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The Best of Portugal: From the Age of Discovery to Today

Program Number: 20983RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/10/2014 - 5/19/2014; 4/2/2016 - 4/11/2016; 4/30/2016 - 5/9/2016; 5/14/2016 - 5/23/2016; 5/28/2016 - 6/6/2016; 6/11/2016 - 6/20/2016; 9/3/2016 - 9/12/2016; 9/10/2016 - 9/19/2016; 9/24/2016 - 10/3/2016; 10/8/2016 - 10/17/2016; 10/15/2016 - 10/24/2016; 10/29/2016 - 11/7/2016; 11/12/2016 - 11/21/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Portugal
Price starting at: $1,998.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 18; 8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Six centuries ago, ships and sailors departed Portugal’s shores to find fresh knowledge, vast riches and not a little conflict during a period known as the Age of Discovery. Experience your own discoveries on this journey to medieval monasteries, fertile vineyards and cities that are equal parts history and modern energy. This program combines field trips led by local experts with plenty of time for independent exploration.


• In Lisbon, examine architectural treasures of the Age of Discovery and enjoy a lively evening of music at a Fado house.
• Set off on an expert-led field trip to one of the world’s oldest universities, the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290.
• Taste and learn about port wine at the vineyards of the Alto Douro Wine Region.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day. Cobblestones and uneven terrain; some stairs without railings.

Date Specific Information

5-10-2014, 4-2-2016, 4-30-2016, 5-14-2016, 5-28-2016, 6-11-2016, 9-3-2016, 9-10-2016, 9-24-2016, 10-8-2016, 10-15-2016, 10-29-2016, 11-12-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Lisbon, 3 nights; coach to Figueira da Foz, 2 nights; coach to Porto, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Lisbon
3 nights

Learn about Portugal’s Age of Discoveries at the famed Belém Tower. Visit the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery. Share lunch with a local university professor at his home. Take a field trip to Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Romantic architecture, and the lovely fishing village of Cascais. Enjoy dinner and music at a traditional Fado house. Explore the city independently during your free time.

Coach to Figueira da Foz
2 nights

Journeying up the coast from Lisbon, discover the medieval fortified city of Óbidos and the splendid Alcobaça Monastery, founded in the 12th century. Visit a school and interact with students in Figueira da Foz. Board a train to the University of Coimbra, one of the world’s oldest continuously operating universities. Savor an authentic Portuguese dinner at the home of a local family.

Coach to Porto
3 nights

Continue to Northern Portugal and the city of Porto. An introductory city excursion includes the spectacularly modern Casa da Música. Explore the old center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn about its 2,000-year history. Venture to the beautiful Douro Valley, where you find the vineyards that produce the port for which this region is famous. Enjoy independent time to experience more of Porto on your own.


This small Iberian country has much to brag about, being home to the first modern Europeans to set sail and conquer the globe. Enjoying what would be called today super-power status in the 15th and 16th centuries, modern Portugal is a country where the past is remembered on the streets of its quiet cities, sung amid its vineyards, and toasted to in bars and restaurants.

Lisbon: Four-star hotel in elegant Baixa Pombalina district. Figueira da Foz: Beachfront hotel. Porto: Four-star city center hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Helena Baltazar

For more than 15 years, Helena Baltazar has been leading and lecturing on Road Scholar programs and taking participants into the heart of Portugal and Spain. Through her engaging lectures and charming personality, she is able to create excellent group dynamics and learning opportunities for everyone on the program. Her vast travel experience and wealth of knowledge about the history and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula contribute tremendously to the enrichement of the educational content of the programs she leads and provides an unmatched perspective about the region. She holds a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Porto, and has researched a variety of topics related to Portuguese culture, particularly focused on Northern Portugal and the city of Porto, as well as Sephardic history. Helena is currently pursuing her Ph.D.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Mundial
  Lisbon, Portugal 3 nights
   Mercure Figueira da Foz Hotel
  Figueira da Foz, Portugal 2 nights
   Mercure Porto Centro
  Porto, Portugal 3 nights
 Hotel Mundial
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Mundial hotel is located right in the heart of Lisbon, in the Baixa Pombalina district, with the São Jorge castle as backdrop and a stone's throw away from Praça do Rossio square, an area with easy and quick access to the main sights of the city.
  Contact info: Largo Martim Moniz, 1100-341
Lisbon,   Portugal
phone: +351 21 884 20 00
  Room amenities: Equipped with direct dial telephone, air conditioning, heating, individual safe, hairdryer, mini-bar, bathrobe, radio, satellite TV, WI-Fi available.
  Facility amenities: Laundry Service, 24 Hours Room Service, Handicapped Rooms Available
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at 1800-241-1404 to check for rates and availability.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Mercure Figueira da Foz Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Mercure Figueira da Foz hotel is located in Figueira da Foz city center. With a magnificent view over the famous Claridade beach, this hotel is ideal for exploring the city and making the most of the beaches or the Serra da Boa Viagem nature reserve. Relax in one of our 102 comfortable rooms, enjoy yourself and watch the sun set from the hotel's terrace, looking out to the Atlantic. The hotel has 2 meeting rooms to accommodate your large events.
  Contact info: Avenida 25 de Abril, 22
FIGUEIRA DA FOZ,  3080-086 Portugal
phone: +351 )233/403900
  Room amenities: Contemporary style room with a double bed, functional bathroom and desk. Equipped with air conditioning, cable and satellite TV, telephone, minibar, safe and hairdryer. WIFI Internet access is available free of charge.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Mercure Porto Centro
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: This 4 star hotel is located in the city centre, in the historical heart of Oporto. Just 17 km away from the international airport, the hotel is within easy reach of several means of transportation (train, bus, metro, taxi).
  Contact info: Praca da Batalha 116
Porto,  4049-028 Portugal
phone: +351222043300
  Room amenities: Rooms are equipped with minibar, television, pay TV, air conditioning, wireless Internet and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: At your disposal in the hotel are meeting rooms, a bar, restaurant, laundry service and porter service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: see below Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at 1800-241-1404 for rates and availability.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The Program Starts with the orientation in Lisbon in the late afternoon. You will be staying at Hotel Mundial that night.
  End of Program:
The Program ends after breakfast in Oporto on the last day. You will be staying at Mercure Porto Centro the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. None
  Parking availability:
Not recommended
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: We do not recommend using the buses, unless you are easily capable of handling your own luggage and are comfortable navigating the system in Portugese
To Start of Program
  Location:  Lisbon
  Transportation to site: For those participants arriving early and wishing to make their own way to the hotel, Taxis from the airport in Lisbon to the hotel will cost about 25 Euros per car. We do not recommend using the buses, unless you are easily capable of handling your own luggage and are comfortable navigating the system in Portugese.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Porto
  Transportation from site: For those participants staying later and wishing to make their own way to the airport, taxis from the hotel to the airport will cost about 25 Euro. We do not recommend using the buses, unless you are easily capable of handling your own luggage and are comfortable navigating the system in Portugese
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from the US and Overnight flight
(Saturday, May 10)
 Depart From: Depart from the US for Lisbon, Portugal (overnight flight)

Day 2: Arrival Lisbon, Orientation and Welcome Dinner
(Sunday, May 11)
 Afternoon: Arrival transfers from Lisbon Airport to the hotel. Times for all participants will be announced in the final mailing. Orientation is at the hotel and starts at 6 PM. Please arrive at the hotel no later than 5 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Hotel
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: The Atlantic Coast, Cabo da Roca and Sintra
(Monday, May 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: Start the morning with a lecture on the history of Portugal by a university professor. Later on transfer to Sintra to explore the "Palacio Nacional da ViIla." The main building dates from the 14th century, and the wings were added in the 16th century. The interior contains remarkable decorations with 16th and 17th century tiles. Later we drive to the most Western point of Continental Europe "Cabo da Roca" before driving to Cascais where you will have some time to discover this beautiful fisherman town. Our Local expert guide will give you an introduction to the town. Cascais features beautiful narrow streets filled with shops, cafes and artist studios.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own in Sintra.
 Afternoon: Return to Lisbon and enjoy some free time to explore the city on your own or walk around the hotel to see the many small side streets filled with cafes and shops, sit and soak up the Lisbon atmosphere.
 Dinner: Fado experience. We will go for dinner in a traditional Fado House, where you can discover this traditional Portuguese song and music.
 Evening: After our Fado dinner and show enjoy a drive of Lisbon by night. We will drive along the most beautiful illuminated avenues and monuments in the city.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Introduction to Portugal, Old Lisbon and Meeting with Young Professionals
(Tuesday, May 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: Enjoy a panoramic tour of Lisbon by bus with a visit to Jeronimo's monastery and stop at the Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. Taste the local pastry and procede to the Maritime Museum for a visit with your study leader. Return to the city center for lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Join your Group Leader for a discovery of Bairro Alto or catch the tram and enjoy the ride, going through narrows street and feeling the soul of the capital. Later before dinner on your own; meet your group leader and fellow participants for a drink. An opportunity to relax, while sharing your day experiences and meet locals young professionals from Lisbon. Time for a Q&A session about life in Portugal, before going off to dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Obidos, Alcobaca Monastery, Nazare and Figueira da Foz
(Wednesday, May 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: This morning we leave Lisbon and drive north along the coast. Our first stop is the historic walled fortress city of Obidos. Later we make our way to the Alcobaca Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, after exploring the Monastery, we make our way along the rocky cliffs to the town of Nazare. Here you enjoy some time on your own to explore and enjoy lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own in Nazare
 Afternoon: After some time on your own in Nazare, we continue our drive north to Figueira da Foz to check into our hotel located along the beach.
 Dinner: Enjoy a home hosted dinner.
Accommodations: Mercure Figueira da Foz Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Coimbra, its University and its People
(Thursday, May 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: This morning we transfer to Coimbra where we discover the oldest University in Portugal and have a private tour of the campus. We will learn about the history of the University and its famous Library.
 Lunch: Lunch on own in Coimbra
 Afternoon: After lunch join your local expert and learn about the city of Coimbra and explore some of the most inetresting sites. later on, visit a local elementary school with your study leader. You will have a chance to interact with teachers and ask questions about the educational system in Portugal. This will also be an opportunity for young learners to improve their English and ask you questions about the US. Transfer back to the hotel to attend a lecture about contemporary Portugal by your study leader before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Mercure Figueira da Foz Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Montemor o Velho and Oporto
(Friday, May 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: This morning we visit the salt pans, the oldest economic activity of Figueira. You will gain a new insight into one of the most precious substances in human history. Here you can learn about the history of salt, the evolution of the production of salt in Portugal and the salt pans of Figueira. Later on continue to Montemor o Velho, where you will enjoy an exclusive visit.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: This afternoon we arrive in Oporto, the spectacular capital of Northern Portugal and a city famed for its nearby vineyards. Enjoy a highlight presentation before exploring the Casa da Musica This twelve-storey, irregular-shaped building was designed by world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas exclusively for musical performances.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to stroll in Old Oporto near the hotel
Accommodations: Mercure Porto Centro
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: The Douro Valley: Regua and Pinhao
(Saturday, May 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: Today we explore the Douro Valley. Multiple stops are planned in the region for sightseeing and visiting a vineyard known for having best Porto wine.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Visit Quinta Da Aveloda, known for their 19 beautiful, Romantic gardens . Later on you will have a wine tasting at a vineyard in the Vinho Verde region.
 Dinner: Enjoy a farewell dinner with the group.
Accommodations: Mercure Porto Centro
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Discovering Old Oporto
(Sunday, May 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: This morning explore Old Oporto. The city is one of the most beautiful in Europe and it still retains its charm and beauty. We visit its Cathedral, the tiles at Sao Bento station and its markets. Later on visit the home of a Portuguese family and have a chat about famliy life in Portugal and taste their family estate-produced wine.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Afternoon free to pack or discover more of the city on your own. Later in the afternoon, you will meet with your group leader for a program wrap up session.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Mercure Porto Centro
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Return to the US
(Monday, May 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
 Morning: Transfer from the hotel in Oporto to the airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Small Death in Lisbon

Author: Robert Wilson

Description: Set in Lisbon in 1941 and 1999, this award-winning mystery intertwines a present day murder, some unsavory arms production, and smuggling in Nazi Germany. Be warned, there are some graphic passages dealing with the horrors of war and concentration camps.

A Traveller's History of Portugal

Author: Ian Robertson

Description: A lively, admirably concise survey from prehistory to the present, great for travelers to Portugal who would like an overview of the country's history and culture.

Alentejo Blue

Author: Monica Ali

Description: These short stories set in the Alentejo province of Portugal star a range of colorful expats and locals, including Teresa, a beautiful young girl from the village engaged to a suitable man, who yearns to see the world, and Vasco, a cafe owner losing business to the new Internet cafe down the road.

Baltasar and Blimunda

Author: Jose Saramago

Description: This tale of two unlikely lovers in Inquisition-era Portugal is arguably Saramago's masterwork: a philosophically charged, intellectually rigorous historical drama which is also a captivating read.

Journey to Portugal, In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture

Author: Jose Saramago

Description: Jose Saramago's richly detailed account of his journey across Portugal in 1979. He combines his vivid impressions of the Portuguese landscape and people with a dose of history, fiction and meditations.

Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook

Author: Clara De MacEdo Vitorino

Description: A handy pocket phrasebook for Portuguese basics, covering pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Prince Henry "the Navigator," A Life

Author: Peter E. Russell

Description: A complicated, rewarding portrait, and the first biography of this empire-minded Portuguese prince in more than a hundred years.

The Spanish Inquisition

Author: Cecil Roth

Description: This documents the events leading up to the Inquisition, the torment that spread from Spain to Portugal and the New World -- a fascinating exploration of the roots of the Inquisition and its effects on the country.

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