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PURELY PORTUGAL

The Best of Portugal - City & Country

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

This privately chauffeur driven tour of the Best of Portugal offers a great balance of city and countryside. You will stay in 5* Hotels and see that Portugal has much to offer, with culture and gourmet values. You will experience cosmopolitan Lisbon, the famous Douro Valley and historic Porto. You will discover the typical Food and Wine of Portugal with gourmet food tastings and you will enjoy private visits to prestigious wineries to learn about, and taste, the famous Port Wines of Portugal. Sit back and relax with chauffeur driven airport transfers, and as you tour Portugal, your driver will take the wheel to transfer you between the city and the Portuguese countryside. Don't delay, say "Ola" to Portugal today!

DAY 1 LISBON

On arrival at Lisbon Airport (or Cruise Port) your private chauffeur will be waiting for you and will transfer you in a luxury vehicle to your 5-star luxury Lisbon hotel.

Your unique accommodation was once a 19th-century Palace and is set in a beautiful sub-tropical garden nestled on a hilltop overlooking the Tagus River. Your hotel is situated in the prestigious diplomatic district of Lisbon and your relaxing haven is just a 10minute taxi ride out of the city. The Count of Valencas, in 1883, transformed this once residential building into a Palace with the help of the best artists from that time. He built the tower and transformed the huge green area at the back of the Palace into a magnificent garden, giving the right balance of architecture to the Palace. In 1988 the Palace was turned into a 5* Luxury Hotel and during the process of renovation from Palace to hotel, artists worked hard to keep the original design. It is now a clear example of the 19th century Portuguese society and maintains some beautiful stained glass windows, classic furniture and the fine Portuguese porcelain Vista Alegre, founded in 1824.

We are sure you will be tired after your journey, but a short siesta is the answer before you start to get acquainted with this fabulous city.

If San Francisco had a sister, it would be Lisbon. Both cities have twin bridges and famously foggy weather. Both are situated on the best natural harbors on the west coast of their respective continents. Both have trolleys rattling up and down their steep hills past characteristic buildings. And both have survived horrific earthquakes. In 1755, an estimated 9.0 earthquake leveled two-thirds of Lisbon. Within a month, a new city was designed, and downtown Lisbon was rebuilt on a progressive grid plan, with broad boulevards and square squares.

Today, Lisbon is a charming mix of old and new. Bird-stained statues mark grand plazas, taxis screech around cobbled corners and the hip and trendy hang out in Art Nouveau cafes. Just like it did during the days of Magellan and Vasco da Gama, the city continues to welcome ships into its large port. Even today, Lisbon still feels like Europe's gateway to the world.

You may like to relax into your tranquil surroundings this afternoon and lounge around the outdoor pool, make use of the hotel spa facilities, revitalize in the sauna with its aromatic oils and natural essences or take a relaxing massage.

You may wish to dine this evening at your hotel which offers elegant modern Portuguese cuisine. If you would like to head out then we can recommend many restaurants in Lisbon for you to discover some local Portuguese cuisine this evening.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured Lisbon airport/Cruise Port transfer. Overnight in 5* luxury Hotel in Lisbon)

DAY 2 LISBON

This morning, after breakfast, your experienced, Officially Licensed guide will be waiting at your hotel to take you on a Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon. Your private visit will start with the Moorish St Georges Castle, renamed after conquering the Moors, where you will be able to take in the impressive views over the sea. Within the walls of the Castle you will stop at a friendly Cafe for your first Portuguese tasting of the day where you may like to try Ginginha, the famous Portuguese Cherry Liqueur, have a glass of the famous fortified wine Port or join Portugals strong cafe culture with an aromatic coffee.

Leading down from the castle to the river, you will then cross the Alfama, the salty sailors quarter. Its tangled street plan is one of the few parts of Lisbon to survive the big quake, making the Alfama a cobbled playground of Old World color. Urban-jungle roads are squeezed into a maze of confusing alleys, designed to frustrate invaders trying to get up to the castle. What was defensive then is atmospheric now. Gnarled houses snuggle together in their romantic shabbiness; the air drips with laundry and the smell of clams and raw fish.

Onward now to the Baixa and Chiado districts where there are many well-known cafes to enjoy another stop for a coffee and a typical Portuguese cake before heading to Rossio, passing by the famous Santa Justa elevator, where you will hear about the only tea produced in Europe, grown in the Atlantic Island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. You will be visiting a specialized gourmet locale stocked with authentic local delights such as the typical Bacalhau (dried, salted cod), exclusive wines, traditional sweets, chorizo sausages and much more. A taste of the authentic dried salted cod is a must!

From here you will head to Praca do Comercio - Commerce Square - a vast waterfront place, where the royal palace stood until the 1755 Great Earthquake. Here you will sample authentic Portuguese Beer and taste the delicious cod cakes. Your tour of Lisbon would not be complete without including Vinho Verde do Minho (the famous green wine of Minho) and you will able to enjoy a glass accompanied with Azeitao cheese, spicy chorizo sausage and delicious bread.

Your private guide will provide you with many personalized suggestions for further sightseeing in Lisbon for the rest of your day but you will surely appreciate a relax at your Lisbon hotel first.

This evening you are set for a fabulous Fado experience, the national music of Portugal. You will dine at an authentic, elegant Portuguese Fado restaurant in the picturesque Bairro Alto. Founded in 1931 this institution in Lisbon has entertained prime ministers and presidents. The show is composed of Fado Sessions until 2am so you can stay as long as you wish, although most of our guests leave around 11pm.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon, Fado Evening, Overnight Lisbon

DAY 3 SINTRA & CASCAIS

After a delicious breakfast this morning, your chauffeur will be waiting for you and you will leave for Sintra. Sintra is a gorgeous little mountain city, verdant and graceful with stunning palaces and gardens, including the one and only "Palacio da Pena", the most extraordinary palace in Portugal, built in the 1840's for Queen Maria II by her husband and emulating the castles of Ludwig of Bavaria. You will meet your guide at the palace and together visit this unique place. Then explore the windy, mountainous city streets and the incredible Old World European architecture complete with pointed roofs, as well as the breathtaking Moorish Castle and the Monastery dos Capuchos.

After a wonderful tour you will continue your journey to Cascais, an old fishing-town, now considered a high-end district. Here we have arranged for a delicious and elegant typically Portuguese lunch with wine. After such a delicious meal you will surely need to stretch your legs by strolling the cobblestone sidewalks of this quaint and pretty place, admiring the traditional tile-work on the buildings and maybe indulging in some shopping at designer boutiques. We suggest a visit to the Museu Condes de Castro Guimaraes, a pretty little museum, which is housed in a historic villa with gardens, featuring an array of tapestries, paintings, furniture and other objets d art. As always, we have many suggestions for you to experience the best of Portuguese food and wine for dinner.

In a Nutshell: Private guided visit to Palacio da Pena in Sintra; Visit to Cascais. Overnight Lisbon

DAY 4 LISBON

Today, after breakfast, you are free to explore more of Lisbon at your leisure. Your guide, as will we, provide you with many suggestions for further sightseeing options.

Alternatively you may like to head out of the city and we can OPTIONALLY arrange for your private chauffeur to take you to Azeitao, south of Lisbon.

Your day will commence with a tour of a famous wine estate, owned by a major art lover and one of the wealthiest men in Portugal. You will tour the estate with its 16th century renaissance gardens and incredible vineyards and visit the largest collection of antique Portuguese tilework in their Azulejo room. Next, you will visit the Japanese garden and finally, the wine cellars where you will finalize your tour with a tasting of their best wines.

You will now pause for a delicious country fare lunch with typical Portuguese local wines served at a local hostelry, an ideal opportunity to taste the local sweet speciality, Tortas de Azeitao.

This afternoon you will visit a winery Museum House and Cellars where they have been making wines for nearly 200 years and are the oldest producer of wines, including the Setubal Muscatel, in Portugal. You will have a guided tour of the Museum and the three old Cellars where wines are aged, followed by a tasting of their famous wines and Moscatel.

After such a busy day you will no doubt wish to relax and perhaps have a light dinner at your hotel, but we also have many suggestions for great restaurants in the area.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Lisbon. OPTIONAL Day out of the city for a private guided prestigious winery visit with tasting of their best wines and a visit to a famous winery Museum House and Cellars with tastings. Overnight Lisbon

DAY 5 OBIDOS & COIMBRA

This morning, after breakfast, your chauffeur will be waiting to whisk you away to the countryside as you leave for the beautiful Douro Valley. You will, however, be stopping off on the way with time to visit Obidos and Coimbra.

Obidos is one of the hidden gems of the Portuguese countryside. This completely walled city presents itself with pride and the white washed houses that the Moorish occupation left behind in a maze of narrow cobbled streets on the way up to the castle. In Obidos it will be hard to choose either to explore the little ceramic shops along the way or enjoy the pleasures of the famous local Cherry Liquor known as Ginjinha.

Coimbra is one of Portugal's oldest cities and home to one of the worlds first universities. In 711 the city was occupied by the Moors and remained Islamic for more than 300 years, despite brief interludes when Christian troops regained control. With the final Reconquest, in 1064, Coimbra was ideally situated to be a point of contact between the Muslim south and the Christian north and became home to an important Mozarabic community.

Today, its atmospheric, beautiful historic core cascades down a hillside in a lovely setting on the east bank of the Rio Mondeg: a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium. Take time out to see the Old Cathedral Se Velha - the present church, in the second phase of Coimbra Romanesque style, dating from the 2nd half of the 12th century and the Almedina Tower (Torre de Almedina) which was built above the Almedina Arch in the 11th century, nowadays housing the Centre of the Walled City, an interpretation centre recounting the history of the medieval city and its wall.

Here, you will have a delicious lunch of Portuguese cuisine to be accompanied, of course, with fabulous Portuguese wine.

Onward now to the Douro Valley and finally, you will arrive at Pinhao in the heart of the Douro Valley, considered one the most spectacular wine regions of the world with its characteristic terraced vineyards as the sloping hills meet the meandering river below.

Here, you will check into your hotel, a charming 5-star property dating back to the XVIII century when it was an old Port winery, with a privileged location in the heart of the Douro valley and overlooking the Douro River. Later, you may wish to explore Pinhao. Spectacularly located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhao rivers, this small town is the epicenter of the Port wine-making area and a place where the soil and climatic conditions are considered to be at their very best.

This late afternoon you may like to relax in the library bar which is the perfect setting to enjoy a Port wine tasting, or take a stroll along the riverbank. You may wish to eat at your hotel tonight, but there are also good quality local restaurants we can suggest.

In a Nutshell: Visits to Obidos and Coimbra. Overnight in 5* riverside Hotel in the Douro Valley

DAY 6 DOURO VALLEY

After a delicious breakfast at your hotel this morning, get ready to experience the love of the land as your private chauffeur takes you out for the day into the valley. Many great photo opportunities and fine wines await you today!

This morning you will be making a wonderful visit to a very special and world famous winery. Sitting in a privileged location in the Douro Demarcated Region, this Quinta is famous for its sophisticated wines as well as for the dramatic views. This single vineyard property dates as far back as the early seventeenth century, long before the Douro became the worlds first demarcated wine region in 1756. Recently they have begun a new venture with Jean Michel Cazes from one of our favorite wineries of the Bordeaux region, Chateau Lynch Bages. At the winery you will have a full private visit of the vineyards (with mind blowing views of the River Douro) and cellars, followed by a tasting of their incredible wines and ports with an exceptional lunch, perfectly accompanied by the Quintas top wines from the aperitif through to dessert.

After lunch your chauffeur will take you to another great Quinta in the fantastic Douro Valley where you will enjoy a private visit to another of our favourite wineries. This family run winery has a small production (for Douro standards), but offers great wines and even better views.

A relatively young winery, with its first harvest taking place in 2007, the estate now occupies 30 hectares of land, 14 of which are vineyards. Both sophisticated techniques and traditional methods are used and despite the short number of years that the Quinta has been active; this young estate has now established itself as a quality winemaker! Red, White and Rose wines are produced with love and precision and some innovative and special edition products will delight your senses. After a complete private tour you will enjoy a tasting of their great wines.

In a Nutshell: Private guided visits to two prestigious wineries with tastings of their finest wines and lunch at one. Overnight Douro Valley

DAY 7 DOURO VALLEY

After a leisurely breakfast at your riverside hotel you will be visiting a prestigious Douro Valley Winery, situated close to your hotel, just 15 minutes walk along the river.

You will have a guided visit to the winery and cellars where they keep ageing their wines and ports. This winery is unusual in the way that they do everything in the Douro Valley. Most port houses make their port in the Douro but store and bottle it in Vila Nova da Gaia, in Porto. With 55 hectares of land planted to vines, they produce approximately 85,000 litres of Port and 200,000 litres of wine every year. They are fortunate in having a great diversity of vineyards which not only run along the banks of the River Douro, but also climb up to 400 metres above sea level. All the ports are foot trodden and some of their Reserve table wines also undergo a cold maceration in the lagares before being transferred to stainless steel fermentation tanks. On your visit you will hear how the family started the winery well over 100 years ago and learn of their wine making process. You will see the whole port and wine making process from the vineyard to the final bottle and be able to see both wine and port making processes side by side. Your visit here will conclude with a tasting of 3 of their DOC wines and 3 Ports.

After your visit and tasting you will be served lunch, an authentic 3 course meal, accompanied with wines/ports and, weather permitting, served on the terrace overlooking the river.

After lunch you will return to Pinhao, stroll back or the winery will be able to call you a taxi, where you are booked on an afternoon small group Rabelo boat cruise along the Douro River. On your 2 hour cruise up the river you will see the beauty of the area with the many wineries running down the hillsides and be able to imagine how, traditionally, Port wine was carried down the river from Douro to the lodges in Porto. We can OPTIONALLY arrange for you to have a privately skippered cruise. Rabelos are replica Vintage boats, traditionally used to carry the wine down the river from Douro to the lodges in Oporto. Sip white port whilst taking in the views of the vineyards and colonial style Quintas.

On your return, why not take a walk beside the Douro River or visit the iconic train station, just behind your hotel. Pinhao station is considered one of the most symbolic locations on the Upper Douro wine circuit. The picture postcard train station has 25 blue glazed tile panels covering the main building, representing the local landscapes and habits, predominantly of wine making.

For dinner, why not treat yourself to a luxury meal on the terrace of the incredible Rui Paula DOC restaurant, overlooking the grandeur of the vineyard covered mountains and the serenity of the Douro river and the riverside villages. Situated on one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the country, on the road between Regua and Pinhao, the restaurant occupies a building of contemporary lines with an elegant wooden deck terrace. We would be happy to make a reservation for you at Rui Paula, and regarding transportation: your hotel could call you a taxi to go as would the restaurant for your return.

In a Nutshell: Guided Winery Tour with Wine Tasting followed by a delicious lunch with wines, Rabelo boat cruise on the Douro River. Overnight Douro Valley

DAY 8 GUIMARAES & PORTO

This morning, after breakfast, your private chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Porto.

On this picturesque journey you will make a stop to visit Guimaraes, an historical town called the birthplace of Portugal, as Afonso Henriques who went on to be the first king of Portugal, was born here in 1110.

Guimaraes has beautifully preserved its illustrious past which you will find evident in the graceful iron verandas, granite balconies and porticos, mansions, arches, time-smoothed paving slabs, towers and cloisters. Its medieval center is a labyrinthine of lanes and picturesque plazas framed by 14th-century buildings. Guimaraes glory was officially recognised in 2001, when Unesco declared its old centre a World Heritage Site.

You may like to ride the cable car up the Penha Mountain, a sanctuary of natural life, with spectacular views of the region, to the sea, before enjoying a delicious lunch of typical Northern Portuguese food.

Its then on to Porto built along the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the Douro river, an outstanding urban landscape with a 2,000-year old history. Its historical center was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1996. It has been continuously inhabited since at least the 4th Century, when the Romans referred to it as Portus Calle (port). Porto is a mysterious city that reveals its charm to the visitor through time,

On arrival in Porto you will check in to your elegant 5* wine hotel and spa, in Vila Nova de Gaia in the midst of the famous Port Wine Lodges. Port houses have aged their wines in Vila Nova de Gaia for over three centuries and today over fifty wine companies are based in its narrow, twisting streets. Here, the ageing and blending of most of the world&s supply of Port wine takes place beneath a sea of red roofs emblazoned with some of the most famous names in wine-making.

What better place to be situated than in the heart of Port Wine History! Many of the oldest Port firms were founded by British merchant families and are owned by their successors to this day. Your hotel descends from a family who entered the Port trade in 1838, and were among the most distinguished and enterprising of the Port families. Their descendants maintain this tradition as owners of three of the most famous Port companies. Your luxury hotel is named in celebration of the family's historic link with the city, and it draws on its owners expertise in both fine wine production and luxury hotel management to become one of the worlds leading wine hotels.

Relax this afternoon and enjoy a dramatic and unobstructed view across the River Douro to the historic centre of Porto from your balcony. You may like to use the hotel luxury spa facilities with its large indoor pool and hot tub or sit around the outdoor pool offering panoramic views of Porto.

You may prefer to have dinner at your hotel tonight, but if not, we have many suggestions for restaurants for this evening.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Porto. Visit to Guimaraes and a typical local lunch with wines. Overnight in a 5* wine hotel and spa in Porto

DAY 9 PORTO

This morning after a leisurely breakfast and just a short walk from your hotel you are booked for a guided visit to a fantastic Port Wine Lodge which is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses and was established over three centuries ago in 1692. For many, it is the archetypal Port house and its wines the quintessential Ports. It is dedicated entirely to the production of Port wine and in particular to its finest styles. The history of the firm is in many ways the history of the Port trade itself. Since its foundation the company has remained independent. Now well into its fourth century, it has thrived and prospered, establishing itself as one of the world's most respected historic wine houses. This has been achieved through the perseverance, pioneering spirit and continuity of purpose of successive generations of family involvement. You will enjoy a private guided tour of the Wine Lodge concluded with a delightful tasting of some of their best ports.

Afterwards why not take a stroll over the Dom Luis Bridge, an unmistakable icon of the city, to the Cais da Ribeira area and have lunch on one of the many riverbank terraces overlooking the river, the Dom Luis Bridge and the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia.

The rest of your day is free to discover more of Porto. The original home of Port wine, winding streets and an interesting old town that is a World Heritage Site - this is Porto. Henry the Navigator was born in Porto and the city had a minor role in "The Discoveries". Head into the old town and wander through the mazes and alleys of the city taking in the old, bohemian spirit of the city. Major cultural highlights include the Bolhao Market, the Clerigos Church, the 14th century Church Sao Francisco, well worth seeing for its Baroque decorations, as well as the Se Cathedral, a 12th century Baroque church with Gothic cloisters and ornately painted blue-and-white azulejos tiles and Sao Bento railway station.

Should you have an interest in books, Lello Bookstore in Porto is well worth a visit. It has an elaborately decorated interior of neo-gothic design and was recently rated as one of top 3 most beautiful book-stores in the world. Rumor has it that this bookstore provided the inspiration for the Harry Potter character! We will be delighted to arrange our excellent local officially licensed guide to take you for a private tour so that you do not miss the city's most emblematic monuments,

As always we have many suggestions for restaurants for this evening.

In a Nutshell: Port Wine Lodge Visit and Tastings, Overnight Porto

DAY 10 DEPARTURE

This morning, after breakfast, you will check out of your hotel and your chauffeur will be waiting to take you to Porto Airport for your onward flight.

We do hope you will join us for this wonderful and interesting food, wine and cultural private tour.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Porto Airport

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for four (4) nights in a 5* luxury hotel in Lisbon (river-view room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 5* luxury riverside hotel in the Douro Valley (river-view room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in an elegant 5* wine hotel and spa in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto (executive room, double occupancy)

  • Nine (9) full Breakfasts

  • Chauffeured transfers in a luxury vehicle, as indicated in the itinerary

  • Provision of an Officially Licensed Bi-Lingual Guide to lead you through Lisbon on a private food, wine and cultural tour

  • Private Guided Visit with Bi-lingual specialist guide at the Pena Palace

  • Visits to 3 prestigious wineries in the Douro Valley and 1 port wine house in Porto

  • In-House bi-lingual Wine Expert to assist you throughout your tours of the wineries

  • Evening at a Fado Cafe with dinner and wine

  • All the meals, culinary, cultural visits and tastings as indicated in the itinerary

  • Online Personal Travel Webpage including daily itinerary, general local information, details of places of interest, suggestions for restaurant reservations, and your free time, etc.

  • Handy elegant Personal Travel Journal, which includes the extended information from your Personal Travel Website, that you can take with you as you go and keep as a souvenir to look back on.

  • 24/7 Back Office Assistance

Your tour does not include:

  • Flights

  • Meals and drinks not stated in the itinerary

  • Personal expenses such as telephone, minibar, etc.

  • Tips and gratuities at restaurants etc. at your discretion, NOT obligatory

  • Travel Insurance may be included in your quotation on request. We strongly recommend you to take out separate cancellation insurance.

Prices:

Please note our tours are available for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY and are not scheduled mixed group tours. Price is available upon request and varies depending on the number of guests and time of year. Feel free to contact us for your personal quote