Wellington in Portugal

Wellington in Portugal

The French Invasions Thwarted


Wellington in Portugal

The French Invasions Thwarted


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Tour Introduction

On this eight-day tour, led by the award winning Peninsular War and Napoleonic historian Nick Lipscombe, we escape the main roads to discover the Portugal known so well to the men of Wellington’s Army during the years 1808– 1811.

As well as the battlefields we will see the beaches on which Wellington landed his army in August 1808 with the treacherous rolling surf; explore the forts and signal redoubts along the Lines of Torres Vedras; wander around the historic centre of Lisbon, sample port wine in one of the many port houses in Porto besides the banks of the mighty River Douro: walk the walls of the pretty medieval town of Obidos; admire the architecture of the UNESCO listed university city of Coimbra and marvel at the stunning Portuguese countryside as we travel through its mountain ranges, river valleys and national parks. All set amidst the background of wonderful local and international cuisine and great Portuguese hospitality.


To the Portuguese, the Peninsular War is known as the War of the French Invasions. Three times the French invaded Portugal between 1807 and 1811 and each time the nation’s saviour was Arthur Wellesley the future Duke of Wellington. The first invasion by General Junot ended following the battle of Vimeiro in August 1808; the second by Marshal Soult ended abruptly following Wellington’s audacious operation to recapture the city of Porto in broad daylight, forcing Soult’s force into a harrowing retreat over the mountains in north Portugal; while the third invasion by Marshal Massena came to an equally dramatic end in front of the Lines of Torres Vedras necessitating, the following year, Marshal Ney to conduct a series of rearguard actions for the French to escape.


  • With Peninsular War expert Col Nick Lipscombe
  • Classic Battles of Vimiero and Bussaco
  • Wellington's defence of Portugal
  • Lisbon & Porto and lovely Portuguese countryside

"Wellington: A fine fellow with the best nerves of anyone I ever met with."

Major General Sir Lowry Cole: letter from Portugal 1811


Day 1 - Opening Shots

Fly London to Lisbon. Check-in to our hotel in Obidos for one night. From Wellington’s observation tower we discuss the opening shots of the campaign.

Day 2 - Roliça and Vimeiro

We explore the battlefield of Roliça and visit Lake’s monument. Thence to Maceira Bay, where British reinforcements came ashore prior to the battle of Vimeiro, our next stop. From the visitor centre we get a great view of the battlefield; we visit Junot’s headquarters before travelling out to Ventosa to look at the French flanking attacks. Check-in to our hotel in Curia for two nights.

Day 3 - Porto

We examine Wellesley’s audacious crossing of the Douro and the recapture of Porto, and the events preceding it. En route from our hotel, we stop at Ovar to consider Hill’s attempt to outflank Soult’s forward screen by way of an ambitious amphibious operation. At Vila Nova, on the south bank of the Douro, we stand at the monastery from where Wellesley commanded the operation and established his artillery. We then cross the mighty Douro river and visit the seminary buildings. We end the day at one of Porto’s fine port lodges to enjoy a tour and sample their wares.

Day 4 - Bussaco

We drive to the formidable ridge on which the battle of Bussaco was fought. We visit the battle monument, Massena’s headquarters, Wellington’s command post, the military museum and Craufurd’s rock. Check-in to our Lousa hotel, a former 18th century baroque palace (where both Ney and Wellington are purported to have stayed), for two nights.

Day 5 – Massena’s Retreat

We drive south to pick up the first of a series of rearguard actions fought by Ney’s corps to buy time for Massena’s army to escape in 1811. We will see the actions at Pombal, Redinha and Foz de Arouce, where the French 39 Regiment lost a coveted eagle.

Day 6 – The Lines of Torres Vedras

We drive back towards Lisbon and pick up the Lines of Torres Vedras that encircle the city. We explore the forts in the First and Second Lines; the great redoubt of Sobral and the restored fort of San Vicente; Wellington’s headquarters at Pero Negro; Beresford’s headquarters at Casal Cochim; and finally visit Colonel Fletcher’s monument at Alhandra. Check-in to our Lisbon hotel for two nights.

Day 7 – Lisbon

We spend a full day in Lisbon and its environs including the atmospheric castle at Belem guarding the entrance to the Tagus estuary, the impressive military museum with its large model of the Lines and an astonishing collection of artillery, before finishing at the dominating Castello de Sao Jorge.

Day 8 - Home. Fly Lisbon – London

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