THE BEST OF PORTUGAL AND THE AZORES
Portugal: Apr. 20th – 28th
9 Days – 8 Nights
The Azores: Apr. 28th – May 2nd
5 Days – 4 Nights
Welcome to Portugal. Medieval castles and cobblestone villages, captivating cities and golden beaches, spectacular vineyards and great seafood, enchanting landscapes and turbulent history. Portugal is the sort of place, where you can literally see the layers of history piled upon one another. Join Ann’s Adventures in Travel to explore the best of Portugal and the largest Azorean island, Sao Miguel, on this amazing singles vacation.
The Azores have a lost-in-time quality, with the unspoiled beauty of dramatic volcanic landscapes, aqua marine lakes, gushing waterfalls, geysers, hot springs and grottos.Therefore, the Azores are often called “The Hawaii of Europe.” It is truly a nature lover’s paradise with endless activities, blooming flowers, vineyards and picturesque towns.
Day 1: Porto
Arrive in Porto in the AM and take the provided shuttle from the airport to the Hotel Moov Porto Centro, our home for the next three nights. Meet our private guide for a walk through the vibrant history of one of Europe’s oldest cities and discover some of it’s hidden gems on our afternoon tour of the UNESCO World Heritage City Center. Porto is known for its curved streets and blend of Moorish and Roman influences. Some of the other included sites are the Bookshop Cello, Clerigos Church, Casa da Musica, Rotunda da Boavista, Avenida da Boavista, Castelo do Queijo, fisherman homes and the old traditional shops. Then we will come down to the riverfront (UNESCO site), and have a short boat tour to appreciate the city from the river. In the evening we will have a group welcome dinner at a great local restaurant.
Day 2: Porto and Douro Valley
Free time in the morning to explore on your own.Today is Easter Sunday. In the afternoon, we will take an unforgettable journey through the beautiful landscapes and scenic mountains of the Douro Valley-another UNESCO site. We will then go to one of the best vineyards for a tour and a taste of the delicious Porto wine and olive oils. Let’s enjoy a beautiful boat ride on the Douro River. Overnight in Douro Valley at the Vila Gale Hotel.
Day 3: Aveiro, Fatima, Nazare and Obidos
If we choose, in the morning we will visit another small boutique winery for a sample of wines before we head on our way. We can be very flexible on a small, private tour. Travel Portugal’s Silver Coast, a region filled with sleepy villages, rich vineyards and centuries old castles. On our drive down to Lisbon, our first stop will be Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal.This is a lively place of museums, great seafood and cafes. We will take a ride on a “Moliceiro” boat and see the city through the canals. We will then stop off at Nazare, a fisherman’s small town and have lunch. People watching here could keep you busy for days! We will then go to Fatima, the sacred home of the Catholic pilgrimage site. Our last stop will be Obidos, a medieval city still inside the ancient walls. Obidos, steeped in history, culture and tradition remains a well preserved example of medieval architecture. Stroll around the walls and cobbled narrow streets with your guide and try the famous Ginjinha drink (cherry liquor in a chocolate cup). Arrive in Lisbon in the evening and check into the wonderful Hotel Olissippo Marques De Sa for the next three nights.
Day 4: Lisbon
Lisbon is a magical city where the past and present come together to make the city unique.The city of seven hills is also known as the “white city” due to its irreplaceable glow with year round sunshine. It is also known as the “city of the trams.” It is a cosmopolitan city, bursting with life, home to gothic cathedrals, medieval fortresses, impressive monasteries and Art Nouveau buildings, typical black and white mosaic sidewalks and extraordinary museums. Lisbon’s beauty and charm make it one of the most exciting cities in Europe.
Today, we will explore the city of Lisbon and Belem with the on/off bus. We will drive through cobblestone streets lined with quaint cafes and learn how Lisbon grew from a fishing village into a cosmopolitan city during the Age of Discovery. Admire the Lisbon church’s intricate stained glass rose window, reconstructed with fragments from the original. See the 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery (UNESCO), a grand religious building historically associated with the early sailor explorers and the Monument to the Discoveries built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. View the impressive Belem Tower, a small fort that was constructed in the center of the Tejo Estuary to guard Lisbon from seafaring raiders. Visit Sao Jorge Castle, a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic center and Tagus River.
Time for a tasting at an old patisserie that has managed to hold on to the secret recipe of Portugal’s finest pastry for over 100 years and enjoy a demonstration and tasting of the famous “Pasteis de Belem.” Tonight, enjoy a group dinner and a Fado performance. The musical form of Fado can be traced to the 1820’s in Lisbon and is now a symbol of the nation. Overnight in Lisbon.
Day 5: Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril
Our morning begins with a drive to Sintra, a fairytale town with palaces and castles in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains. Vibrant colored shops and houses greet you. Sintra is the famous summer residence of Portuguese Kings for six centuries. Two of the best sites you will explore are the Pena Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira. You will have time to enjoy the specialty shops filled with Portuguese handicrafts.
We will continue our coastal drive along the Portuguese Riviera to view the secluded Guincho beach and the storybook village of Cascais. Cascais is a prosperous and lively town. Popular sites include Cascais Fort, the Condes de Castro Museum and the Paula Rego Art Gallery.
Estoril, which is the next town over, does not have as many historical sites, but is famous for its casino which is the largest in Europe.The writer, Ian Fleming, was inspired to create his legendary hero, James Bond, based upon the intrigue and events that played out in the historic casino. Some of the sites you will see include the Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort, Citadel Palace, Mercado da Vila market and the Parque Marechal Carmona. Overnight in Lisbon.
Day 6: Algarve
After breakfast we will head South via the coastal route to the Algarve Region. On the way we will stop for beautiful scenic views of Arrabida Mountain. We will then stop in the small town of Setubal to visit the local market, lunch and sample the wine of course. Visit Adega da Bacalhoa Winery and huge art collection. Enjoy the African culture, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and the largest collection of tiles from Portugal. Of course you will have to taste the Moscatel wine! Check into our beautiful beachfront resort, the Aqua Pedra dos Bicos Hotel and explore the town, hotel or take a walk on the beach. Your evening is free. A list of restaurants and nightlife will be provided if you choose to go off on your own. Overnight in Albufeira, Algarve.
Day 7: Albufeira, Cape St. Vincent, Sagres, Ponta Da Piedade, and Lagos
Today we will explore the Algarve region with our guide. Cape St. Vincent is Europe’s southwestern most point. Enjoy the fortress, lighthouse and the beautiful natural scenery of the cliffs. Next, we will visit the town of Sagres, laid back village related to the explorer days and Henry the Navigator. We will then go on a wonderful boat ride to see the ocean caves and rock formations. If you choose, we will go to Lagos to see castle walls, slave market and the Church of St. Anthony. Others may choose to go right back to the hotel to enjoy the pool and beach. Overnight in Albufeira, Algarve.
Day 8: Albufeira, Evora, and Lisbon
Today we will have time to relax, enjoy the beach, pool or spa. Optional activity to kayak in Ponta da Piedade. Late afternoon, we will drive back to Lisbon through the center of the country (different views), and stop in Evora, another UNESCO site. This is a delightful city with medieval gems and Roman ruins, convents that go back to the 14th century and the Chapel of the Bones (a chapel that was all covered with human bones to make us understand that life is just a passage). Since this city is also a wine production region, we will have a taste before we leave. Overnight in Lisbon.
Check into the Pousada Palácio de Queluz Hotel. The hotel sits opposite Queluz Palace, which was once the official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. This luxury hotel, formerly housed the Royal Guards and maintains much of the building’s 18th-century character. We will have dinner tonight at the classic restaurant in the hotel.
Day 9: Depart for Home or Fly to Sao Miguel
This morning after breakfast, our driver will take us to the airport. Some of you may choose to fly home today, the rest of us will be going to the largest island in the Azores, Sao Miguel.
Day 9: Sao Miguel
We fly to Sao Miguel, where we will be transferred to the Azor Hotel. Sao Miguel is called the “Green Island” and is the largest of the nine volcanic islands that form the Azores archipelago. Our new private tour guide will pick us up for a ½ day tour of Sete Cidades, one of the region’s most beautiful natural settings. Composed of two lakes inside a volcanic crater, it is the island’s most popular National Park. From the edge of the crater, one lake appears blue (reflecting the sky) and the other looks green (reflecting the ground). It almost looks surreal, as if frozen in time with everything untouched.
Stop off in Ponta da Ferraria, where if the tide is low, you have the possibility to bathe in a natural swimming pond that is heated by an underwater thermal spring. Our day concludes with a magnificent view of the coastal villages of Mosteiros. Overnight in Sao Miguel.
Day 10: Lagoa Do Fogo, Furnas – All Day Tour with Lunch
After breakfast, our tour guide will pick us up at the hotel to witness unspoiled nature at her finest. First, take in the beautiful vistas of Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire), a mystical lake surrounded by mountains. We will then continue to Sao Bras Lake with lush meadows and deep forests. Next, we will drive down the mountains to Caldeira Velha with warm waterfalls and pools lined with unique plants and flowers. Walk the paths to other cascading mineral springs or some fun thermal bathing.
Afterwards, we will be heading towards Furnas. We will start by visiting the Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas, a place where they cook the famous lunch, cozido, in which meat and vegetables are stewed in the heat of the volcanic earth.Then we will continue with an easy walk that crosses a stream and circles the lakeside. During this walk, we will have the opportunity to appreciate a variety of endemic flora species. Next, we visit the town of Furnas, with its mineral springs that contain water with different tastes. The cozido meal is served in a local restaurant. After lunch we visit the Terra Nostra Botanical Garden that is famous for its collection of native plants on the Azores, as well as others from all over the world, that have adapted to the local garden condition. At the end of the visit you are invited to bathe in an iron-rich hot water swimming pool. On the way back to Ponta Delgada we stop at several beautiful viewpoints on the north coast and at the only tea plantation in Europe where we can taste all the special teas. Overnight in Sao Miguel.
Day 11: Nordeste – All Day Tour with Lunch
Journey to Ribeira Grande, known for its historic 16th and 17th century buildings. See the City Hall, Church of our Lady and the 8 arch bridge, a symbol of the town. Then stop at a family owned distillery to taste some of the all-natural local liqueurs. We will continue to the highest part of the island, scenic Nordeste, where we’ll the natural beauty of Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Natural Park with its waterfalls and unique vegetation. You will be able to swim in the waterfalls. Our day ends in Povoacao, home of the islands first settlement and oldest church. Overnight in Sao Miguel.
Day 12: Back to Lisbon
Our morning is free to do an optional hike, explore the town of Ponta Delgada, or relax in our beautiful pool at the hotel. This afternoon, we will say goodbye to this wonderful island and fly back to Lisbon. We will probably have to stay one more night to get a flight home. Overnight in Lisbon at the Olissippo Marques de Sa Hotel.
Day 13: Departure
Our fabulous trip is over and we catch our flights home.
Portugal: Apr. 20th – 28th
Double Occupancy: $1999.00
Single Supplement: $900.00
The Azores: Apr. 28th – May 2nd
Double Occupancy: $600.00
Single Supplement: $350.00
Double Occupancy: $2599.00
Single Supplement: $1250.00
Balance Due: Jan. 10th
8 Nights Accommodations
Breakfast Daily – 2 Dinners Including Fado Show
Private Transportation, Driver and Tour Guide
Airport Transfers and Taxes
4 Nights Accommodations*
Breakfast Daily – 2 Lunches*
Private Tours and Hot Springs Park*
Tour Guide and Leader*
International Airfare to Portugal