Heart of Portugal Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival, Afternoon introduction tour of Lisbon, Dinner
Day 2: Day trip to Sintra and Belem.
Day 3: Alentejo region, Evora, Cooking class, Monsaraz.
Day 4: Obidos, Coimbra, Porto.
Day 5: Porto walking tour, Free afternoon
Day 6: Douro Valley, Cruise on the Douro river, winery visit.
Day 7: Sortellha, Monsanto, Baking bread the old fashioned way.
Day 8: Tomar, Nazare Lisbon.
Day 9: Departure.
Day 1: Arrival, afternoon introduction tour of Lisbon, Dinner (D)
Welcome to Portugal! Arrive at our hotel at your convenience. If necessary we can arrange private transfer for you. We’ll come together in our hotel lobby at 4:00 pm where we’ll meet our tour guide. Be ready to have some fun as we see the sights in a surprising way! Experience the City of Seven Hills in all it’s enigmatic glory. From the bohemian to the cosmopolitan, the richly appointed to simplistic beauty.
Lisbon is Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital and is known as Rainha do Mar, or Queen of the Sea. From her throne of seven steep hills, Lisbon looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean, while stretching along the banks of the Taugus River. Portugal’s largest city boasts a lovely Mediterranean climate, pastel colored buildings, Gothic cathedrals, an impressive suspension bridge and architectural delights. After a lively tour we will enjoy the first of many outstanding meals at a local restaurant. Then it’s back to your hotel to rest and renew for our day tomorrow.
Day 2: Day trip to Sintra and Belem (B)
This morning we venture to Sintra. This day trip is right out of a fairytale! Set against a spectacular backdrop of verdant green hills, dotted with lovely pastel villas, retreats fit for royalty, castles, and the famed Pena’s Palace, a castle that is reminiscent of Germany’s Neuschwanstein, Sintra is an extraordinary resort town. Pena’s palace was built in the mid 1800’s as a sanctuary and retreat for Portuguese royal get-away. The forested terrain and native plants and flowers surrounding the palace paint a portrait reminiscent of an enchanting tale of romance and adventure. Prepare to be swept away as our guide regales us with the story of the palace, as we tour room by room.
After our palace tour you will be free to enjoy lunch on your own and visit the unique shops of this quaint town. At 3:00 pm our group will come together and enjoy a luscious “sweet treat”.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a tour of Belem. Belem is the southernmost parish in the municipality of Lisbon and is recognized for it’s high concentration of national monuments. This namesake of Bethlehem is famous for the delicious pasteis de Belem, which we will enjoy together at the birthplace of this delectable treat.
Your evening is free to enjoy. Perhaps a visit to the lively Bairro Alto, home to Lisbon’s trendiest nightlife. As the sun sets the bars open. Let yourself be carried away as the partying continues well into the night. Enjoy a beverage or two and perhaps dance off the day’s sweet treats.
Day 3: Evora, Cooking class in a winery, Monsaraz , Lisbon (B, L)
This day finds us making our way to Alentejo, a region of sunbaked olive groves, traditional Portuguese villages, and fortified towns. The town of Evora may be small, however it holds a vast array of historic monuments. In fact, Evora is home to the second largest collection of Portugal’s national monuments. We will have a hands-on cooking class at a chef’s 18th century house in the historical center of Evora. Cooking and world heritage come together amazingly in this lovely place and Sofia will welcome you in the traditional friendly manner as you are invited as a guest to her home.
After lunch, we will drive to a picture perfect medieval village, Monsaraz., Cobbled streets and smartly whitewashed stone cottages with bursts of bougainvillea cascading over the walls. And views into infinity over the Alentejo plains. We will stroll through the car –free streets before heading back to Lisbon.
Remember to pack your bags tonight.
Day 4: Obidos, Coimbra, Porto. (B, L, D)
We’ll say farewell to Lisbon and head north today. Our first stop will be the charming village of Obidos. This medieval village is tucked away behind a fortress wall, protecting her historic center and magnificent castle. Take a stroll through labyrinthine passages and narrow, cobbled streets, leading to busy village squares, enticing shops, inviting cafes, and quaint whitewashed residences bedecked with colorful flowers.
Our next stop will be the university town of Coimbra. Charming Coimbra sits along the Mondego River in central Portugal. In addition to the prestigious University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe, Coimbra is home to a seemingly endless treasure trove of historic sites and beautiful gardens. The University campus is an architectural delight and no visit to Coimbra is complete without a stroll around the grounds. we’ll visit the university library, which houses over 35,000 books, many dating back a century or more. This epic library is reminiscent of a scene right out of a Harry Potter movie.
We’ll journey our way to our destination of Porto where we’ll check into our hotel, freshen up and then go out for dinner. Our destination this evening will be the historic Ribeira district. Located along the Douro River the Ribeira district is a renaissance in itself. A series of narrow streets meander past pastel hued buildings, some in various states of renovation. Harkening back to the middle ages, the Ribeira district was once a hub of enterprise. Now the district boasts a lively and inviting nightlife scene. We’ll enjoy a fabulous meal and maybe a drink or two, perhaps under a canopy of stars.
Day 4: Porto walking tour, Free afternoon. (B)
This morning you will awaken in the coastal city of Porto, known for it’s fine port wine production, stately bridges and picturesque waterfront. After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the city, with stops along the way; the local food market, Sao Bento train station which is among the world’s most beautiful train stations, and the famed Lello Bookstore. Considered one of the must-see attractions in Porto this bookstore ranks high with visitors and residents alike, if only for the buildings architecture. Once inside this architectural treasure you’ll find even more breathtaking beauty. The art nouveau style showcases a spectacular spiral staircase, wood paneled ceiling and carved bookshelves, masterpieces one and all. In addition, this fully operational bookstore boasts several thousand tomes in various genres. Impressive indeed.
Porto, the unofficial capital of northern Portugal, may be virtually unknown outside of the country, but can rival popular Lisbon for historic sites, active local scene and exciting nightlife.
Porto’s historic center is proud of it’s architecture, both traditional and unique, with winding streets jam packed with hidden gems. Modern Porto celebrates a vibrant culture, nightlife, and exciting and daring, cuisine.
After our walking tour the rest of the day is yours to enjoy in this marvelous city overflowing with sights. Stroll through Porto, do some shopping, and be sure to visit the lively riverfront, always a hub of fun activity. You may even be enticed to sample some more of the luscious port for which Porto is known.
Day 5: Douro Valley, Douro river cruise , winery visit. (B, L, D)
This morning we will depart Porto and continue our travels deep into the region known for fine port and other wines, the majestic Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is stunning in it’s beauty and is also intensely cultivated. This is where the grapes are grown for vinho verde (green wine) a popular wine of Portugal. Because the region’s climate, does not allow these grapes to fully ripen, the wine is produced using the very young grapes. This lends a bright and quite light quality to the wine, as well as a bit of a sparkle.
The Douro is a swift river, dropping over 120 meters during it’s 160 kilometer (nearly 100 miles) trek across Portugal. This fast-moving river cuts a swath of deep canyons, carved precipitously into the landscape. This unwieldy geography hasn’t discouraged the people who make their home along the steep, fertile slopes which bank the Douro. You’ll be amazed at the tiny white villages, clinging to steep hillsides. narrow strips of fields form stair-steps down to the river. The views along the Douro are some of the most picturesque you’ll find in Portugal.
We’ll take a scenic river cruise on our private Rabello boat. These traditional river boats were once used to transport port barrels to eager patrons beyond Porto. Our 2 hour cruise will take us along beautiful landscape with breathtaking vistas. A wonderful way to relax!
Today we’ll visit some of the area’s family vineyards, and take an opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch, among the vines. Breathtaking views surround us and should our tour take place during harvest time, you may want to try your hand-or foot-at stomping the grapes. This area is one of the few remaining wine regions in the world that still uses foot stomping to crush the grapes, instead of the more common machine crushing. It’s said that “the gentle tread of the pickers’ feet gradually extracts the rich color and tannin from the grape skins. There’s no need to worry this process is unsanitary. Experts say the delicate balance of acid, sugar, and alcohol prohibits human pathogens from surviving in the wine.
Days end will find us heading to our overnight in a historical palace in the countryside.
Day 6: Sortellha, Monsanto, Baking bread in the community oven. (B, L, D)
We’ll continue of adventures in the heart of Portugal today as we head to Sortelha. This charming village is notably historic for its medieval atmosphere. All the homes in Sortelha are built of granite. The foundation of these unique single story houses are built into the rock topography of the terrain. It’s quite impressive to note that these homes have withstood the test of time for over 700 years. We will have lunch in the village.
Next we continue our journey deep into the heartland of this remarkable country and experience a traditional Portuguese bread baking the same way the local villagers have done for hundreds of years. The village has a community oven and we will make and bake our bread like a local. This will be a truly memorable experience.
The final destination of the day is Monsanto. This remarkable medieval village is built in and around massive 200 ton boulders. We’ll dine this evening as we gaze upon the one-of-a-kind amazing views from Monsanto.
Day 8: Tomar, Nazare, Lisbon ( B, L)
Prepare for a grand finale, or as the Portuguese refer to it “O Grande Final”.
Or final day proves to be one of great discovery as we journey to Tomar, stronghold on the Knights Templar. Those not familiar with the Templar-prominently featured in the thrilling book-made-movie “The DaVinci Code”- will be amazed as we uncover the deeply held secrets of this clandestine group.
The fortress of the Templar is an amazing site. Surrounded by mighty walls, the Convento de Cristo is perched high upon a steep hill. Amazingly the temple was built in 1160 and has withstood the test of time. The Templar knights were made up of warrior monks who play a vast role in the history of Portugal. You will truly be amazed as we discover the story of the fortress of the Knights Templar.
We’ll leave the Templar behind and journey to Nazare, Portugal’s famous fishing village. This long stretch of beautiful sandy beach is a colorful fishing village. In the long held tradition of Portuguese fishing, it’s a not uncommon sight to witness fishmongers bedecked in the time honored custom of “seven skirts”.
Sitting steep atop a cliff is the old part of town. We’ll stop to enjoy the most iconic view of the Portuguese coast, one which you may recognize. This 318 meter (1043 feet!) rock face has a sheer drop to the sea below. In 2011 this area was the ideal spot to witness Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara’s great fete. The now-famous surfer broke records as he rode a wave that measure 78 feet from crest to trough. Totally rad!
Our journey to the Heart of Portugal ends in the capital, where it began, Lisbon. Here you will spend the night and prepare for your departure on the following day.
Day 9: Departure
Group transfer from the hotel to the airport will depart at 09:15 am.
The Tour includes
8 nights accommodations (3 Lisbon, 2 Porto, 1 Douro, 1 Monsanto, 1 Lisbon)
5 lunches including wine
4 Dinners including wine
Hands-on cooking class
2 hours private cruise on the Douro river
One group transfer from the hotel to the airport
English speaking guide
Entrance fees as per the itinerary
The tour does not include
Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
The tour is limited to 10- 12 guests.
Price per person in a double room: $3550.00.
Single supplement: $800.00
Have questions? Read our Q & A for Portugal
Group Dates 2019
May 12 - May 19 - 6 spots left
June 8 - June 16m- 6 spots left
Sep 8 - Sep 16
Oct 6 - Oct 14
Group Dates 2020
Oct 4 - Oct 12
More dates TBA
We can accommodate private groups year round. Contact us!