Piersons Trip Around the World

Spain & Portugal

Spain & Portugal

Now five months into our around-the-world family adventure and we’ve finally reached a place that actually feels like another country – the first time not everyone we come in contact with speaks English. It’s been a little refreshing and fun for us all to work on our Spanish while we navigate our way through the Spanish countryside. After the first two weeks, our Spanish skills were improving, we were gaining confidence with each passing day. Then, we crossed into Portugal, and we were really lost when the language changed to one we really knew very little of. Finding our way around trying to communicate when we aren’t surrounded with those who speak our native language all adds to the adventure. 

Our Impressions of Spain & Portugal

Emily P

Spain is good. Our guide with Family Twist was great in Barcelona. You have to try the Tapas bars when you go. 

Angela VI

Angela V

Our tour of Spain began with four nights in Barcelona. We then picked up what would be our rental car for the following month and headed west, driving across the Northern part of the country. Two nights in Bilbao broke up the drive and gave us a chance to visit to the Guggenheim museum and to fill our bellies on Pinxtos. We then continued on to the northwest corner and spent about a week in a small farmhouse just outside of Santiago de Compostela.


After wishing Ma farewell, we headed south and began our drive through Portugal. In a little over a week’s time, we made our way from the top of the country to the bottom, stopping for two nights a time at some wonderful hotels, our favorite being the VilaVita Park hotel on Portugal’s Southern coast. 

Andalucia - two weeks in Southern Spain

After nine nights of hotel hopping, we setteled into the Andalucian lifestyle for our last two weeks in Spain. One week we spent in the town of Alcala la Real, a small town centrally located between Granada and Cordoba. We then finished our tour of Spain with a few nights in the luxurious Westin Palace Hotel Madrid – the perfect place to enjoy our last few nights in the amazing country while making our final preparations before continuing on to Africa.

The properties we visited in Spain & Portugal

Grand Hotel Domine

Gran Hotel Domine is the top hotel in Bilbao, Spain. Located in front of the Guggenheim Museum, the hotel features two restaurants, Beltz and Le Café; Sixty-One Lobby Bar; a rooftop terrace with amazing views of the Guggenheim, and a wellness area with sauna, steam bath, and a spacious gym with views. Timeless elegance and impeccable service distinguish the artsy hotel, the perfect headquarters to discover Rioja, San Sebastiàn, Burgos, and many other gems.

Vidago Palace Hotel

Hidden in the woods, about an hour outside Porto, Vidago Palace is utterly enchanting. The 70-room hotel first opened in 1910, when King Carlos I wanted a luxury spa near Vidago’s legendary waters. In 1936, the estate added a nine-hole golf course and earned a place among Europe’s most prestigious resorts. 

Convento do Espinheiro

As one would expect from the name, many of the heritage room accommodations at Convento do Espinheiro Hotel & Spa were originally monks’ cells. Today, they and the other refined guestrooms are adorned with fine linens and furnishings and with windows facing the surrounding hillsides. The convent and hermitage dates back to the 15th century and is now a national monument in a World Heritage city. 

Santiago Hotel Cooking & Nature

Santiago Hotel offers various types of cooking lessons, culinary experiences, days spent with the Chef, market visits or even picking vegetables and herbs from the Chef’s garden.

A restaurant that is a great Alentejo cuisine with meals that are an invitation to return to the origins. Cooked by Chef Daniel Censi, this kitchen is forged by fire – in the wood oven in Josper and on the milder days of spring and summer in Ofyr.

Vidago Palace Hotel

Hidden in the woods, about an hour outside Porto, Vidago Palace is utterly enchanting. The 70-room hotel first opened in 1910, when King Carlos I wanted a luxury spa near Vidago’s legendary waters. In 1936, the estate added a nine-hole golf course and earned a place among Europe’s most prestigious resorts. 

Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort

Debuting Anantara’s authentic luxury in Europe, Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort offers a landmark of quiet prestige, along southern Portugal’s picturesque Algarve coast. Immerse in Vilamoura’s glamour from a tranquil retreat, overlooking the Victoria golf course.

Revealing a journey of local artistry, the hotel’s sculptures, artwork, paintings and installations create a contemporary Portuguese gallery. Signature luxuries embrace you in spacious rooms, indulgent suites and penthouse prestige. Relax on elegant terraces, refreshed by rolling golf greens and cerulean pools. 

image courtesy of Praia Verde Boutique Hotel

Praia Verde Boutique Hotel

Experience and share the region’s products in our À TERRA restaurant with its wood-oven and healthy, rustic, homemade, delicious cuisine. Enjoy the gym or the swimming pool and pool bar, framed by natural ambience, and indulge yourself in moments of complete relaxation and pure evasion. For the little ones we had a Kids Club. This is the perfect spot for a deserved rest or live unique experiences, all year round, for your pleasure and at your own pace.


Vila Vita Parc

Some 170 breezy, sea-themed rooms and villas are scattered about Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa to provide guests with the ultimate privacy. If it feels a bit too far away after, say, your craniosacral treatment at the spa, a cruise on the yacht or a six-course tasting at the two Michelin-star Ocean, simply let a butler chauffeur you back in a golf buggy. No request is too large or small at this unapologetically plush cliffside resort in Algarve, which offers direct access to the beach and something for everyone, including golf, watersports, ten dining venues and a phenomenal playground for the kids.

Westin Palace Madrid

The Westin Palace, Madrid is ideally located in the heart of Madrid, surrounded by museums like the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza; restaurants; and the shopping district. This five-star hotel has thrived since its opening in 1912. It combines history, architecture, and a breadth of innovative and revitalizing experiences.

Experience Spain

There are many ways to experience Spain- explore a few of the adventures you can enjoy with some of our Premier Preferred Partners! Contact any of our team members for additional information on any of our partners and to discuss which may be the best option for you.


Many of our cruise partners visit Spain. Many of the Ocean cruises include stops along the Mediterranean Coast. Several of the Douro River Cruises offer land based extensions into Northern Spain. 

Small Group Touring

While a cruise is a great way to see several areas and decide which you’d like to return to, land based tours will offer opportunities to get even deeper into the country.

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