Your private guide and driver will pick you up from your Lisbon hotel on the morning of your tour and take you to your first stop, the extravagant Palácio Nacional de Mafra, a journey of just under an hour.
Built by King João V in the early 1700s, the vast palace and convent boasts more than 1,200 rooms and some 29 inner yards and courtyards, making it one of the largest palaces in Europe. Within the complex are 11 chapels and a basilica decorated with jasper and marble sculptures, as well as a huge library.
You’ll have plenty of time to explore, with your guide giving you some background on the history and development of the complex over the years. Once you’ve had a good look around, you’ll continue onto the medieval hilltop village of Óbidos, about a 45-minute drive away.
A maze of narrow, winding lanes sit behind Óbidos’s well-preserved city walls. You’ll have some time for lunch before exploring the streets, where craft shops and cafés alternate with whitewashed houses dripping with vivid-pink bougainvillea.
From here, you continue onto the UNESCO-listed Monastery of Batalha, a farther 45-minute drive away. Etching the sky with a contour of delicate parapets and flying buttresses, this 14th-century structure is built in flamboyant Gothic and Manueline style.
Inside, you’ll find a range of medieval royal tombs, including those of Dom João I and his wife, Queen Philippa of Lancaster, along with their most renowned son, Henry the Navigator. It’s also the location of the Portuguese Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Particularly evocative, though, are the Capelas Imperfeitas (Unfinished Chapels), which were intended as another grand royal mausoleum and styled with a latticework of winged angels, ropes, circles, trees and arches. However, the buildings were never finished, and the huge octagonal structure remains open to the sky as though waiting in a permanent state of limbo for the masons to return.
Once you’ve had time to explore, you’ll return to Lisbon with your driver and guide. North of Lisbon lie a series of impressive structures that reveal much about Portugal’s often complex and tumultuous history. With the aid of a private driver and guide, you can take in a variety of destinations in a single day, visiting a national palace and a UNESCO-listed monastery as well as a medieval hilltop village. With private transport and an expert local guide, you’ll cover more ground and get a deeper insight into the sights along the way, allowing you to make the most of your time.