mountain scenery we take a day trip to the dramatic Picos de Europa, one of Spain’s most visited National Parks. We take the spectacular drive up to the Lakes of Covodonga and enjoy a rustic lunch in a mountain refuge and a walk in the clear air. Overnight Oviedo (B, L)

Sunday October 15: Relax in Oviedo

The morning is set aside to survey the beautiful ninth century ‘pre-Romanesque’ architecture of the churches on the outskirts of Oviedo, many of which have been granted UNESCO world heritage. The afternoon is free to relax before we meet for a talk and an aperitif in the hotel. Overnight Oviedo (B)

Monday October 16: Into Galicia

We leave the hotel early today to drive the last leg of the Camino route to Santiago de Compostela. En route we visit Castro de Viladonga, an excavated Celtic village over 1500 years old and stop for lunch in Lugo, the only city in the world still surrounded by fully intact Roman walls. Tonight in Santiago we enjoy fine tapas at Abastos 2.0, a trendy extension of the local market which uses excellent regional produce. Overnight Santiago (B, D)

Tuesday October 17: Santiago de Compostela

Today we explore the beautiful urban area of Santiago de Compostela and witness the emotion of the pilgrims arriving at the cathedral after a journey of over 800 kilometres. In the afternoon there is the option of a leisurely walk along a pretty section of the Camino just outside Santiago. Overnight Santiago (B)

Wednesday October 18: The Atlantic coast

On our last full day in Spain we take an excursion to the beautiful coastline of the Rias Baixas (low estuaries), an area highly renowned for its albariño wine and seafood. We enjoy a wine tasting at the stately home of Pazo de Rubianes, and a walk through their camellia gardens before a leisurely lunch at the excellent seafood restaurant D’Bertos. Overnight Santiago (B, L)

Thursday October 19: Into Portugal

Departing Galicia, we head south into Portugal and stop at Porto for the night, a world heritage listed site and nicknamed the ‘City of Bridges’. We take a short cruise along the Douro River and stop for a port tasting at the prestigious Ferreira cellars. Overnight Porto (B, D)

Friday October 20: Porto

This morning we do a walking tour of the interior of Porto away from the river, stopping at the railway station with its vast tile mosaics and looking into the exquisite Lello bookshop.  Leaving in the early afternoon for Lisbon, we check into our hotel and eat in a nearby restaurant. Overnight Lisbon (B, D)

Saturday October 21: Belém

This morning we pay homage to the Golden Age of Discovery and explore the bairro (borough) of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery where seafarers came to pray before leaving or entering port.  After free time for lunch we visit the Berardo Collection Museum housing an extraordinary collection of abstract, surrealist and pop art amassed by Portuguese billionaire, José Berardo. Overnight Lisbon (B)

Sunday October 22: Alfama

After a talk in the hotel we set out to explore the Moorish bairro of Alfama. From the castle, we wander down through the labyrinthine streets of Alfama, one of the few areas spared in the earthquake of 1755. This afternoon we visit the Tile Museum to view its unique collection of decorative tiles (azulejos) dating from the 15th century. We finish the day with a performance of Fado, a Portuguese musical genre characterized by its mournful tunes and lyrics. Overnight Lisbon (B, D)

Monday October 23: Sintra

We travel outside of Lisbon by coach to Sintra, a combination of natural mountain beauty and fairytale palaces. We visit the Palacio de los Marqueses and the National Palace of Sintra. In contrast to the grandeur of the palaces is the Convent of the Capuchos: the Franciscan convent’s philosophy of austerity and poverty is shown by the architectural and decorative simplicity of the tiny cells carved out of the rock. Overnight Lisbon (B)

Tuesday October 24: Lapa

This morning we visit one of Europe’s great unsung treasure houses, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, a fine private art collection featuring works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Dyke and Renoir. The afternoon is free before we gather for our farewell meal in a charming bistro. Overnight Lisbon (B, D)

Wednesday October 25: Depart

The tour concludes this morning after breakfast. Airport transfers are provided for anyone who has booked their flights with Academy Travel. (B)

Dr Jeni Ryde

Has a wide-ranging knowledge of Italian history and cultural traditions. Jeni has a PhD focusing on Tourism, Heritage and Renaissance Studies.

A former Senior Lecturer in Italian at the University of Western Sydney, she is a fluent Italian speaker with a wide ranging knowledge of European history, art and architecture. Her interests include Spanish studies, Renaissance art history and Italian cinema. Jeni has lead many special focus tours to Italy and has recently added Spain to her Academy repertoire.

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Hotels have been selected principally for their central location and 4* rating.

Bilbao, Hotel Mirό (2 nights)

Burgos, Hotel NH Palacio de la Merced (2 nights)

Leόn, Hotel NH Plaza Mayor de Leόn (2 nights)

Oviedo, Hotel Campoamor (3 nights)

Santiago, Hotel San Francisco Monumento (3 nights)

Porto, Hotel Pestana Vintage (1 night)

Lisbon, Bessahotel Liberdade (5 nights)

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity

Booking conditions

You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 60 days before departure: $500*
  • 60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
  • 44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due

*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.

Unused Portions of the tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Travel Insurance

Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.

Passport and Visa

A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.

Will the tour price change?

If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.

Will the itinerary change?

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

Final Payment

Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.

Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.

Fitness rating

Grade 2

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details

There are currently no places available on this tour. A place on the waitlist is not a confirmed place on tour. If you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour, please register your details.

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Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Kathy Wardrop 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

Detailed Itinerary

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