Portugal Explorer

10 days
from
£1,599
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
ADO
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
New - Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–18

Explore Portugal's highlights and lesser visited sights in the company of a local expert guide.

Once a powerful kingdom that dominated the world sea routes, Portugal today is one of the friendliest and most laid back countries in Europe, though the legacy of its former wealth can still be found in its historic cities. Starting from the colourful Porto, the country’s second city and a UNESCO site, our journey follows the verdant valleys and rolling hills of the Douro wine region, before heading to the more undiscovered and rural regions of Centro and Alentejo. Here we visit some remote villages and wonderful towns full of culture and history, including Coimbra, Viseu and Evora, before reaching vibrant Lisbon, Europe's second-oldest capital.

Highlights

  • Discover Porto and the UNESCO Douro wine region
  • Magnifcent heritage of Lisbon and Sintra
  • Visit a small rural community and enjoy a cookery experience with locals 
  • Cover the most famous highlights and lesser-known sights

Key information

  • 8 nights in 3-star hotels and 1 night traditional guesthouse
  • 10 days flight inclusive / 10 days land only
  • Sightseeing on foot and 1 daywalk
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus and train

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 2 dinners and 1 wine tasting
  • All accommodation 
  • Transfer for group flights
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Porto
to
Lisbon
  • Day 1

    Fly to Porto.

    Fly to Porto; those arriving on the group fligth will be collected by the leader on arrival and transferred to our central hotel by private minibus. Porto the second largest city of Portugal and one of Europe's oldest and most beautiful towns. Time permitting, the tour leader will arrange a short orientation tour after the group's arrival to familiarise with the city and take in the vibrant atmosphere of the ancient Ribeira district.

  • Day 2

    Morning guided sightseeing in the UNESCO historic centre; free afternoon for optional river cruise or wine tasting.

    This morning starts with a guided tour through the historic centre of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As we amble leisurely along the ancient streets and mediaeval lanes we will visit some of the most important monuments such as the St. Bento Station, a neoclassic jewel, and the cathedral. In the bustling and colourful squares and the traditional, highly unique cafes, we will discover the authentic heart of Porto. We also include a guided visit to the majestic Bolsa Palace and discover one of Portugal’s prime gems, the Arab Room. The afternoon is free for further individual sightseeing. Those who wish can take an optional leisurely panoramic cruise along the Douro River and/or visit the historic Port wine cellars. Overnight in Porto.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Drive to the Douro Valley; visit the Douro museum, take a scenic train ride along the river and visit a local winery; overnight in Sabrosa.

    Today we travel to the heart of the famous UNESCO Douro Valley, the world’s first officially designated wine region renowned not only for the excellent Port wine but also for the postcard-pretty landscapes made of steep terraced vineyards carved into mountains along the river. We start with a private transfer to the town of Regua (approx. 1h 30 mins drive) where we visit the interesting Douro Museum, an ideal place to learn about the history, culture and identity of the UNESCO World Heritage Douro wine region. Regua also marks the point at which the historic Douro Railway, built in 1887, turns from a good route into a great one, sticking closely to the river and clinging to the precipitous rocks as the river passes through the Douro gorge. We will have the opportunity to experience this scenic landscape made of terraced vineyards and olive groves as we travel by train to our next stop, the small Port-producing village of Pinhão. After some free time for lunch and relaxation, we explore Quinta da la Rosa, a family-run wine estate dating back to 1902, located in a stunning panoramic setting. We will have a guided tour of the winery grounds and enjoy a wine tasting before we transfer to our accommodation near the village of Sabrosa (approx. 1h).

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Transfer to the university city of Coimbra; stop en route in the charming city of Viseu; overnight in Coimbra.

    Today we head south into the central region of Portugal. Our final destination is the mediaeval town of Coimbra (approx. 2 hrs) but we will stop first in the pretty town of Viseu. Set on a plateau high in the hills of Beira Alta, the regional capital of Viseu retains a fascinating mediaeval feel within what was once a walled centre and an important crossroads since Roman times. The city’s name is believed to derive from the Roman term 'viso', which means ' good view', and from its highest point Viseu offers indeed some beautiful vistas. The cathedral dominates the town with its two imposing towers and of special interest is also the Museum Grão Vasco, housed in a beautiful 16th century building, containing a vast collection of work by the great 16th century Portuguese painter Vasco Fernandes. We reach Coimbra in the afternoon and enjoy some time at leisure to wander around the town's historic centre or to relax in one of the many delicious local restaurants and cafes. Overnight in Coimbra.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Guided sightseeing of Coimbra and its UNESCO University; afternoon transfer to rural mountain village; hands-on cookery experience with friendly locals.

    This morning we set off for an interesting walking tour of Coimbra. Widely known as 'the city of students', Coimbra’s history is closely linked to its university, which was founded in 1290 and is the second oldest in Europe. The city of Coimbra is divided into two distinct areas, the baixa (downtown) by the river, where most of the city’s commercial activity is concentrated, and the 'alta' (upper town), the older part, which is entered through the Arco de Almedina, a gateway that brings back memories of the Arab occupation. The upper town consists of steep narrow streets, where the 'republics' (typical communal student residences) are to be found, as well as some of the city’s most important buildings Sé Velha (Old Cathedral), Sé Nova (New Cathedral) and the UNESCO University of Coimbra which we will visit during our tour. In the afternoon we transfer by private minibus to the rural village of Penela (approx. 30 mins) where we have the special opportunity to spend some time with a group of locals whose goal is to revive this small communitarian village in the so called Schist Mountains. In order to get a full immersion in some of the traditions of this village community, the group will get involved in some hands-on activities such as cheese and bread making. In the evening we will enjoy a convivial dinner and taste some of the typical dishes and produce of this mountainous region of Portugal. Overnight in rural guesthouse in Penela.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Drive to the UNESCO town of Evora in the Alentejo region; guided city tour including entrance to the famous Bones Chapel.

    Today is the longest drive of the trip as we head south to the town of Evora, one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved mediaeval towns and capital of the Alentejo region (approx. 3 hrs). After a leisurely lunch we take a guided walk through the historic centre of town which is listed World Heritage by Unesco. A true city-museum, Évora has its origin in the period of the Roman Empire and was marked by the Arabic occupation between the 7th and 12th Centuries. The city extends itself over a hill at the golden plain of Alentejo, and guards its historic centre with a vast outer wall. Walking through the narrow, winding lanes we have the opportunity to admire some striking architectural works: an elaborate medieval cathedral, a roman temple, the famous Giraldo square and the Church of S. Francisco (Saint Francis), one of the best-defined examples of the Gothic-Moorish style. Our tour also includes entrance to the macabre but unique 16th Century Bones Chapel, decorated with bones, skulls, and entire bodies hanging from the walls - not for the faint hearted! Overnight in Evora.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Morning easy walk in the Alentejo countryside and visit the impressive megalithic site of Almendres Cromelech; free afternoon.

    This morning we visit the impressive sight of Almendres Cromelech and walk through the Alentejo countryside (approx. 5km– easy level). Located in the surroundings of Évora, the Almendres Cromelech is one of the most impressive testimonies of Iberian Megalithic civilization and one of the most important megalithic monuments of Europe. It dates back to the Neolithic period, 5 millennium BC and consists of slightly concentric lines of dolmens, 95 in total, drawn in a 70x40m land surrounded by olive trees and wheat fields. Some of these dolmens still reveal vestiges of paintings or drawings that archaeologists believe to be related with ancient star and earth cults. In the afternoon we return to Evora where we have some free time for further individual sightseeing or relaxation. Overnight in Evora.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Lisbon; guided city tour of the best sites and monuments.

    After breakfast we drive the romantic capital city of Lisbon (approx.1hr 30mins), our final base of the tour. Europe's second-oldest capital (after Athens), and once home to the world's greatest explorers like Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator, this city was once the centre of an empire spreading over all continents, from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao, China; Goa, India). An afternoon guided tour will allow us to discover and admire some of the best areas and monuments of the city including Amoreiras, Belém Tower, the Monument of the Discoveries, Alcântara and Praça do Comércio. We will also walk through the oldest and most picturesque quartes of Alfama and Restauradores. The tour does not include entrance to the iconic UNESCO Jeronimos Monastery (which is closed on Mondays; it can be visited the following day - optional) but includes a visit to the fantastic Ajuda National Palace instead. The evening is free to enjoy some traditional specialities in one of the many delicious restaurants in town recommended by the tour guide.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Half day excursion to Sintra; visit the UNESCO National Pena Palace; afternoon at leisure and farewell dinner with Fado music (included).

    Today we take a half-day excursion to Sintra (30mins drive each way), the ancient royal town of Portugal and old residence of kings, nobles, poets, painters and artists. Sintra's beautiful surroundings of forested hills are the perfect frame to the town's collection of elegant palaces, castles and museums. Classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, Our guided tour will include a visit to the iconic National Pena Palace, the most complete and notable example of Portuguese architecture in the Romantic period. The palace lies in a picturesque setting, perched on one of the rocky peaks of the Serra de Sintra, and blends in a surprisingly fortunate manner with its natural background of greenery and crags, testifying to the aesthetic potentialities of the project. Fanciful to an extreme, the architectural fabric of Pena finds much of its inspiration in the Moorish, Gothic and Manueline motifs of Portuguese art. We return to Lisbon after lunch, where we have time for further individual sightseeing or relaxation. In the evening we enjoy a group farewell dinner accompanied by live Fado, the traditonal and world-famous melancholic style of Portuguese folk music.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    End Lisbon and fly To London

    The trip ends in the morning. Those travelling on the group flight will have a very early transfer for their return flight to London which normally departs Lisbon at 7am.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Portugal

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Portugal

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 wine tasting and 2 dinners included

Portugal is known for its excellent wines and the delicious regional cuisine which makes use of a lot of natural resources and produce. All meals have strong links with the land and sea, often prepared following old traditional recipes. We will have the opportunity to try a variety of traditional specialities during the trip and the local leader will always be to hand to recommend some good local restaurants. Portugal also prides itself in having some of the best fish in the world. Salt cod is a staple in Portugal, eaten in all kinds of ways, from baked with cream and potatoes, to grilled with salad. The Douro and Alentejo regions are also well-known for an endless number of meat dishes, which include the famous roasted goat with rice and potatoes, porco preto (black pork cooked confit-style), posta mirandes (veal steak) and cozido à portuguesa (boiled meat, sausages and cabbages). Last but not least, we can't leave Portugal without trying the world-famous Pastel de nata, the quintessential Portuguese custard tart originating from Lisbon. Please note that vegetarians meals are available on request although options may be very limited.

Weather

Considering its close proximity to northern Africa, Portugal is one of the warmest European countries with an average temperature of 15°C (55°F) in the north and 18°C (64°F) in the south. It can become rainy and windy during autumn and winter, but spring and summer see temperatures soar to as high as 38°C (104°F) around the interior and 35°C (95°F) in the north. The departures in March, April and October will see a higher chance of rain and cool temperatures, especially at night, so it is important to pack some warm clothing and rainproof gear. Between May and September chances of rain are slimmer and days will be long and hot.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely) This is a comprehensive and fast-paced itinerary which aims to showcase the highlights as well as the lesser visited sights of Portugal in ten days. All the transfers will be by private air conditioned vehicle or train (only on one small section along the Douro River) and none of the distances are particularly long. The itinerary is quite busy and moves qucikly from place to place although some free time is built in the itinerary to allow some rest or sightseeing at leisure. This trip also includes one gentle walk in the Alentejo countryside (max. 3hrs walking), on flat terrain. The walking isn't too strenuous and it is entirely optional, should you prefer not to join the excursion. Please note that Portugal can be very hot, reaching high 30's in the summer. Although this itinerary is mostly based on sightseeing, please be prepared for a reasonable amount of walking between sites. The trip is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Accommodation

Hotels and rural guesthouses

All hotels on this trip have been specially selected for their location, character and comfort. We stay mostly in modern buildings located within or in proximity of the historic centres we visit. Two nights during the trip will be spent in traditional buildings full of character: in the Douro valley, we will spend a night in a typical manor house featuring a big garden and an outdoor swimming pool. In Penela, we stay in a charming rural guesthouse which maintains its original rustic style but was renovated to suit modern comforts.

List of hotels normally used:

Moov Hotel Porto Centro, Porto
Wine estate Quinta de Fiães, Sabrosa
Hotel Tivoli Coimbra, Coimbra
Casa do Zé Sapateiro, Penela
Hotel Dom Fernando, Évora
Marquês de Pombal Hotel , Lisbon

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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