- Explore the architecture of Porto and the Jewish heritage of Lisbon
- Enjoy a guided tour of Sintra and the Portuguese Riviera
- Sip wine and ride a traditional Rabelo boat in the Douro River Valley
- Embrace the Knights Templar legacy in Tomar and the Convent of Christ
- Discover the Jewish history in Évora, Belmonte, Monsanto, and Sortelha
|Day 1||Arrive at Lisbon Airport - Transfer to Évora and explore the city||Évora|
|Day 2||Explore Évora's Jewish history with a walking tour||Évora|
|Day 3||Drive to Belmonte via Marvão and Castelo de Vide||Belmonte|
|Day 4||Discover the villages of Belmonte, Monsanto, and Sortelha||Belmonte|
|Day 5||Transfer to the Douro Valley with stops in Casa do Passal and Trancoso||Peso de Régua|
|Day 6||Enjoy a wine tasting in the Douro Valley - Transfer to Porto||Porto|
|Day 7||Explore Porto with a private walking tour||Porto|
|Day 8||Drive to Tomar and visit the Almourol Castle||Tomar|
|Day 9||Transfer to Lisbon - Join a Jewish Heritage walking tour||Lisbon|
|Day 10||Explore Sintra and the Portuguese Riviera with a guided tour||Lisbon|
|Day 11||Depart Portugal|
Day 1: Arrive at Lisbon Airport - Transfer to Évora and explore the city
Welcome to Portugal!
Upon arriving at Lisbon Airport, your host will greet you with all the necessary documentation and assistance. Then, you'll transfer about 1.5 hours east to the city of Évora.
After settling into your hotel, stave off any jetlag with a stroll through the city. Although you'll enjoy a guided walking tour of Évora tomorrow, check out some of its main sights. Start in the center of the Old Town, at Praça do Giraldo which is surrounded by beautiful architecture. Meander the square with its large fountain and views of the Church of Santo Antão, then make your way to the viewpoint, Miradouro do Jardim Diana, which is near the Cadaval Palace. Enjoy the views over the city's rooftops and the ancient ruins of Templo Romano Évora.
There are plenty of restaurants in the city's Old Town. Grab a seat at a terraced cafe in one of the main squares, or peruse the side streets for a cozy bistro.
Day 2: Explore Évora's Jewish history with a walking tour
After a leisurely breakfast, your guide will lead you through the city of Évora on a walking tour. With narrow, Moorish-style streets contrasting with lively, open squares, you'll understand why this city is a beloved UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you wander along the medieval walls, stop to visit some of the city's churches, such as the 18th-century Cathedral of Évora and the Graça Church. You can't miss the Gothic-style São Francisco Church, with its curious Chapel of Bones.
After an initial introduction to the city, you'll explore Évora's interesting Jewish history, including some of the most important Jewish quarters in the country. Starting in the 14th century, in an attempt to limit the interaction between Christians and Jews, the Jews in Portugal were forced to live in neighborhoods named Judiarias (Jewish Quarters). Meander through these old neighborhoods as your guide divulges stories of daily life for the Jewish communities throughout the centuries. Enjoy lunch at one of the traditional taverns in the neighborhoods.
Aside from its many Judiarias, Évora holds other significant Jewish histories, which your guide can tell you more about during lunch. The city became the headquarters of one of the seven ouvidorias jurídicas (Portuguese-Jewish Courts). It was also home to the Holy Inquisition Court, which processed the most accusation cases for Judaism in Portugal. As your tour comes to an end, you'll pass by Giraldo Square, where you'll find a memorial honoring of the victims of Portuguese Inquisition.
After your tour, the rest of the day is yours to relax or continue exploring the town's historic streets. In the evening, enjoy dinner in the lively town square or at one of the quieter bistros in the Jewish neighborhoods.
Day 3: Drive to Belmonte via Marvão and Castelo de Vide
In the morning, you'll leave Évora and start your 3-hour trip to the hillside town of Belmonte. Along the way, you'll stop in the towns of Marvão and Castelo de Vide.
Marvão sits between Castelo de Vide and Portalegre near the border with Spain and on the highest crest of the Serra de São Mamede mountain range. Inside the walls of this historic town are narrow streets lined with the beautiful houses featuring architecture typical of the country's Alentejo Region. You'll find Gothic arches, Manueline windows, wrought-iron balconies, and other embellishments made from the local granite.
Twenty minutes away is Castelo de Vide, a historic walled town dominated by its castle. Explore the old Jewish Quarter and find hidden treasures like the medieval synagogue, Sinagoga de Castelo de Vide, which was beautifully restored and now functions as a museum. It features a rare, 14th-century stone ark for its Torah. Here you'll learn about the Jewish community that settled in the town, as well as its influence and persecution by the Portuguese Inquisition.
In the evening, you'll settle into your accommodation in the town of Belmonte, where you can enjoy dinner in one of its restaurants under the castle.
Day 4: Discover the villages of Belmonte, Monsanto, and Sortelha
Your day begins with a walking tour in the town of Belmonte. You'll start at the Beit Eliahu Synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1996, precisely 500 years after the decree prohibiting Judaism in Portugal. It sits along Fonte da Rosa Street, in a small promontory on the valley facing toward Jerusalem. Here you can meet with the local Jewish community members and visit the cemetery.
Next, you'll visit the Belmonte Jewish Museum, which opened in 2005 as the first museum in Portugal dedicated to Jewish heritage. The exhibits focus on the experience of Judaism in Belmonte, particularly the fear that led to hidden practices. You'll learn about the prayers, tools, and modes of communication used by the Jewish community throughout the centuries.
Afterward, you’ll make your way to Monsanto, a quintessential Portuguese village. Although many are free-standing, most of the houses in the town use the area's granite boulders for walls and roofs. Enjoy views of the surrounding hills and valleys from atop the Castle of Monsanto, which is where you'll find the ruins of the São João Chapel. Wander into the center of Monsanto to enjoy tapas for lunch and visit the landmark, Torre de Lucano.
On your way back to Belmonte, you'll stop in another village, Sortelha. Here you'll also find granite rocks used for building materials, but you'll notice that Sortelha has a more medieval feel to it, as its historic center is surrounding by old walls. Enjoy walking along the cobbled streets and make your way up to the castle. Your guide will detail the history of the village, with many Jewish descendants still living in Sortelha.
In the evening, you'll return to Belmonte.
Day 5: Transfer to the Douro Valley with stops in Casa do Passal and Trancoso
After breakfast, you'll start your journey to today's destination, the beautiful Duoro Valley. Along the way, you'll stop in the town of Carregal do Sal and visit Casa do Passal, a former residence of Arístides de Sousa Mendes, an unsung Portuguese hero. While working as a diplomat in Bordeaux, Sousa Mendes issued approximately 30,000 visas for those fleeing Nazi persecution. For his act of defiance, he was severely punished by the Portuguese government, stripped of his diplomatic position, and forbidden from earning a living.
Your next stop is the town of Trancoso, which was home to an extensive Jewish community in the 15th century. During the Inquisition, Trancoso’s Jewish heritage essentially became extinct. You can still find traces of its past Jewish identity, however, in some of its buildings and written documents. You'll visit the town's Jewish Interpretation Center, as well as the Castle of Trancoso.
In the evening, you'll arrive in the Douro Valley in the town of Peso de Régua. After settling into your accommodation, take some time to rest before enjoying dinner on the banks of the Duoro River.
Day 6: Enjoy a wine tasting in the Douro Valley - Transfer to Porto
Awake early for your full-day tour of the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sits within rocky hills. Despite its reputation as one of the country's most fertile wine regions, the area originally lacked quality soil needed for winemaking. Throughout the centuries, however, locals revitalized the region, planting vineyards one at a time.
Start the tour with a scenic drive, admiring the passing landscapes of deep valleys, sharp turns along the Douro River, and terraced vineyards that seem to go on forever. You'll have the opportunity to visit one of the many estates that produce the region's famous wines and ports, tasting the different varietals while enjoying lunch.
The Douro River is also known for its difficulty in navigation, challenging boats with its natural barriers. The Rabelo boat, a unique and ancient vessel, is the only one able to take on the river. Nowadays, these types of boats are used for tourism, offering 1-hour river cruises. Enjoy the views of the valley from a different perspective.
In the late afternoon, you'll make your way to the city of Porto. Settle into your hotel, then grab dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants. If you're interested in nightlife, head to the bank of the river, where you'll find plenty of bars and wine cellars.
Day 7: Explore Porto with a private walking tour
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before embarking on a guided tour of Porto. Start at the São Bento Station, well-known throughout the world for its atrium lined with about 20,000 blue tiles. Nearby is the Romanesque Porto Cathedral and the Clérigos Tower, a baroque bell tower worth the climb for its expansive views of Porto.
You can't miss Livraria Lello, a 19th-century bookstore that inspired parts of Harry Potter. Then pop into Café Majestic for a little rest and a cup of coffee while admiring its ornate interior. Continue to the neighborhood of Ribeira, navigating the steep steps and medieval streets through café terraces and picturesque corners. You'll have free time to browse the shops or simply relax at one of the main squares.
After lunch, enjoy a walk along the banks of the Douro River. Here you'll find many places to taste Portugal's famous wine, or you can take a short river cruise in one of the traditional Rabelo boats. Grab dinner at one of the restaurants lining the river while you watch the sunset behind the city.
Day 8: Drive to Tomar and visit the Almourol Castle
In the morning, you'll make your way to the historic Templar City of Tomar, stopping at the riverside Almourol Castle along the way. Located in the village of Vila Nova da Barquinha along the Targus River, the castle is dramatically set atop a small islet. You'll enjoy its views and the surrounding hills with a short boat ride, then explore its ancient walls.
Upon arriving in Tomar, you'll settle into your accommodation and then meet your guide for a walking tour of the city. Start at Templar Castle and discover the architecture of the Convent of Christ. Here you'll learn about the fascinating history behind how the Order of the Knights Templar became the Order of Christ, upholding their power, knowledge, and wealth in Portugal.
Next, you'll dive a bit deeper into the Jewish heritage of the city with a visit to Tomar Synagogue. Despite its discreet facade, the Synagogue's interior is full of symbolism. Its four columns—each decorated with motifs—represents the Matriarchs of Israel: Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, and Leah. The columns are linked to twelve arches, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Synagogue was used for various purposes over the centuries. Samuel Schwarz, a Portuguese Jew of Polish origin, discovered it and it soon became a national monument. After acquiring the building a few years late, Schwarz created a museum with his collection of tombstones and Hebrew inscriptions. He named it the Abraão Zacuto Luso-Hebraic Museum, which your guide will help you explore.
Excavation work in the museum has uncovered several interesting relics, including coins from the reign of King Afonso V in the 15th century, confirming the probable date of the Synagogue's construction. You'll also view other remains, including domestic ceramics and the water-hearing system for the Mikvah, the ritual purification bath.
After the tour, you'll have the rest of the day to enjoy Tomar on your own. You can stroll through the gardens of the Seven Hills National Park, or the main square, visiting its dominating church, Igreja de São João Baptista. In the evening, you'll find plenty of restaurants throughout the old town offering tapas and traditional Portuguese cuisine.
Day 9: Transfer to Lisbon - Join a Jewish Heritage walking tour
Enjoy your morning in Tomar, then start your journey south to Portugal's capital city, Lisbon. After arriving in the city, you'll join a guide for a walking tour, focusing on the city's Jewish heritage. You'll start at the Shaare Tikvah Synagogue, a truly hidden treasure. Inaugurated in 1904, it was the first synagogue built in Portugal for nearly 500 years, due to the expulsion ordered by King D. Manuel I in 1496. When it was built, the law prevented any temple that was not Christian to have a facade facing the street. So despite its central location, you won't find its entrance on the main street.
The architect of the synagogue, Ventura Terra, was one of the most renowned architects of the time. It's a humble building with two gender-specific floors facing toward Jerusalem. It created an important community for the Jewish families in Lisbon, as well as Sephardi families from North Africa and Gibraltar who, after the extinction of the Inquisition in 1821, started returning to Portugal.
Your next stop is the 1506 Jewish Massacre Memorial, a tribute to the victims of intolerance and religious fanaticism. The memorial is in the location where the massacre started, in the square opposite the St. Dominic Church.
In the afternoon, you'll explore the neighborhood of Alfama, the oldest quarter of Lisbon where you’ll find St. George’s Castle perched atop one of the city's hills. Nearby, you'll also visit the Judiaria (Jewish Quarter) of Lisbon, filled with narrow streets and small houses where the Jewish population once lived.
Next, head to the downtown area of Baixa, completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1755. Stroll in Chiado, a bohemian area, where 19th-century writers and thinkers gathered to discuss intellectual matters in the cafes. You'll find plenty of restaurants for lunch in either neighborhood.
Later, head to Belém, the quarter of Lisbon most associated with the time of the Portuguese Discoveries. There you’ll find monuments such as the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the Belém Tower, a great place to watch the sunset.
Now that you know the city's layout, enjoy your final evening in Portugal by exploring the neighborhoods on your own and finding a lively restaurant for dinner.
Day 10: Explore Sintra and the Portuguese Riviera with a guided tour
Awake early for a group tour to the popular tourist destination of Sintra, home of the National Palace of Pena and its surrounding greenery. The town and the northern slope of the Serra de Sintra (Sintra Mountains) have wonderful natural characteristics and impressive historic landmarks.
It's difficult to see all that Sintra has to offer in one single day, so it's best to focus on one of the most romantic palaces in Portugal, the Pena Palace. The castle's history starts in the 15th century, but its current state is a prime example of Romanticist architecture, brought back to life in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II. Enjoy wandering the grounds with views out to the forest, the valley, and the sea.
After exploring the castle, take some time to enjoy the town of Sintra. Many tourists overlook Sintra itself, but it's home to charming, winding cobblestone streets, colorful facades, and quaint shops, all nestled into the surrounding hillside.
On the way back to Lisbon, stop at the westernmost point of mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca), for views over the Atlantic Ocean. Continue your journey towards the Portuguese Riviera in the towns of Cascais and Estoril. It’s worth stopping for a quick stroll around the towns and along the beach.
You'll return to your hotel in time for a little relaxation before dinner.
Day 11: Depart Portugal
It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Portugal. In the morning, your driver will transfer you to the airport in time to catch your flight home, or onto your next destination.