This charming 9 night self-drive tour of Portugal is a great way to combine the historical treasures of Lisbon & rural Southern Portugal with the idyllic coast line of the Algarve and Atlantic beaches.
Immerse yourself in the unique south-west corner of Europe as you travel from the fashionable streets of Lisbon with its yellow trams and cobbled squares; along deserted coastlines with small fishing villages, grottos and lagoons to finally reach the Cape of San Vicente; the point of Europe that was once thought to be the edge of the world. Your hotels will reflect each place that you stay from an elegant riverside mansion in Lisbon to a fortified medieval castle on the coast and time with local guides will help to bring this mystical land of explorers and legends to life.
This holiday can start on any date you request with arrival to Lisbon or Porto.
Day One - Arrive Lisbon and transfer to your hotel for 2 nights
Lisbon is one of the least visited of the ancient European capitals. A fascinating city which lays itself out like a map, tracing the indelible marks left by its colourful and diverse history and cultural influences. Much remains of this Golden Age with castles, monasteries, towers and palaces defining the skyline but the real joy of Lisbon is in soaking up its laid back feel, loosing yourself in the cobbled village-like streets, taking a ride on yellow trams and dining in a pretty shaded square.
Day Two - Morning walking tour of the Alfama quarter
This morning you will meet with a guide for a fascinating tour around the medieval Alfama quarter. Hear the tales and legends of the Visigoths, Romans, Moors, crusaders and Kings as you wander past whitewashed houses and Fado taverns in the narrow streets, stairways and viewpoints.
The tour will finish with a Pasteis de Belem (custard tart) in a traditional café.
In the afternoon you will be free to explore deeper into the barrios or visit some of Lisbon’s new “niche museums” particularly the awe-inspiring collection at the Museu Gulbenkian.
Day Three - Collect your hire car and transfer to Evora for 2 nights
Today you will leave behind the cosmopolitan city and head east into the sunbaked, agricultural landscape of the Alentejo region. Here you find Evora. An impressive city, widely considered the most interesting and enjoyable of Portugal! Shaped by its Roman and later Moorish past, it has the best preserved Roman temple in Portugal and a delightful historical centre full of cascading white washed houses and noble palaces.
The town is bursting with convents, palaces, museums and churches – a UNESCO World Heritage site; it is surely the finest example of “The Golden Age” of Portugal.
Day Four - A day exploring the surrounds of Evora
The area around Evora is as fascinating as the town itself dotted with castles, megalithic burial sites and stone circles and a car is the best way to see all these out of the way treasures. A circular drive take you from the spectacular Evoramonte Castle; on to the carpet selling town of Arraiolos and south to the megalithic archeological sites to see dolmens and stone circles enchanted by local legends.
You can also visit Elvas, an episcopal city almost on the border with Spain. It is truly one of Portugal’s hidden gems and one of the most fortified towns in Euros. Layers of interconnecting walls and battlements that create a unique star shape when see from above. An inspiring day!
Day Five - Transfer to Mertola for 1 night
Today head further south through the unpopulated plains of rural, un-spoilt Portugal with rolling farms; medieval fortifications and humble, sleepy towns. Your destination is Mertola; a beautiful town set high on an outpost above two rivers, guarded by the remains of a Moorish castle. The town is set within the Natural Park of Vale do Guadiana where the Black Stork and many other interesting and endangered wildlife species can be seen.
Day Six - Transfer to Estoi, Faro for 2 nights
Today you will touch the coast of the Algarve at Vila Real de Santo Antonio, right on the Spanish border; and actually one of the most architecturally interesting towns of the Algarve which was based on the Baixa quarter of Lisbon. As you continue east along the coast you will drive through the Natural Reserve of Ria Formosa with its stunning inland beaches, lagoons and hundreds of sand bank Islands until finally you reach Faro; the capital of the Algarve and a good base to explore the nearby coastal villages and take a boat trip to the surrounding islands “ilhas”.
A perfect time for a stroll back in time around the old part of the town, lined with cobbled streets, Moorish and 18th Century Portuguese architecture and experience the traditional Algarve cuisine at one of the many quaint local restaurants.
Your hotel is based just 14km from Faro, in the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirào; a laid back village with cobbled streets, in an 18th century palace of Rococo architecture.
Day Seven - A day to explore and maybe take a boat trip around the Islands
This morning you could take a boat trip from Faro on a traditional Portuguese boat to explore the channels, lagoons and paradise like islands that make up the beautiful Algarve coastline. Experience the unique habitat of the area, local wildlife and traditional economic activities such as clam farming.
In the afternoon you could relax the beach or maybe take the car to explore the mountains where you can discover the most genuine characteristics of the regions culture amidst the untouched tiny villages & rural farmhouses.
Day Eight - Transfer to Sagres for 1 night
Today you head further west to the point which was once considered the end of the world and where it was said “the setting sun made the waters of the ocean boil each evening”. Sagres is the south-westerly tip of Europe and it was at this wind-swept, rugged headland that Prince Henry the Navigator gathered all the great mariners, cartographers, astronomers & ship builders together to build and navigate the ships that brought about the Age of Discovery.
The coastline is exposed and dramatic but the town of Sagres is sheltered and picturesque – locals grill small fish in the street outside their houses and bistro style restaurants line the squares where the townsmen play boules.
Day Nine - Transfer back to Lisbon for 1 night
Your journey back to Lisbon from the most southwesterly point of Europe takes you along one of the most under developed and untouched coastlines of Europe. The whole area is a designated nature reserve with white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs and huge sand dunes.
Day Ten - Overnight in Lisbon before saying farewell to Portugal!
Your first hotel in Portugal is a small boutique converted 18th century palace located in the historic centre next to the National Ancient Art Museum…
Your hotel in Evora is a converted convent hidden within the UNESCO declared heritage of humanity city walls. Once home to the congregation of the Canons Regular...
Located within an enclosed agricultural property your hotel in Mertola is a family run establishment that offers homemade jams for breakfast…
Your hotel in Faro is an old 18th century luxury palace, located just outside Faro in the village of Estoi it once belonged to the Viscount of the town…...
from 1425.00 Euros per person *
* Price per person, based on two people sharing a standard double or twin room:
Please note these prices do not take in to consideration local and national holidays which may increase hotel rates for certain dates throughout the year.
Please enquire for an exact quote for your required dates and particular room requirements.
I want you to know that we love Lemon Valley! Every boutique hotel was a delight; well centered, brightly colored and with courteous staff. The city guides were informative and caring, willing to help in any way requested. ALL arrangements for trains and hotels were 100% perfect. We have NEVER had such a wonderful tour.
Thank you for arranging our recent holiday for us. We had an amazing time. Everything went smoothy, we had no problems whatsoever. All the Hotels were excellent, good locations, good breakfasts and very helpful and friendly staff. The information provided in the guide books was excellent and we went to most if not all of the suggestions you made. I will contact you if we come again to arrange our itinerary and will definitely recommend your service to our family and friends.
We returned safely to the states on Friday January 13. Our trip was amazing. Short but amazing. The hotels chosen for our stay were safe clean hospitable and wonderfully situated. We walked everyday which is an excellent way to mix healthly lifestyles into the vacation without the gym. I am already thinking about another tour. We don't even mind the off season. Please forward the best mailing address for you. I want to send you our photo postcard to say thank you.
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This charming 7 night self-drive tour is a great introduction to Portugal. Immerse yourself in a land of treasures as you travel from the fashionable streets of Lisbon with its yellow trams and pretty cobbled squares…