Portugal

Independent Fly Drive

Suggested Itineraries we've done for a client

We can customize per client's request. Can also be customized as independent fly/drive

September 25 – October 3

September 25 (Saturday), arrival to Lisbon Port.

Take taxi to your hotel Brittannia.

The intimate Hotel Britania has the same ownership as the Hotel Lisboa Plaza and is to be found just off the Avenida Liberdade, but on the opposite side of the tree-lined promenade from its sister hotel. Designed in 1944 by the famous Portuguese architect Cassiano Branco, the Hotel Britania was in its heyday quite grand (peek round from the lobby to see the original barber shop) but under past ownership had been "modernized" and the splendid marble columns in the lobby shrouded in dark wood paneling. Happily, the original ambiance has been restored. The dark paneling is now gone and the marble lobby is gently illuminated by a handsome, large, hand-blown glass chandelier. The lobby opens into a handsome bar with gorgeous old parquet floors, beautiful ceiling murals, and an interesting display of colonial heraldic shields. All of the guestrooms are similar in decor, and most have the same pleasing color scheme of deep rose and creamy yellow, which is repeated in the carpet, the bedspreads, and the draperies. All of the bedrooms have beautiful, marble tiled bathrooms. The cheerful breakfast room is especially attractive, with a skylight illuminating small tables surrounded by chairs upholstered in a pretty green pattern. The family-managed Hotel Britania extends a warm reception.

You do not have much time in Lisbon to see all sights, however, you can return to Lisbon at the end of the trip from Sintra (take a train). To explore Lisbon, here are sights we suggest do not miss

September 26 (Sunday) Lisbon – Guamaraes.

After Breakfast, pick up your rental car and drive to your next destination - Guimarães.

You have 2 options to see on the way.

Option 1 – get up really early and visit Óbidos.

Obidos is one of the Portugal’s most picturesque white towns, encircled by walls. Stretching across a grassy-green hillside. King Dini’s queen, known as Santa Isabel, admired the town so much that he gave it to her, and for the next five centuries the town was considered a possession of the ruling queen. Obidos is a national monument and has been carefully preserved. The town is so small that it takes no time at all to walk from one end to the other, and although it is quite touristy, it is definitely worth a visit. The massively-towered castle has now been converted into an elegant pousada. Churches: Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Romanesque-Gothic), Santa Maria (Renaissance, housing an art collection by the Portuguese painter Josefa d’Óbidos), Misericórdia (15th-18th centuries) and São Pedro (18th century). Nearby, Senhor da Pedra Sanctuary.

Leave Obidos to Alcobaça (world heritage), which derives its name from its situation at the confluence of the Alcoa and Baca rivers. It is also the name the Real Abadia de Santa Maria de Alcobaca, one of the Portugal’s most outstanding monuments, which dominates the center of town. Founded in 1178 by Portugal’s first king, Dom Alfonso Henriques, the Cicstercian monastery is a marvel of medieval architecture. The church is impressive for its extreme length compared to its narrow width. In the transept of the church are the inticately carved limestone tombs of Ines de Castro (on the left) and King Pedro I, whose tragic love story has set the theme for numerous literary works.

Ines, a lady-in-waiting to Princes Pedro’s wife, proved irresistibly attractive to the young prince and when his wife died, he installed Ines as his mistress, since her humble origins precluded marriage to the future king. Although their love was idyllic, many of the nobles feared that the legitimate offspring of this union would aspire to the throne, so they convinced the king, Alfonso IV, to condone her murder. When Alfonso died and Pedro became the king, he set out to avenge her death by hunting down and punishing the noble murderers one by one. Legend has it (probably fictitiously) that Pedro exumed the skeleton of his dead paramour, had her crowned queen in regal dress, and forced the nobility to file by and kiss her hand! At any rate, he spent much time and energy during his short reign (1357-1367) exalting her memory and you can see, provided quite handsomely for their eternal resting places. They are allegedly positioned so that when their souls were resurrected, their first sight would be of each other.

From Alcobaca proceed to Batalha (world heritage site) and Nazare (typical beach town).

In Batalha, you discover one of the Portugal’s gems, the stunning Monastery of Batalha, a combination of gothic and Manueline styles.

Tall stained-glass windows are the first and only things you nitcie upon entering until your eyes adjust to the interior dimness. To the immediate right, it is the stark, white Founder’s Chapel sheltering the tomb of Joao I and his English wife, Philippa of Lancaster (in the center). Other notables rest in carved niches around the walls, including Joao’s son, Henry the Navigator, founder of school of navigation in Sagres which made possible the great voyages of discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries (although Henry himself never went). On the left, across the naïve, is the entrance to the Royal Cloister whose delightful garden patio is overlooked through graceful, carved Gothic arcades – almost no two alike. To the right as you enter Chapter House, which contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, where modern two modern-day soldiers keep vigil. Actually there are two unknown soldiers, too, one who died in Europe and one who died in Africa, along the eternal flame fuelled by pure Portuguese olive oil. The former refectory on the opposite side of the closter houses a museum of the Unknown Soldier featuring the tributes paid by foreign dignitaries upon visiting the tomb.

Beyond, and in sharp contrast to, the Royal Cloister is plainly severe Cloister of Dom Alofonso V, added later. From here you exit and walk to the right around outside to reach the dramatic unfinished chapels (Capelas Imperfeitas), built in rich Manueline style to King Duarte’s chapel. Both his tomb and wife’s are there, but the massive, ornately carved buttresses climb to the open sky, patiently waiting the weight of a roof, which have never been completed. Shops and Cafes are found in the immediate vicinity of the monastery and beyond that, the town features some pretty 17th and 18th century houses and a nice parish church. Nazare is a best known beach resort. At the extreme north end of the Nazare Beach looms the promontory called Sitio. You can ride funicular up from the lower (Praia) area or you can take N242 toward Marihna Grande and turn left when you get on top of the hill. The Sitio is worth to visit if only for panoramic views from the Belvedere.

Follow to Porto by highway. Visit the historical area of Porto in the Afternoon (world heritage) in the end of the afternoon follow on to Guimaraes.

Option 2 – get up early and visit Santarem..

A location that claims some 3000 years of inhabitation with physical evidence discovered dating from the Iron Age. The Emperor Julius Caesar named the place Praesidium Julium and used it as an administration centre for his Legions. The Moors who occupied the town from 715 named it Xantarim in memory of the 7th Century Saint Iria a martyred nun from the town of Tomar. The poet Ibn Bassam who was born in the town and highly considered in Lusitanian culture has left to prosperity beautiful descriptions of the place. The Portuguese King ousted the Moors in 1147 and gave it its present name and later used the town in which to occasionally hold the influential “Cortes” (a form of parliament which was attended by the landed gentry). Both Dom Afonso IV and Dom João II were acclaimed Kings of Portugal from this town. Prince Henry the Navigator was a regular visitor to the town with properties, estates and commercial businesses to attend to, one of which was the industry of making soap. In the 15th Century the town was considered the second most important town in the whole of Portugal due to its number of inhabitants and ranking in popularity with the Royals. During the French invasion of 1811 the town was used by General Massena as a headquarters for his troops and most churches and palaces were sacked by these invaders. Its most recent contribution to history was when on the 24th of April 1974, Capitão Salgueiro Maia led his column of men to Lisbon to arrest both the President and Prime Minister of Portugal as part of the successful popular Revolution

After Santarem, Go to Tomar, on of the oldest city in Portugal.

This town was founded in 1159 by the first Grand Master of the all-powerful Order of the Knights Templar in Portugal, Gualdim Pais. The Order consisted of knights whose main purpose was to help the Portuguese in defeating the invading Moors. In return the knights received lands and political powers that in the end became their eventual undoing as their strength and wealth became too much of a threat to the Church. The Pope Clement V in 1314 decided to act and suppressed the Order. The Portuguese King Dom Dinis promptly reacted by creating the new Order of Christ and this organization was given the assets and power of the previous Knights Templar. The famous Portuguese Prince "Henry the Navigator" was made the Governor of the Order in 1418 and used liberally their funds together with their logo of a white cross to finance his exploration voyages of the world.

The Igreja da Santa Maria do Olival was considered as the mother church of this Order and it is the resting place of many of the past Masters. The most important secret moments of this Order took place in the "Charola", an octagonal chapel painted and carved in the Byzantine style and is the heart of the Covento de Cristo. Much of the frescos, statuary and paintings decorating the "Charola" have been carefully restored to their former splendour. The 12th Century Castle attached to the Convento looks down on lively streets and historic buildings. The 15th Century Igreja de São João Baptista contains paintings that include a remarkable work, the “Last Supper” painted by Gregório Lopes during the 16th Century. In this town is one of the oldest synagogues in Portugal that was built between 1430 and 1460. Last used in 1497 it is now a small Jewish Museum in honour of Abraham Zacuto who was a renowned astronomer and mathematician from the 15th Century. Beside the 15th century bridge Ponte Velha is the Capela da Santa Ira built to celebrate the martyrdom of this 7th Century Saint. This town has many other churches of interest, particularly the 16th Century Nossa Senhora da Conceição. The Museu dos Fósforos in the former cloisters of the Igreja de São Francisco is possibly unique in that it is devoted to matches exhibiting some 43.000 matchboxes from 104 countries.

There is a very pretty riverside park with a lovely waterfal along the edge of the river as it flows through the center of town.

From Tomar, follow to Fatima

This place of religious worship is about 120 Kms. north of Lisboa and is reputably named after an Arab girl captured by a Christian and brought back to live in the area. Now a point of pilgrimage for the Roman Catholic religion due to the vision of the Virgin Mary by three young children in 1917 whilst tending their flock. Today, on both the 13th of May and the 13th of October each year, thousands of pilgrims make their way from all over the world to celebrate these occasions. It was reported that three messages were given to the eldest, 10 year old Lúcia. Two of these messages were divulged and proved to be correct. The third has now been divulged by the Catholic Church and it is said to foretell a forthcoming disaster. The two younger children are deceased and Lúcia who became a nun and is still alive living in her nunnery. The Basilica that has been constructed has an apron twice the size of St. Peter’s square in Rome to provide sufficient space for the pilgrims. The ceremony of mid-night mass that takes place on these two days is immensely moving. The night is filled with thousands of twinkling candles, silent people breaking into chant at chosen moments, and the electric atmosphere created by the respectful reference of the multitude. There is close by an Ethnological Museum devoted to the event.

Visitors to this area are recommended to pay a visit to Ourém, a medieval town that lies just to the northeast of Fátima. This town has a 15th Century castle and in the church is the impressive tomb of Afonso, the grandson of Nuno Alves Pereira, the savior in the Battle of “Aljubarrota in 1385 against the forces of Castille. This town is said to be the source of the charming story about the captured Moorish girl and brought back to convert to Christianity. Her name was said to be Fátima Ourena Directly to the east of Fátima is the fascinating and historic town of Tomar. This town was founded in 1159 by the first Grand Master of the all-powerful Order of the Knights Templar in Portugal, Gualdim Pais. The most important secret moments of this Order took place in the "Charola", an octagonal chapel painted and carved in the Byzantine style and is the heart of the Covento de Cristo. A few kilometers to the northeast of Fátima is the wondrous building constructed in memory of the important battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The Abbey at Batalha commenced in 1388 and was added to by various Portuguese Kings over the following centuries. To the northwest is the town of Alcobaça that only became notable in the 12th Century when it became the site for the important construction of Portugal’s largest Abbey. To the north is the 16th Century town of Leiria that is crowned with a 14th Century castle. It was in this town that the King Dom Dinis held the first “Cortes”, a form of Parliament.

Continue to Aveiro.

This city was once a great seaport with a history linked to its salt pans dating back prior to 959AD as recorded in the will of Countess Mumadona. Much later, in the 16th Century it acquired new prosperity through its cod fishing industry practiced off the coast of Newfoundland. Unfortunately, very strong storms occurred at the end of the same century with the result that the harbour mouth silted up and thus virtually dealing a deathblow to all its beneficial trade. Today the area is a centre of industry but the old lagoon of about 65 sq. km. still has its charm with the many canals and the distinctive and colorful “moliceiros” boats that are used to collect seaweed. The town is basically a mixture of neat fishermen’s cottages and Art Nouveau mansions with a few historic buildings. The small houses lining the beach area are most attractive with their distinct colorful facades of different painted colours. The church of Misericôrdia dates from the 16th Century, whilst the more modest Cathedral São Domingos is from the 15th Century. The city’s museum is located in what previously was the Mosteiro de Jesus where Santa Joana, the daughter of King Afonso V died in 1490. This museum, besides holding the tomb of this Saint in a richly gold decorated sanctuary, has an interesting collection of primitive and 15th Century art.

The concept of the city is similar to the concept of Venice in Italy. Several channels cross the city and typical boats, the Moliceiros are all over the major channels. The city is small but very pleasant to visit walking or with car. The university is also an strong attraction as it has one of the most interesting campus in Portugal. The buildings were make by our best architects and everyone gave its best!! The most interesting building is the Library, it looks like an open book.

From Aveiro to Porto.

Porto. The history of this now great city had humble beginnings. The Romans gave the place the name of "Portcale” and official records of its existence date from 5th Century. The Moors who later occupied most of the Iberian Peninsular destroyed in the early 8thCentury whatever previously existed of this location. It was later taken in the name of the Christian army in 982 and came under the power of Count Henry de Burgundy who ordered a Cathedral to be built. He also introduced a law that stated no nobleman or powerful person could own property or remain within the walls for more than three days. This law was only repealed in 1505. In 1120 the then Queen, Dona Teresa, donated the place of little more than a collection of houses surrounded by a wall to the Bishop Dom Hugo. It was the efforts of the town’s Bishop in 1147 that convinced the English, Flemish and German crusaders to sail on to Lisbon to assist Dom Afonso Henriques liberate the town from the Moors. In 1237 the Dominicans established a Monastery for their Order. The place only expanded during the Period of the Discoveries when Portugal became the world’s nation in trade and needing good homeports for its ships and cargo. The populace of the town was many times shown independence to domination and taxation. In 1209 the Bishop upset the people to the extent that he remained besieged in his Palace for five months. The Inquisition enjoyed limited power lasting only four years with only one act of "auto-de-fe". In 1628 the women staged a revolt against a new tax introduced on linen and woollen goods. In 1757 the inhabitants revolted with many casualties against the wine monopoly imposed by Marquês de Pombal. Radicals in favour of placing the autocrat Dom Miguel on the throne caused Porto to be besieged in 1832 for eighteen months before capitulating. There were more uprisings during the later half of the 19th Century and in 1878 the first Republican representative in Portugal was elected. The official name of this city is Porto. However, in recent times there has been popularity for people from other parts to refer to it asOporto. This is due to its close and lengthy association with Port wine and the reference to the product, "o porto".

As a trading centre at the mouth of the Rio Douro it is the second largest city after Lisbon. The place has a number of distinctive atmospheres and this is very evident when comparing the various parts of the city. The quarter around the riverside known as the Ribeira is full of narrow twisting streets with houses once painted or tiled in colourful facades, and full of the bustling energy of working people during the day and the liveliness of busy "tascas" and restaurants at night. The district around the Cathedral is full of busy streets and monuments to past achievements, and streets lined with houses built like layers of a cake then crowded together with a maze of small alleys in-between. The Cordoaria quarter is for the students with steep streets and interesting shops. The civic centre of the city is in the Central e Baixa quarter with broad avenues lined with banks and outdoor cafés, or in the Baixa where the the two-tiered covered daily market goes about its business. Lastly, the Boavista area is the arterial route in and out of the city past blocks of apartments and hotels. As would be expected of such an important city it is full of fascinating buildings. The imposing 12th Century Sé (Cathedral) contains within many small-scale treasures from the past. Built in 1842 the inside of the Palácio da Bolsa is almost like being in an Arabian dream. The 14th Century Igreja de São Francisco has an 18th Century interior to amaze the traveller. In this church is the Árvore de Jesse, a carved representation of the genealogy of Christ. Equally as amazing is the Igreja da Santa Clara whose opulent gilded interior has to be seen to be believed. The Feitoria Inglesa built in 1790, is a private club restricted to the traders in Port Wine and is only open to the public by invitation. Its interior is designed around a typical English townhouse with an impressive sweeping staircase. Cut-glass chandeliers containing hundreds of candles light the ballroom in which occasional balls are still held. Other churches of note are Igreja da Misericórdia, Igreja dos Congregados, Igreja dos Clérigos, Igreja do Carmo and the Igreja de São Martinho de Cedofeita.Among other points of interest is the Terreiro da Sé with an original Manueline pillory complete with hooks in the corners. The São Bento Railway Station containing tiled pictures by Jorge Colaço depicting early modes of transport and other interesting scenes. Porto lies on the north bank of the Rio Douro and is connected to the south bank by several bridges, one of which is the Dona Maria Pia Railway Bridge, built by Gustave Eiffel in 1886. It is recorded that the many pieces left over were used to both span the Rio Arade in the Algarve and build the lift Elevador da Santa Justa in Lisbon.

Museums also abound within and around Porto and these are the main ones. The Museu Soares dos Reis is named after Portugal’s a leading 19th Century sculpture. Besides his outstanding works there is a collection of fine art and contemporary paintings together with historical items. The Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro is the former home of a very active Republican and contains his personal and variable collection. The Museu de Etnografia e História depicts the life and customs of the city and region from earliest days up to more recent times. The Museu Romântico was once the home of King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia and the upper floor has been turned into a romantic memory of its previous owner. Below this last museum is the Solar do Vinho do Porto, the head office of the Port Wine Institute, and port tasting is provided to visitors. Museu do Carro Eléctrico keeps alive the city’s original transport system with its collection of past trams including one from 1872 drawn by mules. The Fundação de Serralves is devoted to culture and particularly to fine arts with constant exhibitions. The Casa-Museu Fernando de Castro exhibits a personal collection that ranges from religious sculpture to paintings of the 20th Century. The Casa-Oficina de Antonio Carneiro is the studio-home exhibiting the paintings by this artist who died in 1930, and together with the works of his two sons.

In the late afternoon arrive to Guimaraes.

From Aveiro to Porto.

Porto. The history of this now great city had humble beginnings. The Romans gave the place the name of "Portcale” and official records of its existence date from 5th Century. The Moors who later occupied most of the Iberian Peninsular destroyed in the early 8thCentury whatever previously existed of this location. It was later taken in the name of the Christian army in 982 and came under the power of Count Henry de Burgundy who ordered a Cathedral to be built. He also introduced a law that stated no nobleman or powerful person could own property or remain within the walls for more than three days. This law was only repealed in 1505. In 1120 the then Queen, Dona Teresa, donated the place of little more than a collection of houses surrounded by a wall to the Bishop Dom Hugo. It was the efforts of the town’s Bishop in 1147 that convinced the English, Flemish and German crusaders to sail on to Lisbon to assist Dom Afonso Henriques liberate the town from the Moors. In 1237 the Dominicans established a Monastery for their Order. The place only expanded during the Period of the Discoveries when Portugal became the world’s nation in trade and needing good homeports for its ships and cargo. The populace of the town was many times shown independence to domination and taxation. In 1209 the Bishop upset the people to the extent that he remained besieged in his Palace for five months. The Inquisition enjoyed limited power lasting only four years with only one act of "auto-de-fe". In 1628 the women staged a revolt against a new tax introduced on linen and woollen goods. In 1757 the inhabitants revolted with many casualties against the wine monopoly imposed by Marquês de Pombal. Radicals in favour of placing the autocrat Dom Miguel on the throne caused Porto to be besieged in 1832 for eighteen months before capitulating. There were more uprisings during the later half of the 19th Century and in 1878 the first Republican representative in Portugal was elected. The official name of this city is Porto. However, in recent times there has been popularity for people from other parts to refer to it asOporto. This is due to its close and lengthy association with Port wine and the reference to the product, "o porto".

As a trading centre at the mouth of the Rio Douro it is the second largest city after Lisbon. The place has a number of distinctive atmospheres and this is very evident when comparing the various parts of the city. The quarter around the riverside known as the Ribeira is full of narrow twisting streets with houses once painted or tiled in colourful facades, and full of the bustling energy of working people during the day and the liveliness of busy "tascas" and restaurants at night. The district around the Cathedral is full of busy streets and monuments to past achievements, and streets lined with houses built like layers of a cake then crowded together with a maze of small alleys in-between. The Cordoaria quarter is for the students with steep streets and interesting shops. The civic centre of the city is in the Central e Baixa quarter with broad avenues lined with banks and outdoor cafés, or in the Baixa where the the two-tiered covered daily market goes about its business. Lastly, the Boavista area is the arterial route in and out of the city past blocks of apartments and hotels. As would be expected of such an important city it is full of fascinating buildings. The imposing 12th Century Sé (Cathedral) contains within many small-scale treasures from the past. Built in 1842 the inside of the Palácio da Bolsa is almost like being in an Arabian dream. The 14th Century Igreja de São Francisco has an 18th Century interior to amaze the traveller. In this church is the Árvore de Jesse, a carved representation of the genealogy of Christ. Equally as amazing is the Igreja da Santa Clara whose opulent gilded interior has to be seen to be believed. The Feitoria Inglesa built in 1790, is a private club restricted to the traders in Port Wine and is only open to the public by invitation. Its interior is designed around a typical English townhouse with an impressive sweeping staircase. Cut-glass chandeliers containing hundreds of candles light the ballroom in which occasional balls are still held. Other churches of note are Igreja da Misericórdia, Igreja dos Congregados, Igreja dos Clérigos, Igreja do Carmo and the Igreja de São Martinho de Cedofeita.Among other points of interest is the Terreiro da Sé with an original Manueline pillory complete with hooks in the corners. The São Bento Railway Station containing tiled pictures by Jorge Colaço depicting early modes of transport and other interesting scenes. Porto lies on the north bank of the Rio Douro and is connected to the south bank by several bridges, one of which is the Dona Maria Pia Railway Bridge, built by Gustave Eiffel in 1886. It is recorded that the many pieces left over were used to both span the Rio Arade in the Algarve and build the lift Elevador da Santa Justa in Lisbon.

Museums also abound within and around Porto and these are the main ones. The Museu Soares dos Reis is named after Portugal’s a leading 19th Century sculpture. Besides his outstanding works there is a collection of fine art and contemporary paintings together with historical items. The Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro is the former home of a very active Republican and contains his personal and variable collection. The Museu de Etnografia e História depicts the life and customs of the city and region from earliest days up to more recent times. The Museu Romântico was once the home of King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia and the upper floor has been turned into a romantic memory of its previous owner. Below this last museum is the Solar do Vinho do Porto, the head office of the Port Wine Institute, and port tasting is provided to visitors. Museu do Carro Eléctrico keeps alive the city’s original transport system with its collection of past trams including one from 1872 drawn by mules. The Fundação de Serralves is devoted to culture and particularly to fine arts with constant exhibitions. The Casa-Museu Fernando de Castro exhibits a personal collection that ranges from religious sculpture to paintings of the 20th Century. The Casa-Oficina de Antonio Carneiro is the studio-home exhibiting the paintings by this artist who died in 1930, and together with the works of his two sons.

In the late afternoon arrive to Guimaraes. Check into Pousada N. Sra da Oliveira.

Guimarães Pousada which will be your home for the next 2 nights, is located in the medieval historical centre of Guimarães, traditionally known as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. This Pousada is part of the liveliness of the city, helping to reflect its century old traditions. Staying at this Pousada and walking through the narrow streets that lead to the castle and to the Palace of the Dukes, is like discovering the history of Portugal.

September 27 (Monday), Guimaraes.

Guimaraes must be explored walking! Your Pousada is in the middle of this lovely historical centre. Guimares is the Birthplace of Portugal. Here you can visit the castle of our first King (D. Afonso Henriques), where he defeated his Mother and became an independent King from Spain! The imposing Paço Ducal is also a must (Palace Museum, once the medieval palace of the “House of Bragança” one of the most ancient noble families in Portugal).

In the surrounding visit:

Monte da Penha, a sanctuary boasting panoramic views over Guimaraes, gardens and esplanades. Take the “teleférico” (hi-tech bubbled car) from the city.

Citânia de Briteiros – pre-Celtic and Celtic hill settlement.

Caldas de Vizela – a luxurious Roman Spa Resort, a roman bridge over the Vizela river was part of the route connecting Braga to Amarante.

Braga boasts an unsual large number of extremely important building connected to Portuguese history. The history of Braga is always connected to the church. It is sometimes called the city of the archbishops. The cathedral, the museum of “Arte Sacra”, the several chapels and churches are worth a close look! Baroque architecture is always present at it’s best.

Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte – possible by “funicular” a cable car type. In the baroque style, this sanctuary crowns a monumental stairway with chapels to the Stations of the Cross. In the top it is possible to rent horses and enjoy a ride with superb views over Braga.

Santuario da Nossa Senhora do Sameiro – the second largest place of devotion in Portugal to Mary, Mother of God, excellent views!

If time permits, visit to Viana do Castelo.

This town lying at the mouth of the River Lima has a history linked with the sea. In the 15th Century it gained importance as the port from which explorers set sail. From here sailed João Velho who was to chart the Congo, and João Álvares Fagundes who charted the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland. An enterprising English community settled here prior to 1580 for the export of local wine. The Spanish invasion of that year drove them further south but by 1700 they had re-established their flourishing business in the City only to move back to Porto due to the growth in the Port wine trade.

The town is kept busy with its fishing and holiday trade. A main feature is the attractive main square that features both a 1553 water fountain and the Miseriacórdia house that was constructed in 1598. Close by is its 15th Century Cathedral that has a fortress-like feeling and graced with Gothic carved relief’s of the apostles. The City Museum housed in a small Palace is in the main square. It holds a variety of interesting fine items such as rare ceramics, furniture, paintings and archaeological finds from the area. In the northwest part of the City the 18th Century Chapel Nossa Senhora da Agonia plays an important part in its annual celebrations. A three-day festival drawing thousands of visitors is held in August each year to honour this image. Located on the high hill of Monte Santa Luzia is the modern unattractive basilica that dominates the City. From this point there are magnificent views of the surroundings whilst slightly hidden in a wood close by is the remains of a Celtic-Iberian settlement with many small huts and paved streets.

September 28 (Tuesday), Guimaraes - Bussaco

If you have not seen Aveiro on the way north (option 1 on September 26), take the chance to visit Aveiro in way down. See above.

Drive to the beach and follow on to Costa Nova – this is a lovely fisherman village with small coloured stripped houses… really enjoyable! Return back to Aveiro, then drive towards Bussaco. Before arriving Bussaco there is a village called Mealhada; this is where you should have lunch! There is a typical plate called “Leitão à Bairrada” take your chance and order it!

Arriving to Bussaco take your time to explore the Nature… this is a very pretty National forest!

Check-in into hotel Palace Bussaco for one night.

This hotel is aptly named, as it is indeed housed within an ornate, 19th-century royal palace—the last palace built by the Portuguese kings. Before its politically expedient exit in the early 20th century, the royal family enjoyed luxury, tranquility, and hunting in this retreat, encircled by elegant gardens and thick forest. The hotel is private, though the space is leased from the government. Alexandre de Almeida’s collections of magnificent antiques are displayed in the public rooms, each of which resembles a museum exhibit, creating the impression of a collector gone crazy. The bedrooms vary in size and grandeur—many have 5-meter-high ceilings and are opulently furnished with gilded antiques (some original to the palace). The choice bedrooms overlook the lovely sculpted gardens, laden with flowers in the spring and summer. The restaurant is the pièce de résistance, with elaborately carved arched windows, gleaming multi-hued wood parquet floor, and a three-dimensional painted wood ceiling, which sparkles with pinpoints of light. To this beautiful setting add fine food, an extensive wine list, and attentive service. The Bussaco Palace’s enchanting location, sumptuous atmosphere, and fine food provide you with an unforgettable stay.

September 29 (Wednesday), Bussaco - Evora

Leave Bussaco and follow to Coimbra, Coimbra is very, very special… please visit the university area and specially the “biblioteca Joanina” one of the oldest libraries in the world! Coimbra’s university is the second oldest university in the world (Salamanca’s University in Spain is the oldest one).

Enter the Porta Ferrea in the university, then the Tower, one of the symbols of Coimbra with allegorical tiles in the ceiling. Visit also the” Quinta das Lagrimas”, were took place the ghoulish drama of D. Pedro & D. Inês, and the botanical garden. Another interesting spot is the “Portugal doss Pequenitos” where scale models of the country’s most important buildings are represented! If you do have time visit also “Conimbriga”, next to Condeixa nova. Conimbriga was a Roman city and it is one of the finest “memories of the Roman Period”, the largest unearthed archaeological find of its kind in Portugal. The site was in existence in about 2.000BC, but it was in the era of the Emperor Augustus in 25BC that the settlement really flourished. This area has many interesting aspects for visitors including the Grutas da Lapinha

Follow on directly to Évora, or if can organize your time make small stops and visit Fatima, Tomar and Santarem (if you have not seen them days before). Follow then to Évora!

Arrival to Evora, and check into your hotel Albergaria Do Calvario,

This is a former olive-processing plant that was renovated and turned into this well-run little hotel in 1998. It's about a 5-minute walk from the historic center. Next to the Convento do Calvário (a convent that's closed to the public), the hotel is attractively furnished, with good beds and tidy appointments, including new private bathrooms equipped with shower-tub combinations. Neoclassic and rustic reproductions of antiques are used extensively. Breakfast is served in your room or on the Esplanade Terraces. Évora itself will “steal” your morning! The city is very beautiful and perfect for walking. Don’t miss the Diana’s Roman Temple and the Bones Chapel! Take a break and have a beer in the Giraldo’s Square (city’s main square, very pleasant).

September 30th, (Thursday). Evora.

This walled city with its strange enchantment has since been declared by UNESCO as one of their World Heritage Sites. Inside the city are many interesting buildings and ancient remains dating as far back as to the Dolmens and Neolithic times. The region surroundingÉvora is scattered with signs of the Roman occupation and even the much older Megaliths, dated between BC 4.000 to 2.000. As the region has always been an agricultural area there are many large private estates with their suitable manor houses.

Drive to EvoraMonte, this is an unique opportunity to visit a very particular castle; a square castle but with circular towers – unique in Portugal. Drive to Estremoz, visit the castle and the inner village, you’ll be amazed with the tiny cobbled stone streets and the relaxed lifestyle of the inhabitants. Here life goes by slowly…Drive to Vila Viçosa… you’ll be amazed by the village… marble all around in decoration.

Vsit the Palace of Vila Viçosa, it is very beautiful! Then follow on to Redondo. Here the main attraction are; the castle, the typical pottery and regional handicraft.

If you have time, visit Reguengos de Monsaraz (the village is beautiful and it’s a must to buy the local wine… cheap and very good!). A few Km ahead there is the castle of Monsaraz with a scenic view over the Guadiana, don’t miss the opportunity to make a visit and take some beautiful photos. Finally return to Évora.

October 1st (Friday), Evora - Sintra

Leave Évora early in the morning. If you are history & mystery fan please ask for direction to the “Menires de Guadalupe”; these are some of the most interesting megalithic representations in the area. After this, drive from Évora to Setúbal.

Setúbal’s history is dates back to roman presence, the sea, the fishing and of course the medieval battles between the Moors and the Christians, later in history the battles between pirates and the locals!

This town has become the third largest port in Portugal being well sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean. It lies to the south of Lisbon and a good motorway provides easy access. The town of Setúbal is attractive with pedestrian streets, gardens and interesting shops. The 16th Century Cathedral Santa Maria da Graça has glorious tiles from the 18th Century. The Igreja de Jesus is a remarkable Gothic church with interior columns carved in Arrábida pink stone from the nearby quarry. The architect Diogo Boitac designed this wonderful early example of Manueline style in 1494. The Museu de Setúbal is to be found in the Mosterio de Jesus and has many religious items and paintings. Part of the collection is dedicated to the famous 18th Century Portuguese romantic poet Bocage. The Museu de Arqueológia e Etnográfia has a varied and interesting collection of items discovered in the immediate region, from Bronze Age pots to the processing of cork. The 16th Century Castelo de São Filipe was constructed to defend the port from passing marauders. It has now been turned into an attractive luxury Pousada.

After leaving Setubal you can explore Palmela and the Arrabida Mountains… the scenery is unbelievable!

Finally drive towards Lisbon, Sintra to Seteais! Check into your hotel Hotel Palácio de Seteais for next two nights.

A magnificent example of 18th century architecture, the luxurious Tivoli Palácio de Seteais is located in the heart of the Serra de Sintra. The hotel overlooks the 19th century fantasy of the Palácio da Pena and the impressive Castelo dos Mouros and is bordered on the other side by the Atlantic Ocean. A unique setting, indeed.

October 2nd (Saturday), Hotel Palácio de Seteais

Your hotel is so great that it’s hard to leave it and start to explore the area! Pass by Queluz and visit the Palace. Follow to Sintra…

Essentially romantic in character this town was poetically described by Lord Byron as "this glorious Eden". It was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Original Sintra is not large to visit but it now encompasses two outlying areas named Estefânia and São Pedro. As the older part sits on a granite slope it is best seen on foot or by a horse-drawn carriage. Abounding in history the town is dominated by the two conical chimneys of the Palácio Nacional da Vila that was the summer home of the royal family since the 15thCentury. Scattered on the hillside are several historical creations openly showing the diverseness of each original owner’s taste in architecture. The most outstanding example is possibly the Palácio da Pena, a 19th Century recreation of different styles admired by Dom Fernando II, the German husband of the young Portuguese Queen Maria II, and this example often regarded as a failed attempt to create his own romantic revival. The castle stands high on the southeast side of the mountain range whilst overlooking the village are the ruined ramparts of the Castelo dos Mouros, a fort dating from the 8th Century. Within it is an ancient Moorish cistern and the panoramic view from its walls is impressive. There are several churches in the town and the most interesting is the 12th Century Igreja de Santa Maria rebuilt in 1755 after the earthquake. Several private palaces are open to the public amongst which are the Palácio de Seteais (!), a magnificent 18th Century home built for the fifth Marquês de Marialva, and later converted into a five star Hotel; Casa dos Ribafrias, a 16th Century building once belonging to the Marquês de Pombal; Quinta de Pena Verde, another 16th Century palace; and the Palácio de Monserrate built in the 19th Century by Francis Cook and influenced by the architectural work of Nash. Another place of interest is the Convento dos Capuchos, an unusual hermitage founded in 1560 with tiny dwarf cells cut from the rock. Within the old town there are several museums, Museu de Brinquedo showing only toys from the past and present, the Museu Regional retelling the history of the area with items and relics an sometimes also holding art exhibitions, Casa Museu Leal de Câmara devoted the works of the artist, Casa Museu Dorita Castel Branco also devoted to works of the sculptress, Museu de Arte Moderna, Galeria de Arte Municipal de Sintra, Centro International de Escultura, Museu de Arqueologia São Miguel de Odrinhas, Museu Renato L. Garcia, Atelier Museu de Anjos Teixeira and Museu Ferreira de Castro.

Drive then to the Cabo da Roca (the most western point of Continental Europe) and return via Cascais & Estoril (Lisbon’s Coast) take some time on the beach, or just walking in the centre of Cascais…

At night you can always have dinner in the Casino and assist to the Show!! Casino Estoril is the Second largest casino in Europe and the dinner & shows are usually very pleasant!

October 3rd (Sunday)

Check out after breakfast and drive to airport, fly home.

Please note that this is only a suggested itinerary to see. Give yourself enough time to slow down and experience Portugal at your own pace. You might enjoy other places which are not described in this itinerary. We do not recommend to drive more than 4 hours without stopping for sightseeing. We also recommend to find and arrive to your next hotel before dark.

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