From the historic cities of Porto and Coimbra, to the rich cultural center of Lisbon and striking beaches of the Algarve, Portugal offers history, stunning architecture, amazing food and wine, plus unlimited adventures for adrenaline seekers.
Today, we embark on our overnight flight to Lisbon, capital of Portugal.
The history and traditions of Lisbon and New World discoveries will be unveiled on our afternoon walk with a local historian. Delve into the city’s historic Alfama quarter rich with Moorish tiled buildings and narrow, cobblestone alleyways. Walk through the Belém district from where sailing ships once set forth to find unknown lands. Admire the Discoveries Monument honoring Henry the Navigator, who led Portugal’s expeditions into the New World in the 15th century; then marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jerónimos Monastery. Tonight we meet fellow travel companions at our welcome dinner and plan our journey ahead.
- Guided walking tour of Lisbon led by a local historian
- Welcome orientation
- Welcome cocktail and dinner
Meals: Welcome cocktail and dinner
Enjoy a free morning or consider a guided canoe or kayak tour of Lisbon’s waterfront. Paddle past Catalazetes Fortress, São João das Maias´s Fortress, Giribita’s Fortress and St. Bruno Fortress. In the afternoon we visit Sintra, a fairytale-like town with its UNESCO World Heritage Sintra-Vila. Streets are lined with pastel colored houses wrapped in lush hills that roll down to the Atlantic along the coast. Some of the must-see sights are the colorful Pena Palace, built in the Romanticism style, the Gothic Palácio Nacional, and the ancient walls of Castelo dos Mouros, perched high above the city.
Visit the Quinta da Regaleira estate containing an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels. Its “Initiation Well” is a steep 27-meter staircase that leads directly underground and connects with other tunnels via a labyrinth of underground walkways. Upon return to Lisbon, enjoy your leisure evening.
- Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sintra-Vila
- Explore Quinta da Regaleira and its gardens
Optional Excursion: Canoeing
During free time this morning, consider a ride on the Tram 28 that takes you through some of the city’s most prominent neighborhoods to see popular attractions such as St. George’s Castle. The funicular railway travels up steep hills of the old town for more exploration of Alfama’s winding streets past charming shops, cozy restaurants, exotic gardens and traditional Fado clubs. This afternoon we start our journey south along the coast to the famous Algarve region. We stop in Sines, an old fishing town and the birthplace of the explorer Vasco a Gama. Relax by the water or join us on an optional horseback ride across meadows, dunes and coastal forests on the Costa Alentejana. Afterwards, we continue to Cabo San Vincente, Europe’s southwestern most point and a spot with spectacular views before we arrive at our beach hotel.
- See Lisbon's historic Alfama quarter
- Explore the old fishing town of Sines
- Visit Europe's southwestern most point, Cabo San Vincente
Optional Excursion: Horseback Riding
The alluring coast of the Algarve receives much attention for its spectacular cliffs and sun-kissed beaches. It offers endless opportunities for adrenaline seekers and water sports fans, as well as those in pursuit of just relaxing on the beach. The delightful inner Algarve features quaint castle towns and villages, flower-covered hillsides, and amazing hiking trails. We will start our day with a yoga class on the beach. Then, design the remainder of the day depending on your energy level: kayaking, surfing, hiking or swimming are just some of the options available. Tonight we share stories of this day’s adventures at our very own beach party.
- Yoga class on the beach
- Visit the picturesque beaches of the Algarve
- BBQ dinner
Meals: Breakfast, BBQ dinner
Optional Excursion: Watersports, hiking
We start our drive north to Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. En route, we visit Coimbra, located in the heart of the country. Coimbra has been the medieval capital for over 100 years and is the oldest University City in the country. Tour the university grounds, which UNESCO has placed on its list of World Heritage sites, climb the tower for a birds-eye view of the city, visit Pátio das Escolas courtyard, the Chapel of São Miguel with an imposing Baroque organ, and the Joanine Library featuring over 300,000 works dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries arranged in beautiful gilt-covered bookcases. We arrive in Porto for a welcome dinner of Portuguese delights.
- Visit UNESCO Heritage university town of Coimbra
- Traditional Portuguese dinner
Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Our local historian takes us on a discovery of Porto this morning. The city town center is one of Europe’s oldest and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire monuments such as the Luis I Bridge and Porto Se Cathedral, Torres, Igreja dos Clerigos, and Avenida dos Aliados. We end our tour at the famous Lello Bookstore. Even if you are not into books, you don’t want to miss this exquisite 1906 neo-Gothic construction, with its carved plaster resembling wood and stained-glass skylight. Its intricately wrought, spiral staircase was supposedly the inspiration for the one in the Harry Potter books, which JK Rowling partly wrote in Porto while working here as an English teacher from 1991 to 1993.
Vila Nova de Gaia, considered the Port Wine capital, is just across the Douro River. Lodges of the historic port wine producers are strung along the waterfront with their caves, aging tanks, and tasting rooms. After some free time, join us for a tour and tasting of this delicious, sweet red wine.
- Guided tour of Porto led by a local historian
- Visit the famous Lello Bookstore
- Vila Nova de Gaia Port Wine tasting
Take today to further explore Porto and its surroundings on your own, or join us on an optional all-day bike ride through the Douro Valley vineyards. Ride through historic villages and along UNESCO world heritage terraced vineyards to experience the traditions of this region. Visit a wine cellar, taste some of the best port and Douro wines, and enjoy a hearty lunch. We return to Porto with some time to relax before our farewell dinner and opportunities to listen to Portugal's soulful national soundtrack: Fado music.
- Farewell Portuguese dinner
Meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner
Optional Excursion: Full day Douro Valley Biking excursion with wine tasting
After breakfast our land program ends and we bid farewell to our new-found friends and fellow adventurers.