Southern Portugal Tour
Visit Lisbon, the Alentejo region east of Lisbon, and the Algarve. On this itinerary of the southern part of the country, you will visit a "less-trod" part of Portugal, where you can still experience some of the 'real Portugal' where little has changed in decades, and where the serenity and feel of the past is preserved. The small marble towns, medieval castles, fishing villages, rocky coasts and rolling hills will enchant you.
Day 1 – Arrival in Lisbon
On your arrival in Lisbon, we will welcome you at the airport and transfer you to your first hotel. Depending upon your arrival time, a private guided afternoon walking and tram tour will introduce you to Lisbon, Portugal and the Portuguese.
Day 2 – Lisbon
Visit the Belém district with our local guide on a half day tour. Belém is the part of Lisbon along the Tagus River dedicated to the explorers and explorations. In the afternoon, continue to explore this part of the city, where you will find museums, the Cultural Center, and a riverwalk along the river. Or, return to the center for a bit more exploring of the atmospheric neighborhoods, or take a tour of the city on the Tram!
Day 3 – Lisbon / Sintra / Lisbon
From Lisbon, you will not want to miss a visit to Sintra. This fairytale village is home to castles, palaces, lovely gardens, fantastic manor houses, and a charming village center. From the Romans who named it "Cynthia" after the goddess of the moon, to the Moors who appreciated its lush microclimate and built a hilltop castle, a palace, and fountains, to the Portuguese royals who made it their summer residence, this charming town has attracted people for centuries. Lord Byron, in the 18th century, wrote that the town is "perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe,".
Day 4 – Lisbon / Évora
Leaving the capital, drive just 1.5 hours into the Alentejo, to Évora. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Évora lies in the countryside, in a region rich in fields of cork oak trees, olive groves, sheep and cattle, vines and vineyards. It is a culturally and historically rich area, and it is known for some of the best food and wine in Portugal.
In the afternoon, walk along the aqueduct to explore the town, through the medieval street, and stop for a break overlooking the Roman temple!
Day 5 – Évora / Monsaraz / Évora
From Évora, drive along the wine route for a visit at one of the most well known wineries where you will enjoy a tour followed by a regional lunch paired with their wines. In the afternoon, continue through a pottery making village, to the tiny hilltop village of Monsaraz. Originally fortified by the Knights Templar, Monsaraz still maintains its medieval atmosphere, with its schist lines streets and white washed houses.
Day 6 – Évora / Vila Vicosa / Estremoz /Évora
Today, if you are interested, visit some of the most emblematic megalithic monuments in the region: the cromlech and the menhir of Almendres (more than 5000 years old!), and the big dolmen of Zambujeiro. In the afternoon, contiinue on to visit two of the ‘Marble Towns’ of Portugal – the marble rivals that of Carrera, Italy. In Vila Viçosa, nearly everything you see – the palace, door and window frames, churches, benches, sidewalks, and even the toilets in the bus station are made of the "white gold," that comes from the nearby quarries. Estremoz is the largest of the ‘Marble Towns’, with an upper and lower part of town, crowned by a castle, where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the town and the plains surrounding.
Day 7 – Évora / Costa Vicentina / Sagres
Continue south to the Algarve, to the southwestern-most point in Portugal. This is the most beautiful part of the Algarve, having avoided the development of the central part. It is more wild, and less touristy. Take the ‘old road’ down, winding through villages and beautiful rolling countryside. Stop at a beach along the way, for a walk or a drink with a wonderful view of craggy cliffs that plunge into foaming seas.
Sagres is a tranquil rustic town with a picturesque harbour, a pretty main square, beautiful beaches, and stunning views. While popular year round with fishermen and surfers due to the Atlantic waters and good waves for surfing, it is a laid back destination for tourists in the summer, who are looking for something a bit more off the beaten track.
Day 8 – Sagres / Cabo de São Vicente / Salema / Sagres
Spend the morning with our local guide, who will take you for a guided tour of the Sagres Fortress, where Henry the Navigator established his navigation school in the 15th C. After this, you will take a walk along the cliffs and bluffs overlooking the Atlantic, with a stop at the lighthouse. In the afternoon, enjoy some local beach time, or explore the southern coast east of Sagres.
Day 9 – Sagres / Lagos / Sagres
Visit Lagos for the day, with a half day sail along the coast where you will see the impressive caves and rock formations of the coast and the "Ponta da Piedade”, picnic included. (If you prefer, this could be a dolphin watching sail).
Lagos is one of the more popular towns in the Algarve due to its beaches, variety of bars and restaurants, and its vibrant summer nightlife. But Lagos also has a historic part, being a big part of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, with cobbled streets, 17th C fortifications, and the 15th C. "slave market".
Day 10 – Sagres / Albufeira / Vilamoura / Tavira
After the wildness of the western end of the Algarve, you will continue to the eastern end. This part of the coast has a more mediterranean feel. On the way, stop in the resort town of Albufeira, and Vilamoura, home to one of Europe's most lively marinas with a promenade full of waterside cafés, boutiques and a large selection of tempting continental restaurants.
Tavira is a historic town, set atop the remains of Phoenician and Roman settlements. With whitewashed buildings, canals, wrought-iron balconies, winding narrow lanes, and a castle, this charming town still retains its authenticity.
Day 11 – Tavira / Vila Real de St. António / Castro Marim / Tavira
Explore the small towns and villages to the east of Tavira, toward the Spanish border. Vila Real de St. António, built in the late 18th C. on a grid system, is a colorful and atmospheric town, with a lovely main square. Castro Marim, once a fortified hilltown on the Spanish border, is known for its castle dating from the 10-12th C. Nearby, you can visit the salt pans, important to the economy of this area, or visit the Sapal de Castro Marim nature reserve, known for more than 150 species of birds, particularly flamingos.
Day 12 - Tavira / Lisbon
After a leisurely day in Tavira, return to Lisbon, turning in the rental car in the afternoon. Enjoy an evening of dinner with Fado, Portugal's traditional folk music. Soulfoul and mournful, or lively and humorous, you cannot leave Portugal without experiencing Fado!
Day 13 – Departure
Transfer to the Lisbon airport for your departure.