THE 2020 PENINSULAR WAR PORTUGAL CAMPAIGN TOUR
The future Duke of Wellington destroys three successive French Invasions of Portugal
We include Art & Architecture, Castles & Forts, Monasteries, Palaces & Port, Vineyards & Tastings, Gastronomy & More
We visit the historic treasures of Lisbon, Belem, Sintra, Obidos, Coimbra, Porto and the Douro
ALL-INCLUSIVE SMALL GROUP TOUR
Cinematic Scenery, Fabulous Battlefield Sites, Classic Tastes
“I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me.”
The early Portuguese campaigns of General Arthur Wellesley, who rose to become the Duke of Wellington, are less well known than his later campaigns in Spain, France and Belgium, and all the more fascinating and intriguing for it.
Visiting the various sites of his battles and campaigns in 1808-11, we pass through countryside of stunning beauty with historic cities, towns and villages, ancient Moorish castles, sumptuous palaces, great cathedrals and incredible aqueducts alongside dramatic unspoiled scenery that time simply forgot.
Historic Lisbon and Porto are recognised as must-visit cultural holiday destinations. Away from the crowds the outstanding countryside between the cities and across to the Spanish border is only lightly populated and fortuitously is where most of the best wine is grown and the greatest battles were fought!
Our tour begins in Lisbon. We visit the many great squares steeped in Napoleonic tales, see where soldiers stepped ashore, the castle where many French prisoners were held before being shipped to the English prison hulks, historic Belem where the wounded convalesced, whilst centuries earlier brave Portuguese adventurers left the known world behind them. The military museum is particularly strong on its ordnance and Portuguese campaigns across the centuries, its fate frequently and compellingly entwined with that of Britain.
Along the way we explore the battlefields of Roliça, Vimiero, Bussaco, Sabugal, Fuentes de Onoro, and Oporto, Wellington’s HQ at Freineda, great fortifications along the Lines of Torres Vedras and the astounding border fortress of Almeida.
We also visit the mountain retreat of Sintra, scene of much British interest over the years, from Napoleonic friendships to WW2 film-stars and spies, after a day admiring Wellington’s vast engineering and beauty of the lines of Terras Vedras, the exceptional secret constructions that stopped a French army in its tracks.
Besides the battlefields and coastline, we dine and sleep beside the beautiful walled town of Obidos with its castle and wonderful traditional little shops. A historic monastery awaits us in medieval Coimbra, and we stay in the great Palace of Buçaco surrounded by its fabulous gardens and famous battlefield.
Our drive to the border takes in rugged scenery almost unchanged since Napoleon’s troops passed through, and one of Wellington’s most critical close- run battles at Fuentes de Oñoro. A night in the delightful ancient border fortress of Fort Concepcion tells many a Napoleonic tale.
We visit the impressive Vauban fortress town of Almeida and the beautiful scenery of the Coa River, followed by the picturesque Douro valley taking in some of the finest vineyards and a night overlooking the meandering river.
Then on to our final destination at Oporto, with the two battles of Porto, a private tour, tasting and dinner in one of the most famed port houses From our wonderful hotel we gaze across the river up to Wellington’s viewing point as he took Porto by storm.
There is ample opportunity to sample the hearty Portuguese cuisine, from their famed tarts to regional cuisine, to the best international fare and fine dining. We will discover the wonderful range of Portuguese wines, whilst along the Douro and at Oporto we also sample some of the finest ports.
Our Small Group tours are carefully designed to minimise travel time between each destination, increasing the time available for visiting, exploring battlefield and cultural history and landscapes in depth, enjoying and relaxing. Despite this, our tour takes in no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
We’ll be delighted to talk you through any aspect of the tour and explain our approach to top quality battlefield tourism, so please do get in touch.
Day by Day Summary
Wednesday 15th April PM: Meet & Greet
We gather at our top 4* central Lisbon hotel with a welcome, tour introduction, outline of the history of the era, and to receive your unique leather campaign journal. We enjoy an acclimatisation tour with Belém’s Monastery, Tower and Explorers Monument. We dine-in on the first night, enjoying the comfort of Superior rooms throughout our 3 night stay.
Thursday 16th April: Cultural Lisbon
We walk the historic Squares and Waterfront of Lisbon, sharing soldiers’ amusing first-hand experiences in Lisbon as we head to the Military ordnance Museum, São Jorge Castle and our first tutored wine tasting. We dine out.
Friday 17th April: Cultural Cintra & Fortified Lines
We head up the River Tagus to begin our exploration of the famous Lines of Torres Vedras; the monument, Wellington’s Pero Negro HQ, a series of glorious hill forts and the mighty Sobral Monte Agraco. On to Sintra’s romantic marvel Montserrat Villa, and back to Lisbon for our last night in the capital, dining out.
Saturday 18th April: Battlefields, Coast & Castellated Town
We start at the visitor centre at beautiful Forte de S.Vicente set above Torres Vedras, before heading on to the battlefields of Vimeiro and Rolica. We see, explore and discuss British, Portuguese and French viewpoints. Checking in to our 4* hotel beneath the castellated walls, we have time to explore the Obidos skirmish and UNESCO Heritage town before dining in the castle.
Sunday 19th April: Medieval Monastery, Exceptional Battlefield & Palace
We head to the tremendous heights of Bussaco for a detailed and fresh re- interpretation of the battle from numerous French, Portuguese and British viewpoints, some well known and others that you won’t find mentioned elsewhere, taking in the Portuguese military museum and Wellington’s monastery. We check-in to our Superior rooms at the 5* former Royal palace, with time to walk the wonderful gardens before a magnificent dinner.
Monday 20th April: Battles & Border Country Beauty
On to the Castle & Battle of Sabugal, where Wellington pushed the French from Portugal. We then stop at his Freineda HQ and the ancient villages and broad battlefield of Fuentes d’Onoro. We enjoy fabulous open landscapes as we head to the exceptional experience that is the 4* Fort Concepcion hotel with its own unique Napoleonic story to tell just over the border in Spain.
Tuesday 21st April: Starred fortress, Roman bridge & Port wine
A great day awaits! We walk the magnificent Vauban fortress of Almeida, study the French siege and the famous action on the Coa. We then head to the Douro, enjoying Croft Port’s flagship wine estate with a guided tour & tasting, before relaxing at our 4* Douro valley Wine House Quinta hotel.
Wednesday 22nd April: Battles, Beauty & Porto Wine (Oporto)
To Porto for the tale of two battles, the famous crossing, the Bishop's Seminary, Wellington’s Mosteiro da Nossa Serra do Pilar, a private wine lodge tour and tasting, before reposing at our 4* hotel with Superior rooms and the very finest Napoleonic and river view.
Thursday 23rd April: Travel home
Choose to stay on in Porto, fly home from Porto, or we can return you to Lisbon to stay on or fly home from there, just as you wish.
A Blend of City, Historic, Palace & Fortress 4-5 Stars
Our tour takes in 6 top quality hotels, carefully tried and tested for quality and comfort, reflecting the best character of each location.
This adds to the variety of your experience and, critically, shortens our travel times during and at the end of each day.
From modern to historic, charming to boutique, each is a special place designed to give us a great end to the day, a good night's sleep and a refreshing start.
At most hotels we book superior rooms to ensure the very best of comfort and views.
We believe that these carefully selected hotels offer the best facilities in each location, and we’ve hand-picked each one to best suit your enjoyment on tour.
The evening food experience is just as critical to the tour, dining A La Carte, whilst in Lisbon and Porto we enjoy some of our favourites amongst the very best casual fine-dining international restaurants.