The Iberian Peninsula is the southwestern tip of Europe including Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar. To the east and southeast is the Mediterranean Sea, and on the north, west and southwest lies the Atlantic Ocean. Iberia is bordered at the northeastern edge by the Pyrenees. The principal cities of the Iberian Peninsula are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, Lisbon and Porto.
The coastline of the Iberian Peninsula is 3,313 km (2,059 mi), 1,660 km (1,030 mi) on the Mediterranean side and 1,653 km (1,027 mi) on the Atlantic side.
The principal urban centers are: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, Lisbon and Porto. Various other notable cities with smaller populations are also present on the peninsula.
The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited for at least 1,000,000 years as remains found in the sites at Atapuerca demonstrate. Among these sites is the cave of Gran Dolina, where six hominin skeletons, dated between 780,000 and one million years ago, were found in 1994. Experts have debated whether these skeletons belong to the species Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, or a new species called Homo antecessor.
Spain offers so much to the tourist – wonderful food, wine, history, art and a fantastic climate. For example, Spain's World Heritage Cities comprise 13 urban destinations whose centres and monuments figure on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The Wine Routes of the Spanish Association of Wine-Producing Towns and Cities (ACEVIN) lead you into the heart and the way of life of some of Spain’s oldest wine-growing regions. Visit a winery, find out how wine is made, stay in beautiful wine-growing countryside, enjoy your first tastings, discover the delights of matching food and wine … experiences that will awaken your senses to all the joys that Spain and the wonderful world of wine have to offer.
Portugal offers a 500-year cultural heritage in which, although there is a predominantly Portuguese flavour, other influences are also to be found from the north of Europe, most notably Flanders and Great Britain. In the 16th century Madeira flourished as a result of the sugar trade, giving rise to a life of great magnificence and ostentation, with natural repercussions for the development of an extraordinary heritage of major artistic and architectural value.
There is a great variety to be noted in the museums and exhibitions and a tour of these offers itself as an alternative to the programmes of sports activities and visits to the beach that you may already have chosen.
The natural wealth and built heritage of the town of Sintra and its surroundings led to this entire landscape being classified as World Heritage. The beautiful village, with its pleasant microclimate, was long the favourite location of various Portuguese kings for their palaces.
Just a few kilometres from Sintra, there are two more amazing royal palaces. In Queluz, the summer palace of the royal family and in Mafra, a palace-convent-basilica complex, the largest Portuguese building project of the 18th century.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, located in the heart of the peninsula and right in the center of the Castillian plain 646 meters above sea level, has a population of over three million. A cosmopolitan city, Madrid is characterized by intense cultural and artistic activity and a very lively nightlife.
Barcelona is a hugely popular city thanks to its culture, art, beautiful buildings, great music, and the beach.
Lying along the the north banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon charms with its historical legacy, including magnificent palaces, churches and a castle. Add to that its eclectic neighborhoods and unique architecture and distinctive Fado music, and you can begin to imagine the lure of this city.
Lisbon’s collection of museums is remarkable, including ancient and modern collections at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Coach Museum, and Carmo Archaeological Museum.