Bem vindo a Lisboa. A sea of pastel pinks, yellows and blues dot the seven hills of the romantic Portuguese capital, which you will have an opportunity to explore today before meeting your fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and orientation drive past the city's most iconic sights.
Delve into Lisbon's centuries-old seafaring heritage today, paying tribute to the brave men who set off from these shores to discover the 'New World'. We'll see the shimmering white Monument to the Discoveries, the iconic suspension bridge spanning the Tagus and Belém Tower, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition. We join a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the UNESCO-listed Hieronymite Monastery, an exquisite testament to 15th-century Manueline architecture and art. There's time to join an Optional Experience to the historic towns of Cascais and Queluz or enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner amidst the heart-wrenching, haunting sounds of the fado.
We journey across the Tagus this morning and drive south towards the Serra da Arrábida Mountains and to the golden pastures of the Alentejo. The hearty aroma of Portuguese chicken fills the air as we 'Connect With Locals' over a Be My Guest lunch at a stud ranch, where Lusitano horses were once reared at the pleasure of King João VI in the 18th century. Our journey continues further south, bound for the sun-kissed shores of the Algarve - our home for the next two nights.
The dramatic cliffs and beautiful beaches of the Sagres Peninsula provide a stunning backdrop for our morning coastal drive. Admire spectacular views across Baleeira Beach, before continuing along the coast to Cape St. Vincent, the site of many sea battles centuries ago. We end our excursion with a visit to the resort town of Lagos - once the home of Henry the Navigator.
Journeying north, we travel across the Serra de Caldeirão to the ancient Alentejo city of Évora. Join your Local Specialist for a visit to the elaborate cathedral, Roman temple and the Chapel of Bones. Then, spend the rest of your day delving into the medieval history of this enchanting city. Trace centuries of history along its city walls, kick back with a bica and bolo in Praça do Giraldo or perhaps join an Optional Experience to the village of Monsaraz. This evening we dine at our hotel in Évora.
Our first stop today is in the quaint hilltop town of Castelo de Vide with its charming white façades, narrow alleys and fascinating Jewish Quarter. Travel north towards the Serra de Estrela mountains and arrive later in Viseu, set high on a plateau near the famous Dão vineyards. Explore the city's rich art and architectural history, visiting the 12th-century Sé, standing imposingly on a hill overlooking much of the city.
Vineyard-clad hills provide an enchanting backdrop for our journey today through the Douro Valley, where port wine is produced. We explore the magnificent gardens at the Baroque-style Palácio de Mateus, depicted on the label of the distinctive Mateus wine bottles. We continue via Guimarães for views of its impressive 10th-century castle, before arriving in the seaside town where we will spend the next two nights.
Join a Local Specialist today for a sightseeing tour in Porto, which takes you past Baroque churches and along the winding cobblestone lanes that tumble down towards the Douro. See the remarkable bridges that span the river and the Gothic Church of St. Francis. Visit the Stock Exchange Palace with its splendid Arabian Hall inspired by Granada's Alhambra, then 'Dive Into Culture' and into the centuries-old tradition of local port production at a tasting in a port cellar. Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through the historic centre of Porto and admiring the azulejo-clad façades, or visit Livraria Lello, the city's oldest bookstore with its iconic red staircase.
Soak up the grand atmosphere of one of Europe's greatest and oldest universities and stroll through the ancient streets and squares of Coimbra, before journeying to the Templar city of Tomar to visit the Convent of Christ, originally built as a Templar stronghold in the 12th century. We arrive in the pilgrimage centre of Fátima, where we'll dine in our hotel.
This morning, we rub shoulders with millions of Catholic pilgrims who have journeyed to the pilgrimage site of Fátima, where three young shepherds famously saw the apparition of the Virgin. En route to Lisbon, we stop at the imposing monastery of Batalha - a UNESCO World Heritage site and the best example of late Gothic architecture in Portugal. Our next stop is the fishing village of Nazaré, before we visit the medieval walled city of Obidos with its white-washed houses and cobblestone roads. Our last night in Portugal together sees us toast to an incredible journey at a Farewell Dinner with wine.
Say a fond adeus to your fellow travellers at the end of an unforgettable Portuguese holiday. Airport transfers are available. Conditions apply.
Special Rate Solo Rooming: Departures 27 March, 03 July, 28 August and 23 October 2019 include 20-100% discount on our standard single supplement.