Portugal Discovered 25 April – 8 May 2020
Portugal exudes all the alluring charm of old Europe, a courtly people, the sweeping history of many civilisations from the Celts to the Arabs, stunning and unspoiled landscapes, and wonderful architecture. Despite the popular perception, there is fabulous food and excellent wine.
Lisbon is one of Europe’s greatest cities having undergone massive restoration and now seeing many modern innovations, it has become excitingly cosmopolitan, urbane and pedestrian-friendly. By contrast, Oporto still has all the mystery and fascination of a medieval town with a dramatic setting on the Douro River.
The Tour starts in Lisbon, mixing with the locals and soaking up the fabulous history, architecture and life-style of this vibrant and humanely scaled city. Guided walking tours of the medieval Alfama district, the exciting and truly cosmopolitan night life of the Bairro Alto and the architectural wonders of Belém feature.
Taste the Portuguese landscape with accommodation in restored castles, Serra da Arrabida National Park, the steely grey of the Atalantic Ocean as background. Next are the semi arid wine, cork and olive rich plains of the Alentejo with Stone-Age megalithic remnants, the international heritage University town of Évora, some exceptionally interesting wineries, and fine olive oil production. The journey continues to the Serra de Sao Mamede on the Spanish frontier, on to the intricate historical tapestry of central Portugal’s Beira Litoral and Ribatejo Provinces, taking in the memorable Convent at Tomar built by the Knights Templar, the 17th Century University precinct of Coimbra, and the extensive Roman excavations at Conimbriga, as well as the botanical treasures of Buçaco.
On your way up to Oporto, marvel at the extraordinary Bussaco Palace and enjoy a V.I.P. welcome at one of the oldest Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. Savour the spectacular Douro Valley at leisure before visiting one of the most substantial Quintas on this awesome river. Accommodation here is at the acclaimed Vintage House with its stunning riverside setting. The journey ends in the Serra de Sintra, ( via the pretty national monument fortressed village of Óbidos) where you relax and absorb the fairy tale atmosphere of this regal hill-station town. The last two nights are spent at a regal 16thC manor house overlooking the magic Sintra valley from its lofty perch.