Travel Enriched Tour B 2019: By bus through Portugal
From Tavira (Southern Portugal) to Lisbon
Friday 3 May – Thursday 16 May 2019 (14 days, 13 nights)
3100 Euros p/p twin share, plus 500 Euros single supplement
We commence our tour in the small coastal town of Tavira situated in the eastern Algarve where we spend a few relaxing days in some of the most picturesque coastal towns of the Algarve. This region once frequented by seafaring Phoenician and Carthaginian traders was later occupied by Romans and Moorish invaders from North Africa and played an important role in the Portuguese ‘Age of Discovery’. Our onward journey takes us inland to the fortified town of Mertola and legendary Tomar former headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar. Further north we arrive in the atmospheric UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Oporto recognised as one of the most important cultural centres in Europe. After exploring its medieval streetscapes we take a half-day riverboat cruise through the renowned port wine-producing Douro valley. We stay a few nights in charming Ponte de Lima with its historic 20-arched bridge. This is an excellent base from which to visit some of the prettiest towns in northern Portugal including tiny Guimares birthplace of Portugal’s first King. Traveling south we stop in the attractive small city of Coimbra, home to the oldest University in the Portuguese-speaking world (13th C.) and visit its magnificent baroque library. Our journey ends in Lisbon one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe.
Travelling beside the Camino Portugues we follow in the footstep of countless thousands of pilgrims who, for more than a millennia have walked The Way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in north western Spain. We. For those who are interested there is an opportunity to walk long-distance on two of the prettiest stretches of the Camino in northern Portugal.
# All activities marked with this symbol are included in the tour price
Day 1: Arrive Tavira (Friday 3 May)
Our tour commences in the historic trading port of Tavira founded in 400 BC and in the 8th C. occupied by the Moors. Today this charming town is better known for its striking seven arch bridge built on Roman foundations, its fine Renaissance architecture and attractive tree lined plazas. Here we meet with other tour participants who began their tour in Spain, to discuss tour logistics and for an overview of the most significant historic events associated with this part of the Iberian Peninsula. The afternoon is free to discover the town’s rich architectural heritage, explore the hilltop Moorish castle, take a ferryboat ride to the nearby Ilha de Tavira or to simply wander through the cobblestone streets and enjoy the ambiance of this peaceful fishing port. Accommodation: Tavira. Meals: Nil.
Day 2: Day trip to Milreu and Silves (Saturday 4 May)
Today we explore two nearby historic sites. The first is Milreu (#) located near Estoi, a small traditional town untouched by mass tourism. Surrounded by beautiful countryside we visit the best-preserved Roman remains found in the Algarve. These extensive ruins of a Roman villa include a temple, bathing chambers and beautiful mosaic tiled floors. In the 6th C. the temple was converted into a church and two centuries later into a Mosque. The second site is Silves once the Moorish capital of the Algarve. We visit the historic centre and explore the remains of its fortified castle (#) built in the 8th C. on Roman and Visigoth foundations and conquered by Christian Crusaders five centuries later. On our way back to Tavira we stop in the walled city of the coastal city of Faro the last major Portuguese town to be recaptured from the Moors. Accommodation: Tavira. Meals: B.
Day 3: Day trip to Cabo de Vicente and Lagos (Sunday 5 May)
This morning we head west to the Vicentine coastal park. This is one of Europe’s wildest and most stunning coastlines, a protected area rich in biodiversity and wildlife. We take the Carrapateira Trail beside wind-blown sand dunes, past fascinating geological features and villages that time forgot. We stop for photos at Cabo de São Vicente the south-western extremity of Europe. Once the base of Henry the Navigator the father of Portugal’s 17th century ‘Golden Age of Discovery’ this storm-pounded headland, with jagged cliffs rising 60 metres out of the sea was, until the 14th C., the ‘end of the known world’. Its lighthouse built in 1846 guards one of the busiest shipping routes in Europe and can be seen 60 miles away. Before heading ‘home’ we visit the attractive town of Lagos where vestiges of its Roman and Islamic past merge into cosmopolitan streetscapes and an attractive harbour. Accommodation: Tavira. Meals: B.
Day 4: Mertola – Alcacer do Sal – Tomar (Monday 6 May)
Leaving the coast we head inland to Mertola located at the highest navigable point of the Guadiana River. In the 12th C. this town with historic trade links to Phoenicians and Carthaginians followed by Roman and Moorish settlement, was the capital of the Arab Kingdom. Northward bound we travel through fertile rural landscapes past maize fields, cork forests, olive groves and vineyards. Our lunch stop is the pretty riverside town of Alcacer do Sal crowned by yet another castle of Muslim origin built on Roman foundations. Late afternoon we arrive in Tomar an attractive town with links to the Order of the Knights Templar whose knowledge and financial backing aided the ‘Voyages of Discovery’. We visit the Order’s former headquarters now the Convento de Cristo (#). Its adjoining two-tiered cloisters are considered to be one of the best examples of the Renaissance style in Portugal. Accommodation: Tomar rural casa. Meals: B.
Day 5: Tomar – Oporto (Tuesday 7 May)
Following a delicious breakfast at our rural homestay we travel back towards the Atlantic coast. Mid morning we arrive in the atmospheric city of Oporto beside the Rio Douro, recognised as one of the most important cultural centres in Europe. After lunch we take an orientation tour on foot to the main city attractions. This is the best way to appreciate the city’s architectural grandeur and the beauty of its blue and white tiled facades. Winding our way down to the river we visit one of the many port wine botegas (#) for which the city is famous. In the evening we enjoy a group meal overlooking the river’s medieval city skyline. Accommodation: Oporto. Meals: B. D.
Day 6: Oporto (Wednesday 8 May)
Today participants are free to enjoy the sights of Oporto at their leisure. Advice will be given about sightseeing options. Options include: taking a rattling tram ride to the river mouth; exploring the twisting laneways of the Ribeira district; visiting the famous 19th C. bookshop Livraria Lello where J.K. Rowling was inspired to write the Harry Potter series; climbing the winding narrow staircase of the Torre dos Clerigos for a sensational view of the medieval streetscapes; or perhaps meandering through the palatial neoclassical Palacio da Bolsa, the former stock exchange once frequented by wealthy Portuguese money merchants. Accommodation: Oporto. Meals: B.
Day 7: Douro river valley – Ponte de Lima (Thursday 9 May)
Leaving Oporto we travel through verdant countryside to the riverside town of Regua. Mid morning we board a riverboat for a six-hour cruise (#) through the magnificent Douro River valley. Winding through this picturesque waterway well known for its fine port wine vintages we pass spectacular terraced landscapes and navigate some imposing lochs. Lunch on board provides an opportunity to sample local produce. Late afternoon we rejoin our bus and head to Ponte de Lima one of the prettiest villages in all of Portugal. This town with its 20 arch bridge built on both Roman and medieval foundations has long been a popular holiday destination for Portuguese royalty. Accommodation: Ponte de Lima. Meals: B.
Day 8: Camino walking and half day trip to Barcelos (Friday 10 May)
The morning is free to relax and enjoy the ambience of Ponte de Lima with its charming cobbled streetscapes and riverside boulevards. Those who feel energetic might opt to spend a few hours walking along part of the Camino trail that for centuries has been followed by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. This is one of the prettiest sections of the Camino, along forest tracks and through vineyards in the Neiva and Lima valleys. In the afternoon we visit the enchanting town of Barcelos home to the legendary cockerel that has become a national symbol. There is time to wander the delightful streets and to visit places of interest such as the small alfresco archaeological museum. Accommodation: Ponte de Lima. Meals: B.
Day 9: Camino walking and half day trip to Guimarães (Saturday 11 May)
Today keen walkers can choose a morning trek along another nearby section of the Camino trail. Those who prefer are free to relax and explore the town at leisure. In the afternoon we visit UNESCO World Heritage listed Guimarães, a fine example of a traditional Portuguese town. This is the birthplace of Alfonso Henriques the first independent King of Portugal, who in the 12th C. launched the Reconquista against the Moors. We enjoy free time to wander through the labyrinthine lanes and sit in one of the many flower-bedecked plazas. History buffs might visit the 11th C. castle and the Dukes of Braganza Palace. On the way back to our hotel we stop at nearby Citania de Briteiros (#) a hillside archaeological site (300 B.C. – 300 A.D.) reputed to be the last stronghold of the Celts prior to Roman invasion. Accommodation: Ponte de Lima. Meals: B.
Day 10: Coimbra (Sunday 12 May)
Travelling south we reach the well-preserved medieval town of Coimbra once the nation’s capital. Coimbra is home to one of the first universities in Europe founded in Lisbon (1290) and moved to Coimbra in 1537. The university is famed for its magnificent baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and 18th-century bell tower. We visit the nucleus of the historic campus (#) where we can admire its magnificent 16th – 18th C. architecture and the interior structure of the library with its extensive display of ancient texts. Before dinner we stroll downhill from the university campus to explore the old city centre beside the Rio Mondego. Accommodation: Coimbra. Meals: B.
Day 11: Obidos – Lisbon (Monday 13 May)
Moving further south along the coast we stretch our legs in the white washed walled village of Obidos with its attractive stone houses and colourful floral displays. We arrive in the captivating, cosmopolitan city of Lisbon in time for lunch. Founded over 3000 years ago Lisbon commands a spectacular location: surrounded by steep terracotta covered hillsides that cascade down to the Rio Tejo. Well known for its grand boulevards, attractive plazas and bohemian restaurants with their melancholy Fado music, in WWII this city was a meeting place for European high society and spies, and a refuge for thousands of Jewish people. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour (#) of the historic centre and take a stroll through the maze of cobbled streets of Alfama, the old Islamic quarter. Accommodation: Lisbon. Meals: B.
Day 12: Lisbon (Tuesday 14 May)
Today participants are free to explore the city at their leisure. Sightseeing options are numerous and include: visiting the medieval citadel of the Castelo de Sao Jorge; wandering through the pedestrianised streets of Baixa; catching a tram to the Praca do Comercio one of the most impressive squares in Europe; and riding the 19th C. wrought-iron Elevator de Santa Justa (built by a student of Gustave Eiffel) to reach Chiado where one can enjoy one of the best city panorama’s at the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara. Some might decide to take a day trip to visit the historic Moorish and royal castles and exotic gardens of nearby Sintra. Accommodation: Lisbon. Meals: B.
Day 13: Lisbon (Wednesday 15 May)
This morning we visit some other UNESCO World Heritage listed attractions in nearby Belem: the 16th C. Mosteiro dos Jeronimos with its awe inspiring Manueline cloisters and tomb of Vasco de Gama; and the Torre de Belem (#) a splendid riverside fortress and tribute to ‘The Age of Discoveries.’ There’s time to sample one last pasteis de nata (a delicious Portuguese custard tart) or stop for tapas in a riverside café. The afternoon is free for participants to visit individual places of interest. Tonight there’s a chance to share thoughts about the tour highlights at a final group dinner in a traditional Portuguese restaurant. Accommodation: Lisbon. Meals: B. D.
Day 14: Lisbon (Thursday 16 May)
Tour ends after breakfast.
N.B. Up to two nights pre-tour accommodation can be provided in Lisbon on request. Transfer options between Lisbon to Tavira will be discussed at the time of booking. Such additions are not included in the tour price and will be costed separately.
What costs are covered?
- Services of two Australian tour guides (one of whom also speaks Spanish)
- Accommodation in comfortable hotels and guesthouses with private ensuites
- Continental breakfast daily
- Bus transport and carriage of 1 medium sized piece of luggage
- Two (2) group dinners (Days 5 & 13) and lunch on the Douro River cruise (Day 7).
- Tips and Gratuities for local guides and at group meals.
What is NOT included in the cost?
- International air flights and taxes
- Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage
- Pre-tour accommodation in Lisbon (1 and 2 May)
- Transfer to Tavira
- Visas (not required for Australian passport holders)
- Meals other than those specified in the itinerary
- Personal expenses eg. laundry, telephone calls
- Travel Insurance: Unlimited medical, additional and evacuation insurance is compulsory.
For all bookings and further information contact:
Director, Travel Enriched
(M) +61 (0) 404 417 485