starting at €1852 total, not per person
• 2-days, 1-night private driving & walking tour
• skip ticket lines
• our guides take you inside the monuments
• reservations required
castelo de S. jorge
discover portugal’s most important judaic sights in 2-days
The entire country of Portugal still has remnants of what became the largest Jewish population in the world after 1492. Today the customs and influences of the Jewish people are still deeply infused in Portuguese culture. Traveling between Lisbon and Porto we visit the most well-preserved and important sights of Jewish heritage. Along the way, there are picturesque stone villages, cultural diversions, and time to enjoy local foodstuffs while meeting locals and members of these remote Jewish communities who've managed to survive over the centuries in secret.
Departing from Lisbon we arrive at the village of Tomar to discover the best preserved medieval Synagogue and Mikvah of Portugal. Built in 1430 for the thriving Jewish community that once existed here. Inside we find an eclectic museum and ingenious ancient acoustic engineering.
Our next stop is the riverfront town of Coimbra and the country's former capital. Here we explore narrow old streets of the former medieval Jewish quarter and the historic University of Coimbra. The university founded in 1290 by King Dinis, is one of the oldest universities in the world. Here you will learn about famous Portuguese Jewish scholars whose contributions gave way to the empire. The university is also famous for its baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina which can be toured instead of the former Jewish quarter.
After a lunch break, we arrive in Porto for a visit to the largest Synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula. It's construction was made possible by the heroic Captain de Barros Basto, (often described as "The Dreyfuss of Portugal"), and recently depicted in the historic dramatic film "Sefarad".
From Porto, we dive to the remote village of Trancoso that is famous for its walls and doors festooned with stone carvings of New Christians, "Cristãos-novos" (forced converts after 1498). Nowadays Trancoso’s Jewish and New Christian Heritage still lives in the preserved documents, local traditions, and in architecture such as the Casa de Gato Preto House, (Black Cat House), Poço do Mestre (Master’s well), and many other dwellings. Inside the recently constructed Isaac Cardoso Jewish Cultural Center and Bandarra House, we discover the shoemaker, poet, and Portuguese Nostradamus who inspired Messianic thinking in Portuguese culture.
We have a lunch break before exploring the famous village of Belmonte. A Jewish community that survived in secrecy for centuries by maintaining a tradition of endogamy, and hiding all the external signs of their faith until they were discovered in the 20th century. Belmonte's Jewish community has a new synagogue and Jewish museum, Judaica shops, and kosher food items that have won gastronomy awards.
why do we use a dedicated driver and a separate guide?
We provide a luxury modern vehicle with heat and air conditioning, a driver, and an official guide who can take guests inside sights. Unlike budget tour operators, our guides won’t leave you to wander the interior of sights on your own with no explanations of what you are seeing. Many budget tours have the guide double duty as the driver. This is something we would never do, and you will have a dedicated driver for 3 reasons.
1. We don't want our guests to wait for a guide to find a parking place before they lead guests inside the sights. Parking can be hectic and there are often waits during the high season.
2. We don’t want our licensed and insured drivers to be distracted by conversations with guests. Because Portugal has the highest accident fatality ratio per capita in the EU, it is very important that we keep our guests safe on the narrow roads, while our guides explain the sights, culture and landscape.
3. The weather conditions in the Atlantic micro-climate are very unpredictable, we encourage guests to bring windbreakers and umbrellas, because the temps can vary dramatically from Lisbon, bringing rain, winds, fog, or even hail. We like our guests to have the convenience of leaving their unused personal items, like packs, coats, or umbrellas inside of the vehicle with the driver monitoring it all times. Vehicle burglaries are common in the parking lots of monuments in Portugal.
Museu Luso-Hebraico de Abraão Zacuto: The Tomar Synagogue and Mikvah museum.
Tomar Jewish Quarter: Walk the cobbled streets of Tomar's former Jewish quarter.
Coimbra Biblioteca, or Jewish Quarter: Choose a visit to The Biblioteca Joanina, or a walk
through the medieval Jewish quarter.
Porto Jewish Quarter: A walk through the remains of Porto's small Jewish quarter.
Kadoorie, Mekor H’aim- Fountain of Life Synagogue: The largest Synagogue in Iberia, with
stunning decorative tiles.
Trancoso: Walk the remote stone village with secret stone carvings of the Jews who were
forced to convert.
Beit Mayim Hayim - House of Living Waters: A modern synagogue housed inside the
Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation.
Belmonte Jewish Quarter: Visit old streets where the surviving Jewish community resides
Beit Eliahu Synagogue: Built in 1998 for the surviving Jewish community of Belmonte.
Museu Judaico, Centro do Estudos Judaicos Adriano Vasco Rodregues: The small but
important Belmonte Jewish Museum.
Beware of budget tours
We use authorized guides, and you will skip ticket lines. Many budget tour operators do not take their guests inside the monuments, because they do not have authorization as guides, and they cannot skip the ticket lines. They will simply park outside and wait while guests wonder the inside the sights on their own.
Synagogues are not available for tours during holy days.
Mondays, January 1, April 25, May 1, December 24 and 25, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
hotels and restaurants
Make your hotel reservations in advance.
Upon completion of your reservation, we will be happy to provide suggestions for accommodations in Porto that will meet your budget.
For lunches and dinners, and your guide will suggest authentic, local places depending on your tastes, and budget. For upscale dining, we are also happy to suggest restaurants via email in case you want to make advance dinner reservations.
We are happy to make arrangements for Challah and Kosher wine with travelers who will end their tour on Fridays. There is an additional fee, and advance notice is required.
• Skip the ticket lines with an
official tour guide.
• Round-trip transfer in a luxury
vehicle with a dedicated driver,
and separate guide.
• Authorization to enter sights.
• VAT tax.
85% level ground with few upstairs and inclines. 30% of time in vehicle. No elevators. Some cobblestones on tour route. Must be able to walk at casual pace for at least 30 minutes without resting.
Kosher meals are only available for parties of 10 or more. For smaller parties there are restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options available if needed.
Hotel, apartment, or ship dock.
Meetings at hotels or apartments located outside of Lisbon can effect tour price because of fuel and time expenses.
Tuesday to Sunday, year round.
Morning: 9:00am, 9:30am, or 10:00am
No additional start times available.
Entry fees vary by season and age, but average a total of €20 per person for all the sights that we visit.
Plus, a requested tzedakah at two synagogues.
Entry ticket fees are additional.
Meals and hotels are additional.
Guests must make their own hotel reservations in advance. A timetable is provided upon confirmation of reservation.