Portugal & Spain

Art & Architecture on the Iberian Peninsula
Apply Now

Smithsonian Student Travel  |  Portugal & Spain

Across the Iberian Peninsula lie reminders of the diverse civilizations that have passed through, from Moorish castles and Roman ruins to unique traditions in cuisine, music, and the arts. As powerful empires themselves, Spain and Portugal were at the forefront of maritime navigation and global exploration, and their reach impacted the course of history around the world. Journey across Iberia on this high school summer program, discovering how incredible feats of art and architecture grew out of this multicultural heritage. Explore castles and unusual palaces, Roman temples and the masterpieces of Picasso and Gaudí, as you make your way from Lisbon, Portugal, to the seaside city of Barcelona, with stops in historic Cáceres and Madrid.
June 22, 2024–July 7, 2024 (16 days)
June 29, 2024–July 14, 2024 (16 days)
Students completing grades: 8–12
Tuition: $8,790 + airfare
Typical Group: 18–21 + 2 leaders
Three students smiling on greece and italy program
Three students smiling on greece and italy program
Students taking hike on sunny day on italy and greece program
Group of students overlooking water on greece and italy program


  • Learn about Knights Templar rituals at Sintra’s Quinta da Regaleira palace

  • Sample Portuguese petiscos in Lisbon and try a range of Spanish tapas

  • See the works of Goya, Picasso, and Dalí in Madrid’s world-class museums

  • Discover Gaudí’s revolutionary spires at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basílica


This itinerary represents our plan for the program. However, we may implement changes if we identify opportunities to improve the experience, to take advantage of unexpected events, or to accommodate local schedule changes.

Departure • Travel Day • Meet your student travel group and one of your trip leaders in New York and fly together to Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon, Portugal • 4 days • Begin your journey in Lisbon, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Stroll past Phoenician ruins that exist side by side with Gothic cathedrals and modern wonders such as the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT). Learn how Lisbon’s famed seven hills and location at the mouth of the Tagus River influenced its development, and what changes were wrought by the cataclysmic earthquake of 1755. Take a day trip to nearby Sintra, home of several 19th century palaces with vivid pink, yellow, and red walls, a Moorish castle, and a mansion that once housed the initiation ceremonies of the Knights Templar.

Cáceres, Spain • 3 days • From Lisbon, head east into Spain. Stop first in the Portuguese town of Évora, where a 2nd-century Roman temple to Diana stands amid the whitewashed homes of the historic center. Continue to Cáceres, whose old town is a World Heritage site where Roman, Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance structures both blend and compete for attention. Here, your Smithsonian Student Travel Expert joins the program to share insights into Spanish art and culture. Discuss the cultural melting pot that defines this ancient city while sitting in the shade of the olive grove at the heart of the Jewish Quarter, and see vestiges of the multi-tower defense system built by the Moorish rulers in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Madrid, Spain • 3 days • By contrast to Cáceres and Lisbon, Madrid is a relatively new city, with less than 500 years under its belt as an urban center. Delve into some of the modern ideas that influenced its urban planning—from the trade and service neighborhoods surrounding the 18th century palace to the impressive public gardens of Retiro Park, with its glass and iron Crystal Palace and unique monument to “The Fallen Angel.”  Visit the second century B.C. Egyptian Temple of Debod before stepping out on the pitch of the modern-day sports “temple” of Santiago Bernabeu. Examine modern masterpieces by Picasso and Dalí at the renowned Reina Sofía Museum, and see the dynamic tensions of the everyday lives of royalty and peasant classes as depicted by Goya and Velázquez at the world-class Prado Museum. 

Barcelona, Spain • 4 days • Even to this day, architects and urban planners around the world look to Barcelona, and in particular Gaudí and his fellow modernists, for inspiration. Peel back layers of this vibrant city, from the cobblestoned Gothic Quarters to the revolutionary grid and courtyard system of the Eixample, to the iconic effusiveness of Gaudí’s Parque Güell, Casa Batlló, and still unfinished Sagrada Familia Basílica. Visit the Picasso Museum, housed inside a medieval palace. This museum holds over 4,000 of the artist’s works. See the ongoing impacts of the 1992 Summer Olympics and the urban renewal that accompanied them, and end your journey with an independent project related to an aspect of Iberian art and culture that most fascinates you.

Return • Travel Day • Fly from Barcelona, Spain, to New York with your group and a trip leader, then continue on to your final destination.

Smithsonian Student Travel Experts

A Smithsonian Student Travel Expert will join the group for a portion of the itinerary. Our experts are professionals in their field and tie in their knowledge and experiences with the themes of the program. Throughout their time with the students—generally five days—they share their insights and passion for the region through talks and informal conversations, connecting with students in meaningful ways. Meet an expert who is joining a student trip below. Our other 2024 Smithsonian Student Travel Expert will be announced soon.

Michele Gualtieri looking up and smiling while wearing chef coat and standing against old brick building

Katryn Evinson, Iberian Studies Lecturer (joining both departures)

Katryn Evinson holds a Ph.D. in Latin American and Iberian Studies and Comparative Literature
from Columbia University and is currently a Core Lecturer at the Center for the Core Curriculum
at Columbia University where she teaches a course on Contemporary Civilization. Her
dissertation, The Spirit of Sabotage: Contemporary Art and Political Imagination in Post-
Industrial Spain, is a study of artistic interventions that react—deploying sabotage tactics—to
the role that the promotion of contemporary art will play in Spain’s economic transition toward
neoliberalism. Her publications have appeared in boundary2, The Bulletin of Spanish Visual
Studies, Chasqui, and LA Review of Books, among others. She teaches on a variety of topics
including contemporary Iberian art and literature, feminism, social movements, rural Spain and
cultural production, and others. In addition to her research and teaching activities, she is a
board member of the Asociación de Literatura y Cine Españoles siglo XXI (ALCESXXI), an
editorial assistant for the Revista Hispánica Moderna, a member of the editorial board of Re-
visiones, and is currently co-developing a podcast on the question of the rural in the Iberian
Peninsula. Before moving to the US, Katryn spent six years in the international education
industry and was the Experiential Learning Coordinator and Service-Learning instructor for a
study abroad program in Barcelona where she developed a network for college students to
volunteer with local organizations. When she’s not deep down into her research and writing, or
developing new college courses, Katryn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going
to exhibitions and concerts, running, and cinema.
Three students smiling on greece and italy program
Three students smiling on greece and italy program
Students taking hike on sunny day on italy and greece program
Group of students overlooking water on greece and italy program

What to Expect

Physical Activity • This is a physically active summer travel program. You can expect to climb stairs to castle parapets, walk the cobblestone streets of medieval city centers, swim, and go on evening bike rides over the course of the trip. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities. 

Accommodations • We stay at hostels and hotels in each city, in a mixture of doubles, triples, and quad rooms, and leaders stay with students throughout the program.  

Climate • Summer temperatures in Spain and Portugal can be very warm, with daytime highs ranging from 80–95°F (27–35°C) in Cáceres and Madrid, dropping at night to 60–70°F (16–21°C) and slightly cooler in the coastal cities of Lisbon and Barcelona.

Meals • A typical day begins with breakfast at our residence, and we enjoy lunches and dinners at small, local restaurants and cafés, or picnic-style in parks and on waterfronts. 

Cuisine • Both Portuguese and Spanish cuisine are prime examples of the healthy Mediterranean diet, using high-quality, simple ingredients, which vary regionally and include rice dishes such as paella, olive oil, fresh seafood, a variety of cheeses, grilled vegetables, and delicious, dry-cured jamón serrano.

Sign up for two programs & save $500!

$300 tuition discount + no application fee