THE 2019 PENINSULAR WAR PORTUGAL CAMPAIGN TOUR
The future Duke of Wellington destroys three successive French Invasions of Portugal
We include Art & Architecture, Castles & Cathedrals, Palaces & Port, Vineyards & Tastings, Gastronomy & More
We visit the historic treasures of Lisbon, Belem, Sintra, Obidos, Coimbra, Porto and the Douro
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ALL-INCLUSIVE SMALL GROUP TOUR
Cinematic Scenery, Fabulous 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 see 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 headquarters at Freineda, fortifications of the Lines of Torres Vedras and the border fortress of Almeida.
We visit the mountain retreat of Sintra, scene of much British interest over the years, Napoleonic friendships and tales of WW2 film-stars and spies, before moving on to admire the vast engineering and beauty of the lines of Terras Vedras, the exceptional fortifications 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. A night in a delightful ancient border fortress 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, 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, 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
Saturday 27th April PM: Meet & Greet
We gather at our top hotel with a welcome, tour introduction and outline of the history of the era. You’ll also receive your unique leather campaign journal. We enjoy an acclimatisation tour before dinner. Hotel in central Lisbon for 2 nights.
Sunday 28th April: Cultural Lisbon
We walk the historic Squares and Waterfront of Lisbon, sharing the soldiers’ first thoughts of Lisbon as we head to Belém’s Monastery, Tower and Explorers Monument, the Military Museum, São Jorge Castle and a professional wine tasting.
Monday 29th April: Cultural Cintra & Fortified Lines
We visit Sintra’s most romantic marvel, Montserrat Villa, then drink to the Convention of Cintra, before striking out to the famous Lines, taking in Wellington’s Pero Negro HQ, glorious hill forts, Sobral & Torres Vedras. We hotel in the hills to make the most of the landscape and the next day’s campaign.
Tuesday 30th April: Battlefields, Coast & Castellated Town
Wellington’s first Portuguese battlefields at Vimeiro and Rolica are a beautiful education in themselves. We explore and discuss British, Portuguese and French viewpoints, and see where troops landed at Maceira Bay. This leaves us plenty of time to explore Obidos and our hotel beside its walls.
Wednesday 1st May: Medieval Monastery, Exceptional Battlefield & Palace
We take in Coimbra’s Monastery, scene of the capture of hundreds of French wounded, then off to the tremendous heights of Bussaco for a fresh interpretation the battle from both the French and allied viewpoints. Then hotel and dine at the fabulous Bussaco Palace hotel on the ridge itself.
Thursday 2nd May: Battles & Border Country Beauty
We visit the Castle & Battle of Sabugal, where Wellington pushed the French from Portugal. We then stop at his Freineda HQ and the ancient village and broad battlefield of Fuentes d’Onoro. We enjoy fabulous open landscapes as we head to our Fort Concepcion hotel just over the border in Spain.
Friday 3rd May: Starred fortress, Roman bridge & Port wine
A great day awaits! We walk the magnificent Vauban fortress of Almeida and action on the Coa. We head to the Douro, enjoying Croft Port’s flagship wine estate with a guided tour & tasting, then relax at our Douro valley hotel.
Saturday 4th May: 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 hotel with the best Napoleonic view.
Sunday 5th May: 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.
A Blend of City, Historic, Palace & Fortress 4-5 Stars
Our tour takes in 6 top quality hotels, hand-picked for your comfort, reflecting the character of each location.
This adds to the variety of your experience and, critically, avoids long travel times during and at the end of each day.
From modern to rustic, charming to boutique, each is designed to give us a great end to the day, a good night's sleep and a refreshing start.
These carefully selected hotels offer the best facilities in each location, and we’ve tried and tested each one to suit your tour enjoyment.
We often book superior rooms in these hotels to ensure you enjoy the best of comfort and views.