Portugal & the Azores

Portugal & the Azores

From $ 5,635 AUD

Description

Take in the different sides of Portugal and its sun-kissed splendour on a 14-day exploration of the highlights and some lesser-known outposts. Taste port in its birthplace, explore riverfront Coimbra and its historic university, and weave through the verdant countryside all the way to the capital, Lisbon. Venture far into the Atlantic to see the rolling blue hydrangeas of Faial, the steep cliffs of Sao Jorge and the black volcanic soil under the vineyards of Pico in the Azores, offering a delightful insight into both island and Portuguese living. Discover some new sides to ancient Portugal on this diverse adventure.

Trip Name
Portugal & the Azores
Last Updated
2019-11-19
Days
14
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Take a walk through the idyllic coastal city of Porto and understand why the birthplace of fortified wine is renowned for its narrow lanes, charming buildings and delicious cuisine.
  • Explore the country’s oldest university when discovering the historic riverfront city of Coimbra – once the capital of Portugal.
  • Walk through the secluded Schist Villages, hidden between the mountain slopes, and consider the option of an authentic cooking class run by local residents.
  • Admire beautiful green pastures as you drive along roads bordered with flowers on your excursion to Capelinhos volcano.
  • Enjoy a whale-watching tour on a small-boat excursion with an experienced guide who’ll offer insights into the lives of these amazing creatures.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE: To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.

Day 1 - Porto
Welcome to Portugal! Stretching along the banks of the River Douro, Porto is one of Portugal's most romantic cities. Known for majestic bridges, medieval riverside district with its cobbled streets, merchants’ houses and cafes, Porto is also well known for one more thing; surprise surprise – Porto is the birthplace of the fortified wine, port. Today, there’s an important welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. After your meeting, why not get the crew together and head out to an optional dinner – your group leader will know of some great spots to go.
Day 2 - Porto
Take a leader-led orientation walk with your group this morning to get your bearings. Otherwise, the day is free to do as you please. The city's World Heritage-listed Ribeira district is packed with twisting alleys, staircases, and baroque churches, and is great to explore on foot. Sao Francisco church is known for its lavish interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palacio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors. For a sensational view of the whole town head to the Torre dos Clerigos (Clerigos Tower), or head down Allies Avenue to see the French-inspired buildings. Late afternoon, meet your leader and the rest of the group again to test out Portugal’s famed wine on included port tasting. Oh, and in the evening, why not book yourself in to a Rio Duoro cruise to see the city from the water.
Day 3 - Coimbra
Today is free for you to explore Porto at your own pace. As you’ll be traveling over to Coimbra in the late afternoon or early evening, there will be a place to store your luggage for the day. If you’d like, you could head out of the city into the Duoro Valley, where the river weaves around hilly landscapes and past vineyards and small villages. There are a number of ways to discover the valley, including by boat or train, but make sure to check in with your leader to organise a trip that gets you back in time for the train to Coimbra. With a late arrival at your hotel, have a relaxing night in Coimbra.
Day 4 - Coimbra
Enjoy an easy day in Coimbra at your leisure. Sitting dignified on the banks of the River Mondego, Coimbra was once the capital of the county, and its royal heritage can be felt in its historic streets and buildings. Join your group leader on a wander through the lanes and squares of the Old Quarter and be sure to pass by the University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy as your please before meeting with your group again for an evening Fado show.
Day 5 - Schist Villages
Travel to Schist Villages, which are a relatively unknown but an amazing part of Portugal that consist of 26 villages nested between the hills and the riverbanks. Once arrived, enjoy a beautiful walk in hills surrounding one of the Schist villages you will be staying at. In the afternoon, consider joining a traditional cooking class and dinner. It will take place in one of the villages and is a perfect way to discover the local cuisine. Prepare a full meal using products grown locally, and you’ll get shown the ropes by local people. After the class, take a seat, have a glass of wine and enjoy the fruits of your own labour.
Day 6 - Lisbon
Travel back to Coimbra in a private vehicle and from there transfer to Lisbon by train. After a brief orientation walk, you are free for the afternoon. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards, impressive castles and churches. Maybe visit one of the most symbolic buildings in the city, Lisbon Cathedral, which was built on the site of an old mosque in 1150 by Lisbon’s first bishop, Gilbert of Hastings. Inside are nine chapels, each with their own story to tell, and the wonderful Gothic cloister. Other option is to have time to visit the medieval citadel of Sao Jorge Castle. The citadel dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Although much of the original castle has been destroyed throughout history, some sections of walls and 18 different towers remain today. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops.
Day 7 - Lisbon
Make some further discoveries of Lisbon in the morning at your own pace. Roam through the charming narrow streets of local neighbourhoods do a spot of people watching, visit Belem Tower (a wonderful building originally designed as a lighthouse) and the vast, spectacular Monastery of the Jeronimos. Otherwise, head out for a day trip to Sintra – a royal sanctuary full of pastel coloured Romanticist buildings. In the evening, regroup and experience more of Portugal’s way of life by enjoying a sunset walk with your group and a wine and cheese picnic. Afterwards, perhaps head out and grab yourself some dinner with your newfound friends.
Day 8 - Sao Miguel
Sometime during today, you’ll board a flight from Lisbon Portela Airport to the Azores, arriving at San Miguel Island in Porto Delgada (flight time approximately 2.5 hours). Sao Miguel Island is treasured as the vibrant garden of the Atlantic thanks to its lush surrounds – hopefully you get a glimpse of this through the plane windows on the way in! Please note that you will likely be unattended on this flight. Once arrived, you will be transferred to your accommodation for the night and meet your group for the next stage of your Portuguese adventure.
Day 9 - Sao Miguel
San Miguel is home to some stunning scenery and by the end of the day, this should be more than obvious. Take a guided walk to the west and central sites of the island, wandering over lagoons and volcanoes in this stunning green landscape, then take a visit to Arruda’s Pineapple Plantation located at Faja de Baixo. These glass greenhouses often take two years to grow the delicious fruit within, and there might be an opportunity to snack on some during the visit. Next, travel past three black beaches along the south coast while before arriving at the city of Lagoa for a pottery demonstration. Depart for the other side of the mountain and the Fogo Volcano, enjoying spectacular views of the west-facing landscape. Stand in awe at the top of Pico da Barossa as you look down at Fogo’s caldera, home to a lake of the same name. After romping through a few more calderas and volcanic landscapes, stop at picturesque Ribera Grande for lunch. Try some Azorean cuisinse in the evening, looking out for cozido if you can get it. This is a must stew consisting of pork, beef, chicken, sausage and vegetables, and is typically cooked underground by a volcanic stream – you'll lava it.
Day 10 - Sao Jorge Island
Fly into Sao Jorge Island, one of the most scenic islands in the Azores thanks to its steep cliffs and narrow landmass. Enjoy a free day exploring the island. There’s plenty to do, and Sao Jorge is home to some of the best walks in all the Azores, taking you for views off abrupt cliffs, steep descents and, of course, the glistening sea. If you’d rather kick your feet up, simply soak in the sun in Velas, the island’s capital. Take time to visit one of the many local bars, try your hand at birdwatching or sample some of the region’s famous (and strong) cheddar.
Day 11 - Sao Jorge Island
Make the most of a second day on Sao Jorge Island with a guided hike along the Pico do Pedro trail, an intermediate-level, 17-kilometre walk along the island’s stunning mountain range. Begin at the foot of Pico do Pedro and pass by Pico da Esperanca,the highest point on the island, then wander the outskirts of the underlying crater and enjoy spectacular views of the lake below. You’ll then pass by Pico Areiro, Pico Pinheiro and a series of woods and roads before arriving at Faja do Ouvidor’s lava formed landscape. Don’t worry too much about food on the trip, as a picnic will be provided along the way.
Day 12 - Faial Island
Today you'll travel to Faial Island by ferry, sometimes referred to as Ilha Azul (Blue Island). Raul Brandao, the Portugese poet, famously made note of the iconic blue hydrangeas that bloom on Faial during the summer months, quipping 'the man that had the idea to border the road with these plants should have a statute on the island.' Visit the island's resident volcano, Capelinhos, or rather the volcano centre as the climb up is not safe enough. Capelinhos last erupted in 1957 and changed the island permanently, adding an extra kilometre of land mass and blanketing the surrounding area in five metres of volcanic ash. The rest of the day is free to explore the local port town, Horta, and discover its long maritime history. Order a G&T at the famous Cafe Sport, and share a yarn with one of the travelling yachtsmen who often visit the bar.
Day 13 - Faial Island
Leave Faial for the day to visit Ilha do Pico. Known as Ilha Preta (Black Island) for its black volcanic earth, Pico is the proud home of UNESCO-designated vineyards that have played a major part in the community’s development.Later in the day, embark on a whale-watching tour with the rest of your group. Up until 1980, the island supported a substantial whaling industry due to the deep waters of the surrounding Atlantic. Fortunately, the end of the industry means whale watching has become a popular activity for sea-faring visitors. You'll be back on Faial Island for the evening and that means there's time for a cheeky G&T at Cafe Sport (aka Peter's Bar), perhaps the most famous sailor's bar in the world. This watering hole was once a crucial post office and gossip stop for travelling sailors in a pre-internet era. For some, it still is.
Day 14 - Faial Island
Say goodbye Azores! Your trip comes to an end today after check-out.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
02-05-202015-05-2020AUD $ 5,635-
04-07-202017-07-2020AUD $ 5,635-
29-08-202011-09-2020AUD $ 5,635-
12-09-202025-09-2020AUD $ 5,635-
01-05-202114-05-2021AUD $ 5,635-
03-07-202116-07-2021AUD $ 5,635-
28-08-202110-09-2021AUD $ 5,635-
11-09-202124-09-2021AUD $ 5,635-

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights),guesthouse (1 night)

Transport

Plane,taxi,ferry

Map