The capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. Spreading out along the right bank of the Taugus, its downtown, the Baixa, is located in the 18th century area around Rossio. The Alfama, one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon, still retains much of its original layout since it largely survived the earthquake of 1755.
Cadiz, called "the cup of silver," takes its name from the silvery harbor and sparkling atmosphere. It is almost African in appearance - its streets are lined with plam trees, its churches topped with domed cuppolas, and its white houses shaded by orange trees.
Cádiz is the most southern province of the Iberian Peninsula. It is extremely rich in natural beauty and some of the most important Natural Parks of Spain and Europe are found here: Sierra de Grazalema and los Alcoronocales. Both are rich in flora and fauna, including species under threat of extinction. Many birds find here their resting and feeding place just after or before making the jump from or to Africa.
Take a tour to Seville, the irresistible capital and cultural center of Andalusia with its colorful and festive lifestyle.
Gibraltar, UK (overnight)
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. It has an area of 2.6 sq miles and a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region. At its foot is the densely populated city area, home to almost 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.
Looming like some great ship off southern Spain, Gibraltar is a fascinating compound of curiosities. Despite bobbies on the beat, red post boxes and other reminders of 1960s England, Gibraltar is actually a cultural cocktail with Genoese, Spanish, North African and other elements which have made it fantastically prosperous. Naturally, the main sight is the awesome Rock; a vast limestone ridge that rises to 1,400 feet, with sheer cliffs on its northern and eastern sides. For the ancient Greeks and Romans the two great rocks marked the edge of the ancient world. Gibraltar’s location and highly defensible nature have attracted the covetous gaze of military strategists ever since.
Malaga is the major coastal city of Andalucia and is a genuine and typical Andaluz city with a gritty individualism untouched by tourism and, to a large extent, the passage of time. The Moors occupied the city until the mid-15th century, after which it grew to become one of the foremost merchant centers in the entire Iberian Peninsula. This illustrious past has left its imprint on the historic center, particularly around La Alcazaba, a fortress which dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum. Also worth a visit is the nearby castle which was rebuilt by the Moors and is today a traditional parador (state hotel) with superb panoramic views.
During the nineteenth century, Malaga was a popular winter resort for the wealthy famed for its elegance and sophistication. The impressive park on Calle Alameda dates back to this era and is recognized as being one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe. Pablo Picasso is the city’s famous son, and there are several galleries showing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts, adjacent to the Cathedral. His birthplace in Plaza Merced is today an archive of his life and works and open to the public - free of charge. Málaga's main theater is the Theatro Cervantes, where Antonio Banderas still visits.
As well as being a cultural center, Malaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. The choice is unlimited and, on the whole, reasonable, with some bars offering a menu of the day with bread and wine for as little as 700 pesetas. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food. The best known local fare in Malaga is pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish, including small sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice cold fino at one of the many old fashioned bodegas in town. But it is El Palo, to the east of the city which is a typical fisherman’s village and the place to go if you want that veritable ‘catch of the day’ freshness. Try a tapas and a glass of Malaga wine at Malaga's oldest tapas bar called 'Antigua Casa de la Guardia'. Keep to the north side of the Alameda and find no. 16. Malaga is always closed for the siesta period, so this is a perfect time for a long relaxing lunch.
These days, Malaga prides itself on being a modern city with the heart of commerce dominated by Calle Larios which is the local Bond Street equivalent. This is the recommended place to start exploring the city as it is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent Renaissance cathedral which offers daily guided tours. Garden lovers won't be disappointed in Malaga either. In the center of the city is the beautiful Alameda Gardens, and just outside on the way to Antequera one finds the extensive Jardines de la Concepcion. Málaga airport is one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals on charter flights from Northern Europe using Malaga airport as a gateway to the Costa del Sol.
Located on the southeast coast of Spain in a beautiful bay, Almeria was once a thriving Moorish capital said to rival Granada in splendor. It has a 10th-century Moorish castle, the Alcazaba, which is the best remaining example of Moorish military building.
Other sights of interest include a fortified cathedral, built in the 1500´s when pirates terrorized this coast. Also of note is Almeria´s cave quarter, the Barrio de la Chanca.
The Almeria area has many beaches, castles, and quaint villages. For beach lovers, warm weather comes even earlier here than in the rest of mainland Spain, so Almeria should be considered for early or late season beach trips.
While in the Almeria province, also consider visiting the Tabernas Desert, which was used for a number of the ¨spaghetti western¨ movies as well as the film ¨Lawrence of Arabia.¨ Some of the old film sets still remain.
Cartagena is a Mediterranean port city and naval station in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. As far back as the sixteenth century it was one of the most important naval ports in Spain. It is a walled town and has a fine harbour defended by forts.
Cartagena has many archaeologic sites. Ruins identified as a temple to Melqart have been uncovered. Throughout the old centre you can find museums with remains of Roman buildings.
Palma de Majorca, Spain
Majorca is an island of emerald mountains, turquoise seas, lemon and orange orchards, olive groves, and cedar-studded hills. In Palma, the capital, you’ll find a dramatic seafront cathedral to explore and leafy promenades to stroll. Visit the Arab Baths for a glimpse of the town’s Moorish past. Or simply enjoy the sun, sand, and sea that have beguiled celebrities, jet setters, and royal families for years.
Towering over the harbor, Palma's enormous Gothic cathedral is a powerful symbol of the religious fervor which gripped all of Spain shortly after the defeat of the Moors. Built by Jaumé I, its vast open nave and soaring Gothic columns have been added to over the centuries. Behind the Cathedral, a maze of twisting streets leads to designer boutiques and open-air markets.
Capital of proud Catalonia, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city like no other. Old and new combine in Barcelona; narrow Gothic Quarter alleyways contrast with grand boulevards. Everywhere, the city celebrates the work of Gaudi, its surreal moderniste hometown architect. The city also boasts an incredible collection of Picasso’s work. Stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s wide tree-lined boulevard and enjoy the street carnival. Enjoy delectable tapas in the many restaurants and bars.