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PORTUGAL & SPAIN

School trips to Portugal have grown in popularity due to the country’s diverse culture and phenomenal landscape. Soccer is taken very seriously in Portugal and they play at a high level, allowing for great competition and wonderful training and experience for students. Although Portugal as a destination comes at a moderate cost, the uniqueness of culture and destination are well worth the price. Not only will you find a high level of school soccer, but you will be able to immerse yourself in the culture. With a great deal to see and do, you will be able to fit in three destinations within Portugal into a 10 day itinerary.  Don’t miss out on the great experience that Portugal has to offer.

Spain at a glance: Spain is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations for its beaches, islands, UNESCO World

Heritage sites, spectacular and diverse countryside, buzzing nightlife, delicious cuisine and world-famous fiestas. Divided into five autonomous regions, the most popular is Andalusia, home to Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Seville and Cordoba, with incredible Moorish heritage. Its wide cultural and geographic diversity fascinates while the outdoor activities thrill and delight.

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VISA REQUIREMENTS

South African nationals who wish to travel to Portugal |Spain must be in possession of a visa, in order to cross external borders for stays in the Schengen Area of no more than three months (90 days) in a period of six months (180 days) from the date of entry into the Schengen Area.

Please apply for your visa at the consulate or embassy of the country of your main destination.

Visa Cost: €80 plus a visa service fee of approximately R504

Compulsory Vaccinations Required: No.

Please note: Visa and vaccination information is correct at time of publish and are subject to change

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

Winter sports: September/October and beginning March

Summer sports: June/July

Cultural: We recommend traveling during off seasons – March and April as well as August – October, although there are amazing festive festivals for Saints in June/July period.

AREAS TO VISIT AND THEIR MAIN ATTRACTIONS

PORTUGAL

LISBON

Spread across seven hills and straddling the Tagus River, Lisbon enthralls from the first with its attention-grabbing Moorish castle, whimsical Manueline architecture nodding to the Age of Discovery, and vintage trams rattling from one landmark, gallery and hilltop lookout to the next.

São Jorge Castle crowns a hill above the historic centre, Lisbon’s fortress transports you back to the Middle Ages. It dates to the 11th century when the city was under Moorish rule, though a settlement has been here since the 7th century BC, as the archaeological site reveals. Head up here for far-reaching views from the pine-shaded ramparts (it’s a great place to play ‘spot the landmark’), a peek through the camera obscura and a shot of history at the museum.

Carmo Convent: With the arches and pillars of its nave open to the sky, the enigmatic ruins of this Gothic convent catch your eye as you wander Lisbon’s smart Chiado district. Founded as a convent for the Carmelite order in 1389, it was ravaged by the 1755 earthquake. Its archaeology museum showcases a chapel, beautifully tiled with baroque azulejos, alongside artefacts from prehistoric tools to Moorish friezes and pre-Columbian pottery.

Sé Cathedral is Lisbon’s fortified cathedral – one of the city’s greatest icons. It was built high and mighty above the ruins of a mosque by Portugal’s first king, Afonso I, after the city was recaptured from the invading Moors.

Lisbon Oceanarium: The centrepiece of Lisbon’s cutting-edge Parque das Nações district, this whopper of an aquarium is Europe’s biggest (and arguably best), recreating the Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Puffins, penguins, jellyfish, sunfish, stingrays and – ramping up the cute factor – playful sea otters all splash around in enormous tanks. Should you so wish, you can even spend a night with the sharks.

Belém Tower is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its role in protecting Portugal’s coast during the Age of Discoveries and later. Portraying a combination of Gothic and Manueline architecture like the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower attracts visitors for its appearance as well as its role in history.

Jerónimos Monastery: When King Manuel I wanted to shout about Portugal’s colonial triumphs in 1501, he gave the go-ahead to build this monastery in fanciful Manueline style. Now part of a Unesco World Heritage site, the monastery is a visual feast, with intricately wrought stonework, plaited arches and twisted turrets in the cloisters and the cross rib-vaulted church where navigator Vasco da Gama lies buried.

Castelo dos Mouros: Perched above thickly wooded, boulder-speckled hills in the dreamy Unesco World Heritage town of Sintra, the romantic ruins of this medieval Moorish castle wow with views reaching as far as the Atlantic on clear days. It’s well worth the hike up for the panorama from the snaking ramparts alone

PORTO

Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes.

São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings.

Spend the weekend at one of the many markets with fresh local produce as well as clothes and souvenirs from the locals.

No matter where you visit in Portugal, fitting in time for the beach is a must. The coast in the north is a bit more rugged and very romantic, and Porto’s Foz do Douro also has the Pergola da Foz which adds an extra enchanting element.

Visit a festival: The best time to do this is summer when all of Portugal comes alive with music, outdoor cooking, and plenty of parties. Festivals are a great way to get an authentic taste of Portuguese culture.

SPAIN

MADRID

Spain’s central capital, is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks, historical gems and world-class art, to an incredible food scene and picturesque parks.

Plaza Mayor: Madrid’s main square holds centuries of history in its cobbles, and has been the scene of everything from coronations to bullfights and beheadings. These days it’s a nice place in which to stroll and sample one of the city’s famed foods: bocadillo de calamares (a calamari sandwich) from one of the bars surrounding the square.

Royal Palace: the official residence of Spain’s royal family is these days used for official ceremonies only (King Felipe and Queen Letizia live in the more modest Zarzuela Palace just outside Madrid). Members of the public can visit the palace and check out centuries worth of paintings, furniture and armour.

Madrid is home to a collection of the world’s best art galleries, and the three most famous are handily located close to each other in a triangle. The Prado (classical paintings), The Reina Sofia (modern art) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza (a little bit of everything) are full of artistic riches well worth exploring.

Madrid’s cathedral (Almudena Cathedral) was consecrated by Pope John Paul on its opening in 1993. Its Baroque exterior matches the older Royal Palace next door, and it was where King Felipe and Queen Letizia married.

BARCELONA

Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its art and architecture. Barcelona has so many beautiful Modernist buildings, Gothic alleyways and Mediterranean beaches surrounded by majestic green hills that you could spend your whole visit just marvelling at the views while walking around.

Sagrada Família church is one of the most popular attractions in Spain – a Catholic basilica designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who was famous for championing the architectural style known as Catalan Modernism or Modernisme. It has been under construction for over 100 years and isn’t expected to be completed until 2026, yet the originality and grandeur of its design attract over 3 million visitors each year and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes.

Park Güell is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Barcelona, and yet what few people know is that it was initially conceived to be a revolutionary housing estate. Antoni Gaudí and his patron and friend Eusebi Güell originally acquired the area and began construction on a model home. When no one invested in the project, they eventually abandoned it, and it was later donated to the local council and transformed into a public park.

Pablo Picasso moved to Barcelona when he was a child and attended the prestigious La Llotja art school before acquiring his first studio in the Gothic Quarter. The city remained an important place for the artist throughout his lifetime, and the Picasso Museum is a testimony to this important relationship.

Look to the horizon from nearly anywhere in Barcelona, and you’ll be able to see the tops of Mount Tibidabo and the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor neatly atop it, sitting alongside the Tibidabo Amusement Park. The oldest functioning amusement park in Spain, it has been open since 1905.

Not only is Camp Nou the home of the world-famous FC Barcelona football team, it’s also the largest football stadium in Europe.

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