Each day breakfast will be taken in the Hotel before leaving for the day’s program. Day’s program is subject to alteration due to weather and local conditions.
Arrival in Faro Airport and transfer to Hotel. Possible orientation walk downtown Faro if time allows.
Beja & Évora
Beja, the Baixo Alentejo’s principal town, is our mid-morning stop. It is an easy-going, welcoming and unspoilt town with a walled centre around the castle and wide vistas.
The Romans, the Moors and the Christians all left their imprint on the narrow cobbled streets and stunning architecture for us to enjoy.
Évora is one of the best tourist destinations of central Portugal and World Heritage Site. It is a delightful city that exudes Portuguese charm and boasts a vast array of fascinating historical monuments. Évora was historically a major trading and religious centre, a former importance that is reflected in the sheer variety of interesting sites, all of which are conveniently contained within the city’s ancient walls. It is a city full of life and cultural interest.
Castelo de Vide , Marvão & Portalegre
Castelo de Vide is often described as the best preserved medieval town of Portugal. The picturesque town is located on the slope of one of the northern foothills of the Serra de São Mamede. Its fine hilltop vantage point, dazzlingly white houses, flower-lined lanes and proud locals are reason alone to visit.
Marvão, “the Eagles Nest” is perched on the top of a steep granite hill, the fortress has been impregnable for centuries. A spectacular medieval walled village, 900 metres up on a rocky crag called the Serra de Marvão. The narrow cobbled streets lined with whitewashed houses, many with decorative doors and windows from the 15th century, wind their way up to one of the best preserved castles in Portugal, dating from the 13th century.
Portalegre lies on the slopes of Serra de São Mamede, a mountainous range with a variety of fauna and flora, part of which has now been designated a natural park. Portalegre itself is of Roman origin though it is filled with fine Renaissance and Baroque mansions.
Castelo Branco, Belmonte & Régua
Our mid-morning break in Castelo Branco, brings us to a city with an attractive centre with generous parks, wide boulevards and bustling squares. The most famous handicraft item are the colchas, silk-embroidered linen bedspreads and coverlets, inspired by similar items brought back from India and China by early Portuguese explorers.
The town of Belmonte, with a strong Jewish history, commands a broad view of the eastern slopes of the Serra da Estrela Mountains. A charming place of sun-dappled squares and stone houses dripping with flower-filled window boxes. There are curiosities at every turn, such as the unusual pillory in the shape of an olive press.
The sun-bleached town of Régua lies along the Rio Douro at the heart of the demarcated port-wine region. The entire valley is so unique that it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Our two days here will enable us to thoroughly enjoy this stunning area.
Nestled among the terraced slopes of the Douro valley port wine-growing region, Lamego is overlooked by an ornate shrine and magnificent stairway. This charming town is elegant and infused with Baroque style. The town centre streets are lined with scores of noble manor houses, a magnificent cathedral and a series of extraordinary churches, monasteries and fortifies bioldings. Truly an architectural gem.
Vila Real & Guimarães
Perched on top of a headland over the Rio Corgo, Vila Real preserves stately houses adorned with coats of arms, Manueline windows and traditional wrought iron balconies. An inland city, it boasts shady avenues and spectacular views over a deep ravine through which the River Corgo flows.
Guimarães is a charming and historic city and is regarded as the birth place of Portugal. Its extensive history is reflected in the variety of national monuments and historic buildings found within the city.
It is a World Heritage Site, the proud birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the first independent king of Portugal. It is associated with the emergence of the Portuguese national identity in the 12th century.
Viana do Castelo
The jewel of the Costa Verde, the pearl of the north, Viana do Castelo is one of the most beautiful cities in the north of Portugal. Situated on the estuary of the Lima River, between the ocean and the mountains, this charming city is steeped in tradition.
Free sightseeing day in Porto.
Porto is Portugal’s most important northern city. Dramatically situated on the estuary of the Rio Douro, it is a wonderfully atmospheric and enchanting city that is well worth visiting.
Designated an UNESCO World Heritage site for its historic buildings and outstanding monuments, highlights of Portugal’s second largest city include the formidable Porto cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos and the conspicuous Port wine lodges that dominate the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Porto offers a compelling synthesis of ancient and contemporary attractions.
Our two days here will give us time to appreciate this fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions and a buzzing nightlife. There is a lot to see and do in Porto and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.
Buçaco, Coimbra & Conimbriga
The Buçaco Forest Park is classified as a National Monument in Portugal and is widely praised by botanists from all over Europe.
The Buçaco Forest is a dense wood, many centuries old, where the trees are of a gigantic stature and are rich in essences, fragrances and brilliance.
Coimbra, perched over the lovely Mondego River (the longest Portuguese river), is a varied and captivating city that boasts an extensive history, is crammed with interesting historical monuments, such the famed university, but equally has a lively and vibrant atmosphere and great nightlife. The beautiful historic university buildings, which include the library, the grand hall and the view from the “Owl” tower are World Heritage Sites.
Conimbriga is one of Portugal’s largest excavated Roman sites and is a fantastic place to experience a glimpse of the past. Artefacts found during excavations prove that Coimbra was first inhabited between the 8th/9th Centuries BC, but only emerged as a prosperous society during Roman occupation towards the first half of the 2nd Century BC.
The dramatic city of Tomar has been nominated a UNESCO World heritage site and rightly so. The Convento de Cristo or Convent of Christ was the Headquarters of the Knights Templar of Portugal for nearly 900 years from where their influence spread across Europe. It is contained within the site of the Castle which dates from 1160. This magnificent building dominates Tomar from the hill above the city.
Lying either side of the tranquil river Nabão, Tomar as well as the surrounding area boasts some of the most significant and magnificent monuments in the entire country. A true feast for the senses.
Batalha, Alcobaça & Óbidos
The Mosteiro da Batalha (Batalha Monastery) is an amazingly intricate Dominican monastery and cathedral, with its countless carved figures of saints, beautiful stained glass windows and soaring flying buttresses, is undoubtedly the best example of High Gothic architecture to be seen anywhere in Europe.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this unique structure was built in 1388 and is regarded as the country’s finest example of late-Gothic architecture. It is particularly notable for its Manueline decorative motifs.
The Mosteiro de Alcobaça (Alcobaça Monastery) is a charming medieval town, home to the largest cathedral and monastery complex in Portugal and World Heritage site.
The austere and imposing Monastery was built in 1153, linked to the Cistercian monks and associated to the birth of the Portuguese nation. Its size, the purity of its architectural style, the beauty of the materials and the care with which it was built make this a masterpiece of Cistercian Gothic art.
Perhaps the most visited historic site in Portugal, outside of Lisbon, Obidos is a charming walled medieval fortress town, with its narrow, winding cobbled streets, quaint white-washed cottages surrounded by colourful bougainvillea and geraniums, is a perfect living, working museum.
Lisbon: Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery & Sintra
Lisbon is so many special things; it’s the sound of vintage trams rambling up and down cobblestone streets, a medley of heartfelt Fado songs, an open-air gallery of historic heritage, a haven for free spirits, a surprise for fashionable shoppers and Portugal’s ‘coolest’ city.
The oldest part of this scenic location is Rossio, known for its street shoe-shiners, historic theatres and mix of restaurants and coffee shops.
Rising out of the Tagus River, the Torre de Belém is one of the greatest symbols of Portugal’s Age of Discovery and World Heritage Site.
The Monastery of the Hieronymites is a royal foundation that dates back to the late 15th century. This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site will sweep you away with its majestic display of Manueline opulence portraying the wealth of the crown.
The enchanting town of Sintra is all about scenic splendour; a realm of romance where majestic fairy tale-like palaces, a grandiose castle, regal estates and charming red-tiled houses stand amidst a landscape of luxuriant, semi tropical forests and hilltops.
Characterised by its singular mystique and peacefulness, the Sintra area was named ‘Hill of the Moon’ by its Celtic settlers and ‘Mons Lunae’ by the Romans. Sintra’s sleepy mountain range is also home to an extensive natural park that stretches out to Cascais and its wave-lapped coast.
Alcácer do Sal & Silves
Alcácer do Sal is an historical town crowned by ancient castles. The medieval cobbled streets, worn over time, cluster around the banks of the Sado River. The town’s name comes from the Moorish al qasr meaning ‘the castle’, and the sal refers to the age-old production of salt in this area.
Silves is a delightful and traditional Portuguese town cascading prettily down the side of a hill under the protective mantle of its Moorish castle. Capital of Al-Faghar (kingdom of the Algarve) during the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, Silves or Xelb as it was called by the Arabs, boasted such beautiful buildings, fabulous treasures and lavish bazaars that it was referred to as the ‘Baghdad of the West’.
Lagos, Ponta da Piedade, Sagres & Cape S. Vincente
Lagos is a charming Algarve coastal town that has retained its traditional Portuguese character whilst developing into a cosmopolitan holiday destination that welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Its delightful historic centre, is surrounded by the ancient Moorish walls and overlooks a pretty harbour estuary.
To the south of Lagos is the Ponta da Piedade headland, a series of highly weathered cliffs that are lined with spectacular grottos, arches, sea caves and are regarded as the finest natural feature of the Algarve.
Sagres is remote, adventurous and unlike any other destination in southern Portugal. The small town is situated at the extreme western tip of the Algarve, a region of dramatic natural scenery; comprising of raging seas, towering cliffs and vast beaches.
Cape S. Vincent nearby provides even more impressive views of the coastline and a great deal of legend.
The end of the known world feel of these 50 metre (164 feet) high headlands dropping dramatically into the sea were a constant source of mystery and attraction to the region’s successive settlers as the various traces of their presence show.
Clusters of menhirs testify to the presence of Neolithic inhabitants who allegedly used this site for rituals.
The Phoenicians erected a sanctuary to Hercules here.
The Romans considered it sacred ground, a place where the setting sun made the ocean waters boil.
It was also a place of pilgrimage to the burial ground of the martyred St. Vincent, whose body was carried here after the Arab invasion and who lent his name to the site.
The Cabo São Vicente is the most westerly point of mainland Europe and up until the 14th century it was believed to be the end of the known world. The ferocious waves of the Atlantic Ocean pound the massive cliffs, while high above the immensely bright light house guards the treacherous cliffs. No visit to Portugal is complete without visiting this bleak and wind torn headland.