Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Portugal Grand Tour

12 Nights / Half Board / 4 * Hotels
Lisbon (2 nights)/ Coimbra (1 night)/ Porto (2 nights)/ Viana do Castelo (1 night) Aveiro (1 night) – Costa de Lisboa (2 nights)
 

Day 1
Arrival in Lisbon. Transfer and accommodation at a 4* hotel.

Day 2
Leisure day in Lisbon for shopping and exploring. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 3 Pioneer Monument
Half-day Tour in Lisbon. Breakfast at hotel. Meet the town of Alfama, a medieval neighbourhood with a stunning XII century Cathedral (birthplace of one of the most popular Portuguese saints - Santo Antonio), get acquainted with downtown Alfama, a bustling shopping district, built according to a geometric plan, after the 1755 earthquake. Continue along the main avenue - Avenida da Liberdade. Next stop, Belém, located at the banks of the Tagus River. It was here that the Portuguese caravels, during the era of geographic discoveries, departed from in search of the “New World”. Belém is also known for its monuments of the Portuguese golden period: the magnificent Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos), where the remains of Vasco da Gama and King Manuel I are kept, the Belem Tower built primarily to protect against pirate attacks and also the Monument of the Discoveries, a memorial to the pioneering Portuguese navigators. Dinner accompanied by Fado (a Portuguese music genre inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists).

MonsarazDay 4
Full-day Tour in Alentejo - Évora and Monsaraz Breakfast at hotel. Go on a full day tour with your luggage to Alentejo - Évora and Monsaraz! Évora is a city-museum, declared a World Heritage Site UNESCO. In this small community, the urban harmony of this old town, located inside the medieval city wall, is surprising. The city is a delightful maze of narrow winding streets, still with Arab reminiscences. Its Gothic cathedral is surprising in its enormity and dominates the city, while the Church of São Francisco catches ones attention by their unusual decor of human bones and skulls! Before leaving town, we will visit the only Roman Temple in Portugal (Templo de Diana), an imposing vestige of the important Roman city that was once Evora. Heading to Monsaraz, we will find a small fortress town, leaning against a hill, overlooking an Alentejo that is loses itself on the horizon. The vineyards and olive groves stand out in this landscape, along the Guadiana River, the natural border between Portugal and Spain. Opportunity for wine tasting in Alentejo. Accommodation and dinner in Ericeira, at a 4 * hotel overlooking the ocean.

Day 5
Full day tour to Sintra and Cabo da Roca.Breakfast. The tour starts in Sintra, a magical city, which became a favorite resort area of the aristocracy in the eighteenth century. Here you'll discover the "esoteric" world of Quinta da Regaleira, an estate from the early XX century classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra” known for its palace and park. The secret symbols found on property will intrigue you throughout the day. You will get an opportunity to visit the Pena National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena), a romanticist palace that resembles a fairy tale castle, which emerged from a pile of granite stones and combining nearly all architectural styles. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Lunch at a restaurant in Sintra. Next stop is Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe, where "the land ends and the sea begins." Return to the 4 * Hotel in Ericeira by the ocean.

D.Joao_VLibraryDay 6
Full day tour of Tomar, Fatima and Coimbra. Breakfast .The tour commences in Tomar, the city of Knights, we arrive at the Convent of the Order of Christ (Convento de Cristo), built and rebuilt over several centuries. Here you can enjoy the elegance of the "Manueline" style with its striking ex-libris, its famous chapterhouse window.The Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar is one of Portugal's most important historical and artistic monuments and has been in the World Heritage list of UNESCO since 1983. Following Tomar, we arrive at Fatima - the city that became a place of worship of Christian believers after 1917, when Mary, the Mother of God appeared to three shepherds. Today, Fatima is regarded as the "altar of the World", and is visited annually by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from different countries. Last but not least, Coimbra. Coimbra is a very charming city, with its unique atmosphere of student living. Above the city stands the oldest university in the country (the former Royal Palace), where a famous Baroque library is located. Narrow streets will take you to the Old Cathedral and through the arch the Arab city of Almedina you will find yourself downtown, where part of the city's commerce is located as well as the Church of Santa Cruz, where the remains of the first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, remain.Dinner and overnight in hotel 4 *.

Day 7
Breakfast. Today we'll drive to Lamego where you will see a unique granite staircase, flanked with a panel of tiles, leading up to the church of Our Lady of Remedies (Nossa Senhora dos Remédios). We then continue on to Régua, the "Capital of Port wine." It is here, in the picturesque region of the Douro Valley, included in UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the grapes that give rise to port wine are grown. Pretty soon you may taste them. Accommodation and dinner at Hotel 4 *.

Douro BridgeDay 8
Breakfast. First we will go on a picturesque walk in the city center of Oporto, the "northern capital" of the country. You will be amazed with its heritage - a “train palace "known as the São Bento train station (Estação de São Bento) decorated with stunning tile panels, the highest Baroque tower of the city, the Catedral dos Clérigos ( designed by Nazoni) and its small medieval streets, adorned with stone houses. At the end of the tour we arrive at the Ribeira area , a scenic drive along the Douro River, where we will encounter two well-known bridges (specifically the Maria Pia Bridge, built by Eiffel). A visit is scheduled at the cellars (where Port is stored and aged) which include a taste of this famous Portuguese wine.Dinner at the hotel

Castelo_de_GuimaresDay 9
Full-day tour of the “Green Minho” Breakfast. A full day tour in the picturesque Portuguese province of the "Green Minho ", the northern part of the country. First stop is in Guimarães, the first capital of the Portuguese kingdom, the city where" Portugal was born” recognized by UNESCO as a medieval World Heritage Site. Walk past beautiful traditional houses and on the granite pavement of the old town, past the castle to the Santiago Square (Praça de Santiago) which brings us to the church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, where you will feel the true spirit of the Middle Ages. Continue on to Braga. This city was designed by the many nations that have passed by in Iberia: Celts, Romans, Suevi, Visigoths, and more, and from all of them, you can find traces. You will find virtually all architectural styles, but in particular Portuguese Baroque. One of the most striking buildings of this style is the Bom Jesus complex (Merciful Jesus). A temple with a majestic granite staircase that leads to the hill flanked by fountains and sculptures with Gospel theme stories. These stairs are considered one of the 10 most beautiful staircases in the world. Next stop, Viana do Castelo. On the way, you will have the opportunity to taste the famous vinho verde “green wine “made only in the "Princess of the River Lima" region. The bank of the Lima River was associated with the construction of the famous Portuguese caravels. Be sure not to miss out on the Byzantine Basilica of Santa Luzia which offers a breathtaking panorama of endless sandy beaches. Dinner and overnight at a 4 * hotel.

Day 10
A day in Galicia Galicia is one of the most picturesque regions of Spain, in the most emblematic place of pilgrimage - Santiago de Compostela. A wonderful city, with medieval streets paved with granite, built around the cathedral, after the miraculous discovery of the remains of the Apostle James, receiving pilgrims from around the world. Leisure time. Return to Portugal and accommodation in Aveiro, the Portuguese Venice.

Day 11 Obidos_vista
Full-day tour of Alcobaça, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos Breakfast. Departure from Aveiro to Lisbon. Along the way, visit to the monastery of Alcobaça (Mosteiro daAlcobaça), one of the oldest Cistercian abbeys in Portugal, where the tombs of the protagonists of the most famous love story of Portugal, King Pedro I and his mistress Inês de Castro are located. Next stop is at the Batalha Monastery (Mosteiro da Batalha) which was built in honor of the Portuguese victory against the Castilians in the fourteenth century and is an example of Gothic style grandeur of Portugal, with its stunning tracery. Continuing, we reach Nazaré, once a small fishing village and now a city famous not only for being a good fishing point, but also for its beautiful beaches, and unique local folk costumes. Lunch at a seafood restaurant with green wine, by the beach of Nazaré. Óbidos is the next place to visit, one of the most fabulous cities in Portugal. Óbidos is surrounded by castle walls, which embraces many traditional shopping streets with picturesque houses, adorned with roses and wisteria. Inside the castle gates, the locals organize tournaments of knights, a Chocolate Festival, and before Christmas a Santa Claus town is recreated. Return to the Lisbon coast, to stay at a hotel by the sea.Dinner at the hotel.

Day 12
Leisure time.Departure transfer to the Lisbon Airport
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