Portugal in Depth (8 days)

special Departure Year Round
Portugal in Depth (8 days) with Samuele Colombo combines culture, history and food/wine into a discovery trip of this small but rich country. From incredible architecture to its picturesque cobblestone streets, you’ll find the local people friendly people and inviting. Medieval villages once inhabited by Romans and Arabs, World War Two refuge towns and Portuguese tapas served with local full bodied reds are all to be learned about and savored in your mind and soul. From the Capital city of Porto to the Duoro Valley, we’ll see UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Combine a trip Portugal with Spain and get a trip you will never forget.

All Photos courtesy of Samuele Colombo

Your Escort/Guide, Samuele Colombo

DAY 1 Arrive Lisbon

DAY 2 Lisbon
We commence our trip with the vibrant and bustling Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. From its incredible architecture to its picturesque cobblestone streets, its friendly people and so much more, the city is a cultural and gastronomic delight. a panoramic and walking tour of the most historical and traditional points including the Park Edward VII, Liberty Avenue, Restauradores Square, Rossio Square, Downtown (rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755), and Commerce Square.

We’ll continue to Belém. Known as the ‘Discoveries Quarter’, it was from here that the caravels set sail for their trips to South America and to the Orient. First, we’ll see the Tower of Belém, built in Manueline style on the north bank of the River Tagus for defence purposes of the city. We’ll also have a photo stop at the Monument to the Discoveries. This monument celebrates the Portuguese discoveries with special mention of Henry the Navigator.

We will also visit the beautifully intricate Jerónimos Monastery, built in the 16th century to celebrate the power of King Manuel I and the magnificence of the empire and the Sao Jorge castle as well as the picturesque Alfama neighborhood.All this obviously accompanied by fresh and quirky portuguese wines and local delicacies. We’ll spend the night in one of the stunning historical hotels of the city center. Overnight Lisbon

DAY 3 Sintra, Cascais & Lisbon
Making our way inland, we’ll explore Sintra, a beautiful town situated on the green slopes of a mountain range. Set amongst lush forests and overflowing with exotic gardens and palaces, Sintra was also the residence of the Portuguese Royal Family during the Middle Ages. We’ll visit the mesmerising Quinta da Regaleira, an impressive 20th century residence decorated with gothic turrets and ornate gargoyles. Its most impressive feature however is the enchanting gardens and spiralling Initiation Well in the grounds, which we will have time to explore. A very short drive will take us to Cascais, Portugal’s most classic resort, Cascais is known for its three stunning bays and boasts delicious upscale restaurants, luxurious hotels, and non-pareil beaches. But it is the tranquil atmosphere of luxury and ease, along with its stunning seaside esplanade that makes it one of Europe’s most prized seaside destinations. After a late seafood lunch we will return to Lisboa for some more exploration of this enchanted city.
Overnight in Lisbon

DAY 4 Obidos, Caldas de Rainha, Nazarë & Coimbra
Heading north we’ll first stop in the incredibly well preserved medieval fortress village of Óbidos, still surrounded by massive high walls which date back to the 12th century. While here, we’ll also enjoy a tasting of the renowned local liquor, Ginjinha. Made from ginja berries (a type of sour cherry), in Óbidos, you’ll find it comes served in a chocolate cup!

Caldas de Rainha is our second stop.The town owes its name to the thermal spring that was much appreciated by Queen Dona Leonor, wife of the 15th century King Dom JoãoII, who had the opportunity to confirm the curative properties of these waters when they cured her of a wound that for a long time had not healed, although she had tried various treatments.

The town continued to grow, reaching its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century, at a time when it was fashionable to take a holiday in a spa resort, and Caldas da Rainha was one of the places chosen by the nobility and aristocracy.

During the Second World War, too, the town was chosen as a place of refuge by many foreigners fleeing from persecution by the Nazis.On to Nazaré to admire the place where the biggest waves in the world occur with more than 100ft heights and finally we’ll arrive to Coimbra where we will have a sumptuous dinner of revisited Portuguese tapas and full bodied reds and call it a day! Overnight in Coimbra.

DAY 5 Coimbra, Aveiro & Porto
Inhabited by Romans and Arabs, Coimbra was once the capital of Portugal. Filled with medieval architecture, it is still abundant with history and tradition.It is divided into two by the Mondego River: the Cidade Baixa, (lower town) which is the main commercial centre and Cidade Alta (upper town) which is the older part of the city where the university and many of Coimbra’s main attractions are located. Here we’ll visit the beautiful university, which dates back to the 13th century and was the first in Portugal. It is said to be one of the most important in Europe.

We will also see the breathtaking Library, a masterpiece of gilt woodwork, and its courtyard where we can enjoy views over the Mondego River.After lunch,we’ll drive further north towards Porto also stopping by Aveiro, a city of colourful houses and numerous canals, known as the ‘Portuguese Venice’. Here we have time to see the graceful gondola-like ‘moliceiros’ boats and taste the local ‘Ovos Moles de Aveiro’ sweets (made from egg yolks and sugar, wrapped in a thin crust and moulded into various shapes).We’ll finally arrive to Porto by late afternoon and, if not too tired, we’ll briefly stroll around before settling for dinner sampling vinho verde and local delicacies. Overnight in Porto.

DAY 6 Porto & the Douro Valley
Capital and gateway to the north of Portugal, Porto is both the city that provided a nation with a name and a fortified wine known world-wide: port. With its splendid geographical location on the mouth of the river Douro and an architectural heritage of exceptional quality, the historic centre of Porto was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1996.

Porto is the capital of the North and the second largest city in the country; its hard-working inhabitants are noted for their commercial enterprise, always standing firm against outside impositions and foreign invaders, which explains why Porto has become known as the «unvanquished» city. We’ll soak in the charme of The “Baixa (Downtown)” and its streets, taking time to admire the typical granite houses and monuments, the famous Stock Exchange building, the incredible “azulejos” tile work of the old train station,

Enjoy a tram ride along the banks of the river, or even going for a boat ride under the city´s six bridges, from where you can enjoy an entirely different view of the city. In the afternoon we drive inland through spectacular scenic and windy roads following the Duero valley and its majestic river which are now known primarily for Port, a sweet wine that has been produced here for two thousand years, along with less well-known red and white table wines.

The Alto (upper) Douro, also known as the Douro Vinhateiro is dominated by big placards on the hillsides bearing the names of famous Port producers such as Cockburns, Taylors and Sandeman. The spectacular landscape is characterised by improbably steep terraces covered in vines and dotted with wine-producing farms called quintas. Hills fall steeply to the water’s edge and the region becomes more and more sparsely populated as it travels inland from the coast. The Douro Alto was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, in recognition of the spectacular beauty of both the natural and built landscape and the industrial heritage associated with the Port producing industry. Our hotel in Pinhao boasts great river views and we’ll also have the mandatory wine tasting there to better know the splendid wines produced in the region Overnight in Pinhao

DAY 7 Guimaraes, Braga & Porto
We leave the tranquil beauty of the Douro Valley to head to Guimaraes. On 13 December 2001, UNESCO inscribed the historical centre of the city of Guimarães on the list of World Heritage. For Portuguese people, Guimarães has a very special symbolic value, for it was in a field close to the walls of its castle that D. Afonso Henriques fought the Battle of São Mamede, on 24 June 1128. By emerging victorious from this struggle against the army of D. Teresa, his mother and the daughter of Alfonso VI of León and Castile, Afonso Henriques began the process that would lead to the foundation of the kingdom of Portugal, of which he was to become the first king.

We’ll begin by visiting the site known as Colina Sagrada (Sacred Hill), crowned by Guimarães Castle, itself full of so many evocative memories, as well as the small Romanesque church of São Miguel. After visiting these important points of reference to the time of the foundation of Portugal, we will stroll down into Guimarães where we’ll admire the quaint and relaxed atmosphere.If time is on our side,we’ll drive up the 7-kilometre road to the top of Monte da Penha, from where you will have the chance to enjoy one of the most impressive panoramic views in the north of Portugal.

Another short drive and we’ll be in Braga for lunch. Work on the Roman “Bracara Augusta”, a regional juridical capital, began during the reign of emperor Augustus in 27 bc. It was part of the Empire´s network criss-crossing the Iberian peninsula to link it with Rome. In the last couple of century, industrialisation and the founding of a university did much to contribute to the current development of the city that has held onto both secular and religious traditions. This is played out every year during events in Holy Week or the Festival of St. John the Baptist in June. After touring its Historic Centre or reliving the Pilgrimages to Santiago that would pass through here we’ll drive back to Porto. Overnight in Porto

DAY 8 Depart Porto
Last morning of this exhaustive week in Portugal will have us happily walking and touring the streets up from The Baixa, where we can do some shopping, visiting other charming corner before celebrating the departure with yet another lovely lunch!
End of tour. *You may be driven back to Lisbon if you wish.

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