"Treasures of Portugal"


 

DAY 1: LISBON

Situated on the north bank of the Tagus, Lisbon is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, its foundation being attributed to the Phoenicians c. 1.200BC. Over 500 years ago, Lisbon was the center of the world's richest and farthestreaching empire. In 1755 two thirds of the city were destroyed by an earthquake and tidal wave, and a new Lisbon was rebuilt. Today it stands as one of Europe's grandest cities. It has managed to preserve its traditions, continually renovating its historic monuments and maintaining its black and white mosaic sidewalks, pastel façades and cobbled medieval alleys.
Today Lisbon is a cosmopolitan city boasting fashionable shops, modern art exhibitions and cultural centres. The city's historic quarters and monuments, the many museums, breathtaking views from the top of its seven hills, the local flavors that you can taste in modern restaurants as well as in traditional ones will make you fall in love with Lisbon.
Your private driver will pick you up at Lisbon's airport and will take you for sightseeing tour of the city: the historic centre and the Baixa, Lisbon's downtown, the monumental area of Belém with its 16th century Tower of Belém and Jerónimos Monastery, and the opportunity to taste a local gastronomic specialty, the "pastéis de Belém", in pastry shop that has been baking them since 1837.

Lunch is on your own.

If time allows, afternoon at leisure.

In the evening we suggest that you enjoy a wonderful dinner listening to Fado, the song of Lisbon, in a traditional restaurant in one of the old sections of the city.

Overnight in Lisbon.

DAY 2: LISBON-SINTRA-ÓBIDOS-FÁTIMA

To reach Sintra, we will take the scenic corniche road that links Lisbon to the coast that lies west, passing by the Estoril and its Casino and the picturesque fishing town of Cascais. Sintra built on the north slope of Sintra's Mountain was the favorite summer residence of the Portuguese court for more than five hundred years and Lord Byron's "Glorious Eden". Sintra is a Unesco World Heritage Site as Cultural Landscape: its ancient history, the many castles with exotic parks, the beauty beauty of the landscape and varied flora.
In the historic centre of Sintra is the National Palace dating from the Middle Ages. Built close to the highest peak of Sintra's Range is the 19th century eccletic Pena Palace . Both palaces were used by the Portuguese kings as summer palaces until the proclamation of the Republic in 1910.
The historic centre of Sintra has many shops with the traditional crafts of Portugal, fascinating antique shops and cafés with terraces where you can taste the local pastries.
Lunch on your own.
Our next stop is Óbidos, a walled medieval town that was part of the dowry of the Queens of Portugal until the 19th century. A walk in Óbidos will make you go back in time. Winding, narrow streets and alleys lead to the top of the hill from where you will enjoy a magnificent view of the town and its surrounding countryside. Don't forget to try the local cherry brandy, the "ginginha"! Cafés and most shops with the local handicrafts are along the main street.
Fátima is a world famous pilgrimage place since the 1930's when the Vatican gave official credit to the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children in 1917. You will have a chance to visit the sanctuary of Fátima: the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary where are the tombs of the seers of Fátima, the Chapel of the Apparitions and the modern Basilica of the Holy Trinity.

Overnight in Fátima. Dinner on your own.


DAY 3: FÁTIMA-COIMBRA-AVEIRO-PORTO

In the morning we will travel to Coimbra, the ancient capital of Portugal. Our local local guide will show us the city: a visit of the University and its magnificent baroque Library. Portugal´s oldest university, the University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and was the only university in Portugal until 1911.
Coimbra is situated on the banks of the Mondego, Portugal´s largest river. Apart from the University, the 12th century Romanesque Cathedral, the 12th century Monastery of the Holy Cross where the first two kings of Portugal are buried and the Machado de Castro Museum are must-sees if you have the time.
Lunch on your own.
Before continuing to Aveiro, we will make a detour stopping at Buçaco. Buçaco National Park , crowing the northernmost peak of the Serra do Buçaco has 250 acres of forest that include over 400 native varieties of trees and about 300 exotic species. In the centre of the forest stands a castle-like palace-hotel built in 1900 to a extraordinary unusual design.
The battle of Buçaco was fought in September 1810 and was decisive to put an end to the Napoleonic invasions and the Peninsular War in Portugal. Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese army using guerrilla tactics defeated an army of 66.000 French soldiers.
Aveiro, the Portuguese Venice, will be our next stop. Canals crisscross the town spanned by several small bridges ; the graceful "moliceiros " as well as their mooring posts inevitably bring to mind Venitian gondolas and their palli. In addition, the town centre has several lovely buildings , a fine museum , and a main avenue with plenty of shade.
You may want to try the "ovos moles", a type of egg sweet , usually served in miniature painted wood barrels.
At the end of the day we reach Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, the most important industrial area in the country and the town that gave the name to one of the most famous wines in the world – Port Wine.
Dinner on your own.
Overnight in Porto.

DAY 4: PORTO

You will have all day to explore Porto. In the morning, you will enjoy a guided visit of the city with your local guide who will take you to see the highlights of the city.: the Cathedral, the Stock Exchange or Palácio da Bolsa built in 1834 by the Commercial Association of Porto with its beautiful rooms and painted ceilings, and the Tower of Clérigos Church built in the 18 th century by the Italian Nicola Nasoni.
Crossing the beautiful Dom Luís Bridge we will get to Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro river from Porto. Wine stores or lodges cover acres of the south bank of the river in the lower quarter of Gaia. More than 58 port companies are established in the area. We will visit one of the wine lodges, learn about the making of Port and have a wine tasting at the end of our visit.
Lunch on your own. Afternoon at leisure for your own discoveries or shopping.
In the early evening, close to sunset, you will enjoy the Six Bridges River Cruise offering you a different perspective of this beautiful city and its river, and great photo opportunities.

Overnight in Porto. Dinner on your own.

DAY 5: PORTO-AMARANTE-GUIMARÃES-BRAGA

In the morning we depart to Amarante, a picturesque small town with 16 th , 17 th and 18 th houses, complete with wooden balconies and wrought iron grills. It is built in tiers up a hillside overlooking the Tâmega. The town, well-known for its pastries and "vinho verde", comes alive each year on the first Saturday in June when it celebrates the feast day of its patron saint, Gonçalo. Gonçalo lived as a hermit in the 13 th century and is also the patron saint of marriage and fertility.
From there we will start our discovery of Minho, one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal, beginning with a visit to Guimarães.
Guimarães is in heart of Minho, the region of the refreshing vinho verde. Guimarães is referred as the cradle of Portugal for having been the birthplace of King Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first king in about 1110. We will take a look at the fortress originally built in the 10 th century to protect a monastery and rebuilt on the orders of Henry of Burgundy, and the nearby Chapel of Saint Michael that contains a font in which it is said Afonso Henriques was christened. Next to these monuments is the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança. You will enjoy a pleasant stroll through a maze of streets and squares bordered by old houses in the well-preserved historical centre (Unesco World Heritage).

Lunch on your own.

After lunch, we will drive to Braga, the capital of Minho, known as "Portuguese Rome" because of its long clerical history. Roman Bracara Augusta would become the seat of the first archbishopric of Portugal and its cathedral is the oldest of Portugal. Henry of Burgundy and his wife Teresa , parents of Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal are buried in the King's Chapel in the Romanesque Cathedral.
You will enjoy walking in the pedestrian streets of the old quarter, discovering the Former Episcopal Palace made up of 14 th, 17 th and 18 th century sections, the pretty Santa Bárbara Gardens, baroque fountains and houses with coat-of-arms.
Braga's most famous landmark, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is 4 miles east of the town on a hillside carpeted in greenery. Bom Jesus do Monte, the most important shrine in Portugal after Fátima, has a baroque flight of steps carved out of grey granite set off by whitewashed walls, an example of the northern baroque style. The Holy Way, which pilgrims ascend on their knees, consists of a path bordered with chapels illustrating the Stations of the Cross and the Stairway of the Five Senses followed by the Stairway of the Three Virtues. It represents the spiritual journey of believers to gain salvation.

Dinner on your own.

Overnight in Braga.

DAY 6: BRAGA-PESO DA RÉGUA-LAMEGO-MESÃO FRIO

Today our program will take you to the largest and most famous wine regions of Portugal – the Douro Valley: the shale and granite slopes, more wooded on the north bank of the Douro and more cultivated on the south bank, where little villages seem to hang between the vines, terraced olive groves or corn fields, with the river below, make a very lovely landscape. The picturesque winding roads built into the cliff, sometimes level the water, hug the banks of the Douro between Porto and Peso da Régua.
We will stop at Peso da Régua where we will make a stop. This small town is responsible for the administration of the Port Wine trade.
After a short but beautiful drive we will get to Lamego which lies in a landscape of green hills covered with vines and maize. This attractive small episcopal and commercial town is well-known for its sparkling wine and its smoked ham.
On the hill, above the town, the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios with its crossed ramps of the staircase ornamented with azulejos and pinnacles, and famous for its annual pilgrimage held in late-August-early September.

Lunch on your own.

In the afternoon we arrive to Mesão Frio, the "Door of the Douro", where the first granite markers or millestones were placed along the bounderies of the vineyards from 1858. You will be charmed by the outstanding landscape of vineyards on terraces. In Mesão Frio the Town Hall is a beautiful building that was originally an 18 th century Franciscan convent.

Dinner on your own.

Overnight in Mesão Frio.

DAY 7: MESÃO FRIO-VISEU-GUARDA-CASTELO DE VIDE-MARVÃO

Today we will leave the Douro region to discover the beautiful landscapes of Beira Alta, stopping at the the most important towns of this region close to the border with Spain and, by the end of the day arriving to the Alentejo region.
Viseu in the region of the famous Dão vineyard is our first stop. The Old Town has all the attraction of an ancient town with narrow alleys paved with granite sets and Renaissance houses emblazoned with coats-of-arms. Viseu had a flourishing painting school in the 16th century led by two masters influenced by Flemish artists. The Grão Vasco Museum is not to be missed by those who love painting. The Romanesque Cathedral was remodeled between the 16th and the 18th century, thus presenting the Portuguese Manueline style in its vaultings as well as monumental baroque altarpiece in guilded wood.
We will have our lunch break in Guarda, a pleasant health resort and the highest town in Portugal ( 3 281 ft) situated in the eastern foothills of the Serra da Estrela. Its name "protector" recalls its past importance as a main stronghold of the province of Beira Alta near Spain. Today Guarda is a modern town but in its medieval quarters you will find remains of the ancient fortifications, a beautiful granite cathedral and, rounding the cathedral square, many 16 th and 18 th century houses bearing coats- of-arms.
Castelo de Vide, in the Alentejo region, is situated 1 968 ft above sea level on the edge of the Serra de São Mamede. The town has maintained an age-old charm rooted in its picture-perfect whitewashed houses, cobblestones streets and flowering fountains. The medieval quarter is located just below its castle, the old town consists of a series of impossibly steep and narrow alleys. Up above, the castle, completed in 1280, offers stunning views of surrounding mountains.
Nearby Marvão is a walled town, an unreal relic of a distant past. The town is perched atop a craggy mountain overlooking the Parque Natural de São Mamede. Almost all the whitewashed houses of this ageless town still lie within the 17 th century walls. The virtually impenetrable 13 th century castle, located at the west end of the town, sits on top of the rocky ridge, guarding this town that hasn't been seized in 700 years.

Dinner on your own.

Overnight in Marvão.

DAY 8: MARVÃO-ESTREMOZ-ÉVORA

This morning leaving Marvão in the eastern Alentejo, we will arrive to Estremoz, a pleasant city situated in a region of marble quarries and a well known centre for Alentejo pottery. The town still preserves its 17 th century ramparts and is dominated by its medieval castle built in the 13 th century and altered in the 18 th century. The castle was once the residence of king Dinis and his wife queen Saint Isabel, who died there in 1336. From the imposing keep, 90 ft high, there are superb views. In the modern town, the main square or Rossio is busy, especcially when the weekly market is held.
Getting to Évora you may want to start tasting the Alentejo gastronomy in any of the restaurants in the Old Town, before your local guide takes you for a walking tour of the historical centre of Évora. Évora is the capital of Alentejo, a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its ancient history, its many monuments dating from different periods, several medieval and Renaissance palaces and mansions and the medieval layout of its streets. Évora flourished when the Romans inhabited the town, declined under the Visigoths and in 715 was occupied by the Moors. Their long rule benifited the town, which became an important agricultural and trading centre at the heart of which stood the castle and the mosque. From the late 12 th century, Évora was the preferred capital of the kings of Portugal and in the 15 th and 16 th centuries enjoyed brilliant renown. Artists and learned men gathered at the court.
Your guide will take you to the Roman Temple and to visit the Cathedral, the Church of Saint Francisco and the adjacent Chapel of The Bones, a macrabe ossuary chapel built in the 16 th century by the Franciscans. During the tour you will be walking in narrows streets and alleys cut by arches, lined with brilliant white houses, picturesque squares with Renaissance marble fountains...

Dinner on your own.

Overnight in Évora.

DAY 9: ÉVORA-MONSARAZ-ARRAIOLOS-LISBON

One hour drive from Évora is one of the hidden treasures of Alentejo – Monsaraz. Monsaraz is a medieval town situated on the right bank of the Guadiana which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. This picturesque town is made up of white houses with red roofs, wrought iron balconies and big white chimneys. The car-free Monsaraz is great for strolling around through the narrow streets and over the small squares. The view of the surrounding landscape of Monsaraz is spectacular. From the castle you will see olive groves, winding roads, and the river area of the Guadiana towards Spain.
Lunch on your own.
After lunch we have an enjoyable 2 hour-drive to Lisbon across the rolling hills of Alentejo. This vast agricultural region covers almost one-third of Portugal: arid plains stretch to the horizon, punctuated by olive and cork-oak trees, endless wheat flields and vineyards.

Dinner on your own.

Overnight in Lisbon.

DAY 10: LISBON

Transfer from your hotel to Lisbon's airport (time to be announced).

End of our services.

Please, notice that the Six Bridges Cruise in Porto is subject to weather and navigation in the Douro river . In case the cruise is cancelled, you will be offered another program.

Our quotes always include De luxe Mercedes or similar Car with English speaking driver

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MAIA LEGENDS, Agência de Viagens e Turismo - RNAVT 4284

Rua do Alentejo nº 44, 4º Esq
2835-756 Santo António da Charneca – Portugal
Telef:/Cell phones: +351 914 968 806 / +351 918 653 832
email: maia@maialegends.com