What to Expect
Discover the best of Portugal on a comprehensive 11-day tour, north to south. Visit historic castles and cathedrals, follow in the footsteps of pilgrims at Fatima and Santiago de Compostela, reach Europe’s southwesterly most point in the Algarve, and explore historic university cities. Taste the wines and local produce of some of Portugal’s most fertile landscapes, including the Port wine and “green wine” regions, and immerse yourself in diverse landscapes of mountains, rivers, and more.
Day 1: Lisbon - Óbidos - Alcobaça - Nazaré - Batalha - Fátima
Discover a landscape rich with windmills and fruit trees in Óbidos, a scenic village surrounded by medieval walls. Admire the harmony of the architecture, and the diversity of the handicrafts, and taste the famous ginginha (bitter cherry liqueur). Continue to Alcobaça to see the largest Gothic church in Portugal. Next, stop in the typical fishing village of Nazaré and learn about its legends. Continue to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Victoria in Batalha, where you can find the tomb of Henry the Navigator, promoter of Portugal’s maritime discoveries. Follow in the footsteps of Catholic pilgrims as you make your way to the Fátima Marian Shrine. There may be the chance to see the candlelit procession at Fátima, before you check into your hotel accommodation for the night.
Day 2: Fátima - Coimbra - Aveiro - Porto
Following breakfast at your hotel, continue your journey towards Coimbra. Discover the world’s oldest university with its magnificent Baroque library and unique atmosphere characterized by ancient traditions, such as the students’ black capes and the melancholic fado music. Stop at St. Clara Church to see the tomb of Queen St. Isabel, protagonist of the “Miracle of the Roses.” Marvel at the famous ceramics of Coimbra, before going to the canal city of Aveiro, known as the “Portuguese Venice.” Watch the graceful boats known as “moliceiros”, and taste the sweet, local ovos moles. Continue to Porto to check into your hotel for the night.
Day 3: Porto – Guimarães - Braga
Today you will explore Portugal’s 2nd largest city, and discover a living amphitheater of riverside houses, palaces, churches, and Port wine bars. Next, head into the sparkling “green wine” region of Minho. Discover the cradle of the nation (and the birthplace of the 1st king of Portugal) at Guimarães. Stroll through the historic center, and travel back to medieval times. Go to Sacred Hill, crowned by the castle, and Palace of the Dukes of Bragança. Then, drive to Braga to discover the "Portuguese Rome." See the oldest cathedral in Portugal, and the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary with its famous Baroque stairway and gardens. Check into your hotel in Braga for the rest of the evening at leisure.
Day 4: Braga - Santiago de Compostela - Porto
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, before departing Braga for Santiago de Compostela, capital of Galicia and the center of pilgrimage at the end of the Santiago Way. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985, Santiago de Compostela is a fascinating city, and you will have the entire day free to explore. Wander its historic streets, and learn about its most extraordinary monuments before sampling some of the traditional local dishes. Return to Porto to check into your hotel for the night.
Day 5: Porto - Amarante - Vila Real - Vale do Douro - Lamego - Urgeiriça
Depart Porto after breakfast, and head towards the Douro Valley, stopping en route at the pretty town of Amarante. See the monastery of São Gonçalo, and marvel at the houses facing the river, along with the bustling market where you can find fruit, vegetables, chickens, clothes, and much more. Next, go to Vila Real to see the gardens of Mateus, well-known for its depiction on bottles of Portuguese rosé wine. Enter the Port wine region of Portugal, travelling through vineyards and the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Valley. Stop in Lamego, overlooked by one of Portugal's most important shrines, the N. S. Remédios, with its magnificent Baroque style staircase. Try some of the local delicacies, such as the typical ham or famous Bola de Lamego (a loaf baked in the oven with smoked ham). Continue to the mountainous hinterland of Viseu, center of the Dão Vineyards, and connected with Portugal´s oldest hero, the Lusitanian chief, Viriato. Stroll the narrow streets to see doorways with coats of arms carved in granite. Continue to Urgeiriça to check into your hotel for the night.
Day 6: Urgeiriça - Bussaco - Tomar - Lisbon
Drive through the heart of Portugal to the luxuriant forests of Bussaco. Continue to Tomar to explore the city of the “Order of the Templars.” Hear how they received the lands in 1159 as a reward for the assistance they gave Dom Afonso Henriques (the 1st King of Portugal) in the Christian re-conquest. See the stunning castle and Convent of Christ built by Dom Gualdim Pais, the first Grand Master of the Order in Portugal. Continue to Lisbon to check into your hotel for the night.
Day 7: Lisbon - Sintra - Cabo Da Roca - Cascais - Estoril - Lisbon
Spend the day exploring the beautiful towns and resorts of the Estoril Coast, starting with the whimsical castles and palaces of Sintra. Admire the extraordinary mix of architectural styles of the buildings and gardens of Sintra Natural Park. Then, go to Cabo da Roca to stand at continental Europe’s westernmost point. Pass one of Portugal’s most famous surfing beaches, and see the Boca do Inferno before going to cosmopolitan Cascais and the gardens of Estoril Casino. Return to Lisbon for the night.
Day 8: Lisbon - Évora
Today you will spend the entire day exploring the university town of Évora, known for its rich tapestry of culture, history, and traditions. Depart Lisbon and cross the Tagus River, passing through a bucolic landscape of olive trees, cork oak trees, and vineyards. Upon arrival at Évora, wander the narrow streets of the whitewashed town, and see some of its most famous monuments, such as the Roman Temple, Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral, and ossuary (“Bones Chapel”) at St. Francis Church. Go to the market to see, smell, and taste some of the local produce. Admire local handicrafts of cork, ceramics, and copper ware. The afternoon will be free for you to explore at leisure, and taste more of the local wines, cheeses, and gourmet olive oils. Check into your Évora hotel for your overnight accommodation.
Day 9: Évora - Beja - Silves - Lagos
Depart Évora after breakfast, and drive south past Beja, site of the highest tower from the Portuguese Middle Ages. Cross small mountains to enter the famous Algarve. Drive past orchards of orange trees en route to Silves, known for its red sandstone castle dating back to Moorish times. Continue to the golden sands of the Algarve, passing Praia da Rocha to check into your hotel in Lagos.
Day 10: Lagos - Ponta da Piedade - Sagres - Cabo de São Vicente
Discover the scenic beauty of the Algarve, and learn about the part it played in the discovery of the New World. Go to Ponta da Piedade for a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean, and see cliffs that have been sculpted into curious shapes by the erosion of the sea. Next, go to the small fishing port of Sagres, and visit the fortress to learn about the mythical “Navigation School” of Prince Henry the Navigator. Continue along the cliffs to Cabo São Vincente to reach the southwestern most point in Europe. Return to Lagos to experience the cosmopolitan vibe of the town and marina. Taste delicious Algarve dishes, such as fish and shellfish cooked in a copper pan (cataplana). Indulge your sweet tooth with some of the local marzipans, almond, and fig cakes. Return to your hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Take a dip in the warm sea.
Day 11: Lagos - Setúbal - Serra da Arrábida - Lisbon
Say farewell to the Algarve with one last look at the sea. The return trip to Lisbon will take you via the city of Setubal, a major port and industrial center on the north bank of the Sado Estuary. Continue over the Arrábida Mountain Range, preserved as a Natural Park with an amazing scenery and unique vegetation. Savor the sweeping views of the Tróia Peninsula, before you cross the bridge over the Tagus River to arrive back in Lisbon.