Venture down to sun-drenched Southern Portugal
Venture down to sun-drenched Southern Portugal on a tour which encapsulates the unique laid-back way of life of this corner of Europe. Visit the illustrious capital Lisbon, discover the charm of cities like Evora and Elvas, and explore the palaces of Sintra.
Meeting at the airport today, we take our flight to Lisbon airport and from here, we transfer to our hotel in the centre of Lisbon. Later tonight, we enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Today our explorations of this wonderful European city begin. One of the finest cities in the continent, Lisbon is a cultural melting pot, with its streets and buildings bathed in the history of dozens of civilisations. The Lisbon of today is an excellent destination, with magnificent palaces, libraries and squares around every street corner.
We discover many of these attractions on our guided tour. Rossio Square is a particular highlight. Surrounded by impressive townhouses and topped by the Estaus Palace, this historic square has been the site of demonstrations, fiestas and city celebrations during its time as a meeting point for lisboêtas - the people of Lisbon. Belem is also an impressive location. This district was famously once the city quarter for the rich and aristocratic, to escape the slums of the centre. This area is full of gorgeous green spaces, beautiful old mansions and noble churches. We finish our tour at the Pasteis de Belém Café. This café is located in the Belém district and has now become an institution in the city, founded originally in 1837. These delicious pastries are as famous as the café, and we enjoy a custard tart here, accompanied by coffee - the perfect way to round of our exploration of Lisbon.
After the tour, you have free time in Lisbon. You may wish to take a walk along the promenade and enjoy the views of the Atlantic.
Our excursion today takes us to Sintra, one of the prettiest towns in Portugal. We join a local rail service this morning from Lisbon Rossio Station, for a delightful journey through enchanting scenery to Sintra. The town itself is hidden amongst the Serra de Sintra hills, and is made up of disarming pastel colours and Romantic architecture. It is full of monuments, castles and palaces, a fact made all the more extraordinary by the small size of the town. Perhaps this has something to do with Sintra's reputation as the holiday home for 18th century Portuguese royalty.
You are free to explore the winding streets. Sintra truly is a cornucopia of colour, with brightly coloured palaces, stately homes and castles spread across the beautiful greens of the forested foothills from which the town rises. In the town centre, known as Sintra-Vila, is the regal presence of the Palácio Nacional de Sintra. Dressed in impeccable white, this palace has its roots in the Moorish occupation of Portugal in the Al-Andalus era. As one of two castles, the palace was captured by King Afonso Henriques, whose descendants developed the castle into a Gothic-Renaissance palace with mudéjar influences. The impossibly grand Quinta da Regaleira is also on the agenda, an estate made up of palaces, gardens, chapels and grottoes. All of Sintra is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the large number of historical monuments spread across the town.
Around every corner in Sintra is a new monument to discover. You can return to Lisbon at your leisure with an included ticket. Later tonight, we enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant which offers excellent and authentic Portuguese dishes.
We leave Lisbon today, travelling by rail to the city of Evora in central Portugal. This is a classic Portuguese city with many old world buildings and wide boulevards of southern European charm. Our city tour introduces us some of the sights here including the ruins of an ancient Roman temple and the spectacular Evora Cathedral, an excellent example of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture.
Enjoy free time here later to explore the squares, shops and cafés. For those brave enough, the Chapel of Bones is a remarkable place to visit. This morbidly fascinating chapel is decorated in the most macabre way possible, with walls of skulls, bones and entire skeletons under a roof of religious imagery. We stay here tonight, enjoying dinner at the hotel.
Our excursion today takes us on a short coach journey from Evora to Elvas. Hidden away from the march of time, Elvas is an extraordinarily well-preserved town dating back to the 16th century. The nearby military defensive installation is designed in a star fort manner, with the walls built in the shape of a star. We discover this fort later on a walking tour as well as the other attractions which Elvas has to offer.
The Castle of Elvas is an impressive military building with enormous fortifications, designed to repel invaders along the Spanish-Portuguese border. You may wish to ascend the battlements for views across into Spain during your free time here. Alternatively, revisit the walls of the fort for a true feel of 16th century Portugal. Back in Evora, we dine at a local restaurant.
We depart Evora today, travelling to Grandola by coach, and then by train to Loule and on to Vilamoura. Deep in the Algarve region, Vilamoura is a bright and enchanting town at the base of Portugal. With a golden beach, turquoise waters and a harbour of yachts and sailing boats, Vilamoura makes for a thriving coastal town and an exceptional example of the beauty of the Algarve. Your afternoon is your own after we check into our hotel.
Today our coach takes us from Vilamoura across the border to Spain where we visit Ayamonte on the River Guadiana. Very much a classic southern Spanish offering, Ayamonte is a medieval town which has managed through the years to maintain its historical feel. This is particularly evident in the centre of town where the car-free streets bear a number of narrow, winding streets and leaning old buildings.
After free time here where you may wish to sample some Spanish tapas, we continue by ferry across the Guadiana and its azure waters, back into Portugal where we stop at Vila Real de San António. This excellent city is a delight to explore, particular with the long riverfront, perfect for watching the sailing boats drift by. Day 8 is at leisure.
Our visit today takes us to some of the finest small towns of this marvellous part of the world. We begin with a coach journey to Sagres. One of the most picturesque places on the Iberian Peninsula, Sagres offers some simply stunning views across the ocean from its wind-battered cliffs and a sensation of pure isolation. The lighthouse at Sagares is the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe, and as such, we truly find ourselves stood on the edge of the continent.
From here, we travel on to Lagos. With its bizarre rock formations, natural arches and hidden coves, Lagos is a Portuguese highlight for many visitors. Tonight at the hotel, we take a special farewell dinner as we enjoy our final night in Portugal.
We leave Portugal behind us today as we transfer to Faro airport for our flight back to London. Here, our tour concludes.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Venture down to sun-drenched Southern Portugal