The magnificent seven: explore Spain and Portugal on Iona, P&O Cruises' newest ship. From less than £50 per night these 2-week low season no-fly cruises from Southampton offer outstanding value. No other cruise line serves more British holidaymakers on cruises out of the UK. P&O Cruises design their holidays so that the great life on board is infused with British style, quality and innovation.
Studding the Spanish and Portuguese coastlines, Iona’s seven destinations are gateways to iconic sights and unforgettable experiences. Each has a unique cityscape, where past and present play out in a lively mix of architecture and anything-but-everyday life. Walk on golden sands, take a cultural journey through the ages, set your pulse racing in rolling countryside and listen to the heartfelt sounds of local musicians. From proud local traditions to gastronomic delights, we'd like to share with you some of the best reasons to explore these incredible countries.
1. Food & drink. A historic market turned dream food court, Lisbon’s Time Out Market serves up some of the city’s must-try produce, from salt cod and the prego (a beef sandwich with a lick of garlic or tangy mustard) to those little pastry cups of custard perfection, pastéis de nata – the best €1 you’ll ever spend. Or For a hands-on experience, learn to cook the perfect paella in Valencia, where tradition calls for chicken and rabbit. Its success is judged by the socarrat, the crispy crust of rice at the bottom of the pan.
2. Architecture & design. Awe-inspiring architecture peppers each port of call, but special mentions go to Barcelona, Valencia and the dynamic Andalusian duo of Cadiz and Seville. Compact Cadiz is packed with Moorish buildings. Wander its narrow streets, admire the simple elegance of the old cathedral, Santa Cruz Church, then take in the ornate marble exterior of its baroque successor. In Barcelona, the open-air Spanish Village houses 117 full-scale buildings that capture the essence of the country’s architecture, but it’s the whimsical work of architect Antoni Gaudí that famously adorns the city’s streets.
3. Art & crafts. Trace arts and crafts through the ages in Alicante, where standout museums come up trumps: MARQ puts a 21st-century spin on displaying exquisite archaeological finds, while 20th-century gems brighten the walls in MACA. In Malaga, the Picasso Museum salutes the prolific artist in his hometown, but it shares the spotlight with a raft of creative hubs, including buzzing art district Soho. It’s where you’ll find contemporary art museum CAC and is a canvas for striking street art.
4. Action & adventure. A vibrant city in itself, Alicante is also a springboard for an action-packed visit to the Costa Blanca. Journey north and you’ll find a rolling landscape of lush pine forests and fragrant citrus, almond and olive groves stretching out before you. Vigo offers up more action, with Galicia’s longest river, the Miño, providing plenty of white water to satisfy an appetite for adventure.
5. Sporting attractions. The 1992 Olympic Games played a huge role in shaping the Barcelona we know today. Tip your hat to its legacy at the Port Olimpic, where the spectacular Golden Fish sculpture shimmers in the sun & yachts bob in neat rows. Mestalla Stadium in Valencia will rouse more cheers from football fans, while other sports get airtime in an incredible 9km ribbon of parkland that snakes its way through the city in the old Túria riverbed.
6. Beaches. You’ll never be far away from a stunning stretch of sand, and the Costa del Sol triumphs when it comes to resort beaches. Easily reached from Malaga, Benalmádena has almost 10km of beaches to choose from, ranging from quiet coves to lively areas packed with activities. Flying the flag for seaside excellence in Alicante is El Postiguet. Its golden sands and fantastic facilities have earned it a Blue Flag rating, and its proximity to the Old Quarter adds to the charm.
7. Music & dance. The strum of a guitar, the click of fingers, the stomp of feet and rhythmic clapping… Spanish flamenco is one of the most famous musical art forms in the world. For an upbeat audio(visual) experience, check out the city that never sleeps: Barcelona. Salute the sunset with a glass of Catalan cava, then visit the Magic Fountain to watch an explosion of colour as the waters dance to myriad soundscapes spanning Spanish classics to 80s pop.