Twelve Days Private Tour in Portugal the perfect itinerary for those who want to start a holiday in Portugal starting in the city of Porto.
Visiting the North, center and a little of the South of Portugal, its culture, its people and especially its gastronomy and its wines.
|PLACE OF DEPARTURE||Hotel / Apartment, Oporto|
|TIME OF DEPARTURE||Days start at approximately 9:00 AM|
|RETURN TIME||The days end at approximately 6:00 PM|
Do you know that Portugal is the oldest country in Europe ? With the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe.the first Portuguese Kind Afonso Henriques was proclaimed in 1139 and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter, until 1910.
The oldest alliance in the world, this Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was signed in 1373 and is in force until this day! Both countries entered wars to defend the other, including the United Kingdom entering the Iberian Peninsular War and Portugal entering World War I.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese “brought” the orange to Portugal, as well as the Portuguese who introduced it to Europe, hence Portugal, the country of oranges! For this reason, and incredible as it may seem, still today as oranges are called Portuguese in some European countries!
There typical music is called Fado (fate in Portuguese) a music genre that originates in urban Lisbon, a kind of mournful and heart-touching folk music sung by the common people and World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
We will continue towards the center of the city, making a visit the Cordoaria Garden, the Victoria District (last Jewish quarter), the Clerigos Tower that its watching us from the top of its 76 meters, and more than 200 steps with a fantastic view over the city and the river, its 49 bells that form a big chime that can frighten you when they start playing, but it will be worth visiting.
The fantastic Lello Bookstore (considered by CNN to be the most beautiful in the world) where JK Rowling who was married to a Portuguese and lived in the city, get inspiration to write Harry Potter nobel, being its staircase the main attraction, people from all over the world come to visit the bookstore searching for books, and also to understand the universe that inspired the creator of the history of the world’s best known magician, very close to Carmo Church and Carmelites and the Paris Galleries where the city comes alive every night.
The Oporto downtown or “Baixa do Porto” around the renowned Avenida dos Aliados, city´s focal point, where everything happens, from the festivities to the strikes, at one end the beautiful Oporto City Hall and the other end the “Praça da Liberdade”, where a statue of a Pedro IV Brazil emperor of Brazil Portuguese king great defender of the liberalism movement, shows his gratitude to this city.
Visit the Sao Bento train station, where the 20 thousand tiles of the Portuguese artist Jorge Colaco will take us on a journey through Portuguese History and the Douro and Minho traditions, a true open book that awaits us to show us the true experiences of this beautiful city.
Cathedral where we find vestiges of its first Romanesque architecture style, a fortress church with two towers and the fantastic rosacea on the main facade.
Going down the Merchants street (oldest in Oporto), towards the riverside area we will visit the San Francisco Church built in the 12th century in a Romanesque architecture later transformed into Gothic and later Baroque, three naves full of golden carvings, in which is estimated to have been used over 300 kilos of gold, the Jesse Tree is another of it´s great attractions, a polychrome wood sculpture considered one of the best in the world.
In the Bolsa Palace, built in the 19th century in a neoclassical style and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the “Patio das Naçoes” or the Arab Hall is the main attraction, with decorative stucco with marquetry floors and inlaid coats and heraldic representations and lovely sculptures.
Crossing D. Luiz I Bridge, we will arrive at Gaia, where a boat trip of approximately 50 minutes can be a great option, a different way of seeing Oporto.
Now the most awaited visit, the visit to a Wine Cellar, where the famous port wine is being aged, so that it can be taken and tasted all over the world.
Then the best Oporto view through the Serra do Pilar Monastery, World Heritage by the Unesco, its construction started t in 1538, with an unusual shape, circular plant, a replica of the church of Santa Maria Redonda in Rome, 100 steps will take you to the dome, which surrounds the church.
Braga and Guimaraes
And no better place to start than its Castle (Portugal foundation’s Castle), followed by São Miguel Church and Paço dos Duques de Braganca (Braganca house’s Palace). Right after we explore the old medieval streets that appear to have left tale of fantasy, ending where beautiful squares reign, like Sao Tiago, Toural and Oliveira. Now it’s time to taste the delicious Santa Clara’s pastry (Pastel de Santa Clara).
Time to visit Braga, today a modern flourishing city, but where you can feel the ancient roman and medieval past, as we can observe the many influences of various civilizations on its walls and façades and its predominantly Baroque interior, the main entrance and entrance side streets make the locals use the cathedral to make their way through their busy routines and give the Catedral an unusual, almost familiar charm that shows the grandeur of this space.
The biggest attractions of the city, such as the Episcopal Palace with its gardens, the Largo and the Church of the Cross, and finally the Republic Square where you can feel the pulse of this vibrant city.
We will visit its Cathedral, where the cross used for the first mass in Brazil is kept, admire its magnificent tube organs, visit the upper choir and the mortuary chapels of some bracarensese archbishops where we will find the tombs of the fathers of the first Portuguese king (D. Afonso Henriques).
Now we drive uphill to visit the “jewel of the crown”, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, the marvel of the baroque period. Starting by climbing (or not) the 581 steps and to let ourselves get spiritually involved by its chapels that tell us the story of the Via Sacra (Stations of the Cross) and relax in its green gardens.
Built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with various architectural styles between the Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical, with several chapels of the Via Sacra and the Church, a monumental staircase punctuated by statues and symbolic sources, this model had wide repercussions in Portugal and Brazil. This Sanctuary of Bom Jesus served as inspiration for numerous constructions around the world, Bom Jesus de Congonhas, in Brazil, the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies, in Lamego, among others.
Ever imagined being driven by a water-powered elevator using water counterweights, the oldest in the world without ever having known an accident, with a cabin deposit that is at the top of the route is attested of water to, through the difference of weight, make the other cabin go up the slope, the water being emptied when it reaches the foot. Simple and effective a water tank that fills the upper plane and empties in the lower plane. The amount of water to be placed is determined by the passengers, at the time of departure, the driver of the lower cabin informs the superior by a sound signal the number of passengers in that cabin and it fills the tank with an amount of water according to these information.
The weight of the water, together with the weight of the passengers, causes this cabin to descend and from the opposite side to the cabin with new passengers.
Oporto - Douro Valley
In Amarante historical center, will witness several examples of Romanesque architecture and middle age buildings, along the Saint Goncalo bridge you can enjoy some of the most touristic points of the city such as the Saint Goncalo Church and Convent, the Amadeu de Souza-Cardoso Museum as well as the XVIII century bridge that joins the banks of the Tamega river, the largest tributary of the Douro river.
On the weekends everywhere we see vendors selling the Saint Gonçalo local sweets with a phallic appearance, causing curiosity and laughter, even the name of this “weird” local sweet makes people laugh… they are popularly called “quilhõezinhos de S. Gonçalo”. Theres a long tradition in Amarante that says that in saint Gonçalo celebrations (June), young people offer those sweets to the girls they want to conquer.
Now it´s time stop in Casal de Loivos and admire a breathtaking view, between mountains and valleys designed by man in tune with nature considered by many the view in all the Douro Valley.
Next we visit the Pinhao train station where the 24 tile panels show us the old artisanal way of winemaking in this region World heritage Site by UNESCO since 2001, being the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, established in the 10th of September of 1756 by the Prime Minister of Portugal at the time, the Marquis de Pombal.
And now the reason that brought us to the Douro Valley, a visit and degustation in a Quinta ( a winemaker ), where we will make you understand whole process, from cultivation, pruning, harvesting, to the long-awaited final product of, the wine, surely at the end all will have the same opinion, how difficult it is to produce wine in this beautiful region.
Douro Valley - Viseu - Coimbra
Its staircase, from the center of the city to the top of the hill, full of holy places and surprising nooks, is probably the greatest symbol of devotion to Our Lady of Remedies.
Passage to another important Portuguese city, Viseu known for transmitting the Portuguese’s clutch, full of sacred art and religious architecture, as can be seen in the churches that adorn the historic center, the Sacred Art Museum and the Cathedral itself, one of the most emblematic Viseu buildings a rela testimony of the importance of this city.
The Viseu Cathedral is in fact, an excellent starting point for a city visit, in Adro square, one of the main places of interest of the historical center, you can find, in addition to the Cathedral and the Museums, Misericordia Church, the pillory and the Ride of the Canons.
Here it is not uncommon to encounter the black granite, characteristic of the region, framing in contrast the white facades of immaculate aspect.
From here we go to Coimbra, for an overnight stay.
It´s decoration was only realized some years later, already on the eve of the Pombaline Reformation: the frescoes of the ceilings and cimalhas were executed by António Simões Ribeiro, painter, and Vicente Nunes, gilder. The celebrated portrait of King D. João V is attributed to the Italian Domenico Dupra and the painting and gilding of the shelves was carried out by Manuel da Silva.
Optional we can discover one of the Portuguese most emblematic Portuguese dishes, “Leitao da Bairrada” (suckling piglet). A piglet ( around forty days ) and that has only been fed with milk, the animal, completely eviscerated, gets into hot water and all the bristles are removed, until the skin is absolutely white and inserted in the oven (remember that the Portuguese oven is made of wood) for two hours, you have to remove it (scare it) every half hour, cleaning it thoroughlyskin with a cloth and returning it to the oven. This operation will cause the skin to harden and become crispy, which is the true secret of this stew.
The Coimbra downtown or Historic Center is the denomination given to the central zone of the city, this designation was developed with the separation of the “High”, where lived the nobility, the clergy and later the students, and the “Baixa”, dominated by commerce, crafts and neighborhoods.
Today, both are privileged places of the city, where services (banking, insurance, commerce), centuries of history, housing, culture, green spaces and leisure are mixed. It is here that you can find a part of the civic center of the city, the big shopping streets (such as Rua Ferreira Borges), the traditional Municipal Market D.Pedro V, Coimbra train station and important monuments such as the Santa Cruz Monastery.
Coimbra - Fátima - Tomar
Fatima, considered by many one of the most important Marian Shrines in the world, where we will pay homage to Lady Mary, in the Cova da Iria through the visit to the two Basilicas there; Our Lady of the White Rosary, Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Apparitions.
The Chapel of the Apparitions as the first Chapel to be built shortly after the apparitions, located in the center of the Sanctuary is a place not to be missed, not for grandeur, but for the meaning, it is mandatory to visit it.
At one end the Basilica of Our Lady of the White Rosary, built in 1928 with a neo-baroque architecture, here you will find the tombs of the three little shepherd children (Francis and Jacinta), and now also the tomb of Sister Lucia, in the other end the imposing Basilica of the Holy Trinity, built in 2007 with more than 8,000 seats and 40,000 m² of area designed by the Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis.
Then we will get to Tomar, the oldest part of the city (Medieval) orientated in cardinal points in cross, with a convent in each of its extremes, in the center the Republic Square, with the Mother Church, to the west the hill of the Castle and the Convent of Christ.
Numerous shops of traditional commerce here we can also find the oldest coffee known for its almond and chila Cheesecakes and the traditional Tomar slices, made with egg yolks and boiled in a special saucepan, the legend says that has invented by a person from Tomar in the mid-twentieth century.
Visiting the Templars Castle/ Convent of Christ is traveling into time and understand the power and prestige of this military order in Portugal. With the extinction of the Order of the Templars in 1311, the Portuguese King Dinis delivered the castle and all there patrimony to the Order of Christ. Latter the earthquake of 1755 in Portugal, caused several damages in its structure and during the following century was altered, which adulterated the austerity of its initial.
Another importance place to visit will be the church of Santa Maria do Olival, built in the 12th century and was the headquarter of the Order of the Templars, classified as National Monument in 1910 and is one of the most emblematic examples of Gothic art in Portugal. Here the city funder Gualdim Pais is buried as well as other Grand Masters of the Order, a Church that seems smaller than in reality is once buried two meters below the ground.
Tomar - Marvao - Evora
In Evora its a must a visit to a traditional cork factory where we will understand all the cork process, check the tree (cork tree), its extraction, the quality choice, and the preparation to the final product.
Do you knew that the Cork Oak’s bark grows every year and that from nine to nine years it has to be removed from the tree, reaching 25 centimeters thick, cork its the perfect material resistant to heat, cold and fire.
Portugal is responsible for 55% of the world’s cork production, which is now highly valued in decorative coatings for walls and floors, or even in the manufacture of sports goods, the ideal material for baseball grains or fishing rods. However in many countries cork is best known for being the raw material for wine stops, since it allows micro-portions of oxygen to stay in contact with wine, so that wine can “age” while maintaining its quality.
Now its time to enjoy Evora, explore this beautiful medieval village that make fall in love thousands of people every year, being the Bones Chapel that attracts more attention, this sinister chapel with its walls and pillars lined with human bones and skulls from more than 5,000 monks. Do not be alarmed if at the entrance you read; “We bones here are waiting for you,” leading us to reflect on life.
Another monument of great value is the Temple of Diana or Evora Temple, which justifies the importance that Romans gave to this beautiful city, close to the Cathedral, built in the Roman period, from here we can visualize the magnificent aqueduct, outside the city walls and extending from the it´s outskirts, some of its arches are still visible inside the city, built in the XVI th century to ensure water transportation.
Evora - Monsaraz - Algarve
So many stories of daring kings, Templar´s, so many different civilizations had pass through Monsaraz, the visit to it´s Castle is imperative, as well as admire the giant lake dividing Portugal and Spain.
With an ancient and rich heritage where the Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Lagoa, the Old Audience Courts, the Hermitage of São Bento, the Tower of São Gens do Xarez stand out.
Today we have the possibility to visit and tasting in a local winery, accompanying the whole process of this “nectar” of the Gods at some of the most important Portuguese wineries, the choice of visit is related to the winery agenda, which may be from a wide range of wineries in this region such as Cartuxa or Ervideira.
Alentejo its a region that produces unique wines, hot and dry climate, it is indispensable to use drip system in the vineyard, with soils and reliefs a very sunny area that allows a perfect maturation of the grapes.
Departure from the hotel to visit beautiful beaches and Algarve excellent summer conditions, we will pass by Oura beach, Olhos de Agua until we reach Vilamoura, with its luxurious marina, hotels and its casino. Then we pass and whenever possible visit the beautiful church in Almancil filled with tiles from the Baroque period, hence the expression “gold on blue”.
And from here to Sagres where we will take our boat trip (weather permitting) and Sao Vicente Cape, where the School of Navigation of the Infante D. Henrique awaits us, in the Fortress of Sagres built to support the sailors who doubled the cable and remained sheltered in the bays and coves of Sagres, until the conditions of navigation were favorable, a strategic point of passage for commercial vessels that made the connection between the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic, in addition to its proximity to the North of Africa.
Now yes, we will enjoy the Algarve’s beaches, golf courses, travel back in time and feel the five centuries of Muslim heritage through its white houses and the trap of roofs and chimneys, which we can so well see in the city of Lagos, local of bad memory of the slave market and that there are still its walls, We return to Albufeira with stop in the fortress of Santa Catarina in the Beach of the Rock. Rest, eat and have fun, because here the nights are never old.
Algarve - Setubal - Azeitao - Lisbon
In the Sesimbra Bay the Maritime Museum will give us a true lesson of these people life and the sea, the art of fishing, the rudimentary utensils they used, there´s also nice 3D movie that will take us on a journey in time from prehistory to the medieval times.
Crossing the Arrabida Natural Park, one of the most complete and protected Portuguese parks, over 500 meters high with a fabulous view of the estuary of the Sado river, where we have a resident colony of dolphins not very common for this class of mammals. Through scheduling it is possible to take a boat trip to see this fantastic family of mammals. With whitish tones of its calcareous cliffs, the blue of the waters and the green of the vegetal mantle that covers the Arrabida mountain, a conjugation of colors that results in a unique image.
Now its time to visit Setubal, a city where fish and boats were the most important economic factor for centuries, fishing and canning activity was one of the main export products, driven by its port.
In the city center we will find shops for all tastes and ages, from global brands to local brands, with rarities and less conventional products, the culture lurks at every corner where the buildings are living testimonies of a city that has grown and modernized without forgetting its roots, the sea.
In Azeitao we will find one of the best artisan tile factory , all handmade faithful copies of tiles from the XVI, XVII, XVIII and XVIII centuries, where we will understand all this process from clay molding to the final process that beyond just decorative tiles, are pure art, where no two are alike, being the whole process manual.
Visits to a tile factory
A real success thus far eastern part of the city thus gained a new district with a population mainly of the upper middle class, and according to the data provided by the municipality, it is also the youngest and with more studies population in Portugal.
Let us now discover the oldest part of Lisbon, Alfama, through its alleys and tiny streets, this ancient Arab Medina, after the Christian reconquest in the 12th century the Arab civilization that were living here were transferred to another hill and then was born the “Bairro da Mouraria”
Discover Alfama is immersed in Portuguese authenticity, Fado the most typical and charismatic Portuguese music type, was born in this neighborhood, this strange melancholy felling to which Portuguese called “saudade”.
Following, we will arrive at the Saint George Castle, another of the few physical remains of the Arab civilization in Portugal, not far we have the the Lisbon Cathedral built in the 12th century, in a Romanesque architecture, time to visit Saint Anthony’s Church the place where the this Portuguese holy matchmaker was born.
Time now to “climb” another Lisbon hill and know these two neighborhoods so different and at the same time so similar, the Bairro Alto neighborhood, known for its crossroads of streets that over the weekend fill with thousands of young people, come to enjoy of what is known as the most bohemian Lisbon neighborhood, next to it we have the Chiado neighborhood where culture and art live hand in hand, or if it is not here that the great majority of theaters in Lisbon are concentrated, as in the oldest bookstores of the modern world.
Lisbon Downtown, the quarter of Lisbon that was most devastated with the great earthquake of 1755 that devastated most of the city, time to understand the importance of the Pombaline architecture used to rebuilt the city in a completely different way, a wider area with many streets and squares, this already predicting a new earthquake, using anti-seismic architecture of the 18th century, Mr. Marques de Pombal, was the statesman responsible for the Lisbon reconstruction, as well as all the economic and social changes after the earthquake.
Crossing the Liberty Avenue we will reach the Marques de Pombal square where we will stop next to Eduardo VII Park and try to understand the relationship and treaties between Portugal and England and the importance of this relationship in the future of Brazil and appreciate its fantastic view.
After lunch, our tour continues to Belem, an authentic open book about the period of Portuguese maritime expansion, the site where the old shipyards and ports of Lisbon here, brave Portuguese explorers in the 15th century discovering the sea routes to India, Africa and Brazil, celebrating this glorious past, financed by the vast wealth that flowed to Portugal from the colonies.
Here we are going to visit these three important Monuments; the Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery and the Discovers Monument, the last stop will be in the famous Belem pastry factory, to taste this fabulous conventual sweet that attracts millions of people every year.
Sintra - Cascais - Estoril
Time to enjoy the center of Sintra, with its narrow streets and tiny alleys. In the Sintra historic center, there are countless Portuguese handicraft shops, as well as the famous Sintra local sweets “Travesseiros” at Piriquita bakery, free time to enjoy this wonderful place.
Sintra a place with a great concentration of historical monuments and interesting tourist attractions, here we will find more than 10 national monuments, including opulent palaces, ancient ruins and decorative luxurious houses dispersed by the different hills of the region in very challenging pedestrian paths.
Your guide will help you to decide which Palace to visit (we suggest a maximum of two), between; Queluz Palace, Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace, the Masonic Quinta da Regaleira (with its original well), if you want something more Medieval, maybe the Moorish Castle the choice is yours according to your curiosity.
A must stop to visit Cabo da Roca (westernmost point of the European continent), “where the Earth ends and the Sea begins ” written in Os Lusíadas, (Canto VIII) by Luis de Camoes, the most important Portuguese Poet of all times.
The imposing Lighthouse with 165 meters height, and built in 1772, from there we will understand how important Atlantic Ocean is, revealing one of the most emblematic places in Portugal, a place of great importance in the period of Maritime expansion.
the visit to “Boca do Inferno”, where we can easily understand the magnificence of this place, with the erosion exerted by the strong action of the rain containing dissolved carbon dioxide, causes the carbonate to dissolve and through this process, cavities and caves are formed inside the limestones, with a fall of the upper layers of the cave was destroyed, leaving a large cavity.
In days of agitated sea you can observe the waves crashing inside the rocks, a cave that combines its natural beauty with the rough sea, a very beautiful place, where you can enjoy a divine landscape and perhaps one of the best sunsets, being only overshadowed by infrequent suicides committed on its dangerous and unprotected cliff.
With its beautiful bay, Cascais is a very pleasant place to live or even for short vacations, full of small fishing boats, free time to explore the village, so recognized that it attracts thousands every year.
Close to Sintra mountain range, Cascais was during the nineteenth century, the chosen spot by the Portuguese royal family for holidays that eventually dragged the nobility, in the historic center, will find many shops and restaurants
Estoril, the scene of espionage during World War II, where Yan Fleming lived the esteemed writer of the books that gave birth to 007 where one can dazzle the immense properties as well as the Casino of Estoril (considered the largest in Europe).