Portugal, Spain, France – Bays and Islands of Western Europe

The coastline of Western Europe offers a fascinating journey through history and culture. Join MS Midnatsol on this springtime expedition taking you to wonderful port towns and along stunning coastlines. Starting with the dramatic coast of Portugal, we continue north to explore Spain and France before ending our voyage in the Netherlands.

  • See UNESCO World Heritage sites along the European coast
  • Enjoy charming towns and beautiful islands
  • Learn about the history, culture and natural world of the places we visit
  • Exciting and extensive excursion programme
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Itinerary

The itinerary

This is an expedition where weather and wind conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Departure 14 April 2019

Departs from Lisbon, Portugal
Overview

The coast of Europe offers beautiful scenery, interesting ports and stunning cultural and natural heritage. Explore this diverse coastline at a relaxed pace, waking up in your comfortable cabin every morning knowing that you are in for a new and interesting adventure.

UNESCO sites and Port wine

Starting in legendary Lisbon, take some time to explore this fascinating city before embarking MS Midnatsol and sailing for a taste of world-famous Port wine in Oporto. Both cities offer UNESCO sites, historical centres that are deeply charming and a wonderfully laid-back pace of life.

Crossing the border, discover golden sand beaches and gourmet delights at Vigo on Spain's Galicia coast, while architectural delights abound in La Coruna.

Bilbao is the main city of the Basque Region, with an amazing display of architecture – such as the famed Guggenheim Museum.

Next, one of France's best-kept secrets is yours to discover: come ashore in Belle-île, praised for its natural beauty and unique culture that has inspired painters and authors for centuries.

Dunkirk, well-known as the evacuation point for British troops in the Second World War, is a peaceful and inviting spot for visitors today.

Finally, we reach Amsterdam, a city of canals, cafés and culture. The capital of the Netherlands boasts a wealth of museums and art galleries. Take some time to enjoy Amsterdam before heading home.

Day 1
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City of Seven Hills

Lisbon, Portugal

As one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon offers centuries of heritage and charm, and has been influenced by many different cultures over time. It was home to great explorers like Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator. Take your time to explore this fascinating city before embarking on MS Midnatsol.

Lisbon´s historic districts feel like distinct villages as you stroll the charming streets. Visit the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Lisbon has a network of quaint, old-fashioned trams that lurch and screech around the narrow streets, and no visit is complete without taking a ride on one of these classic, pre-war, Remodelado trams. Discover the many hidden gems of Portugal’s capital at your own pace. 

Day 2
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The Home of Port Wine

Leixões / Oporto

From Leixões, it is a short and very interesting trip to one of the last undiscovered European cities: Oporto. This ancient port is steeped in history and tradition, but boasts a modern outlook with bold new architecture. See ornate baroque churches with spectacular interiors as you stroll down the Avenida dos Aliandos. Discover the historic centre, Ribeira, with colourful houses facing the river and its charming boats.

A river cruise in a replica of the old Rabelo boats offers a perfect view over the historic city from the waterside. Oporto is also the home of Port wine, made exclusively in this area. Join a wine tour to visit a historic vineyard and taste this sweet and fortified wine before a delicious Portuguese meal. If you prefer a taste of wilderness, join an excursion to the only national park in Portugal: Gerês.

Day 3
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Photo: simplementeunafoto Photo

Sea, Sun and Tapas

Vigo, Spain

Sailing into the Vigo estuary, we pass the beautiful island of Cíes, a National Park.  An optional excursion will be offered to visit this area, named by the Romans as "the islands of the gods".  The beautiful clear water here is well known for producing fine seafood such as local mussels.  Try some of this local bounty in the traditional tapas, perhaps with some octopus á feira, and wash it down with Albariño, Galicia’s fresh, aromatic white wine. Time to walk off your lunch?  Why not wander through Parque del Castro’s botanical gardens and Roman remains, crowned by a 17th-century fort with panoramic views. If all that is too energetic, Vigo has a plentiful supply of beaches a short taxi (or boat) ride from the town. 

Day 4
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Photo: Anibal Trejo Photo

Iconic Architecture

La Coruna, Spain

La Coruna is a city rich with history. Phoenicians, Celts and Romans ruled here, taking advantage of the fine, sheltered harbour. We sail by the 55m/180ft high Hercules Tower, the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today, on our way into the harbour. Take a walk through the historic city and to take in area´s golden days of the 14th and 15th centuries, when it prospered as the port for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Today the tradition continues, as pilgrims from all over the world start their excursion to Santiago de Compostela in the harbour of La Coruna. Don´t miss the famed Avenida Marina to see the iconic Galician buildings boasting elegant glass facades that have become an architectural symbol for La Coruna. 

Day 5
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Delights of Design

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao is the heart of the Basque Country, successfully mixing traditional culture with a new vision for the future. The city manages to be sophisticated and humming with action, and relaxed at the same time. And Bilbao is an absolute must for design and culture lovers, with the Guggenheim Museum created by Frank Gehry, a Metro system designed by Sir Norman Foster, and a community center designed by Philippe Starck as highlights, but the list goes on and on.

BIlbao also boasts the Casco Viejo, an atmospheric old quarter, full of charming streets, old market and plenty of distinctive, independent shops. At the heart of the Casco are Bilbao’s original seven streets, Las Siete Calles, which date from the 1400s. Explore this wonderful and diverse urban landscape, either on your own or with one of our many excursions. 

Day 6
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Legendary Bay of Biscay

At sea

On our way to France, we will sail the Bay of Biscay, site of countless ship wrecks in the days of square-riggers. Here the Atlantic swell can build up rapidly near the coast, and some of the fiercest weather conditions of the Atlantic can still be witnessed. We will sail safely far out to sea, out of sight of land. Enjoy the salt air, hopefully catch a glimpse of birds and sea mammals and listen to the peaceful sound of the ocean. During the day, you can participate in the interesting lectures by the Expedition team, and maybe hear about the many famous naval engagements that have taken place in the Bay over the centuries.

Day 7
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A Well-kept French Secret

Belle-Île, France

As its name suggests, Belle-île is one of France’s most beautiful islands. With stunning cliffs, quaint seaside hamlets, pastel houses, green countryside and jagged rocky coastlines, Belle-île’s beauty has inspired adventure novelists such as Dumas, as well as impressionist painters like Monet and Matisse. The island is a well-kept secret in France, and now it's your turn to discover it!  The town of Le Palais is the "capital" of the island, situated around the Bassin de la Saline and overlooked by the massive Citadelle. Join one of our several hikes and outings with the Expedition team, or discover this busting towns many markets, shops and sights independently.

Day 8
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The Channel and the Dover Straits

At sea

We sail through the English Channel, which connects the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. This is the world's busiest seaway, with more than 500 ships passing every day. Our observation lounge or on deck are good places to watch vessels from all over the world on their way through this famed waterway. Relax and enjoy the experience of being at sea, share your experiences with fellow adventurers, and join in for fascinating lectures and talks. 

Day 9
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Photo: Vincent Desjardins Photo

A Close Escape

Dunkirk, France

Dunkirk is located on the sand dunes of the North Sea coast. “Dun” is Flemish for dunes, and “kirk” refers to the fine cathedral of Saint Eloi. You might enjoy climbing the belfry steps of the church to be rewarded with a panoramic view over the town, harbour and coast. During the Second World War, a third of a million British and allied soldiers were evacuated from the harbour and beaches in just a few days. The story is retold in the local museum and through a walking tour.  If we are lucky with the weather, you can spend some time enjoying one of the fine local beaches of golden sand.

Day 10
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Amsterdam - Treasures of Art

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam grew from a small fishing village in the 13th century to become one of the most charming and culturally important cities in the world. The city became wealthy as a trading centre with important connections to the Hanseatic League in the 17th century, creating Amsterdam´s Golden Age.

Today, you can see reminders of that time in the Patrician houses in the famed Canal District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These days, the city is well-known for its outstanding museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House or the van Gogh Museum. 

Arrival 23 April 2019

Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Overview

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten Expedition with cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
  • Wind and water resistant jacket
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities
  • Free tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities
Your ship Excursions

Excursions

Select from a wide range of optional excursions as we explore the western coast of Europe. They can be added to your voyage in the booking process or bought on board (if there is still capacity).

Contact us

Contact us

Please get in touch with our customer service team if you have questions or wish to add services like flights, transfers and land adventures to your voyage.

Extend your holiday

Complete your holiday with a Hurtigruten land adventure before or after your sailing. Choose between excursions of several hours and multi-day tours including hotels. (NOTE: Hurtigruten land adventures can only be added to your voyage after booking. Please call to book!)