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

Discover the unique history of Portugal from a local perspective as you examine its architecture, heritage, universities and traditions of port wine on expert-led walks.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20983RJ
10 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

Six centuries ago, ships and sailors departed Portugal’s shores to find new knowledge, vast riches and 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 some time for independent exploration.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2-3 miles per day, many cobblestones, steep slopes and uneven terrain, stairs without railings.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • 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.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Adriana Alves
Adriana Alves earned her master's degree in strategic management of travel destinations. Adriana is an energetic and knowledgeable group leader who delights in sharing her experiences as well as cultural, historical information on Portugal with Road Scholar participants. She is fluent in English and her native Portuguese.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Adriana Alves
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
by Laurence Bergreen
A chronicle of Ferdinand Magellan's sixteenth-century voyage around the world draws on candid first-person accounts and describes his crew's experiences with mutiny, navigation, death, unusual sexual practices, and Magellan's ruthless leadership tactics.
Grape Harvest
by Miguel Torga
Miguel Torga's first novel is a tribute to the Douro, its people, and its landscapes. A book for all who love this extraordinary region.
The Maias
by Eça de Queirós
Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook
by Clara De MacEdo Vitorino
A handy pocket phrasebook for Portuguese basics, covering pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
A Traveller's History of Portugal
by Ian Robertson
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.
28 Portuguese Poets
by Richard Zenith
Journey to Portugal, In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture
by Jose Saramago
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.
The Painter of Birds
by Lídia Jorge
A Small Death in Lisbon
by Robert Wilson
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. Please note, there are some graphic passages dealing with the horrors of war and concentration camps.
Night Train to Lisbon
by Pascal Mercier
Obsessed with a book, Raimund Gegorius abandons his old life and travels to Lisbon in search of the truth about writer Amadeu de Prado.
Jesus Christ Drank Beer
by Afonso Cruz
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon
by Richard Zimler
Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire
by Roger Crowley
An epic narrative history, this book chronicles the rise of Portugal in the 16th-century as the small nation fought for a dominant share in the global spice trade.
A House in Darkness
by José Luis Peixoto
Baltasar and Blimunda
by Jose Saramago
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.
Prince Henry "the Navigator," A Life
by Peter E. Russell
A complicated, rewarding portrait, and the first biography of this empire-minded Portuguese prince in more than a hundred years.

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