9. Mafra, Ericeira, & Sintra Private Tour from Lisbon
Leave the traditional Lisbon and Sintra tours, and join this private tour to Mafra to discover a magnificent building that was only possible due to the Brazilian gold that poured into the country, allowing King João V to carry out the building of the biggest baroque palaces from the 18th century.
Your private full-day tour begins with a pick-up at your Lisbon accommodation and a drive to Mafra, where you’ll visit the Mafra National Palace. On a tour of the palace you’ll visit the library, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Mafra’s grandiose palace-monastery defies description. Ordered by King João V in 1717 to celebrate the birth of his first child, it was reputedly designed to compete in magnificence with the Spanish royal palace. The overwhelming architectural details include over 5000 doorways, 2500 windows, 880 rooms, 154 grandstaircases, 29 courtyards, and 330 monks’ cells. The two bell towers together house over 100 bells (the largest collection in the world), still played every Sunday and audible across a distance of 25 kilometers (15 miles). Tour the lavish royal apartments; visit the 11 chapels of the pink and grey marble basilica; marvel at the bizarremedical instruments in the hospital and pharmacy; and walk around the beautiful eight-square-kilometer wildlife garden, originally conceived by the King as a deer park and source of hunting, entertainment, food and firewood. Last but by no means least, save time for the mind-blowing library; adorned with marble and jacarandawood, it is one of Europe’s finest, housing over 40,000 rare volumes including the earliest edition of Homer in Greek, a trilingual bible from the early 16th century and a first edition of Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões, regarded as Portugal’s national poet.
Not far from Mafra, travel back in time to the turn of the 20th century at Olaria Tipica Joao Franco (Typical Village of José Franco). This fascinating and somewhat surreal miniature working village showcases the traditional culture and handicrafts of the surrounding area, crafted using traditional techniques by renowned Portuguese potter and sculptor José Silos Franco.
During the visit worth trying the bread with sausage (pão com chouriço), it is very tasty! There is also an on-site shop selling handmade pottery from around the country. The village depicts the true story of the region and undoubtedly arouses the curiosity of the many travellers of all ages that frequently pass through here. In the same space, you can also see a permanent exhibition of the ceramic works of José Franco.
After this emersion in history you will go and visit the fishing village of Ericeira, take a stroll, taste the local gastronomy and get to know a bit more of its history. Ericeira is an authentic fisherman town. Here you can still see fishing boats, strong waves, and small fisherman houses. It will be the perfect place for an incredibly fresh fish lunch. In the area there is also a miniature village depicting the town's traditions. Recently, this fishing village was included in the list of the 10 “coolest small cities in Europe”. It is famous for its history, cliffs, sandy beaches, surfing, fresh seafood and fresh fish. It's the best place for fresh lunch. Afterwards, the tour continues to Sintra, mainly through rural landscapes. Discover Sintra's monuments and downtown where you'll have some time to explore old streets of Sintra and checking the village viewpoint.