Picturesque Portugal & the Awesome Azores
Group 1: September 4th - 18th, 2023 (Sold Out, Request Waitlist)
Group 2: September 20th - October 4th, 2023 (Sold Out, Request Waitlist)
Wonders of the Mainland to Paradise Islands
PhotoFly Travel Club brings you another amazing adventure that's been high on the club's bucket list for years. Join us to explore the diverse and stunning country of Portugal and her idyllic islands of the Azores; from the opulence and world-class wine of Porto, to the timeless villages nestled on the mountainsides of the Serra do Açor, to Aveiro; the "Venice of Portugal", to the historical capital of Lisbon, and so many hidden gems in between! HOWEVER, the adventure is far from over as we continue to the volcanic archipelago of the Azores with gigantic calderas, beautiful beaches, charming villages, & gorgeous landscapes begging to be photographed.
E-mail us at email@example.com for the daily itinerary!
Part 1: Mainland Portugal (8 Nights/9 Days)
"Portugal’s 1,000 miles of shore and California-style climate are attracting travelers in record numbers. Beyond the glorious beaches, this ancient nation is crammed with heritage ranging from Stone Age graffiti to villages clustered beneath medieval castles and forests filled with romantic palaces. Its lifestyle is laidback; its food and wine fabulous. Five hundred years ago, Portuguese explorers opened up the world; now it’s time to discover this little land of many wonders." - Frommer's
Porto & the North (3 Nights)
"Craggy mountain wilderness, towering medieval castles and hilltop vineyards with jaw-dropping views are among the many attractions awaiting you on a day trip from Porto. Whether you’re seeking a nature escape with rugged trails and waterfalls or want to explore some surprisingly amorous elements of village life in the Minho, Porto makes an ideal gateway to the wonders of northern Portugal." - Lonely Planet
The "Capital" of the North
"Porto’s charms are as subtle as the nuances of an aged tawny port, best savoured slowly on a romp through the hilly backstreets of Miragaia, Ribeira and Massarelos. It’s the quiet moments of reflection and the snapshots of daily life that you’ll remember most: the slosh of the Douro against the docks; the snap of laundry drying in river winds; the sound of port glasses clinking; the sight of young lovers discreetly tangled under a landmark bridge, on the rim of a park fountain, in the crumbling notch of a graffiti-blasted wall…" - Lonely Planet
- Privately guided walking tour: Discover & photograph the impressive D. Luis Bridge, City Hall, & Clérigos Tower while learning about the city's fascinating history. Other highlights include visits to the Stock Exchange Palace, Music Hall, & Oporto’s Cathedral.
- The most colorful & lively district: In the heart of the old town along the riverbank we'll discover Ribeira, the most picturesque part of the city. Capture stunning photographs of the colorfully decorated facades reflecting off the Douro River. Did we mention it's here where they produce the world-famous port wine?
- Delicious food & even better wine: Visiting Porto is not complete without tasting her delicious cuisine and drinking world-class wine. Let's eat and drink like a local, with a local!
"The Douro Valley could as easily be called the enchanted valley, such is the beauty and magic that its landscapes offer." - Visit Portugal
- Wine tasting while exploring the valley: We'll start our road trip along the route that offers the best vistas, stopping for photos as we go. A visit to Douro is not complete without tasting the "fruits" of her rich & fertile lands: the delicious wine!
- Cruise on the Douro: We'll relax on a sail through the lush landscapes of the Douro Valley along the river of the same name.
Central Portugal & Her Mountain Villages (1 Night)
"Finding hidden treasures in Central Portugal is the feeling one embodies after walking amidst the mountains and rivers that lead to the mountain Villages of Portugal. A world of secular trails connecting each unique village to another, where centuries of history, tradition, and landscape remain preserved." - Portugal A2Z
Piódão, the Ultimate Mountain Village
This "small village nestled up in the mountains of the Serra do Açor looks like it is out of a fairytale. Piodão is one of 12 classified as Aldeias Históricas de Portugal – Historical Villages of Portugal and has been featured in historical accounts since the 14th century. It was probably used by medieval fugitives hiding in the wild Portuguese mountains. Indeed, on a rainy day you should look from the other side of the mountain to see the village coming out of the fog." - The Guardian
Free time in Piódão: This is the perfect place to wander the narrow streets and peculiar alleys made of shale rock. Tons of photographs to capture around every corner. Savor a taste of the local flavors for lunch and don't forget to try the tasty cajadas – milk tarts!
Exploring Foz d'Égua: This moderate hike begins in Piódão and takes us to an idyllic and unforgettable little village. Take in the historic architecture and well-maintained schist houses. The "iconic" spot to capture is near the two stone bridges that cross the village streams, giving way to a picturesque river beach.
Convent of the Soothing of the Blessed Sacrament: This historical landmark and former 18th-century convent is our hotel for the night! When the last nun of the convent died at the beginning of the 19th century the building became a military hospital until it was ultimately converted into a pousada (historical hotel) at the beginning of the 21st century.
The Schist Villages: Talesnal & Casal de São Simão
"The 27 schist (shale) villages that have been beautifully preserved in the center of Portugal are scattered across the countryside, with the most crucial cluster in the Lousã Mountains. Talesnal is considered the prettiest example, with much loved Ti Lena restaurant at its heart. Try the goat, baked with chestnuts from the surrounding mountains, or stop at one of the village shops for a talasnico, a pastry made with local honey, chestnuts, and almonds." - CN Traveler | "The stone houses of (Casal de São Simão) are built side by side and imbue a special character of belonging and a strong sense of community. The village was built by men who derived their sustenance from the land: in the valley bathed by Ribeira do Fato, vegetable gardens were sown, while in Ribeira de Alge, stone millstones ground cereals to make bread. Today, simple tales of this occupation are an important part of the local villager's identity." - From fragasdesaosimao.pt
The Prettiest Village: "The most beautiful of the 27 schist villages. Remote & hidden, small & beautiful beyond belief, quiet, surrounded by pristine nature; Talasnal checks all the boxes for a perfect escape from the buzzing world." - Road Trips Around the World. This must-stop is yet another opportunity to snap fantastic images while enjoying the peace & quiet of the mountains
Fragas de São Simão Walkway: The wooden paths embrace dramatic granite landscapes, steep hills, an enchanting valley, and also vestiges of laurel forest. We'll encounter a "Hobbit-like" hermitage and river beach, where the Alge stream rips through the rocky massif and follows its path towards the river Zêzere. The "hike" starts and ends in yet another beautiful village
Coimbra & the Coast (2 Nights)
"Rising scenically from the Rio Mondego, Coimbra is an animated city steeped in history. It was Portugal’s medieval capital for more than a century and it's home to the country’s oldest and most prestigious university. Its steeply stacked historic center dates to Moorish times and is wonderfully atmospheric, with its dark cobbled lanes and monumental cathedral. On summer evenings, the city’s old stone walls reverberate with the haunting metallic notes of the guitarra (Portuguese guitar) and the full, deep voices of fado singers." - Lonely Planet
- Privately guided tour of the "University City": For over 100 years Coimbra was the capital of medieval Portugal. Today it's known as the "University City", with its world-famous school providing awe-inspiring architecture and timeless traditions. Being one of the world's oldest universities, it's truly bursting with heritage. After an optional visit to the school, we'll check out the old town and the heart of "ancient Coimbra". Gothic cathedrals and stunning Moorish fortifications provide the backdrop for legendary tales of miracles and mischief.
- The "New" Monastery: Completed in 1696 at the top of a hill, its church is a magnificent display of gold-covered altarpieces, with the one on the chancel containing the silver and crystal urn of Queen Saint Isabel. Her first tomb in 1330 was brought from the old monastery and is considered a unique example of Gothic art.
- The OLD Cathedral: Originally built in 1117 and designed by Portuguese and French architects, it preserves much of the original Romanesque architecture, which is rather rare in major churches of the time around Portugal and Europe. We love the outside of this structure because it looks like a castle and cathedral made love and had a baby! The inside is quite stunning as well so make sure those camera batteries are charged!
Aveiro, "Little Venice"
"Situated on the edge of an extensive coastal lagoon system, Aveiro (uh-vey-roo) is a prosperous town with a good-looking center and a youthful, energetic buzz. It's occasionally dubbed the Venice of Portugal thanks to its small network of picturesque canals. But where the Italian city has gondolas, Aveiro has moliceiros – colorful boats traditionally used for seaweed-harvesting but now used for canal cruises." - Lonely Planet
A Serene Float: It would be a sin to visit Aveiro and not take a serene ride on the canals via a Moliceiro. These slender and colorful boats were originally used to harvest moliço, a type of algae used as agricultural fertilizer.
Colors & Sweets: Our guided walk through this quaint coastal gem takes us along the narrow canals with vibrantly colored Art Nouveau buildings reflecting off the water; cameras mandatory. Winding our way through the narrow streets, a taste of their local sweet is highly encouraged. "Ovos moles" (soft eggs) are wrapped in a crusty wafer of all different shapes and sizes (most commonly seashells, barrels, clams, & nuts). The sweet creamy filling is made of egg yolks, sugar, & water. This Portuguese delicacy can be found elsewhere in the country, but especially in Aveiro where they originate from. In fact, real ovos moles can only be made in Aveiro: since 2008 this delicacy is classified as a product with Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union – the first Portuguese bakery product to get this classification!
Óbidos, a Fairytale Town
"Surrounded by a classic crenelated wall, Óbidos’ gorgeous historic center is a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and flower-bedecked, whitewashed houses livened up with dashes of vivid yellow and blue paint. It’s a delightful place to pass an afternoon" - Lonely Planet
- The Walled Labyrinth; Privately guided walking tour: Enclosed in unique medieval walls with a castle watching over, explore the maze of cobblestone pathways and learn about the significance of Óbidos' "nooks and crannies".
Lisbon, City of Hills (2 Nights)
"Seven cinematic hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo cradle Lisbon's postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals, a captivating scene crafted over centuries." - Lonely Planet
- Guided Tuk-Tuk Adventure in the capital: Exploring this world-class city by tuk-tuk is a real treat. The historic center of Lisbon is the city’s most atmospheric district, but its narrow lanes and steep hills can be tiring to navigate on foot. We'll cover ground in style with less hill climbing and more sites, sounds, & photos. Must stops include the oldest and most picturesque district, Alfama with its beautiful Moorish influence, and the Lisbon Cathedral to capture images of this solid, imposing structure. It’s also the city’s most iconic and important religious building, dating from the 12th century. The tour is not complete without stopping in the Belém district to see the great tower of the same name and the Monument of Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). These World-Heritage Sites represent the epi-center of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
- Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George's Castle): Towering dramatically above Lisbon, the 11th-century fortifications atop the capital's highest hill sneak into most photos. Wander the winding ramparts and shaded courtyards for superb views and photographs of the city’s red rooftops all the way to the Tagus river.
"With its rippling mountains, dewy forests thick with ferns and lichen, exotic gardens and glittering palaces, Sintra is like a page torn from a fairy tale. Its Unesco World Heritage-listed center, Sintra-Vila, is dotted with pastel-hued manors folded into luxuriant hills that roll down to the blue Atlantic." - Lonely Planet
- The Stunning Palace & Her Marvelous Town: Not too far from Lisbon, hidden behind a chain of hills, is one of the most beautiful towns in the whole country. Sintra in and of itself is a great place to wander around or grab a cappuccino and people-watch. But this charming place has two incredible palaces too! We'll visit the most unique and photogenic one: Pena Palace. On top of São Pedro de Penaferrim, the palace sits on top of lush hills, painted in striking yellows & reds and cloaking the skyline of Sintra. Combining Romanesque, Neo-Manueline, and a pinch of Moorish architecture, Pena Palace is the pinnacle of Romanticist design in Portugal. We'll explore the grounds and tour the castle getting incredible photos inside and out.
Part 2: The Azores (6 Nights/7 Days)
"In the realm of legend, some associate the Azores to the Atlantis, the mythical island kingdom quoted by Plato. 9 naturally surprising islands, with hotels and restaurants in complete harmony with the environment, the no. 1 archipelago in sustainability awaits you. The lakes of São Miguel, the Mountain of Pico, the Capelinhos Volcano of Faial, the waterfalls of Flores, and the Caldeirão of Corvo are unmistakable features. To travel throughout the Azores is to get to know nine islands where the same genetic code generated profiles that are distinct from one another." - Visit Azores
São Miguel: The Green Isle (2 Nights)
"São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores archipelago and wears its elder status proudly, with an enviable landscape of forest-wrapped volcanic peaks, azure lakes, and improbably perfect calderas." - Lonely Planet
"The Furnas Valley is a volcanic caldera that has lain dormant since 1630, and it’s one of São Miguel’s most intriguing and otherworldly geothermal spots where mud pots bubble and fumaroles steam amid the lush green landscape." - Lonely Planet
- Botanical Gardens and Hot Springs: Our first adventure in the Azores will be full of beauty and relaxation (not to mention awesome photo ops!). A real must, we wander through the enormous gardens of Parque Terra Nostra taking in the vibrant colors and diversity of flora and fauna all around us. Next, we'll indulge in a relaxing natural "hot tub" which was originally "built" around the hot springs in the 1700s!
- The most unique meal in the world: Cozido das Furnas is possibly Portugal’s most unique dish. The stew is made with an incredible twist: cooked using Furnas’s natural volcanic heat! See the region of the caldera where the stew is cooked in underground holes to witness what this crazy tradition is all about.
- Thermal Waters abound: We find 32 different kinds of thermal water activity in this region, some sulfurous, others calcareous; either hot, warm, or cold. The variety is fascinating; some are muddy while others have clear water. They can also take the form of sulfurous steam vents.
- The oldest tea plantation in Europe: Discover the gorgeous landscape and interesting history around Europe's oldest tea farm & factory: Gorreana Tea Plantation. The visit isn't complete without tasting the delicious product.
- Epic Photos at viewpoints: Along the way, we'll be sure to stop at some breathtaking vistas to take in the beauty and capture it on our cameras. A few highlights will be discovered at Pico do Ferro & Santa Iria.
A real jewel of the archipelago, this small "city" and its lakes offer the postcard view most commonly seen around the world. "The Azores are full of places that stop visitors dead in their tracks and cause a sharp, involuntary intake of breath. But the first glimpse of this enormous caldera with its sparkling twin lakes might just be the most eye-popping of them all." - Lonely Planet
- Giant Caldera Hike: Embark on the most beautiful trail in the Azores. We'll walk along the best section of the crater rim in awe, to photograph and imprint this mouth-dropping scene into our memories.
- The beloved Azorean Pineapple: A fun stop takes us to one of the 6,000 pineapple plantations on the island. With more than 100 years of history, the Plantation of Ananases Augusto Arruda is a true living museum of this unique culture in the world. We'll learn about the cultivation process and why Azorean Pineapples are the most delicious in the world!
Faial: The Blue Isle (2 Nights)
"From the lookout of Cabeço Gordo, the ground seems to slide softly until it levels out by the seaside, where a profusion of hydrangeas brings to land the color of the sea, as if materializing a romance between the blue of the flowers and the green of the vegetation and pastures. The same happens along the road leading to the Caldeira, in the center of Faial, and on other roads, justifying the nickname of Blue Island. But there is a complete change at the Capelinhos Volcano, with its arid and rough landscape proving that grey can also be charming..." - visitazores.com
Capelinhos, the volcano that came from the sea...
"The Capelinhos volcano that surged up from the seabed off Faial in 1957 is one of the best-documented sites in the world and the interpretation center beneath its now abandoned lighthouse does a superb job of explaining the Earth’s convulsions" - Valise Travel Concierge
- Explore the great crater & interpretation center: We'll encounter and photograph the remains of the last volcanic eruption that took place in the Azores in 1958, leaving behind a moonlike landscape. Next, we'll head to the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center, to learn about the fascinating history & geology of this great eruption.
"The Caldeira is both literally and figuratively the highlight of Faial. The crater sits in the center of the island and towers above everything else." - Wapiti Travel
- 1+ mile wide, 1300 ft deep: The deep volcanic cone, located in the middle of the island is classified as a nature reserve, and not to be missed. Rare endemic flora surrounds the rim and crater floor. We'll drive around to some excellent viewpoints for photos and learn more about the ancient history of this beautiful landscape before moving on.
Botanical Garden of Faial: Discover and photograph the rarest plants of the Azores, historical agricultural practices, a beautiful orchid garden, and medicinal plants. Great macro shots here!
Pico: The Mountain Island (Day Trip)
"Named after its imposing mountain, (Pico) is one of the most beautiful and underrated islands of the Azores. Only second to S. Miguel in size the ‘Mountain Island’ stands majestically in the middle of the Azorean central group" - Azores.com "If you are looking for a getaway filled with unspoiled nature and vegetation, volcanos, lava stone landscapes, coastline views, and exquisite vineyards, Pico is the place to go." - We Are Travel Girls
Cachorro Rocks: A photo stop reveals unique volcanic rock formations.
Adega A Buraca Winery: Wine tasting is in order! Savor the delicious wine this island is so famous for.
Whaling Factory Museum: In São Roque this fascinating museum was built inside a former factory that produced oil, flour, and vitamins from whales. Built in 1942, there couldn't be a better place to learn about the important, yet unfortunate practice that produced these byproducts and was so integral to the island's economy during those days.
Museu dos Baleeiros: While the factory museum focused on the manufacturing of lucrative whale byproducts, the Whalers Museum houses many expositions reflecting the greater Azorean Whaling industry that only ended in the early 1980 ́s. Spread throughout a set of three whaling houses from the 19th century, the museum is a homage to the old whaling tradition, still visible in the local ambiance and lifestyle.
Church of São Mateus: With its magnificent interior décor and architecture, this important church is not to be missed.
Criação Velha Vinyards; An UNESCO World Heritage Site: "The island of Pico has produced wine since the 15th century, but don’t expect neat rows of vines amid picturesque fields. The vintners here adapted to a landscape of volcanic soil littered with lumps of black basalt.'- Lonely Planet | The unique methods for producing grapes ideal for winemaking on such difficult terrain is what lead to this site's important designation. Lajido da Criação Velha is the best example showcasing the art of dividing the land and planting vines in the lava rock.
Flores: The Flower Island (2 Nights)
Calling Flores the Azorean Jurassic Park would not be completely honest because it is so much more; natural pools with turquoise waters, filled with fish of a thousand colors, imposing waterfalls, colorful lagoons surrounded by a thousand shades of green, and orange sunsets, accompanied by a gin & tonic in hand to welcome the evening and awe-inspiring milky way soon overhead.
The "westernmost" county in Europe: Nature and locals seem to live in harmony in the small municipality of Lajes das Flores. The natural wealth of Lajes is breathtaking and the landscapes are like nowhere else in the world. We'll enjoy a visit here to photograph some of the incredible landscapes in what locals proudly declare, the westernmost county in Europe.
A curious rock: Rocha dos Bordões is the postcard image and symbol of Flores. The basaltic formation provides a unique and unforgettable landscape with geometrical rock columns that resemble a man-made structure.
The great fajãs: This Portuguese term describes the beautiful coastal formation of a small flat land on the ocean below giant cliffs, caused by lava deltas from the penetration of lava flows into the sea. Flores has some of the most beautiful fajãs with small towns claiming the arable land. We'll visit and photograph the stunning landscapes of Fajãzinha and Fajã Grande, where countless streams of water running down the cliff form impressive waterfalls.
More beauty at the highest point: The Morro Alto forest reserve area is the highest point on Flores Island. At the very top sits The Pico da Sé, forming an imposing volcanic monolith between two deep valleys of erosion. Depending on the weather, we'll capture some stunning panoramic images or an eery ambiance embedded in fog.
The 7 Lagoas: We'll explore this lush area with a number of serene lakes throughout the valleys. Each lake is named after its unique features: Lagoa Funda (Deep Lake), Lagoa Branca (White Lake), Lagoa Seca (Dry Lake), Lagoa Comprida (Long Lake), Lagoa Rasa (Shallow Lake), Lagoa da Lomba (Crest Lake) and Lagoa Negra (Black Lake). This last lake is 300 ft deep!
Corvo Day Trip: The Black Isle
"A charming, honest, and unique community in Europe. This island may be small in size, but it has a huge heart." - Geeky Explorer" | "Corvo literally means "the Island of the Crow", and is the smallest and the northernmost island of the Azores archipelago. It has a population of approximately 384 inhabitants (as of 2021) making it the smallest single municipality in the country, let alone the archipelago" - Wikipedia | Though small, Corvo Island attracts the intrepid and most seasoned travelers for many reasons: beauty, mystery, and isolation to name a few.
Caldeirão, The Crater: This ancient crater is responsible for the epic landscape of the extinct volcano that gave rise to the island. One thousand feet deep and occupying nearly 15% of the entire island, this high point of our trip is special because most travelers never even come here. As we learn about the geological history that made the landscape what it is today and its importance to the nearby sole village of the island, amazing panoramic photographs must be taken in every direction!
The Village: Vila Nova do Corvo is the sole town on the entire island and unites the old and new in two distinct sections: the old center and the new quarter. Traditional houses line narrow pebbled alleys, called canadas. Many of them are uninhabited, boasting black basalt façades with white-edged windows. Small courtyards are still sometimes home to pigs and poultry from an era gone by. Plenty of dynamic photos to take here as we wander the streets. The new part of the village extends towards the tiny inter-island airport where, behind the runway, stand the island's landmarks: three old but working windmills.
Lots of wind: Before electricity came to the island wind was the main source of food production via a number of windmills. Today 3 unique windmills still stand and function from this long-lost tradition. They are unique to Corvo and look very different from those on the other islands due to their Arabic influence. When the Moorish kingdom stretched far into Spain and Portugal they also made it to the remote archipelago. Triangular wings covered with canvas are fashioned the same way the Moors built them on the mainland. Another great photo stop...
* PhotoFly Travel Club adventures are laid back when it comes to photography. They are not workshop-style based tours and you do not need to be an avid photographer to join. All are welcome!
Single Supplement: $845.00 *LIMITED Single Supplements Available
Single Supplement: $879.00 *LIMITED Single Supplements Available
Cancellation Policy & Refunds
*There is a $100.00 administrative fee for all cancellations. Cancellations made 120 days (Group 1: May 7th, 2023 | Group 2: May 23rd, 2023)) or more prior to trip departure date are fully refundable except for the $100 fee. Cancellations less than 120 days (Group 1: May 8th, 2023 | Group 2: May 24th, 2023) prior to the trip departure date will receive no refund of the full amount due. No refunds on unused portions of the tour. Credit card fees and paypal processing fees cannot be refunded. After airline tickets are issued, airline cancellations are per the airline’s policy and are usually non-refundable and changeable with a fee plus new ticket price. Travel insurance strongly encouraged (ask us about policy options). *Hotels subject to change based on availability
COVID Cancellation Policy – Local Planet Travel Services OR Guest may cancel this reservation if the USA or country(s) we are visiting mandates a country-wide closure due to COVID. If this happens, you would receive a full refund. If guest chooses, the funds can remain on file and be applied for any future tour with PhotoFly Travel Club. *Please note bank merchant service fees when using a credit card are non-refundable.
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