Gardens of the Atlantic
After typically cool and wet winters, springtime in Portugal arrives with a burst of colour and greenery. On this tour, prepare for a sensory feast as you explore the grand historic gardens and palaces of the Portuguese mainland cities of Lisbon and Porto, and the verdant sub-tropical Atlantic island of Madeira. Gain exclusive access to some of the most charming and lush private gardens and estates in all of Europe, and enjoy the history, culture and cuisine of this captivating country in an unspoiled corner of Western Europe.
Suggested departure from Australia on Qantas/Emirates flights (via Dubai) to Lisbon. Renaissance Tours can assist you with these travel arrangements.
Early afternoon arrival in Lisbon and check-in to your hotel.
This evening, join Julie and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner.
Begin your exploration of Lisbon with an orientation walking tour of the Baixa area, the commercial heart of Lisbon. Totally rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755 the Baixa is one of Europe’s first examples of town planning. The area contains magnificent plazas, connected by wide avenues lined with grand 18th-century buildings.
Visit the Alfama neighbourhood, Lisbon’s oldest district and Bairro Alto, the city’s bohemian haunt of artists and writers.
Travel to Belém, at the mouth of the Tagus River. After lunch, visit the Torre de Belém (1515-21), the ornately decorated fortress, from which many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery.
Finish with a visit to the National Coach Museum which has one of the world’s finest collections of historical carriages.
This morning, enjoy a guided tour of the celebrated Calouste Gulbenkian Museum with its impressive art collections spanning Egyptian and classical antiquities, European old and modern masters, as well as Oriental and Islamic treasures.
Afternoon at leisure.
Enjoy a full-day tour to Sintra, the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family for several centuries due to its temperate ‘hill-town’ climate and ambience. In addition to its royal residents, Sintra has attracted the aristocracy and the wealthy from Portugal and abroad who in the 19th century built grand mansions, villas and gardens.
Begin with a visit to Monserrate, built in 1858 in the eclectic Romantic-Orientalist spirit. The English-inspired park gardens contain waterfalls and plants ranging from roses and conifers to tropical tree ferns, and at least 24 species of palms.
Continue to Quinta da Regaleira, built in the early 1900s. Regaleira consists of a palace and chapel in a mixture of Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline architectural styles, surrounded by a luxurious park featuring lakes, tunnels, grottoes, wells, and fountains.
In the afternoon, visit Quinta dos Lagos a private home and garden, rarely opened to visitors. The estate boasts a woodland garden, which includes traditional Portuguese features such as azulejos (painted tiles), a glasshouse fernery, terraces and the lakes for which it is named. (subject to confirmation)
Today, visit two palaces and their gardens in the environs of Lisbon.
Begin with a visit to the privately owned Palacio Fronteira. Built in 1640, it is still one of the most beautiful residences in Lisbon, containing splendid rooms with 17th and 18th century decorative tiles, frescoed panels and oil paintings. However, it is most famous for its formal gardens with some of the country’s finest tiles, depicting hunting, battles and religious scenes.
Continue to the National Palace of Queluz for lunch followed by a tour of the grounds. Built as a royal palace in the 1750s, it is one of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe and is often referred to as the ‘Versailles of Portugal’. The gardens feature a large topiary parterre, canals, a grotto and cascade, formal terraces, statuary, fountains and avenues of magnolias and mulberry trees.
Depart Lisbon for a full day’s drive to Porto.
En route visit Quinta Santo Antonio, a private 17th century country estate, set on 22 hectares with a variety of garden rooms, woodlands, olive orchards and an olive oil factory. Enjoy a guided tour of the estate and museum by the owner followed by lunch.
Late afternoon arrival in Porto. Dinner is at the hotel.
Located on a magnificent site near the mouth of the Douro River. Porto is an ancient port city steeped in history and tradition.
Begin with a walking tour of the historic centre, a feature of which is the buildings whose interiors and exteriors are magnificently decorated in tiles. Visit the São Bento station, whose atrium consists of around 20,000 tiles alluding to the history of transport and of Portugal.
In the afternoon visit Quinta de Villar d’Allen, one of the few surviving leisure manors that surrounded the city of Porto in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy a guided tour by the owner, followed by afternoon tea in the gardens.
Drive out of Porto to the Quinta da Aleveda wine estate. The gardens of Aveleda are a fine example of the romantic garden created in Portugal at the end of the 19th century and feature a woodland of oak trees sheltering large rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, eucalyptus and sequoias, a lake, numerous pavilions and fountains and wonderful vistas across the 300-year old wine estate.
Enjoy lunch followed by a tasting of the estate’s much-prized wines. Return to Porto in the mid-afternoon.
Transfer to Porto airport for a flight to Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira.
On arrival in Funchal, transfer to your hotel located at the top of sea cliff providing superb views over the Atlantic Ocean.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
Begin with a cable car ride up into the hills to Monte Palace Gardens, renowned for its exotic plant collection from all over the world. One of the highlights is the large collection of tile panels placed along the walkways.
In the afternoon continue to the gardens of Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro, also known as the Blandy’s garden. The gardens boast magnificent trees, sunken topiary gardens and exotic flower borders.
Dinner tonight at the hotel.
Today, travel to the north of the island, stopping at Pico do Ariero, the third highest summit on the island with commanding views over the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Continue to Ribeiro Frio and enjoy a walk following the levada’s (mini canals) to ‘Balcoes’ (1 hour return walk).
Conclude with a visit to the Boa Vista orchid garden and nursery. This family-run garden is dedicated to the preservation of many species of plants and flowers, some which are close to extinction
This morning, begin with an early visit to the ‘Mercado dos Lavradores’ the city’s lively Saturday morning farmers market. Enjoy the celebrations, as the streets of Funchal make way for the morning Children’s Parade, made up of hundreds of children with colourful allegorical floats covered with natural flowers.
Later, enjoy old-world charm with afternoon tea at Belmond Reid’s Palace, followed by a guided tour of its renowned sub-tropical gardens.
Today, attend the colourful annual Madeira Flower Festival. The splendid parade with floats adorned with blooms fill the streets with music, colour and soft floral aromas.
Tonight celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a farewell dinner.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. If you are returning to Australia today, we recommend you fly with TAP airlines to Lisbon, connecting with Emirates/Qantas flights via Dubai. Arrival in Australia on Tuesday 09 May or Wednesday 10 May (depending on connecting flights). Renaissance Tours can assist you with all tour travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
23 Feb 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for Portugal.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with private facilities and daily breakfast (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner, a/t = Afternoon Tea). Wines with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Comfortable air-conditioned coach transport throughout
- Domestic economy flight, Porto to Funchal with (20Kg checked luggage allowance)
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
- Transfer on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (recommended)
Portugal – Altis Alvenida
Porto – Pestana Vintage Porto
Funchal – Lti Pestana Grand
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.