Lisbon, Belem, Baixa, Sintra, Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro River, Funchal, Madeira
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira are three of Portugal’s iconic highlights and are combined on this leisurely two-week tour for seniors. Mixing free time with privately-guided tours, you explore the history and culture of two cities that love to surprise, as well as an island that blends intrigue with charm. Along the way, there are palaces, galleries, waterfalls, neighborhoods, dolphins, villages, coastlines, a Douro River cruise and a ceramics workshop, all while traveling at a very serene pace.
Lisbon – The Elegance and Grandeur of the Capital
Lisbon is color and charm, energy and ebullience. It is a city that feels more like a collection of villages, where every neighborhood offers something different to the intrigued eye. You are greeted at the airport for a private transfer into the heart of the city, where your boutique hotel is located in the Baixa district. Many restaurants are within a five-minute walking distance, and you can quickly explore different neighborhoods from this central location. Relax through the afternoon, perhaps taking a stroll along the grand avenues that roam through Baixa and nearby Rossio. In the early evening, you take a tramcar tour of the city, a vintage carriage traversing a route across a city built on seven hills. It is an ideal way to get your bearings and admire the eclecticism without having to walk or join a bus tour. Early evenings are best for the tramcar ride as the streets are at their busiest and the carriages are at their quietest.
Lisbon – Fascinating Art and Architecture: The Manueline Style and More
Portugal’s golden age was short-lived but left a sublime legacy. As wealth poured in from the New World in the 16th century, aristocrats funded ostentatious construction projects designed by Portuguese architects. These architects took their influence from far and wide, mixing a little French Gothic with early Italian Renaissance, not forgetting the Mudejar and Moorish artistry from the past nor the cryptic Catholic style popular at the time. The result is an architecture that is absolutely unique, now known as Manueline.
In the district of Belem, you will find the showpiece examples of the style, most notably at Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. More poignantly, the guide shows how these icons are a patchwork, pointing out where each element of the buildings has their architectural origins. Stop for a coffee and a pastel de nata (traditional custard tart) in a legendary Belem café, then continue the Belem tour at an enormous private gallery. Amassed over 40 years by Calouste Gulbenkian, the gallery’s collection spans 5,000 years and all the continents, a collection where Rembrandt and Monet are found alongside gold Egyptian mummy masks and Islamic calligraphy. The afternoon is left free, and your private guide can customize a tour based on your interests, with many niche museums and neighborhoods among the options.
Lisbon – A Day Discovering Lord Byron’s Sintra
Lord Bryon’s poetry has its origins in Sintra, the tiny town in the hills where he spent his formative years. And his words ring as true today as they did in the early 19th century, Sintra’s “…glorious Eden intervenes in a variegated maze of mount and glen.” After a free morning in Lisbon, you weave into the forested hills on a private tour, glimpsing a palace that shimmers against a green backdrop. Strange chimneys emerge from a structure that was first recorded in the eighth century (historians disagree about when it was built), juxtaposed with the narrow cobblestone lanes of Sintra’s town.
Take your time, first savoring the views and the landscape, then wandering the interior of Portugal’s national palace. Then explore further, your guide taking you into the hills around Sintra, where Moorish castles are crumbling on the summits, and a pink palace awaits like a fairytale. Back in Sintra, there is a dreamy view as you dine at a restaurant overlooking the palace. It is a 45-minute journey back to Lisbon, and the late hour of the tour helps to avoid the midday crush of visitors that descend on Sintra.
Porto – Relaxed Day Exploring Porto
Landscapes contrast on the high-speed train journey north to Porto. Open plains of barley and wheat are interrupted by olive groves and clusters of vines, with small dusty villages dotting the panorama in all directions. It takes two-and-a-half-hours to reach Porto in the first-class carriage, and the greeting is sublime. Porto is famous for its ceramic mosaics, and there are none finer than the entrance hall of Sao Bento Station. You are greeted at the station by a guide, and it is a five-minute walk downhill to your hotel in the World Heritage heart of the city. Your guide will take care of your luggage, allowing you to stroll slowly and absorb Porto’s colorful facades. The rest of the day is at your leisure, and you are ideally situated to explore the pedestrianized center of the city.
Porto – Following the Vineyards on a Douro Valley Cruise
The Douro River meanders at the slow, seductive, and sometimes surreal speed you now associate with Portugal. Embark on your cruise as the morning mist still hangs in the distance, a luxurious boat twisting deeper and deeper into the valley. Villages cling to the peaks, vineyards rise on harmonious terraces, and the cruise can have a somewhat soporific effect. You disembark for lunch at a historic restaurant along the banks, then spend the afternoon cruising into narrow and barely navigable corners. It is a day exploring rural landscapes, but also a day dotted with wine tasting and fine food. When the boat cannot travel further, you stop for another tasting and return by road, a 90-minute journey that reveals another part of the Douro.
Porto – Getting to Know the Art of the City
Porto has always had style. Buildings are draped in scenes made from individually painted tiles, palaces and marketplaces share the same dedication to artistry, and traditional architecture has been expertly preserved. This morning, you explore the exquisite examples of the city’s ceramic art, a private guide showing how the style has morphed over the centuries while remaining true to its origins. Then, in the afternoon, you join a ceramics workshop, learning how to paint the blue tiles synonymous with Porto. Laid-back and informal, the workshop is not where you will create a wall-sized mosaic, but where you will understand more of the intricacy and skill that goes into every single Porto showpiece. The evening is free, and your guide can organize dinner reservations if required.
Porto – Optional Excursion to Braga and Guimaraes
With a private guide, this day can be tailored to your interests. The most popular day trip, other than into the Douro Valley, is to travel north to the old cities of Braga and Guimaraes where the monuments hold millennia of history, and the atmosphere takes on a medieval feel. Another option is the other side of the river, where the musty port cellars await in Vila Nova de Gaia. It is possible to fit all of this into a single day. But there are many other options your guide will present, including tasting with the winemaker in one of the cellars or taking a tramcar out to cute villages on the coast.
Funchal – Relaxed Day on a Remote Island
Madeira stands isolated and mostly untouched in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Morocco than it is to Portugal. As the plane comes into land, you glimpse what awaits. A volcanic island of rugged green peaks and high cliffs surrounded by pristine blue waters spreads before your eyes. On the transfer to the hotel, you sense the enormity of nature, with the mountains providing an almost permanent backdrop. And at the hotel, you bask in the serenity of the island, the sound of the waves drifting through the window, and the smells of nature never far away. Your hotel is within a very short walking distance of the coast and a cluster of restaurants in the district of Sao Martinho, Funchal.
Funchal – Enchanting Villages and A-Framed Houses of Madeira
With a private guide, you tour the island today, being welcomed into four villages to hear first-hand about the history and culture on a forgotten corner of Europe. Culture has evolved distinctly on Madeira, the island embracing influence from eclectic sources. The villagers have survived whalers and wanderers, pillagers, and pirates. And now they welcome visitors to their enchanting homes. The houses are unique, A-frames with steeply-angled roofs and colorfully painted windows. The most famous are in Santana, but charming little destinations are dotted all around the Madeira coast. Garajau and Porto Cruz can be just as memorable as the postcard experience in Santana.
Funchal – Take a Stroll, Hike or Boat Around Madeira
This is a day at leisure in Madeira. Take a stroll along the cliffs, visit the interactive Madeira Story museum, or lounge at one of the cafes along the coast, gazing up at the epic mountain backdrop. There are also customizable options, including day trips by boat to the other three islands in the archipelago or adventurous hikes across the interior. Madeira is a destination that deserves time, where the experience is as much about the atmosphere as it is about the sights. Relaxing on the cliffs where dolphins are often spotted down below, is as famously Madeiran as any of the experiences on your day tours.
Funchal – Spectacular Landscapes and Seascapes of Madeira
Volcanic cliffs stand proudly above the Atlantic waves, rugged shards of ochre and green painted against the blue of the ocean. These are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and after ascending to the summit, you are met with spectacular views of the island and ocean. Travel further around the island, and the landscapes keep rewarding, from ancient lava fields to craggy peaks that hide pebbled beaches. In a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you traverse the coastline of the island, rising and falling through landscapes that often seem like a dream. The isolation found on the remote corners of Madeira is such that, when the engine is cut, it is possible to hear the silence. This is a full-day tour, and there is a great opportunity to spot dolphins pods throughout, particularly at the lower lookout points far from Funchal.
Funchal – Muse at Art and Wander by Waves
Today is another day at leisure in Madeira. Sip your morning coffee while listening to the waves, wander through the narrow Funchal streets, relax at one of the many coastal cafes, and allow the pace of Madeira to soothe the soul. Various art museums offer an alternative focus today, with the Museum of Sacred Art and Museum of Decorative Arts revealing the island’s contrasting history. Also within easy reach of Funchal are tropical lagoons, flower gardens, natural sea lava pools, and a museum dedicated to the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, Funchal’s favorite son.
Funchal – Peaks and Waterfalls and Fascinating Natural Sights
Sublime waterfalls dot the Madeira interior. Some gush through lush forests, descending into green-blue pools hidden away from the world. Others dance down the cliffs, a thousand individual channels creating a veil of frothy white. More than half of the island is designated as a protected natural park, where endemic flora and fauna await those with inquisitive footsteps. Natural sights are loosely connected by four-wheel drive trails and adventurous hiking paths. They are in such abundance that many of the waterfalls and peaks are completely clear of other visitors. Meet your private guide in the morning, and plan a route depending on your energy and fitness levels. It could be a full day by car or a mix of walking and driving. You may want to see all sides of the island, but there are also many picturesque sights on the Funchal side.
Funchal – Departure
After two weeks in Portugal, you soar away from Funchal, rising above the green cliffs that have provided a permanent backdrop over the last week.
- Embrace the old-world glory of Lisbon and discover the finest examples of Portugal’s Manueline architectural style
- Cruise down the Douro River on a day-trip from Porto, traveling beneath the terraced vineyards and villages from the past
- Escape to the island of Madeira, where you have seven nights at a boutique hotel along the coast
- Get to know more of Portugal’s grand history by spending a day in Sintra, where royal palaces and famous poets tell a story
- Spending four nights in Porto ensures you can truly savor all the intricacies, including different Port cellars, art galleries, and the ceramics that make the city famous
- Explore the island of Madeira on three very different private day tours where one focuses on the enchanting A-framed villages, another on the coastline and seascapes, and a third takes you to the peaks and waterfalls of the interior
- All tours are privately guided and tailored to suit your pace
Portugal’s leisurely pace is quick to make visitors feel at home. Nothing is rushed here, and there is just as much to see if you travel slowly instead of rushing. It is a country where treasures are revealed when you take your time and look closer. You can discover a Moorish gargoyle on a church tower, an island village cut off from the world, and a viewpoint overlooking pods of dolphins. The more time you spend, the more the country reveals niches, such as Manueline architecture and ceramic galleries full of blue. The laid-back rhythm is making Portugal an increasingly attractive destination for senior travelers, and this two-week tour is a celebration of the tranquil pace.
You will discover three very contrasting destinations, with centrally located hotels and private tours throughout. Lisbon is a city of grand monuments, where the postcards cannot do justice to the artistic beauty of both yesteryear and today. Porto is a charming and compact city for slow exploration, sitting patiently along the shores of the Douro River. Madeira is an island escape that feels distinct from the rest of the world, where natural heritage creates a panorama wherever you look. Combining the three provides an overview of Portugal’s varying highlights, with almost every day offering something new to discover. Majestic sea cliffs, artisanal workshops, Moorish palaces, cathedrals and towers, dolphins, and empty beaches are just a start.
Lisbon may be a capital, but it follows a relaxed tempo. Over the first days of your journey, you will explore private art galleries and world-famous icons, and escape into the forested hills of Sintra, where the palaces are more than worthy of Lord Byron’s poetic praise. Next, a high-speed, first-class train takes you to Porto where several nights help you uncover the city and its surroundings. On the itinerary are a day cruise along the Douro River, a ceramics workshop, and an excursion to the traditional cities of Braga and Guimaraes. Fly direct to Madeira for a week on the Atlantic Ocean island. Your hotel is a few steps from the coast, and three private day tours showcase contrasting aspects of the island. Experience the local village culture, the coastline, and seascapes, plus the peaks and waterfalls of the interior.
We work closely with the best Portugal travel operators to ensure that you have a fully personalized trip of a lifetime.
$2,795 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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