Citrus scented streets, Art Nouveau buildings, mosaic pavements, blue/white ceramic tiles (azulejos) decorated walls, arcades, columns and water tanks, marble towns of the Alentejo; all go to make this spring journey through Portugal and Madeira one to remember. Highlight is Madeira’s famous Flower Festival.
Your tour starts in Lisbon where you check into our deluxe hotel in the city centre. Afternoon walk to Park Eduardo, then Welcome Dinner at our hotel.
A walking tour this morning through the old city squares and down to the waterfront. Afternoon visit to the National Palace of Queluz in the hills outside Lisbon. There’s a remarkable balance of architecture and landscape at this Royal summer palace with reception rooms opening onto a terrace surrounding the Sunken Parterre. The Palace of Fronteira is next, one of the finest in Portugal, with its formal garden, a vast parterre built around a set of five fountains. This huge open-air gallery serves to display a collection of 17th century azulejos (tiles) on walls, staircases, benches, balustrades and its great tank.
Sintra is a cultural landscape with UNESCO heritage status located on the slopes behind Lisbon. This hilly and cooler climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal, who built extravagant villas and surreal palaces on the wooded slopes. Visit Monserrate Palace with its Anglo-Portuguese garden, that epitomizes the romantic spirit with which Sintra is associated. Lunch is included then Quinta de Regaleira, an elegant fantasy of stone with gardens styled to represent ancient secret orders, with hidden tunnels and concealed symbolism. Travel back to Lisbon via Estoril and Cascais on the coast road.
Morning visit to the waterfront at Belem at the mouth of the River Tagus. See the impressive Discoveries Monument to Portuguese sea power and the Tower of Belem. Visit Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Manueline masterpiece commissioned in gratitude for Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India and his safe return. This monastery and the off shore watchtower, Tower of Belem, have UNESCO World Heritage status. Visit Berardo Museum, home to the very best of modern and contemporary art. Late afternoon flight to Madeira then transfer to your grand 5 star hotel in Funchal for the next five nights.
Take the cable car from Funchal to the village of Monte. This skyway allows access to a rugged landscape with panoramic views over Funchal Bay and the River of Joao Gomes. Visit Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. Ride in the famous wicker Toboggans down the hill from Monte. This tradition has been a constant on Madeira for 100 years. Lunch today is included in Funchal. Tour the exotic and manicured tropical garden at Reid’s Palace, on a series of terraces down to the water.
Explore Funchal this morning with the Flower Festival underway; carpets of flowers, outdoor concerts and floral pavilions. Many of the buildings here date from its heritage as a ‘sugar’ town in the 15th and 16th centuries. Option to watch the Children’s Parade as hundreds of children dressed for the occasion, parade into Municipio Square. There’s a beautiful flower mural, symbolically named “the Wall of Hope” (Muro da Esperança). Free afternoon.
Morning tea at Quinta da Boa Vista Orchids, a place of science and culture of orchids and a range of tropical exotic plants. Meet Patrick Garton and learn the history of his family estate, still irrigated by Madeira’s signature aqueducts, the levadas, that were cut into the hillsides and go back to the 16th century.
Travel back into Funchal and take your seats for Madeira’s famous Flower Festival Parade. Dinner included tonight.
Explore the island today travelling to Santana on the north coast and the eastern point Ponta Sao Lourenco. Option to walk the levadas, the canal irrigation system that was developed in the 16th century to distribute water. Lunch is included
Two gardens today. First Madeira Botanic Gardens where you will see the indigenous plants of Madeira and other Atlantic islands; Azores, Canaries and Cape Verde. The subtropical climate here on Madeira encourages exuberant vegetation.
On your way to the airport visit Quinta do Palheiro, a comprehensive suite of gardens on a terraced slope with views to the coast. Evening flight to Porto, famous for the production of sweet port wine stored in vast cellars along the banks of the river Douro. Settle into your deluxe hotel for the next four nights in the city centre.
Free morning. Afternoon walking tour of the old city, including a view of the Majestic Café, one of the most beautiful in the world, São Bento railway station with azulejos covered walls, Bridge Luis I and Ribeira quarter. Dinner included tonight.
Morning walking tour of the Cristal Palace Botanic Garden with panoramic views over the River Douro. Visit Casa de Serralves on the outskirts of Porto. With spare silhouette and minimal decoration, it’s classic Art Deco with garden rooms to complement its stark simple shape.
Late afternoon Douro River cruise followed by dinner on the riverfront to watch to sun set on the old town, then turn the water gold.
A day in the countryside of the River Douro region to visit two fine gardens. First stop is Casa do Campo in the hills above the Tamega River with ancient camellias and a manor house that dates to the 16th century. Next stop is Quinta da Aveleda with woodland garden that is given an architectural focus with a series of follies. The Guedes family have been producing wine on this estate since 1870 but the main building dates back to 1671. Lunch is included with their signature wine, the refreshing Vinho Verde.
Travel back to Lisbon today with a stop in Conimbriga to visit Portugal’s finest Roman ruins that date to the 1st century. Free time for lunch in the ancient university town of Coimbra then visit the Coimbra Botanic Garden that was established in 1772 with museum and herbarium. Travel on to Lisbon and check into your hotel, with Farewell Dinner included this evening.
Tour ends after breakfast. Check out of the hotel and head to the airport for onward flights.
You will be contacted by a Ross Tours Travel Manager to confirm your details and preferred method of payment.
Please refer to the Ross Garden Tours standard terms and conditionsBook This Tour