Food N' Wine Vacations invites you to this culinary tour in Portugal! Experience all this splendid country has to offer and find yourself immersed in the culture of the Portuguese people. Traverse the scenic roads, cook in a wood-fired oven alongside a Portuguese family, enjoy amazing adventures, and sample the diverse dishes and distinctive wines of the area. You’ll be enriched and delighted by Portugal's stunning landscapes, colorful people, irresistible food, and luscious wines.
During this tour, you will stay either in a private or a shared room. You will be accommodated in conformable hotels near all the wonderful destinations. You will stay the first two nights in Lisbon, followed by two nights in Porto, one night in Douro, one night in Monsanto, one night in Evora, and on your final night, you will stay once more in Lisbon.
During this fantastic tour, you will explore the history and culture of Portugal as well as her diverse culinary scene. You will visit two distinct wine regions, take in the stunning landscape of the Douro Valley, and visit hilltop medieval villages which appear untouched by time.
You will also travel back a few centuries in Alentejo, recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site and will 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.
You will spend time in local shops and emporiums including a workshop for hand-made pottery and spend the night in a village built around a massif of granite, the incredibly large boulders balanced impressively about.
Upon arrival at the hotel, during the afternoon, you will meet in the hotel lobby with the tour guide and you will commence a walking tour of Lisbon so that you may become oriented with the city. After the walking tour, you will enjoy the first of many outstanding meals at a local restaurant and then go back to the hotel to rest and renew for the next busy day.
During the morning, you will venture to Sintra. Set against a spectacular backdrop of verdant green hills, dotted with lovely pastel villas, castles, and the famed Pena’s palace, a castle that is reminiscent of Germany’s Neuschwanstein, Sintra is an impressive 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.
You will enjoy a lunch in Roca cape, a place that offers spectacular scenery. After the lunch, you will visit Cascais, a popular coastal town. Cascais still retains much of the charm of its fishing past. The daily catch is still auctioned in the harbor side square and colorful boats still bob in the harbor where you can see their owners often mending nets on the quay. In the early evening, you will head back to Lisbon for an overnight stay.
On the morning, you will say your farewell to Lisbon and head north. The first stop will be the charming village of Obidos. This medieval village is tucked away behind a fortress wall protecting its historic center and magnificent castle. You will take a stroll through passages and narrow, cobbled streets leading to busy village squares, enticing shops, inviting cafes, and quaint whitewashed residences bedecked with colorful flowers.
The 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. You will stop in at the university library, which houses over 35,000 books, many dating back a century or more. For lunch, you will dine in town at a restaurant known for its suckling pig.
After the lunch, you will explore Aveiro. With its scenic canals and bridges, Aveiro is often referred to as the Venice of Portugal. Remarkable in its own right, Aveiro canals are navigated by colorful boats traditionally used to harvest seaweed but now carrying passengers gliding their way along the waterways. Aviero’s town center is known for its art nouveau buildings and its cathedral recognized for its magnificent bell tower.
You will then travel to Porto, where you will check into the hotel to freshen up and then step out for dinner in one of the beautiful Porto’s exciting dining establishments.
During the morning, you will awaken in the coastal city of Porto, known for its fine port wine production, stately bridges, and picturesque waterfront. After breakfast, you will enjoy a guided walking tour of the city with stops along the way to sample the local specialties including the famous port wine. Porto, the unofficial capital of northern Portugal, may be virtually unknown outside of the country but can rival the popular Lisbon for historic sites, active local scene, and exciting nightlife.
Porto’s historic center is proud of its architecture, both traditional and unique, and its winding streets packed with hidden gems. Modern Porto celebrates a vibrant culture, nightlife, and exciting and daring cuisine. The lunch is sure to be a memorable event.
The restaurant does not have an English menu but you will be served a traditional sandwich of Porto along with an interesting story served up alongside. You will enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure and be free to stroll through Porto taking in the sights, shopping, and perhaps drinking a little more port.
During the morning, you will depart Porto and continue your travel 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" or 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 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 and 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.
You will visit some of the area’s family vineyards and take an opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch among the vines. Breathtaking views surround the area and depending if the tour takes place during the 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. The day will end as you head to the overnight accommodation at a hotel in the countryside.
You will continue your adventure in the heart of Portugal as you head to Sortelha. This charming village is notably historic for its medieval atmosphere. All the homes in Sortelha are built of granite. The foundation of these unique single story houses are built into the rock topography of the terrain. It’s quite impressive to note that these homes have withstood the test of time for over 700 years.
Right after, you will venture to the interesting little town of Belmonte. Belmonte is dominated by a 13th century castle which was transformed into a fortified manor house in the 15th century. You will enjoy lunch in one of the fine local restaurants of Belmonte.
Next to the castle is a warren of ancient alleys which make up the old Jewish quarter. You’ll note the homes are located outside of the castle walls in the Bairro de Marrocos (Morocco Neighborhood). If you look very hard, you can still find engravings in the stone along the doorways of the homes, depicting the profession of its residents.
The final destination of the day will be Monsanto. This remarkable medieval village is built in and around massive 200-ton boulders. You will partake in a bread baking, the way the locals have done for centuries, in the village’s community oven. You will spend the night in Monsanto and you will be free to dine on your own.
On this day, you will make your way to Alentejo, a region of sun-baked olive groves, traditional Portuguese villages, and fortified towns. The first stop will be Marvao, a magnificent village perched on a rocky outcropping and surrounded by a medieval wall just a few miles from Spain.
Marvao’s narrow cobblestone streets are flanked by whitewashed homes and many of these homes boast doors and windows from the 15th century. The streets wind their way upward to one of the most remarkably preserved castles in all of Portugal.
The exceptionally intact castle dates back to the 13th century and sports views that will take your breath away as you look out onto untamed rocky landscape that extends to Spain. You will see the Serra de Estrela Mountains of Portugal as you take in the panoramic beauty just beyond the castle. For lunch, you will dine in Marvao before traveling to Estremoz.
Estremoz is at the center of the Alentejo marble quarries and offers a grand display using the area’s most popular resource. Marble-clad streets lead to marble town squares as well as marble homes. This unique town is really quite lovely.
After the tour, you will journey to Ever, the final destination and where you will spend the night. Before retiring to your accommodation for the evening, you will enjoy a delicious local dinner in Evora.
The town of Evora may be small but it holds a vast array of historic monuments. In fact, Evora is home to the second largest collection of Portugal’s national monuments. You will discover an extraordinary Roman temple, prehistoric stones, and a 16th century chapel where the walls are festooned with bones, skulls, and intact skeletons. You will hear the story of how this grim decor came about.
After the tour of the town, you will travel on to the medieval village of Monsaraz. Perched high over the countryside, Monsaraz offers great views over the Alqueva Dam. You will visit a lovely winery and take part in a hands-on cooking class. The menu will highlight the traditional recipes of the Alentejo region. Time permitting, you will purchase local pottery and cork from one of the best vendors in Monsaraz.
Being the world leader in the production and transformation of cork, no trip to Portugal is complete without a visit to a cork factory where you will enjoy a lesson in the process of cork production and find out how cork is used in many of the products you see each day. Your journey to the heart of Portugal ends in the capital, where it began, Lisbon where you will spend the night and prepare for your departure.
On your last day on this retreat, you will prepare for your departure or extend your stay in case you want to do so.
This holiday will take place at five different locations in Portugal. You will visit Lisbon, Porto, Douro, Monsanto, and Evora. Portugal is a country of vibrant diversity. Known for it’s historic cityscapes, charming villages, bucolic countryside and unpretentious, and friendly people is easy to understand why this destination was named travel and leisure’s destination of the year for 2016.
For a relatively small country, Portugal is chock-full of beautiful beaches, inspiring coastline, enchanting villages, and cities which display an abundant history in art, architecture, and lore.
For this holiday, you will be served one daily breakfast, seven lunches, and four dinners at wonderful restaurants. This tour experience also includes a hands-on cooking class, a baking activity, a wine tasting, and a port tasting. You will be delighted with all the traditional and delicious dishes that Portugal has to offer, form its cultural wines to its sophisticated and contemporary meals.
During this culinary tour, you will have plenty of free time to explore the locations on your own and visit the local shops, markets, and attractions.
Please book your flight to arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS).