Why I love Portugal
“I’m enamoured by the scenery, the rhythms of village life and Portugal’s outstanding (and underrated) food and wine. I love exploring the hidden beaches along the Costa Vicentina, taking picturesque walks in the Serra da Estrela (where I still bump into shepherds during a day’s outing), and roaming in less-visited corners of the Alentejo – such a magical place for discovering the traditional soul of Portugal. But...” Read More
Top experiences in Portugal
Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
Just a short trip away from Lisbon are the beautiful towns of Sintra and Cascais. Start your tour with the journey to Sintra. Visit Pena Park, where you will be amazed by the variety of trails, trees and other plants. Head to the Queen's Throne for an amazing view of the Pena National Palace (Palacio da Pena) and the Atlantic Ocean. Next, feel like Portuguese royalty as you enter the romantic Pena National Palace at the top of Sintra Mountain. See the Great Triton, the guardian of the palace, inspired by Manueline art. Inside the palace, admire the attention to detail in the bedrooms of the king and queen and the Arab Room. Leave the palace and follow your guide to the historical center of Sintra, where you’ll have free time to explore the town, to visit Sintra National Palace (where the Portuguese royalty of the 15th and 16th centuries used to spend the summer months) or have some lunch (own expense). For dessert, try a travesseiro or a queijada, two delicious local pastries. Next, admire the landscape of Sintra Natural Park, passing Quinta da Regaleira, Seteais Palace and the Palace of Monserrate on the way. Enjoy a photo opportunity at the cliffs of Roca Cape (Cabo da Roca), the westernmost point of Europe, and visit the surfer's paradise of Guincho Beach. Pass the cliff at Hell’s Mouth (Boca do Inferno), before stopping to stretch your legs along Cascais’ bay. Wander around the center of Cascais, a former fishing village and today a popular holiday spot. Follow your guide through narrow alleyways and see the traditional Portuguese white houses or enjoy some time relaxing at the beach. On the drive back to Lisbon where your tour concludes, soak up the scenic views along the Atlantic coast and in the town of Estoril.
Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Portuguese Lunch and Optional River Cruise
Leave your Porto hotel in the morning and travel inland to the Douro Valley by air-conditioned minivan. After a journey of roughly 90 minutes, you’ll arrive in Peso da Régua, the valley’s capital, where you'll stop to soak in your first impression of the valley. If you’ve opted to include a boat ride with your tour, you’ll be dropped off in Pinhão for a leisurely 1-hour cruise along the Douro River. Aboard a rabelo boat — a traditional cargo boat native to this region — travel up the Tua river tributary and pass by Quinta da Romaneira before returning back to Pinhão. Alternatively, you can choose to spend time exploring the beautiful village of Pinhão independently. A highlight is the Pinhão train station, known for its pretty blue-and-white tile murals that depict the scenic Douro landscapes and vineyard workers. Stop to enjoy a traditional Portuguese lunch with specialties accompanied with local wine.Continue your tour to two family-run wine estates nestled in the gloriously remote countryside, a setting that offers a glimpse into the way of life in Douro. Learn about local winemaking as you sample various ports and wines, and then explore the shop for treats to take home with you.After a full day experiencing the Douro Valley, relax on the drive back to your Porto hotel, arriving in the early evening.
Experience Lisbon: Small-Group Walking Tour with Food and Wine Tastings
Begin your walking tour of Lisbon at Restauradores Square, the perfect spot to hear a bit of Lisbon history. Your informative local guide will tell you about Portugal’s Restoration years and what effect this period had on the places you will see during your three- to four-hour tour. Get on the move by exploring the magnetic neighborhood of Mouraria, a melting pot of cultures and one of the city’s most modern areas, where tourists don't often venture. Pass small churches, mosques and shops selling goods from far-away places. Learn about Fado, Portugal's own music genre that was declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, as you walk past the birthplace of the legendary Maria Severa (Fado’s first superstar). Next, visit a small, hidden bakery where traditional pastries and coffee will provide you with a tasty treat and another insight into local life in Lisbon. Then, walk past the beautiful Gothic-style Rossio train station, visit Rossio Square (Lisbon’s main square) and find out how much the city has changed since the devastating earthquake of 1755 that destroyed 85 percent of the city. Continue visiting historical landmarks, churches and other attractions before stopping again for a taste of Portuguese cheese and locally made marmalade. Then see the picturesque Carmo Square with its beautiful Carmo Convent, and walk up to the top of the famous Santa Justa funicular to enjoy wonderful views.Walk through the trendy old district of Chiado, an aristocratic quarter home to small shopping centers, boutiques, historical cafes and old bookstores. Compare it with Barrio Alto, Lisbon’s bohemian district and the center for nightlife. Then take a short ferry ride on the River Tagus toward the picturesque Cacilhas, where Portuguese green wine and freshly caught seafood awaits. Enjoy magnificent views from the south bank before returning to central Lisbon.
Fátima, Nazaré and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
While you are in Lisbon, head north on a day trip to the beautiful villages of Fátima, Nazaré and Óbidos. Get comfortable in an air-conditioned vehicle as you start your journey toward the town of Fátima, a once-sleepy rural village that became an important pilgrimage site when three shepherd children reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917. Visit the Sanctuary of Fatima, a basilica that honors the apparition and attracts millions of Catholic pilgrims every year who go to pay their respects to the shrine.Next, visit the 14th-century Batalha Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that illustrates the rich artistic heritage of the late 1300s. Discover the impressive royal burial site at the basilica’s Founder’s Chapel, where King João I, Queen Philippa of Lancaster and their son Prince Henry the Navigator were buried.Take a short break for lunch (own expense) in Nazaré, a quaint fishing town famous for its variety of restaurants and cafes. A popular summer retreat for the Portuguese, the village offers an interesting insight into local life. Next, head to the Nazaré cliffs and continue through the picturesque villages of Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto. Admire views of agricultural fields and the Atlantic Ocean as you drive along the dramatic, cliff-lined coast.Finally, make your way to the medieval village of Óbidos. Founded in 208 BC, Óbidos is commonly known in Portugal as the 'wedding present town', as it was a gift from King Dinis to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282. Follow your guide to one of the numerous wine shops and sample the Ginja liqueur, and then enjoy free time to explore the village’s medieval fortress, narrow streets, colorful houses and Gothic doorways and windows decorated with flowerpots and dazzling tiles. Grab a snack or browse around the tiny shops that offer a varied collection of beautiful handmade ceramic art before making your way back to Lisbon.
Lisbon Guided Walking Tour
Your first stop on your guided walking tour of Lisbon is Rossio Square, the heart of the old and new Lisbon. The square was built in the 19th century and is paved with typical Portuguese cobblestones in the shape of waves. Next, visit Restauradores Square, where an obelisk stands tall, commemorating Portugal’s independence from Spain in 1640. From here, admire Liberdade Avenue, the Eden Theatre (one of the best examples of Portuguese Art Deco), and the 18th-century Foz Palace. Marvel at the intricate Neo-Manueline architecture of Rossio Central Station, which connects the city to Sintra through a 1.61-mile-long (2.6 km) tunnel and is considered to be one of the most important engineering works of Portugal from the 19th century.Next, learn about the Carnation Revolution as you visit beautiful Carmo Square, the very place where Portugal’s old dictatorial regime fell in 1974 after 48 years and where the Carmelite's Carmo Convent is located. Then walk through the elegant Chiado neighborhood, with its old cafés, boutiques, theaters and bookstores. Spend some time in this aristocratic quarter, one of the most interesting pedestrian areas in Lisbon, before enjoying a short trip on one of Lisbon’s vintage trams (fare included).When you get off the tram, wander through the small squares, twisting streets and blind alleys where the roofs almost touch each other of Alfama, a Moorish neighborhood and the oldest district in Lisbon. This is the birthplace of Fado, Portugal's own musical genre. Learn about this type of music as you pass the Fado Museum and some hidden Fado restaurants.Then admire the beauty of Sé de Lisboa cathedral, the city’s oldest church. End your tour in Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio), one of Europe’s largest squares that was for centuries a reception hall for visitors arriving by sea.