Spain is famous for its dynamic gastronomy, but this rich food heritage extends beyond borders. On this two-week culinary odyssey across the Iberian Peninsula, you'll discover distinct and delicious flavors, from Spain's tapas and olive oils to the wine and food markets of neighboring Portugal. During the adventure, you'll take cooking classes, go on wine tours, dine with locals, and much more.


  • Tour Barcelona's highlights and sail along the coast
  • Sample the fine wines and olive oils of Catalunya 
  • Enjoy flamenco music and take cooking classes in Madrid
  • Take a riverboat tour through the scenic Douro Valley
  • Visit canning factories and food markets in Porto and Lisbon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Barcelona, Sunset Cruise Barcelona
Day 2 Private Tour of Barcelona & La Sagrada Família Barcelona
Day 3 Catalonia Wine & Olive Oil Tour Barcelona
Day 4 Train to San Sebastián, Pintxo Tour San Sebastián
Day 5 Explore San Sebastián, Cider House Experience San Sebastián
Day 6 Basque Country Cheese & Wine Tour San Sebastián
Day 7 Transfer to Bilbao via Coastal Route Bilbao
Day 8 Private Cooking Class, Explore Bilbao Bilbao
Day 9 Train to Madrid, Optional Activities Madrid
Day 10 Guided City Tour & Flamenco Night Madrid
Day 11 Free Day in Madrid Madrid
Day 12 Train to Ávila, Private Sweets Workshop Ávila
Day 13 Transfer to the Douro Valley (Portugal), River Boat Tour Douro Valley
Day 14 Day Trip to Wine Cellar & Lunch Douro Valley
Day 15 Transfer to Porto, Foodie Tour Porto
Day 16 Guided Tour of Porto, Visit a Canning Factory Porto
Day 17 Private Cooking Class & Market Visit Porto
Day 18 Train to Lisbon, Evening of Fado Lisbon
Day 19 Visit Lisbon's Markets, Local Dinner Party Lisbon
Day 20 Free Day in Lisbon Lisbon
Day 21 Depart Lisbon  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona, Sunset Cruise

Discover Barcelona with a sunset cruise along the coast

Welcome to Spain! Each of this romantic nation's 17 autonomous regions enjoys its own unique cultural heritage—and Catalonia is no different. You'll arrive in the capital of Barcelona, a coastal gem that's a global destination for fun and sun. You won't waste any time experiencing it because, on arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city.

In the early evening, after some time to relax and settle in, head out on a two-hour sunset cruise along Barcelona's stunning golden coast. Relax amid the sight of the sun gilding Barcelona's skyline as you nibble on an assortment of olives and fine cheeses while sipping on Spanish cava. Complimenting the experience will be the live musicians on hand to serenade you with classical guitar music. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel and will have the evening free to enjoy Barcelona's famed nightlife.

Day 2: Private Tour of Barcelona & La Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Familia
Visit the most iconic of Gaudí's buildings, La Sagrada Família

After breakfast, you'll meet your personal guide and embark on a guided walking tour of Barcelona. One highlight is a stop at the city's greatest monument, La Sagrada Família, a spectacular Roman Catholic church and UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. During this half-day excursion, you will see some of the city's most emblematic spots and hidden corners while learning about Gaudí and his jaw-dropping masterpiece, which is technically still under construction.

Throughout the tour, your guide will be on hand to answer all your questions, including where to go for lunch! In fact, he or she will take you to a recommended tapas bar or restaurant before parting ways, leaving you to enjoy the afternoon exploring Barcelona at your own pace. If the sun is out, you may want to stroll the promenade along Barceloneta Beach, the main stretch of sand in the city. It's also a great swimming beach and the perfect spot for sunbathing.

Day 3: Catalonia Wine & Olive Oil Tour

Olive Oil, the finished product
Try fine Spanish wines and the best olive oils in the country

Your driver will pick you up this morning for a full-day trip into the heart of Catalonia's Pla de Bages, a historic wine-growing region nestled between the Montserrat and Castelltallat mountain ranges. You'll start with a visit to an organic, family-run winery where fifth-generation winemakers cultivate rare and native grapes like the rare black sumoll, the red-skinned mandó, and the ancient picapoll. Here, you'll see the typical Catalan farmhouse, wander the vineyards, tour the barrels room, and join a tasting where appetizers accompany a selection of wines.

Next, you'll discover another of Catalonia's prized products with a stop at an olive oil farm in the beautiful countryside of Vall d'Hortons. Stroll through thousand-year-old olive groves as your guide explains the cultivation of this Mediterranean staple and introduces you to varietals like corbella and arbequina. Visit the workshop where oil is produced, then sit down to a tasting alongside locally and organically-grown Catalan products like cheese, honey, and cured meats.

Day 4: Train to San Sebastián, Pintxo Tour

Cafes in San Sebastian's historic Parte Vieja (
Go on a food walk to various cafés and bars around San Sebastián

After an early breakfast, you'll transfer to the station, where you'll board a train for the scenic five-hour ride to San Sebastián. This northern coastal city lies on the Bay of Biscay near the border with France and is a popular holiday destination. Its popularity derives from the fact it's located in the heart of Basque Country, one of Spain's most beautiful regions and a haven for foodies across the globe. Upon arrival at the station, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.

Later, you'll meet a local guide for a three-hour food tour around the famous Parte Vieja (Old Quarter). It begins in the east of the city and the iconic San Sebastián City Hall. Constructed in 1887, it used to be the Gran Casino during the Belle Époque until it was closed in 1924. The building still overlooks the bay, from where an elegant promenade with railings and street lamps runs along the crescent-shaped sands of Playa La Concha.

From there, stroll into the heart of Old Town and get ready to eat. The Basque region is known for a type of tapas called pintxos (pronounced "peenchos"). Most bars, cafés, and restaurants in the Parte Vieja serve some version of these bite-sized delicacies, and you're encouraged to hop from bar to bar, grazing until your heart's content. Don't worry about missing out, as your guide will lead you to areas with the largest concentration of pintxos bars. While you eat, be sure to pair your pintxos with a crisp glass of txakoli, the local white wine.

Day 5: Explore San Sebastián, Cider House Experience

See the highlights of San Sebastián and visit an authentic cider house

Embark on a self-guided walking tour of San Sebastián to explore its unique blend of old and new. From medieval fortresses to modern sculptures, the city has something to offer for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and art lovers alike. Stroll the waterfront, relax in parks and squares, admire the French-inspired Belle Époque architecture, and of course, nibble on pintxos.

Later, you'll visit a sagardotegi (cider house) to experience one of the great traditions of Basque culture. Transfer just south of the city to the town of Astigarraga and a working cider house. Here, you'll gather around long wooden tables with other guests to enjoy a hearty meal of salted cod, steak, and chorizo paired with various ciders direct from the barrels. Listen for the "Txotx!" cry, which lets you know when a new barrel has been opened. Then race over with your glass and catch the stream of cider, just like locals do. It's a festive, unforgettable experience (vegetarian options available).

Day 6: Basque Country Cheese & Wine Tour

Cheese and Wine Tour
Sample some of the Basque Country's famous artisanal sheep's cheeses

Your driver will pick you up this morning for a ride to a sheep farm in the countryside. Here, you'll learn how Basque cheese is made. It begins when you meet your hosts and tour the farm before enjoying a tasting of different cheeses, such as smoky idiazabal, paired with local wines or cider.

The fun continues at a local winery in the Txakoli region, which is famous for its white wines. You'll walk the vineyards of a family-owned estate where grapes grow along the slopes on the surrounding hills, facing the sea. After learning about the production process, you'll sample a few varietals paired with tidbits like local tuna, chili peppers, and a pintxo or two. After the half-day tour, your transfer will take you back to your hotel in Sebastían, and you'll have the rest of the day free. 

Day 7: Transfer to Bilbao via Coastal Route

The rugged cliffs of the Basque coast
Witness the beauty of the Basque coast, like the cliffs at Zumaia

Wake up early and meet your driver for one of the most scenic road trips yet! The section of the Basque coast between the seaside towns of Zarauz and Mutriku boasts some of the greatest beauty in the region. The one-hour drive will take you from San Sebastián to the city of Bilbao via these incredible coastal roads—and there will be plenty of stops along the way.

First up is Zarauz, where you'll stretch your legs on its wide and inviting beach that once attracted Queen Elizabeth II. Then continue to the laid-back coastal town of Guetaria, where you'll stroll its charming streets and admire historic landmarks, port, church, and waterfront homes. You'll also see the iconic El Ratón de Guetaria, an offshore mountain with a nature park.

Afterward, head to the town of Zumaia. Another scenic coastal village, Zumaia, is a geologist's dream, as it boasts unusual and dramatic sea cliffs that formed over the past 120 million years. Finally, you'll reach the medieval fishing village of Mutriku. On a walking tour, you'll explore its palaces, tower houses, and cobbled streets leading down to the port. After an adventurous day of exploring, end the day in Bilbao, where you can relax at your hotel.

Day 8: Private Cooking Class, Explore Bilbao

Learn how to prepare pintxos, the Basque region's famous style of tapas

Today you'll discover the joys of Basque cooking. During this four-hour experience, you'll meet one-on-one with a local chef to prepare tapas-style dishes using top-quality ingredients sourced from local markets. During the workshop, you'll prepare famous Basque dishes from coastal villages and the mountainous interior. In total, you'll cook three dishes and a dessert. Of course, when finished, you'll sit down and enjoy your creations for lunch.

Later, you can discover more of Bilbao on a self-guided tour. A great place to begin is in the Old Town. This is the beating heart of the city, home to its oldest landmarks as well as many bars, restaurants, and boutiques. Major sights include the 18th-century Church of San Nicolás and the 16th-century Church of San Antón. The latter is dedicated to Anthony the Great, an Egyptian saint and the father of monasticism. Other notable sights include the 14th-century Cathedral of Santiago and the Mercado de la Ribera, which, at 107,639 square feet, is the largest covered marketplace in Europe.

And no visit to Bilbao is complete without visiting the Guggenheim Museum, a masterpiece of contemporary architecture by the legendary Frank Gehry. This glimmering titanium structure looks more like a sculpture than a building, with its sleek lines curving in virtual defiance of physics. The museum houses a treasure trove of works from great artists such as Andy Warhol, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, and Eduardo Chillida.

Day 9: Train to Madrid, Optional Activities

Madrid's Gran Vía
Madrid's Gran Vía, one of the highlights of the city
Plan your trip to Spain
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

In the morning, you'll transfer to the station in Bilbao and board a train for the five-hour ride to Madrid. On arrival at Atocha Station, a driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel in the city. Then you can head out and explore Spain's dynamic capital.

Madrid exudes culture and fun. It boasts over 80 museums and thousands of historical monuments and landmarks. One can't-miss museum is El Prado, which features one of the world's finest collections of European art, including works by Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya. For a deeper dive, there's also El Paseo del Arte, an art walk that, besides El Prado, includes stops at the Reina Sofía National Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

When night falls, indulge in Madrid's world-class culinary scene. If you want to dine amid history, head to Botín in the city center. No less than Ernest Hemingway described it in his seminal novel "The Sun Also Rises" as the best restaurant on earth. And when the hour gets late, you can revel in the city's nightlife scene. Some of the best areas for bars and clubs include Huertas and Chueca.

Day 10: Guided City Tour & Flamenco Night

See authentic flamenco dancing in historic Madrid

Get to know Madrid better today on a guided history, culture, and architecture tour. Accompanied by a local guide, head to the historic Habsburg district. This is the oldest part of the city, known in Spanish as El Madrid de Los Austrias. During the walk, you'll visit the 18th-century Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, and the expansive Plaza Mayor, which dates to the 15th century. Your guide will stop at hidden gems and tell stories about Madrid's fascinating history.

In the evening, you'll experience one of Spain's premier cultural offerings: flamenco. This musical style enjoys a rich heritage that dates back to the ninth century when the music and dances of immigrants in the Andalusia region mixed with the cultures of local Moors and Jews. Over the centuries, the intermingling of these various influences synthesized to produce the style of flamenco that has come to define Spanish folkloric music. After the dance performance, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 11: Free Day in Madrid

Head to Gran Vía to do some shopping and see a show
Today you'll have the freedom to enjoy Madrid at your own pace. You can spend the morning enjoying the hotel amenities or get out and explore the city on foot. If you're a sports fan, opt for a tour of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the 81,000-seat stadium home to the Real Madrid football club. If you like, you can go shopping and take in a show at glitzy Gran Vía, Madrid's answer to Broadway. Here, you'll find plenty of theaters showing plays and musical productions, many of which are geared toward the whole family.

Day 12: Train to Ávila, Private Sweets Workshop

Sample local delicacies, known as yemas de Santa Teresa

Transfer to Atocha Station this morning and board a train for the 90-minute ride to Ávila, a small city nestled in the rolling green hills northwest of Madrid. Ávila is famous for its imposing medieval city walls with eight monumental gates, 88 watchtowers, and more than 2,500 turrets—making it one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain.

Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel for check-in. Then you can explore the city center. It's filled with Gothic and Romanesque churches that highlight the rich history of this deeply pious city.

Later, you'll visit a workshop and learn to prepare the famous yemas de Santa Teresa. While you can find these traditional egg yok-based sweets across Spain, the original recipe dates back to 1860 and is the specialty of Ávila, the birthplace of the namesake saint. A pastry chef will teach you the centuries-old technique to make these rich and creamy confections. After the hourlong experience, you can enjoy your sweets while wandering the streets of Ávila.

Day 13: Transfer to the Douro Valley (Portugal), River Boat Tour

A typical Rabello Boat
Step back in time on a boat ride along the Douro River

Wake up early and meet your driver for the two-hour drive north into Portugal and the Douro Valley. This fertile wine region features dramatic scenery, including mountains and valleys, with the mighty Douro River running through it to the coast. This tranquil area boasts a rich history with plenty of options to enjoy eclectic cuisine and sample fine wines.

Upon arrival near the river, you'll have lunch at a local restaurant in town. Then it's time to hop on a riverboat for a cruise down the Douro. As you go, relax and admire the beautiful scenery of the valley and the rolling hills along the banks. After the cruise, you'll return to your hotel and have the evening free.

Day 14: Day Trip to Wine Cellar & Lunch

Wine Cellar in Porto
Visit a real working wine cellar in the Douro Valley
Today you'll get to the heart of the Douro Valley's centuries of wine production. In the morning, you'll head to a local winery for a tour of the grounds and, more specifically, the traditional aging cellars. It's in rooms like this where some of the Douro Valley's finest Reserve wines and ports are produced. As you tour the cellar, your expert guide will reveal the traditional techniques of the winemaking process that have been used since antiquity. Following the tour, you'll enjoy lunch at a traditional quinta (wine estate) paired with tasty local wines. 

Day 15: Transfer to Porto, Foodie Tour

Discover Porto's culinary scene one bite at a time

After breakfast, you'll meet your driver for the 1.5-hour drive across the Douro Valley toward the coast. Your destination is Porto, one of the country's most romantic, historic, and culturally significant cities. Founded in 1123, this medieval metropolis on the Douro River is famous for its historic landmarks, grand plazas, and colorful waterfront skyline lined with old merchant houses. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel.

A while later, you'll discover the city on a half-day food walk around Porto's historic downtown. The tour includes stops at family-run eateries, cafés, and food purveyors focusing on simple ingredients and recipes passed down over generations. In the evening, you'll sample another staple of the region: port wine. You'll taste three different versions, including one vintage, as you learn about the history of this timeless drink.

Day 16: Guided Tour of Porto, Visit a Canning Factory

Explore the nooks and crannies of historic Porto on a guided tour

This morning, you'll meet a local guide for a private tour of Porto. During this three-hour excursion, you'll stroll down Avenida Boavsita, the city's main thoroughfare. As you walk, your guide will reveal insight into the city's history, like how Porto gained the nickname "Invicta" (Unbeaten City).

You'll also explore the city center—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—to admire renowned Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and neoclassical monuments and sites, including São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, Lello Bookshop, Bolhão Market, and Porto Cathedral. After visiting the 12th-century Porto Cathedral and admiring its superb silver altarpiece, you'll finish the tour along the banks of the Douro River near the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge.

Later, you'll visit a small-scale canning factory. During this two-hour tour, you'll see how Portugal's famous gourmet-quality tinned fish is made. What makes this purveyor unique is its handmade processing techniques, which have been used here for the last century. Tinned fish isn't just a delicacy in Portugal; it's a traditional way of life that continues to adapt to the times.

Day 17: Private Cooking Class & Market Visit

Shop for ingredients at a bustling local market before today's cooking class
Today starts with a visit to the local market to meet the locals, see what's in season, and pick up produce for your private cooking class with a top Portuguese chef. After gathering everything you need, you'll meet up with your chef/instructor to begin this workshop, during which you'll discover the traditional flavors of Portuguese cuisine. Over four hours, you'll learn unique cooking techniques you can bring back home. When the work is done, you'll sit down to enjoy your culinary creations—all paired with local wines.

Day 18: Train to Lisbon, Evening of Fado

Enjoy an evening of traditional fado music

After a final riverfront breakfast in Porto, you'll transfer to the station and catch a train for the 3.5-hour ride south to Lisbon. Located at the mouth of the Tagus River, Portugal's capital is four centuries older than Rome (the Phoenicians first settled in Lisbon around 1200 BCE). As such, there's plenty of history written on the cobbled streets here in the form of castles, forts, monasteries, plazas, and more. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city.

Later, head out for dinner and a show at a traditional fado restaurant in the bohemian Bairro Alto neighborhood, where great cuisine and great music come together. Fado is a distinctly Portuguese style of music, born in Lisbon in the early 19th century. Not unlike the tango, this music is defined by its mournful strings and melancholic verses speaking of passion, struggle, romance, and unrequited love. You can't find a better dinner show in the city.

Day 19: Visit Lisbon's Markets, Local Dinner Party

Sit down for a home-cooked meal at a dinner party in Lisbon

Head out this morning and discover the soul of Lisbon on a self-guided tour of its markets and bazaars. These are excellent places to meet locals and buy authentic food and souvenirs. The markets here offer something for everyone, be it fresh produce, traditional handicrafts, vintage clothing, or contemporary urban arts and crafts. You can start at Mercado da Ribeira, the city's largest indoor marketplace. It spans a whopping 32,908 feet (10,000 m).

The most famous shopping hub is the Feira da Ladra flea market, which abounds with vintage clothes and quirky antiques. The market is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in Campo de Santa Clara, near São Vicente de Fora Monastery. Also around Lisbon are smaller markets popular with a younger crowd, like the Feira das Almas, a monthly art and flea market. If you're here on a Sunday, visit the trendy market at LX Factory, where you can browse vintage items, artworks, handmade jewelry, and more.

Later, enjoy a homemade dinner in Lisbon! This evening, you're invited to a private home to dine with a local family. Enjoy traditional Portuguese hospitality at this informal and relaxed dinner accompanied by other like-minded guests. Throughout this three-course meal paired with local wine, you'll exchange stories and have the chance to chat with your host about daily life in Portugal. At the end of the evening, you'll receive a souvenir to take back home.

Day 20: Free Day in Lisbon

Tour Lisbon's highlights, like the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery

Today is all yours to explore Lisbon on your own. As you've no doubt learned by now, the options for fun and culture in Lisbon are inexhaustible. If you like, consider checking out one of its fine museums. The Gulbenkian Museum, for example, houses an impressive art collection spanning various periods and cultures, while the National Museum of Ancient Art is known for its extensive collection of Portuguese and European works.

For some aquatic fun, head to the Oceanarium. One of the largest indoor aquariums in Europe, it features an impressive collection of marine life from various ecosystems, including sharks, rays, tropical fish, and sea otters. Or get lost on Lisbon's windy cobbled streets in historic neighborhoods like the Alfama district and Bairro Alto. Definitely don't miss 16th-century UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Belém Tower and the awe-inspiring Jerónimos Monastery.

Day 21: Depart Lisbon

Sun setting over Lisbon's famous seven hills

Unfortunately, you've reached the last course on this delicious culinary journey across the Iberian Peninsula. Savor one last Portuguese breakfast at the hotel before transferring to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe Travels!

More Great Spain Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Spain? Check out these other Spain itineraries, explore different ways to spend three weeks in Spain and Portugal, or discover the best time to visit Spain.


Map of Culinary Journey Through Spain & Portugal - 21 Days
Map of Culinary Journey Through Spain & Portugal - 21 Days