As Christmas approaches, Portugal hangs millions of Christmas lights and builds thousands of nativity scenes - they’re everywhere! Keep your eyes peeled for nativity scenes perched on the roadside as you travel between the beautiful towns of northern Portugal. Based at a historic former monastery in Guimaraes, you don’t need to travel far to experience something wonderful - this former European capital of Culture is considered the birthplace of Portugal. But this special departure embraces much more, including a day in beautiful Porto.
5 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Porto. On arrival, we begin our journey to the Pousada de Guimaraes (4T). This former Augustinian monastery is where we’ll stay during this holiday.
Valença - Ponte de Lima
Today we head to Portugal’s north border, to Valença do Minho. The gentle undulation of forested hills, speckled with towns and laced with wide rivers provides lovely views for the journey. The historic town was pivotal in upholding Portugal’s independence from Spain, which sits just the other side of River Minho. As a result, the old town is a wonderful walk through 2,000 years of history. Our second stop is Ponte de Lima, named after a bridge the Romans constructed in AD 1 that aided pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela. The town is a wonderful assortment of historical sights such as the unusual tower of Igreja de Santo António which overlooks the ancient footbridge.
Christmas Eve - Guimaraes
After a leisurely start, we take a guided tour of Guimaraes, a city with World Heritage status that’s still full of vitality. It was the birth place of Afonso Henriques, who led battles against the Moors to secure Portugal’s independence, and became Portugal’s first independent king 980 years ago. You have free time to explore and find lunch before we take a cable car trip up to the summit of Mount Penha where, after a short walk, you reach the church with its tower reaching above the treeline. Make sure you have your camera - the views are incredible.
Christmas Day - Guimaraes
Enjoy a relaxing Christmas at our historical hotel. You might like to walk off Christmas lunch (wine included) with a gentle stroll along the botanical trail in the wonderful nine-hectare garden.
Boxing Day - Porto
Porto is oozing in Portuguese character, and we discover the best bits in an included tour. Forever associated with the country’s famous fortified wine, we head to the banks of the River Douro to see elegant wooden sailing barges - barcos rabelos - traditionally used to transport port. Neon lights announce the presence of famous port sellers on the southern bank, connected to the rest of the city by Ponte de Dom Luis I, Porto’s landmark two-tier bridge. You’ll also spend time in Ribeira, Porto’s UNESCO listed district, which has everything from Roman remains to grand churches, quirky statues, and buildings decorated with classic blue and white tiles, plus all the lights of Christmas.