Lisbon and Evora, Portugal
We spend our first three days in Portugal exploring Lisbon, Europe's second oldest capital city, and the landmarks that surround it: Belem, Sintra and the coastal town of Caiscais.
An hour's train journey then takes us east to a very charming walled city and a UNESCO world Heritage site. Evora, located on a plateau of the Alentejo province, combines natural beauty of cork trees, olive orchards, vineyards with an archaeological landscape of cromlechs and dolmens reaching back the Neolithic Period. With a population of about 56,000 Evora is composed of white washed houses, narrow streets and medieval squares. All the groups and traditions that have occupied the city have left their mark in art and architecture: Moors, Jews, Romans, Christians. www.evora-portugal.com
Our walks of about 8 miles per day will explore this ancient landscape and beautiful countryside. We will walk through small farms along the 16th Century aqueduct; visit the hilltop medieval town of Monsaraz (within site of the Spanish border); have a lovely walk to the 11th century Valongo Castle; be amazed at the Neolithic standing stones; have a tour of Evora and stop along our walking routes for wine-tasting.
Day by Day Overview - Lisbon City Days
Friday, May 3 - Meet at 2:00PM in the lobby of the Hotel Lisboa Plaza for a half day walking tour of Lisbon. You have the morning free to explore on your own. www.lisbonplazahotel.com
Saturday, May 4 - We'll take a 20-30 minute bus ride to the historical district of Belem. Many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages from here, including Prince Henry the Navigator, Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco da Gama. All are memorialized in Belem's Monument to the Discoveries. We'll visit St. Jeronimo's Monastery (15th century), enjoy the scenic waterfront views and treat ourselves to the special Belem custard tart. You'll have the afternoon free to explore on your own. Evening entertainment is a Fado music performance and dinner.
Sunday, May 5 - A one hour bus ride will take us north to the town of Sintra. Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a town of marvelous historic mansions, all set against the backdrop of lush hills. We'll visit Sintra's National Palace where Portuguese royalty lived until the early 20th century. We'll slowly make our way back to Lisbon via the coast and the town of Caiscais, returning to our hotel mid afternoon.
Day by Day Overview - Evora City Days
Monday, May 6 - In the morning travel by train to Evora and then take a taxi from the train station to the hotel. We'll arrive in ample time to check into the hotel, get lunch and explore the town a bit. At 6:30 we have a welcome reception in the Hotel patio followed by a buffet dinner at the hotel at 7:30PM.
Tuesday, May 7 - Megalithic Trail. We take a bus from the hotel this morning to the Megalithic trail. Our walking takes us through a Holm Oak and Cork Oak Forest. This area is dotted by impressive granite boulders which, over 6,000 years ago, were used to build burial sites and magical cult sites. We will visit the Cromelech of Almendres and the Dolmen of Zambujeiro... the biggest in Europe. Time permitting we round out our cork oak journey by visiting a cork factory in the afternoon. Transport back to our hotel. Distance today: 8 miles; Elevation: mainly flat with a few small hills.
Wednesday, May 8 - Evora town tour. Today we have a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Evora. We will visit the historical center of this walled city. Evora was an important trading and religious center which is reflected in its buildings and monuments: The Roman temple (the best preserved Roman structure on the Iberian Peninsula), Capela Dos Ossos (the Chapel of Bones) and the main square of Evora which was the site of many executions in the Spanish Inquisition of the 16th century. As we are already in the town center you are on your own for lunch and a free afternoon.
Thursday, May 9 - Castelo de Valongo. Today, enjoying gorgeous views along the way, we walk along the lovely river, Degebe. After our picnic lunch our destination is the surreal castle of Valongo. Surrounded by vineyards, the castle was built in 1283 and is now a National Monument. The castle is not open. Our bus meets us to takes us to visit Ervideira, one of the area's fine wineries. Get ready for an unusual experience of wine tasting (www.wonderfulland.com/ervideira/). Not to spoil the surprise for you, but a blind tasting is part of the challenge!
Friday, May 10 - Monsaraz. Today our destination is the medieval fortified village of Monsaraz. Sitting high on a hill and near the border with Spain, its white houses with red tile roofs can be seen from a distance. Our walk takes us on tracks gradually climbing to the village gates. Monsaraz is car free, has narrow streets and tiny village squares. It has remains of a castle, a bullring and many interesting shops and cafes. From Monsaraz we have spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. We will visit the village then have free time to walk around on our own or shop. Distance today: 7 miles; Elevation gain 450 ft.
Saturday, May 11 - Silver Water Aqueduct. This morning we walk along the town aqueduct. It was built in the 16th century to solve water shortages in the city. Our route is through beautiful scenery of the Alentejo plain with its small farm holdings. At lunch time we arrive to our guide's farm and are treated to a gourmet picnic lunch! Afterwards we are returned to Evora for last shopping and preparation for tomorrow's departure. Return by bus to our hotel. Distance today: 6 miles; Elevation is mainly flat.
Sunday, May 12 - Breakfast and departure.
Please Note: The above schedule is subject to change due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control.