Espíritu Travel’s Best of Portugal 8-day, fully customizable tour is the perfect way to take the best of the Portugal’s historical, gastronomical and cultural highlights. Starting in Porto and ending in Lisbon, you’ll explore cities as Porto, Braga or Aveiro but also the awe-inspiring Douro Valley, an Unesco World Heritage Landscape. End your trip in Lisbon, the stunning capital city of Portugal and one of the most charismatic cities of Europe.
Day 1 Welcome to PortugalArrival to Porto.
Upon arrival, you are met by the driver who will take you to the hotel.
In the late afternoon, you will have your first taste of vintage Porto cuisine, the best of the past that the city has to offer today. The food extravaganza is a 3.5 hour guided walking food tour of historic downtown Porto. Guided by a Porto native, you will be led on an exploration of the renaissance that the city is experiencing. From the rebirth of specialty food shops to the new restaurants adopting old ways to traditional buildings finding new purposes, this tour is for those who enjoy experiencing the best of the past with a modern twist.
Enjoy seven vintage tasting locations, that will take you back in time to an era of high quality, simple products and recipes made by people who love what they do. Learn about the families that own these places and why they are an integral part of what makes gastronomy in Porto so unique. Witness first hand the revival of Portuguese cuisine while you explore local restaurants, cafes, and specialty food stores serving only the best of Porto. The tour, of course, would not be complete without an introduction to the famous drink of Porto, Port wine. While you taste three different Port wines, including a vintage Port wine, you will learn about the history of this drink and why it is a timeless favorite.
This morning you will head out to start your half day excursion in Porto. This excursion will lead you through the most important landmarks of Portugal’s second most populous city, on a comfortable an exclusive vehicle. Settled by Romans, this is an emblematic city known for its delicious Port Wine, medieval townhouses stack up beside the beautiful Douro River and churches wearing their blue-and-white “azulejo” tiles.
The guide will explain to you the rich History of this city, also called “Invicta” (the Unbeaten City), its heroes and battles and will guide you towards the trendiest and most cultural area of the city. Boavista Avenue, one of the most important streets, and Foz, the place where the river meets the sea, have some of the most important museums and modern local treasures. Then, the city center invites a long visit. Being a UNESCO site, here we will admire the most renowned Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical monuments and sites, like the São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, the Church of St. Francis, Lello Bookshop, Sta. Catarina Street, Majestic Café, Bolhão Market, and much more.
And after a visit to the imposing Cathedral with its superb silver altarpiece, we will be able to enjoy the riverbanks of the immense Douro River, its Ribeira plaza and the D. Luís Bridge.
In the afternoon, be sure and check out one of the Port House in Vila Nova de Gaia
Day 3Excursion to Douro Valley
Today you will be picked up at your hotel for this full-day excursion to discover Douro Valley. You will visit the historic towns (Amarante, S.Leonardo da Galafura and Pinhão). You will have a traditional lunch and a guided tour and tasting in one of the vineyards. Finally finishing the excursion with a panoramic boat cruise.
After your excursion to this World Heritage site, you will return to your hotel in Porto.
After breakfast in Porto, you will have a free day to explore more of the city on your own. You can also opt to take a day-trip in Northern Portugal, whether it’s hiking, hitting the beach, or visiting some noteworthy towns and historical sites. Some recommendations include:
Braga: Check out this café-filled center, where students from the nearby university meet to socialize and discuss ideas. Meanwhile, a short distance away is the famous Bom Jesus do Monte (Bom Jesus Sanctuary) and the oldest cathedral in the country.
Aveiro: Nicknamed the ‘Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro’s charming canals are quieter and arguably more colorful than the Italian city, with brightly painted boats and buildings. The town is an easy jaunt from Porto, whether you choose to drive, take a train, or hop on a bus.
Guimarães: History buffs shouldn’t leave northern Portugal without seeing where the country’s origins began. Home of Portugal’s first king, Guimarães Castle is where the royal family lived, but there are plenty more medieval structures where that came from.
Esposende: Just a quick, half-hour drive away, Esposende offers white sand beaches and picturesque dunes for a relaxing retreat—especially if you’re in need of soaking up the sun and catching up on literature.
Viana do Castelo: A little further north of Esposende is this larger beach town—listed as one of the more visually appealing cities in Portugal with a medieval center. As a fishing port, it’s also an excellent spot for devouring seafood.
Peneda-Gerês National Park: For some physical activity, take a hike or mountain bike ride through Portugal’s only national park. Located in the districts of Viana do Castelo and Braga, it’s an easy place to add into your itinerary.
Day 5Porto – Coimbra – Lisbon
Today you will be picked up at your hotel for the transfer to Lisbon. In route, you will make a stop in Coimbra, the medieval capital of Portugal for over a hundred years, and site of the country’s greatest university for the past five centuries, Coimbra wears its weighty importance in Portuguese history with dignity. Its atmospheric, beautiful historic core cascades down a hillside in a lovely setting on the east bank of the Rio Mondego: it’s a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium. Explore on your own.
After lunch, continue to Lisbon. Drive time: 1 hour.
This morning, you will discover Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, a city which was built on seven hills, located near the meeting point of the Tagus River with the ocean. It is the only European capital with sunsets on the sea, so close to golden beaches, with a captivating mild climate even in winter, when most other European cities are freezing. A charming and friendly city, with a cosmopolitan population, World Heritage monuments, impressive museums. A place where every corner breathes history, culture, and art.
You visit the charismatic Alfama district, the house of the traditional Fado music, with twisting streets, wind up to an imposing castle on one of the city’s highest hills. With whitewashed houses, flower-laden balconies and red-tiles roofs, it is a perfect mixture of historical sites and residential area. You will also discover the most important squares of this city and the famous Liberdade Avenue. And during, you also have the opportunity to taste the delicious and sweet “Pastel de Belem”, a typical pastry.
Afterward, the rest of the afternoon to explore on your own.
In the evening, you will dine at one of the best Fado restaurants. These are places to sample traditional Portuguese cuisine with interludes of authentic Fado.
Day 7Day-Trip to Sintra, Cascais & Estoril
The area surrounding Lisbon offers an incredible variety of architecture and scenery, from fairytale palaces to romantic towns and breathtaking viewpoints. Today’s guided excursion is the ideal way to experience some of these attractions.
After breakfast at your hotel, your guide will deliver you to the first stop on the tour: Sintra. This village—about 30 minutes by car from the capital—is a harmonic combination of history and fantasy, described as a “glorious Eden” by the British poet Lord Byron in the 18th century. You will have free time to explore on your own and have lunch, and your guide can recommend some imposing monuments and wonderful palaces that are worth a visit.
Your next stop will be the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe. Enjoy the gorgeous views across the Atlantic Ocean as waves crash onto the shore. On the return trip to Lisbon, you will have time to appreciate the fishing harbor and tourist center of Cascais, the former summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, and nowadays an excellent spot for surfing. You’ll also be able to visit the luxury entertainment town of Estoril, known for its casino (the largest in Europe) and attractive gardens.
After the excursion, you’ll have the remainder of the day to enjoy Lisbon any way you’d like.
Today, you’ll have a free day in Lisbon to enjoy the city any way you’d like! If you’ve seen enough of the city and are anxious to explore other areas, here are some excellent day-trip ideas:
Fátima & Nazaré: Religiously significant, Fatimá is the site of an important Catholic shrine, Our Lady of Fatima. From there you’ll continue to the coastal town of Nazaré for a completely different type of sightseeing: the site of the biggest wave ever surfed.
Jeronimos Monastery: This glorious example of ancient architecture was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Located near the Tagu River, the monastery was commissioned in the late 15th century by King Manuel I, to honor Our Lady and Saint Jerome.
Sesimbra: This is a great village to stroll along the beach and just watch the world go by. You can also pay a visit to Sesimbra’s beautifully-restored central church, or head uphill to Sesimbra Castle. If you have time on the way back, you can also make a stop in Almada for spectacular views over Lisbon.
Óbidos: The historical medieval village of Óbidos definitely merits its own day trip. Surely one of the best-preserved old towns in Portugal, visitors will be delighted by its cobbled streets and sunnily painted houses.
Arrábida Natural Park: For something more active, take a kayaking trip in Arrábida Natural Park and admire the gorgeous views from the water as you paddle through its tranquil river systems. You’ll have the chance to discover numerous hidden caves and secluded beaches; pack a picnic lunch.
Knights Templar: Visit the villages of Constância and Tomar and learn about the intriguing story of the holy order of warrior monks.
Évora: One of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns, Évora is an enchanting place to delve into the past. Inside the 14th-century walls, you’ll find narrow, winding lanes leading to an impressive number of important architectural works. Évora’s also a lively university town with great restaurants
Day 9Lisbon – Depart
Private transfer to Lisbon airport for your return flight
UNCOVERING PORTUGAL MAP
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