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Gems of Portugal

Lisbon, Obidos, Alcobaca, Batalha, Coimbra, Porto, Amarante, Mesao Frio, Lamego, Pinhao, Lamego, Viseu, Serra da Estrela, Belmonte, Castelo Branco, Marvao, Estremoz, Évora
Portugal
10 Days
  • Our in country expert says
    Discover the Heart of Portugal on this trip! Portugal is very diverse with striking nature, romantic villages and welcoming people, which offer a wonderful and memorable travel experience.

     

    Itinerary at a Glance
    Day
    1
    Lisbon
    Arrive in Lisbon Airport. Meet your driver outside customs for a private transfer to your 5-star hotel. 

    For the remainder of the day, enjoy the amenities and comfort of your hotel or explore the nearby area of Belem. Famous monuments like the Tower of Belem or Jerónimos Monastery lie just minutes away. 


    Day
    2
    Obidos – Alcobaca – Batalha
    After breakfast, pick up your rental car, depart Lisbon and drive north to Óbidos. 
    Óbidos’ is a gorgeous little village, surrounded by a circle of thousand-year-old walls, with towers, battlements and gates. Inside, you discover a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and quaint whitewashed houses livened up with flowers, a photographer’s delight.  

    The town of Alcobaça is your next station. Born around the 12th century monastery which is now an Unesco World Heritage Site. Walk around the altar for a perfect view of the church. 
    Batalha Monastery is another impressive monastery, built along a period of 150 years, to mark the beginning of the dynasty of Avis after the victory of King John I over the Spanish armies in 1385. 

    Arrive in Coimbra in the evening.


    Day
    3
    Coimbra - Porto
    After breakfast visit the University of Coimbra. 
    Coimbra’s University was founded in 1290 and is one of the oldest in the world with a student population of more than 23.000. 

    The main sights of the University are the 18th Century Baroque library, holding a total of 60.000 rare books and manuscripts. The Capelo Room -  the main Assembly Room dating from the 16th century, where promotions and formal events take place and the Manueline Chapel, dating back to the 16th century.  

    After lunch, leave Coimbra and proceed to Porto, the largest city of the North of Portugal. 
    Placed on the northern bank of the Douro River, Oporto was conquered from the moors in the 9th century and became an important key to the birth of Portugal as a nation.  
    A buzz of trade, a fantastic and exciting city with a strong personality. 


    Day
    4
    Porto
    After breakfast enjoy a private guided tour of Porto.  
    Your specialist guide will take you to the Ribeira, buzzing with people, bars and vendors, show you the Palacio da Bolsa, where the city trade thrives for centuries. Finish your morning tour with a visit to an awarded Port Wine lodge, learn how Port wine has been perfected for years, and taste the finished product. 

    For lunch, taste Porto’s cuisine in one of the best places in town, offering no fuss Portuguese specialties.  
    In the afternoon, return to your hotel or continue your tour with a visit to the Serralves Foundation gardens and modern art Museum.  

    Return to the center of town following the spire of the Clérigos church. Nearby you will find a precious jewel - Lello Bookstore, too small for the crowds that wish to admire it, it dates back to 1906 and it is believed to be the third most beautiful bookstore in the world. 

    End your day with a walk on Saint Catherine’s Street, Porto’s busiest shopping street, enjoy a drink while watching the crowds at the Café Majestic, dating from 1921.


    Day
    5
    Douro Valley
    Check out and departure to Amarante, a picture-perfect village. 

    Every Wednesday and Saturday, a farmer’s market is held in the city center, boasting with fresh vegetables, pottery, embroideries and so much more. Cross the medieval bridge and enjoy a coffee and sweet treat at the best coffee house in the city.  

    After Amarante, the road climbs steeply across the Marão Mountain to Mesão Frio and the demarcated area of Port wine.  When you make the last sharp turn and end facing the river Douro, the scenery is breath-taking. The valley, as far as your eyes can encompass, is carved in terraces, with vines lined up in ranks like an army.  

    In the early afternoon arrive at your 5-star hotel.


    Day
    6
    Douro Valley
    Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and the hotel’s spa facilities before taking a mid-morning drive to the adjacent wine estate, for a private cooking workshop or a visit to the vineyards followed by a specialist wine tasting masterclass.  

    Producers of excellent wines for many generations, the family will welcome you to their farm, teach you to prepare a local specialty or the secrets behind the Port Wine making. 

    After lunch drive along the River Douro to Pinhão, a tiny town in the geographical center of the Douro wine region. Many of the wine brands that you have seen in Porto have their farms and headquarters here.



    Day
    7
    Viseu – Serra da Estrela - Belmonte
    We need to say goodbye to the beautiful Douro Valley.  
    The road will take you south, crossing the mountain of Montemuro with its minute villages, to the city of Viseu. 
     
    Visit the Cathedral and the adjacent Grão Vasco Art Museum. A short walk along the Rua Nova will take you to the medieval city center, lively with shoppers and university students.   
    Leaving Viseu, you can drive across the highest mountain of Portugal - Estrela. With a height of 2000 meters it has striking landscapes, glacier valleys, wild plants and flocks of sheep. 
     
    As you leave the highway on your way to Belmonte, you will notice a rarity - the Tower of Centum Cellas. An amazingly preserved tower, with three floors, made of pink granite blocks that was part of a Roman villa.  

    Belmonte was the birthplace of Alvares Cabral, the Portuguese navigator which discovered Brazil in 1500, and refuge of a large Jewish community that managed to escape inquisition for many centuries.  
    The Jewish Museum portrays the history of Sephardic Jews presence in Portugal, their customs and traditions, and includes records of the 16th century Inquisition. 


    Day
    8
    Castelo Branco – Marvao - Estremoz
    After breakfast drive across the Marão tunnel to the city of Castelo Branco, famous for its silk embroideries. The women in the town still produce lovely works of art in soft shades of silk and can be seen diligently at work in the local museum.  

    The landscape changes in color as you reach Alentejo - the houses are no longer built of stone, but are made of clay and whitewashed. The forests are replaced by olive groves and cork trees, the sunlight is stronger and the colors vivid. 
     
    Our next visit is the walled town of Marvão. You are now a mere 4 miles from Spain, this is why the town is hiding behind walls, a stronghold to prevent the attack of the Spanish armies. 
    The fortress is impressive with towers and embattlements and a view stretching across valleys and mountains. Explore the town on foot, or venture the car through the city gate and navigate the narrow streets up to the castle - either way you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama.  

    Continue to Estremoz, known as the ‘white city’, entirely built in marble, to your next Hotel, a former Royal Palace.  


    Day
    9
    Estremoz Wine Estate - Evora
    After breakfast, it’s time to explore Estremoz city center and meet the locals. Afterwards, drive to outskirts of Estremoz to a Wine Estate for a tour and tasting. 

    Some of the wines are still crafted in the traditional style, the grapes are treaded by foot in stone troughs, a process carried out twice a day until the alcoholic fermentation is complete.  
    After lunch, drive further south to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Évora, a walled city founded by the Romans, occupied by the Moors and conquered by the Crusaders in 1165. 

    The center of the town is the Giraldo Square from which radiate the main streets and pedestrian archways.  If you start your tour at the Roman Temple you will be impressed by how well it has survived the test of times. Nearby you may wish to visit the Cathedral, dating back to the 12th-century.  
    Explore the colorful handicraft at the Rua 5 de Outubro and enjoy a queijada (Cheese Cake). The local cheese is excellent with a slice of rye bread and a glass of Cartuxa red wine. 
     
    The last curiosity is the Bone’s Chapel, part of St Francis Convent, decorated with more than 5.000 human bones and skulls from the city graveyards, a stark reminder of how transient life is. 


    Day
    10
    Departure
    In your final day, take the motorway back to Lisbon via the Vasco da Gama Bridge to access directly the airport. 

    Extending your stay a couple of days will allow you to explore Lisbon, the capital of the country, Sintra and Cascais, a lovely end to a perfect tour. 

    Inclusion
    • Hotel accommodations with breakfast unless specifically excluded in itinerary
    Exclusion
    • Items of personal nature viz. telephone calls, drinks, laundry bills, lunch etc.
    Prices are in US$ per person
    01 Jan 17 - 31 Dec 18
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