Finding a way to experience all this splendid country has to offer can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a 9 day itinerary that features all the best of Portugal. With our Heart of Portugal vacation tour you’ll find yourself immersed in the culture and custom of the Portuguese people. Traverse her scenic roads, cook in a wood-fired oven, alongside a Portuguese family, enjoy off-the-beaten-path adventure and sample the diverse dishes and distinctive wines of the area. Experience not simply the points of interest, but places of prominence that only a local can share. Enchant yourself in her stunning landscapes, colorful people, irresistible food and luscious wines. You’ll be enriched and delighted by “Europe’s Best Kept Secret”.
The Heart of Portugal tour explores the history and culture of this charming country, as well as her diverse culinary scene. We’ll visit two distinct wine regions, take in the stunning landscape of the Douro Valley, visit hilltop medieval villages which appear untouched by time. We’ll travel back a few centuries in Alentejo, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Pastureland and wheat fields share the landscape with olive groves and vineyards, and cork oak forests are peppered about.
We’ll taste exquisite Ports, exceptional wines, fruity olive oil, fresh-caught seafood, delectable stews and soups and the ever-present pastries and sweet desserts the Portuguese enjoy. We’ll spend time in local shops and emporiums including a workshop for hand-made pottery. Spend the night in a village built around a massif of granite, the incredibly large boulders balanced impressively about.
It’s been said that Portugal lead the Age of Discovery. Come with us on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, let your eyes drink in the beauty, your palate taste the freshest, most delicious foods, travel back to days of old, and discover Portugal as only a real explorer can, from the heart.
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.
Overnight in Lisbon.
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.
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.
Overnight in Lisbon.
Day 3: Cooking class, Evora (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 the cooking class we will stroll in Evora’s 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.
Day 5: Porto walking tour. (B) Free time
This morning you will awaken in the coastal city of Porto, known for its 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 its 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.
Overnight in Porto.
Day 6: 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 its 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 its 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.
Overnight in Belmonte.
Day 7: Monsanto, Help Baking bread in the community oven. (B, L)
We’ll continue of adventures in the heart of Portugal today as we head to to a family sheep farm, where you will learn about their life and taste local specialties.
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 see how they bake the bread. This will be a truly memorable experience.
Your next destination is Monsanto. This remarkable medieval village is built in and around massive 200 ton boulders. After lunch in the village we’ll drive to Tomar for the night.
Evening at leisure.
Day 8: Templars, Nazare, Lisbon(B, L)
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 program includes:
- 8 nights accommodations
- All breakfasts
- 4 lunches including wine
- 3 Dinners including wine
- Hands-on cooking class
- 1 hour private cruise on the Douro river
- Port tasting
- One group transfer from the hotel to the airport
- English speaking guide
- Entrance fees as per the itinerary
The program does not include
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
- Anything not mentioned in the program
TERMS & CONDITIONS
A deposit of $500.00 per person is required at time of booking to guarantee the space on the tour.
Balance of the full amount is due 90 days prior the first day of the tour.
Your deposit is refundable within the first 30 days of your deposit, so long as you have booked more than 180 days before the start date of the tour. If you book within 180 days of the start date of the tour, your deposit is immediately non-refundable. 90 days or less before the start date of the tour, the tour is non – refundable unless we are able to rebook another participant for the date/tour you are booked on.
*** Deposit: We have adjusted our policies due to covid-19. - In the event of a travel ban or such extraordinary event where travel is not possible - You will receive a credit voucher that you can use for booking any Food N' Wine Vacations trip by 12/31/2022.
90 days or less before the start date of the tour, the tour is non – refundable unless we are able to rebook another participant for the date/tour you are booked on.
**** We have adjusted our policies due to covid-19. In the event of a travel ban or such extraordinary event where travel is not possible - You will receive a credit voucher that you can use for booking any Food N' Wine Vacations trip by 12/31/2022.
Food N wine vacations, Inc reserve the right to re-calculate prices due to currency fluctuations. For full terms and conditions refer to Terms and conditions page.
The hotels that you will stay in Lisbon and Porto are 5 and 4 stars located in a super central locations.
When in the countryside we stay in hotels like Pousdas of Portugal. These are historic hotels in Portugal: located in palaces, castles, convents and monasteries.
Here are examples of hotels we work with:
DATES & PRICES
The tours in the fall are scheduled to run.
We plan to re-evaluate the global travel situation at the end of April unless something changes.
Oct 3 – Oct 11
- $ 3595.00
- Sold out
Oct 12 – Oct 20
- $ 3595.00
May 8 – May 16
- $ 3595.00
June 12 – June 20
- $ 3595.00
Oct 9 – Oct 17
- $ 3595.00
Looking for a Private Group Tour?
We can accommodate private groups year round
We highly suggest purchasing travel insurance to protect your travel investment. Many travel products are non-refundable.
Emergencies happen when you least expect it. Travel protection provides coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Medical and Dental, Emergency Assistance and Transportation, Baggage, Baggage Delay, Travel Delay and much more. Plus, we offer our exclusive One Call 24-hour Traveler Assistance Service to help you with emergency situations that arise during your trip.
You may also consider ‘Cancel for no reason’. It may seem costly, but if you are deeply concerned about things like Hurricanes, strikes, Coronavirus outbreak, terror attack and such, you should look into that.
For pre existing condition, it’s important to purchase a policy within 10 days of your deposit.
PRE AND POST IDEAS
What should I wear?
Stay casual and comfortable. Mornings and evening are chilly but during the day it’s warm. Even in full summer, hot days can quickly turn into cool evenings. Be prepared with a light sweater during the summer months, and something a little heavier in spring and fall.
You won’t need to dress up anywhere you go. If you would like to try to blend in with the locals as much as possible, think “smart casual” or “preppy” for men, and “light and stylish” for women. Italians are very fashion conscious, but not formal.
In the summer months, you will most likely want to wear shorts. Make sure they have good pockets. However, always make sure you also have some long pants
Bring flat shoes, as you will be walking in medieval towns with cobblestone streets or farms with unpaved roads.
If you want to dress up for dinner, dress as if you are having dinner with friends.
How many bags can I bring?
We recommend bringing one medium suitcase and another small bag or trolley.
Please check our packing advice.
We advise you to pack light. We also recommend planning what you need based on each day of your travels.
You will need the extra space for souvenirs. You may not think about it now, but believe us; you’d want to take home that tasty olive oil, a bottle of wine that you can’t find at home, local specialties, or ceramics.
On that note, the best advice we can give you is “bubble wrap”. Bring bubble wrap with you. It’s cheaper and more convenient to bring it from the U.S and you will probably never leave home without it.
We highly recommend you use packing cubes for efficient packing and to keep things organized. You can search for videos on YouTube to learn more about it.
Do I need a passport?
Copy of passport
We strongly suggest that you to make a copy of your passport.
Should I bring my cell phone?
It is a good idea to bring a cell phone. See our tips for communications while on a tour down below.
Do I need converters or transformers?
European power outlets run at 220 volts. You must buy a transformer to avoid shorting out and/or causing permanent damage to your devices. You will need it for cell phones, cameras, tablets, and other US-made electronics.
Tip: If your electronics can be powered by either 120 volt or 220-volt outlets (the device will usually have this listed in the technical specifications in a format like 120/240 volts, meaning the device can be powered from any power outlet around the globe), you will only need a plug adapter. Please note that a plug adapter is not a transformer, and using one with a device not capable of handling 240 volts will cause permanent damage and may even render the device unusable.
We find that a debit/credit card of a credit union bank has low rates for an ATM withdrawal or credit card charges. In addition to credit union banks, here is a list of cards that offer a low or no foreign transaction fee: Capital one no fee hassle card, Chase Sapphire preferred, Chase ink business card, United mileage plus, Barclays arrivals world, Amex platinum card, Capital one venture reward, bank Americard travel reward, Marriott, Southwest, Barclaycard arrival plus, United mileage plus, Citi Hilton honors.
It is also important to let the credit card company or your bank know what country you are traveling to and the exact date
It is recommended to have a cell phone with you, however, if you plan to bring your smart phone, make sure to turn off mobile data right before you board the plane. If the data is not turned off, your mobile provider may charge you hundreds of dollars for using their services outside the U.S. On certain phones, you may be able to disable data roaming (phones that support this feature will most likely have it turned off by default). This will automatically turn off data outside the U.S.
You may want to check with your cell phone provider what data/voice/ text they offer when you travel to Europe. Things are changing for the better. For example, if you have an unlimited plus plan with AT&T you can pay $10 a day and continue using your phone in Europe as if you were at home.
WhatsApp is a free service that lets users message one another seamlessly between mobile and desktop devices.
WhatsApp is known for its enhanced privacy features, like end-to-end encryption, and its free, web-based international calling. Read on to find out how you can leverage the Facebook-owned messaging giant to make free international calls.