Luxury Pousada Hotel around Northern and Central Portugal
This 10-day train trip including stays in one of the most historic and luxurious Pousada hotels will take you through the gilded and admirably multifarious history of Portugal; from the mesmerizing northern city of Porto to the explosively creative city of Lisbon in the south.
Between them, you’ll visit Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal”, Coimbra, home to one of the oldest universities in the world, plus Évora, where Roman ruins still stand.
You’ll journey to Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal, and venture into the Douro Valley, rightfully famous for Port wine. Admire the stunning azulejos (tile design), spectacular views from above, heavenly cuisine throughout, and marvel at the demanding, rough elegance and immense curiosity Lisbon offers.
Day 1 | Arrival to Porto | Orientation Porto
On the day of arrival to the coastal city of Porto, a private taxi takes you to your hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, you may have the option to walk around the city for some first impressions of its surprisingly steep hills and grand squares.
Porto is absolutely spellbinding with its tenaciously textured buildings, valorous variety of architecture and Mesmerizing mix of colour shades. Enter this laid-back city with a few great options to check off the travel list.
Take a cruise of the Douro River and connect with the Portuguese nautical triumphs and kindred relationship with the water. You’ll pass under the 6 bridges connecting both sides of the city, including Ponte de Dom Luís I, designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Day 2 | Porto | Porto, its blue tiled houses and the Port wineries
Today charters an alluringly full day of marching around the city and taking in the various aspects of this old-world, rejuvenated city, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Porto is a decorated playground of mazes and cobbled, tangled streets and hills. Brimming with brilliantly blue tiled buildings adorning the centre, the streets eventually widen into well-manicured, wide walkways.
Porto will tempt you today with charming options to see the city, don’t worry intended sites can be revisited tomorrow as well.
Stroll along the boulevards and reach the Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, connecting Porto and its friendly neighbour across the Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia. This bridge was completed in the late 1800’s by Gustave Eiffel (already famous for his Eiffel Tower in Paris) and is a star of the city still today. Cross the Douro river to visit the Port wineries on the other side in Vila Nova de Gaia. We’ll share our expertise on which wineries to visit and which Ports to try.
Every city has their token market, and Porto has the Mercado Bolhão, an identity on its own and a favourite of locals and tourists alike. Indulge in a gastronomic array of Portuguese delectables,
and the shop owners will be happy to share their stories with you here.
Day 3 | Porto - Coimbra | Leaving Porto for the colourful city of Aveiro and the historic Coimbra
On your third day, you´ll drive to Coimbra with a stop in Aveiro.
In just in 45 minutes you drive you’ll pull into the colourful town of Aveiro. Famous for its canals and coined the “Venice of Portugal”, it allows you to take a local gondola or walk around the town following its waterways in the morning.
From here it is another 45 minutes before get to the historic city of Coimbra famous for its university, one the oldest in the world. Founded in 1290, the building has changed little, and the town is still a hub for academics and a student-life culture unique and strong to its own device. Students dressed as they were centuries ago give you a taste of tradition with song and dance. If you like, they’ll also happily act as your guide around the university, or you may wander on your own.
Given its historic and current glory, it takes pride in its historic buildings but also its current, visually obvious and wacky expressions of student uniqueness and individuality.
Day 4 – Coimbra – Marvao - Crato | Driving through the medieval ages, visiting historic villages and romantic castles
Today a beautiful drive awaits you, visiting medieval villages, romantic castles and wind yourself in a fairy tale. We take you from the motorway and send you to winding country roads. The first stop is in the Schist area, famous for its black schist stones. You will stop at one of its most characteristic villages where time has stopped two centuries ago and life still just goes on like this.
From here you will drive towards the Natural Park of Serra de Sao Mamede visiting some of its fortified villages. We will give you tips on the most picturesque villages to visit here. One of them being Marvao, a village on a hill with a castle and a city wall, to protect themselves from the Spanish. From here it is a leisurely 45 minute drive to Crato where you spend the night.
Day 5 - Crato – Elvas - Estremoz – A medieval castle route to the marble capital Estremoz
In the morning you leave Crato on this amazing castle route with many tips of hidden castles in almost each of the villages you pass (a total of 8). The reason for the many castles is, since it is positioned close to the Spanish border. Certainly, one of the main highlights will be a stop in Elvas, and visit the fort of Nossa Senhora da Graça, a fort with 3 layers of walls in a pentagonal shape, standing with a dominant position on the Monte de Graça, the Hill of Grace, just a few kilometers from the town. Elvas itself also has a city wall, a castle and another fort.
Day 6 – Coimbra – Évora –Deep into the Portuguese interior and to the historic town of Évora
Take the morning slowly in Coimbra, doing as you please. Either pop into the 12th century Sé Velha cathedral or the Santa Clara monastery dating back to the year 1285.
Catch the train to Évora, arriving at approximately 5pm in time to take a needed rest before heading to dinner and a first exploration of the center.
Day 7 | Évora | Visit the historic centre, the Roman temple and the skull decorated church
Put on your walking shoes this morning for a visit to the especially well preserved and quaintly small town of Évora.
Start off at the main square with Évora’s beautiful Cathedral. Move just down the street, and here lies the ancient Roman Temple of Évora. Also called the Roman Diana Temple, it’s small and impressive and fits in perfectly with its town surroundings. Then make your way to a visit at the historic university- the second oldest university in the country, established in 1559.
Moving onto lunch, you’ll notice the many restaurants offering more meat than fish on the menu. Remember that we are now inland and the cuisine has changed. Here you’ll enjoy a wide selection of meats, soups, and cheeses. Later on, you’ll visit a church, the Capela dos Ossos. Skulls and bones line the insides of this church, a sight some of you will have never seen before.
Day 8 | Évora – Lisbon | The final lapse from Évora to Portugal´s capital, Lisbon
Today you arrive at your last, and splendid destination, referred to as the “Queen of the Sea” – Lisbon.
Its city rebuilt from calamity to splendor through the centuries. Here you’ll find historical richness and creative brilliance alive in past and current form.
Lisbon is absolutely loaded with precious things to see and do, therefore we advise you to get ready to do some walking! But wait…Lisbon has seven different hills as well, so also expect to do some climbing! It’s a well laid-out and planned city thanks to recent rejuvenations, so for those of you who prefer to take it a bit easier, we’ll assist you with other methods of transportation.
First things first – the classic “Tram 28”. This well-known and favourite tram route is a perfect ride to catch as it visits most of the tourist destinations, and it can save your legs on the surprisingly hilly streets of Lisbon. After a thorough ride and absorbing an initial sense of the city’s vibe, colours, rhythm and beauty, hike up the first of the 7 hills, to Saint Jorge’s Castle. It’s one of the first fortifications built, dating from the 1st century BC, and is currently in wonderful medieval form.
It offers spectacular views of the red-tiled roofs and sweeping landscape of the city.
In the evening visit a Fado bar, Lisbon’s famed bitter-sweet music style traced to the 1820’s, where you’ll enjoy a live show complete with traditional dress and settings – it’ll whisk you to another time and tell an expressive melancholic tale of its own.
Day 9 | Lisbon | Going to the area of the navigators of the sea or make a day trip to Sintra
Rise and shine this morning with thoughts of “Pasteis de Nata”, the most delectable and scrumptious sweet of all sweets. Head 2,5km out of the city to visit The Tower of Belén which served as an embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers. Here, you’ll find a sweet little spot famous for their “Pasteis de Nata”, the recipe is still a guarded secret and you should try one now before continuing on to the adjacent Monastery of Jerónimos. Warning, you’ll need a couple of minutes to catch your breath after entering. his monastery is the grandest example of late Gothic and Manueline architecture in all of Portugal, and has been a Unesco site along with the Tower of Belén since 1983. It is as imposing as it is unique, as it is stunning.
Sintra – by now you’ve heard it mentioned on the streets multiple times, and for good reason.
If you decide to go on a day trip, less than one hour away towards the coastal area of Lisbon lie the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains. A long-time royal sanctuary, the beautiful forested landscape is scattered with pastel-colored villas and palaces. Climbing upward and reaching the top of the hill, you’ll enter the Moorish and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace. Its fairy-tale design and sensational views of the powerful city and sea below are yours for the taking.
Day 10 – Lisbon– Home | Home or extension?
Today you head home, and depending on your flight time, you may head to the centre for some souvenir shopping. We’ll arrange a hotel pick-up for you by private taxi.
Do you wish to extend your trip and or add a few extra stops, let us know and we will tailor this trip for you as you wish.
Total price: € 1275,- / $ 1545,- per person
- 9 Nights in 2 or 3 star hotels including breakfast. Please note that there is the option to upgrade to 4 or 5 star hotels for just € 495,- per person for all 11 nights.
- 7-days car hire including all-risk insurance
- Access to insider tips about what to see and where to eat. Let us know if you have any special diets like vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher or any other and we´ll give you free advice
- 24/7 help line for the duration of your trip.
- Air tickets. Please note that we can arrange these should you wish.
- Travel insurance. Please note that we can arrange these should you wish.
- All other food and drinks not mentioned in the above description.
- City tourism taxes
- Personal expenses such as extra hotel services or gratuities
- Entrance fees unless otherwise stated.