Bordered by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal, one of Europe’s best kept secrets is a wonderful alternative to the over-populated regions of Europe. Influenced over the years by many different cultures, each has left its thumbprint on history and traditions, making Portugal a truly interesting destination.
There is a long list of things visitors can do while visiting Portugal.
Follow the legacy of Portuguese Jewry through good times and bad. On arrival in Lisbon you will be immediately transferred to Evora, capital of Alentejo. This enchanting town prides itself on its crowning jewel, the Roman Temple of Evora dating from the first century. Next is the huge San Francisco Church housing the unusual Chapel of Bones. There are no signs to mark the Jewish Quarter, but it truly existed. There is nothing left in the Old Jewish Quarter other than the Rua de la Judaria in the medieval Alfama district.Take a short stroll through the narrow labyrinth style streets connected to the main square. Pass the hilltop village of Marvao on your way to Castelo de Vide where a sea of red-roofed houses clings to the hillside. At the edge of the Jewish Quarter you will find the 13th century Synagogue, the oldest in Portugal.
Travelling through the rugged landscape we come to the village of Belmonte, home to a crypto-Jewish community who after being banned by the Inquisition practiced their religion secretly. Welcoming their first Rabbi in 1993, many Jewish families still live in the Jewish Quarter. Travelling via Guarda and Tancoso we reach Lamego and visit one of the farms in the famed Douro Valley before leaving for Porto.
See the Cathedral and Stock Exchange of Porto followed by a tasting of this rich bodied wine. Journey through Portuguese Rome stopping to view the regal staircase of the Sanctuary of Bon Jesus do Monte. Focusing our sights on the village of Guimaraes, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the well preserved town centre. Travelling along the coast we pass Aveiro with its colored boats, Bucaco with its lush flora and fauna arriving in the university city of Coimbra. In Tomar, we stop to see the synagogue on our way to Batalha and its monastery. Of special interest is the quaint fishing village of Nazare. Pause at the spell binding monastery in Alcobaca where King D. Pedro and D. Ines de Castro were laid to rest. We are now on our way to the world renowned sanctuary of Fatima to take part in the evening Candle Procession.
Encased in mediaeval walls, the fortified town of Obidos is our next stop. Just 100 Kms. north of Lisbon, its beautifully blue tiled chapel is the focal point of the town. Closer to Lisbon is the resort town of Sintra with its hidden mansions and palaces decorating the landscape. Without a doubt the strikingly colourful Pena Palace is a unique structure. As we get closer to Lisbon we pass the seaside resorts of Cascais and Estoril. Back in Lisbon we visit St. Georges Castle overlooking the city center and the Tagus River. This mediaeval Moorish castle built in the mid 11th century once home to the Kings of Portugal can be seen from any viewpoint in the city. Definitely a must see is the Monument to the Discoveries commemorating the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. Other attractions include the Belem Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery.
Explore the rich history of Portugal preserved in its monuments and museums, churches and homes. Everywhere you look there are constant reminders of the uniqueness of Portugal whether in its cuisine, its picture perfect landscape, its rich assortment of museums, its historical sites, its shopping streets, its achingly beautiful Fado music or its sweet port wines. There is a lot to see. You might have to come back again to finish your touring.Portugal is waiting to be discovered. Come with us and experience Portugal.
Still traveling but wanted to thank you for planning a marvelous trip. It is truly a trip of a lifetime.
The IBMT Bar Mitzvah tour was fantastic! It was the perfect blend of family time and peer group time, of sites with religious/historic significance and just plain fun. The guide was personable and informative, and even the bus driver was great. All the details were attended to and you didn’t have to concern yourself with or worry about a thing. It was a true vacation. We would highly recommend it to anyone. If you are going to Eilat, Petra is a must!
We went on a church group to the Holyland with IBMT Tours and had a great trip, everything was planned for us perfectly. There was over 123 people in four different bus groups and things went smoothly, I thought it was going to be hectic with that many people in the group but IBMT did a wonderful job and made sure the buses did not go convoy, every bus had its own time table and itinerary for the day, our guide Dani was so knowledgeable and loving. We love you IBMT and we will recommend you guys. Thanks for everything you have done for us.
We just returned from Israel on an IBMT Bar Mitzvah Tour for our three grandsons. We had enough family members to warrant our own bus. After checking out many tour companies we went with IBMT and all of us were glad we did. The hotels were fabulous and the rooms allotted even more so. From the INBAL in Jerusalem, KFAR BLUM in the Galilee, the SHERATON in Tel Aviv, to the ROYAL BEACH in Eilat we couldn’t have asked for more. Our meals were equally excellent. Beginning with a welcome reception at the INBAL to the closing dinner at the CANAAN restaurant in Tel Aviv one and all loved them.
It was a busy tour made even more so by my husband who was determined the grandchildren see “everything”. Fortunately for us, we had the best guide when Ornan (from IBMT) gave us GADI. All of the groups loved their guides but Gadi was special. He was able to reach the kids (ages 7-13) as well as the adults. His knowledge, willingness to adjust the schedule, and good nature gave him a soft spot in all of our hearts. He filled in at Yad Vashem when the guide droned on a bit too much for some of us. He searched out a cemetery where a father, grandfather and great grandfather was buried and proceeded to enlighten us on the rituals and customs of a military cemetery. He adjusted our times to include those little extras. When weather precluded the camels, we visited Qumran. After the Bar Mitzvahs, some wanted to walk down Masada - again, no problem.
We loved everything. Friday night dinner with an Israeli family (coincidentally the husband was from Toronto), meeting the soldiers on the kibbutz, the Druze lunch, sampling different foods at the shuk, the bullet factory and on and on. Although the weather was precarious in December, it didn’t stop us and we were able to celebrate Chanukah in Israel...menorahs everywhere, sufganiyot of every kind, celebrations in the street galore.
Would we recommend this tour...without a moments hesitation. We had a family trip of a lifetime. Thank you also to our bus driver Louie, whom we all loved and who got us around safely.
“Gadi” - what else can we say ... g double o - d, j-o-b. Good job, good job. V-e-r-y-n-i-c-e, very nice, very nice.💕
I cannot imagine a better, more organized, more perfect experience! IBMT went above and beyond all expectations!
Loved the trip! The itinerary was fantastic and really kept us moving. We were able to see and do so much. Best of all was our tour guide Natalie. She was very kind, patient and extremely knowledgeable on every aspect of Israel.
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