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Trace the coast of France, Spain, and Portugal aboard the National Geographic Orion on a voyage that celebrates the myriad cultures of Iberia and France’s Côte Basque. Immerse yourself in the unique traditions of the Basques, explore the stunning landscapes of Galicia, and discover the importance of Portugal’s Douro River. Along the way, encounter the UNESCO World Heritage sites of medieval Oporto; the
pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela; and the Tower of Hercules—the only well-preserved, working Roman lighthouse in the world.
Spend a day discovering Galicia, collecting mussels with local fishermen, listening to traditional music, and visiting a splendid Galician estate.
Discover an array of architectural masterpieces—from the Roman Tower of Hercules in A Coruña to the soaring metal sheets of architect Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Pay a visit to a port house in Oporto to sample world-renowned port wines.
Experience Basque country from two angles, visiting French markets and villages and enjoying Spanish Basque music and cuisine in San Sebastián.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Bordeaux, France
Arrive in Bordeaux and head out for a winery lunch before embarking the National Geographic Orion . After lunch, take time to settle into life on board before we set sail for Bayonne. (L,D)
Day 2 — Bayonne
Take a walk through the picturesque old port town of Bayonne and learn about the rich chocolate industry for which this area is so well known. On an excursion to former imperial retreat of Biarritz, hike along the coast to the Rock of the Virgin, once used by Napoleon III as an anchoring point. Return to the ship for a free night in Bayonne. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Saint Jean-de-Luz, France/San Sebastián, Spain
Explore both the French and Spanish Basque cultures today. Choose a market excursion in the village of Saint Jean-de-Luz to get an introduction to French Basque culture and cuisine, or journey to the French Basque countryside for a wine and tapas tasting. In Spain’s Basque capital of San Sebastian, discover the connection to the Celts and hear the bouncing rhythms of a trikitixa, a traditional accordion. Cap off the day with a special Basque dinner and a private performance by famous Basque musician Kepa Junkera at a traditional cider house in San Sebastian. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Bilbao
Arrive in Bilbao after lunch. Explore the titanium curves of the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, wander through Bilbao's old quarter, or attend a local cooking class. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — A Coruña
Cruise into A Coruña, passing the impressive Tower of Hercules after lunch. Pay a visit to the tower, the only working Roman lighthouse in the world, visit the local market, and learn about the architectural phenomenon that earned the town the nickname "The Glass City." Take a late afternoon bike ride around the area’s picturesque coastal villages before we sail. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Villagarcia de Arousa, Spain
Anchor in Villagarcia de Arousa and take a day trip to the Galician countryside, where you’ll visit a winery, watch fisherman as they collect mussels, and enjoy the verdant Galician landscapes from the river. Alternatively, travel to Santiago de Compostela, and visit the cathedral that has welcomed millions of pilgrims over the centuries. Enjoy a typical Galician musical performance and a tapas lunch at the adjacent Hostal dos Reis Católicos. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Oporto, Portugal
Arrive in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Oporto in the late morning. The birthplace of port wine, Oporto straddles a gorge on the Douro River, linked by numerous bridges and filled with medieval architecture. See the famous azulejo tiles of the region and take in the views form the iron masterpiece Ponte Dom Luis. Learn the secrets of port-making during a tasting at a port house. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Lisbon, Portugal
Enjoy breakfast onboard before disembarking for your transfer to the airport. (B)
Book now and receive complimentary round-trip international airfare from New York, or choose to apply the savings as a credit to your expedition cost We'll also cover your bar tab on board and all tips for the crew.
Book More and Save
Book two or more European expeditions aboard the National Geographic Orion and save 10% off the expedition cost.
Todd Gipstein has traveled the world as a photographer, writer, producer, and lecturer. He has worked with National Geographic since 1987, where he was for many years a staff executive producer and the Society’s director of multi-image productions. His award-winning shows for the Geographic have dealt with a diverse range of topics, including photography, nature, the environment, history, exploration, travel, and the Geographic itself. His photography has been exhibited in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, and he frequently participates in photography and media festivals in Europe. In addition, Todd has worked alongside, interviewed, and made documentaries about some of the world’s greatest photographers. Todd is a popular and experienced photo instructor, and he leads travel photography seminars for National Geographic Traveler. A graduate of Harvard College, Todd has written two novels, Legacy of the Light and Magician’s Choice. He is also a magician and collector of magic memorabilia. In their not so spare time, he and his wife Marcia, a yoga instructor, are restoring a lighthouse a mile out to sea off the coast of their home in Groton, Connecticut.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.