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Portugal: Alleyways & Avenues 

Doors re-edit.jpg

Lisbon, Obidos,

Coimbra, Porto,



14th – 24th May

How Much


Portugal is well-known for a number of things; it's famous for the delicious fortified wine port, as a destination for beach holidays, and as a centre of viniculture (along with the all important cork to keep the wine fresh in bottles). Despite being one of the oldest countries in Europe, and once one of the richest, it's less well-known for its medieval villages and vibrant cities.


During the Age of Discovery, Portuguese navigators, such as Vasco de Gama, were instrumental in finding new trade routes and even new lands. Portugal established one of the longest lived maritime and commercial empires. Its overseas colonies included countries like Angola and Mozambique in Africa and Brazil in South America. This brought enormous wealth which in turn produced spectacular architecture, such as impressive Catholic cathedrals and the numerous palaces at Sintra, just outside Lisbon.


Today the architectural heritage veers between grand and shabby, with cities such as Porto falling on relatively hard times since Napoleon's occupation in the C19th and the subsequent loss of Brazil, one of its richest colonies. However, the intersection between magnificent civic buildings and the gentle decay of inner city neighbourhoods provides a rich environment for making interesting images. These places are also great spaces for street photography, with figures ranging from buskers to elegantly attired Lisboetas to Catholic priests in night black garb.

This tour will be based in four principle locations. We will be concentrating on buildings and portraiture. Most of our explorations will be on foot so please pack comfortable footwear.


We start in Sintra, where kings, dukes and rich merchants built elaborate and whimsical palaces set in carefully designed parkland, studded with Chinese pagodas and Romantic follies. Our second day will be dedicated to visiting Lisbon, by train. As befits the capital city of an empire spanning the world, Lisbon has huge public squares, beautiful café lined avenues and, atop it all, a Medieval castle. There are also some wonderful quirky gems such as the Elevador de Santa Justa, a cast iron lift tower with filigree details built in 1902 to connect the lower streets with Carmo Square. Tuk tuks whizz around the steep and narrrow streets in the old town, competing for space with the trolley buses. The trams will be a definite focus for photos as they squeeze between the buildings on sinuous rails.

We then move on to the tiny medieval, walled village of Óbidos, where we will spend two nights. Climbing an open stair onto the parapet, one could circumnavigate the village in less than an hour... but that would be too fast. This is a walk to savour, time to saunter rather than sprint. From this high vantage there are views across the rooftops, vignettes of brightly painted walls and windows, glimpses into hidden courtyards and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. 

Our third stop will be in the city of Coimbra, site of one of the oldest and largest universities in Portugal. Think of it as Portugal's answer to Cambridge or Oxford except it sits atop a hill. We will spend the afternoon exploring the medieval streets, cloisters and university sites. The view of the town at sunset from the west bank of the Mondego River, climbing in tiers towards the summit of learning, is particularly fine.

And so to our final destination; Oporto. I feel that this city provides the greatest concentration of photographic opportunities, from buskers to derelict buildings to murals to river views and so much more.

Known to English speakers as Porto, this harbour city is well-known as the main export base for the eponymous fortified wine port. We will be staying in the Vila Nova de Gaia, on the southern bank of the Duoro River. This is the heart of the port industry where the wine has traditionally been brought down river from the vineyards to be bottled and aged. There are many old warehouses, named after famous brands such as Sandeman, and fine views across the Duoro to the heart of the city. To the east, the huge double decked iron arch of the Luís I Bridge rises into the sky, our gateway into the city. Porto's vibe might best be described as shabby chic, with old elegantly dilapidated neighbourhoods standing cheek by jowl with swish shops and grand buildings. We will have three full days to explore this endlessly fascinating place.

All this and pastel de nata, the finest custard tarts in the world! What more could you want?

What's Included
What's Not
  • All transport during workshop

  • Bed & breakfast accommodation

  • Photo tuition from David Ward

  • Flights

  • Lunch, dinner and alcoholic beverages

  • Travel insurance

  • Alcoholic beverages

£2,850 for single occupancy

£800 fee payable at time of booking

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