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Portugal is one of the world’s countries with the highest number of World Heritage sites recognized by UNESCO. This holiday tour will take you to visit many of these sites. During the trip a Local Host will accompany you, dealing with all the details.
In this tour you will discover the little secrets of Portugal by the hand of a local friendly tour guide. Not only visit iconic places but also taste the local food in those restaurants that only people who lives there know. You will experience the taste of Portuguese wine and food. Discover Lisbon through the eyes of its inhabitants.
This tour package starts in Porto, on the north bank of the River Douro. From there you will visit some of World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO - Guimaraes, Braga, Coimbra, Régua, Pinhão and Vila Nova de Foz Côa. During the trip, a Local Host will accompany you dealing with all the details.
This vacation tour package will take you to attend the celebrations of the 97th anniversary of the miracle of the sun, in Fatima. This is one of biggest religious events in Portugal. You will discover and experience some of the history and tradition of Portugal by the hand of a local host.
Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve is a beach lover’s paradise, home to a warm Mediterranean climate, whitewashed fishing villages, dramatic cliffs and a rugged interior. Walk or cycle along the Algarve Way or Vicentine Route, relax in the picturesque resort town of Lagos, and sun yourself at one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, Praia da Marinha.
One hour north of Lisbon lies the picturesque mediaeval town of Obidos which prospered in the 13th century as the estate of Queen Isabel. Today its beautifully preserved castle, whitewashed houses, religious architecture and cobblestone streets make it a charming town to wander, all nestled within its fortified city walls.
The archipelago of Madeira off the northwestern coast of Africa is one of Portugal’s favourite getaways, with a subtropical climate perfect for hiking along its old aqueducts, sampling Madeira wine, and exploring its historic capital, Funchal. Go surfing and boating off sun-drenched beaches, then scuba diving to explore the Garajau Marine Nature Reserve.
Nestled into the foothills of the Sintra Mountains lies the former royal sanctuary and atmospheric UNESCO town of Sintra, renowned for the elaborate tiling and Moorish/Manueline architecture of the Sintra National Palace. Take in the views from the hilltop Pena National Palace, wander the 10th century Castelo dos Mouros, and witness the ornate decorations of the 19th century Quinta da Regaleira.
Situated in the town of Alcobaca to Lisbon’s north lies the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Abbey of Santa Maria - a 12th century Roman Catholic monastery that is considered a masterpiece for its highly ornate Cistercian Gothic architecture. Follow the corridor that leads from the monastery church to the Manueline sacristy of Infante Dom Afonse, and take in the sanctity of the Cloisters of Silence.
Escape to the remote fishing village of Sagres on the very western edge of the Algarve, once considered the end of the world and home to breathtaking coastal views. Walk along the top of its immense cliffs to the church and 17th century fortress of Sagres Point, relax on untouched beaches and surf its legendary Atlantic waves.
Serving as the seat of Portugal’s archbishops from the 12th century, this historical city in Portugal’s northwest houses an impressive collection of churches and monasteries, with the Sé Cathedral its most famous. Wander the streets to admire Braga’s 18th century mansions, the Antigo Paço Episcopal archbishop’s palace and the Bescainhos Museum, and coincide your visit with the colourful Semana Santa celebrations.
Sprawling along the Tagus River, Portugal’s coastal capital, Lisbon, is the country’s political, social and cultural hub, centred around the lively Rossio square. Dominated by São Jorge Castle, explore its fascinating museums by heritage tram, witness the inspiring Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument and the highly-ornate 16th century Belem Tower, then marvel at the inspiring Jeronimos Monastery, renowned for its Manueline cloisters.
With its Riviera old town overlooking the Douro River and the 14th century Church of São Francisco at its heart, Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, is one of the country’s most charismatic. Sample its world-renowned fortified wine at the local port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, explore the 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, and witness the artwork of the world-renowned Serralves Museum.
Once serving as Portugal’s medieval capital, the university town of Coimbra tumbles down a hill on the eastern bank of the Rio Mondeg. Wander around Europe’s oldest university and its famed Biblioteca Joanina, witness the 12th century Romanesque architecture of the Old Cathedral and the Gothic Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery, then visit the nearby Roman ruins at Conímbriga and the medieval hilltop fortress of Montemor-o-Velho.
Dubbed the “Venice of Portugal”for its lagoons and canals, Aveiro lies on the country’s Atlantic coast and is dominated by the tiled facade of Sao Domingos Church. Explore its narrow, winding streets by moliceiro gondola, and witness the religious artwork of the Jesus Monastery, then head to the colourful nearby town of Ilhavo, renowned for its porcelain factory and Maritime Museum.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Evora is a living museum, home to one of Portugal’s richest collections of monuments that include the Cromeleque dos Almendres prehistoric standing stones, the Evora Aqueduct, and the Diana Roman Temple. Wander its historic centre and the charming Praça do Giraldo square, and witness the macabre Bone Chapel of Saint Francis.
With its medieval castle dominating the skyline, the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Guimarães in northern Portugal has a rich and long-standing history. Visit the 15th century royal residence of Paço dos Duques de Bragança at its base, then explore the impressive religious artwork of the Alberto Sampaio Museum within the Romanesque cloister of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira.
Newly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the garrison town of Elvas in Portugal’s east is renowned for its medieval-era frontier fortress and 15th century aqueduct which once supplied the city with water. Impressive bastions and imposing walls surround the town, while a moorish-inspired Gothic cathedral nestles in its narrow, white-washed streets.
Travel through Portugal’s spectacular countrysides to discover its long-established wine-growing history and rich gastronomy, while sampling some of its finest artisan produce and traditional cuisine.
Cruise through the UNESCO designated Douro River Valley from Porto, taking in the sun-drenched vineyards and charming villages along its banks, while meeting the local farmers and winemakers at its quintas estates.
Explore the rugged mountainous terrain and waterfalls of Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês in Portugal’s northeast on a hiking or canyoning adventure, with the opportunity to spot roe deer, Iberian wolf and the endemic Gerês lily.
Embark on a reflective catholic pilgrimage tour to the Sanctuary of Fatima, home to the Capelinha das Apariçoes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1917, as well as the Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, renowned for its golden angels.
Discover the legacy of Portugal’s medieval warrior monks from the Knights Templar Order on a tour exploring their ancient abbeys, monasteries and villages, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage listed Convent and Castle of Tomar.
From Foz do Minho in the north down to the world-renowned beaches of the Algarve, travel along Portugal’s more than 800km Atlantic coastline, soaking up the sun, surf and sand, and exploring its charming fishing villages, historic towns and resorts.
Go dolphin and whale watching in the volcanic archipelago of the Azores islands for a rare glimpse of its migrating species, then head underwater scuba diving to explore its unique landscapes and diverse marine life.
Summer (June to August). Summer sees long days and hot temperatures across the country, with the coastal resorts packed full of holiday makers from across Europe. It’s an ideal time to soak up the sun on the Atlantic coast, with warm waters and all beach facilities open.
Autumn (September to November). Autumn is a great time to visit, with the majority of other tourists having finished their summer break and milder temperatures that are ideal for hiking and exploring the cities. The autumn colours ignite the landscape, with the Douro Valley particularly stunning.
Winter (December to February). Winter temperatures in Portugal are mild compared to much of Europe, with both Madeira and the Algarve popular getaways for those escaping the cold conditions back home. Snow in the inland northern regions provides good skiing conditions, while the majority of Portugal’s rain falls during this period (although rarely enough to put a dampener on sightseeing).
Spring (March to May). Spring sees wildflowers covering the hillsides and almond blossom ignite many of Portugal’s rural areas. The mild temperatures and longer days make this an ideal season to explore the cities and go hiking in the national parks, and coincides with the best time for whale watching in the Azores.
The Peregrinacao de Fatima marks Portugal’s most famous Christian pilgrimage in mid-May, when devotees come from near and far for a candle-lit procession through the town to celebrate a 1917 apparition of the Virgin Mary. A statue of the Virgin Mary is paraded through the streets towards the Chapel of the Apparitions, accompanied by an exuberant crowd waving white handkerchiefs.
Taking place in the village of Lazarim during the lead up to Shrove Tuesday, the Entrudo dos Compadres is a lively carnival that sees masked revellers making fun of the opposite sex in a tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages. Celebrating the day before Lent, it sees two colourful dolls - the compadre and comadre - insult each other through poetry and prose, before exploding with fireworks amidst much feasting and drinking.
Barcelos’ Festival of the Crosses takes place at the start of May and began as a purely religious festival, with pilgrims arriving from across Portugal for the Procession of the Holy Cross following a 16th apparition. But since the 19th century it has added in more secular events, including circus performances, parades of local folk costumes, and fireworks, making it a celebration for all.
The three-day “Festival of the Red Waistcoat” takes place in Vila Franca de Xira each July, with red-waistcoated campinos galloping through the streets on horseback, chased by wild bulls. The festival starts in the city square with a parade celebrating the bravery of these cowboys who make their living tending bulls, with bands coming from across the country to serenade the crowd.
Portugal’s cuisine combines Mediterranean influences with spices brought from its former colonies, such as piri piri, black pepper and cinnamon. Its long Atlantic coastline sees seafood feature in many traditional dishes, with the smoked cod known as bacalhau one of its most distinctive tastes. Chicken, beef and pork are also commonly eaten, often with lavish dressings of olive oil, garlic and bay leaf.
In addition, Portugal’s wine and port (the alcoholic drink) are renowned throughout the world, while its famed Portuguese tarts are one of the country’s most recognised exports.
Although today it is often made from pork, the smoked Portuguese sausage known as alheira had Jewish origins and was traditionally made from poultry and game meat. The most famous alheira are found in the city of Mirandela and their delicious combination of smoked pork, bread crumbs, olive oil, garlic and sweet paprika have seen them selected as one of the “7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy”.
This octopus dish is found throughout Portugal’s coastal regions and named for the liberal drizzle of hot extra virgin olive oil which is added after it has been grilled or roasted. The octopus is cooked along with garlic, onion, coriander and lime, with salted baked potatoes normally served as an accompaniment.
The dried and salted cod known as bacalhau is one of Portugal’s most iconic ingredients, with it said that there is a way to cook it for each and every day of the year. While fresh cod can be substituted, it doesn’t have the intense flavour of the dried and salted variety. Look out for bacalhau à gomes de sá, served with onions and potatoes, the rich, creamy bacalhau com natas, or the savoury pastries known as pastéis de bacalhau.
Portugal’s rich history is evident in its beautiful array of souvenir items and shopping opportunities, drawing on its traditional handicrafts, design and culinary industries. There are souvenir shops across the country selling the distinctive decorative tiles, embroidery and cork accessories for which the country is known, while its fortified wines, cheeses, sausage and olive oil can all be found at gourmet grocers and delicatessens, or bought direct from the maker.
Portugal’s long-established lace and embroidery industry dates back to the late 18th century, with silk, organdy, cotton and linen all used to produce dresses, skirts, table cloths and handkerchiefs. The delicate hand-made designs feature both traditional and modern patterns, with those of Madeira among the most treasured.
Known as azulejos, Portuguese decorative tiles can be seen all over the country on church facades, fountains and homes, with a history that dates back five centuries. Individual tiles or tile-inspired items, such as jewellery and coasters, can be found in souvenir shops countrywide, and often depict historical or cultural Portuguese scenes.
As the world’s largest cork producer, it’s no surprise that cork products and accessories have made their way onto the souvenir shelves across Portugal. From individual wine corks to wallets and even postcards, these cork items make for unique and eco-friendly gifts.