Imagine visiting some of the most beautiful palaces and castles of Europe, selecting delicacies from the food stalls of an indoor market for a meal at a communal table, listening to fado music in the neighborhood where it was born, tasting delicious young vinho verde wines at the grower’s vineyard and world-class old porto wines at the producer’s cellar, experiencing the cultural sophistication and energy of Lisbon and Porto, discovering the natural beauty of the countryside’s small villages, all of this and more to be experienced in style and comfort on this accessible and inclusive tour of Portugal.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR 2019
SUMMER 2019: July 14-27, 2019
FALL 2019: September 16-29, 2019
Size of group: 10 to 12 people
Price: Call us for a quote
Space is limited
Best time to travel
Combination urban, nature, culture, history, food and wine, outdoors
Easy and relaxed, Pampered
Independent or assisted travel Couples, families and small groups
We took the best elements of Portugal and combined them into an accessible and inclusive adventure: the urban sophistication and energy of Lisbon and Porto, the natural beauty of the countryside, magnificent castles, palaces and monasteries, small charming remote villages, the enjoyment of a unique cuisine and gorgeous characteristic wines. All of this and more to be experienced in the welcoming atmosphere of the friendly Portuguese people. Their pride and love of their country is only matched by their desire to have you discover it.
A perfect tour of Portugal
The lively and enchanting historic neighborhoods of Lisbon
Dine like the locals at the Mercado Ribeira
Royal splendor at the palaces and castles of Sintra
Climb the ramparts of the unique Moorish Castle
Relive the history and culture of medieval Batalha
Nature walk near Nazaré
Relaxing by the beach in Cascais
The sophisticated Estoril by the sea
The beautiful city of Porto, the gateway to the Douro
Cruise the Douro River
Gondolas in the canals of Aveiro
Unique wines and old ports, delicious pastries and world-class seafood
Pampered evenings at spas
Itinerary at a glance
Day 1 • ARRIVAL IN LISBONWelcome to Portugal! Upon your arrival at Portela Airport in Lisbon, our driver meets you and takes care of your transfer to Hotel Vila Galé Ópera, a 4-star hotel located by the Tagus river. Our hotel is a convenient base for exploring Lisbon’s lively neighborhoods. After checking-in into your room, we invite you to join us for a first tour of Lisbon. We take in the panoramic views of the town from the Miradouro da Graça and the Belvedere Portas do Sol. No better way to get a first impression of the scale, the history and the beauty of the vibrant city of Lisbon. This is our first evening together on this trip. We go out for dinner at a local selected restaurant and spend some time relaxing and absorbing the vibe of the place. It is the perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers and to listen to a presentation of the program of activities for the days ahead. Hotel Vila Galé Ópera is our home for the next three nights.
Day 2 • GET TO KNOW LISBONAfter a good breakfast at the hotel, we depart with our guide for a tour of the main landmarks and neighborhoods of the city. Starting in downtown Lisbon, the Baixa District, we stroll to the vast and elegant plaza Praça do Comércio, alive with numerous cafés, shops and its historical Rua Augusta Arch. The visit of the Lisboa History Centre provides a great introduction to the rich and sometime tumultuous history of Lisbon, coming alive with dramatic sets and multimedia exhibits. Time for lunch! At your own pace, explore the many cafés and restaurants surrounding the plaza. A short drive takes us to the hills overlooking the city for a visit of the old historical neighborhoods of Alfama and Mouraria. This is the birthplace of authentic Lisbon and its unique fado music. Its poets and singers are revered by old and young alike. After taking in the panoramic views of the city at sunset from the esplanade of the Castelo de são Jorge, the ancient moorish castle overlooking the city, we make our way to Belem for dinner.
Day 3 • THE PALACES AND CASTLES OF SINTRASintra is a magical place. Only a short ride away from the capital Lisbon, this regal town is set on hills overlooking dense forests and green valleys. The surrounding area is dotted with graceful palaces and castles, luxuriant gardens and colorful tiled public fountains gushing with natural spring water. Entering Sintra feels like stepping into a fairytale of splendid palaces and castles. This inviting town encourages a leisurely exploration following lunch on the town square. Next on our journey of immersion into the splendor of Portugal is the visit of the magnificent Palace of Monserrate. We spend the afternoon admiring its moorish-influenced architecture and wandering through its expansive exotic gardens. Arriving back in Lisbon in the evening, we head to Mercato Ribeira, a large and vibrant public indoors food market where we can each select delicacies from a multitude of stalls displaying fresh local cuisine and wines, then regroup around the communal tables to share our dinner in a festive atmosphere amongst the locals.
Day 4 • THE MOORISH CASTLE, CASCAIS AND ESTORILHigh above the valley, the Moorish Castle is a marvel of medieval engineering and architecture. With the help of the local staff (and, when needed, the use of motorized Swiss-Trac wheelchair attachments) we ascend past the imposing stone walls to the outer ramparts for commanding views of the entire region. We drive down from the hills of the Serra Sintra to reconnect with the beautiful shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. Cabo Roca stands on the headlands marking the westernmost point of continental Europe. It is easy to see why, until Columbus’s voyages, these windswept cliffs towering high above the Atlantic were thought to be the edge of the world. The seaside picturesque village Cascais is a great place to relax and enjoy the beach and its many outdoors cafés. The order of the day for this afternoon is relaxation and maybe some shopping of local artisanal craft. In the evening, we drive a short distance to the nearby seaside resort town of Estoril. With its lovely pedestrian streets and plaza facing the harbor, its posh casino and world-class restaurants, it has a well-deserved reputation for elegant sophistication. We dine there before returning to our hotel in Lisbon.
Day 5 • QUELUZ PALACE AND AN AFTERNOON IN BELEMFollowing a short drive away from Lisbon, we arrive at the Queluz Palace. This is the 18th century residence of King Pedro III at a time when Portugal was at the apogee of its global empire. It is a fascinating walk through history that will deepen your understanding of the shape of the world today, from Brazil to Africa.
We lunch nearby then return to Lisbon for an easy-paced afternoon to visit Belém. We visit the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery and stroll through Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the iconic Belém Tower.
For interested travelers, there are a number of unique museums well-worth visiting, such as the National Coach Museum which houses the largest collection of coaches in the world
And naturally, a trip to Belém will not be complete without a visit to its famous the pastry shops to enjoy the delectable custard pies, the traditional “Pastéis de Belém”.
No better way to end this busy day than with dinner at one of the fresh seafood restaurants on the banks of the Tagus river or just relaxing with a drink at one of the many fado bars and music venues in the Barrio Alto.
Day 6 • NAZARÉ TO BATALHAWe drive to the small picturesque seaside village of Nazaré. Facing the mighty Atlantic ocean, the town is flanked by long sandy beaches popular with tourists and local families alike during the summer months.
The town is still very much a fishing village and has retained its charming old ways.The local fishermen’s wives still dress with their traditional headscarf and embroidered aprons over seven flannel skirts in different colours and fabrics.
After lunch in Nazaré, we take the time to enjoy a stroll along the beachfront or, depending on the ocean conditions, along its cliff above the city and to the lighthouse. Nazaré is home to some of the world’s most gigantic waves and has become a mecca for top surfers from all over the world.
The afternoon drive takes us to the ancient city of Batalha. We check in at the wonderfully comfortable Hotel Villa Batalha, our home-base for the next couple of nights.
In season, the streets and plazas of Batalha are alive with its annual medieval festival of music, street shows and foods. We enjoy a family style dinner at a restaurant in the Village.
The evening back in Batalha is earmarked for relaxation and exploration at your own pace and free time or to take advantage of the pool, spa and massage therapy offered at the hotel.
Day 7 • BATALHAToday, we slow down the pace of travel a bit. Time to relax and enjoy Batalha, a charming town with many easily accessible sites and venues within walking and rolling distance from our hotel.
After a hearty breakfast featuring a variety of freshly squeezed juices made from locally grown fruits, we walk to the town center to visit the Monastery of the Dominicans of Batalha. Built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, it was to be the Portuguese monarchy’s main building project for the next two centuries. This is where a highly original Gothic style evolved, profoundly influenced by Manueline art. Its Royal Cloister is a masterpiece.
Not far from the Monastery, a visit of the exhibits at the small Batalha Museum will help to put the whole region in its historical context. You can then enjoy lunch on your free time at a cafe terrace or restaurant on the main town square.
In the afternoon, you can choose to drive with us to the history center Aljubarrota to visit the site of the actual battle that gave the town its name or just relax for a pampered afternoon at the pool and luxurious spa of our hotel.
In the evening, we walk back to the center of town for dinner and to enjoy a drink on the plaza in front of the monastery.
Day 8 • COIMBRA TO PORTOLeaving Batalha, we make our way to the beautiful city of Coimbra.
Time permitting, we stop on the way to visit the 1,400 years old Buçaco Forest, a refuge of cypress groves, ferns, statues, fountains, and formal gardens first settled by the 6th Century Benedictine monks. Replaced by the order of the Discalced Carmelites and their “barefooted monks” in the early 1600’s, the park is populated with hundred of species of flora from as far as Japan and Mexico.
Coimbra is a charming and vibrant city. Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra is the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese speaking world. To this day, its stellar reputation attracts students from the world over. The city is also home the wonderful Machado de castro Museum and the convent of Santa Clara Nova. We spend the day visiting the sites and enjoying a long and lazy lunch at the renowned Solar Bacalhau restaurant.
Arriving in early evening in Porto, we settle at our comfortable hotel. We enjoy a restful evening with a drink at a nearby terrace or go for a first easy-paced stroll in town.
Day 9 • Porto and the Douro RiverThe beautiful and vibrant historic city of Porto, has a well-deserved reputation for one of the great destinations of Europe. Perched on the bank of the Douro River and second to Lisbon in size, its western boundaries espouse the Atlantic coastline. With this strategic location, it was an early outpost of the Roman empire bearing the celtic-latin name of Portus Cale. While the city became known as Porto, it gave its name to the whole country of Portugal. There is much to visit in the afternoon. The baroque Clérigos Church, where it is sometimes possible to hear its famous organ playing. The Lello & Irmão bookstore, widely considered the most beautiful bookshop in the world and the inspiration for the stairs of Hogwarts’ school of magic. The Se cathedral and its cloisters lined with azulejos (the portuguese blue ceramic tiles) and the São Bento train station. We leisurely explore the center of the city and its oldest neighborhood. The delightful Ribeira District is home to many restaurants and bars with sweeping views over the Douro River. After lunch on the open terrace of a restaurant, we stroll to one of the vast wine cellars stretching along the bank of the river. Traditionally, this is where the barrels of port were stored before being transported by river boats. The cavernous cellar is the dramatic setting where we will enjoy a tasting of the best porto wines in the world.
We ride the aerial gondola from the port to the top of the hill, and stroll across the bridge to return to the heart of the old city for an evening of independent exploration or relaxation near our hotel. Dos Duques De Bragança, Guimaräes and Aveiro After a couple of hours driving through the beautiful countryside of central Portugal, we arrive in Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal” in time for a late lunch at one of the many cafes dotting the banks of its canals. Ovos Molos (“soft eggs”, a type of custard) is a popular delicacy at the Pastelaria Rossio. This inviting city will charm you to stay and maybe take an afternoon ride on a gondola.
After a stop for dinner, we continue on our journey back to Batalha where we spent the night at our favorite hotel, the Hotel Villa Batalha.
We finally arrive at the beautiful Pena Park Hotel where we will spend the next 2 nights. A delicious dinner and time for relaxation wrap up this long day of exploration.
Day 10 • PORTO AND THE DOURO WINE REGIONThis morning, we board a boat for an easy-paced eastward cruise along the Douro River. A beautiful scenery of lush green hills dotted with small quaint villages unfolds. This is the wonderful and world-renowned Douro Wine region, one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world, going back at least to ancient Roman times. A royal decree in 1756 made it the official port wine producing region of Portugal. Its port wines are not only the best in the world, they cannot truly be called Porto Wine unless the grapes come from here. We arrive at Peso de Regua where we settle for lunch at the terrace of a restaurant. This is one of the best places to enjoy the local Douro delicacies such as a traditional lamb roast, the “maronesa and mirandesa slices, the “bazulaque”, the mirandela sausage, the “covilhetes” and many more local dishes, paired with a selection of local wines. After an easy-paced visit of the Douro Wine Museum and more tasting of delicious local wines, we drive back toward Porto for an evening of relaxation.
Day 11 • BRAGA, BOM JESUS, PAÇO DOS DUQUES DE BRAGANÇA, GUIMARÃESToday, we visit the region to the northwest of Porto. To many, this historic region is the heart, if not the birthplace, of Portugal. We visit the beautiful historic center of Guimarães (a UNESCO World Heritage and its striking castle, the Castelo de Guimarães. This 12th century edifice is the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the very first king of Portugal. With the ancient city of Braga, the “Archbishops City” as its regional center, the area is renowned for its magnificent palace the Paço dos Duques de Bragança as well as its unique pilgrimage site the Bom Jesus de Monte and its striking baroque staircase. We return to Porto for an evening of independent exploration or relaxation near the hotel.
Day 12 • AVEIRO TO LISBONAfter an early breakfast, we check out from our hotel and start our journey south back toward Lisbon. We drive through the beautiful countryside of central Portugal and arrive in the early afternoon in Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal” in time for a late lunch at one of the many restaurants dotting the banks of its canals. Ovos Molos (“soft eggs”, a type of custard) is a popular delicacy at the Pastelaria Rossio. This inviting city will charm you to stay and maybe take an afternoon ride on a gondola through its canals.
We arrive back in Lisbon in the early evening and settle in our hotel. After some time for relaxation, we go out for dinner and to listen to fado music.
Day 13 • LISBONAfter the busy past couple of days, it is time to slow down the pace of travel and relax for a day of exploration in free time.There are still so many things to see and to do in Lisbon. We will help you to plan your perfect day.
A stroll in the hip LX Factory neighborhood, a visit of the Maritime Museum or the National Palace, shopping along the posh Avenida da Liberdade … and of course a visit of the Fado Museum in the Alfama district. It traces the fado music history from its working class roots. If you would like to take a bit of Portugal back with you, the museum store has an extensive collection of fado music to choose from.
Later in the evening, we gather for our festive farewell dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in the city.
Day 14 • DEPARTURE FROM LISBONAfter a leisurely breakfast, we check out of the hotel. It is time to say goodbye to your fellow travelers. Depending on your plans, you might have some additional time to continue your visit of the city before getting back to Portela Airport for your departure. Or you may have other plans such as visiting the area, staying in Lisbon for another few days or continuing on to your next European destination.
Whatever your plans are, we are here to assist you with further accommodations and our accessible van will take you to wherever you need to be.
If you have another few days:
There is so much more to see and experience in Portugal that we can possibly offer on this tour. Perhaps you would like to continue an exploration of the culinary and wine pleasures of the country. Maybe it is the pristine beaches of the Algarve that attract you for a leisurely few more days of relaxation. How about a day trip up the rugged mountains of the Serra da Estrela to visit the village of Manteigas perched on the ancient Zezere Glacier? The Coa Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to some of oldest and magnificent prehistoric art and petroglyphs. And for a complete change of scenery, the Island of Sal awaits anyone looking for crystal blue waters and a gentle pace of life. Talk to us. We will gladly help you to plan your perfect Portugal vacation.
Things to know
Arrival and departure
If you are flying to Portugal, you will arrive independently at Portela Airport. We meet you there and take care of your accessible transfer to the hotel in Lisbon, about 20 minutes away. We recommend a morning arrival so you can enjoy the afternoon and our first informal dinner in the evening. At the end of the trip, you have the choice of returning to the airport for departure, staying in Lisbon for a few more days or continuing on to your next destination. Whatever the case may be, we are here to assist you with transportation and any other arrangements.
Size of the group and support
We are keeping the group small so that we are able to give plenty of attention to each of our guests. Our grwe are able to give plenty of attention to each of our guests. Our groups travel with at least two dedicated guides (typically one trip leader from the US and one local guide from Portugal).
On some occasions, we also provide local guides for specific activities such as walking tours in cities, sites visits, etc. On some excursions and during free time, our accessible vehicle may also provide hop-on/hop-off opportunities.
We have access to a vast choice of equipment and gear on-site to accommodate your needs and required level of comfort. When visiting the Sintra Palaces, manual wheelchair with a “Swiss Trac” attachments are available. Naturally, you can also choose to stay in your own manual or motorized wheelchair.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND AMENITIES
We accommodate our travelers in superior-class and comfortable hotels such as Hotel Vila Galé Ópera in Lisbon, Hotel Villa Batalha in Batalha and Hotel Vila Galé in Porto. You will be staying in accessible rooms with accessible bathrooms. We dine in wonderful restaurants, carefully selected for their excellent food, great atmosphere or local color and characteristic. We visit many sites and venues in the company of knowledgeable guides. Naturally, we take care of your accessible transfers to and from the airport, and can provide you with any equipment necessary to enjoy all the activities of this pampered and relaxed trip.
We want to make it easy for you to come on this trip. Start by submitting your request by going to the contact page on our website or by sending us an email directly with your request. Please mention the number of people in your party. Once we receive your request, we will confirm your reservation within 48 hours. We will then communicate with you to go over the details of the trip, discuss accommodations and your specific mobility requirements, with the goal of making your trip as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.