Spring and summer in Europe brings the promise of fine food enjoyed al fresco and glorious weather. For a whole lot of Europe in a petite package, Portugal is an extremely appealing destination with a little bit of something for everyone.
Sometimes overshadowed by its Iberian Peninsula neighbor Spain, Portugal boasts scenic mountains and gorgeous coastline, UNESCO World Heritage sites and cosmopolitan cities, quaint fishing villages and glamorous beach resorts. A proud seafaring nation and former conquering empire, the Portuguese have been blessed with a heritage born from Roman, Arabic, Jewish and European cultural influences. Your taste buds will never be neglected here with an abundance of fresh seafood, delicious pastries and of course the sensational wines and ports. With a Mediterranean climate and laid back attitude, the Portuguese people are friendly and welcoming and you may be surprised by the Euro-ffordability.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has an air inclusive six-night vacation to Lisbon for $819 that includes round-trip airfare from New York, six-nights' accommodations at VIP hotel and airline fuel surcharges. Add $20 from Boston, $60 from Miami or Chicago and $200 from San Francisco or Los Angeles. Valid for travel between now and May 26, 2006. Add $20 from travel between September 7 and October 31, 2006. Purchase deadline is April 20, 2006.
If you're not into commitment and want the freedom that your own set of wheels can bring, Go-Today's seven-night air inclusive "Fly-Drive Lisbon" package priced from $739 includes round-trip airfare from New York, seven-day economy four-door manual car rental and airline fuel surcharges. You can choose where you want to go and for how long, staying at intimate bed and breakfasts or swanky beachfront villas along the way. Add $20 from Boston, $50 from Miami or Chicago and $200 from Phoenix, Seattle or Los Angeles. Valid for travel between March 31 and May 26, 2006. Add $30 from travel between September 30 and October 31, 2006.Purchase deadline is April 20, 2006.
Abreu Tours (tel. 800/223-1580; www.abreu-tours.com) is the largest travel organization in Portugal and also has offices in the U.S. They are featuring a seven-day "Douro River Cruise" package that includes round-trip airfare from New York to Porto on TAP Portugal, round-trip transfers between the airport and pier, five-nights' cruise accommodation on the main deck, all meals, entertainment and port taxes. This trip is priced from $808 per person based on double occupancy for a November 1, 2006 departure. The October 31, 2006 departure is $928 and departures on four dates in April are priced at $1,193.
Their "Castles and Palaces Route Independent Self-Drive" package is designed to take you through Portugal's stunning castle towns, royal palaces and historical villages. Visit medieval monasteries, the magical forest of Buçaco, travel through the cork growing region of the Alentejo, and down to the Algarve for an introduction to central and southern Portugal. The $1,808 price includes round-trip airfare from New York, 13-nights' accommodations (two at Sra de Guia in Cascais, one at Do Convento in Obidos, two at Palace Hotel do Bussaco (Buçaco), one at Pousada de Sao Pedro in Tomar, two at Pousada de Loios in Evora, two at Pousada do Infante in Sagres, one at Pousada do Castelo de Palmela and two at Olissippo Castelo in Lisbon) and 13-days Hertz economy car rental for departures between November 2006 and March 2007. Land-only option (accommodation and car-rental) from April to June 2006 and October 2006 is priced from $1,548 per person.
Their five-day "Madeira Free and Easy Hotel" package includes round-trip airfare from New York, airport transfers, three-nights' accommodations at the three-star Orquidea Hotel and a half-day Madeira tour is priced from $909 per person based on double occupancy. Valid for travel from May 1 to June 15, 2006 or travel from November 1 to December 15 and pay only $815. Summer rates are higher.
Blue Danube Holidays (tel. 800/268-4155; www.bluedanubeholidays.com) has a land-only ten-day escorted "Grand Tour of Portugal" with prices starting from $1,339 per person based on dual occupancy, or $1,617 for a single room. The tour departs from Lisbon every Tuesday and Saturday between April 1 and October 31, 2006, visiting the medieval town of Óbidos, Alcobaca, the fishing port of Nazare, Batalha, the pilgrimage city of Fatima, Leira, the Roman city of Conímbriga, Coimbra, the forest of Buçaco, the canal city of Aveiro, UNESCO World Heritage site Oporto, Minho, Guimaraes, Colina Sagrada -- Castle and Palace of Duques of Braganca, Braga, Barcelos, Amarante, Vila Real, the Gardens of the Palace of Mateus, the Douro Valley, Viseu, Urgeirica, the Estrela Mountain Range, Castelo Branco, the Jewish district of Castelo de Vide, Estremoz, Évora (another World Heritage town), Alvor, the Algarve, Lagos, the Promontory of Sagres, Setúbal and the Arrábida Mountain Range. The trip includes nine-nights' first-class hotel accommodation with daily breakfast and dinner, deluxe motorcoach transportation, the services of an English speaking guide, taxes and service charges.
Their seven-day "Historic Portugal (Northern Portugal)" land-only tour departs from Lisbon every Tuesday and Saturday between April 1 and October 31, 2006. Visit the medieval town of Óbidos, Alcobaca, the fishing port of Nazare, Batalha, pilgrimage city of Fatima, Leira, the Roman city of Conímbriga, Coimbra, the forest of Buçaco, Aveiro -- city of canals, UNESCO World Heritage site Oporto, Minho, Guimaraes, Colina Sagrada -- Castle and Palace of Duques of Braganca, Braga, Barcelos, Amarante, Vila Real, the Gardens of the Palace of Mateus, the Douro Valley, Viseu, Urgeirica, the Estrela Mountain Range, Castelo Branco, the Jewish district of Castelo de Vide, Estremoz, and Évora -- another World Heritage town. The tour includes six-nights first class hotel accommodation with half board, deluxe motorcoach transportation, services of an English speaking guide, taxes and service charges and is priced at $897 per person for double occupancy or $1096 for single occupancy.
Portugal Online (tel. 800/652-9151; www.portugal.com) features a number of different multi-city and region tours, cruises and day trips. Their 11-day "Portugal in Depth" vacation gives you the highlights of the country including two-night stays in Lisbon, Oporto and the Algarve. The Lisbon return trip travels inland and along almost the entire coastline of Portugal. Local guided sightseeing in Lisbon, Oporto and Évora includes Jerónimos Monastery, the Stock Exchange, the Arabian Hall, the Ossuary Chapel and many other must-see sights. Visit Óbidos, Fatima, a Port wine cellar, the Roman ruins of Conímbriga, Villa Real and Belmonte, the Alentejo and the Algarve coastline of beaches. The tour is priced from $1,906 with round-trip airfare from New York, ten-nights' accommodations (the Mundial hotel in Lisbon, Dos Templarios in Tomar, Dom Henrique in Oporto, Grao Vasco in Viseu, Albergaria Vitoria in Evora, and the Atlantis Hotel at Vilamoura (Algarve), breakfast daily, six dinners, sightseeing, entrance fees, transportation in a modern motorcoach and the services of an English speaking tour director/guide. Departs weekly (Sundays) until October 15, 2006.
The seven-day "Lisbon and Madeira Island" package includes airfare from Newark to Funchal (Madeira) and back from Lisbon, airport transfers, four-nights' accommodations at the four-star Baia Azul Hotel, buffet breakfast daily, a half day tour of Funchal, flight to Lisbon, three-nights at the four-star Hotel Mundial, a Lisbon sightseeing tour, including the Tower of Belém, Royal Coaches Museum, Jerónimos Monastery and Edward VII Park. This package can be modified to add days, delete days, upgrade to five-star hotels and add sightseeing tours by motor coach or by private car. This package is pricedÂ¿from $1,361 per person for departures from April 1 to June 14 or September 1 to October 31, 2006; $1,762 for travel from June 15 to 30; and August 1 to 30, 2006 or $1,743 for travel during the month of July 2006. Taxes of approximately $220 per person are additional.
If you'd like to see more of this stunning country without committing to a formal tour, you should consider investing in a Portuguese Railpass. Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com/us) can sell you a cost effective Portuguese Railpass for $135 which gives you four days unlimited first class train travel in any 15 day time period. Travel may be used consecutively or non-consecutively. Passes must be validated within six months of issue date and must be validated prior to first day of use. Children aged four to 11 pay half the adult fare.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Portugal Message Boards today.