Best of Portugal – Our 2020 Tour

Our Best of Portugal tour will be half in big cities and half in villages and towns where we can better meet the local people and experience their culture.

The Best of Portugal Itinerary

Our Annual Trips: For 20 years I have emailed friends and family my 52Best  weekly stories. This Readership has grown to 18,500 people in 78 countries. Once a year we create a friend-filled and well-priced tour for our Readers and Friends. To date, we have completed 22 trips from Russia, to China, to Argentina, to Vietnam, to Peru, to Norway and many countries in between. We go because we want to see the places and people and we end up making many lifelong friends along the way.

Our Best of Portugal 2020 Tour: Lisbon: In Lisbon, history lovers explore centuries-old castles and villas while viewing stunning evening vistas of the city. We will be taking magical walks imagining what it was like being royalty within its walls hundreds of years ago. In the Alfama District, we will experience its Fado music that is prevalent in lounges and bars which consists of a melodic, soulful singing which many consider hauntingly beautiful.  Beyond the city, we visit the historic towns of Sintra and Cascais with colorful palaces that look like they are straight out of a fairy tale.

Porto: Next is Porto which is one of Europe’s oldest cities and is registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Porto’s name itself hints at Portugal’s most famous export—port wine. Porto is composed of opulent baroque churches and majestic beaux art buildings, which create a romantic air that’s only heightened by the glorious shafts of sunlight that illuminate the city.

The Portuguese People:  As important as is the history, palaces, castles, and markets, are the warm sharing people that extend their hand of friendship to Americans. In addition, the quality and taste of the local Portugal cuisine is as reasonably priced as it is good. Shopping is especially worthwhile and productive as are the wonderful ventures to explore and experience the cities and parks either alone or with our fellow travelers.

Special Relationships: During the years we have developed a special relationship with InterNations which is in 65 countries and helps Visitors and Expats from the U.S., England, Canada, and other countries meet and develop friendships within a country. We will have a time in both Lisbon and in Porto to meet with Portuguese and Expat members to get to know the people and culture of Portugal on a first-hand basis.

A second organization is International Living with its publications and contacts that help Americans and others better visit and live in countries such as Portugal, Spain, Ecuador, and Thailand. Other than the U.S. they consider Portugal the number one country in the world to live with its superior low-cost medical system, the strength of the U.S. dollar, stable sunny climate, welcoming people, and safety.

Our 9-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Thursday, October 29th, 2020 – Atlantic Ocean:
We each depart from our home city Thursday evening and have a restful journey over the Atlantic ocean arriving bright, early, and rested the next morning into Lisbon.

Day 2: Friday, October 30th, 2020 – Lisbon:
We arrive this morning into captivating Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and transfer to our hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. This evening, we enjoy a Welcome Drink and orientation meeting at approximately 7 PM with our Tour Manager followed by a Welcome Dinner
Hotel:  Occidental Lisboa 4-Star   Meals: Dinner

Day 3: Saturday, October 31st, 2020 – Lisbon City Tour:
Begin the tour of Lisbon, with a stop at the top of Edward VII’s Park to enjoy a magnificent view over the hills of Lisbon and the River Tagus. Next, view the treasured 16th century Belem Tower, a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterward, visit the ornate Jeronimos Monastery, an impressive symbol of the country’s power and wealth and resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama. The afternoon is at leisure or, join the optional tour to quaint Sintra, the “Glorious Eden” of Lord Byron, and the ancient summer retreat of the royal court, highlighted by lavish romantic castles and stunning monuments. Visit the Sintra Royal Palace, a 15th-century royal residence, containing one of the largest tile collections in Portugal. Then, spend some free time in the Village Historical Center before returning to Lisbon
Hotel:  Occidental Lisboa 4-Star  Meals: Breakfast   Optional: Half-Day Sintra Tour (PM)

Day 4: Sunday, November 1st, 2020 – Lisbon: Today we are coordinating a tour with InterNations and International Living to visit private and unique places that would not normally be on the typical tour. As I get more information from the leader of the Lisbon Chapter, I will be sharing it with everyone on the tour. It should be a quite interesting day with an evening meal joined by InterNations members at a restaurant well-chosen by them.
Hotel:  Occidental Lisboa 4-Star  Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Monday, November 2nd, 2020 – Lisbon:
This morning, we head to Evora. Take a guided tour and discover the town’s massive walls and Roman Temple, early Gothic cathedral, and Sao Francisco Church that is famous for its Ossuary chapel, whose walls are decorated with thousands of human bones and skulls. Continue to Evora’s main square, the Praça do Giraldo and walk through the cobbled streets of this former royal town. Later, return to Lisbon. Tonight, attend the optional Fado Dinner. Travel to one of Lisbon’s oldest districts and join one of the popular performances of local songs, accompanied by a gentle guitar playing Portuguese melodies. Enjoy dinner with wine before a brief drive through the illuminated city.
Hotel:  Occidental Lisboa 4-Star  Meals: Breakfast   Optional: Fado Dinner (PM)

Day 6: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 – Tomar:
Leave Lisbon behind and travel north through the scenic Portuguese countryside to Fatima, one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims from all over the world. Fatima’s fame is due to the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary that appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. Here, visit the great Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary built in neoclassical style, flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive convent. Continue our journey to Tomar, one of Portugal’s historic jewels. Upon arrival, we visit the hilltop Convent of Christ with its famous Manueline window. Tonight, dinner is at our hotel
Hotel: Hotel Dos Templarios 4-Star   Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 – Porto:
We Depart Tomar this morning and drive north to Coimbra, the third-largest city in Portugal. Visit the University of Coimbra, among the oldest universities in Europe, with more than 700 years of history. Continue our journey to Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city. Arrive in Porto with free time for lunch on our own. The afternoon is at leisure or, we can choose to participate in the optional Douro River Cruise with local meal. Cruise along the colorful river valley, viewing the city from a new perspective. Pass by the numerous port wine cellars and under the magnificent bridges crossing the valley. Afterward, savor a meal of local specialties in a typical restaurant.
Hotel:  Vila Gale Porto  4-Star   Meals: Breakfast   Optional: Douro River Cruise with Local Meal (PM)

Day 8: Thursday, November 5th, 2020 – Porto:
Today, take a sightseeing tour of Porto with a local guide. Begin with a panoramic drive to the mouth of the Douro River, and visit the Church of Sao Francisco and the Stock Exchange, renowned for its exquisite neoclassical façade and ornate gilded Arabian Hall. Finish the tour with a visit to a Port Wine Cellar for a tasting. Spend the balance of the day at leisure. Tonight, enjoy a delectable Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers and Tour Manager.
Hotel:  Vila Gale Porto  4-Star    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Friday, November 6th, 2020 – Porto:
We get a good night’s rest, shower, pack and are down to the bus for a leisurely transfer to the airport for our departure flight back home. Good-bye Portugal. You have been a blast. Thank you.
Meals: Breakfast