This trip provides an overview of the whole country which was named after your first stop: Porto. On your way south, you pass Evora, the pearl of the Alentejo and a World Heritage Site. Your southernmost destination is the Algarve, one of Europe's most beautiful coastlines. If you fancy a daytrip to southern Spain, the romantic city of Seville is only a couple of hours away. The journey ends in Lisbon, Portugals capital and biggest city.
This trip will be customized according to your wishes.
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Company: CRC Car Rental Company
Vehicle: Renault Captur or similar (HDAR)
Location: Lisbon Airport (Shuttle Service)
This town saw the arrival of Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Moors and Arabs. All of these people groups left behind traces of their culture, but the registered historic old town is predominantly Gothic. At its center stands the late Gothic church of Igreja da Graca, the final resting place of the man who discovered Brazil, Pedro Alvares Cabral. There is even a statue of him in front of the church. A particularly beautiful spot only a short walk away is the Portas do Sol, the former site of a Moorish fortress and today a small park with a panorama terrace.
The Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Vitória near Batalha is a magnificent monastery dating from the transition period from Gothic to Renaissance. It was built in thanks for Portugal's victory over the kingdom of Castile; its construction took 150 years. Today, the gem of Portuguese Gothic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This city was named after a Moorish princess and, after the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary on May 13, 1917, it became one of the most important pilgrimage sites of the Roman Catholic Church. Today, four million pilgrims visit the town each year, including many sick people hoping to be miraculously healed. Across from the old cathedral, the new church of Igreja da Santissima Trindade opened its doors for the first time in 2007. With its 9,000 seats, it is the fourth-largest Catholic church in the world and is currently the largest church to have been built in the 21st century. Between the two churches lies the largest church courtyard in the world.
The Hellenistic settlement with the Greek-Latin name Porto Calle (beautiful harbour) gave its name not only to today's city but to the whole country.
Many of the city's residents continue to view their home town as the true capital, which shares a friendly rivalry with Lisbon.The historical centre of the town bears witness to its importance over the centuries: the houses are crowded together: behind, next to and above each other they are arranged on terraces, which make up the special charm of the town. The city also gave its name to one of its key exports: the world-famous port wine that is cultivated in the surrounding area. The Portuguese answer to the Spanish sherry is best sampled in the southern city (Vila Nova de Gaia), where many wineries and wine shops are located.
The magnificent residence was built at Porto's highest point at the beginning of the 20th century in the neo-Gothic castle style. From its tower, which from afar reminds of Notre-Dame in Paris, one can enjoy great views across the old town. The listed property stands in a quiet and shady garden of palmtrees, where groups of seats invite to relax. The rooms are designed in two different styles – some classically elegant, others modern; most have their own balcony and view of the garden. In the morning Breakfast with traditional Portuguese dishes is served in the impressive dining room or on the terrace above the garden.
The surreal interior seems to have emerged from another, far-away period: it doesn't take an art historian to admire the works of art made of glazed tiles and stucco, the golden mirrors and cherubs, the Tiffany lamps and antique furniture. The fact that the bathrooms with their old-fashioned tiles have not been fully modernized only contributes to the charm of the rooms.
Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman – Vinhos, S.A. (Taylor for short) is probably the best-known producer and trader of port wines and is closely linked to the history of port wine. The company was founded in 1692 and is still family-owned today. The winery offers tours and tastings, also for private groups.
The small chapel stands on a rock directly on the beach near Porto. It was built in 1686, but the place was already used as a sanctuary in pre-Christian times. One can wonderfully combine the visit of the romantic little church with a beach excursion. Those who want to leave the car can take the train to Miramar and take a nice walk from there.
During the private tour through Porto, you will spend three hours with your English-speaking guide, while you will determine the pace and course of the tour yourself.
There are several main destinations to choose from, some of which can also be combined: the Torre dos Clérigos (bell tower and landmark of the city), the famous pedestrian zone Rua Santa Catarina, the old town with the cathedral, the viewpoint Serra do Pilar, the medieval quarter Ribeira, the railway station Porto São Bento or the Ponte Dom Luís I, which connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. The icing on the cake is of course a glass of port wine.
The route leads to the south along the Atlantic coast. Half way, the old university town Coimbra is nestled in the rolling hills on the banks of the Rio Mondego.
A stroll through the vibrant historical centre is well worth it. If you are interested in archaeology, the excavations of a Roman town near Conimbriga can be visited. Further on you will pass the outskirts of Lisbon then head on to the east.
This city is located 30 kilometers from Evora and stands in the shadow of a castle that was originally a Roman fortress. The archaeological museum exhibits cave drawings that are over 12,000 years old and which were found in the nearby Gruta de Escoural. The cave itself, which lies twelve kilometers to the southeast, is open to the public from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
What makes the “Pearl of the Alentejo” a top destination is the fact that all historical phases of the venerable city remain visible.
The castle and the monumental temple dedicted to Diana stem from the Roman era, when Evora was already one of the leading trade centres in Iberia. Many of the streets in the old town date back to the Moorish period from 715-1165. The fortress-like cathedral, an excellent example of early Gothic architecture, reflects the victory of the Catholic Reconquista, while the Praca do Giraldo was the site of numerous executions during the Inquisition. The globe on the 16th century fountain at Largo das Portas reveals the fascinating new insights of the Renaissance. The Almendres Cromiech, a megalithic stone circle approx. 4,000 to 6,000 years old, stands in a woods about 8 km west of town.
During the liberation of Evora in 1165, the folk hero Geraldo the Fearless is said to have hidden his famous sword on the grounds of this estate.
Nearly 900 years later, history is still tangible at the country B&B situated on one of the most beautiful of the numerous farms that dot the fertile plains around Evora. The well-kept grounds include, among other things, a swimming pool. Each of the 5 bedrooms was decorated with loving care. Evora is just a 5-minute drive away.
This stone circle was constructed by a megalithic culture during the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and is estimated to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old. Some of the stones have been adorned with eyes, circles, zigzags and representations of the sun and moon. There is also a single standing stone 2.5 kilometers from the stone circle that can be reached via the hiking trail at the parking lot. Unlike Stonehenge, visitors are free to walk around the Cromeleque dos Almendres and even touch the stones.
This Moorish fortified village lies in the sparsely-populated borderlands and was reconquered by the Portuguese king Alfonso III in the year 1167. Today, the village still has a complete town wall and numerous historic buildings. A particularly beautiful time to visit this sleepy hamlet is in the evening, when the setting sun bathes the Alentejo region and the Rio Guadiana with its artificial lake in an enchanting light.
This rural town lies at the base of a castle that was built in the 13th century by the Portuguese king Dinis after the Reconquista. The royal family of the Bragança then took control of the castle and the town. The top of the castle offers a lovely view of the surrounding countryside.
This provincial town boasts a long history going all the way back to Roman times, when Julius Caesar made the town of Beja the regional capital. The ruins from that era testify to the wealth and importance of the city. When the Moors took over in the 8th century, they had the streets paved with cobblestones, and some of their graceful buildings have survived as well. The castle of Beja is a vivid reminder of the city's conquest by the Portuguese kings. The pillory with a cross in the pedestrian area testifies to the gloomy period that followed.
In the incomparably beautiful landscape at the northern edge of the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana, the Guadiana River falls over a rocky slope. It is the greatest difference in altitude that the 850 kilometre long river overcomes on its way from the interior of Spain to the Atlantic Ocean. The waterfall is called Pulo do Lobo, which means “wolf's jump” because the cliffs are so close together on both sides that a wolf could jump over them. But you shouldn't try it yourself. Instead, a path leads along the bank above the falls. On the way back you can pass Anta das Pias, a prehistoric burial chamber, the age of which is estimated at about 6000 years. (Round trip: 3.5 kilometers, 2 hours, up and down: 120 meters)
This ancient city is located in the eastern Algarve, just a few kilometres from the Spanish border. However, it is not facing the sea, but the Rio Gilão, which forms a lagoon here before it flows into the Atlantic.
Despite their long history, in which Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors followed each other, there are hardly any buildings older than 250 years. The devastating earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 had also hit Tavira hard. Today, the cityscape is as uniform as it is picturesque. The beautiful sandy beaches in front of the city are still relatively unpopulated, which is probably due to the fact that until today there are hardly any bigger hotels in the area.
In Portugal, “pousada” is the term for historic buildings that have been converted into hotels. They are usually more stylish than the more functionally-designed tourist hotels.
The Pousada of Tavira is located on a hill overlooking the town at the site of a former 16th century monastery for Augustinian hermits. After the earthquake of 1755, a baroque building was constructed in its place that now houses 36 rooms for hotel guests. A swimming pool with sun deck is located at the site of the former monastery garden and is still surrounded by the same centuries-old walls. The restaurant offers regional dishes influenced by the area's nearness to the ocean.
The lagoon islands known as the IIha de Tavira are located south of Tavira and can be reached via a ferry. The low dunes and the several kilometers of sandy beaches are ideal for a day in the water. There is also a pedestrian bridge to the island further to the west.
This international sand sculpture festival is the largest of its kind in the world. The exhibit covers an area of 15,000 square meters and has a different theme every year. Artists from a number of countries work for months to construct a city using 35,000 tons of sand. You can admire the sculptures during the day and then enjoy an evening program of live music, theater and dance. There is also an area where anyone can try their hand at making a sand sculpture.
This small town surrounded by cork forests is located in the sparsely populated Baixo Altenjo region and not far from Ourique, where the decisive battle between the Moors and the army of King Alfonso is thought to have taken place. The Royal Basilica of Castro Verde was built as a monument to this historic victory. Scenes from the battle can still be seen depicted on the painted tiles (Azulejos) lining the church's interior.
This town near the scenic Serra de Grândola belongs to Alentejo, which was home to many farm workers during the 19th and 20th centuries. The region was known for its choral songs, which were often sung by the workers while in the fields. The singer Zeca Afonso composed his song “Grândola, Vila Morena” in this style and had it broadcast during the night of April 25, 1974. This was the secret starting signal for the Carnation Revolution, which made the city famous throughout the world. Franz Joseph Degenhard later translated the text into German. When entering the town from the direction of Lisbon, you can still see a monument displaying the song's lyrics.
Location: Lisbon Airport (Shuttle Service)
The city at the mouth of the Tejo was already a Phoenician port when the Romans conquered it. After the turmoil of mass migration and more than one hundred years of Visigoth rule, “Lischbuna” experienced a cultural heyday among the Moors and became the Portuguese royal residence under King Alfonso in 1260.
With the great discoveries of the 15th century, Lisbon became one of the richest cities in Europe. The heyday of the city was abruptly ended by a terrible earthquake in 1755, which killed over 90,000 people. Although it was generously rebuilt, Portugal's capital never regained its former importance and did not become a modern metropolis until the late 20th century.
The cityscape is characterised by great differences in altitude with magnificent vantage points, often with terraces. Oldest district is the picturesque Alfama east of the cathedral with narrow stairways, hidden backyards and idyllic squares.
The Solar do Castelo stands where 800 years ago the kitchens of the Alcáçova Castle were located. After the earthquake of 1755, the building, which lies within the castle walls, was rebuilt and finally converted into a unique boutique hotel in 2001.
The two-story complex with a mansard roof surrounds a cosy courtyard and is enclosed by a garden. Medieval and modern elements stand in an exciting harmony.
Alfama was once the center of Lisbon in Moorish times. The city center was later relocated further to the west in today's “Baixa.” While the wealthy moved to Belém and Cascais, fishermen and people from the lower classes stayed behind. In contrast to the downtown area of Lisbon, Alfama suffered little damage during the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755. This allowed the neighborhood's original jumble of narrow alleyways to survive to this day. Towering above the quarter stands the Castelo de São Jorge, which served as the residence of the Portuguese king until the 16th century. There are also a number of places in Alfama from which you can enjoy a scenic view of the Tejo.
The Praça de Dom Pedro IV, as this square in downtown Lisbon is called, is a popular gathering place. This is particularly due to the two tram lines that meet here and the trains heading to Sintra. At the center of the square stands a 23-meter-high marble column and a bronze statue of King Pedro IV. He is depicted with four women at his feet representing justice, wisdom, strength and temperance, which were virtues attributed to the king. The square is lined with lovely street cafés where you can sit and observe the vibrant city life.
This elevator joins two parts of Lisbon with each other: Baixa and Chiado, which is higher up. This distinctive steel structure was built in 1902. It was originally powered by a steam engine, but this was replaced with an electric motor in 1907. The impressive structure is 45 meters high. Its two cabins are adorned with wood paneling and brass fixtures and have room for 24 people each. If you take the elevator one level higher than the upper exit, you will get to see two original elevator machines in action. The next level up opens to a café with a spectacular view overlooking Baixa, Chiado and Castelo de São Jorge.
During the private tour through the old town of Lisbon, you determine the pace and course yourself. The start is always in the Baixa Pombalina, the part of the city that was rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1755. Then we go to the oldest part of town, the Alfama, which was the only one that survived the earthquake. On a hill, we reach a “Miradouro”, as one calls the viewing points above the old town and the river.
Afterwards there are two possibilities, which can be discussed with the guide:
1. The visit of the Mouraria, the former Moorish quarter.
2. A trip to Belém: Take the tram (approx. EUR 5 – 7 per person) to the district where the great expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries began. You will visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (closed on Mondays), a masterpiece of the Manueline style, a Portuguese variant of the late Gothic.
The tour ends at the Torre de Belém or the Monument to the Navigators.