Explore the exciting city of Lisbon, with its colourful tiled facades, cobbled streets and expansive squares. Staying in a charming hotel conveniently located in the historic city center, we will visit the Torre de Belém and the vast 16th-century Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the National Museum of Azulejos, housed in a magnificent monastic building. We will visit the impressive Ajuda Botanical Gardens and the 17th-century Palácio de Fronteira built in characteristic style with exquisite tile-work, both inside and out, and beautiful formal gardens to the rear.
We continue to the charming hillside town of Sintra where we will be guided by landscape garden designer Gerald Luckhurst. We stay at the historic Seteais Palace with private visits to the quintas (Renaissance style palaces and gardens) de São Sebastião, de Piedade and da Rageleira. We also see the Royal Palace, built in Manueline and Moorish style, and Monserrate Palace with its English style garden, We also venture out of the city to Queluz where we visit the Palácio Real, originally built in the mid-1700’s and surrounded by delightful gardens inspired by Versailles.
London / Lisbon
Depart London Heathrow on a TAP Airways morning flight to Lisbon.
Lunch under own arrangements. Meet your guide and transfer to the 17th century Palacio Fronteira. The palace is decorated with notable azulejos and 18th-century rocaille stucco and contains Indo-Portuguese furniture, paintings and tapestries. The beautiful garden, designed in 1660, is distinguished by its great stairways, pool and fountains, its azulejo tiles and decorative parterres.
Welcome drink in the gardens of the palace. Introductory coach tour of the historic city centre. Transfer to the contemporary Avani Liberdade Hotel, situated in the centre of the city, where two nights are spent. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Morning departure for the Belém district of Lisbon and see the Torre de Belém, commissioned in the 15th century by King John II to be both part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. See the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). Visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Hieronymite Monastery) which was built in 1502 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Manueline architecture.
Lunch in the restaurant in the royal greenhouse of the Ajuda Botanical Garden. The oldest botanical garden in Portugal, they are characterised by the perfect symmetry of their layout. Optional visit to the Museum dos Azulejos, which shows the history of tile work in Portugal, or afternoon at leisure. Dinner under own arrangements.
Lisbon / Sintra
Morning departure with Gerald Luckhurst to the Gulbenkian Museum for a tour with the curator followed by a visit to the landscaped Modernist Gardens of the Foundation, designed by Goncalo Ribiero Telles in the 1960s.
Lunch in a local coastal restaurant with impressive sea views. Continue to Sintra which was for six centuries the favourite summer residence of the Kings of Portugal. Visit the chalet and gardens of Countess Edla in Pena Park. Exclusive visit and wine tasting at the private historic garden of Quinta de Piedade. Check in to the Seteais Palace Hotel where two nights are spent.
A late 18th-century palace built for the Dutch consul, it has been converted into a luxury hotel with beautiful gardens, magnificent views and paintings in the drawing room by Pillement. Dinner at the hotel.
Sintra Morning visit with Gerald Luckhurst to the gardens of the Montserrate Palace. The garden is an English-influenced mixed style park which was started by William Beckford in the late 18th century. Beckford was an exceedingly rich man, famous for his Fonthill estate in England. Sir Francis Cook added an exotic Moorish palace in 1856 and he employed James Burt to make a series of place-related gardens, which include a Mexican and a Japanese garden.Lunch under own arrangements.
Free time to shop in Sintra or optional visit to the Royal Palace, with its conical chimneys, which dominates the centre of Sintra and was the summer palace of the court. It contains remarkable 15th-17th-century azulejos and artesonado ceilings.
Visit the neo-gothic gardens at the Quinta de Regaleira. Formerly belonging to the Viscondessa de Regaleira, it was acquired by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro who, at the beginning of the 19th century, commissioned this unique project of house and landscape gardens to the set designer Luigi Mannini. Private evening drinks and dinner at the elegant home of Quinta de São Sebastião. Built in 1780, the house has fine frescoed halls decorated by the celebrated painter, Jean-Baptiste Pillement, a favourite of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Return to the hotel.
Sintra / Lisbon / London
Drive to Queluz, accompanied by Gerald Luckhurst, to visit the Palácio Real (Royal Palace), an exquisite small 18th-century palace with elegant curved wings. It was the residence of Queen Maria I who, during her childhood, had seen Versailles and it is sometimes (inevitably) described as ‘the Versailles of Portugal’.
The exterior was transformed into an elegant Baroque garden between 1747 and 1780. The tiled canal and bridges are uniquely Portuguese. Queluz was a royal garden, designed for royal festivities, but its scale is more intimate than many of its contemporaries. The main façade of the palace looks inward to two parterres, known as the Pensile Garden and the Garden of Malta.
Early lunch in the restaurant at the palace. Transfer to Lisbon Airport for a TAP Airways flight to London Heathrow arriving in the early evening.