Day 1 ARRIVE IN LISBON, PORTUGAL.
Welcome to Lisbon! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel.
Day 2 LISBON.
Lisbon was the center of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Portugal’s imperial ambitions date back to Prince Henry the Navigator’s 15th-century discoveries in West Africa. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive through the Baixa quarter’s main squares. Then, enjoy a walk through the cobblestone alleys of quaint ALFAMA, the popular quarter of the seamen and Fado singers. Drive along the grand Avenida da Liberdade up to Pombal Square, and stop for pictures of Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. Also visit JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. An exciting optional excursion is available to the royal palace of Queluz, as well as dinner at a typical taverna with Fado-style entertainment.
Day 3 LISBON–OBIDOS–ALCOBAÇA–NAZARÉ–FATIMA–TOMAR.
Stop in medieval Obidos and go back in time as you pass the main gate in the impressive perimeter wall and walk along the narrow streets. Continue to Alcobaça to visit the CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA MONASTERY, built in the 12th century for 999 Cistercian monks. See the elaborate tombs of King Pedro I and his Castilian lover, Inês de Castro. The fishing harbor of Nazaré is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch break. In the afternoon, mix with the pilgrims at the country’s hallowed national shrine, Fatima’s SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY. Overnight in Tomar, the historic seat of the mighty Order of the Knights of Christ.
Day 4 TOMAR–CONIMBRIGA–COIMBRA–OPORTO.
Visit the hilltop CONVENT OF CHRIST with its famous Manueline Window. Farther north, the ROMAN RUINS OF CONIMBRIGA are eloquent testimony to centuries of Roman influence. Tour the excavations, admire the well-preserved mosaics, and visit the excellent MUSEUM. Continue to Coimbra, strategically situated on a hill overlooking the Mondego River. After a visit to the gilded baroque LIBRARY of its 700-year-old university, drive by ancient Buçaco Forest on your way to Oporto, Portugal’s second-largest city. Tonight, why not join an optional cruise on the Douro River, followed by dinner at one of Oporto’s fine restaurants?
Day 5 OPORTO.
Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a panoramic drive to the mouth of the Douro River, the soaring cathedral, the richly decorated CHURCH OF SAO FRANCISCO, and the STOCK EXCHANGE with its contemporary ARABIAN HALL, inspired by Granada’s Alhambra. Next, visit [LF] the famous Sandeman & Co. PORT WINE CELLAR to taste the Port wine produced from grapes of the Douro Valley.
Day 6 OPORTO–GUIMARAES–VISEU.
In Guimaraes, often referred to as the “Cradle of Portugal” because of its association with the country’s first king, Alfonso Henriques, enjoy a walk through the medieval center. Next, [LF] taste Portuguese tapas at the Quinta da Aveleda WINERY and visit its splendid GARDENS. From here, a scenic road through the port wine vineyards leads to Viseu, where a special dinner with local specialties and wine awaits you at Forno da Mimi restaurant.
Day 7 VISEU–BELMONTE–CASTELO DE VIDE–EVORA.
This morning, stop in Belmonte, today a symbol of Jewish awakening, for a visit of the JEWISH MUSEUM. Also enjoy [LF] an OLIVE OIL TASTING, for which the area is famous. Afternoon break in Castelo de Vide, with time to walk through the Jewish quarter with its white-washed houses and its medieval synagogue. Before arriving in Evora, the cultural center of southern Portugal and a former royal residence, visit [LF] a CORK FACTORY and learn about the many ways this material can be used.
Day 8 EVORA–ALGARVE.
A massive wall surrounds Evora’s medieval center, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Follow your Local Guide on a walking tour through its narrow alleys to the Roman Temple, the early gothic CATHEDRAL, Portas de Moura fountain, and SAO FRANCISCO CHURCH. Visit the OSSUARY CHAPEL, whose walls are covered with thousands of human bones and skulls. Next, proceed across the arid Alentejo plain to the Algarve, Portugal’s most popular vacation area, and check in to your hotel with rooms overlooking the ocean. Tonight, why not try one of the seafood restaurants for which the Algarve is famous?
Day 9 ALGARVE. COASTAL EXCURSION.
Highlight today is a visit to the wind-swept PROMONTORY OF SAGRES, where Henry the Navigator lived and planned his overseas expansion. Only a few miles away is Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern corner of continental Europe, a dramatic cliff defying the waves of an ever-angry Atlantic Ocean. Time in pretty Lagos before returning to your hotel.
Day 10 ALGARVE–AZEITAO–LISBON.
Take the scenic route over the Serra da Arrábida and savor sweeping views of the Tróia Peninsula. Catch glimpses of the castle at Sesimbra, which recall fierce medieval battles between Christians and Moors and stop in Azeitao to visit a traditional TILE WORKSHOP. After crossing the Bridge of April 25th, you’re back in Lisbon. Tonight, enjoy [LF] a spectacular panoramic view at Varanda restaurant while having a cocktail and a special farewell dinner with your traveling companions.
Day 11 LISBON
. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.