Portugal Tour – A Regional Tour of Portugal

Portugal Tour – Our Portugal Tour Route, Itinerary and Comments:

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Portugal Tour Route

This is the itinerary of our 10-day Portugal tour which is called ‘A Regional Tour of Portugal’. Our tour route goes in an anti-clockwise direction, starting in Lisbon and heading down south to the Algarve and then head ups up north along the eastern border. 

Whereas many tours that are offered combine Spain, Portugal and Morocco, this one concentrates on Portugal only and provides a comprehensive coverage of the country, which is what we wanted.

Duration of this Portugal Tour

There is a lot to see in Portugal and many of us felt that we could have done with an extra couple of days to allow more time at destinations and also to give travellers the opportunity to shop and do some exploration on their own.

Another option is to be able to add on a few days at the end for a Douro River cruise.   A couple who had signed on for the river cruise had to spend the first few days repeating the land component of this itinerary before embarking on the river cruise.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable tour and gave us a very good coverage of Portugal which you can see in our Portugal photo albums. Also, Pedro, our tour director, was excellent, which makes a huge difference on any tour.

DAY 1 Lisbon. (Wed.) Arrive in Lisbon, capital of Portugal. In the evening we meet our Tour Director for a Welcome Drink as well as a briefing of the tour and all formalities for the journey.  Our stay is at the Hotel Corinthia.
An early start this morning to catch the 10:15 flight from London Heathrow to Lisbon.  Hotel Corinthia is a stylish modern hotel.  It is in the financial district and not near the old town which would be preferable.  Fortunately, the metro is just across the street. One way ticket costs 0.70 Euros (2009) and return ticket €1.30 Euros.

Optional Dinner:  We catch a ferry to Almada to have dinner at a local seafood restaurant – Farol.  Very nice range of local seafood and Vinho Verde.  Very enjoyable and a good start to the tour.

DAY 2 Lisbon – Albufeira. (Thur.) Crossing the River Tagus, we head to the Algarve coastal region and Albufeira. We stay in Albufeira for two nights at the Hotel Montechoro. (BB)
There was a change in the itinerary and we instead stayed at the Vila Sol Algarve in Vilamoura.  Vila Sol is a golf resort managed by the Marriott group.  It is a sprawling resort and a courtesy bus takes guests to the Vilamoura Marina where you’ll find bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and all kinds of entertainment.
DAY 3 Algarve Excursion. (Fri.) We drive to the Sagres peninsula and continue to Cape St. Vincent.  Later we return to our hotel via the resort of Lagos and enjoy a special Highlight Dinner in a local restaurant. (BB HD)
See magnificent coastal scenery on the drive along the Algarve to the Sagres Peninsula.  We have time to explore the area and take photos.Cape St. Vincent or Cabo de Sao Vicente was believed to be the end of the world in the Middle Ages.  It was also believed that the body of St. Vincent was washed ashore here in the 4th century.

We drove past Lagos.  Didn’t stop as we were running behind and had to return to the hotel to get ready for our dinner outing.

Dinner was at a local Cataplana restaurant, which was very enjoyable.

DAY 4 Albufeira – Evora. (Sat.) We journey across the Serra de Caldeirao and the towns of Castro Verde and Beja to Evora.  Here we visit the cathedral, the macabre Ossuary Chapel and the Roman temple.  Hotel tonight is the Albergaria Vitoria. (BB D)
A busy day of sightseeing with visits to the Cathedral, Ossuary Chapel and the Roman temple.  Lots to see in Evora, especially if you wonder down the narrow streets off the main square.
DAY 5 Evora – Castelo de Vide – Belmonte – Viseu. (Sun.) First we drive to Castelo de Vide, then across the valley of the River Tagus towards Belmonte with its old Roman Tower.  We continue to Viseu in the region of the famous Dao vineyards.  Hotel tonight is the Grao Vasco. (BB)
Visit spa town of Castelo de Vide.  See the Roman tower in Belmonte and in Viseu visit the old town.
DAY 6 Viseu – Mateus – Guimaraes – Oporto. (Mon.) Today our Tour Director reveals a Hidden Treasure.  We travel to the Douro Valley and visit the gardens of the Palacio de Mateus before enjoying lunch in a traditional ‘quinta’.  We then continue our drive to Oporto.  We stay in Oporto for two nights at the Vila Gale Porto.  (BB BG)
Visited the Palacio de Mateus gardens.  Had a nice walk around the place but I thought we were a bit idle there.  I think the local guide that was supposed to tell us about the place didn’t show.  We then went to Quinta da Lixa.  After a tour of the Vino Verde winery and a wine tasting session with the winemaker we had a three course lunch at the quinta.  A big meal at lunchtime was a bit much for us.
DAY 7 Oporto Sightseeing and Leisure time. (Tue.) Our morning sightseeing shows us the remarkable bridges across the Douro River plus the Vila Nova de Gaia wine stores.  We also see the baroque Church of St. Francis and visit the Stock Exchange, and then continue to a port cellar for wine tasting.
Porto is one of my favourite stops.  There’s lots to see and do here.  We pay a visit to Sandeman’s and got to taste Portugal’s famous port wine, got to see the Cathedral and Church of St. Francis, have tea in one of the grand cafes, cruise the Douro River and more .

Dinner tonight is at the Chez Lapin.  Then main restaurant is richly decorated, but for the tour group we get the small side room which is very plain.  For us non-meat eaters, the dinner is disappointing.

DAY 8 Oporto – Coimbra – Conimbriga – Fatima. (Wed.) We travel through the Bucaco National Park en route to Coimbra.  Next the old Roman town of Conimbriga and Tomar where we visit the Convent of Christ before arriving in the pilgrimage city of Fatima.  Hotel tonight is De Fatima. (BB D)
We stop at Coimbra and our orientation includes a visit to the university library.  Next stop is the old Roman town of Conimbriga and then Tomar to visit the Convent of Christ.  After Tomar we arrive at the pilgrimage city of Fatima.

Hotel was smack in town and just across the road from the cathedral and shrine.  Dinner at hotel was nothing to write about.  After dinner we went to see the service at Fatima.  It was a week night, quite cold but there was quite a crowd there.  Tony did a video of the procession.  Worth going to see even if you’re not a Catholic.

DAY 9 Fatima – Lisbon. (Thur.) Visit the basilica at the pilgrimage site.  Then carry on to the monastery at Batalha and the fishing village of Nazare on the coast.  Finally travel on to Lisbon via Obidos.  Back to the Hotel Corinthia for two nights.  (BB)
Monastery of Batalha is impressive.  Visit to the fishing village of Nazare for lunch stop.  This is a nice change from visiting churches and ruins.  The weather was brilliant for a seaside visit.  Instead of sitting down for a lunch of grilled sardines  as Pedro recommends, we catch the the cable car to the next town uphill for a great view of Nazare.
DAY 10 Lisbon Sightseeing and at Leisure. (Fri.) See Vasco da Gama’s tomb inside the Hieronymite Monastery and admire views of the Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries.
Stopped at Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries in the morning.  We didn’t get to visit Vasco da Gama’s tomb.  There was some kind of UN ceremony taking place and the Monastery was closed to visitors.  We a little bit more touring with the bus instead.

Went to Cascais and Sintra in the afternoon.  Nice drive along the coast.  Cascais and Sintra are both nice tourist towns and well worth the visit.

Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.  Food was no where as nice as the Farol dinner, but it’s always nice to have a final meal with your travel companions of the past weeks.

DAY 11 Lisbon. (Sat.) Depart for Rome.
Early start this morning to catch 7:15 flight.


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