A new holiday concept, Saga’s Stay and Discover tours are focused on culture and adventure for those seeking enriching travel experiences from the comfort of a single lodge or hotel. With an emphasis on local experiences – natural, cultural, gastronomic or social – these trips allow a deep exploration of the region they take part in. Here are four incredible seven-day European options – two in Greece and two in Portugal.
The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is one of Greece’s most beloved destinations. Guests on this seven-night itinerary are based at the luxurious Electra Palace in Ialissos, which offers views of the crystal-clear Aegean Sea.
After check-in and a day of leisure in sun-kissed Ialissos, guests head to Lindos, a quaint Greek village overlooked by its Acropolis, which dates back to the fourth century BC. From the hilltop there are outstanding views over the town’s narrow lanes and houses built by seafarers of centuries gone. It’s then on to the cobbled streets of the island’s capital, Rhodes Town. The city is home to many architectural delights, from the imposing walls, built by the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John, to the Suleiman Mosque, a legacy of nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule.
After a tour of the island – on which guests visit the spa site of Kalithea and ancient sites such as the temple of Apollo and Roman Odium – there’s a chance to visit Petaloúdhes, the beautiful Valley of the Butterflies, where millions of Jersey tiger moths breed annually between June and September. From £779 per person for seven nights.
The Wonders of Crete
From the Venetian buildings of Chania’s pretty port to the stepped streets and tavernas of Sitia, Crete, Greece’s Megalonisi (big island), is a favourite with Greeks themselves – and it’s easy to see why. Home to incredible food, stunning beaches and world-class archaeological sites, there is a great deal to see and enjoy – making this tour with Saga a great option. Guests stay at the Imperial Belvedere hotel in Crete’s capital, Heraklion, a city which boasts imposing Venetian city walls, an old harbour, Lions Square and its majestic fountain, the 17th-century Loggia city hall and St Minas Cathedral. From there, the tour heads to Knossos Palace, home to the mythical Minotaur’s labyrinth. Allowing a deep-dive into the island’s culture, Saga takes guests on a tour of its beautiful countryside, taking in mountains, hillside groves and wild herbs, visiting a winery for a tasting and a local pottery.
One of the most fascinating stops on the itinerary is to the Spinalonga area, home to the now uninhabited island of the same name, which is known locally as ‘the Island of the Living Dead’ as it served as a leper colony until 1957. Guests will also visit the quaint coastal towns of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos, which is built around a natural salt lagoon. From £949 per person for seven nights.
With much of British tourism to Portugal confined to Lisbon and the Algarve, the delights of north-west Portugal are often overlooked. This Saga tour readdresses this, taking guests from Porto to this corner, tucked between the Atlantic and the Minho river that forms the border with Spain.
The tour takes in spa town of Monção and the Palacio da Brejoeira wine estate, where you can sample some Alvarinho, a crisp white wine for which the region is known, traditionally served with delicious shellfish dishes. Porto, the country’s second largest city, sits at the mouth of the Douro. Home to cobbled streets, pretty churches and tiled façades, it’s a place where you can eat very well for not very much money – tasty treats such as pastéis de nata (custard tarts) or bifana (traditional pork sandwich), can be picked up from little hole-in-the-wall type joints. Guests will also explore the vast Peneda-Gerês National Park, where wolves and boar roam, and discover its quaint working villages. From £849 per person for seven nights.
Lisbon, the Alantejo and the Portugal Riviera
Travellers on this seven-day Saga tour will stay at the four-star TRYP Lisboa Caparica Mar hotel in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, one of Europe’s sunniest (and most beautiful) cities. It is famous for its pretty azulejos tiles – which adorn many of the buildings lining its steep hills – as well as its Moorish influence, old wooden trams and affordable food. A trip along the Portuguese Riviera takes in incredible Sintra, a Unesco-recognised Cultural Landscape, and home to the Palácio da Vila – the only survivor of the country’s medieval Royal Halls; and the beautiful coastal resorts of Cascais and Estoril. From £829 per person for seven nights.
Covid-19 policy on travel insurance
Saga has always included optional travel insurance for those travelling on its holiday. However, in light of recent events, the company has taken the groundbreaking step of including Covid-19 cover on its travel insurance from June 1, 2020.