Portugal

The Portuguese have a close relationship with the ocean – a seafood-rich cuisine, world-class beaches and stunning cliffs and sea caves, and a prominent place in history as a major maritime power. This narrow slice of land offers a world of variety: travel to the hilly cobbled streets of Lisbon and taste the famous custard pastries, sip a ginjinha in the medieval walled town of Óbidos, hike the mountains of Gerês in the north, taste the excellent wines of the beautiful Douro Valley, step inside the fairytale palaces of Sintra, admire the tiled monuments and port wine cellars of Porto, and go on a dolphin-watching excursion along the Algarve Coast.

 

Where to Go in Portugal

The dynamic capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a wonderfully expressive city of cobbled alleyways, tile-patterned facades, and sweeping scenic vistas. The surrounding Tagus Valley area is also worth discovering, including the historic gems of Belém, the fairytale palaces and gardens of Sintra, resorts along the Atlantic Coast, and the unspoiled Nature Park Arrabida. Come for the melancholic fado music, tangled backstreets of the Alfama district, international food scene, all-night entertainment, scenic miradouros in the Lisbon hills, and a long history of conquest and exploration.

In the central Portugal regions of Estremadura and Ribatejo, you’ll find some of the most remarkable heritage sites and picturesque towns. Come for the pretty medieval villages of Óbidos and Ourém, the impressive monasteries at Batalha and Alcobaça, the ostentatious Palace-Convent of Mafra, and the Knights of Templar complex at Tomar. Other travelers may be interested in watching the giant wave surfing at Nazaré, or visiting the Catholic shrine at Fátima.

In the north, Porto and the Douro Valley are at the heart of Portugal’s wine tourism. The colorful city of Porto looks like a jumble of buildings along the riverfront, with the port wine lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite side. Come for port wine tastings and river cruises, the revitalized Ribeira waterfront, and a mix of architecture including Baroque and modern. Between Porto and the Douro lies the attractive riverside town of Amarante.

The former capital and proud university town of Coimbra is set in the heartland of Portugal in the Beiras province dotted with fortresses. Come for the city’s medieval architecture, historic university and black-robed scholars. In the surrounding region, you can find the rocky peaks of the Serra da Estrela, the country’s highest mountains. Out at the coast lies Aveiro, a city of canals with brightly-painted boats called moliceiros.

Farther north is the stunning emerald region called the Minho, also known for its refreshing young wine called vinho verde and varied gastronomy. Come for the immense nature on display at Peneda-Gerês National Park, the wealth of history and impressive architecture at Braga, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus, pretty Guimarães (the birthplace of Portugal), and Viana do Castelo.

Another of Portugal’s wine regions, the Alentejo is blanketed by scenic rural landscapes peppered with medieval villages, forests, rivers, vineyards, cork trees and olive groves. Come for the trademark historic town of Évora, dressed in a palette of rich yellow and white, known for its ancient Roman monuments. Then you can visit the area’s castle towns like Marvão, Monsaraz, Estremoz and Castelo de Vide.

With a reputation for endless sunshine and dramatic golden beaches, the Algarve is a great destination any time of the year. Discover idyllic coastal towns like Lagos, Silves, Ferragudo, Portimão and Tavira. Come for the rugged cliffs and sea caves, the beaches both natural and developed, family-friendly resorts, and a wide range of activities from hiking to dolphin-watching boat excursions.

The beguiling volcanic island of Madeira is a subtropical paradise of unspoiled natural wonders, thanks to its remote location in the Atlantic. Brimming with color and adventure, the ‘Garden Island’ is a playground for outdoor activities including hiking, scuba diving, sailing, and surfing. Come for the lush environment, sweeping ocean views, volcanic coves and imported soft-sand beaches, wine tasting, diverse natural life and rugged exploration.

The far-flung islands of the Azores archipelago are an outdoor lover’s paradise. The stunning volcanic islands offer superlative adventure activities like trekking, surfing, deep-sea fishing, bird watching and dolphin and whale watching outings. Come for the magical landscape of crater lakes, caverns and green mountain peaks.

 

Typical First-Time Itinerary for Portugal

Our first-time travelers to Portugal typically include both Porto and Lisbon, and then it varies whether they choose to spend time in the Algarve for beach-going, or in the Douro Valley for wine tastings. For a 3-region itinerary, one week can be enough for a fast-paced trip.

What is Included?

In general, our custom travel itineraries include everything needed to ensure a smooth trip. This can always be modified according to your needs and where you are in your stage of planning:

  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast daily
  • Airport transfers
  • Transfers between destinations (whether by car, van, boat, train, ferry, etc.)
  • Private or group sightseeing as requested (including entrance fees)
  • Personalized support, with contact before, during and after your trip

We are also happy to provide when requested:

  • Flights between North America and Europe
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa assistance

Our programs do not include:

  • Optional gratuities to guides, drivers, yacht crew etc.
  • Laundry and personal items
  • Bottled beverages or alcohol, and meals where not listed
  • Hotel city tax