Portugal – May 2021
- Admire the remarkable monuments and immerse in a fado experience in Lisbon
- Savor Sintra and surroundings, returning to Lisbon by water
- Visit regal Coimbra with its ancient university
- Taste wine or luxuriate in a massage by the vineyards of the Douro Valley
- Drink in the breathtaking views of Porto from our hotel’s rooftop
- Luxuriate in 5-star hotels throughout the trip
- Know that ALL of our suppliers have the Clean&Safe seal from the Portuguese government
DAY 1: WELCOME TO LISBON
Lisbon sprawls along the banks of the Tagus River estuary. Its name comes from the Phoenician meaning “enchanting port.” From the city’s hills, you can look toward the Atlantic where the Portuguese inaugurated the Age of Discovery. The low-lying areas of the city were rebuilt after the destructive Great Earthquake of 1755 but in recent times, Lisbon has come to life with a newfound energy. Travel writers are running out of superlatives to describe this once sleepy capital on the Atlantic coast, where history and tradition coalesce with contemporary chic and style.
You’ll enjoy an early evening privately-led walk late this afternoon. Despite its easygoing lifestyle, Lisbon is full of character and contrasts. We invite you to visit the city’s best viewpoints and the most interesting spots that each quarter has to offer. During this walk you will experience the city’s dynamic neighborhoods. You might climb up to Graça’s hilltop viewpoint through the narrow streets of the village-like quarter of Alfama and again down by the Moorish quarter (Mouraria), into the colorful and multiethnic Martim Moniz.
Visit the city’s fashionable uptown to have a taste of the bohemian and artistic atmosphere of Chiado and Bairro Alto. Here you can find rather original street musicians, art studios, high fashion stores and dozens of sunny cafes. We’ll end the evening with drinks and a fabulous welcome dinner.
Lodging for the next 3 nights: Classic rooms at the Bairro Alto Hotel, a 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of historic Lisbon. Following a 3-year renovation, this is now a top 5* property in Lisbon, with vintage accents, rich colors and textures, and an understated use of locally-made tile and marble. The rooftop terrace is one of the hotel’s most appealing features, a refuge to enjoy views and sunsets. Bairro Alto’s restaurant boasts Michelin-starred chef Nuno Mendes. Drinks and dinner
DAY 2: GUIDED GALAVANT THROUGH TOWN; GENUINE FADO DINNER
Today, meet your private guide and driver at your hotel for a deeper exploration of Lisbon. First, the Baixa district. Rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, Baixa enchants with its beautiful cobbled streets named after the artisans who traded in the area. You can’t miss the famous Elevator de Santa Justa, a remarkable structure built in the late 19th century and designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel of Parisian fame. Then you’ll visit the Alfama district, the unmistakable soul of the capital city. Alfama is adorned with steep winding alleys, hidden landmark churches, echoes of tunes of fado music and stunning views of the Tagus River. It’s the Moors who shaped this district, although the earthquake brought down many of its classy Moorish mansions. Now Alfama has reverted to a working-class, “fisherfolk” quarter.
Continue to the Castle of St. Jorge, formerly a Moorish citadel. Here you can see Lisbon sprawling along the river banks. Lunch on your own and free time.
This evening, meet your local guide for an authentic Fado night out. First, a fadista will offer some background to the folk song tradition that’s so strong here in Lisbon. Then welcome the musicians right into your group to show you the huge variety of fado styles. The experience ends with a typical dinner served in a “fado house” so you can feel all the magic explained to you earlier. Don’t forget: “Silêncio! Que se vai cantar o fado!” (“Silence! Fado will be sung now!”)
For an authentic fado evening as the local Lisboetas do it… Consider staying until midnight (at least) and having a leisurely morning the next day. Breakfast, Fado dinner.
DAY 3: LISBON SEASIDE EXPERIENCE; SINTRA; SAILING BACK TO TOWN
This morning after breakfast, your expert host and driver will pick you up at your hotel for a fabulous day visiting Lisbon’s surroundings. You will get to see Belém, the coast of Estoril, the charming village of Cascais, the beach of Guincho, stunning Cabo da Roca and the amazing Convent of Capuchos.
You will start with a short ride to pay a visit to Belém’s harbor with its imposing monuments from the Discoveries Period and the famous pastry shop Pastéis de Belém, where you may want to indulge in a warm pastel de nata and coffee before the scenic drive along the Tagus River. Away from all the tourist paths, today’s encounter will be with quaint coastal villages and beautiful beaches. If you are feeling sporty, enjoy the scenic and easy hike down from the Moorish castle into the town of Sintra.
If time permits, we’ll glimpse the 16th century Convent of the Capuchos. On our way back to Cascais, we will drive through the mountain range of Sintra, with its fairy tail atmosphere and splendid views of Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. Grilled fish and seafood are the name of the game here, so we’ll suggest some great options for an oceanside lunch. Finally, finish the day at the village of Cascais, a charming seaside town that serves as a popular summer retreat for Lisboetas.
The return to Lisbon will be via private sailboat. This captures Lisbon and its coast in its entire splendor, just as great explorers did for centuries. If the wind is up, the sails will soon be unfurled, and refreshments and snacks will be served while you sit back to revel in the setting. Enjoy the sea breeze and the spectacular vistas of Lisbon that are normally reserved only for sailors and merchants. At journey’s end, your crew will wish you farewell and your private driver will pick you up at the harbor and drive you to your hotel. Breakfast, drinks and snacks on the sailboat
DAY 4: LISBON TO PORTO – STOP IN MYSTICAL COIMBRA
Check out after breakfast and head north about 2 hours to Coimbra. Long ago, this site was occupied by the Celts. They were followed by the Roman empire, whose presence is still visible in the archaeological remains housed at the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro. The museum is built directly over the forum of the Roman city. Then followed the Visigoths, the Moors and finally in 1064, the Christians led by Fernando I of Castile. Coimbra was the capital of Portugal during the Middle Ages, but it was the Renaissance that transformed the city into a center of learning. The University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and is one of the oldest in Europe and a UNESCO World heritage site.
Free time for lunch, then continue to Porto (approx. 1 hour & 20 minutes drive). The captivating and vibrant city of Porto is undoubtedly becoming one of Europe’s most treasured locations. Across the river, Vila Nova de Gaia is renowned for its historic wine cellars and the city provides an exquisite insight into some of the world’s most appreciated Port wine and its unique maturing process. The old town of Porto, classified as a World Heritage Site in 1996, is also a must, with its array of historical and religious monuments such as the Romanesque cathedral and church of Santa Clara.
Time to settle in and explore the many dinner options on your own tonight.
Lodging for the next 3 nights: Superior rooms at the The Yeatman Hotel, a luxury wine hotel and spa with spectacular views over Porto. An oasis of calm in the city, the hotel is set among several acres of gardens that include both indoor and outdoor pools. Its gourmet restaurant was the first in Porto to be awarded two Michelin stars and must be reserved well in advance. The 25,000 bottle cellar houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Portuguese wines. The wine theme extends to the Caudalie Vinotherapy Spa. If that’s not your thing, choose from a great selection of books in the hotel’s library, then relax while reading. Naturally, with a glass of Port in hand. Breakfast
DAY 5: PORTO PROMENADE, GUIDED AND NOT
Porto was made for exploring on foot. This morning you’ll do just that, taking in the city’s historic center with its network of alleys, tile-fronted churches, and varied monuments. Porto was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996 and, as UNESCO says, the city offers “an outstanding urban landscape with a 2,000-year history.” It was the Romans who give the city overlooking the Douro River the name Portus, or port, in the 1st century BC.
You’ll start by exploring the city’s old quarter, “a masterpiece of mankind’s creative genius.” With your private guide, you will visit some of the city’s key historic sites including the neighborhood of Praça da Ribeira with winding, cobbled streets; Porto’s main thoroughfare, the architecturally impressive Avenida dos Aliados; the beautiful São Bento railway station, whose walls tell the history of Portugal through more than 20,000 tiles; São Francisco church, a fine example of Baroque ornamentation. Another must-see is the neo-Gothic Lello & Irmao Bookstore. This spectacular 19th-century store features wooden benches with leather upholstery, wooden bookcases and a highly ornamented staircase leading to the upper level. The walk will end around midday. Free time for lunch and repose.
For this evening, consider making your way to the coast to take advantage of the glistening seaside of Porto. Only a 20 minute drive away, Matosinhos is home to many fishermen and the freshest fish dinners in town. Far from fine-dining, this as a local and authentic experience. We can help you choose just the right restaurant for this evening. Breakfast
DAY 6: PORTO AS YOU LIKE IT; GRAZING FOR DINNER
Today is left open for you to dig deeper into those aspects of Porto that may have caught your eye yesterday. There’s also time for shopping, of course, and we’ll offer guidance.
This evening, discover a city that revolves around food. The epicenter of the gastronomic culture of the North, Porto is a fusion of ingredients, tastes, and family recipes. Your private guides will show you the beauty of local markets, exotic oriental-inspired specialty grocery stores, and finally, the most wonderful eateries in town. Meet the people behind the counter, and stumble upon delightful cured meats, luscious cheeses, glorious meat-laden sandwiches, hearty stews, delicious pastries, and much more. And when there’s food, there are drinks. Discover the fresh and vibrant vinho verde, the elegance of the Douro wines, the gripping local craft beers, and the stories and flavors behind the world-famous port wine. Your guides Maria and Bruno are award-winning food writers and authors of the Porto Food Guide. Breakfast, grazing dinner.
DAY 7: ALL SIX SENSES IN THE DOURO VALLEY
This morning after check out, journey for just under 2 hours to the world-renowned Douro Valley. This is the home of Port, but also an exceptionally beautiful landscape of terraced vineyards, patches of woodland and charming little villages. The Douro Valley is Portugal’s most unique and oldest wine region, with a wine trail dating back to 1756.
Hundreds of years of wine culture and thousands of miles of schist walls built along the slopes of the river have created a landscape of exceptional beauty. The locals remain loyal to their rural origins and traditions, taking pleasure in handicrafts and homemade products. Working the land has allowed for the conservation of many farming communities, where olive groves and almond trees are the stars.
Check in, with free time for a light lunch on your own and exploration of the property. Late this afternoon, go beyond the surface of the Douro Valley and get to know it from the inside out during a scenic 4×4 tour which will take you along the vineyards, through local villages and other hidden gems of the region.
Meet your private driver/guide, then head towards the top of the Valley for what will be just the beginning of an afternoon filled with breath-taking views. You may start by visiting a small olive-oil mill before heading down through the vineyards. Through our local contacts, you’ll have insider’s access, walking through vineyards where other tourists are not allowed to go. As you make your way down the valley, you’ll learn about what makes this wine region so unique. The day will end with a picnic dinner accompanied by local Douro Valley wines.
Lodging for the next 3 nights: Quinta River Rooms at the Six Senses Douro Valley. Imagine a superbly renovated 19th-century manor house set high on a hill overlooking the vine-covered rolling hills of the Douro Valley and the river below. This will be your “home in the valley”. The 19-acre estate includes three restaurants that highlight regional produce and a dedicated wine cellar featuring local vintages. Six Senses Spa offers 10 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools and a gym. Adagio’s clients enjoy a 20% discount on pre-booked spa services. An outdoor yoga deck is ideal for individuals and groups. Breakfast, picnic dinner in the vineyards
DAY 8: DOURO EXCURSION; WINE!!
Today will be nothing short of magical. Start with a walk across an impressive pedestrian bridge over the Douro River, taking in the panoramic views and breathtaking landscape. Shortly after, you will visit today’s first wine estate, enjoying both port and wine tastings. Then a short transfer brings you to the historic, symbolic train station of Pinhão where you can admire the traditional tile work from 1937. A 10-minute train ride brings you to Ferrão, where you’ll be welcomed into one of the most symbolic wine estates in the region for a beautiful lunch experience. It is a place of extreme beauty in the heart of Douro valley, run with a strong family vision and a passionate commitment to viticulture.
After lunch, you will board a private boat from Ferrão to Pinhão, with magnificent views along the way. Upon arrival, enjoy a final taste of Vintage Port in one of the finest wine estates in the region. The day will end with a trip to the viewpoint rated by BBC UK as one of the most beautiful in the world.
Time to relax before dinner at the hotel this evening. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 9: E-BIKING AND FINAL RELAX; SPA ANYONE?
This morning explore the beautiful surroundings of your hotel and the Douro landscape on wheels! Your guide will set off with you straight from the hotel on electric bikes through olive trees and vineyards without losing sight of the historical villages across magnificent off-road trails. The excursion will be about 3.5 hours total, and will include stops for photo ops and resting. After looping back to the hotel, there’s time to freshen up before enjoying a light lunch together. The afternoon is free, and the Six Senses Hotel offers an array of activities, the definition of relaxation. Enjoy a yoga class, lessons with a wine sommelier, shoot pool in their chic bar area, stroll the gardens and vineyard, or just sit back, relax and take in the views. Don’t forget the spa, which offers a wide range of enticing treatments.
We leave you free this final evening. Thinking of a fun last supper at a cool wine bar near the hotel? Got you covered. Or perhaps let Michelin-star chef Rui Paula stun you at his gorgeous DOC, also a short drive away with a terrace right on the river. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 10: TRANSFER TO PORTO AIRPORT
Departure for the Porto airport; where shall we go next? Breakfast
PLEASE NOTE OUR SPECIAL 2021 CANCELLATION POLICY:
- 60 or more days before the tour start date: penalty is 10% of the full trip cost
- 59 or fewer days before the tour start date: penalty is 100% of the full trip cost
NOTE: If the WHO declares a pandemic and border closures and/or other circumstances related to the pandemic make travel to Portugal impossible, then the above cancellation policy will be replaced by the following for cancellations at any time prior to the day of departure:
Monetary penalty will be capped at 10%; 90% of the paid full trip cost (less any non-recoverable costs like pre-purchased entrance tickets, train tickets, etc) will be applied as a credit toward a rescheduled Portugal trip in 2022.