Cosmopolitan cities, beautiful beaches, quaint medieval towns, spectacular sights, and exciting nightlife- this program has it all! Grab your passport and sense of adventure as you and your fellow travelers tour exciting cities as well as small and off the beaten path towns and beachside locales. Immerse yourself in the wonder of architectural and artistic masterpieces, savor and sample tapas and local delicacies and enjoy thrilling canyoning, kayaking and surfing. This small group experience allows for flexibility and spontaneity as you and your travel mates take on exploring these two countries in our perfectly planned itinerary.
Participants on this trip have the option to fly overseas on our chaperoned group flight that leaves in the evening from the New York area to Madrid. Our leaders greet you at the airport and are with you from check-in onward. For the many travelers from outside the New York area, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to assist you with arranging connecting flights at suitable times into New York. You may also choose to meet us in Madrid and we will help coordinate your flight times and greet you upon arrival.
For your return from Barcelona, we offer a chaperoned flight to New York. For travelers from other areas, you may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers at suitable times from New York after the group has cleared customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from Barcelona to your home city and our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
Welcome to Spain! And what better way is there to start your adventure than in the heart of the country’s thrilling capital city? From the glitz and glam of the Gran Via to the stately charm of the Royal Palace, with markets, galleries and dinner shows in between, Madrid will steal your heart from the moment you step into its lively streets. Imagine row boating in Retiro Park, exploring the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol by night, singing your heart out at an opera dinner show, and admiring the Spanish master artists Velasquez and Goya at the Prado. A day trip to ancient Toledo rounds out your stay in this sparkling Spanish capital city.
Spend a few days checking out one of the oldest college towns in the world! But this town has more than history going for it as you’ll find yourself strolling through the cathedrals, pedal boating along the Rio Tormes, and soaking it all up in the Plaza Mayor.
Colorful buildings and Baroque spires dot the banks of the Rio Douro in this riverside town. Adventure awaits as you embark on an all-day waterfall canyoning experience in the rugged Peneda Geres National Park. Admire the sunset as it cascades against the city as you cruise the Rio Douro after your guided city tour of all the top spots.
This colorful cityscape is nestled into the cascading hills above the Tagus River. Step into Portugal’s capital and largest city and you will be swept away by the delights awaiting you in every corner. Pedal through tree-lined streets and river paths on our guided bike tour and hang ten at surf school on the Atlantic. Enjoy the day in charming Sintra exploring the Quinta de Regaleira Palace and an evening in chic Cascais.
Get ready to dive into the crystal blue waters of the Algarve region. Our home base is the quintessential beach town of Lagos, complete with cobbled streets, sprawling plazas, and enclosed by a 16th century wall. Alluring beaches are just around the corner, and their white sand and clear water is just one of the things that makes this a beloved spot for travelers. Check out the impressive rock formations, deserted beaches and sea caves from your sea kayak. Work on your tan, try out your moves at the disco, and warm up your vocal chords for a night of karaoke.
The “city of towers” is the center of bullfighting and flamenco dance. Visit the Royal Palace, the Cathedral and the Barrio Santa Cruz. Take a flamenco dance class and appreciate its real art at an exciting live show.
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada is rich with history and is home to one of the most visited sites in the world, the Alhambra. Your guided tour of this 12th century Moorish palace and fortification promises to be a highlight. Visit the Cathedral and Royal Chapel, home of the remains of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Explore the narrow streets of the Albaicin full of local merchants, visit gypsy caves or simply enjoy a cafe con leche in the famous Plaza Nueva.
Experience magical Catalan culture and stroll through Plaza Cataluna, Plaza de Espana, and along the Gran Via. Discover Gaudi, including famous Park Guell mosaics. Visit the famous Cathedral Sagrada Familia, the Gothic signature to the Barcelona skyline. Stroll the very happening Las Ramblas down to the harborfront for colorful street performers. Savor local cuisine and feast on tapas in the Old Gothic Quarter. Enjoy creating your own local culinary delights during an evening at an authentic Spanish cooking school. Relax, swim and suntan on famous Barcelonetta Beach. Experience the evening spectacle of light, water and color at Montjuïc! After four amazing weeks, it is time to bid adios to these incredible countries and your many new friends.
Immerse yourself in the perfect location of the Spanish capital! The Tryp Gran Via is just steps away from all the exciting activities and highlights of Madrid.Visit Website
Enjoy the convenience of this property located just steps away from Plaza Mayor. Comfortable rooms are perfect to relax in after your day touring the historic sites that fill this city!Visit Website
Located in the historic center of Porto, overlooking the majestic Douro River, Ribeira do Porto Hotel is located in a central and privileged area of Oporto, next to Ribeira square. Ribeira Porto Hotel is housed in a historic building that was completely renovated keeping the traditional architecture.Visit Website
Set over the Tagus River, Vila Galé Ópera is a hotel created by the highly respected Manuel Salgado with an original decoration inspired by the theme of opera and classical music. This hotel is just steps away from the famous pastry houses of Belém.Visit Website
With its ideal location in the very center of Lagos, this 4 star hotel in the Algarve is a real reflection of local culture, from the decoration by Maria José Salavisa to the white and blue walkways which connect the rooms, patios, and restaurants.Visit Website
Our hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers amazing views from the roof top swimming pool. Seville is Spain’s 4th largest city and is best known for flamenco music and tapas.Visit Website
This premium hotel is centrally located in Granada’s city center making it just a short walk away from all the attractions. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, a sun terrace, a gym and an outdoor pool.Visit Website
At Westcoast Connection nothing else comes first. From our extensive trip planning department through our management team and our leaders, it is our single biggest priority! Safety procedures, equipment – we’ve got it covered. All Trip Leaders and Directors are certified in First Aid and CPR. We are extremely proud of our safety record and welcome all questions you may have in this area. Please see more under Safety First.
Once you are on your trip, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Trip Director and Trip Leaders are people with incredible backgrounds including teachers, guitar players, IRONMAN triathletes, SCUBA divers, volunteers, and so much more.
Every staff member takes part in and must complete our extensive training weekends that review our philosophy and procedures to provide a well-supervised and fun-filled program.
Our Trip Directors, the individuals responsible for overseeing each itinerary, take on the roles of teachers, coaches, camp counselors, mentors, concierges and hosts. They’ve been trained to provide individual attention and create an all-inclusive family atmosphere (our EACH & EVERY philosophy). There’s a definite art to building dynamic groups, and we’ve worked hard to master it! We want you smiling on day one right through to a teary goodbye at your farewell banquet.
Our leaders are non-smokers. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Summer Leaders section.
We can’t say it too many times, this is a really incredible group experience. This small group experience greatly enhances development of a warm and welcoming family environment. A great dynamic starts with our secrets for group bonding. Our bag of tricks goes way beyond traditional ice breakers. Imagine people hunts, Rock, Paper, Scissors championships, Ninja tournaments, flash mobs and so much more. We work hard to get everyone moving beyond first impressions and creating an atmosphere of total acceptance. Our staff hiring and training emphasizes social safety and establishing an inclusive culture. Many of our travelers come as individuals and we have a geographically diverse enrollment. This mix helps eliminate cliques at the outset and establish an open environment that benefits you. We take great care in assembling groups to create an unforgettable social experience.
Your summer of a lifetime starts with us carefully crafting the perfect program. Our team is dedicated year round to creating exciting, meaningful experiences! You have a detailed itinerary, but not one that is so rigid that you lose chances for spontaneity! Our Trip Planning Department pays painstaking attention to detail, sweating the small stuff so that your summer experience is stress free. Our trips are designed with a very logical flow: action, adventure and excitement balanced with structured downtime and relaxation. There is a reason our itineraries are known to be “Perfectly Planned. Perfectly Paced.” Our year-round team has 499 summers combined working with teenagers and we understand what you’re looking for. We describe our trips in as much detail as these web pages allow, but to truly appreciate the flow of a particular program, please speak with us to review the trip of your choice.
Planning teen trips is of course a science. But it is also an art. We know when to pick up the pace to get the adrenaline flowing. We also know when it’s time to chill on the beach or have a sleep in. As you review our European itineraries, know that we have worked year after year to make every minute of every day just right.
If we’re not seeing the sights, eating like there’s no tomorrow or resting up because there is a tomorrow, we’re out there playing – waterfall rappelling in a national park, cruising the Rio Duoro, and surfing in the Atlantic. Cultural and historical sites include the Picasso Museum, the Royal Palace of Madrid, La Sagrada Familia, and the Prado. Nightlife ranges from modern dance clubs to Spanish cooking school, and even a live Flamenco show. Your European program will take you “off the beaten path” and allow you to experience Europe!
But “active” also means you get to play a big part in how the summer turns out. We want you engaged and are interested in what you have to say. You have a role in this trip and how it gets molded.
There is so much more to a teen travel experience than just traveling. Summer after summer we love nothing more than the feedback from parents sharing with us that their son or daughter has matured, has become more confident and outgoing, is more poised, more responsible and more worldly having had not just the summer of a lifetime, but a life changing experience as well. It’s amazing how much growth can occur when you are traveling and sharing the experience with incredible people in a warm and welcoming environment.
As you travel overseas and experience other cultures and customs first hand, your perception will change as your understanding of and empathy for citizens of other countries naturally grows. Whereas prior to your travels media headlines about a foreign government may have led to generalized conclusions, your new interactions with locals and firsthand experience will enable you to see we often share more in common with others than we may have known.
Imagine seeing first hand all you’ve learned about in a global studies class when you are exploring the halls of the Prado and marveling at La Sagrada Familia.
Our experience lends itself to trying new things and stepping just outside of one’s comfort zone. With a taste of age-appropriate independence, and a healthy reprieve from the usual pressures associated with school life, we want you to be empowered and we provide you with an opportunity to grow.
Living, experiencing, and learning together, you will be afforded the chance to interact with other teens who share both similar and different backgrounds and interests. Everybody grows in their social acceptance of others. By the end of the program we hope to have lit a spark – to travel, to learn, to meet new people, to try new things and to explore. With new friendships, new memories and new life skills on which to build, our teen travel experiences are truly unforgettable.
There really is a difference in how different summer programs operate! Motivated teens going away with qualified leaders is a given. But what sets us apart is the depth of our qualified personnel that allow us to perform with the greatest consistency at the highest level.
Your Trip Director and Trips Leaders are with you throughout your program. They have daily contact with one of our two 24-hour Communication Centers and are in regular contact with our Company Directors. Our Company Directors are the most seasoned veterans who each oversee specific programs providing support to trip staff and to assist with any situations that may arise. Our Company Directors alternate between traveling to visit programs and being reached in the office.
Program visits enable us to provide ongoing support and development to our Trip Directors, allows trip staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching trip goals, helps us to identify any challenging areas for improvement while it still has relevance to your summer rather than as a mention on your end-of-summer survey, and helps us to identify the future Directors from the current crop of all-star summer staff. These visits are by Company Directors along with our Regional Supervisors, who are former Trip Directors with further experience out in the field. Collectively our planning, supervisory and management team is an incredible resource with 499 summers of combined teen travel experience. This way, we can lend a hand wherever and whenever a little extra effort is called for. Last year, we had 212 scheduled supervisory trip visits to make sure all was running well, provide ongoing support to our staff in the field and have fun! This investment in depth of personnel is unrivaled in teen travel and is a critical element to achieving consistent, excellent program quality and surpassing client expectations!
Included in the trip tuition are all activities and entertainment described, breakfast and dinner daily, lunches as indicated on your specific program, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
A big part of a journey’s success depends on how well you eat. We are proud of the fact that year after year we are complimented for our quality, quantity and choice of food! Breakfasts in Europe are eaten at our hotels and served buffet style with a variety of options. For dinners, either the whole group goes to the same restaurant or we divide into smaller groups of your choosing with our staff. For lunch, you will enjoy eating in smaller groups and choosing from local cafés, bistros and other restaurants. Are you ready to sample tapas in Barcelona, Paella in Seville, and the freshest fruits and tastiest cheeses in Portugal? The food in Europe is terrific, so get set to eat extremely well!
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive personal experience in this area. Please speak with us to review your needs.
We travel by a private motor coach between cities and occasionally use public transportation (metro and bus) within cities.
You only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list. Every week you may drop off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
While you’re out having the summer of your life, your parents should feel like they are in on the action as well. We post updates to our blog and Facebook page and e-mail photos approximately once a week so those at home can be in on the fun. Parents also have access to our dedicated office Trip Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any trip operator could possibly be via smartphones with e-mail and text. The goal is uncompromising safety and peace of mind, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Participants may bring their personal cell phones.
In last summer’s surveys, 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us to others. We must be doing something right!