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No longer Europe's best kept secret, Portugal is the place to come for a European holiday with a twist. Full of grand cities, medieval villages and World Heritage sites, this is a charming country where you'll feel like a week just isn't enough.
Day 1: Lisbon
Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal’s vibrant capital. One of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife. You will be taken to our centrally located joining hotel (details are in your travel documents) from Lisbon airport. While it’s of course up to you, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe, due to this method of transport's minimal carbon emissions. In the evening, meet your tour leader and fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (this is usually at 6 pm, but you will be advised as to the exact place and time in a notice placed near the reception at your hotel). Here your leader will give a briefing of what lies ahead on your trip. This is followed by a Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Lisbon
Today you’ll explore the treasures of Lisbon, which is located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River and is truly one of Europe’s great cities. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. We will visit one of the most symbolic buildings in the city, Lisbon Cathedral, which was built on the site of an old mosque in 1150 by Lisbon’s first bishop, Gilbert of Hastings. Inside are nine chapels, each with their own story to tell, and the wonderful Gothic cloister. After the guided tour you will have time to visit the medieval citadel of Sao Jorge Castle at your own pace. The citadel dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Although much of the original castle has been destroyed throughout history, some sections of walls and 18 different towers remain today. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. The afternoon is free to make further discoveries of Lisbon - roam through the charming narrow streets of local neighborhoods and see local life play out, visit Belem Tower (a wonderful building originally designed as a lighthouse) and the vast, spectacular Monastery of the Jeronimos.
Day 3: Sintra – Lisbon
Travel outside of the city today for a full-day excursion from Lisbon. First to Sintra, which is an absolute jewel of Portugal. This bewitching place, with its fairytale atmosphere, is set amidst lush vegetation and rugged, mystical hills. The cooler climes made it a summer retreat for royalty, and it has drawn and inspired many poets, writers and travellers for centuries, including Lord Byron. Spend some time here exploring Sintra’s Pena Palace and Gardens. The views across the Serra de Sintra mountain range are stunning. Then we continue to Cabo da Rocha, a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe. After the colourful Bay of Cascais and its dazzling beaches, stop in cosmopolitan Cascais. Once a quiet fishing village, later Cascais became a residence of the Portuguese royal court in the 19th century, and is now a glamorous holiday destination of designer boutiques and upscale restaurants. During your free time here, why not sit down in one of the little restaurants and try some local delicacies? On the drive back to Lisbon along the coast in the afternoon, see a different perspective of the capital as you approach it from the other side of the Tagus River. After a great full day of sights, enjoy this evening at your leisure in Lisbon.
Day 4: Coimbra
This morning, farewell Lisbon and travel to the impressive Monastery of Batalha (approximately 2 hour), one of Europe’s best examples of Gothic architecture. A World Heritage-listed structure, this monastery was built to celebrate Portugal’s 1385 victory over the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarrota. Your destination for today, and base for the evening, is the university city of Coimbra (approximately 1.5 hour). Sitting dignified on the banks of the River Mondego, Coimbra was once the capital of the county, and its royal heritage can be felt in its ancient streets and buildings. Join your tour leader on a wander through the lanes and squares of the Old Quarter and University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal. This evening, regroup and experience more of Portugal’s cultural heritage with an evening that includes traditional ‘Fado’ music show. Tonight’s dinner is at your own expense.
Day 5: Porto
Leaving Coimbra today, travel northbound to Portugal’s second largest city, Porto (Oporto), the capital of the north that sits between the River Douro and the Atlantic Ocean (approximately 1.5 hours). This will be your base for the next two nights. The World Heritage-listed Ribeira district is filled with a collection of twisting alleys, criss-crossing staircases and baroque churches. On a guided tour, discover one of Portugal's most romantic cities. Passing majestic bridges, medieval riverside district with cobbled streets, merchants’ houses and cafes, stop by the cathedral, the Tower of Clérigos, and the impressive hall of Porto’s Sao Bento Railway Station. The tower offers sensational sweeping views across the whole city, while the grand train station and its historic entrance hall panels evokes a more refined age of rail travel. On our exploration today we will also discover lesser known parts of the city; in fact known well, but only to the local people and experts. We’ll go under the skin of this beautiful city by tasting some of the best coffee and pastry in town, in small, classic cafes, enjoying best local Port wine in cosy local taverns and sampling some of the local specialities like codfish and the Francesinha. You can spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere of this coastal strolling along the riverside or observing local life in action from one of many rooftop bars.
Day 6: Guimarães - Braga - Porto
Today you will journey outside of Porto to Guimarães (approximately 1 hour). Portugal’s first capital and the birthplace of the country’s first king (the ‘conqueror’, which gives the town its name), the town consists of a well-preserved old city and an impressive castle. Explore Palace of the Dukes of Braganza located in the historical centre of the city and witness the greatness of the Guimarães Castle, one of the most complete medieval strongholds in Portugal, dating from the 10th century. As the believed birthplace of King Afonso Henriques, the castle is something of a national shrine. Next it’s on to Braga (30 minutes), considered by many to be one of Portugal’s most stunning cities. It has long been a religious centre, and overflows with churches, monasteries, and chapels. The charm of this place lies in its impressive Baroque buildings, most notably the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. On the western slopes of Monte Espinho, the sanctuary is lead to by a magnificent criss-crossing staircase that has 14 different chapels, each representing a station of the cross. Drive back to Porto after your day of exploration, and then enjoy a final farewell and celebratory dinner at a local restaurant as this Portuguese adventure comes to an end.
Day 7: Porto
Today your Portugal adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there's so much to see and do in the exciting city of Porto, however, we recommend extending your stay for a few nights. If you need further accommodation, our reservations team would be happy to assist (subject to availability).
- Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
- Castle of Sao Jorge
- Explore Lisbon with a Local Guide
- Pena Palace Sintra
- Monastery of Batalha
- Coimbra - Fado Show
- Porto guided food tasting tour
- Guided tour of Guimarães
6 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Dinner(s) Included