Day 1:ARRIVE IN LISBON, PORTUGAL.
Welcome to Lisbon! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and travelling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel.
Lisbon was the centre of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Portugal’s imperial ambitions date back to Prince Henry the Navigator’s 15th-century discoveries in West Africa. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive through the Baixa quarter’s main squares and a walk along the cobblestone alleys of quaint ALFAMA, the popular quarter of seamen and Fado singers. Drive along the grand Avenida da Liberdade up to Pombal Square, and stop for pictures of Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. Also visit JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. An optional excursion is available to the royal palace of Queluz, as well as dinner at a typical taverna with Fadostyle entertainment.
Stop in medieval Obidos and go back in time as you pass the main gate in the impressive perimeter wall and walk along the narrow streets. Then onto the fishing harbour of Nazare, the perfect place for a leisurely break. Continue to Alcobaca to visit the CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA MONASTERY, built in the 12th century for 999 Cistercian monks. See the elaborate tombs of King Pedro I and his Castilian lover, Ines de Castro. In the afternoon, mix with the pilgrims at the country’s hallowed national shrine, Fatima’s SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY. Overnight in Tomar, former seat of the mighty Order of the Knights Templar.
Visit the hilltop CONVENT OF CHRIST, which was constructed in the late 12th century and became the headquarters of the Order in Portugal. Hear about the fascinating history and admire its famous Manueline Window. Continue to Coimbra, strategically situated on a hill overlooking the Mondego River. After a visit to the 700-year-old UNIVERSITY, drive by ancient Bucaco Forest on your way to Porto, Portugal’s secondlargest city. Tonight, why not join an optional cruise on the Douro River, followed by dinner at one of Porto’s fine restaurants?
Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a panoramic drive to the mouth of the Douro River, the soaring cathedral, the richly decorated CHURCH OF SAO FRANCISCO, the most important gothic monument in Porto and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also visit the STOCK EXCHANGE with its contemporary ARABIAN HALL, inspired by Granada’s Alhambra. Of course, a PORT WINE TASTING has been included at the famous Sandeman & Co. Port Wine Cellar to sample the delicious wine produced from grapes of the Douro Valley.
In Guimaraes, often referred to as the “Cradle of Portugal” because of its association with the country’s first king, Alfonso Henriques, follow your Tour Director for a pleasant walk through the medieval centre. Next, taste Portuguese tapas at the Quinta da Aveleda WINERY and visit its splendid GARDENS. From here, a scenic road through the port wine vineyards leads to Viseu, where dinner with local specialties and wine awaits at Forno da Mimi restaurant.
Day 7:VISEU-BELMONTE-CASTELO DE VIDE-EVORA.
This morning, stop in Belmonte, for a visit of the JEWISH MUSEUM. Also enjoy an OLIVE OIL TASTING, for which the area is famous. Take an afternoon break in lovely Castelo de Vide, one of the best-preserved medieval fortified towns in Portugal. The Jewish quarter with its whitewashed houses and its medieval synagogue are worth seeing. Before arriving in Evora, the cultural centre of southern Portugal, visit a CORK FACTORY and learn about the many ways this material can be used.
A massive wall surrounds Evora’s medieval centre, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Follow your Local Guide on a walking tour through its narrow alleys to the Roman Temple, the early gothic CATHEDRAL, Portas de Moura fountain, and SAO FRANCISCO CHURCH. Visit the OSSUARY CHAPEL, whose walls are covered with thousands of human bones and skulls. Next, proceed across the arid Alentejo plain to the Algarve, Portugal’s most popular seaside area. Tonight, why not try one of the seafood restaurants for which the Algarve is famous?
Day 9:ALGARVE. COASTAL EXCURSION.
Highlight today is a visit to the wind-swept PROMONTORY OF SAGRES, where Henry the Navigator lived and planned his overseas expansion. Only a few miles away is Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern corner of continental Europe, a dramatic cliff defying the powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Time to wander around Lagos before returning to your hotel.
Take the scenic route over the Serra da Arrabida and savour sweeping views of the Troia Peninsula. Catch glimpses of the castle at Sesimbra, which recall fierce medieval battles between Christians and Moors. Stop in Azeitao to visit a traditional TILE WORKSHOP. After crossing the Bridge of April 25th, you’re back in Lisbon. Tonight, enjoy a spectacular panoramic view at Varanda restaurant while having a cocktail and a farewell dinner with your travelling companions.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning.