AACI Portugal’s Jewish Heritage Tour   

Portugal: Touring Jewish Life, Literature
Monday, June 17 – 25, 2024

Travel with  AACI to beautiful Portugal — the launching spot for voyages of discovery and exploration of New Worlds. Experience the splendor of its medieval towns and marketplaces, architecture, art, history, and culture. Encounter the life and literature of Portuguese Jewry, from its golden era through the 1497 Expulsion, Inquisition, and the fascinating afterlife of its “hidden Jews” and the diaspora and legacy of the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community. Study the story, texts, and ideas with our outstanding scholars and guides. All tours and lectures in English.

Day 1: Monday 17.6.24 – Tel Aviv – Lisbon
We’ll take the El Al direct flight LY375 from Tel Aviv at 17:15 and land in Lisbon at 21:10. Transfer to the hotel.

Overnight: – Lisbon

Day 2: Tuesday 18.6.24 – Lisbon
After breakfast we’ll start our tour with sightseeing of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, which sits astride the Tejo River estuary on the Atlantic Coast. Visit the Rossio and Comercio squares, where the Jews were converted into Christianity in 1497. Visit the memorial for the Jews killed in the Lisbon massacre of 1506. We’ll climb to the old castle of “Saint Gorge“, overlooking the city. We’ll walk down to the Alfama neighborhood, the pre expulsion Jewish district of Lisbon, until the fifteenth century. This is Lisbon’s oldest Jewish quarter with its narrow cobbled streets, and Praça rdo Comércio along the old part of the harbor, site of one of the oldest synagogues in Lisbon. We will see Ohel Yaakov Synagogue – now home of the Marranos (Bnei Anusim) community. . We’ll continue to visit the National Tile Museum dedicated to the azulejo, traditional tilework of Portugal and the former Portuguese Empire, as well as of other Iberophone cultures. Return to the hotel after dinner for overnight.

Lisbon – Comercio square

Day 3: Wednesday 19.6.24 – Lisbon – Sintra – Lisbon
Today we’ll drive to Sintra, the resort town of the kings of Portugal. We’ll visit the National Palace, to see its splendor since the 15th century. We’ll continue to Cabo da Roca, the most western point of Europe, where we’ll overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Continue to Cascais, a former fishermen village, now a famous resort town. We’ll come back to Lisbon to visit the Belem quarter, where we’ll see the monument for the Discoveries and the Tower of Belem. Return to the hotel after dinner for overnight.

Day 4: Thursday 20.6.24 – Lisbon – Obidos – Tomar – Coimbra
After breakfast we’ll drive north to Obidos, a town owned by the queen of Portugal, a tradition that started at 1282, when the town was gifted to the Queen Isabel on her wedding day and today charming and attractive town in central Portugal. We’ll continue to Tomar, founded by the Knights Templar and regarded as one of the jewels of Portugal. Visit the castle that was restored by King Manuel I in the 16th century, when the complex gained the architectural splendor, kept intact to this day, which earned its World Heritage Site status. Later we will visit the fifteenth-century synagogue, which was renovated recently. We’ll continue to Coimbra, which used to be the capital city of Portugal, located on a mountain. We will visit the famous medieval university which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the famous “Joanina Library” a Baroque library located in the heart of the University and is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

We’ll see the old city. We will go to a Fado performance, typical to Coimbra.

Dinner and overnight in  Coimbra.

Obidos – general view

Day 5: Friday 21.6.24 – Coimbra – Aveiro – Porto
We’ll start the day in the Bucaco forest that was started as a monastic retreat in the 16th century, a botanical garden and a site to the summer palace built in the late 19th century in the Neo-Manueline style for the last Portuguese Kings. We’ll walk a bit into the forest. Later, we’ll drive to Aveiro, famed for its canals, lies on the edge of the “Ria de Aveiro”, a saltwater lagoon that was farmed for its seaweed and salt. We’ll drive to Porto, the second largest city of Portugal, built on a cliff over the Douro river. Arrive in the hotel for preparations for Shabbat, Kabbalat Shabbat and festive dinner. Overnight in Porto.

Day 6:  Shabbat 22.6.24 – Porto
Celebrate Shabbat with the community of Porto in the Kadoori Mekor Haim (modern) Synagogue. Opened in 1935, the synagogue is a big building that serves the growing local Jewish community. After Tefilla we’ll enjoy a Shabbat dinner. Afternoon walking tour and time for rest. Seuda shlishit. Overnight in Porto.

Porto – view from the river Douro

Day 7: Sunday 23.6.24 – Porto
Today we’ll be in Porto, visit the old train station San Bento, covered with 20,000 magnificent painted tiles; the old Stock Market building. Encounter the old Jewish quarter, see the remains of a 15th century synagogue’s ark. Cruise the Douro River passing under the bridges between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. If we have time we’ll walk on the Santa Caterina walking mall.

Dinner and overnight in Porto.

Day 8 Monday 24.6.24: Porto – Trancoso – Vilar Formoso – Belmonte
Travel to to Trancoso, the medieval town where the old Jewish quarter remained practically unchanged over the centuries. We will see the medieval walls, and the Casa do Gato Preto, decorated with the Lion of Judah, rumored to be the house of the rabbi. Visit the Isaac Cardoso Centre for Jewish Culture, which preserves the Jewish legacy of this region, with the small synagogue inside. Continue to Vilar Formoso on the Portuguese-Spanish border to visit the new museum which tells the story of the diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the only Portuguese “Righteous Among the Nations,” who rescued many thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.  Arrive in Belmonte, home of a community of “Crypto Jews,” that hid their Jewish faith for over 400 years, returning to open practice of Judaism in the 20th century. We will visit their synagogue and the new Jewish museum.
Dinner and overnight: Pousada Historic Hotel, Belmonte

Trancoso – The walls and entrance gate

Day 9 Tuesday 25.6.24: Belmonte – Castelo de Vide – Lisbon – Tel Aviv
Travel south to Castelo de Vide, on the Spanish border, to walk through the medieval Jewish quarter’s site of Portugal’s oldest synagogue, now a Jewish museum. In 1989, on this site, the former president of Portugal Mario Suarez asked forgiveness of the Jewish nation for the Portuguese Inquisition. Arrive in Lisbon for our farewell dinner before heading to the airport for El Al fight back to Israel, arriving early Wednesday morning.

Castelo de Vide – view of the Synagogue entrance

Price without flights:
€ 3,250 per person in a double room for AACI members
€4,510 single person in a room
Flights from Israel are approximately $986 (as of March 13, 2024)
Flight Details:
Departure from TA: ELAL -LY 375, June 17 at 17:15, Arrival in Portugal 21:10
Return flight from Lisbon: ELAL  – LY 376, June 25 at 22:30, arrival in Tel Aviv June 26, 05:45

$75 pp addition for non AACI member or join AACI

Price includes:

  • First class hotels and /or  Pousada
  • Comfortable air-conditioned touring coach for travelling
  • Kosher half board & supplies for making sandwiches for lunch
  • Professional experienced Shai Bar Ilan guide
  • Local English-speaking guide as required
  • Tips for local service providers
  • Pat Israel during the tour
  • Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the tour plan

Not included in Price:

  • International Flights
  • Travel and baggage Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Tip for Israeli guide

Terms of Payment:
From registration to April 15, 2024 – €300  non-refundable pp
From April 16, 2024 – second payment: 50%
Balance due: June 3, 2024: 100%

Terms of Cancellation:
From registration until April 30, 2024 – €300 pp
From April 16 – June 2:  50%
From June 3 – 100%


17-20/6 – Dom Pedro Hotel 5*
20-21/6 – Vila Gale Coimbra
21-24/6 – Crowne Plaza Porto
24-25/6 – Pousada Belmonte

Click here to register

For further details please email: or call 02-5661181 ext. 205