Lisbon, Evora, Obidos, Alcobaca, Fatima, Tomar, Porto
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
History breathes along Portugal’s cobbled streets, and secrets whisper from ancient city walls, telling of the Knights Templar and old explorers. Traditional districts immerse you in medieval eras while an old-world culture lives on in places like Obidos, Alcobaca, Guimaraes, and Batalha. Handcrafted to include all of Portugal’s most important and historic sites and cities, this seven-day tour is a celebration of the country’s past, taking you on a one-way journey from Lisbon to Porto.
Lisbon – From Bohemian Streets to the Allure of Fado
A sea of pink and blue will greet you in Lisbon. The houses have a lovely hue here, and their soft facades will give off a charm that will follow you along every street. Your hotel will be located in Alfama, which is a traditional district of narrow streets that weaves their way up a steep hill. Some of the homes have been converted into boutiques and cafes, others into boutique hotels. There will be a bohemian energy all around, and you will soon learn that places in Portugal can be historic while also emanating a youthful exuberance. You will check in after an airport transfer, and the afternoon will be at your leisure. You can walk without a map as there is so much to enjoy here.
As the houses glow golden at dusk you will walk two blocks from your Alfama hotel to one of Portugal’s most atmospheric taverns. Fado music will originate from this very neighborhood, and you will soak up its cultural importance. Mystery will linger in the angelic singing, and romance will poke out from the walls of the tavern. Singing of legacies, the voices will have an almost haunting beauty, taking you on what can be a very emotional journey. Dinner and drinks will accompany the music, making this a memorable three- to four-hour experience as well as being the best way to ease into Portugal’s experiential history.
Lisbon – Exploring the Grandeur of Lisbon, Sintra and Estoril
Sculpted figures will line Belem Tower, which is a monument that stretches out into the river. Manueline embellishments surround Jeronimos Monastery, and grandeur extends around a park that is surrounded by cafes and townhouses. This is Belem, the grandest of Lisbon’s neighborhoods and home to the city’s largest concentration of monuments. Inside the monastery, you will explore the Manueline style and how it evolved from disparate, Moorish and Gothic designs. At the National Coach Museum, you will admire the grand tastes of Portuguese royalty before a you taste a little slice of Portuguese, culinary history at a nearby café. Here, you will taste pastel de nata, which is a small snack of pastry and custard.
You will continue the tour of Lisbon, exploring the magnificent plazas and grand avenues of Baixa, which is a neighborhood that was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755. This spacious grandeur will contrast Alfama and Bairro Alto where the bohemian atmosphere is at least two centuries older. Sintra lies an hour outside Lisbon and its palaces are of an unknown age, possibly from the Moors who came to Portugal in the eighth and ninth centuries. This is a place of fairytales and these palaces are some of Portugal’s most romantic icons. Returning to Lisbon, you will stop by the resort town of Cascais and Estoril where you will stroll lovely gardens at dusk.
Lisbon – 2000 Years of History and a Chapel of Bones
Skeletons will fill the Chapel of Bones, and femurs and skulls will create a spooky atmosphere in the haunting chapel. Not far away, you will gaze upon the tremendous columns of the Roman Temple of Evora, the last remains of the city’s two-millennia-old origins. Just outside the city, you will find a Neolithic monument, suggesting that there was life here before the Romans arrived. Then at Evora Cathedral, you will gasp at the scale as this enormous structure is grander than any other in the country. These four sights will fill your morning before you lounge on the central square for lunch, perhaps ending with an Alentejo coffeeand cake.
Each of these sights are unmissable on any visit to Evora as they showcase distinctive sides of the city’s history. The main city highlight will come afterwards when you leisurely wander along streets that have been expertly preserved. Whitewashed facades will shimmer throughout the afternoon, and chapel bells will ring slowly as chatter emanates from the city’s cafe terraces. Small churches will entice you towards interiors of gold leaf while tiny alleyways lead to the aromas of home cooking. Almost all of central Evora is vehicle free, and when wandering around, you will realize that Portugal is so much more than the sights. Portugal is all about the feeling and ambiance that exists throughout these old cities.
Lisbon – Wandering Through the Medieval Eras
Behind fortress walls you will find streets of cobblestone and intrigue. Whitewashed homes will be enlivened by blue and yellow borders or the odd coconut palm. The streets are narrow and tightly packed, some with market stalls that will spill their goods onto the cobbles. This is Obidos, which is perhaps the best preserved of all Portugal’s old cities. It is a town that has been encased by thick fortress walls. You can tour the sights in an hour, but you will need three or four hours to really absorb all the charm. You will take a tour with a local guide who will take you for coffee with a cake on the square where the they will narrate some of the city’s whispered secrets.
After lunch the journey will continue. You will stop in Alcobaca, and your first impressions will be the scale of the monastery. You will need a map to make sense of where you are, as this will be more like a village than a single structure. Batalha Monastery is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a pearl of Portuguese, Gothic architecture that took some 150 years to construct. Here, you can really get lost in all the details, listening to tales of famous battles that defined Portuguese independence. It is the imposing monument of a peaceful town, and while the monastery is a key stop on most Portugal itineraries, very few people spend the night here. So, you will enjoy a local evening in hilltop bliss, perhaps trying a local seafood dish such as cod cheeks.
Coimbra – Magnificent Art and Majestic Streets
Local legend says that the Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherds back in Fatima in 1917. It is now Portugal’s most important place of pilgrimage with a shrine that glistens white around Roman-style colonnades. Further along the UNESCO heritage trail, you will spend a few hours in Tomar, which is the last of the cities of the Templar Knights. At Tomar’s heart, you will journey once more into Manueline architecture, exploring the rich artistic design of the Convent of Christ. Beyond the town and castle, an aqueduct will stretch out with countless archways that represent its age with grace. So many stories exist here, and a local guide will separate fact from fiction.
Onwards a little further and you will be in Coimbra, a city with its own mystique. Half of the old city is on a steep hill, and you must duck to enter alleyways in addition to holding the handrail when descending cobbled steps. The city’s other half is the university, which is one of the largest, oldest, and grandest in the all of Europe. Of all the university buildings, it is the Baroque library that is most impressive. It is covered with gold leaf and a somewhat remarkable place for students to study. The evening will be at your leisure, and there is a lot to take in on the majestic streets.
Porto – Atmospheric Highlights of an Azulejo-Clad City
Scenes will play out along the walls of Porto. They will narrate farmers that meet with merchants, traders traveling along the river, famous battles, and visiting royalty. These scenes are created by azulejo tiles and they cover so much of the city with blue to form Portugal’s most memorable streets. While there are many monuments to explore today like the Porto Cathedral, Stock Exchange Palace, Clerigos Tower, and Bolhao Market, it is the dedication to artistic detail that makes this UNESCO World Heritage city so special. Almost everywhere you look there will be these tiles, providing a historical backdrop to the youthful exuberance that the city displays today. Even Sao Bento Railway Station has an enormous mural above the ticket machines.
Perhaps more than any city on this tour, Porto is memorable for its local atmosphere. Wine bars cluster down narrow streets, and boats are paddled across the river to port cellars. The smell of seafood will be omnipresent at lunchtime. Most of the streets are too steep and narrow for vehicles, so the heart of the city will not be interrupted by anything modern. This characterful city is one of the upcoming darlings of European travel. Now is a great time to be here before it is overrun by tourism. After a half-day guided tour, the rest of today will be left free, so you can stroll at leisure and get fully immersed in the azulejo-clad city.
Porto – Exploring Braga and Guimaraes Before Departure
As this private tour ends, you will travel back to the origins of Portugal. Braga is an elegant town of narrow lanes where every few moments you pass a Baroque church on a plaza. While it has grown to be Portugal’s third largest city, the center still feels like the early medieval era, incorporating the superb cathedral and the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus stairway. You will have lunch here before continuing to the city where it all began. Guimaraes is the cradle of Portugal and its center is stuffed full of rickety looking houses and rustic medieval buildings.
The country was founded here by Afonso the Great, who was the first king of Portugal. While Braga has grown, Guimaraes remains a little town, even if it has a towering castle that could protect a settlement many times its size. On today’s trip, you will also travel through the landscapes of Minho, which is Portugal’s greenest region. The views will be a vast change from the dusty yellow colors of Alentejo on day three. By late afternoon, you will be back in Porto where a very late check out will be arranged at the hotel. So freshen up before the airport transfer has you leave the country from Porto’s recently refurbished, international airport.
- Explore 2,000 years of legacies during a day in Evora where a Roman temple juxtaposes the Chapel of Bones
- Discover the grandeur of old-world Lisbon, including Belem and the palaces of Sintra
- Marvel at the incredible monasteries of Alcobaca and Batalha
- Surround yourself with azulejo tiles in the blue city of Porto
- See what remains of the final Templar Knights town with a trip to Tomar
- Wander the cobblestone streets of Obidos and listen to its fortress tales
- Experience the haunting beauty of a Fado performance
- Partake in a journey to Portugal’s origins by exploring Braga and Guimaraes
Skeletons create a spooky atmosphere in Evora’s Chapel of Bones. Tales of the Knights Templar fill Tomar’s Convent of Christ. Magnificent azulejo tiles create mosaics inside Porto’s famous old buildings. Imposing UNESCO World Heritage monasteries stand proudly in Alcobaca and Batalha. Welcome to Portugal, a country that is studded with spectacular sights, and a place that leads you from the sublime to the surreal. Yet, for all the architectural and artistic grandeur, the highlight of Portugal does not just lie in the sights. This is a country where the historical cities have preserved both their appearance and atmosphere, so you will not go on a historical tour to see the sights, you will go on a tour that lives out the history.
Connecting Portugal’s most important old cities, this seven-day tour focuses on local history and culture. You will see the country’s origins, its querulous past, and its grand collection of monasteries, markets, castles, and churches. However, most impressively, you will see how the sights are never standalone. In every city you are transported back in time, feeling what it must have been like in the 12th or 17th centuries. By staying inside the old-world areas you will be away from vehicles and modernity, living and dining on the past. Expert guides ensure you hear tales that whisper from the walls with their local specialism to ensure that nothing is missed.
Most of Portugal’s history is found in the northern half of the country between Lisbon and Porto. The country’s origins are actually north of Porto, in the Minho region, which is saved for the final day of this private tour. Although this seven day includes 13 different destinations, the distances are relatively short as you follow a route that is not much different from the ones that were taken by explorers during the 15th century. By connecting different regions, you will get a feel for the country’s local nuance in addition to the local ambiance that rests along the streets. During these seven days, you will find Portugal to be a country where so much of the history must be experienced rather than read about. While history is not as well known as neighboring Spain, it is one you can really feel.
You will begin with two nights in Lisbon where a Fado performance will provide a cultural welcome on the evening of day one. Connect the hills with a private tour of Lisbon on day two, from the grandeur of Belem through bohemian Alfama, and then out to the palaces of Sintra. Travel into the Alentejo region on day three where the old city of Evora takes you on a journey from Roman roots to a Chapel of Bones and Portugal’s most impressive cathedral. Like each night on this tour, you will find the city’s central square to be a relaxed place to spend the evening, immersing you in another time.
Days four and five are busy, hopping between old cities in the heart of Portugal. Wander the cobblestone streets of Obidos before exploring the vast monastery complexes of Alcobaca and Batalha. Check out the peculiar atmosphere in Fatima before getting to know the last city of the Templar Knights: Tomar. Early medieval grandeur is the highlight of Coimbra while in Porto you will find beauty in everything. On day six, you explore the best of Porto while on day seven you take a short trip to Braga and Guimaraes, which are the country’s oldest cities. There will be no need to retrace your steps back to Lisbon as Porto has an international airport for your outbound flight. Make sure your perfect Portugal vacation is an unforgettable one by seeing additional Portugal travel ideas.
$1,395 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.
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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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