Fourteen Days Private Tour in Portugal from Lisbon, two weeks of fun and knowledge spread throughout the Portuguese territory from big cities like Lisbon or Oporto, to the small villages, get to know the authentic Portugal.
Why do Portuguese sweets or Conventual sweets carry so many gems? The reason is simple, egg whites were used to iron clothes, hence the gems were made and had to be used, which made Portugal one of the largest egg producers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The whites were also exported to help in the wine production acting as a purifying element, returning the gems…. The names given to it “Doces Conventuais” are no stranger to the fact that they were created by nuns in there Convents and Monastery’s.
Tempura = Japan it not ? Do yo know that the recipe is Portuguese ? Tempura consists of frying in a light veal chicken or seafood, especially shrimp, it was the Portuguese Jesuits who took this form of cooking to the East. At the time of Lent, unable to consume red meat, the Jesuit missionaries living in Japan chose to eat vegetables and seafood, properly seasoned and wrapped in polma.
Day dedicated entirely to the city of Lisbon, that was practically devastated by the earthquake of 1755, the largest ever recorded in Europe, so it was necessary to design a new city with the first anti-seismic constructions, drawn with a set of straight and perpendicular streets organized around an axis the central part of Rua Augusta.
In these streets were given the names of the various crafts of the time and artisans of that time among them; cobblers, corraliros, of gold.
“Baixa de Lisboa” is also known for the monumentality of its buildings, which represent a new social order that values the merchant and financial class. To test the resilience of these buildings to a new earthquake used troops marching inside buildings.
In Belem the region that personifies the epic of the Portuguese Discoveries with several monuments classified Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity by Unesco such as the Jerónimos Monastery and Torre de Belém of the Manueline style in an urban set unique in the world and also, more modern the Monument of the Discoveries and the Plaza do Imperio complete the sense of grandeur of the times of the Great Portuguese Empire.
Wander through the elements that tell the story in a pleasant place next to the Tagus River with green spaces and unique atmosphere with marinas and sailing clubs and still a cycle path where the pure air of the sea competes with the beauty of the view.
You will not want to miss the Pastels of Bethlehem, this secret and magical recipe that makes us smile.
Sintra the Aristocracy paradise, we will discover the charm of the narrow alleys and the typical and regional products stores, letting yourself be taken to the Piriquita pastry where the famous sweets ” Queijadas de Sintra and “Travesseiros de Sintra” are waiting for you.The choice of what palace ( or palaces ) to visit its just yours, the guide will suggest that it is best for you to visit between; “Quinta da Regaleira”a palace from the XIX. although it seems to be older, with a decoration that impresses, rich in Masonic symbolism.
The Moorish Castle a testimony of the Islamic presence in the region, built between the 8th and 9th centuries and enlarged after the Reconquest or why not the Palaçio da Pena, a a fantastical and revivalist reconstruction, to the taste of nineteenth-century romanticism, which was owed to the passion and imagination of the artist D. Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, consort of D. Maria II.
The geological formation of ”Cabo da Roca”is also known among the sites as “The Snout of the Rock”, others prefer to call it a poetic way “Promontory of the Moon,”, the beauty of this place is imaginable.
With thousands of visitors every year, Roca Cape was mentioned by the Portuguese poet Camoes in “Os Lusíadas”, In his words this was the place “where the Earth ends and the sea begins”, part of the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais and from there it is possible to put on the shoes and follow the ecological rails of the Serra de Sintra.
Time to explore Cascais this ancient fisherman´s village turned into a beautiful and cosmopolitan beach resort, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, next to it there´s Estoril, famous for its casino ( largest gambling room in Europe ) and by the fact of the Yan Fleming wrote the first 007 nobel Casino Royale during the 2nd world war from here will get back to Lisbon along road “Marginal” enjoying breathtaking ocean scenery along the coast.
Obidos inhabited since the Paleolithic mainly because its excellent location ( by the sea and a Lagoon ) the Phoenicians here were as well as the Romans.
The first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques, conquered Obidos to the Moors, belonged to the defensive pentagon (of the five castles), from the center of the kingdom, idealized by the Templars. The huge earthquake of 1755 made the village feel strong, knocking down parts of the wall, as well as some temples and buildings, and altered unfortunately some aspects of the layout and the Arab and medieval.
Nazare is a lovely fisherman´s village with an intense past, well portrayed in the architectural heritage, with many churches and traditional houses that bring a very picturesque atmosphere, being the first place of worship in Portugal.
In the recent past the phenomenon of the Nazaré Cannon, phenomenal waves that made Nazaré famous worldwide, in 2013 the American surfer McNamara broke the world record when surfing a wave about 30 meters high. Another curious thing will be the “seven skirts” wife’s from Nazare,that proudly shown them to there visitors.
Time to go to Sanctuary of Fatima, we will them find three places of interest where you can attend a mass ( optional ), the Chapel of the Apparitions, the first Chapel to be built immediately following the apparitions occupying a prominent place, not by size or grandeur, but yes by the location, practically in the center of the Sanctuary.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, built in 1928 in Neo Baroque style, it houses today the tombs of the children, but also the tomb of Sister Lucia who passed away in 2005, and the Basilica of Santissima Trindade, built in 2007 with more than 8000 seats and 40,000 m² of area was designed by the Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis, a modern and quite imposing church.
Time to get to Coimbra.
A calmer day that will start with the visit to Coimbra´s University ( oldest in Europe ) with it´s highlight the Joanine library, built in the XVIII century on the former prison of the University, simply one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
Its decoration was only finished, close to the XVIII century, the renovation it, on the ceiling the frescoes were executed by Mestre António Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes, and the portrait of Dom Joao V was done by the Italian Domenico Dupra.
After visit the library we will continue visiting Coimbra´s University and visit other interesting places like; Saint Michel Chapel, “sala dos Capelos”, the “cabra” tower between others.
Coimbra´s downtown situated, between the Mondego river and the University, a lovely sidewalk street where you can relax and get lost in this charming city narrow streets and beautiful alleys, and squares, you will find countless cafes, pastry shops and restaurants.
Rich in culture and with an unforgettable gastronomy, this area has been the commercial center of the city for hundreds if not thousands of years, maintaining its genuine atmosphere and unique personality.
Where theres also a romanesque style 12th century Cathedral, the Arc of the Almedina and visit the Church of Santa Cruz where the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques (Afonso I) is buried.
We leave Coimbra to Oporto, but on the way will visit Aveiro known as the Portuguese Venice, where we will suggest you a boat ride on a “Moliceiro”to get to know and understand the 3 kilometers of canals that made the support of the city itself, be it moliça (a seaweed used in agriculture and for pharmaceutical purposes), as well as Salt.
The market of Aveiro a construction in wrought iron and glass very to the type of Gustavo Eiffel and to the innumerable buildings Art New all cataloged what they reveal the importance and even the wealth of this city.
In Costa Nova we will visit original haystacks constructed with local materials, rising on stakes set in the dry sand with the exterior plank arranged horizontally and painted bright red, saluting the sea with color and energy, helping fishermen to find their haystacks on very foggy days, ample inside without any division, fulfilling its function of being nothing more than a warehouse.
Over the years, some fishermen began to transform the haystacks by adapting them to accommodation spaces that began to accommodate families during the summer season.
Day to visit Oporto where we will start trough the Avenida dos Aliados (Avenue of the Allies), the city´s focal point, where everything happens, from manifestations to celebrations on this thoroughfare, there is the imposing Oporto Municipal Council building, not far we have the Lello Bookstore perfect for literature and architecture lovers especially “Harry Potter” fans.
Its staircase is a major attraction, the cause… JK Rowling who, despite never having spoken openly about the period she was in Portugal, was married to a Portuguese and lived in Porto at the time she started writing “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. ”
Another attraction will be Sao Bento’s train station, where 20 thousand tiles from Portuguese artist Jorge Colaco will take you a virtual trip through Portugal in the North in general, with a special emphasis on the different civilizations that have passed here and the different occupations, at the Oporto Cathedral, a church with a Roman-Gothic structure that was began to be built in the 12th century, however with several renovations in the XVII and XVIII centuries, inside it stands the medieval rosacea of the 12th century, and from outside the highlight goes to the lateral galilee, work of Nicolau Nasoni in 1736, decorated with tiles.
The Church of San Francisco built in the 12th century. initially of Romanesque architecture was transformed into Gothic style and later Baroque, three naves covered with gilded carvings, in which it is thought that were used more than 300 kilos of gold dust, another one of the curiosities of the Church the Tree of Jessé, a sculpture of polychrome wood considered one of the best in the world of its kind.
Time to visit Gaia where Port wine is being aged in hundreds of different cellars, visit one of those cellars, enjoy its atmosphere and taste this unique wine it is obligatory to know whole process, from the harvest to the final product.
Today we will leave Oporto and explore Galicia in Spain staring by Vigo to visit and who knows to lunch in one of the restaurants in the “Pescadería” definitely one of the most interesting Vigo attractions, check there mythical oysters from the Vigo estuary being prepared into different dishes. Locals buy the mollusks directly from the oysters sellers and taste them naturally, just with a little lemon and wine.
Then we will continue to Santiago de Compostela where we will understand why this place is so famous that it makes people from all over the world reach peace through the way of santiago, time to explore the city as well; the Cathedral and its Museum, with the history of Santiago.
The Cathedral, the Museu do Pobo Galego, with an exhibition of Galician archeology, architecture and culture throughout the ages; Museum of Pilgrimages and Santiago; the Galician Center for Contemporary Art, designed by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza; and the Holy Land Museum, in the convent of St. Francis, presents the history of the Holy Land and the State of Israel, the we will return to Oporto.
Guimaraes, the first Portuguese capital, lets explore the city, where a statue of D. Afonso Henriques (first king of Portugal) waits for us, the Guimaraes Castle, followed by São Miguel Church and Paço dos Duques de Bragança (Bragança´s House Palace). Exploring the old medieval streets that were left to tell the tale and history, ending in the the squares reign, like Sao Tiago, Toural and Oliveira, last but not least we take a little time to taste the delicious Santa Clara’s Pastry.
Now its time to visit Braga, a modern city but full of rich roman and medieval past. Commencing in the Cathedral (Monument from the eleventh century), one of the main attractions is the cross used in the first mass service in Brazil, also see the majestic pipe organs.
We will visit the high pulpit and the mortuary chapels that hold the tombs of some of Braga´s most notorious archbishops and also the graves of our first king´s parents (D. Henrique e Dona Teresa).
The “Bom Jesus” sanctuary has a Elevator as one of the great attractions, although it is not a normal elevator is the only water powered elevator in us allover the world, its construction is due to a nineteenth-century Bracaran businessman, built by two well-known engineers of the time, Nikolaus Riggenbach and Raul Mesnier.
A water tank that fills in the upper plane and empties in the lower one. The amount of water is in function of the existing passengers. At the time of departure the driver of the lower cabin informs the superior by a sound signal the number of passengers in that cabin.
Then the driver of the upper cabin will fill the tank with a quantity of water according to the signal received from the lower and according to the number of passengers in that cabin.
The weight of the water together with the weight of the passengers then makes this cabin down and up the opposite. Each cabin also has a brake to adjust the tempo and to slow down and stop before reaching the stops at the end of the course
On this day of our Fourteen Days Private Tour in Portugal from Lisbon, we will leave Oporto and continue our drive towards Amarante visiting it´s historic center, walk through the ancient streets, see the typical houses and the history that the city counts, with the river and the bridge.
For those who like to appreciate the ancient architecture, in Amarante, mainly in the historical center, there are numerous examples of the Romanesque and still many buildings of the Middle Ages, along S. Gonçalo bridge (name of the Dominican friar who will have it built) and enjoy some of the most touristic points of the city: the Church and Convent of São Gonçalo and the Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso Museum.
The Douro Valley is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful regions in the world, a place where wine culture coexists with small villages and humble people in a harmonious way, the region with the denomination of controlled origin of the World, famous for its Port wine, but also for its table wines (white and red).
The Pinhao Railway Station, built in the nineteenth century, its tiles representing the landscape and the life of the people in this region, with images of Port wine production from the harvest, the peculiar tread of the grapes with the feet, and the transport of wine in rabelos boats, typical boats that make the transport of the wine from there to the city of Oporto or more precisely Gaia.
Now we will visit a local winery, where you will be shown the different aspects of winemaking and also taste some of the best wines in the world according to world renowned Wine Spectator, at the end you should understand the methods and the different kind of grapes and wines here create.Overnight in the region.
Today we leave the Douro Valley to Monsanto considered the most Portuguese of all the Portuguese villages, but before we will discover the highest spot in continental Portugal ” Serra da Estrela” with beautiful landscape.
Serra da Estrela Natural park an exceptional place, with more then 100 thousand hectares distributed in different six municipalities it was the first natural park created in Portugal,holding the record for the largest protected area in the country. Also famous in this region there is cheese, appreciated allover the world, the Serra da Estrela cheese, to make it so unique there are strict rules and is demarcated.
Either in the summer, with its green pastures, or in winter, with its white snowy slope, Serra da Estrela invites to a walk to know the pastoral traditions and also the heritage of these villages and villages.From this large belvedere one has a wonderful view of the landscape of valleys embedded in a zone of contact between schist and granite, cut by several water courses, famous for its snow sheets during the winter months, place where the lower temperatures of Portugal are recorded on the summit of the Sierra, even reaching -20 ° C in winter.
The village of Monsanto consists of houses made of granite, situated on a steep elevation that can be seen well from afar, and which culminates in the Castle and its tower as higher points, although they already exist during other civilizations its constitution is attributed to the Templars.
In its narrow streets we find architectural and historical treasures; chapels, ovens and cisterns, fountains, traditional lots of old Portuguese families to traditional products stores in the region. A village has an active and cheerful life, and even a young one. In a direction opposed to the rural exodus, there are people there who have abandoned the city life and taken refuge in Monsanto for a healthier and natural life amidst the beauty and magic of the village with a dazzling as well as mysterious landscape.
Today we will leave Monsanto to Tomar to understand the importance of the Order of the Templars the most important of all time, for the creation of Portugal.
The entrance of Convent of Christ is made through a portico, an authentic sculpture by João and Diogo de Castilho, in the first church built by the Templar´s master Gualdim Pais, the oratorio or the Charola, a rare octagonal form, where the monks walked around praying, in16th century the Portuguese king D. Manuel add magnified sculptures, paintings and gilded carving.
With the glories of the maritime expansion is renovated with lush constructions in Manueline style, which has in the famous Window of the Chapter its greatest evidence. In 1312, the Order of the Templars had already been transformed into the Order of Christ, under the care of the infant D. Henrique, who will receive valuable knowledge that will be used for the overseas epic. This Convent crosses times and artistic languages that travel through Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque, Unesco World Heritage since 1983.
Another importance place to visit will be the Church of Santa Maria dos Olivais, also known as the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, located on the left bank of the river Nabao, in the city of Tomar, Portugal.
The first temple founded around 1160 by D. Gualdim Pais, master of the Order of the Knights Templar, where a Benedictine monastery was formerly erected, was the seat of the Order of the Templars in Portugal, having served as pantheon of the Order’s masters.Possible lunch at Tomar´s center on one of the sides of Marao river.
Marvao, with its enchanting landscapes worthy of a medieval movie theater, a charming city, where its monuments tell a story so intense that it will leave you speechless.
At an altitude of eight hundred meters above sea level, due to its privileged and strategic location, which allowed the control of the Sever River, tributary of the Tagus, this region was disputed tirelessly by the peoples of the north and the south.
The Marvao Castle, one of the most important fortresses in the history of Portugal, especially in the conquest of Alcácer do Sal to the Moors, by D. Afonso Henriques in 1158, the convent of Nossa Senhora da Estrela, the ruins of the Roman city Ammaia de Lusitânia and the Romanesque style bridge are some of the monuments that deserve our attention.
In Marvao lies the history and traditions of the peninsular lost in the immensity of the landscape, which disfigures the line of the border between Portugal and Spain, a region that gives us a new perspective of territory and peninsular identity, waiting to be rediscovered.
Estremoz, better known for the Alentejo’s “white city”, for its white houses scattered on the hill, and for the many white marble quarries, with an exploration so old and respected that it contributes 90% to the fact that Portugal is the second largest exporter of the world.
Just 50km from the Spanish border, Estremoz is surrounded by two sets of walls, the first of the thirteenth century around the old village, located next to the castle, and a second waist of fortified walls and ramparts erected to protect the lower part of the city .
With such a rich history, Estremoz also has an important heritage of great interest; Vila Velha, the 13th-century Castle and the historic Paço Real, now transformed into a luxurious Pousada, passing by the beautiful Chapel of the Holy Queen, the Convent and Church of St. Francis (14th-18th centuries), the Church of Santa Maria (16th century) or the Praça do Dom José I, Largo do Rossio, with its traditional Trade Fair.
The Arabs built their streets and alleys in the 11th and 12th centuries, Evora was the residence of some Portuguese kings, a point of convergence of renowned artists, supported by the patronage and dynasty reigning in Portugal.The period of the discoveries was of glory to Evora creating particularly favorable conditions in the construction of numerous aristocratic mansions of the city as the Jesuit university.
However, the ex-libris will be the Church of San Francisco, especially the Bones Chapel, clothed with skulls and bones of 500 monks, attracting thousands every year and proclaiming “We bones, here we are, for yours we will wait” at the entrance of the it.
Today we are going to continue in Evora, with visits to places we did not visit the previous day, as well as a visit to a cork factory and the medieval village of Monsaraz.
Cork is the bark of the cork oak, a kind of oak, a bark with great characteristics, is light, elastic and resistant to fire among others, each year the bark grows, however, only after nine to nine years it must be removed from the tree, being able to reach 25 centimeters of thickness, defenitively an excellent protection for the tree against the heat, cold and fires, after removing the tree forms a new bark.
Did you know that Portugal is responsible for 55% of world cork production, valued worldwide for decorative cork coatings on walls and floors, the manufacture of sporting goods being even the ideal material for the kernels of baseball or the cable of fishing rods.
However, cork is best known for being the cork raw material, since it allows very small amounts of oxygen in contact with the wine, without spoiling the aging process.
Monsaraz is a small medieval village with narrow stone streets and houses painted white add special charm to this village and its inhabitants. As we pass through its walls, we return to medieval times, surrounded by plains that stretch out of sight and along with the Alqueva that divides Portugal and Spain.
Arrabida Natural Park a deep contrast between the whitish shades of limestone cliffs, the blue of the waters, and the green of the vegetal mantle that covers the saw this conjugation of colors could only result a unique picture, that is painted according to the seasons of the year, a string of beaches, which is the most beautiful, each with its attributes and charms between them; Figueirinha, Portinho da Arrabida, Galapos or Galapinhos that was elected, the best European destination in 2017.
Being in Portugal it is impossible to be indifferent to the churches, palaces and other buildings lined with tiles, it is true that they have Muslim roots, but they had become a symbol of the Portuguese culture, to visit a traditional tile factory is an authentic jewel for lovers and collectors, in this factory will find European, Islamic and Chinese drawings of the most different types, whether painted or relief, in the Hispano-Arabic style of the 15th and 16th century.
A true lesson on the various stages of the manufacturing process, from the “making”, through the glazing and finishing in the painting, you can still live on the skin the experience of painting your own tile.
Setubal and the sea, the fisherman’s, there boats, the river and the sea are inseparable and Setubal identity, demonstrated and colored by the hundreds of boats anchored along the riverfront contrasting with the bronze tanned skin of men of toil, real people of the sea, accustomed to overcome all different challenges, with a peculiar wisdom and humour, able to paint pictures with words that make anyone mesmerized.
In Setubal downtown you find stores for every taste, from some of the most recognized global brands, mingle with others from older times, where one can discover some rarities and less conventional products, culture peeks around every turn, where buildings are living testimonies of a city that grew, which is modernized, all without forgetting its sea roots.
Most of the streets converge to “Praça do Bocage” Setubal´s meeting point of the locals, full of esplanades and dedicated to one of the greatest figures of Portuguese poetry, his statue with his eyes fixed on the sea, is the landmark of this busiest square.
End of our Fourteen Days Private Tour in Portugal from Lisbon
We used the services of Walkborder Tours for two days in the scripts of Fátima (Nazaré and Óbidos) and Sintra (Cascais and Estoril) with Mr. Hugo. Excellent job. Sympathy, good humor, no rush, total knowledge of destinations and much comfort. We also “won by toast” a true history lesson about not only the places we visited, but also the history of Portugal. We recommend it for sure.