Portugal Discovered 18 – 31 May 2018
Day one: Friday Lisbon
Arrive at Lisbon Airport, where Sarah will meet you to accommodate individual arrivals and transport to the hotel.
The afternoon is at leisure for rest or browsing.
This evening you will be welcomed at a Cocktail Party for a Tour Briefing and Orientation.
After drinks Guests are invited to explore Lisbon. We have provide an annotated Restaurant Guide, including personally tried recommendations. Guests who have arrived directly from Australia, may want to retire.
Your accommodation for the next two nights is at a special inner city hotel with its histroic exterior belying lovely modern rooms and a roof terrace with spectacular views from the Chiado, over the city.
Day two: Saturday Lisbon
After Breakfast at your hotel,Guests meet for a guided walk through the Alfama, the fascinating, steeply stepped district of old Lisbon which survived the 1755 earthquake.
Lunch is at the historic and atmospheric Casa do Leäo restaurant set in Castelo de Säo Jorge, originally a Moorish fortress from the 6th century, converted into a royal residence in the 12th century and then used as an armoury and prison until the earthquake.
Enjoy the marvellous views over Lisbon and the Tagus River.
After lunch, continue on foot exploring the highlights of the Alfama including the delightful Museum of Decorative Arts, St Vincent’s Monastery, the flea market and the Sé, Lisbon’s Cathedral.
Return to Hotel.
Tonight join Sarah to savour the nearby Bairro Alto that has an exuberant and safe night life, a magical twilight until almost midnight and a habit of eating late. We will dine together at a favourite restaurant.
Day three: Sunday Belem to Porto
After breakfast depart for Belém, situated brilliantly on the banks of the Tagus River.
Enjoy a Guided tour of Belém to see the remarkable Manueline architecture of the Hieronymite Monastery, the Convento dos Jerónimos, the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Naval Museum and the entrancing National Coach Museum.
Lunch allows you to rub shoulders with locals relishing their Sunday in the sun. The plazas of Belém are filled with an array of out-door, umbrella shaded restaurants patronised by families and you are free to make your choice. The Tour departs the greater city of Lisbon and advances up the National highway to the wonderful northern city of Porto. Dinner by the mighty Douro River that runs through the heart of town. Accommodation is in a beautiful hotel on the banks of the river and will be home for two nights.
Day four: Monday Porto
Travelling by riverboat this morning affords views of this dramatic, medieval city. Disembark and arrive at Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank of the mighty Douro, home to the port-wine trade and many famous port lodges.
Receive a V.I.P. welcome at Graham’s for a tour and tasting.
The afternoon is at lesiure and Porto is good shopping!
Dine in a selected restaurant before an early night, as tomorrow is a full day.
Day five: Tuesday Porto to the Douro River – Pinhao
An early departure this morning to reach the sumptuously tiled and decorated train station before boarding the train for the spectacular 3-hour journey east, along the scenic Douro River.
On arrival at Pinhao a beautiful drive through a tributary valley to visit a private quinta and vineyard, site for the production of port grapes and a tour before lunch.
Since 1756, this is part of the oldest demarcated wine region in the world,
Tonight’s accommodation is at the beautiful Vintage House situated right on the River’s edge, with a lovely pool and charming dining room.
Day six: Wednesday Douro River – Quinta do Vesuvio – Pinhao
We will depart for a day of Spring Port Wine adventures in the dazzling Douro River Valley. A special treat this year, our second time invitation to visit the exclusive Symington’s Quinta do Vesuvio. Dinner tonight in a local Pinhao restaurant that the winemakers favour.
Day seven: Thursday Pinhao – Coimbra – Bussaco
Travel this morning through dramatic mountain passes from the Douro Valley to the Renaissance town of Viseu with its various street cafes that makes finding a spot for coffee easy. Arrive Conimbriga for a guided tour of the largest Roman site in Portugal dating from 2nd B.C. a memorable excavation of the original city and a small museum displaying material recovered during the excavations. Depart for the short journey to Coimbra, a very impressive old University town with lovely plazas and coffee shops. Free time to mix with the locals and find a table in the sun for lunch. A guided tour of the University precinct including the memorable Bibliotheca Joanina, built in the early 18th century. Then proceed to Bussaco Palace set in one of Portugal’s most significant botanical parks on the outskirts of the Spa town of Luso. Dinner in the highly decorative dining room. Overnight Bussaco Palace Hotel.
Day eight: Friday Bussaco – Batalha – Alcobaca – Obidos
Depart for Batalha. The wonderful Gothic-Manueline Abbey was built to commemorate the Portuguese victory over the Spanish invaders in 1385.The church and abbey complex is known as “the triumph turned into stone.”Find a light lunch in one of the nearby cafes. Then onto Alcobaça, one of Portugal’s most outstanding monuments. This beloved Abbey was built by the Cisterian monks who effected enormous agricultural innovations and established this great centre of learning. Arrive on the outskirts of the walled village of Obidos. An extremely pretty, much visited national monument town, originally fortified in Moorish times, and later a favourite retreat for royalty as well as a frequent Queen’s dowry. Dinner and accommodation in the walled town.
Day nine: Saturday Obidos – Tomar – Marvao
A tour of the remarkable Convento de Cristo de Tomar dating from the 12th century and the castle built by the Knights Templar. King Dinis founded the order of the Knights of Christ in 1317 to strengthen the Portuguese monarchy and under their Grand Master, Henry the Navigator, went on to finance the voyages of discovery to the west coast of Africa, eventually making it the wealthiest order in Christendom. Building continued until the 17th century and restoration continues to this day. After lunch the tour departs for the journey east to Marvao. Onto the unspoiled fortress village of Marvao with its medieval atmosphere and fabulous views to the Spanish frontier.
Day ten: Sunday Marvao – Monsaraz – Estremoz
A stroll down the remarkable Old Roman Road and then heading south into the Alantajo. Arrive in Monsaraz, a thick walled cluster floating above the Alentejan landscape, with its castle jutting out above the rest. It has a famous tiny bull-fighting ring. Then onto Herdade do Esporao winery, a vast, privately owned vineyard complex overseen by the easy going Australian, David Baverstock. Lunch at the Vineyard. Tour departs for Estremoz, for the glorious Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel, luminescent against the hot blue sky, Estremoz is surrounded by marble mines, grape vines and cork oaks. Evening at leisure to enjoy this wonderful palace, the jewel in the crown of Portugal’s Pousadas.
Day eleven: Monday Estremoz
After breakfast drive through the wide, exposed plains of the Alentejo of Central Portugal, a landscape of ancient olive groves, cork plantations and white washed villages, to reach Évora.
A beautiful walled town significant since Roman times as a major trading post, later as the intermittent residence of Royalty and a university since the 16th century, Évora in 1986 was awarded World Heritage status.A guided walking tour of this enchanting provincial city illuminates its architectural, historical and artistic treasures. After lunch the Tour continues to Valverde village and the countryside surrounding Èvora, renowned for some of Europe’s most interesting megalithic sites.
Dinner in a very good restaurant in the beautiful walled, hilltop town, Estremoz
Day twelve: Tuesday, Estremoz to Sintra
Depart for Sintra, where we have selected the most charming guest house accommodation in all of Portugal.The afternoon and evening are free to explore Sintra- once a summer seat of the Portuguese royal family, enjoying a spectacular hill-top setting above the Atlantic.
Sintra enjoys fantastic sub-tropical vegetation and an extraordinary variety of national monuments and fanciful manor houses, surrounded by parklands.
We have a favourite local restaurant for dinner.
Day thirteen: Wednesday, Sintra
Sintra is very good for walking, and there is a great deal to explore from wonderful gardens, mansions, palaces, monasteries and charming streets with elegant boutiques.
The Quinta, your residences’ gardens and views, are so special that you may be prefer to just stay at the property.
A memorable picnic lunch will be served in the in the gardens of the Quinta.
Tonight’s farewell banquet is in the little village of Colares famous for the local wines.
Day fourteen: Thursday, Sintra returning to Lisbon
After a leisurely breakfast the Tour departs for Lisbon and the Airport.