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Plan your trip from Porto, Portugal to Portimão, Portugal

Sights you can visit along the way
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Aveiro
Stop time: 1h

Roaming through Aveiro is the same as diving in the waters of Centro de Portugal. Known as the “Portuguese Venice”, the city is quietly… Read full description >>

Roaming through Aveiro is the same as diving in the waters of Centro de Portugal. Known as the “Portuguese Venice”, the city is quietly dominated by the Ria de Aveiro, described by Saramago as “a living body that connects the land to the sea like a huge heart.”

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Coimbra
Coimbra
Stop time: 2h

Old Coimbra sits on a hill on the right bank of the River Mondego, with the university crowding its summit. The main buildings of the Old University,… Read full description >>

Old Coimbra sits on a hill on the right bank of the River Mondego, with the university crowding its summit. The main buildings of the Old University, dating from the sixteenth century, are set around a courtyard dominated by a Baroque clock tower and a statue of Joao III that looks remarkably like Henry VIII. The chapel is covered with azulejos – traditional glazed and painted tiles – and intricate decoration, but takes second spot to the Library, a Baroque fantasy presented to the faculty by João V in the early eighteenth century.

Below the university, a good first stop is the Museu Machado de Castro, just down from the unprepossessing Se Nova (New Cathedral). Named after an eighteenth-century sculptor, the museum is housed in the former archbishop’s palace, which would be worth visiting in its own right even if it were empty. At present it’s filled with sculpture, paintings, furniture and ceramics. The Se Velha (Old Cathedral), halfway down the hill, is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Portugal, little altered and seemingly unbowed by the years. Solid and square on the outside, it’s also stolid and simple within, with its decoration confined to a few giant conch shells and some unobtrusive azulejos. The Gothic tombs and low-arched cloister are equally restrained.

Restraint and simplicity certainly aren’t the chief qualities of the Igreja de Santa Cruz, at the bottom of the hill past the city gates. Although it was founded before the Old Cathedral, nothing remains that has not been substantially remodeled. In the early sixteenth century Coimbra was the site of a major sculptural school; the new tombs for Portugal’s first kings, Afonso Henriques and Sancho I, and the elaborately carved pulpit are among its very finest works. The Manueline theme is at its clearest in the airy arches of the Cloister of Silence, its walls decorated with bas-relief scenes from the life of Christ.

It was in Santa Cruz that Dom Pedro had his court pay homage to the corpse of Ines de Castro, which had lain in the now ruined Convento de Santa Clara-a-Velha across the river alongside the convent’s founder, Saint-Queen Isabel. The tombs have long since been moved away, Inês’s to Alcobaça and Isabel’s to the Convento de Santa Clara-a-Nova higher up the hill. Two features make the climb worthwhile: the silver tomb itself and the vast cloister financed by João V, whose devotion to nuns went beyond the bounds of spiritual comfort.

The University

The university, founded in 1290 and finally established here in 1537 after a series of moves back and forth to Lisbon, was the only one existing in Portugal until the beginning of this century. For a provincial town it has remarkable riches, and it’s an enjoyable place to be, too – lively when the students are in town, sleepy during the holidays. The best time of all to be here is in May, when the students celebrate the end of the academic year in the Queima das Fitas, tearing or burning their gowns and faculty ribbons. This is when you’re most likely to hear the Coimbra fado, distinguished from the Lisbon version by its mournful pace and complex lyrics.

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Batalha - A City Built on Victory
Batalha
Stop time: 1h30min

In 1385, King João I vowed that if his outnumbered army defeated the Castilians at the important Battle of Aljubarrota, he would build a magnificent… Read full description >>

In 1385, King João I vowed that if his outnumbered army defeated the Castilians at the important Battle of Aljubarrota, he would build a magnificent monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The king was victorious, resulting in the independence of Portugal from Spain and the great Batalha (“Battle”) Monastery, as well as the founding of the town of Batalha itself. João's monument is a masterpiece of Portuguese Gothic architecture, combining Gothic and Manueline styles from its 200 year construction period. Its most dramatic feature is right in the centre of the chapel: the enormous tomb of Dom João I and his wife, Queen Philippa of Lancaster. On the site of the battle itself stands the humble Capela de Sao Jorge. With its Romanesque architecture and austere decoration, it is the yin to the Batalha Monastery's yang.

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Alcacer do Sal
Alcácer da Sal
Stop time: 1h

There has been human settlement in the area for more than 40,000 years; archaeological investigations have placed human presence here back to the Mesolithic… Read full description >>

There has been human settlement in the area for more than 40,000 years; archaeological investigations have placed human presence here back to the Mesolithic Period, when the first peoples began to concentrate in the areas around Alcácer. This period was characterized by exploitation of the ecosystem in the Sado Estuary, when the river extended to São Romão, involving fishing, scavenging for shellfish, hunting and foraging in the local forests. The primitive tools, made from chert, were adapted from the techniques of the late Paleolithic era. By the late Mesolithic period, people had concentrated in the area of Comporta and Torrão, later establishing primitive defensive protection to support its communities.


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Trip Summary

Portimão, Portugal
Departure:
Porto to

estimated arrival:

Portimão
2x passengers