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Lisbon to Reykjavik

18 days with Silversea   Rating: Deluxe

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Itinerary
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Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards. Elétricos (trams) clank through the streets, and blue-and-white azulejos (painted and glazed ceramic tiles) adorn churches, restaurants, and fountains. Of course, parts of Lisbon lack charm. Even some downtown areas have lost their classic Portuguese appearance as the city has become more cosmopolitan: shiny office blocks have replaced some 19th- and 20th-century art nouveau buildings. And centenarian trams share the streets with "fast trams" and noisy automobiles. Lisbon bears the mark of an incredible heritage with laid-back pride. In preparing to host the 1998 World Exposition, Lisbon spruced up public buildings, overhauled its subway system, and completed an impressive second bridge across the river. Today the former Expo site is an expansive riverfront development known as Parque das Nações, and the city is a popular port of call for cruises, whose passengers disembark onto a revitalized waterfront. Downtown, all the main squares have been overhauled one by one. In its heyday in the 16th century, Lisbon was a pioneer of the first wave of globalization. Now, the empire is striking back, with Brazilians and people from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa enriching the city’s ethnic mix. There are also more than a few people from other European countries who are rapidly becoming integrated. But Lisbon's intrinsic, slightly disorganized, one-of-a-kind charm hasn't vanished in the contemporary mix. Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are at ease pulling up café chairs and perusing newspapers against any backdrop, whether it reflects the progress and commerce of today or the riches that once poured in from Asia, South America, and Africa. And quiet courtyards and sweeping viewpoints are never far away. Despite rising prosperity (and costs) since Portugal entered the European Community in 1986, and the more recent tourism boom, prices for most goods and services are still lower than most other European countries. You can still find affordable places to eat and stay, and with distances between major sights fairly small, taxis are astonishingly cheap. All this means that Lisbon is not only a treasure chest of historical monuments, but also a place where you won’t use up all your own hard-earned treasure. Though Baixa, or downtown, was Lisbon’s government and business center for two centuries until the mid-20th century, the most ancient part of the city lies on the slopes of a hill to its east. Most visitors start their exploration there, in Alfama. All but the very fittest ride the antique 28 eléctrico (streetcar) most of the way up to Saint George’s Castle (or take the 737 bus or a taxi all the way up). The views from its ramparts afford a crash course in the city’s topography. You can then wander downhill to absorb the atmosphere (and more views) in the winding streets below. There are several museums and other major sights in this area, so give yourself plenty of time. Baixa itself is interesting mostly for its imposing architecture and its bustling squares, as well as an unusual cast-iron elevator that affords yet more panoramic views. But a new design museum is what persuades most visitors to linger. On the slope to the west is the chic Chiado district, traditionally the city’s intellectual center, with theaters, galleries, and literary cafés. A little farther uphill is the Bairro Alto. Originally founded by the Jesuits (whose church is among Lisbon’s finest), it was long known for rather sinful pursuits and today is a great place for barhopping. Both neighborhoods are great places to shop. Modern Lisbon, meanwhile, begins just north of Baixa. The city’s tree-lined central axis, the Avenida da Liberdade, forges up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal roundabout, with a rather formal park beyond. Dotted around the area north of here are major museums and other sights. West of Baixa, along the river, former docklands such as Alcântara are now home to stylish restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the odd museum. Farther west is historic Belém, which boasts yet more museums—and some famous pastries. On the city’s eastern flank, the Parque das Nações has family-oriented attractions and green spaces.
 
Day 2 Oporto, Portugal
Lively, commercial Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Also called Porto for short, the word easily brings to mind the city's most famous product - port wine. Oporto's strategic location on the north bank of the Douro River has accounted for the town's importance since ancient times. The Romans built a fort here where their trading route crossed the Douro, and the Moors brought their own culture to the area. Oporto profited from provisioning crusaders en route to the Holy Land and enjoyed the riches from Portuguese maritime discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries. Later, port wine trade with Britain compensated for the loss of the spice trade and the end of gold and gem shipments from Brazil. In the 19th century, the city went through a period of new prosperity with the rise of industries. In its wake followed the building of workers' quarters and opulent residences. Since the declaration of Oporto as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city aims to build up a cultural reference that will provide it with a new image, based on deep historical roots. Among the attractions that make Oporto such an interesting place are its graceful bridges spanning the Douro River, a picturesque riverfront quarter and, most notable, its world-famous port wine lodges. Although Oporto is a bustling centre and home to many different businesses, the source of its greatest fame is the rich, sweet fortified red wine we know as port.
 
Day 3 La Coruna, Spain
La Coruña, the largest city in Spain's Galicia region, is among the country's busiest ports. The remote Galicia area is tucked into the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula, surprising visitors with its green and misty countryside that is so much unlike other parts of Spain. The name "Galicia" is Celtic in origin, for it was the Celts who occupied the region around the 6th-century BC and erected fortifications. La Coruña was already considered an important port under the Romans. They were followed by an invasion of Suevians, Visigoths and, much later in 730, the Moors. It was after Galicia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Asturias that the epic saga of the Pilgrimage to Santiago (St. James) began. From the 15th century, overseas trade developed rapidly; in 1720, La Coruña was granted the privilege of trading with America - a right previously only held by Cadiz and Seville. This was the great era when adventurous men voyaged to the colonies and returned with vast riches. Today, the city's significant expansion is evident in three distinct quarters: the town centre located along the isthmus; the business and commercial centre with wide avenues and shopping streets; and the "Ensanche" to the south, occupied by warehouses and factories. Many of the buildings in the old section feature the characteristic glazed façades that have earned La Coruña the name "City of Crystal." Plaza Maria Pita, the beautiful main square, is named after the local heroine who saved the town in 1589 when she seized the English standard from the beacon and gave the alarm, warning her fellow townsmen of the English attack.
 
Day 4 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Day 5 Saint Malo (Brittany), France
Thrust out into the sea and bound to the mainland only by tenuous man-made causeways, romantic St-Malo has built a reputation as a breeding ground for phenomenal sailors. Many were fishermen, but others—most notably Jacques Cartier, who claimed Canada for Francis I in 1534—were New World explorers. Still others were corsairs, "sea dogs" paid by the French crown to harass the Limeys across the Channel: legendary ones like Robert Surcouf and Duguay-Trouin helped make St-Malo rich through their pillaging, in the process earning it the nickname "the pirates' city." The St-Malo you see today isn’t quite the one they called home because a weeklong fire in 1944, kindled by retreating Nazis, wiped out nearly all of the old buildings. Restoration work was more painstaking than brilliant, but the narrow streets and granite houses of the Vieille Ville were satisfactorily recreated, enabling St-Malo to regain its role as a busy fishing port, seaside resort, and tourist destination. The ramparts that help define this city figuratively and literally are authentic, and the flames also spared houses along Rue de Pelicot in the Vieille Ville. Battalions of tourists invade this quaint part of town in summer, so arrive off-season if you want to avoid crowds.
 
Day 6 Honfleur, France
Honfleur, the most picturesque of the Côte Fleurie's seaside towns, is a time-burnished place with a surplus of half-timber houses and cobbled streets that are lined with a stunning selection of stylish boutiques. Much of its Renaissance architecture remains intact—especially around the 17th-century Vieux Bassin harbor, where the water is fronted on one side by two-story stone houses with low, sloping roofs and on the other by tall slate-topped houses with wooden facades. Maritime expeditions (including some of the first voyages to Canada) departed from here; later, Impressionists were inspired to capture it on canvas. But the town as a whole has become increasingly crowded since the Pont de Normandie opened in 1995. Providing a direct link with Upper Normandy, the world's sixth-largest cable-stayed bridge is supported by two concrete pylons taller than the Eiffel Tower and designed to resist winds of 257 kph (160 mph).
 
Day 7 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Days 8-9 London (Tower Bridge), England
London is an ancient city whose history greets you at every turn. If the city contained only its famous landmarks—the Tower of London or Big Ben—it would still rank as one of the world's top cities. But London is so much more. The foundations of London's character and tradition endure. The British bobby is alive and well. The tall, red, double-decker buses (in an updated model) still lumber from stop to stop. Then there's that greatest living link with the past—the Royal Family with all its attendant pageantry. To ice the cake, swinging-again London is today one of the coolest cities on the planet. The city's art, style, and fashion make headlines around the world, and London's chefs have become superstars.
 
Day 10 St Peter Port, Guernsey
Cobblestone streets, blooming floral displays, and tiny churches welcome you to this wonderfully pretty harbour. The town of St Peter Port is as pretty as they come, with glowing flower displays painting practically every street corner and window-ledge with colour. As the capital, and main port of Guernsey, St Peter Port puts all of the island’s gorgeous beaches, wonderful history and inspiring stories at your fingertips. Feel the gut punch of the midday gun firing at Castle Cornet, which stands guard over one of the world's prettiest ports. This 800-year-old, Medieval castle offers staggering views of the harbour from its imposing, craggy island location, and you can look out across to the looming shorelines of the other Channel Islands from its weathered battlements. With four well-tended gardens, and five museums offering a rich overview of Guernsey's history, you’ll want to leave a few hours aside to explore the many treasures that lie within the castle’s walls.
 
Day 11 - St Mary's - Tresco (Isles Of Scilly)
St Mary’s is the Isle of Scilly’s largest island with a population of 1800 residents and an area of 6.58 square Kilometres; this is the gateway to the rest of the magnificent islands. Hugh town -a beautiful Old town with its own beach, nature reserve and church is the main attractions of St Mary’s, with tiny streets brimming with shops to pick up the perfect souvenir. St Mary’s is a hidden gem, with long stretches of white sandy beaches and a breath-taking untouched landscape. The coastline holds many archaeological sites along with miles of splendid walks along the coastal and country paths.
 
For many visitors Tresco is the most attractive of the Isles of Scilly. This is especially due to its Abbey Garden, which is home to thousands of exotic plant species from around 80 different countries. Plant collector Augustus Smith began the gardens in the 1830s on the site of an old Benedictine Abbey by channelling the weather up and over a network of walled enclosures built around the Priory ruins. He had three terraces carved from the rocky south slope and maximised Tresco’s mild Gulf Stream climate. Even in mid-winter there still are hundreds of plants flowering here. Another surprising attraction at the Abbey Garden is the collection of figureheads from ships that wrecked among the Isles of Scilly.
 
Day 12 Pembroke, Wales
Pembroke is located on the Pembroke Peninsula of Wales amidst long stretches of sandy beaches and stunning coastal scenery. This historic valley settlement features a number of timeless buildings centered along its quaint Main Street that runs inside the original walls of the town. The municipality itself is surrounded by residential estates, farmland and woods along the estuary of the River Cleddau. Pembroke’s rich history dates back to the 11th century when the namesake was little more than a timber fortification on the banks of the Pembroke River. In 1457, this scenic spot was the birthplace of Henry VII of England, also known as Henry Tudor.
 
Day 13 Iona, Scotland
With a population of 120 residents, Iona is Located off the Southwest of Mull. The island is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide but draws in thousands of visitors each year due to its natural beauty and historical interest. Saint Columba and his fellow monks landed here in 563. This beautiful stretch of coastline brings out the true beauty of Iona facing onto the Gulf Stream that gives the island its mild climate. Located to the south of the road lies Sìthean Mòr (Large fairy hill) and alternatively known as the Hill of Angels, this is said to have been the setting for many rituals and traditions dating far back in history. This wonderful highlight, Iona Abbey was founded by Saint Columba in 563 and is said to have survived many Viking attacks. Although little remains of the monastic buildings of this period, the magnificent Abbey is the main attraction.
 
Day 14 Fort William, Scotland
Flanked by the UK’s tallest mountain on one side and Loch Linnae on the other, Fort William – or “Bill” to the locals – is what you imagine when it comes to Scottish Highland towns. Verdant moors stretch as far as the eye can see, pastel painted houses front the water and it is not unusual to see pipers in kilts on street corners. But while Fort William may play to certain critics’ idea of a cliché, the pretty town goes far beyond tartan cushions and wee drams of Scotch (although there is a fair amount of this too!). Fort William has everything you could possibly want while in the Highlands. The High Street has plenty to keep you occupied with its good range of shops, cafes and restaurants - a lunch of locally caught seafood or the iconic haggis, neeps and tatties is a must. Because of its privileged location sitting in the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis (standing a proud 1,345 metres high) outdoor enthusiasts are especially well catered for. Unsurprisingly so, as Fort William is considered the UK’s outdoor capital. But it’s not all high adrenaline sports. Certainly, those who want to climb up a rock or hurtle down white water rapids will find their nirvana, but if gentle fishing, a quiet county walk or curling up in cosy pubs warmed by an open fire are more your glass of whiskey then you’re catered for. The West Highland Museum in the centre of the town is excellent, while St Andrew's Church, towards the north end of the main street, has a very attractive interior. Also well worth a look is St Mary's Catholic Church, on Belford Road, and no visit should be considered complete without a look at the Old Fort, almost invisible to passing traffic. Add a wildlife cruise amid stunning scenery and the steam train that took Harry to Hogwarts and you can easily spend a day in this lovely port.
 
Day 15 St. Kilda, Scotland
St Kilda is a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some 40 nautical miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. The stunning cliffs and sea stacks are home to the most important seabird breeding colony in northwest Europe. St Kilda is one of the few places in the world to have received dual World Heritage status from UNESCO in recognition of its Natural Heritage and cultural significance. Village Bay on the island of Hirta once supported a population of over 200, but the last islanders left in the 1930s. Recent restoration work on the village by the National Trust for Scotland offers a marvellous link with the past. One of the caretakers acts as shopkeeper and postmaster for any visitors who might like to send a postcard home from St. Kilda.
 
Day 16 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Day 17 Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland - Cruise Surtsey
The name Vestmannaeyjar refers to both a town and an archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. The largest Vestmannaeyjar island is called Heimaey. It is the only inhabited island in the group and is home to over 4000 people. The eruption of the Eldfell Volcano put Vestmannaeyjar into the international lime light in 1973. The volcano’s eruption destroyed many buildings and forced an evacuation of the residents to mainland Iceland. The lava flow was stopped in its tracks by the application of billions of liters of cold sea water. Since the eruption, life on the small island outpost has returned to the natural ebb and flow of a small coastal fishing community on the edge of the chilly and wild North Atlantic.
 
On 14 November 1963, a trawler passing the southernmost point of Iceland spotted a column of smoke rising from the sea. Expecting to find a burning boat they were surprised to find instead, explosive volcanic eruptions. They were witnessing the birth of a new island. Columns of ash reached heights of almost 30,000 feet in the sky and could be seen on clear days as far away as Reykjavík. The eruptions continued for three and a half years, ending in June 1967. Once formed, Surtsey was 492 feet above sea level and covered an area of almost 2 square miles.  The island was named after the Norse fire god Surtur. It is a perfect scientific study area used to understand the colonization process of new land by plant and animal life.
 
Day 18 Reykjavik, Iceland
Sprawling Reykjavík, the nation's nerve center and government seat, is home to half the island's population. On a bay overlooked by proud Mt. Esja (pronounced eh-shyuh), with its ever-changing hues, Reykjavík presents a colorful sight, its concrete houses painted in light colors and topped by vibrant red, blue, and green roofs. In contrast to the almost treeless countryside, Reykjavík has many tall, native birches, rowans, and willows, as well as imported aspen, pines, and spruces. Reykjavík's name comes from the Icelandic words for smoke, reykur, and bay, vík. In AD 874, Norseman Ingólfur Arnarson saw Iceland rising out of the misty sea and came ashore at a bay eerily shrouded with plumes of steam from nearby hot springs. Today most of the houses in Reykjavík are heated by near-boiling water from the hot springs. Natural heating avoids air pollution; there's no smoke around.
Map
All This Included
Celebrate summer’s arrival in northern Europe’s most beautiful spots. Leaving Porto – and its eponymous wine – travel to Brittany and Normandy to see the famous Bayeux Tapestry, walk the D-Day beaches and why not shuck a few oysters? Two days is London offers urban respite before sailing north towards Scotland’s royal heritage. Iceland’s long days and bountiful nature top this voyage off to perfection.
  • 1 night hotel
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Spacious suites
  • Butler service in every suite
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Personalised service – nearly one crew member for every guest
  • Choice of restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • In-suite dining and room service
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Onboard gratuities
Accommodations
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.