Beyond those glorious beaches, many of Portugal’s most enticing experiences remain undiscovered by tourists. We take full advantage of this anonymity and, after exploring fascinating Lisbon, invite you to discover them with us. See the dramatic cliffs and thickly forested mountains of the country’s natural parks; wander around historic garrison towns and marble palaces; and uncover an alternative Algarve of 19th-century palaces and Roman remains. And do it all at a leisurely pace, away from the crowds.
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Lisbon. On arrival we transfer to the Pousada do Castelo de Palmela (4T), situated in a 17th century castle in Palmela, outside Lisbon.
Depart for a full-day tour of Lisbon, a settlement dating from Neolithic times, influenced by Phoenicians and Greeks, prosperous in Roman times and still vivacious today. The great natural harbour attracted many civilisations and encouraged the exploration of both land and sea. Many of the world’s greatest explorers called this city their home and the riches of their discoveries are apparent in the façades, World Heritage monuments and alleys adorned with ornate tilework.
We travel to Sesimbra, one of Portugal’s best beach towns, on the edge of Arrábida Natural Park, where glorious beaches end abruptly at the foot of huge cliffs. Further exploration of Arrábida will reveal incomparable natural beauty including a wealth of rare indigenous vegetation that covers the mountain range. Our day will continue with a wine tasting in Azeitão, a sleepy village known for its wine. We then continue to Vila Viçosa and the Pousada Convento Vila Viçosa (4T) for three nights.
This morning we spend time exploring Villa Viçosa, where everything bar the citrus trees seems to be made of marble. Stretching alongside the vast main square is the finest example of a marble façade. It belongs to the Royal Palace, home to the Bragança dynasty and the birthplace of Catherine of Bragança, queen-consort of Charles II of England and initiator of the British trend for drinking tea. This afternoon is free to enjoy the pousada’s facilities.
This morning, we take a tour of Elvas. Guarding the main route between Lisbon and Madrid, this garrison town, worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status, was extensively fortified through the centuries. It played essential roles in battles with Spain, as well as serving as a base for General Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars. The day will then continue with a visit to the lovely village of Alter do Chão and a stud farm for racehorses, the Coudelaria de Alter. This royal farm was founded in 1748 by King D João V, with the intention of breeding Lusitano horses - an ancient Portuguese breed, known for its proficiency in dressage. Today the Coudelaria also houses a museum and we join a guided tour of the site. If time allows, we will make a stop in the walled market town of Estremoz, before returning to our hotel.
Our journey takes us south today to Reguengos de Monsaraz. Nestled amongst the beautiful plains of Alentejo, this town’s list of cherished crafts includes traditionally made pottery, blankets and wine of great quality. After time to enjoy the town, our journey continues to Beja, and the Pousada de Beja (4T), where we stay for two nights.
An included excursion takes us to Évora, a beautifully preserved Roman town with intriguing sites including the Diana Temple, the best preserved Roman structure on the Iberian Peninsula, and a picturesque town square where the Spanish Inquisition took its gruesome toll. For the remainder of the day, you may wish to explore this beautiful region independently. Quaint Beja has some enchanting sights within its walled centre. The Franciscan convent is lavishly decorated and the setting of a romance between a nun and a French soldier inscribed in ‘Letters of a Portuguese Nun’. A climb up to the Torre de Menagem (the Keep) of the Castle, the town’s marble landmark, is worth the effort for beautiful views and old tales of combat.
After breakfast we start our journey to the Algarve, taking time to explore Mértola and Vila Real Santo Antonio on our way. Sitting atop a rocky promontory, Mértola’s small castle looks imposingly over the white-washed buildings of this medieval town that creep down to the banks of the Guadiana and Oeiras rivers. At the mouth of Rio Guadiana, where Spain and Portugal divide, is Vila Real Santo Antonio. This small Phoenician fishing port has continued to thrive within the fishing industries. Our day is completed with our journey to Estoi and the Pousada de Estoi (4T), where we spend our last two nights.
Spend today enjoying Estoi’s charm. Stroll along cobbled streets and you may find many fine merchants houses for gazing and restaurants for grazing. The Milreu Roman ruins tell of the first ten centuries of the town’s existence. Alternatively, take an optional excursion to the charming historical town of Lagos and the picturesque fishing village of Sagres. Lagos’ history is strongly linked with the seas, as a centre for the European slave trade and the town from which Henry the Navigator left in 1415 to start the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Continue to Sagres on the very western edge of Europe. A little way out of the city, you’ll find Fortaleza de Sagres where Henry the Navigator is said to have established the first ever sailing school.
We transfer to the airport for a return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.
Why Titan Travel?
Scooping 21 awards at the 2016 British Travel Awards, you can be sure that a touring holiday with Titan Travel will be something special. Among others, Titan received gold awards for Best Escorted Tours Holiday Company and Best Special Interest Holiday Company, so they are perfectly placed to provide that exceptionally epic tour to any corner of the globe.
A Titan holiday begins and ends at your front door with chauffeur-driven transfers, scheduled international flights and the most memorable form of touring transport. Where this is a coach, they provide the best available. Titan pride themselves in providing tours that enable you to see all the sights of the area you visit as well as giving you the option for plenty of free time, optional excursions and extra nights here and there to tailor-make your holiday and make it extra special. The choice of destinations and interests are extensive including gems such as a wildlife tour of Sri Lanka, exploring the musical history of the Deep South, grand tours of North America, China, South America, Italy, Asia and Kenya, searching for the Northern Lights in Iceland and Norway, and a cruise to discover Japan and Russia.
Escorted tours are not simply limited to coaches. Titan is also one of the UK’s leading rail specialists and a number of their holidays incorporate journeys on iconic trains that transport you not only through some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in the world, but also back in time to a nostalgic ‘golden age’ of luxurious and stylish travel. If you are undecided between the elegance and relaxation of a cruise and the enthralling insight of an escorted tour, Titan’s Cruise & Tour holidays could be the perfect choice. You can cruise with some of the most respected names in the industry, including Fred.Olsen and Holland America, around regions of awe-inspiring beauty and then head ashore for an extra land-based touring adventure. The waterways of Europe, Egypt and China link the most spectacular cultural gems in picturesque fashion and a river cruise is an excellent way to appreciate wonderful destinations from a different and more relaxed perspective.