Heading towards the west side of Lisbon, you will arrive at the historical Belem Quarter, a pleasant riverside area that has historic links with the 15th-century Portuguese Age of Discovery as it was from here that the Caravels set sail on their voyages to the New World. Belem is also where the most famous Lisbon’s landmarks are located including the Belem Tower, the Discoveries Monument and the Monastery of Jeronimos. Belem’s undisputed heart-stealer is this UNESCO-listed monastery. The mosteiro was commissioned by Manuel I to trumpet Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India in 1498 and the great explorer is interred in the church here.
Then take a scenic drive from Belem to the city centre passing by the Alfama Quarter, Baixa (Downtown), Restauradores, and the fancy Avenida da Liberdade with its highend shops. Stop at Alto do Parque to admire Lisbon from the north and from here you have an astonishing view to the banks of the River Tagus.
Afterwards stop at Rossio Square where you can enjoy some free time. Praca do Rossio, or the Rossio Square, is one of the most beautiful places to see in Lisbon. The square, which is located in downtown Lisbon, has been a witness to various historical events in the city, from popular celebrations and revolutions to executions and bullfights. Today, Praca do Rossio is a popular destination both for locals and tourists. Every day, people from different places flock to the square to relax, hang out, and just take in the atmosphere.
This panoramic tour begins in the city of Queluz, with the magnificent 18th-century Queluz National Palace, one of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe and the former seat of the Portuguese royal family. Frequently compared with Versailles, Queluz is actually earlier in date than the French masterpiece.
From here, we will proceed to Sintra, one of the most famous places in Portugal, built against the northern slope of the "Serra de Sintra" mountains. This small village is well known for its charming narrow roads and lush greenery, where climbing flowers and semi-tropical vine-like plants trail from mossy walls and balconies. Noble houses and palaces with walled gardens and stately courtyards are scattered throughout the forested hills, revelling in the soft, cool microclimate that the mountain position brings to the town.
Please note: this optional excursion can be booked using the signup sheet and paid for on-board the ship (all prices for purchases on-board Aegean Odyssey are listed in US dollars).
Historically, Oporto is no doubt one of the most important cities in Portugal. The town centre dates mainly from the 18th century, when trade was booming and merchants embellished the city with large squares and avenues that made a big contrast with the narrow little streets of the old medieval quarters, and all around you can see the façades of elegant homes and palaces that show how prosperous they were in days gone by.
Our first stop is the Romanesque-style Cathedral, built in the 12th century and extensively rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll be able to admire the interior and see the altar dating from the baroque period.
Next you’ll visit the Stock Exchange Palace, built in the 19th century to impress European investors. The surprising Moorish decorated rooms are nowadays used by the Chamber of Commerce, the President and members of the government for official receptions. You’ll cross the Douro River by way of the unique double-decker Dom Luis Bridge to Gaia to visit a well-known wine cellar for a tasting of the port wine.