Discover Portugal on this new 15-day tour, from the triumph of Lisbon’s Golden Age, with its refined Manueline architecture and lively azulejos tiles, to the World Heritage-listed sites of Sintra and Évora, and the prehistoric megaliths of the Almendres Cromlech. At Tomar’s Convento de Cristo, headquarters of the Knights Templar, and medieval Coimbra, explore Portugal’s encounter with its Moorish legacy. Take a private cruise of the Douro, admire Paleolithic rock art in the Côa Valley, and witness Porto’s revival in outstanding contemporary art and architecture.
Portugal’s archaeology, from granite megaliths at Almendres Cromlech to dinosaur footprints at Cabo Espichel
An architectural tradition embracing Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance styles
Rich cultural heritage – from fine wines and port, to the melancholic music of fado
A varied landscape of turquoise coastlines, lush river valleys and rugged interiors
The legacy of the explorers’ Golden Age of Discovery, in Lisbon’s many layers of history and art
An exceptional range of museums and galleries in Lisbon and Porto
A full day in Sintra, exploring exquisite palaces decorated with tiles
Walk in the footprints of dinosaurs and admire spectacular coastline on Cabo Espichel
A full day cruising the Douro and two nights in Pinhão, celebrated for its excellent port wine
Exquisite Romanesque and Manueline Gothic churches, cathedrals and monasteries
Cutting-edge contemporary architecture from Rem Koolhaas and Álvaro Siza Vieira in Porto
Days 1–4: Explore Lisbon’s Age of Discovery, admire masterpieces at the Museu Gulbenkian. Excursion to fairytale Sintra.
Days 5–7: Prehistoric and Roman archaeology around Évora.
Days 8–9: The World Heritage-listed Convento de Cristo in Tomar. Coimbra, medieval capital of Portugal; 1st-century Roman villa life at Conímbriga.
Days 10–11: Admire Aveiro, Venice of Portugal. Porto’s colourful Ribeira district.
Days 12–13: Full day cruising the Douro and two nights in Pinhão. Cõa valley’s prehistoric rock art.
Days 14–15: Return to Lisbon via the Cistercian abbey of São João de Tarouca.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates offers flights into and out of Lisbon. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Day 1 | Thursday 11 October: Arrival in Lisbon
Passengers arrive and check-in at leisure. Our tour starts with an introductory talk in the hotel, followed by a welcome dinner in a popular restaurant close to our hotel. Overnight Lisbon (D)
Day 2 | Friday 12 October: Lisbon
This morning we pay homage to the Golden Age of Discovery and explore the bairro (borough) of Belém. Our touring commences at Belém Tower, a 16th century fortification commissioned by King John II at the mouth of the Tagus River, which formed a vital part of Lisbon’s defences. We continue up the river to the Discovery Monument, celebrating the location where explorers departed to the Far East to open important trade routes. After a coffee break and a Portugese tart at a celebrated café, we move on to the Jerónimos Monastery with its superb Manueline cloisters. Here seafarers came to pray before leaving port. In the afternoon we make an excursion to the National Tile Museum to view its exquisite collection of azulejos, dating from the 15th century. The museum is housed in the monastic buildings of the Madre de Deus Convent whose interiors are amongst the most magnificent in the city. Overnight Lisbon (B)
Day 3 | Saturday 13 October: Sintra and Surrounds
On our full day trip, we first visit the highly ornate Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira outside Lisbon with acres of manicured gardens, followed by the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, in Sintra itself. Sintra is a unique combination of natural mountain beauty and fairytale palaces, and the National Palace is easily distinguished by its two large conical chimneys and architecture which combines Manueline, Gothic and Moorish styles. Inside, a series of interconnecting courtyards, galleries and corridors join a cohesive set of rooms decorated with magnificent tiles. On our way back to the capital we visit the Convent of the Capuchos: a stark contrast to the palaces, this austere Franciscan Monastery seems to emerge from the surrounding woodland, setting off the decorative simplicity of the tiny cells carved out of the rock with interiors covered in cork. We journey back to Lisbon along the coast via the seaside town of Cascais. Overnight Lisbon (B).
Day 4 | Sunday 14 October: Art and Alfama
Our first visit today is to one of Europe’s great unsung treasure houses, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, a fine private art collection featuring works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Dyke and Renoir. In the afternoon we go up to the Castle of São Jorge to enjoy its outstanding views of the city. From here we meander down through the labyrinthine Moorish bairro of Alfama, a truly emblematic part of the city. Alfama was largely spared in the earthquake of 1755 and is still a maze of narrow streets, steep steps, flower-laden iron balconies and small squares. This evening we enjoy dinner and a fado performance at a local restaurant. Fado is a distinctly Portugese musical style, usually with a melancholy theme. The importance of fado to the Portugese is illustrated by the death of the most famous fadista, Amália Rodrigues in 1999, when the nation stopped for a state funeral and a period of national mourning. Overnight Lisbon (B, D)
Day 5 | Monday 15 October: Setúbal Peninsula and the Alentejo Region
Departing Lisbon, we travel south to the dramatic Setúbal peninsula. At Cabo Espichel we witness the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean beating against towering cliffs. In this magnificently isolated spot with its barren outlook, it is possible to view two different, well preserved sets of dinosaur footprints, dating over 50 million years apart. We stop for lunch in Sesimbra, one of Portugal’s finest beach towns, where we suggest partaking of the local seafood. Our drive continues through the Arrábida National Park, before heading to Évora, capital of the Alentejo region. The Alentejo is famed for its wine as well as the cork oak forests, wheat fields and olive tree plantations which cover its rolling hills. Dinner tonight is in the restaurant of our hotel, a historic converted convent in the centre of the World Heritage listed city of Évora. Overnight Évora (B, D)
Day 6 | Tuesday 16 October: Évora
We take a guided walk around the historic centre of Évora, starting with the city’s most iconic site, the Roman Temple, dating from the 1st century CE. This temple is one of the best preserved on the Iberian Peninsula; its base of huge granite blocks is still intact despite having been put to a variety of uses over the years, including as a slaughterhouse! Other highlights of our walk are the Igreja (church) de São João and attached Lóios convent (part of our hotel) dating from the 15th century and built over the top of Évora’s Moorish castle. We also visit the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of St Francis), best known for its lugubrious Chapel of The Bones, where a Franciscan monk decorated the walls with skulls during the Counter-Reformation era. After a break for lunch we take a ride through the semi-arid Alentejo countryside to the surrounding hill towns. We stop in Estremoz which rises like a pyramid from the plain and was fortified against Spanish invasions in the 13th century. The town is most famous for its marble, which rivals that of Carrara in Italy, and a striking 30 metre tower built entirely of the stone stands at its centre. Overnight Évora (B)
Day 7 | Wednesday 17 October: Monoliths and Wine Tasting
Our destination today is the unique site of Chromeleques dos Almendres, a megalithic stone circle pre-dating Stonehenge. The 96 standing stones, some of which are engraved, are in a spectacular hillside location among olive and cork trees, with views down to Évora. The exact use of this site is unknown but it has always been considered sacred. We continue on the Herdade do Rocim winery for a tour, tasting and excellent light lunch. The afternoon is free for sightseeing in Évora. Overnight Évora (B, L)
Day 8 | Thursday 18 October: Tomar
Heading north, our coach stops in the Templar city of Tomar. This settlement grew from a site granted to the Knights Templar for a monastery, after they assisted with the reconquest of the region from the Moors in 1159. The Templar Convento de Cristo is a historical jewel. The oldest part is the 16-sided Templar church, or Charola which, like the castle, dates from the 12th Century. This church was then converted to a Chancel under Manuel I in the 16th century, turning it into one of the finest works of the Portugese Renaissance and giving it the World Heritage status it enjoys today. After our guided tour and lunch, we continue our journey to Coimbra, via a viewing of the 180 arches of the nearby Acueduto de los Pegões. Designed by a distinguished architect in the 17th century to provide water to the Convento de Cristo from nearby springs, it is nearly 6 kilometres long and 30 metres high. We arrive in Coimbra in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner in our hotel, the 18th century palace, Quinta las Lagrimas. Overnight Coimbra (B, D)
Day 9 | Friday 19 October: Coimbra
In medieval times, the river-front city of Coimbra was the capital of Portugal. Declining in importance in the Late Middle Ages, the city remained a major cultural hub and still boasts the country’s finest university; one of the longest continuously operating in the world. Our walking tour covers the well preserved medieval core of the city, with the Old University and the pearl at its heart, the Juanina Library which was a gift from King John V and is adorned with ebony, jacaranda and rosewood tables and ceilings painted with frescoes. We see the well preserved Sé Velha, the best example of a Romanesque cathedral in the country, and at the heart of the city, the Praça do Comércio, or Commercial Square. In the afternoon we take the short trip out to Conimbriga to an outstanding Roman site from the 1st century CE, with a magnificent set of mosaic floors representing hunting scenes, monsters, birds and animals. Overnight Coimbra (B)
Day 10 | Saturday 20 October: Aveiro- the Venice of Portugal
Today we leave the centre of Portugal and head north to Porto via the town of Aveiro, often dubbed the Venice of Portugal. We enjoy a lunch break here watching the colourful high-prowed boats or moliceiros. These were once used for harvesting seaweed but now ply the picturesque network of canals for tourist use. We arrive in Porto in the mid afternoon and, before dinner, enjoy a port tasting at the prestigious Ferreira cellars. Overnight Porto (B, D)
Day 11 | Sunday 21 October: Porto
We discover Porto’s historic centre on foot, climbing the narrow streets behind the hotel where buildings are adorned with colourful tiles and stopping at the exquisite Lello bookshop, an inspiration for the Harry Potter books. Moving on to the World Heritage listed Palácio da Bolsa, or Stock Exchange building, we take a tour of the interior and the celebrated Arabian hall before finishing at the train station with its vast display of over 20,000 tiles, representing battles and the history of transport in Portugal. We save the afternoon for contemporary Porto with a visit to the outstanding Fundaçáo Serralves gallery and a look at the Casa da Música, designed by controversial Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Overnight Porto (B)
Day 12 | Monday 22 October: Douro Cruise
Leaving the roads behind, we pack our bags and embark on a full day private cruise from Porto along the Douro river to rural Pinhão. As we navigate the various dams and locks of this stretch of river, which once transported port grapes to the coast, we enjoy breakfast, lunch and a port aperitif. The views of the Douro valley are of steep terraced vineyards dotted with wine producing farmhouses or quintas, built with the wealth from the deal with British traders for port export in the 18th century and many now transformed into luxury hotels. Disembarking in Pinhão we settle into our hotel for the night and have dinner. Overnight Pinhão (B, L, D)
Day 13 | Tuesday 23 October: Paleolithic Rock Art
Today we drive to Vila Nova de Foz Côa to visit the World Heritage listed Côa Valley Archaeological Park. Here we are treated to a guided tour in 4WD vehicles to view the best of the 5000 or so examples of rock art and engravings, dating from the end of the Paleolithic era (22,000 years ago) to 8000 BCE. This extraordinary site, in a rural and isolated spot, along with its outstanding museum, gives us an excellent window into the life of primitive man on the Iberian Peninsula. Overnight Pinhão (B)
Day 14 | Wednesday 24 October: São João de Tarouca
Our return to Lisbon is punctuated by a stop at São João de Tarouca to view the church and monastery. Founded in 1139, this was the first monastery to be erected by the Cistercian order on the Iberian Peninsula and has recently been carefully restored. The three-nave church is lavishly decorated in gilt, with carved wood and tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries. After our break here we continue our journey back to our hotel in Lisbon and enjoy a farewell dinner before departure the next day. Overnight Lisbon (B, D)
Day 15 | Thursday 25 October: Departure
The tour concludes today after breakfast. Airport transfers are included for anyone booking their flights through Academy Travel. (B)
Dr Jeni Ryde
Has a wide-ranging knowledge of Italian history and cultural traditions. Jeni has a PhD focusing on Tourism, Heritage and Renaissance Studies.
A former Senior Lecturer in Italian at the University of Western Sydney, she is a fluent Italian speaker with a wide ranging knowledge of European history, art and architecture. Her interests include Spanish studies, Renaissance art history and Italian cinema. Jeni has lead many special focus tours to Italy and has recently added Spain to her Academy repertoire.
An old wine estate converted into a 5* hotel with a tranquil riverside location on the Douro river.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.