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Enchanting Portugal

Come to enchanting Portugal, a land of beauty, history, and art. We will lead you to our favorite destinations, some well-known and others less discovered during 12 days on the Iberian Peninsula.

View ornate architecture, dine on delicious Portuguese cuisine and sample delicious wines along the way. Discover the natural beauty of the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest wine-producing region. We visit the historical birthplace of the nation in the lovely UNESCO World Heritage City of Guimaraes. We travel in our private vehicle through the stunning landscapes of the Serra da Estrela mountains which parallel the border of Spain. We meander in historic quaint villages whose forts once protected Portugal from invading Spanish armies.

Evora, one of our favorite destinations, boasts Roman architecture and the fascinating  Chapel of Bones. In the countryside outside of the city, we will discover how local herbs are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. We will visit the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve to view the spectacular star-studded sky in a region that has no light pollution.

We end our journey in Lisbon, the beautiful and romantic capital where trolleys still clang up and down the hills and Fado music wafts from cafes and restaurants. The UNESCO heritage site of Sintra enjoys a cool mountainside location just outside of Lisbon, which made it a favored summer destination for Portugal’s royals. On our final evening, we bid farewell to this enchanting country during a private sunset cruise along the Tagus River, which overlooks Lisbon’s colorful waterfront.

Our small group tours in Portugal are limited to 12 travelers. Join us for an experience which will touch your heart and enrich your soul.

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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1:     Tour Begins. Porto

Arrive in Porto

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage location. We will stay in a five star property in the historic Ribeira District which overlooks the Douro River.

In the late afternoon, we enjoy a Port Tour & Paired Meal Tasting offering a 3 course menu with different wines. Port wines are at the center of the Portuguese wine world, and Portugal also has a surprising variety of delicious wines, both reds and whites. We will be introduced to Porto’s wine and cuisine in this dinner 3 course menu with wine tasting. The evening is free.

Lodging: Pestana Vintage Porto ***** or equivalent

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2:     Porto

Porto Food Walking Tour

Today, we will walk and discover some of Porto’s delicious culinary offerings—such as the Francesina or Bifana sandwiches or the delicious pastry, the Pastel de Nata. Be prepared for a delicious experience mingled with scenic walks through this lovely city. In the afternoon, we will have free time to rest or explore independently.

Lodging: Pestana Vintage Porto ***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Food Walking Tour

Day 3:     Porto ~ Guimares ~ Braga ~ Douro Valley

Today we strike out to the scenic northern parts of the country, visiting the historical cities of Guimaraes and Braga. It is a brief 45-minute drive in our private vehicle to Guimaraes, which was the first capital of Portugal in the 12th century. They are very proud of the recognition that “Portugal was born here”.  The city’s highlight is its perfectly preserved medieval centre, but a young university population keeps things lively.

Then we drive 25 minutes to Braga, which is regarded as the religious capital of Portugal, equivalent in Portuguese eyes, to Rome. Though there are 35 churches in Braga, there’s also a fast-growing commercial center, a renowned university, and an underlying cultural vibrancy that led Braga to being named 2012 “European Youth Capital”

Our destination for the day is the magnificent Douro Valley (1.5 hrs.), which is the oldest and first officially designated wine-growing region in the world, dating to the 18th century.  We will enjoy views of old country villas (quintas) and estates along the route. Portugal’s premier wine-growing region is centered along the mighty Douro River, with beautiful terraced hills gently sloping to the river. We will stay at a quinta, a lovely country estate (usually family-owned) which, in this case, produces its own wines. We will be there just in time for the grape harvest!

Lodging: Quinta da Pacheca**** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 4:     Douro Valley

Today we spend our day on an unforgettable wine tour hosted by a regional wine specialist. We will visit two wineries and experience the harvest activities. Ending the afternoon, we will enjoy a boat ride in a traditional Rabelo boat on the Douro River.

Lodging: Quinta da Pacheca**** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 5:     Douro Valley ~ Foz do Coa ~ Douro Valley

We will have a half-day trip to see the most amazing array of outdoor Paleolithic Art found in Europe. The engravings are of a similar style to those found in caves elsewhere, but these are unique because they are carved outside on exposed rock faces in a river valley. The oldest is dated around 23,000 years old! We will enjoy a traditional lunch in a local restaurant.

Lodging: Quinta da Pacheca**** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 6:     Douro Valley ~ Serra da Estrela ~ Belmonte ~ Monsanto ~ Monforte

Today we drive south and east through the Serra da Estrela which features some of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Portugal. Our first stop (2 hrs) will be the delightful small town of Belmonte—a charming place that once maintained one of Portugal’s largest Jewish communities. There was a synagogue here as early as 1297.

An hour’s drive south, we will find impressive Monsanto, which proudly calls itself “the most Portuguese” village of the country. Situated high on a hill above the plain, its houses are built among large granite outcrops.  At the crest of the mountain are the ruins of an ancient fort which defended Portugal against invasions from nearby Spain.

We will continue (2 hrs) to our destination for the next two nights, the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel, where we will enjoy a wine tasting and meal pairing dinner.

Lodging: Torre de Palma Wine Hotel***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7:     Estremoz ~ Elvas ~ Monforte

Today we will enjoy a leisurely day-trip to the nearby towns of Estremoz (30 min drive) and Elvas (30 min drive).  Estremoz’ old town is perched on a hill overlooking the bright whitewashed houses of the modern town below. This is a region of marble quarries and the town still possesses its 17th-century ramparts and castle. Estremoz is well known for its Alentjo (this region of Portugal) pottery.

Elvas was once one of Portugal’s mightiest frontier posts, strategically located just 10 miles from Spain’s town of Badajoz. Its forts are among the best preserved military fortifications in Europe, a factor which helped the town gain UNESCO World Heritage status. Enjoy a coffee at a café along the restored central square, Praça da Republica.

In the afternoon, we will return to our hotel to enjoy viewing the sunset at a Megalith located 2 km from the property.

Lodging: : Torre de Palma Wine Hotel***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 8:     Monforte ~ Évora

We begin the day with a short 1-hour drive to the Be Aromatic Farm, where we will learn about Herbology: –how organic herbs are grown,  mixed, and used. Be Aromatic Farm is a small artisanal company that operates a 7-acre farm dedicated solely to the production of aromatic and medicinal plants in organic production. The fields of the farm are located near the town of Évora in the Alentejo region. We will learn during an infusion workshop how to use herbs native to this Alentejo region & Portugal.

In the evening, we will enjoy a guided stargazing experience from a spectacular viewpoint close to our lodging at the Evora Farm Hotel & Spa. Portugal has gained recognition as one of the top places in the world to observe the night sky, thanks to the creation of the 3,000 sq km Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve.

Every night (weather permitting), nature puts on a spectacular show of stars and planets, uniquely shining and twinkling in the clear Alentejo sky. Far from the “pollution” of the city lights, the Évora Farm Hotel & Spa is the perfect place for stargazing, whenever the sky is clear and the weather dry.

Lodging: Évora Farm Hotel & Spa**** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Picnic Lunch

Day 9:     Evora ~ Lisbon

In the morning, we will tour Évora, which is one of Portugal’s most historic and unspoiled cities; indeed, its Roman temple, Moorish alleys, circuit of medieval walls, 16th-century mansions, and whitewashed houses have resulted in it being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. One of our more unusual visits will be to the Chapel of the Bones. (Admission included.)

In the afternoon, we will drive (1.5 hrs) to Lisbon, our final destination and mainland Europe’s westernmost capital. Lisbon is a fascinating and inspiring city to spend time thanks to its wonderful waterfront location, balmy climate, and wide range of attractions that combine a place-that-time-forgot feel with a modern vibrancy that few European cities can match.

Lodging: The Vintage Hotel & Spa Lisbon***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10:     Lisbon

What better way to acquaint ourselves with Lisbon than by accompanying our chef on a walking tour to the market to shop for the ingredients we will use in our cooking class. We will feast on our three-course menu along with wine.

The afternoon is free to saunter through the streets of the old city where our hotel is located or to rest for our private sunset boat cruise with drinks & tapas.

Lodging: The Vintage Hotel & Spa Lisbon***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch at the Cooking Class

Day 11:     Lisbon ~ Sintra ~ Cascais ~ Lisbon

Today, we will tour Sintra & Cascais, which are conveniently located just outside of Lisbon. The cooler air of the hilltop town, Sintra, made it the preferred summer retreat for Portugal’s royalty.  It was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1995 because “the cultural landscape of the town represents a pioneering approach to Romantic landscaping that had an outstanding influence on developments elsewhere in Europe”.

Nearby Cascais is a handsome resort of grand mansions and former fishermen’s houses wrapped around a bay dotted with sandy beaches. The mosaic-paved and partly pedestrianized streets of Cascais’ old town have as much allure as its beaches.

We will return to Lisbon in time to enjoy our Farewell Dinner at a seafood restaurant overlooking the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lodging: The Vintage Hotel & Spa Lisbon***** or equivalent

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

 

Day 12:     Lisbon. End of Tour.

Following breakfast, we will be transferred to the Lisbon Airport.

Meals included: Breakfast

What’s Included

  • The escort of an English-speaking guide for the entire trip.
  • Private transport as mentioned in the program. All airport transfers.
  • Accommodation in Five & Four Star mentioned hotels for 2 adults sharing.
  • Meals included as described in the program.
  • Wine tastings as described in the program
  • Rabelo boat ride on Douro River.
  • Guide to Stargazing
  • Herbal infusion workshop
  • Entrance fees for the national parks, historic sites, museums, & churches described in the program.
  • All gratuities

Not Included

  • Beverages and personal expenses
  • The comprehensive travel, Covid, rescue, and repatriation insurance
  • The individual gear necessary to get along well throughout your stay
  • The accommodation supplement for single room occupancy
  • The international flight from US/Europe to Portugal and back.

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  • Enchanting Portugal Tour
  • 4495 Euros/person (double occupancy)
  • +895 Euros/person (single occupancy)
  • Tour Dates: September 30 – October 12, 2022  (12 days/11 nights) Sold Out.
  • Spring 2023 Tour Planned
  • Group Size: 6 min – 12 max
  • View Portugal Map Below

 

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– XXXX, Asheville, NC