Portugal hides its secrets and rewards the patient traveler that is willing to explore down the narrow lanes and journey behind the obvious highlights. Find elegiac music in little taverns and ancient towns built from marble, and then turn to find seductive outposts and cities from the 16th century. With expert insider guides, this 12-day luxury tour will take you off the beaten track and into the authenticity of Portugal’s lesser-known destinations of Evora, Estremoz, and Elvas.
Lisbon – Grandeur and Charm of Baixa and Alfama Districts
Lisbon is the iconic introduction to Portugal’s character as every district is distinct and feel as if the locals are deliberately creating contrasts. Touch down in the capital and a local guide will lead your exploration, Alfama, and Baixa the classic example of a city with many characters. Rebuilt following the 1755 earthquake, Baixa is the grand heart of Lisbon and home to opulent avenues and grand plazas, a celebration of glamour and entirely different from Alfama, a distinct a dozen stops away on the tram. Narrow lanes are flanked by tiny graffiti-scathed houses to bring the old working-class neighborhood to be one that is packed with charm.
It will be here that you can hear the elegiac sounds of the Fado, a mournful style of traditional music that emanates from the taverns. While in Baixa, you can stop for a coffee on a grand al fresco terrace, but in Alfama, you will feel the heat and intensity of the tavern music with beautiful songs that drift with the smells of barbecued seafood or boiled pork. This is just your first day in Portugal, and you already have settled into the style of this luxury tour. The timing of the day will be very flexible and will allow you to move at a pace that reflects your energy levels.
Lisbon – Contrasts of the Capital: Belem to Bairro Alto
Lisbon – Modern and Forgotten Side to Lisbon
Sintra – Palaces and Ruins of the Glorious Eden
Cascais – A Charming Seaside Town With a Regal History
Day 6 - 7
Elvas – The Seductive Outpost on the Spanish Border
Day 8 - 9
Estremoz – Surreal Marble Towns of Alentejo
Day 10 - 11
Evora – Cobbled Streets, Painted Houses, and 16th-Century Allure
Lisbon – Departure
- Explore Lisbon with insiders and admire the surreal contrasts between the city’s districts that range from the grandeur of Baixa and Belem to the crumpling charms of Alfama and Bairro Alto
- Visit the sublime medieval outpost of Elvas, a relaxed city with living history and very few tourists
- Experience the true tones of the capital city with an evening spent listening to Fado, and then another as you join the locals in the Park of Nations
- Enjoy the beautiful and the baffling as the marble towns of Alentejo are also as authentic as any in Portugal, while Evora is the grand dame of Portugal, a mesmeric old city that has hardly changed since the 16th century
- Disappear into the hills as you spend a day to discover the palaces of Sintra, and then an evening amid the cobbles of Byron’s “glorious Eden”
- Follow the aristocratic history found along the coast with a stop in Cascais, the seaside resort town of the 19th-century royals
- Discover Portugal off the beaten track with expert local guides, their knowledge of their cities ensuring you uncover the secrets
Portugal has always had style, and you can sense it from the moment you land. The country is colorful and full of character, tempestuous as well as tranquil, stoic while creating new ideas of the sublime. Theirs is a style that the Portuguese do not care about sharing or exporting, and a style that is anything but boastful. It is also this inimitable style that has helped to keep the country full of secrets. Dozens of destinations are unknown to the world, especially in the wild and untrammeled Alentejo region. To discover these secrets, you must travel slowly, for it is easy to miss out on the charm of Portugal when you try to rush. Slow travel means opening all your senses. It means walking slowly and uncovering the subtleties as you go off the beaten track to discover the authenticity of the country.
In a land of fables and secrets, you need to know the storytellers. You will need a guiding hand that can help to navigate you in the right direction so your 12-day luxury tour will connect you with local experts and guides with an insider knowledge of their homeland. Your guides will help you to understand the details behind the sights and the history of the land, as well as the psyche of the people and the cultural inimitability that makes everywhere in Portugal so different. With the guides alongside, you will be immersed in the country’s character and enveloped by the authenticity of destinations that most of the world has never heard of. As you depart back home, you will probably be thinking like the locals, happy to maintain the secrecy of your vacation’s destinations.
Fly into Lisbon as your tour beings and spend several days in the capital city. While there is an inevitable focus on the postcard sights, these days will be more about the back-lanes and the baffling diversity of Lisbon. You will be able to really explore the contrasts from Belem to Bairro Alto, Baixa to Alfama, as well as the hardly mentioned modern side to the city. Travel to Sintra next and spend the night so that you can experience the beautiful evening atmosphere after the day-tripping tourists have left. You will then do something similar in Cascais as you admire the sights in the day, and then the ambiance during the evening. Over this first week, there will also be local Fado music in a tiny tavern, avenues of pure glamour, and Moorish castle ruins on the top of the world.
Alentejo, your next stop, literally translates as “beyond the Tagus,” a name that reflects the feel of the landscape as you move out of Lisbon, the city on the Tagus. Uncrowded and wildly beautiful, exploring Alentejo will make you feel as if you have gone beyond. Spend a couple of days in Elvas, a surreal outpost with a frontier feel near the Spanish border and a city of charm that is dominated by a history of quarrels. Spend a couple more days in and around Estremoz to discover towns crafted almost exclusively from local marble, and towns now left in a redolent state of semi-ruin that only enhances their appeal. Finally Evora, a city with a 2,000-year history that feels as though it has been frozen in the 16th century with the cobbled streets and painted houses. Emblematic of this 12-day luxury tour, Evora will become more beautiful as you notice the nuances. From here, it is a 90-minute transfer back to Lisbon for your outbound flight as you begin your journey home. Consider learning more about our travelers’ best Portugal travel experiences by reading their Portugal travel reviews.
$3,115 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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