Visit some of the Portuguese monuments belonging to the World Heritage by UNESCO. Taste typical conventual pastries and learn about the famous Porto Wine. Get to know the history and where this nation was born, Guimarães ‘the cradle of Portugal’.
Arrival - Lisbon
Rest of the day at leisure.
Tagus River is cross by two bridges. The oldest one is 25th April Bridge, considered to the present day’s one of the largest suspended bridges of Europe. Vasco da Gama is the other bridge that cross this river, with a total length of 17.2km, it was also for a long time considered the largest bridge in Europe.
After a visit to Alfama, we continue to the quarter of Belém, from which the Portuguese Caravels sailed off to the epic maritime discoveries. Once in Belém, visit two of Lisbon’s ex-libris: the church of Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém – whose origins date back to the 16th century, both considered World Heritage by UNESCO and represent the most luxurious and prestigious times of the Portuguese Monarchy.
Before leaving Belem, a visit to the “Pasteis de Belém” – Pastry Shop to taste the delicious and traditional “Pastel de Nata”, served warm with sugar and cinnamon on top.
Sintra , Cascais & Estoril
Leave to Colares, demarcated and recognized region for its table wines, following until Cabo da Roca, the most western point in continental Europe, passing through the beach of Guincho until Boca do Inferno always sea viewing enjoying the landscape.
Return to your hotel passing by the magnificent coast. Panorama view of the Bay of Cascais, continue on to Estoril where stands the famous Casino do Estoril and back to your hotel in Lisbon for overnight.
DAY 4 and 5
Spend the rest of the day chilling out at the Hotel or in one of the beautiful beaches.
Spend these 2 days wandering through the Algarve. To the west of Faro you will find the classic postcard images – namely a series of tiny bays and coves, broken up by weird rocky outcrops and fantastic grottoes. They are at their most exotic around the major resort towns of Lagos, Armação de Pêra and Albufeira. Other recommended stops include Alvor and Ferragudo, which still retain some character and are close to fine beaches.
Inland are the interesting old market towns of Loulé and Silves, the nineteenth-century spa town of Caldas de Monchique and the neighbouring market town of Monchique.
West of Lagos beyond Luz, development has been restricted by the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, which embraces most of the coastline. As a result, erstwhile fishing villages as such as Burgau and Salema retain a fair amount of charm, while the south coast ends at a dramatic cliff-edged plateau around Sagres, with fine beaches and a lively surfing scene. The coast north of Sagres is the least developed part of the Algarve – partly because this stretch of the Atlantic is distinctly cold and often pretty wild.
East of Faro, there’s a complete change as you encounter the first of a series of sandy offshore islets, the ilhas, which front the coastline virtually all the way to the Spanish border. The resorts here have a more Portuguese feel than those in the central stretch, and first-choice bases here would be Faro itself – capital of the entire region – Olhão, Fuzeta, Cabanas or Tavira, all of which offer access to the sandbank islands. Most of the other resorts on this stretch – with the exception of Monte Gordo – are fairly small-scale, while the Portuguese coast peters out at Vila Real de Santo António, a historic small town that preserves a fair bit of character. Vila Real lies near the mouth of the Rio Guadiana, which forms the Spanish border.
Évora & Esporão
Because of the extremely rich variety of its architecture, which has been preserved and kept alive, with its heritage from different cultures and different eras, this site of the Portuguese Court during the period of the Discoveries (16th c.) and one of Portugal’s oldest universities has kept intact the historic walled centre, palaces, convents and monuments that were the stage for some of the most important events of the country’s history. Outside the walls, on the open plains, the religious presence (from prehistoric times to 18th cent.) is marked by the grandeur of the sanctuaries and monasteries.
Óbidos & Coimbra
Continue in route to visit Coimbra, one of Europe’s oldest university towns, it has kept its secular academic traditions, as seen in the black-caped students, in the soulful tones of the “Fado de Coimbra” (traditional song sung to the sound of guitars, by the students) and in the Queima das Fitas, a boisterous celebration of the students’ graduating year.
The university, one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world, attracts visitors from around the world due to its monumental buildings and history. In Coimbra you visit the university (overlooking the city with its old tower and a sumptuous Baroque library), the library and church of Santa Clara.
Douro Valley & Peso da Régua
Situated on the banks of the River Douro, Peso da Régua played a fundamental role in the production and sale of Port wine, for it was from here that the barrels were transported in the special boats known as ‘barcos rabelos’ to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the wine was left to age in the local wine lodges. In this region, the vines are grown on terraced slopes leading down to the river, providing visitors with a series of spectacular views, which are best admired from the area’s many viewpoints, such as those of São Leonardo at Galafura and Santo António do Loureiro.
The Douro Museum in Peso da Régua is a regional museum and the ideal place for welcoming visitors and showing them a representation of the memory, culture and identity of the Douro wine region, classified as World Heritage.
Pinhão is considered to be the geographical centre of the Douro demarcated wine region, and it is here that many of the Port wine estates are to be found, some of which offer accommodation under the system of rural tourism. Worthy of particular attention here is the railway station, built at the end of the nineteenth century, the inside of which is entirely lined with panels of azulejos.
First of all we suggest a visit to the São Bento railway station, with its walls covered with painted azulejos form the 1930s, as well as the Cathedral, which began as a fortress church in the 12th Century, visiting the Cathedral a panoramic drive through the Praça de Batalha, Avenida dos Aliados and the Clérigos tower – Porto’s landmark and panoramic view point dating back from the 18th Century when baroque style flourished in the region, the Stock Exchange Palace – the most exquisite example of the 19th century piece of architecture, headquarters of the Oporto Commercial Association.
Continue along the Douro’s riverside to pay a visit to the local market – Mercado da Ribeira. Cross the river Douro to the other side Vila Nova de Gaia – where the famous Port wine cellars are located, visit some more wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Not to be forgotten that Port wine is the much celebrated Portuguese wine, which originates from the Alto Douro region and is transported down river to the south bank cellars, opposite to the city, to reach its stage of maturation or do a Cruise in the Douro River – duration of 1 hour approx.. With this cruise, you can enjoy not only the magnificent overall view, but also the six bridges that unite Porto and Gaia. As we depart from the quay, you will have the opportunity to observe Ribeira, D. Luís Bridge, Monastery Serra do Pilar, Infante Bridge, D. Maria Pia Bridge, S. João Bridge and Freixo Bridge. As we get closer to S. João Bridge, we turn back, allowing you to see Oporto, World Heritage. After passing by D. Luís Bridge, we continue direction Arrábida Bridge, so that you can see the mouth of the river Douro and Afurada, the land of the fishermen.
Guimarães & Braga
Today you will be driving from Oporto to Guimarães & Braga.
Get around Portugal’s Most Historical City Guimarães. This city is for visitors, especially if they are interested in the country’s history. Located in the Minho region in north Portugal, Guimarães is hailed as the ‘cradle of Portugal’ for two obvious reasons. First, it is the birthplace of the country’s first king, Afonso Henriques. Second, it was the first capital of the newly established Portugal kingdom. Furthermore, the city is considered as one of the most important historical cities in the country. To prove this, its historical centre has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One historical structure in Guimarães, Portugal that visitors should not miss paying a visit to is the Castelo de Guimaraes. While it was built in the 10th century to protect the people from the attacks of Moors and Normans, it is also believed to be where the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, was born. Moreover, the Igreja de Sao Miguel de Castelo stands next to the castle, the church where the king was believed to be baptized. Besides its historical importance, the church is a view in itself because of its Romanesque structure. Also standing across the church is the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança or the Paço dos Duques. Built in the 15th century, it is a medieval palace that houses a huge collection of furniture, carpets, porcelain, and portraits that date from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Before exploring the ancient city of Braga we will make a break for lunch. Braga has always been an important centre for culture, commerce and religion with beautiful cathedrals and churches, the main attraction of the city. Many of them were built yet in the beginning of the Middle Ages. The local citizens cherish the legacy of the past. Nowadays simply every church or cathedral of the city is home to unique religious artefacts. The historic part of the city is the most interesting one from excursion point of view. There is a beautiful park – Gardens of Saint Barbara – in the centre of it. A large park with shady valleys and old trees will become a perfect destination for people who want to escape from the bustle of the city and enjoy the splendour of nature in its full. Return to your hotel.
Porto - Departure