Photo Tour to Spain and Portugal
March 19 - 31, 2020
Jim likes variety in his photo tours, and this remarkable itinerary to Spain and Portugal definitely has many different types of awesome subject matter to photograph. Cathedrals, palaces, forts, sea caves, theaters, ancient Roman ruins, night cityscapes, and flamenco dancing give you a sense of the wonderful photo opportunities you'll have on this trip. Jim helps you understand how to shoot in challenging situations such as in low light environments, from a moving boat, where no tripods are allowed, in contrasty settings, and more. Don't miss this fabulous learning experience in which you'll see and photograph magnificent subjects in two of Europe's most photogenic countries.
Tour Policies (please read)
Visit the photo gallery
Day 1, March 19, Thursday
Depart from home so you arrive in Barcelona, Spain on March 19. A morning or early afternoon arrival is ideal because that gives you time to rest and then do twilight and night photography. Take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, and we meet as a group in the lobby at 5:30pm for a discussion of the upcoming tour followed by a welcome dinner and evening photography. The Sagrada Familia Church by Gaudi looks incredible at night. Overnight Barcelona.
Day 2, March 20, Friday
The entire day today is devoted to photographing Antoni Gaudi’s architecture. His world-famous work is simply outrageous, and it’s a lot of fun taking pictures of such unusual structures. We start with the Sagrada Familia church whose interior is simply breathtaking. You’ll want the widest lens in your photo backpack to dramatize an interior that is already ultra dramatic. This is the perfect time to practice HDR. Following this, we will visit many of Gaudi’s masterpiece creations and take unforgettable pictures. After dinner, we’ll have another beautiful location for twilight photography. Overnight Barcelona.
Day 3, March 21, Saturday
This morning we get up early and drive to the top of Tibidabo Mountain to photograph the Sacred Heart Cathedral at sunrise. It’s a beautiful landscape, and with the impressive building in the foreground, it’s an amazing shot. We return to the hotel for breakfast, and then go to the impressive Palau de la Musica Catalana and take a tour of the interior. It is renowned for its spectacularly ornate decor inside the building as well as its ornamental balcony. The lavishly decorated auditorium is built around an eye-catching stained glass skylight. After lunch, we visit the Barcelona Aquarium and photograph everything from a giant octopus to a brilliantly colored starfish. Jim will explain how to get the best results for aquarium photography. This evening, we return to the Musica Catalana for a performance of flamenco dancing. Overnight Barcelona.
Day 4, March 22, Sunday
After breakfast, we take a morning flight to Lisbon, Portugal and transfer to the hotel. Following lunch, we head to the National Carriage Museum to photograph the elaborate, luxurious 17th and 18th-century carriages of kings and queens. We next visit the 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery where Vasco de Gama and his crew spent their last night in Lisbon before they sailed for India. We will take pictures of the dramatic architecture, both interior and exterior. After dinner, we will capture the Monument of the Discoveries at twilight reflecting beautifully in a pool of water. Afterwards, we stop by the Oriente train station to photograph the amazing, ultra-modern lines. Overnight Lisbon.
Day 5, March 23, Monday
This morning we head to Sintra, a city adjacent to Lisbon, to photograph the beautiful 19th century Pena Palace, the greatest example of Romanticism in Portugal. The palace sits on a hill in the Sintra Mountains, and in early morning light, the bright colors of the palace look super saturated. We take a tour of the palace and admire the lavish interiors. Following lunch, we head to old town in Lisbon to photograph the beautiful ruins of the gothic church in the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Lisbon. After dinner, we will photograph the old town as well as the Castle of St. George at twilight. There is a terrace belonging to a bar that offers the perfect vantage of the city, a colonial church, and the castle. Overnight Lisbon.
Day 6, March 24, Tuesday
After breakfast, we depart for the southern coast of Portugal. Our first stop is Almancil, a small town where the classically beautiful interior of St. Lawrence Church is decorated with the famous Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. In the nearby town of Faro, we next visit the macabcre Church of Bones. On display are the bones of 1245 monks whose bones were displaced when the ossuary was built. The walls are constructed from femurs with mortar, and the highlight of the structure is a complete skeleton covered in gold that hangs at the front of the chapel. Next, we’ll visit the Cathedral of Faro and photograph the old part of the town with its beautiful stonework. In the late afternoon, we will find a particularly striking section of rocky coastline for sunset pictures. This is a great time to practice long exposures with a neutral density filter. Overnight Faro.
Day 7, March 25, Wednesday
We leave our hotel early this morning to climb aboard a small boat for a tour of the most photogenic sea caves. The first one we visit is the most spectacular -- Benagil Beach Cave. We will photograph it from the sand before other tourists arrive, and with a wide angle lens, this seascape shot will definitely have the ‘wow’ factor. We seek out other caves and rock formations in the early morning light, and the entire tour takes three hours. After lunch, we’ll visit several churches with stunning interiors, and for sunset we’ll again use long exposures with neutral density filters to smooth the ocean into a magical blue ethereal surface that contrasts with sharp rock formations. Overnight Faro.
Day 8, March 26, Thursday
After a sunrise shoot at the beach followed by breakfast, we head east this morning and cross the border into Spain. We arrive in Seville and check into our hotel, and then we explore this very dynamic city with magnificent medieval architecture. We take a tour of the Alcazar Palace followed by a visit to the awesome cathedral -- the third largest in the world -- with its dramatic gothic architecture and a ceiling height of 138 feet! After dinner, we photograph the spectacular Plaza de Espana at dusk and twilight. Overnight Seville.
Day 9, March 27, Friday
This morning we photograph the Plaza Espana early in the morning for the beautiful light and when very few people are there. We then explore Maria Luisa Park nearby and photograph the beautiful reflections in the pond plus the stunning pavilion surrounded by lush vegetation. We return to the hotel for breakfast, and Jim will conduct a critique session of your photography thus far. The early afternoon is at your leisure, and then we meet in the lobby of the hotel and go to Plaza Triunfo for late afternoon photography. After dinner, our twilight photo session will be at Las Setas, the largest wooden structure in the world. Illuminated at night, we’ll be able to take surrealistic images of this wild and crazy structure -- from below and along the walkway that is part of the structure. Overnight Seville.
Day 10, March 28, Saturday
We depart from Seville after breakfast and head toward Merida, Spain where we photograph the stunning ruins of a 1st century A.D. Roman theater. It is one of the best preserved ancient sites from the Roman empire. From here we head west toward Portugal. This is our longest drive of the trip (4 hours), but we break it up by stopping in Evora to photograph another church of bones. We continue on and arrive in Obidos and check into our castle hotel which is very photogenic at night. Overnight Obidos Castle.
Day 11, March 39, Sunday
After breakfast, we drive a short distance to photograph a fort situated just off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It is surrounded by azure water and there is a long, serpentine walkway that leads from the land to the castle. This makes a classic leading line. We then turn north and stop at Batalha Monastery. The stunning 16th-century structure is so huge and so ornate (its style is called ‘flamboyant gothic’) that it took over a century to build. The way the light and shadow play on the carved doorways, arches, and corridors is magical. We continue north and reach Porto where we check into our hotel, freshen up, and then begin our explorations of this beautiful port city. We will photograph the extraordinary blue tile facade of Santo Ildefonso Church and the Porta da Vila. We will also drive to a fantastic overview of the city and photograph sunset and twilight looking down on an impressive bridge. Overnight Porto.
Day 12, March 30, Monday
After breakfast, we will photograph the remarkable interior of a famous bookstore that has a red, art deco staircase. This is a lot of fun! We then visit St. Francis Church and the Porto Cathedral, and after lunch you’ll have some free time to do wine tasting, photograph the harbor, and explore some of Porto’s alleyways. We have our farewell dinner this evening in a lovely restaurant, and then we can do twilight and night photography of the port. Overnight Porto.
Day 13, March 31, Tuesday
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight home, knowing we've seen and photographed many of the great places in Europe.
Tour cost: $5950
Single supplement: $1150
Flight from Barcelona to Lisbon: $185
Includes: 12 nights lodging, all ground transportation, all breakfasts, welcome and farewell dinners, all entrance fees, boat tour, and flamenco dancing performance.
Not included: International airfare, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, and items of a personal nature.