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The Best of Portugal by Coach (6100G)

Faro
Guided Tour The Best Of Portugal By Coach (6100G) - The best of Portugal
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Description

GUIDED TOUR

The Grand Tour Of Portugal, A Portuguese Odyssey : History & Culture


This imaginatively designed tour is a living travelogue through the best of Portugal.

We journey through the cultural history of this fascinating country from the beaches and dramatic cliffs of the Algarve, ancient villages and high mountains of the interior to the far north where Portugal was born.

On the way we will visit iconic cities and monuments, appreciate the fantastic scenery and enjoy great food and wine.

Our multi-centre holiday will give you the opportunity to visit many of the Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and explore its huge cultural diversity, while relaxing in a well-planned itinerary covering a vast array of points of interest.

We give you the option of a round trip starting and ending in Faro, a 15 day stay, or an 8 day tour, starting in Porto and ending in Faro.

You’ll experience an exceptional range of different landscapes just a short distance away, lots of interesting sites and a unique cultural heritage, where tradition and modernity blend together in perfect harmony. Not to mention a superb cuisine, fine wines and an hospitable people that will make of this tour the best holiday you ever had.

Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians all left their mark in Portugal. On this tour, you can watch the sunset over mysterious megaliths outside Évora or lose yourself in the elaborate corridors of the Templar’s Knights monuments, today Unesco World Heritage Sites in Tomar, Alcobaça or Batalha. You will visit palaces set above mist-covered woodlands and craggy clifftop castles in Sintra and Buçaco, and gaze on stunningly preserved medieval town centres, in Évora, Guimarães and Porto. The rich Jewish heritage present in the villages of Castelo de Vide and Belmonte will surprise many.

Our tour begins in Faro and we travel through the hidden and lesser known Algarve to the great plains of the Alentejo home to great gastronomy and superlative wines.

We stay in Évora, a delightful city that exudes Portuguese charm and boasts a vast array of fascinating historical monuments.

Portalegre, our next centre will be the gateway to visit Marvão and Castelo de Vide where we stand on the battlements of ancient castles looking across into Spain.

As we travel north visits to Castelo Branco, Belmonte and Lamego enrich our journey with their deep cultural heritage.

Then, opening dramatically out before us is the magnificent Douro Valley of Port wine fame where terraced vine yards seem to defy gravity as they perch high above the river. The Douro valley is our gateway to the north where Portugal was born.

We visit Vila Real and Guimarães, where centuries ago Portugal was declared an independent kingdom and home to the first king.

We then travel through a patchwork of fields and Vinho Verde vineyards to Viana do Castelo, the pearl of the north.

Our first week finishes in Porto, the invincible city. Here we will be able to relax and enjoy this iconic city of the north.

From Porto we turn south on the Atlantic side of Portugal towards Coimbra, stopping to enjoy the forest and gardens of Buçaco and of course, Conimbriga, perhaps the most lavish example of roman decadence.

We are fortunate to stay in the remarkable and beautiful town of Tomar for two nights enabling us to visit the famous knights Templar Convent of Christ.

Nearby visits will include the awe inspiring monastery of Batalha and the more intimate and charming, though no less grand, Mosteiro de Alcobaça.

As we continue south to Lisbon a visit to Óbidos, the most well-known walled town in Portugal, is a must.

Another two night’s stay in Lisbon will enable us to enjoy this great city’s vibrant lifestyle, monuments and attractions.

Lisbon, one of Europe’s most charismatic cities, is now deservedly one of the most visited cities in Europe. It is full of cultural highlights and monuments and has a varied and dynamic nightlife, from traditional Fado bars to modern venues in the Chiado, Alfama and the Tagus riverside.

In the sunny South, the rich Moorish heritage is everywhere, and we’ll have the opportunity to visit Sagres, set on a headland overlooking a picturesque harbor. Prince Henry the Navigator started here Portugal’s Voyages of Discovery during the 15th century.

Continuing south we visit Alcácer do Sal, an ancient Moorish town surrounded by rice paddies, before ending up in Silves, the ancient capital of the Algarve. From here we can visit Lagos, Sagres and Cabo de S Vincente, once the end of the known world.

All of this and much more await you on this wonderful, in-depth Portugal tour!
Itinerary

WEEK’S PROGRAM

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.


DAY 1

Arrival

Arrival in Faro Airport and transfer to Hotel. Possible orientation walk downtown Faro if time allows.


DAY 2

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.


DAY 3

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.


DAY 4

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.


DAY 5

Lamego

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.


DAY 6

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.


DAY 7

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.


DAY 8

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.


DAY 9

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.


DAY 10

Tomar

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.


DAY 11

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.


DAY 12

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.


DAY 13

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’.


DAY 14

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.


DAY 15

Departure
The Hotels
  • Hotel Eva **** (or similar)
Hotel Eva is centrally located in Faro and offers a roof-top pool and a health club with sauna and Turkish bath. The spacious rooms have a work desk and minibar. For total relaxation, guests can visit the Day Spa for a comfortable massage or beauty treatment.

  • M`AR De AR Muralhas **** (or similar)
Located right in the historic centre of Évora, the hotel benefits from an ample garden framed by the historic city wall, which gives the area an atmosphere of remarkable beauty, in particular at sunset. The swimming pool also takes advantage of this unique scenario, as well as the bar esplanade where you can enjoy the peace of the Alentejo nights under the natural planetarium above your head.

  • Hotel Roma*** (or similar)
Hotel Roma is a modern 3 star hotel, strategically located on one of Lisbon main arteries, the Avenida de Roma, an important residential and shopping area. The hotel provides a range of exclusive, high-quality services that are unique in a unit of this category. It is close to the international airport and to underground and train stations, this way allowing quick access (10 minutes) to the city’s historical centre.

  • Hotel dos Templários**** (or similar)
Our hotel, a fabulous luxury hotel sited in its own gardens with spa, swimming pools and fabulous views over the city of Tomar and the river Nabão is the ideal site for a very special holiday experience. It is nevertheless sited within a few minutes of the historic centre of the town and its amenities

  • Hotel Régua D’Ouro **** (or similar)
This hotel is located in Peso da Régua and offers a splendid view over the Douro River and the lush mountainous landscape. Its luxurious facilities include an outdoor pool and massage treatments. Rooms at Hotel Régua Douro feature satellite TV and air conditioning. Each room is simply decorated and equipped with a minibar.

  • Hotel José Régio **** (or similar)
Featuring free Wi-Fi throughout the property, Hotel José Régio is situated in Portalegre, 100 m from the Town hall. All rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. You will find a kettle in the room. Extras include bath robes and slippers

  • Hotel do Parque *** (or similar)
Hotel do Parque offers a panoramic breakfast restaurant with views of Lima River. The hotel has 2 swimming pools. The guest rooms include satellite TVs and air conditioning. Some rooms feature balconies offering wide views of the river and Viana do Castelo. Guests can visit the solarium on the 7th floor, and the private bar which offers magnificent views. There is also a winter garden and a reading room to relax

  • Hotel Globo *** (or similar)
This modern design hotel on the Algarve Coast features panoramic views of Portimão town and the Arade River. It has an elegant rooftop restaurant.

The bright rooms at the Hotel Globo are decorated with modern furnishings. They include a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a work desk. Some rooms have a spacious seating area with couches and armchairs.

  • Moov** (or similar)
Situated in a refurbished Art Deco cinema, Moov Hotel Porto Centro offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi. The elegant, acclimatized rooms are decorated in soft colours and feature black and white photographs. Each has a desk and a private bathroom. A freshly prepared buffet-style breakfast is served daily. There is an inner courtyard terrace with tables and chairs for relaxing with a coffee.
What's Included

Accommodation:
  • 14 nights in a twin room (two, three and four stars hotel)
  • Single supplement applied in single rooms
Guide:
  • All guided tours
Meals:
  • 4 Dinners taken in local restaurants with drinks included. We are always able to cater for vegetarian or other special diets (Lunches can be bought from local shops)
  • 2 Lunches
  • 14 buffet breakfasts at the Hotel.
Transport:
  • Tranfers from Faro airport at 12 a.m on first day
  • Tranfers from the Hotel to Faro airport at 12 a.m on last day
  • All land travel (as outlined)
  • Dedicated driver and guide
Other:
  • 1 Visit to winery including wine tasting
  • Monument entry tickets to: Convento de Cristo, Mosteiro Batalha, Mosteiro Alcobaça, Torre Belém and Mosteiro Jerónimos
Not Included
  • Any services not listed as included
  • Flights to and from Portugal 
  • Meals, tips/gratuities, baggage or personal insurance (except as outlined)
  • Admission fees to castles & attractions or events (except as outlined)
  • Personal expenses
  • Supplements
  • Guide services inside monuments
More Info

The land only option allows you to book your own transport to and from the holiday. You will normally meet the group at the arrival airport at 12 a.m as long as you arrive there no later than the group. Similarly, on the way home you can return to the airport with the group as long as your departure time is no earlier than that of the group.

This guided tour already includes a transfer departing from Faro airport at 12 a.m on arrival and returning to Faro airport at 12 a.m on the last day.

If none of this option suits you, please add to your booking a transfer that does. You can also rent a car.

To this tour we only accept transfers departing from Faro Airport or Faro.

Departure dates:
  • ON REQUEST