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Spain

Passionate, sophisticated and devoted to living the good life, Spain is both a stereotype come to life and a country more diverse than you ever imagined.

Spain’s diverse landscapes from the Pyrenees to the charming coves of the Mediterranean. And everywhere you go, villages of timeless beauty perch on hilltops, huddle in valleys and cling to coastal outcrops as tiny but resilient outposts of Old Spain.

Food and wine are national obsessions in Spain, and with good reason. From tapas in a local bar to a Michelin-starred restaurant, the Spanish food and wine that awaits you is sheer deliciousness!

For all the talk of Spain’s history, this is a country that lives very much in the present and there’s a reason ‘fiesta’ is one of the best-known words in the Spanish language – life itself is a fiesta here and everyone seems to be invited.

Roman ruins, cathedrals of rare power, and jewels of Islamic architecture speak of a land where the great civilisations of history have risen, fallen and left behind their indelible mark. More recently, what other country could produce such rebellious and relentlessly creative spirits as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí and place them front and centre in public life? And here, grand monuments of history coexist alongside architectural creations of such daring that it becomes clear Spain’s future will be every bit as original as its past.

 

Portugal

Portugal is a fascinating destination that blends the charm of ancient town and city centres with a selection of golden sandy beaches.  Outside of the centres of Lisbon and Porto, the country’s best-known holiday region, the Algarve, is famous for its golf courses, lively social scene,  and golden sand beaches and small and sheltered coves. You will still find little inland villages where time seems to have stood still.

Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit. July and August can be very hot, especially in the in the south, though this region is especially mild during the winter months – perfect for a Christmas trip. Madeira and the Azores benefit from the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, so can be visited year-round.

One of the highlights or Portugal is the network of Pousadas.  These heritage hotels are located in rural settings – inside the walls of medieval towns, near the seaside, or in the mountains.  The Pousadas are historical buildings, castles, palaces, and monasteries – all lovingly restored and maintained to reflect the history and cultural traditions of the region in which they are located.

 

Tram on a narrow street of Alfama, Lisbon
Porto city, Portugal