Sunday, April 30, 2017

Northern Portugal Tour Program

Departures from Oporto


1. - The Oporto Sightseeing Tour (4:00) … walking tour of the city:

S_Catedral_do_PortoOporto is a romantic city, but also the toughest in the north. This cobblestone city is characterized by a mix of architectural styles and has attracted the attention of thousands and thousands of curious tourists. In Oporto each cobblestone is a story keeper, in which each page is a mystery.

In Oporto´s historic district we will visit attractions such as the Se Cathedral (XII century) with its massive altar of chased silver, and the Bishop's Palace (Palácio do Bispo) with its 60-foot high facade - a masterpiece of the Portuguese Baroque architecture of the XVIII century. Charming old streets will lead us to the popular, Ribeiro promenade. It was here, in the past where the first caravels left these shores in route to discover the new world.

Cross the D. Luis I bridge (ponte de D. Luís I), project of the famous Eiffel, to the other side of the Douro river (Rio Douro) where the famous cellar of stored and aged port are located. We will visit one of these cellars and, of course, taste some port - the masterpiece of Portuguese winemaking.

Following the wine tasting, head to the Prince Henry the Navigator Square (Praça do Infante D. Henriques). Here you encounter the pompous Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) comfortably settled, a monument in honor of Prince Henry the Navigator and the Church of St. Francis (Igreja de São Francisco) - the only religious building in the city, built in Gothic style and one of the most beautiful of the Iberian Peninsula.

The next stop our route – São Bento Train Station (estação ferroviária de São Bento), famous for its magnificent tile (azulejo) panels depicting scenes of the history of Portugal. Walk towards the Liberty Square (Praça da Liberdade). In the middle of the square is a monument dedicated to King Peter IV (a monarch closely linked to Oporto). Stop at the magnificent Church of the Clerics (Igreja dos Clérigos) with its famous 76-meter bell tower, the Clerics Tower (Torre dos Clérigos) - a symbol of the city of Oporto.

Nearby is one of the most beautiful bookstores of the world - "Lello and brother." The visit is worth the while.

Facing the University building take a minute and admire the enchanting Four Lions fountain and and the charming churches in the surroundings such as the Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) and its spectacular facade covered with stunning tile (azulejo) panel.

Entrance fees to the museums are not included
 
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2. - O Oporto city tour (full day) (By car)

Oporto is a romantic city, but also the toughest in the north. This cobblestone city is characterized by a mix of architectural styles and has attracted the attention of thousands and thousands of curious tourists. In Oporto each cobblestone is a story keeper, in which each page is a mystery.

Drive towards the longest street in the city, Boavista Avenue (Avenida da Boavista) and cross the city square of the same name (Boavista Square – Praça da Boavista). The Boavista Square is home to a monument in honor of the victory of the Portuguese army over Napoleon and the French army, and the Music House (Casa da Música), a modern and beautiful building.The next stop is the satellite town of Matosinhos with its wonderful views of the ocean. Drive past the Cheese Castle (Castelo do Queijo) also known as Forte de São Francisco Xavier and the famous promenade of Vila Nova de Gaia´s old quarter. In Oporto´s historical centre, pass by “Alfandega” and observe past customs.

In Oporto´s historic district we will visit attractions such as the Se Cathedral (XII century) with its massive altar of chased silver, and the Bishop's Palace (Palácio do Bispo) with its 60-foot high facade - a masterpiece of the Portuguese Baroque architecture of the XVIII century. Charming old streets will lead us to the popular, Ribeiro promenade. It was here, in the past where the first caravels left these shores in route to discover the new world. You can choose to go on a one hour cruise through the Douro River, which passes under six bridges that connects Oporto the satellite city of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Cross the D. Luis I bridge (ponte de D. Luís I), project of the famous Eiffel, to the other side of the Douro river (Rio Douro) where the famous cellar of stored and aged port are located. We will visit one of these cellars and, of course, taste some port - the masterpiece of Portuguese winemaking. Following the wine tasting, head to the Prince Henry the Navigator Square (Praça do Infante D. Henriques). Here you encounter the pompous Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) comfortably settled, a monument in honor of Prince Henry the Navigator and the Church of St. Francis (Igreja de São Francisco) - the only religious building in the city, built in Gothic style and one of the most beautiful of the Iberian Peninsula. We will then proceed to the Rua das Flores, where the beautiful Church of Mercy (Igreja da Misericordia), with its severval stunning gold and silver pieces, is located. This church was built in the 16th century and has a mix of architectural styles and influences, combining Renaissance and Gothic elements.
 
The next stop our route – São Bento Train Station (estação ferroviária de São Bento), famous for its magnificent tile (azulejo) panels depicting scenes of the history of Portugal. Walk towards the Liberty Square (Praça da Liberdade). In the middle of the square is a monument dedicated to King Peter IV (a monarch closely linked to Oporto). Stop at the magnificent Church of the Clerics (Igreja dos Clérigos) with its famous 76-meter bell tower, the Clerics Tower (Torre dos Clérigos) - a symbol of the city of Oporto.

Nearby is one of the most beautiful bookstores of the world - "Lello and brother." The visit is worth the while.

Facing the University building take a minute and admire the enchanting Four Lions fountain and and the charming churches in the surroundings such as the Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) and its spectacular facade covered with stunning tile (azulejo) panel.
 
Take a stroll down the main shopping street, Rua Santa Catarina, where all the most fashionable and elegant shops of northern Portugal are located. Here we suggest you visit the famous "Majestic" cafe and have fun contemplating the interior of this historic café while enjoying a cup of invigorating coffee.
Entrance fees to museums are not included
 
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3 .- "The Charming Douro" - a one-day boat trip
(One-day boat trip down the river, accompanied by an English-speaking guide)

One-day boat trip - a favorite form of recreation for both visitors and residents of Oporto. At the Vila Nova de Gaia pier begins an unforgettable journey up the Douro River through the areas that the Marquis de Pombal in the middle of the XVIII century deemed necessary to the cultivation of grapes for the production of port. The upper river offers views of vineyards, mansionas, villas, chapels and the railway the runs along the river.This is where the Portuguese believe is one the most picturesque places in the country - a wonderful example of a traditional European wine-producing region, and due to its unique integrity and security is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List

The History of the Upper Douro River - A history of Port wine. Among the terraces, the red-tiled roofs, vineyards are the wineries where the port wine is produced in the autum and sent to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia in the spring. On the Douro hilltops, you will be able to see signs with huge letters displaying the names and logos of the local wine-making companies. These logos can be seen from a distance and show off a unique landscape of the Douro shore.

On the way we must pass through two dams that regulate water levels and generate electricity. One of them - Carrapatelo - holds the record: a 35-meter gateway that is the second highest in Europe! The second dam - Crestuma-Lever has a height of 14.1 meters.

On the boat a traditional Portuguese breakfast and lunch is served. At 16.30 the boat arrives in the small town of Régua. Passengers will go ashore and spend some leisure time at their own discretion. You can walk along the waterfront and take a peek at one of the famous wine shops where you may buy (and taste) Port. If time permits, visit the Port Wine Museum, which also sells the famous wine at the museum´s cellar.

The return to Oporto is by train on the very picturesque old railway running along the river bank. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery from the train´s window. The approximate time of arrival in Oporto is at 19.05. The final stop is at the São Bento Train Station, famous for its magnificent tiles mosaics. 
 
We recommend reservations to be made 10 days prior to taking the boat tour.

Boat Tour starts at 09:00 am and ends at approximately 19:05
 
 
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4 .- The "6 bridges" tour of the Douro River

A one-hour boat tour along the Douro River has always been very popular with visitors and residents of the city of Oporto. During the walk you will see six bridges connecting the city of Oporto with the satellite town of Vila Nova de Gaia. Enjoy beautiful views of the city from the boat. The two cities will open their landscapes for you. The Steam-boat will take you almost to the point where the river merges with the Atlantic Ocean.
 
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 5. - Rent a yacht

Nowadays, the chance to charter a yacht has become available to many. Here you may book a yacht for rent.

Feel the gentle sunlight come into contact with your skin ... Watch the glowing blue speck of the immense ocean. All this happens in real life, and you - on board a beautiful yacht - so close to the waves and sealife!

Rest upon a yacht - a paradise of boundless sea. Breathe in the fresh sea breeze... Explore secluded coves, accessible only to experienced navigators... Feel like a discoverer of new lands, and maybe, if you're lucky you too will find a "New World".
Whatever your sailing experience and budget, we will help you to implement your dreams and to organize an unforgettable sailing trip.
 
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Vign Castelo_de_Guimares6. - "The Cradle of Portugal" Tour (Guimarães and Braga)

Northern Portugal is by right regarded as the cradle of the country. Guimaraes is the birthplace of the independent kingdom of Portugal at the time it separated from Castile in the XII century. The magnificent fortress of the XI century – The Castle of Guimaraes (Castelo de Guimarães) is one of the greatest and most beautiful monuments of the country. The castle´s observation tower offers wonderful views of the city and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (Palácio dos Duques de Bragança).

Braga - a city with more than 2,500 years of history - in the distant past, it was once the capital of the Roman province of Galicia. Braga is a city that has maintained a great belief in the Christian faith throughout its history, and has retained its religious significance to this day. This city is proud of its architectural monuments: the Cathedral, the famous Pelicano Fountain (Fonte do Pelicano) in the center of the Municipal Square, and many old churches attract the attention and admiration of visitors.

The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga was the site of holy pilgrimage of Catholics, before the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. Today is a great place to relax. The church is located at the top of a hill and has a magnificent 254 step staircase. There is a special atmosphere here. The mountain is accessible by foot or by lift.

Tour starts at 10:00 am
Tour ends at 18:00
 
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7. - The "Buçaco" Fairy Tale

Vign Palacio_do_BucacoThe Bairrada region is famous all over Portugal. It is here in the mountains of the Buçaco Forest (Serra do Buçaco), in the midst of this reserved forest, is one of the finest palaces in Europe.

The Buçaco Palace (Palácio do Buçaco) - the heir of a majestic yet mythical residence, an architectural fantasy in the middle of the gardens with exotic and strange trees. Currently it hosts a hotel that enjoys well-deserved recognition among the fans of silence, comfort and luxury. Here you can buy the unique Buçaco Wine, served only to guests.

The park has preserved monastic buildings, in which one of their museum-like walls exhibit the "The monastery of barefooted Carmelites." The Carmelite monks settled in these places in 1628. The monks planted a huge and unique collection of plants and trees from different parts of the world, which is the pride of the Buçaco park. Today some of the trees in the park date back to the 17th century. The forest is open to the public and offers many beautiful walking trails among the trees.

... No one can ever resist tasting a succulent roasted pig with garlic-pepper sauce! After a walk in the park it's time for dinner and what´s on the menu? A succulent roasted pig - in the best local restaurant! The Bairrada region specializes in growing piglets, and it is here that many Portuguese from all over the country come to dine and savour this popular dish served with orange and as a rule, an order of red sparkling wine, reminiscent of champagne.

Departure - 9:30 am. Approximate time of arrival at Oporto - 17.30
 
Please note: The price does not include lunch at the restaurant (25 euros per person).
 
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8. - "Meet the winemakers" Tour (full day)

During this tour you will get the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the finest estates of northern Portugal, visit the two capitals of winemaking Amarante and Régua and drive through one of the most beautiful roads in Europe.

The "Aveleda" Manor (Quinta da Aveleda) has been around for 340 years is the property of the proud Guedes family. The Manor´s Park is always beautiful being it a sunny day or an overcast day. The old-aged pine trees set a fresh atmosphere, while the birds’ melodies create a romantic mood. After a walk in the park you will find a stylish room with wine & cheese for you to taste! Here you can buy wine, cheese and souvenirs.

In the town of Amarante you will find the historic center of country and the famous Church of St. Gonçalo - the patron saint of brides and grooms.

The journey continues up the Douro  river through the areas that the Marquis de Pombal in the middle of the XVIII century deemed necessary to the cultivation of grapes for the production of port. The upper river offers views of vineyards, mansions, villas, chapels and the railway the runs along the river. This is where the Portuguese believe is one the most picturesque places in the country - a wonderful example of a traditional European wine-producing region, and due to its unique integrity and security is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is not by coincidence that the Portuguese say that the history of the Upper Douro, is a history of Port Wine. Among the terraces, the red-tiled roofs, vineyards are the wineries where the port wine is produced in the autum and sent to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia in the spring. On the Douro hilltops, you will be able to see signs with huge letters displaying the names and logos of the local wine-making companies. These logos can be seen from a distance and show off a unique landscape of the Douro shore.
 
Tour Starts at: 9.30
Tour Ends at: 16:30-17:00

Tour operates from Monday to Friday (Prior reservation recommended).

It is possible to order lunch at the estate with a preliminary order for a group of at least 10 people. The menu will be sent upon request.
 
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 9 .- The North: A Baroque World

During this tour you will get the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the finest estates of northern Portugal, visit the two capitals of winemaking Amarante and Régua and drive through one of the most beautiful roads in Europe.

The Baroque Era, a symbol of XVIII century Portugal, is distinguished by its exotics origins from what we see in other countries.

The Palace of Mateus (Palácio de Mateus) was built in the first half of XVIII century, with the assistance of Nicholas Nazoni. This stunning palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is considered as one of the brightest specimens of civil architecture of the Baroque era in Portugal.

Inside the palace you will see magnificent wooden ceilings, pieces of furniture of different periods, art from the XVII-XVIII centuries, silverware and ceramics, and the palace library, which holds a remarkable edition of "The Lusiadas"

The journey continues up the  Douro river through the areas that the Marquis de Pombal in the middle of the XVIII century deemed necessary to the cultivation of grapes for the production of port. The upper river offers views of vineyards, mansions, villas, chapels and the railway the runs along the river. This is where the Portuguese believe is one the most picturesque places in the country - a wonderful example of a traditional European wine-producing region, and due to its unique integrity and security is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is not by coincidence that the Portuguese say that the history of the Upper Douro, is a history of Port Wine. Among the terraces, the red-tiled roofs, vineyards are the wineries where the port wine is produced in the autum and sent to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia in the spring. On the Douro hilltops, you will be able to see signs with huge letters displaying the names and logos of the local wine-making companies. These logos can be seen from a distance and show off a unique landscape of the Douro shore.

In the town of Amarante you will find the historic center of country and the famous Church of St. Gonçalo - the patron saint of brides and grooms.

Tour Starts at: 9.30
Tour Ends at: 17:30-18:00

Please note that there is an additional entry charge at the Casa de Mateus
 
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10. - The Portuguese Venice (full day) Aveiro_-_Moliceiros

A wonderful opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful medieval castles of Portugal and the city of Aveiro.

The Castle of Santa Maria da Feira is the oldest building, located on Mount Santa Maria,  in the town of Santa Maria de Feira that is perfectly preserved to this day and does not leave its visitors indifferent. The height of its walls allows you to see the neighborhood and take a fantastic photo. It is here in August, that a medieval festival is held, reviving old tradition. To be here during the time of the festival and finding yourself in this medieval village is certainly an experience of a lifetime. But even in a normal walk during the day will definitely ensure each tourist an unforgettable memory. After your stroll, buy a loaf of the traditional and delicious regional bread "fugaça”. The recipe is kept secret by the best bakers of the area.

The small town of Aveiro is located on the Atlantic coast just south of Oporto. It was mentioned for the first time in 959 under the Latin name Aviarium. Aveiro was also know was the "City on Water" and "Salt City" because it was here that all the necessary salt for Portugal and other countries of Northern Europe was mined. Among the above mentioned names, Aveiro was also known as the "The city of tiles" (as most of the facades of its houses were decorated with traditional Portuguese tiles "azulejos”) and as “The Portuguese Venice” because of the numerous channels from which the “Moliceiros boats” (barcos moliceiros) glide through – the moliceiros are traditional brightly painted boats with a highly curved stern. These boats are still used to transport algae from the lagoon which Portuguese farmers use to fertilize the poor soil.

Aveiro is famous for its traditional sweets "ovos moles" which means "soft eggs". These are small and very sweet cakes made from egg yolks and sugar.
 
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11. - Excursion to Santiago de Compostela (Road trip for a full day)

Santiago de Compostela - the third holy city of the Catholic world (after Rome and Jerusalem).

In the city´s Cathedral, according to legend, are buried the remains of the Apostle James found in the IX. Since then, in the early middle Ages Santiago de Compostela was the center of pilgrimage for Christians who came here on foot from all over Europe. This journey, which still exists today is called “The Way of Saint James” and thanks to which the city received the name" Christian Mecca. "
 
Santiago da Compostela´s old part of town, as well as "The Way of Saint James' are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The tour runs through the old part of town. Its main visit is to the Cathedral - a religious shrine of the Catholic world. In addition, tourists will see a number of monumental buildings, unique medieval streets and squares, as well as ancient buildings of the University, which recently celebrated its 500th anniversary.

Walking tour of the city, lasts approximately 4 hours (extra 1:00 gives free time to visit the souvenir shops and independent walks around the city).

Souvenirs and handicrafts: various images of religious shrines and other items related to "The Way of St James'; silverware, including agate (black amber), almond cake," Torta de Santiago "

Entrance fees are not included in the tour price.
 
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12. - Transfer to Lisbon - Oporto with tours (Óbidos - Alcobaça - Batalha)Vign Mosteiro_da_Batalha2_2

09:30 Meeting at the hotel.

The tour begins with a visit to Obidos, a perfectly preserved medieval settlement, founded by the Celts (walking tour). Obidos is a charming city with fairy-like houses and many bars that sell their brand of cherry liqueur known to locals as Ginjinha, which you should definitely try.

Next, we head for the city Alcobaça and its well-known monastery of XII century (Mosteiro de Alcobaça), striking not only for its size and architecture, but also rich in sacred monuments in honor of King Dom Pedro I and his mistress Inés de Castro (the real heroes of the romantic history of Portugal in the XIV century which is very reminiscent of the Romeo and Juliet drama) In this small but very cozy town you can try the amazing sweetness in a small cafe of the monastery, which are prepared by the most skillful chefs.

Once acquainted with Alcobaça head down towards the town of Batalha. Once in Batalha we will visit the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitoria built in the XIV - XVI centuries (the best example of late Gothic in Portugal).

In all cities take a glimpse at the souvenir shops and buy souvenirs and gifts.

20.00 Arrival in Oporto. Assistance and accommodation at a hotel.
 
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13 .- Dinner in a traditional rustic restaurant with Fado

This dinner is for those who want to get into the unexplored corners and look into the heart of the country, the hearts of the simple Portuguese people. Deeply-seated in the remote corner of the restaurant fans of "fado", a traditional Portuguese song inscribed in the
UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, gather on Fridays and it is here that you can understand how saturated are the soul of these people full of love for the performance of the traditional art of fado. Every evening a different “fadista” performs, changing repertoire of songs performed. The restaurant serves traditional dishes of the north. Here you are sure to be welcomed as guests and for a long time you will remember this as a special evening spent in a family yet friendly environment.

(Fridays and groups by reservation only)
Departure from the hotel in Oporto for dinner – 20:00
01.00-01.30 Return to hotel (an earlier return is possible upon the client's request)
 
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14. - Transfer from Oporto - Lisbon (with tours) (Batalha - Fatima - Alcobaça)

9.30 Meeting point at the hotel.

The tour starts from the town of Batalha were we will visit the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitoria built in the XIV - XVI centuries (the best example of late Gothic in Portugal).

Next we head into the city of Fatima - the world center of pilgrimage, famous for the Marian apparitions that took place here in 1917. The grandeur of the square before the church can be estimated in figures: simultaneously accommodating 300,000 worshipers, twice the number as in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City.

Next, we head for the city Alcobaça and its well-known monastery of XII century (Mosteiro de Alcobaça), striking not only for its size and architecture, but also rich in sacred monuments in honor of King Dom Pedro I and his mistress Inés de Castro (the real heroes of the romantic history of Portugal in the XIV century which is very reminiscent of the Romeo and Juliet drama) In this small but very cozy town you can try the amazing sweetness in a small cafe of the monastery, which are prepared by the most skillful chefs.

19:00 arrival in Lisbon. Assistance available for accommodation in a hotel.
 
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