To fully learn the heart and soul of a country as splendid as Portugal requires a dedicated tour. Our nine day itinerary features all the best this wonderful country offers along with an immersive experience in the culture and custom of the Portuguese people. This well-thought-out circle tour has an attention to detail you won’t want to miss.
Traverse her scenic roads that meander through natural and undisturbed countryside, cook in the traditional way alongside a Portuguese family, enjoy off-the-beaten-path adventure and sample the diverse dishes and distinctive local wines. 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 Circle 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, and 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 shops and emporiums in the towns we visit and perhaps choose the work of a local artisan to bring home. Our accommodations include enchanting and historic inns and hotels. We’ll see sun-kissed farmland, ancient olive groves and family vineyards tended with care all while connecting with the customs and culture of the Portuguese way of life.
It’s been said that Portugal led 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, Lisbon tour, Dinner
Ben Vindo a Portugal! Welcome to Portugal! Arrive at your hotel at your convenience. We can help if you need transfer arrangements . We’ll meet together in the afternoon(3:30 pm) for an opening introduction to the tour where we’ll learn the history of Portugal and some insightful details of this fascinating country.
First it’s off to Belem. This southernmost parish in the municipality of Lisbon is recognized for its high concentration of national monuments. Named for Bethlehem it is the birthplace of pastels de Belem, one might say the national pastry of Portugal. Together we will sample this delectable national treasure in its birthplace.
Then it’s back to Lisbon to experience the City of The Seven Hills in all its enigmatic glory! From bohemian to cosmopolitan and richly appointed to simplistic beauty, Lisbon delivers an encounter with the diverse and endearing culture that makes this country such a desirable destination.
Lisbon, the hilly, coastal capital of Portugal is known as the 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 Tagus 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: Evora, An evening Cooking Class
Alentejo is known as the “Breadbasket of Portugal” and with good reason. This region is known for “good food, good wine and good people”. What more could you ask for? How about sunbaked olive groves, enchanting traditional Portuguese villages, prolific cork forests and fortified towns that transport you back to medieval times? There are plenty of opportunities to unleash your inner shutter-bug in this wonderful and authentically Portuguese region.
Our journey to Alentejo centers on Evora. 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’ll take a walk to the historical center of Evora and get lost in the fascinating sites and architecture that dates back thousands of years. This afternoon brings you free time to walk to your accommodations. Our hotel for our stay in this region is housed in a 16th century olive oil mill. After you get settled we’ll make our way to the home of our host for this evening’s cooking class. We will be welcomed into the chef’s country home as invited guests and we’ll share a meal we’ve prepared together. Perhaps using some of the bounty from the chef’s own vegetable garden.
Day 3: Visit a Cork Factory, Winery Tour, Up the mountains
This day begins with breakfast. Next we will visit a cork factory. Portugal exports about 63% of the world's cork and we are fortunate to learn about the process first hand. After that we’ll call upon a family owned winery and enjoy a wine tasting followed by lunch.
After lunch we’ll go deep into the mountainous area of the Alentejo and the heart of Portugal. Charming mountain towns and villages.
Next we check into tonight’s accommodations. Once we check in to our hotel (which is in a converted convent!) we’ll freshen up, relax and enjoy the sumptuous fare prepared just for us.
Day 4: Cheese Farm, Bread Baking, Monsanto
Our adventures in the heart of Portugal continue as today we visit a family sheep farm. The Portuguese are very committed to preserving local agriculture and their sheep farms are near and dear to their own hearts. Sun warmed grazing land and healthy living conditions make for happy sheep and delicious cheese. Our hosts will teach us about life on a sheep farm and we’ll enjoy the local specialties including the excellent cheese.
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 and have an opportunity to participate in this age-old craft. This will be a truly memorable experience.
Next we’re off to the fascinating and precariously perched village of Monsanto. Defined by the amazing landscape Monsanto sits in and astride gigantic boulders. However the location of the town has been a strategic one for millennia. Homes are sandwiched between massive boulders and visitors will have no trouble imagining the village has been in existence since prehistoric times. Monsanto is truly a living museum and testament to the Portuguese ability to thrive under many different conditions.
Tonight we will return to the convent transformed by our amazing day. We’ll rest and get ready to continue our adventure.
Day 5: Douro Valley, Lunch at a Port estate, Cruise on The Douro River, Porto
This morning we’ll make our way deep into the majestic Douro Valley. This region is known for fine port and other wines, is absolutely breathtaking in beauty and is intensely cultivated. The grapes for Portugal’s popular vinho verde (green wine) are grown here. The growing conditions are ideal for these grapes as the climate doesn’t allow them to fully ripen and the wine is made using very young grapes. This gives the wine a light and bright quality along with a bit of sparkle. Quite a treat!
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 we will surely drink them in. This is a photo-op for sure!
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 cruise will take us along a beautiful landscape with breathtaking vistas. A wonderful way to relax!
Then it’s off to Porto to check into our hotel and enjoy a free evening to enjoy as you please.
Day 6: A Free Day in Porto
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, if you choose to do so, enjoy a Complimentary guided walking tour of the city, with stops along the way; 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 building’s 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, 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.
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.
Tonight we’ll stay in Porto.
Day 7: Coimbra University, Templar Site in Tomar
Today we’re off to the university town of Coimbra. Charming Coimbra sits along the beautiful Mondego River in central Portugal. The University campus is an architectural delight and no visit to Coimbra is complete without a stroll around the impressive grounds where we’re likely to see students clad in black capes, the traditional dress code of the university. You’re sure to be fascinated by 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.
After our lunch we’ll drive to Tomar. Tomar is a stronghold of the Knights Templar, a large and devoutly Christian organization during the medieval period. The Knights mission was to protect European travelers to the Holy Land while carrying out military operations. This wealthy and powerful clandestine order is shrouded in mystery. 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 furtive 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 spend the night in Tomar.
Day 8 : Obidos, Sintra, Pena Palace, Lisbon
The charming medieval village of Obidos 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. Friendly locals welcome you and this perfectly Portuguese village captivates all who visit.
Next 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 Palace.
Enjoy some free time and have some lunch. Stroll the cobblestone lanes and spend time in the unique shops. This quaint town is a wonderful treat.
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, on our room by room tour. What a way to wrap up our Heart of Portugal Circle Tour!
Tonight is our final night in Portugal and we will spend it in Lisbon.
Day 9: Departure Early Morning
This morning we’ll gather for a group transfer to the airport. It’s never easy to say adeus (goodbye) but our time together has come to an end. You’ll leave Portugal with a full heart, and memories of a wonderful visit so maybe we’ll just say até mais (see you later).
The program includes:
- 8 nights accommodation
- 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.
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.
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
May 8 – May 16
- $ 3595.00
- Sold out
May 19 – May 27
- $ 3595.00
- 2 spots
May 29 – June 6
- $ 3595.00
- Sold out
June 19 – June 27
- $ 3595.00
- Sold out
Oct 9 – Oct 17
- $ 3595.00
- 2 spots
May 7 – May 15
- $ 3595.00
May 14 – May 22
- $ 3595.00
- Private group
June 18 – June 26
- $ 3595.00
Oct 1 – Oct 9
- $ 3595.00
Oct 15 – Oct 23
- $ 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.