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Experience a different side of Spain on this new extension to Catalonia. A distinctive region with its own language and unique Catalan culture, Catalonia also hosts the glittering Costa Brava and the mountainous outpost of Montserrat, which you may choose to visit on an easy optional day trip. You’ll begin this journey with an introduction to the seaside splendor of Barcelona, where tapas, ancient Roman ruins, and Antoni Gaudí’s grand masterworks fuse into a global cultural capital and the ultimate foodie destination. Barcelona reared a young Pablo Picasso, who regarded this Catalonian hub as his true home, and the city continues to be a beacon in a region still living on the cutting edge of design, art, and molecular gastronomy.
Take a high-speed train to Barcelona
This morning, enjoy breakfast at your hotel before departing on the high-speed train for thrilling Barcelona. Settle in before enjoying dinner this evening at your hotel.
Panoramic tour of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, and exploring Las Ramblas
Get acquainted with this beautiful Mediterranean city on a panoramic tour, where you’ll see examples of Antoni Gaudí’s distinctive art and architecture — seven monuments collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among them is the soaring La Sagrada Família cathedral, where you’ll skip the line in your small group. Today you’ll also stroll Las Ramblas, a tree-lined pedestrian mall stretching 1.2 kilometers, filled with monuments, shops, and yes, tapas restaurants (perhaps you’ll stop for a bite and enjoy a chance to sip cava sparkling wine independently!). The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said that Las Ramblas was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end." See for yourself why today.
Journey to Montserrat, or explore Barcelona at your own pace
Today, enjoy a day at leisure, or join us for an optional tour to Montserrat, a monastery perched high above the mountains just outside of the city. A popular day trip for locals and visitors alike, you’ll admire resplendent countryside before arriving at the mystical site for faithful pilgrims — who flock to the Virgin Mary statue here — and for hikers and adventure seekers. Vantage travelers will admire all of the sites on a thrilling funicular ride to the monastery, and marvel at its centuries-old courtyard.
On this tour, you'll discover the majestic Montserrat Mountain, marvel at the amazing surroundings, and visit the famous Montserrat monastery complex. After driving through picturesque villages, you'll arrive at the mountain, which rises to an impressive 4,051 feet. Your next stop will be the Royal Basilica of Montserrat, which holds the famous 12th-century Romanesque carving of La Virgen Moreneta, the Black Virgin. The Royal Basilica has been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain for hundreds of years. You'll also enjoy a funicular ride, perfect for soaking in spectacular views of the Catalonian countryside.
This morning, enjoy breakfast at your hotel before departing for the airport and returning home.
Featuring year-round balmy weather and a trademark fortified wine, the Portuguese island of Madeira also boasts a lushness that earned its label as the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic.” During your four-day stay in the lovely island capital of Funchal, you’ll enjoy a half-day city tour and immersion into local island life. You’ll peruse the covered market at the edge of the Old Town and visit a traditional wine cellar, where you’ll savor the island’s titular Madeira wine. You’ll also have the option of an espetada evening complete with dinner and a folklore show, and a chance to explore Madeira’s natural wonders on an island and botanical garden tour. Raise a glass to this oceanic outpost — the perfect complement to your cruise through the mainland!
Fly to Madeira, and an orientation walk through Funchal
This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Madeira, Portugal. Then, join your Vantage City Host for a briefing and an optional short orientation walk in the capital city of Funchal. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps exploring the highlights of this lovely town, including its cathedral or the scenic Santa Caterina Park.
Tour Madeira’s marketplace and Old Town
Set out this morning for a half-day city tour including the marketplace and Old Town. You'll enjoy magnificent city views of Funchal as you take a traditional toboggan or “basket sledge” ride from the town of Monte. Your afternoon is free. Before returning to your hotel, you'll stop at one of Madeira's oldest wine cellars to sample a local vintage. This evening, join our lively optional tour and witness folklore music and dancing at a local restaurant, or experience more of Funchal on your own with a night at leisure.
Enjoy an evening of entertainment with dinner featuring a typical Portuguese dish called espetada, a four-foot skewer of chicken or tender cubes of beef, rubbed in rock salt and marinated in garlic and bay leaves, cooked over a wooden fire. During dinner, enjoy a live performance of Madeira’s traditional dance, which reflects rural patterns of work. Marvel as the dancers bend beneath the weight of imaginary stacks of sugar cane or baskets of bananas as they carry them along the island's steep paths. Some dances date back to the time of Moorish slavery.
Explore Madeira’s lushness on an optional tour
Embark on an optional full-day tour of this magnificent island’s interior, including the botanical garden and the Laurel Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or, craft your own itinerary with a day at leisure.
This day-long tour is a great opportunity to see several faces of Madeira! Your first stop will be at the Botanical Gardens, where you'll have the chance to see examples of the fantastic flora from Madeira (weather permitting). After, you'll climb to the peak of Pico do Arieiro to take in breathtaking views. Then, descend to Ribeiro Frio to visit the trout hatchery, located in a valley amongst lush greenery. Continue your descent to the interior of the island, where you'll enjoy a typical Portuguese lunch. Your tour concludes with short visits to Santana and Machico, a quaint fishing village.
After breakfast, depart for the Funchal airport for your flight home.