Enduringly popular with tourists the globe over; Portugal, Spain and the Canary Islands have much to boast in the pages of holiday brochures. Whether you’re looking for year-round sun, quiet fishing villages, incredible night life or some of the world’s best beaches; these two nations and the attached islands can compete in almost every holidaymaker’s destination criteria contest.
Regularly visited by the world’s leading cruise lines; Portugal, Spain and the Canaries can be explored and enjoyed from the sea – whether you’re visiting the popular beach resorts or twisting inland to experience the unspoilt beauty of two of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious civilisations.
Countries: Portugal, Spain
Number of Port Cities: 46
Busiest Port: – Barcelona – 2.3million Passengers/Year
Popular Ports: Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, Valencia, Lisbon, Oporto, Lanzarote, Tenerife
Regular Visitors: Norwegian Epic, Independence of the Seas, Queen Mary 2, P&O Britannia, Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Navigator of the Seas, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, Celebrity Silhouette
Must Visit Cities
Enigmatic Madrid is Spain’s capital built up of elegant boulevards and manicured parks. A notable proponent of classical European art, Madrid’s Prado Museum boasts works by the likes of Spanish masters, Goya and Velázquez.
The Portuguese capital Lisbon is perched atop innumerate hills on the country’s coastline. Dating back to the Neolithic Period, few cities can compare to Lisbon when it comes to history, and much of this is still on show in the form of ancient castles and city walls.
Perched up in the Spanish Basque region, Bilbao, is a city fiercely proud of its heritage and culture. From the food to the language, the Basque like to do everything slightly different to the rest of Spain – typified by the reluctance of their football team, Athletic Bilbao, to field players who were born outside of the Basque region.
Las Palmas is the most populous city in the Canary Islands and the capital of Gran Canaria. A hugely popular tourist destination, the city boasts four main beaches as well as a large number of parks and squares. For those looking for a little nightlife, the historic district of Vegueta is packed full of bars and nightclubs.
A beneficiary of San Antonio and Ibiza Town’s flytrap hold on young revellers, the Ibizan beach, Cala Llentrisca, is almost guiltily untouched and unspoilt. The turquoise waters and beautiful sands stretching out in front of you may only be 15 miles from the hedonism, but they could not seem further away in truth.
Found on Spain’s ‘Green Coast’, the city of Gijon is hidden away from the tourist swarms and the sweltering heat of the south. Made up of beautiful beaches and hidden coves, Gijon is a relaxing, restorative retreat benefitting from stunning scenery and authentic Spanish charm. And if that is not enough, Gijon is home to the International Bagpipe Museum.
Located in the heart of Portugal’s Alentejo region, Evora is a beautiful walled city made up of winding streets and ancient walls. And if the town’s history is not enough to keep your attention, the region is renowned for its wine production so there are plenty of vineyard tours to undertake.
The Canary Islands are made up of more than just the major four islands, and the smallest of all, El Hierro, is more than worth a visit. The amazing volcanic island has become an open secret amongst walkers and cyclists who enjoy the lunar-esque backdrops, crystal clear waters and incredible vegetation.