Tour Date: 26 Sept to 3 October, 2024Location: Portugal

Join us for a seven-night holiday based in the attractive Portuguese city of Viana do Castelo. This part of Portugal, the Minho Region, is most well-known for its Vinho Verde (green wine), but it also has a lot of history.

Join us for a seven-night holiday based in the attractive Portuguese town of Viana do Castelo. This part of Portugal, the Minho Region, is most well-known for its Vinho Verde (green wine), but it also has a lot of history. It was one of the ports from where the Portuguese explorers set out, and the evidence of the wealth they brought back is clear. We will stay in the same hotel for all seven nights, the Casa Melo Alvim. This former 16th century manor house is one of the oldest buildings in the town and a few years ago was tastefully converted to a hotel. And located next to the railway station, it is the perfect PTG hotel!

The tour includes rail travel on the recently electrified Minho line. We also include the branch lines to Guimarães and Braga on a day when we visit the metre-gauge railway museum at Lousado, one of the best railway museums in Portugal.

The Minho Line from Porto to Viana do Castelo and Valença has been electrified, and due to a shortage of electric multiple units, a number of long withdrawn class 26 electric locos and long out-of-use carriages are being put back into service to provide the electric trains on this route until new electric trains can be delivered, so this may be a rare opportunity to travel on such trains.

For culture fans, we take in the fortified town of Valença, right on the border with Spain, and the UNESCO listed historic centre in Guimarães as well as the historic Galician town of Vigo.

This itinerary has something for everyone, but the hotel is not a large hotel, so places are limited!

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David, who lives in Lisbon. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

 

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Tour Highlights


  • All seven nights at the same hotel
  • Great food
  • Scenic rail journeys
  • Wine tasting
  • Railway museums
  • Off the normal tourist routes
  • No fly option
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1, Thursday 26 September 2024

Several flight options from the UK with direct flights from several airports to Porto. From Porto Airport we transfer to Viana do Castelo.  It is also possible to travel by rail from London St Pancras to Viana do Castelo with nights in Hendaye and Vigo. Evening free to settle in.

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Viana do Castelo waterfront

Day 2, Friday 27 September (B,L)

Today we will have a relaxing day to explore our home for these seven days, Viana do Castelo. We begin the day by travelling on the Santa Luzia Funicular to the top of the hill that overlooks Viana. You will also find a basilica modelled on the Sacré Coeur in Paris which has a tower you can climb (lift available) for an even more stunning view over the town and the sea. We also include a visit to the “Citânia Santa Luzia”, a historic 17th century settlement. Our Welcome Lunch will be in the magnificent Pousada.

 

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Viana do Castelo Pousada

After lunch we have free time, but David will show you the main places of interest in the town. The many lavish mansions, in Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque styles, were built from the wealth brought by trade with Europe and Brazil. Also worth visiting is the Gil Eanes Naval Museum, a floating naval hospital constructed in 1952 and operational until 1973. It is now open to the public as a museum, housing the original equipment. The ship has operation theatres, communications equipment, refrigeration chambers and a reinforced hull. It was restored by a group of locals and then adapted to become a youth hostel and is one of the town’s biggest attractions.

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Gils Eanes museum ship

Day 3, Saturday 28 September (B,L)

Staying in the Minho region today, we first catch a train south to Lousado where we visit the railway museum dedicated to the metre gauge lines that once served northern Portugal. As well as steam locomotives, including the oldest surviving metre gauge loco, the collection includes carriages, railcars and other railway equipment. We then continue by train to the UNESCO listed historic centre in Guimarães.

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Saint,Tiago,Square, Guimarães.

After time for lunch and to explore the centre, we travel to the Bom Jesus funicular in Braga. We ride up the hill on this water-powered funicular and enjoy the views from the top of the hill. At the end of the afternoon our coach takes us to Braga station for our journey back to Viana. We hope to be able arrange a visit to the museum collection at Nine station, normally closed to the public. We will have our farewell dinner tonight.

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Bon Jesus

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Bom Jesus, Funicular

Day 4, Sunday 29 September (B,L)

A train free day today, but we still manage to take in some railway history! A line from Viana do Castelo to Ponte de Lima was planned and some of the bridges were built. However, the idea was abandoned, and the track bed turned into a road (Rua da Linha do Vale de Lima – The Lima Valley Line Road) and we shall drive along part of it.

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Ponte de Lima

One of the oldest towns in Portugal (founded on 4 March 1125), Ponte de Lima (literally Bridge over the Lima) was historically significant as a Roman settlement on the road from Braga to Santiago de Compostela and Lugo, and the first place in Portugal to receive a municipal charter. It is named after the part Roman, part Medieval bridge that spans the river. The Minho in general is famous for its vinho verde (green wine), but Ponte de Lima is especially known for its red vinho verde. An acquired taste, but definitely worth trying! This is a bustling town on a Sunday and in the morning you will have time to look around before we meet up for lunch where you will have the chance to acquire the taste for this red vinho verde! Return to Viana later in the afternoon.

Day 5, Monday 30 September (B,L)

Today we take a train north to the fortified border town of Valença. Valença’s fortress is a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture. The first walls were built in the 13th century. It was upgraded during the 17th and 18th century forming the present bulwarked system. It is located on the tops of two small hills and is formed of two polygons. It is one of the biggest and best-preserved military structures in Europe, a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture. The first walls were built in the 13th century, and it was upgraded during the 17th and 18th centuries, forming the present bulwarked system. Valença itself dates back to Roman times, and indeed there is a Roman milestone inside the walled village, on the former road from Braga to Tui. Lunch in a local restaurant is included today.

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The fortress at Valença

Day 6, Tuesday 1 October (B,L)

We venture a little bit beyond the Minho today, catching the international train from Viana to the Galician city of Vigo. Here we will be met by our local guide who will lead us on a walking tour around Quiñones de León Palace and Gardens. Lunch in an excellent local restaurant is included, before we have some free time. At the end of the afternoon we catch the train back to Viana

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View over Vigo from

Day 7, Wednesday 2 October (B,L)

Another excellent lunch on the cards today as we go to Quinta de Aveleda. We begin by catching an inter-regional train, formed of a restored class 2600 electric locomotive and Spanish “Arco” carriages south to the junction station of Ermesinde. Here we change to a Douro Line train  to Penafiel. Our coach will be waiting to take us the short distance to the vineyards at Quinta da Aveleda, one of the region’s top vinho verde estates with its fine gardens.

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The Goat Tower at Quinta da Aveleda

After a guided walk through their gardens, we enjoy our farewell lunch in the quinta accompanied by their very own vinho verde. After lunch our coach will take us to Ermesinde for our inter-regional train back to Viana which should be a comfortable locomotive hauled train.

Day 8, Thursday 3 October (B)

This morning we return to Porto Airport for our flights home.

This tour does have a fair bit of walking, including hills and steps, and you should be able to keep up with the main group (or of course you can opt out of sections).

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • 8 days from many UK airports: £1,595 – £1,650
  • 12 days overland from St Pancras (via Hendaye and Vigo) – £2,300
  • 8 days joining Porto/Oporto: £1,350

Options

  • Single Room Supplement: £260
  • Flight inclusive bookings made less that 3-months before departure might mean an increase in price and if that is the case you will be told so when you book.

Deposit

  • £500 with flights or £300 if joining in Porto

Price Includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L = Lunch D = Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager. Holiday is fully escorted

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Online Booking

Book,Now,Button

Our online booking system will just ask for a £100 per person deposit. We will contact you to pay the Remaining deposit balance.

Hotel

Hotel Casa Melo Alvim, Viana do Castelo (all 7 nights)

UK Flight Options

  • TP1331 12.00 Gatwick South to Porto (arr.14.25)
  • TP1330 18:05 Porto to Gatwick (arriving 20.20)
  • FR1275 16:45 Stansted to Porto (arr.19:10)
  • FR7966 17:50 Porto to Stansted (arr. 20:15)
  • EZ2875 18:10 Bristol to Porto (arr 20:20)
  • EZY2876 20:50 Porto to Bristol (arr 22:55)
  • FR1175 16:00 Manchester to Porto (arr 18:30)
  • EZ2212 09:55 Porto to Manchester (arr 12:30)

Overland from St Pancras

Tuesday

10:22 London St Pancras Eurostar to Paris Nord

16:11 Paris Montparnasse to Hendaye

Overnight in hotel in Hendaye

Wednesday

08:45 Irun* to Madrid (* Irun is on the Spanish side of the border less than a mile from Hendaye)

16:00 Madrid to Vigo (arr 20:12)

Night in hotel in Vigo

Thursday

08:58 Vigo to Viana do Castelo (arr 09:08*)
* Spain is 1 hour ahead of Portugal so journey actually takes 1h 10m

Option

It is actually possible to get from Irun to Viana in one day if you are short of time and want to leave the UK one day later:

08:45 Irun* to Madrid

14:30 Madrid to Santiago de Compostela

18:30 Santiago de Compostela to Vigo Urzaiz (arr 19:20)

19:56 Vigo Guixar to Viana do Castelo (arr 20:07)

But we don’t recommend it.