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Grand Tour of Portugal: Lisbon, Porto & The Douro Valley

11days from
£2,499*per person

Overview

11 Days - Signature Tours

Itinerary

  • Arrival in Lisbon  Our Grand Tour begins with a flight to Lisbon. On arrival, we'll transfer to our hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Time at leisure in Lisbon  For those of you who love to fly and flop, there’s time to settle into your home away from home for the next three nights. Otherwise, you are free to begin exploring as you wish. The hotel has excellent access to public transport and your Tour Manager is on hand to help so the city is your oyster! 
  • Lisbon  Today we'll begin exploring in earnest with a guided tour of the city's highlights, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We’ll see the striking Monument to the Discoveries and its 16th-century fortified counterpart, the Belém Tower, and then see the church of the Monastery of Jerónimos. One of the most magnificent buildings in Europe, the monastery is a symbol of Portuguese wealth and power during the Age of Discovery. We'll also see the impressive Terreiro do Paço square facing out to sea as well as Alfama - the Moorish quarter of cobbled streets - and the garden at São Pedro de Alcântara with its expansive views across the rooftops. Free afternoon in Lisbon  Part of Lisbon’s appeal is its mix of old and modern, bustling and peaceful - which you choose is up to you this afternoon with time at leisure to explore. You might be tempted by the chic shops of the elegant Baixa quarter, rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1755, or decide to seek out a café to enjoy a bica – an espresso - and a spot of people watching. + Included Experience - Guided tour of Lisbon  Signature Experience The delicious finale to our morning's guided tour is a chance to taste the world-famous Pastel de Nata - the city's devilishly moreish custard tart - accompanied by a glass of port. It's the perfect pairing for this buttery pastry. And, together, we'll discover some of the closely guarded secrets of this legendary delicacy in the open kitchens of a traditional bakery. Tonight, we'll experience the haunting sounds of traditional Fado. These expressive melodies are thought to date back to the 19th century and reflect the dangerous sea voyages so many took in search of new worlds. Later, we'll enjoy a selection of typical dishes at one of Lisbon’s traditional restaurants, where you can savour the rich flavours of the Portuguese kitchen and soak up the unique atmosphere. 
  • Free day in Lisbon Today is the day to choose your own adventure in Portugal's capital city with a whole day at leisure. You could go back and revisit some of the highlights we saw on our guided tour to explore in more detail or seek out something new. Art-lovers can savour the Gulbenkian Museum, established by an Armenian oil magnate who bought art from Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage after the Russian Revolution for bargain prices. This world-class institution has exhibits ranging from ancient Egyptian treasures to Impressionist paintings as well a superb collection of Lalique jewellery and glass. Or perhaps, simply walk the city. Between the historic cobbled lanes, sparkling river and striking tiled facades, there's a lot to catch your eye as you amble along. You'll stumble on shady squares lined with orange trees, bars and cafes grilling fish over coals in the open air - even the odd palace or two. Don't worry about navigating your route - to find something new, you have to get a little lost. When it's time to return to your hotel, hop on one of the clanging, rattling yellow trams; seemingly well past their sell-by date, they’re still the best way to negotiate the sharp bends of the old quarter. Alternatively, for those who prefer a more sedentary activity, there are a surprising number of beaches within easy reach of the city, the closest of which is the long sandy curve of Carcavelos. Or if you prefer the shade, the trees of Monsanto Park offer an ideal escape from the sunshine and the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
  • Fatima Leaving Lisbon behind this morning, we'll drive north through olive groves and wheat fields to Fatima. An unremarkable small town until three children experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary, it suddenly became one of the most important Catholic pilgrimages and a national shrine. Whatever your religious views, the extraordinary sanctuary complex is certainly impressive and well worth the visit.  Coimbra University  Our journey will then continue north until we reach Coimbra, renowned for its impressive Roman aqueduct striding across the city. But it’s most famous for its historic university, which is one of Europe’s oldest along with the likes of Salamanca, Bologna and Oxford University.  Once Portugal’s capital, Coimbra became a major cultural centre in the Middle Ages with the university at its heart. It’s not hard to imagine the cloak-clad learned of the age wandering its tiny medieval streets little changed since that time. With its charming Moorish quarter and pleasant squares, Coimbra is a lovely place in which to immerse yourself in the old city’s labyrinth-like lanes.  This afternoon, we’ll enjoy a visit to the university, a wonderful seat of learning, with entrance fees included. Situated on a hill, the views are stunning but the real jewel in its crown is the library - rich in baroque gilt work, it houses a staggering 300,000 volumes.  Porto  Later this afternoon, we'll continue to Porto, where we stay for four nights. + Included Experiences - Visits to the Sanctuary of Our Lady Fatima and Coimbra University.
  • Porto Set on the Douro estuary and once Roman, Porto’s wealth derived from its knowledge of the sea routes to India. Spices, silks and other fine goods made the fortunes used to build today’s city – Portugal’s second largest. We begin our day with a tour of the major sights - as well as a few surprises. We’ll experience the splendid Praca da Ribeira square, with its characteristic tiled townhouses and fine views of the wine lodges across the river. Our tour includes the imposing Dom Luis Bridge and the tangled lanes of the medieval quarter. We’ll gaze up at the city’s imposing fortress, its cathedral and baroque Clerigos Tower. One of the six bridges over the river was designed by Gustav Eiffel - yes, that Eiffel - and you'll immediately see the connection with his more famous Parisian creation! Taylor's Port Wine Lodge No visit to Porto is complete without seeing one of the city’s world-famous port wine lodges. So, this afternoon we'll be guests at one of them. We'll learn the fascinating history of port wine and its close British connections. Taking its name from the city through which it’s shipped, this fortified wine is made with grapes from the terraced vineyards along the Douro Valley which are still staggeringly trodden by foot! The wine is lovingly tended and matured - sometimes for decades - before you can enjoy its subtle flavours. Of course, you’ll get the chance at the end of a fascinating visit to sample this wonderful drink.  Free time in Porto After our visit to Taylors, you'll be free to spend the rest of the day exploring at leisure. (B, D*)  + Included experiences - Guided tour of Porto and visit to Taylors Port Wine Lodge  Signature Experience Enjoy the VIP treatment with an enhanced and more exclusive tasting, offering greater insight into the unique characteristics of port wine. These superb wines will be accompanied by a selection of local delicacies and our location, overlooking the splendours of Porto and its iconic bridges will be rather special too. 
  • Porto from the Douro What better way to see Porto than from the water? This morning, we'll cruise down the peaceful waters of the Douro River by boat. See Porto on one side and Gaia on the other connected by a series of six bridges, each with its own architecture and personality - the perfect backdrop for a leisurely morning (as well as a couple of photos!). Free time in Porto This afternoon is free for you to explore Porto further. Free from the chain shops that dominate most other countries, you're sure to find something special among the antiquated shops that line the streets. With everything from fine art to antiques and ceramics on offer, you'd better leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs. Book fans may want to see the Lello & Irmão bookstore, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, rumoured to have inspired the likes of J.K. Rowling. There'll be plenty of opportunities to stop and re-energise - just like Italy, Portugal has a thriving cafe culture with seating often spilling out onto pavements all over the city - the perfect place for a spot of people-watching and to enjoy some of the most delicious cakes you'll ever taste. Or you could head into one of the many chocolatiers found on street corners all over the city's historic centre - for a true taste of Porto, you could try a bar of port wine-flavoured chocolate. + Included Experience – Sightseeing river cruise along the Douro 
  • The Douro Valley  Today we'll leave the busy city to explore the sinuous and scenic Douro River - the river of Gold - spending a leisurely day exploring its peaceful villages and terraced valley sides. As we leave the Atlantic's influence behind, you'll notice the climate become warmer and dryer and the landscape changes from verdant greens to Mediterranean sun-kissed ochre. Today's adventure is nothing short of spectacular! Eventually, we'll reach the small town of Pinhão, the heart of the port wine-producing region. Sitting on a bend of the Douro, encircled by a terraced hillside, port wine dominates life here - even the azulejos (Portuguese hand-painted tiles) in the train station depict the grape harvest. In Pinhão, we'll visit one of the local quintas and sample some of the wines that are produced in this region. + Included Experience – Scenic drive through the Douro Valley with a wine tasting at a local quinta. 
  • Óbidos Bidding a fond farewell to Porto, we'll head south to Óbidos, a fortified town surrounded by imposing medieval walls. It's a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with flower-bedecked, whitewashed houses and splashes of bright paint - the perfect place to just lose yourself. Feel yourself stepping back in time to the days of the Moorish Arabs who once ruled from the town’s castle. If you’re feeling brave (and steady on your feet), you could take the daring walk around the fortifications themselves, but be warned - there are no railings, even at its loftiest height of 13 metres. Some sections here lead the way to beautiful viewpoints (just follow the signs saying 'Miradouro'). And you can't leave Óbidos without trying the town's own special way of serving southern Portugal’s favourite cherry liqueur, Ginjinha – in an edible chocolate cup. Cascais Continuing to Cascais, our final stay is in one of Portugal's classic hotels, within the impressive walls of a 16th-century coastal citadel overlooking the famous marina in a coast town near Lisbon. The four-star superior “Pousada” is a highlight of Cascais, converted from historic buildings, some were actually part of a royal residence. + Included Experience - Visit to Óbidos .
  • Sintra  We'll take a short drive to the lovely town of Sintra, perched on the hillside with panoramic views towards the nearby Atlantic coast. This is where Henry the Navigator grew up and doubtless gazed out to sea not knowing where his destiny was eventually to lead him. Today we'll visit its famous Royal Palace, once the residence of the Portuguese monarchy, now a museum with grand rooms, priceless collections including portraits of Charles II of England, and reflections of its Moorish ancestry plus more modern styles. You can also see the 19th-century Pena Palace, built as a summer residence, it is a living fairy tale. Its turrets, ramparts, gargoyles and domes are a mystical mix of styles, while the interior is extravagantly decorated with a ballroom and an Arab Room. Gardening enthusiasts should pay close attention to the surrounding park, which displays exotic plants from the former Portuguese colonies. Cabo de Roca  Before we return to Cascais, we'll drive to Cabo de Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe where you can appreciate views of the coastline atop 100 metres high cliffs. It's hard to believe now but these cliffs were thought to be the edge of the world right up until the 14th century. They're now home to a lighthouse which can be seen from 46km away. We'll return to Cascasis on a panoramic drive back via Guincho Beach, which lies at the foot of Sintra hills. + Included Experiences - A visit to the Royal Palace in Sintra and stop at Cabo de Roca.
  • Free day in Cascais Today is yours to explore Cascais at leisure. Historically the summer retreat of Portuguese nobility, Cascais is home to extravagant mansions and an imposing fort - all ripe for exploring. Once the official residence of kings and queens, today Cascais Citadel is home to a cultural centre with art galleries, restaurants and the gorgeous Museum of the Presidency of the Republic. Art lovers may also want to check out Paula Rego House of Stories, created by one of Portugal's leading artists. The collection includes her own work and that of her late husband - artist and art critic Victor Willing - housed inside a thought-provoking, terracotta-coloured building. You could also join the locals for a walk along the paredão which connects Cascais and São João do Estoril along the ocean, stop in to see the picturesque lighthouse and fort – which houses a small museum - or rest in one of the cafes to enjoy lunch and watch the world go by. Signature experience This evening, savour the flavours of typical Portuguese cuisine and regional products at a local restaurant. Socialise with newfound friends and soak up the atmosphere in a cosy restaurant, the perfect end to your stay. 
  • After a memorable Grand Tour, we'll transfer to the airport for your return flight home, arriving back in the UK the same day.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Highlights:
  • See the highlights of Portugal's most prominent cities, Lisbon and Porto, on guided tours
  • Savour the taste of Portuguese wine with a wine tasting at a local quinta and a port tasting at Taylor's Port Wine Lodge
  • Explore one of Europe's most dramatically beautiful river valleys on a tour of the Douro Valley, including a visit to Pinhão
  • Unearth more of Portugal's rich history with visits to the fortified town of Óbidos, Coimbra University, The Sanctuary of Our Lady in Fatima and Sintra's Royal Palace and Pena Palace
  • Cruise down the Douro to explore Porto from a new perspective on a river cruise
  • Signature Highlights:
  • Try the world-famous Pastel de Nata with a glass of port, and discover the secrets of this delicious pastry at an open kitchen
  • Experience the unique musical sounds of traditional Fado and dine on typical Portuguese dishes at an atmospheric local restaurant
  • Taste a wider selection of superb Port wines accompanied with local delicacies whilst enjoying our beautiful location overlooking Porto
  • Socialise with newfound friends and soak up the atmosphere in a cosy hand-picked restaurant, the perfect end to your stay
  • Enjoy the more exclusive atmosphere of travelling in a small group with an average of 22 guests

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
  • Direct return flights 
  • 10 nights' accommodation 
  • Daily breakfast plus 6 dinners*
  • All tours as mentioned 
  • All local accommodation taxes 
  • All transfers 
  • The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager 
  • *2 dinners if you are staying at the Royal Bridges Hotel
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Accommodation

3* MyStory Tejo Hotel - Lisbon -

★★★

The three-star superior MyStory Tejo Hotel, located in the heart of central Lisbon, just a 5 minute walk from Figueira Square. This is a contemporary hotel housed in a renovated 19th century building, and it features a restaurant & bar area, but given its central location there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby. The rooms are simply furnished in a quirky contemporary style and include air conditioning, wifi and minibar.

4* Tivoli Oriente Hotel - Lisbon -

★★★★

The four-star Tivoli Oriente Hotel is set in the iconic Parque das Nações area, where there are many shops, restaurants and bars. The hotel has a restaurant serving international cuisine and a bar providing panoramic views over Lisbon. A complimentary coach service will take you to and from the centre of Lisbon on days two and three should you wish to spend more time in the heart of the city, while public transport links nearby provide easy access at any time.

4* Royal Bridges Hotel - Porto -

★★★★

About the hotel Stays at this hotel include daily breakfast, giving you the opportunity to sample the local restaurants for dinner. The superbly appointed rooms feature air-conditioning, satellite TV, minibar (local charges apply), safe, hairdryer, complimentary Wi-Fi and an ensuite bathroom. Please note the use of air conditioning is at the discretion of the hotel. Location The four-star Royal Bridges Hotel is wonderfully situated in downtown Porto.

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★★★★

The four-star superior Sheraton hotel is just two miles from the historic centre of Porto set in its own landscaped gardens, ideal to enjoy a drink in after a hard day’s sightseeing. As well as an impressive marble reception, it has well appointed rooms, a bar and restaurant. It also has Spa Facilities and an indoor pool (local charges apply).

4* Superior Pousada Cascais - Cascais -

The four-star superior Pousada is one of Portugal’s classic hotels. Converted from historic buildings (similar to Spain’s Paradores) the hotel is set within the impressive walls of a 16th century coastal citadel overlooking the famous marina. Some buildings were actually the Portuguese monarchy’s summer residence and a stylishly sympathetic restoration of centuries-old buildings and stone work - completed at a cost of 18 million Euros in early 2013 - combines historical legacy with modern comfort, art and stunning style. Rooms are beautifully appointed and guests may enjoy use of the spa pool.

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Other Information

Holiday code

R637

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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