Day 1: Lisbon
On your arrival in Lisbon, you will be met by our private chauffeur for your transfer to our hotel in the center of Lisbon. In the afternoon, we'll start our exploration of Portugal with a historical walking tour of the city of Lisbon with its atmospheric Alfama neighborhood, featuring great views of St. George's Castle, Lisbon's centerpiece of Commerce Square, and historical monuments throughout the city. In the evening, we'll gather for a welcome dinner at an upscale Lisbon restaurant, where we'll get to know each other and enjoy an informal discussion about Portugal's past, present, and future.
Day 2: Belem, Discoveries Monument, Jeronimos Monastery
Today, we'll travel to Lisbon's Belem neighborhood and get immersed in Portuguese history from the Age of Discoveries and the resulting phenomenon of the Manueline architecture. A unique architectural style, based on the High Gothic design and intricately decorative, twisted motifs, the Manueline architectural style is extraordinarily imaginative, full of dizzying creativity which expressed the era's wealth, cultural influences, and the country's booming confidence. We'll start our guided tour with the iconic Belem Tower, a fortified lighthouse built in 1515 to protect Lisbon's Harbor, and famous as the place from which the great Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery. Our guided tour will continue with the Discoveries Monument commemorating the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator's death and the hard-to-believe-your-eyes Jeronimos Monastery, built on the orders of Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama's successful return from India. After some free time in the afternoon, we'll enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner accompanied by live Portuguese Fado music, the original Portuguese "blues".
Day 3: Sintra and Cascais
This morning, we'll travel to the romantic town of Sintra, full of whimsical villas and palaces veiled in tangled vegetation, and the favorite escape of English Romantic poets. Following in their footsteps, we'll tour the Palace of Pena, a fantasy and photogenic hilltop castle built by Prince Ferdinand. From Sintra, we'll take a short drive along the dramatic Atlantic Coast and enjoy a gourmet lunch at a clifftop fortress turned a romantic restaurant in the secluded location of Guincho Beach. Afterwards, we'll continue to the seaside resort of Cascais. Originally a fishing village, then a royal summer retreat, and then an artist colony, today Cascais is a cosmopolitan resort sprinkled with architectural and historical marvels. After a short tour of the town, we'll have some free time here to relax, shop or take a walk on the beach or the seaside promenade, before returning to Lisbon.
Day 4: Obidos, Batalha, Coimbra
Today, we'll leave Lisbon and travel north, where further discoveries await us. We'll start with the medieval walled town of Obidos, the town of Queens, which was traditionally presented to Portuguese queens as their wedding gift. Here, we'll tour the Moorish castle that dominates the town and get familiar with the town's historical highlights, before we have some free time to further explore Obidos, have lunch, relax on the terrace overlooking the picturesque town or browse through the artisans' shops. In the afternoon, we'll continue to Batalha, where we'll join our guide for a private visit of the Battle Abbey of Batalha, a perfect example of the magnificent Manueline architecture and a monument commemorating an important moment in Portuguese history. In the evening, we'll arrive at our historic hotel in Coimbra, and enjoy dinner in its intimate restaurant.
Day 5: Coimbra
After a full Portuguese breakfast, we'll spend the day exploring the delightful town of Coimbra. Founded in Roman times as Aeminium, then renamed and developed during the Moorish occupation, and after the Reconquest Coimbra was turned into a royal seat, where the country's first university was established. Considered Portugal's most romantic town, Coimbra is perched above Rio Mondego, and its great appeal lies in its ancient center teeming with youthful energy, where the haunting sounds of fado music echo late into the night. The highlights of visiting Coimbra today will be touring its university, including the amazing, Biblioteca Joanina, a fantasy in Baroque ornamentation, then learning about the Coimbra version of Fado music at the Fado Center. After a lunch of local delicacies, we'll have the afternoon to enjoy this beautiful town, full of charming surprises around every corner.
Day 6: Vista Alegre, Aveiro, Porto
In the morning, we'll leave Coimbra and travel further north, towards the city of Porto. Our first stop will be the renowned porcelain factory, Vista Alegre, which produces the famous Portuguese porcelain, characterized by its whiteness and its whimsical, colorful and eccentric designs, closely tied to the country's history and its cultural identity. Afterwards, we'll continue to the lovely town of Aveiro, set along Ria de Aveiro's lagoon and distinguished by its canals navigated by colorful boats, traditionally used to harvest seaweed. We'll take a boat tour here, see the Cathedral of Aveiro with its prominent bell tower, then continue to Costa Nova, lined with colorfully painted striped houses, and a seafront promenade with photogenic sand dunes. In the afternoon, we'll continue to Porto to check in to the historic Pestana A Brasileira Hotel, our home for the next four nights.
Day 7: Porto
Today, we'll tour the hard-working, fascinating city of Porto. We'll start with a walking tour through the tangle of narrow cobbled streets winding steeply down, past merchants’ houses decorated with azulejos tiles and wrought-iron balconies filled with potted flowers, and past atmospheric cafes to the medieval waterfront, while stopping to see the impressive Palacio da Bolsa and the gilded Saint Francis church, decorated with gold brought from Brazil. After some free time for lunch, we'll take a romantic boat trip underneath the city's stately Six Bridges, dramatically straddling the Douro River and connecting the Ribeira District with Vila Nova de Gaia, home to historic port wine lodges, where vast grape harvests arrive each year, brought down the Douro River to be aged, blended and bottled. We'll visit one of the most renowned port lodges and learn about the process of port wine making and taste several varieties of this noble drink. In the evening, we'll relax over dinner at one of the city's upscale restaurants.
Day 8: Douro Valley
After breakfast, we'll set out for a full day's exploration of the Douro Valley. Cradling the river whose name comes from Rio do Ouro (River of Gold), the region has long been associated with port-producing vineyards. Over the millennia, these otherworldly, sublime landscapes of neat rock terraces wrapping around every precipitous hillside and dotted with whitewashed quintas, have been sculpted by generations of hard-working wine growers. Our first stop will be Casa de Mateus, one of the most emblematic Baroque-style buildings in Portugal, surrounded by romantic French-style gardens. Then, we'll proceed to Quinta da Pacheca, where we'll tour the vineyards, and the cellars and learn about growing of Porto grapes, as well as taste several varieties of its port, which will be followed by lunch cultivating the concept of Portuguese cuisine using the typical Douro products. After lunch, we'll take an intimate vintage wine cruise along the Douro River, taking us to the heart of the magical Douro Valley, past some of the most picturesque, vineyard-covered terraces along the river.
Day 9: Braga and Guimar„es
This morning, we'll journey north to discover two jewels of the Costa Verde: Braga and Guimarães. Braga is Portugal's spiritual heart, brimming with baroque religious splendor accompanied by almost a constant chiming of its church bells. Its most spectacular sight, Bom Jesus do Monte, decorated with a dizzying zigzagging staircase and abounding in allegorical decoration, is one of the most remarkable baroque structures in Europe. Guimarães was where Portugal started, as its first King, Afonso Henriques was born here in 1110. Today, the town's center matches its illustrious history with the medieval center oozing atmosphere and cuteness. After the day spent exploring the amazing sights in each place, we'll return to Porto, and in the evening, we'll celebrate our Portuguese adventure and new friendships we made during the farewell dinner at one of the city's most famous restaurants.
Day 10: Departures from Porto
Depending on your flight's departure time, you may be able to spend the morning on an individual exploration of Porto, before your private transfer to the Porto airport, scheduled according to your departure time.
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Belem | Cascais | Fatima | Lisbon | Nazare | Obidos | Porto | Sintra | Fado | Portugal's Golden Age | Knights Templar | Azulejos Tiles | The Tragic Love of Pedro and Ines | Port Wine of the Douro Valley | Cuisine | Books