Portugal ~ Alluring Alentejo

Portugal ~ Alluring Alentejo

Be captivated by Portugal’s best-kept secret, the beautiful Alentejo region, that boasts sweeping landscapes of cork forests and whitewashed villages and a first-rate reputation for stellar cuisine and wines. Take in sparkling marble towns, the breathtaking royal city of Évora and fortified Elvas. You’ll also savor the iconic music of fado and wonderful culinary experiences, including a hands-on cooking lesson in a private home, a unique olive oil tasting on an estate and tasty samples at a town market. Plus, admire the impressive Roman ruins of Mérida, Spain, and marvel at Lisbon’s cultural riches! Enjoy six nights in Vila Viçosa and one night in Lisbon, along with enriching guided tours and lectures.

Trip Itinerary:

May 5 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Lisbon, Portugal. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: LIS.

May 6 Lisbon, Portugal | Vila Viçosa

Arrive at Lisbon Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Alentejo Marmoris Hotel & Spain Vila Viçosa. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

This evening in the hotel, meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and Dinner.

May 7 Vila Viçosa | Borba

Each morning, start your day with a delectable breakfast buffet at the hotel.

The Marble Route: Vila Viçosa & Borba. Under the Alentejo terrain lies a geographic area known as the Estremoz Anticline, where Portugal’s acclaimed white marble has been extracted since Roman times. Towns and villages around the Alentejo gleam with the local stone, where it proudly adorns façades, fountains, doorsteps, benches and pavement. Begin with a guided walk through your home base of Vila Viçosa, and tour the majestic, marble-clad Ducal Palace, the royal house of the Bragança dynasty. Next, travel to nearby Borba and take in its sparkling landmarks, including Fonte das Bicas, a large marble fountain. On a short visit inside the 16th-century Church of São Bartolomeu, admire the elegant marble features, including altars, tables and fonts. (Moderate)

Winery Vila Santa. With several hundred indigenous grape varieties, Portugal boasts outstanding, world-class wines, including those from the highly regarded Alentejo wine region. At Vila Santa, enjoy a tour of the winery and cellars before savoring a delicious lunch paired with fine Portuguese wines. (Moderate)

Enrichment: Alentejo: Portugal’s Best-Kept Secret. Examine the Alentejo’s intriguing history shaped by the Romans, the Moors and the riches of global exploration and trade.

Free Time: Select a special spot in Vila Viçosa for dinner on your own. Your Travel Director can offer dining recommendations and help with reservations.

May 8 Évora

Évora. Surprises await around every corner in the Alentejo’s capital city, an enchanting, open-air museum that reveals fascinating chapters of Portuguese history. Within this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll discover Roman ruins, Moorish-influenced architecture, handsome palaces and noble houses from its pinnacle as Portugal’s royal city, and whitewashed homes bedecked with azulejos, traditional, glazed ceramic tiles.

During your guided tour, visit one of Évora’s most popular and unusual monuments, the Chapel of Bones, constructed by Franciscan monks in the 16th century. Faced with overcrowded cemeteries, the monks interred thousands of human bones and skulls in the chapel. Rather than keep them behind closed doors, the monks displayed them publicly to send a message about the fragility and transience of life in response to the materialism prevalent at that time. Look for the monks’ inscription over the chapel doors: “We bones that are here await yours.” (Moderate)

Cooking at Sofia’s House. Chef Sofia cordially welcomes you to her charming farmhouse and gardens near Évora’s old town for a hands-on session in the kitchen covering authentic ingredients, techniques and cultural insights. Afterward, share in the tantalizing dishes that you’ve prepared! (Moderate)

Free Time: Return to Vila Viçosa for the evening at leisure and dinner on your own.

May 9 Monsaraz | São Pedro do Corval

Monsaraz. Perched on a hilltop, this picturesque village wonderfully evokes medieval Portugal. During your guided visit, stroll past whitewashed homes along the narrow, cobblestone streets and take in gorgeous views over the rolling countryside dotted with olive trees and cork forests. Afterward, travel to Herdade do Esporão, a family-owned business on one of the Alentejo’s largest estates, which takes pride in their sustainable practices and a philosophy of respecting the pace of nature. They invite you to slow down and relish your time there! Learn how the olive oil is produced on a tour of the estate, take part in a unique olive oil tasting and relax over lunch served with the estate’s wines. On your way back to Vila Viçosa, stop in the village of São Pedro do Corval. It’s known for its many pottery workshops where clay is traditionally molded by hand on a wheel. Visit a pottery studio to watch the artisans craft beautiful pieces. (Moderate)

After returning to the hotel, head out for a tasty dinner in town with your fellow travelers.

May 10 Mérida, Spain | Olivenza | Vila Viçosa, Portugal

After breakfast, depart for Mérida and cross the border into Spain.

Mérida. Mérida possesses some of Spain’s most superb Roman ruins, recognized together as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded by Emperor Augustus in 25 B.C. as a colony for retired soldiers, Mérida became the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, which included most of present-day Portugal. Envision the glory of the Roman Empire as you explore with your guide today. Appreciate the classical lines of the Roman theater and stand within the amphitheater where gladiators once battled before thousands of fans. See the Temple of Diana and other remarkable remains. (Moderate)

After your tour, discuss what you’ve seen during lunch at the Parador de Mérida.

Olivenza, Bridge of Cultures. Take a guided walk through Olivenza, considered one of Spain’s prettiest villages. Until 1801, it was part of Portugal, and its architecture and charming ambience reflect this dual heritage. Visit the Olivenza Museum, housed in a 13th-century castle and 18th-century bakery. Get an interesting cultural perspective of the town as you view historic artifacts within themed rooms about the local trades, medicine, clothing and school, among others. (Moderate)

Free Time: Make your own dinner plans this evening in Vila Viçosa.

May 11 Estremoz | Elvas

Enrichment: Fado, the Portuguese Song. Delve into the origins, sounds and emotions of this renowned Portuguese music imbued with deep sadness and longing.

Estremoz Market Visit & Tasting. The largest of Alentejo’s marble towns,lovely Estremoz features a tranquil historic quarter set within medieval walls and an imposing, 13th-century castle. At the bustling town market, delight in being part of the local scene as you and your guide chat with the vendors and sample freshly made cheeses, sausages, breads, pastries and more.

Elvas. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this border town once protected the key crossing between Madrid and Lisbon. Its strategic importance grew after Portugal regained its independence from Spain in 1640 and as conflicts repeatedly erupted between the two countries during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668). The extensive fortifications you see today were erected largely in the 17th century, including a thick city wall with jutting bulwarks to defend from any angle and the two massive, outlying forts of Santa Luzia and Graça. On a guided walk, hear about its historic significance and meander through inviting squares like the strikingly tiled Praça da República. Enjoy lunch on your own while in Elvas. (Moderate)

Back in Vila Viçosa later, gather for a final dinner at the hotel this evening.

May 12 Lisbon

This morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Lisbon by deluxe motor coach.

Lisbon. One of Europe’s most breathtaking cities, Lisbon brims with stunning architecture and vibrant character. Take in the city’s highlights on a panoramic tour and guided walk. Start at the magnificent Jerónimo’s Monastery, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, which exemplifies Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. Commissioned by King Manuel I in the 16th century to honor explorer Vasco de Gama’s successful voyage to India, it features richly ornamented buildings in the Manueline style. On a guided visit, go inside the exquisite church and cloisters to admire carved decorations inspired by the sea. Afterward, marvel at another UNESCO World Heritage site, the impressive, fortified Tower of Belém standing guard over the Tagus River (Rio Tejo). Learn more about Portugal’s famous navigators and the golden era of exploration at the Monument to the Discoveries, a huge, 20th-century sculpture in the shape of a caravel, a historic Portuguese sailing ship. During your sightseeing, take a break for lunch with your group at a restaurant in Lisbon. (Moderate)

Check in to the Dom Pedro Lisboa this afternoon.

Tonight, in the hotel, join your fellow travelers for a Farewell Reception to celebrate your time in Portugal.

Free Time: Discover the marvelous cuisine of Lisbon this evening! See your Travel Director for restaurant suggestions and assistance.

May 13 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for the Lisbon Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.


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