Lisbon, Porto, and Douro Valley Food and Wine

Description

Main Grape Varieties

  • Touriga Franca
  • Touriga Nacional
  • Tinta Roriz
  • Gouveio
  • Malvasia

Everything in Portugal seems to shout “old world and traditional” but underneath the façades, you will find a thoroughly modern European country whose gaze has always looked outward beyond its Atlantic shores. Thus Portugal feels contemporary and international and fully in the 21st century. Witness the widespread near perfect command of English, the modern art scene, the respected international music scene especially classical and jazz- and the incipient culinary renewal and bold innovative winemaking. 

Lisbon has become a favorite city in Europe for work and play, boasting boundary-breaking modern architecture, a lively arts scene and culinary stars and urban cocktail bars on nearly every corner. All of this coexists with classical Lisbon, the capital of the Portuguese empire and a graceful bastion of old-world charm. Everyone seems to find their own Lisbon, from the international students and start-up founders to the upscale travelers inhabiting the palaces-cum-luxury-hotels, to the seekers of unknown culinary experiences who flock to Lisbon for its exciting new fusion cuisine. 

Porto will charm you with steep streets and squares full of character, old-world cafes offering robust Portuguese coffee and traditional pastries, and historic food shops and tavernas. Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage city, and Vila Nova de Gaia across the river cover the hills flanking the Douro River with their red-tiled roofed buildings. Gaia, as it is called, is home to the many Port wine cellars where the Port was traditionally aged before being shipped abroad. You will visit and taste at two historic wine lodges where you will learn about the styles of Port wine. 

The thing that surprises people most about Portuguese wine is that over 250 indigenous grape varieties, barely known outside of Portugal, are grown and used in the wines. The Douro River Valley, home to Port wine, doesn’t break tradition, using Portuguese grape varieties in the wines. Fabled as the grape source for Port wine, the wines historically were aged in Villanova de Gaia across the river from Porto. Today, however, their locus is in the Douro, where stunning hilltop wine quintas overlook the magical landscape of hills tumbling down to the river. The Douro has long been the home of great table wines as well, but until the 21st century it was a virtual secret and few of the table wines made it further than the doors of the quintas. Today winemakers have established the region on a par with Burgundy, the Rioja of Tuscany with their quality red and white Douro (non-port) wines. Both Douro and Port wines are made from a blend of many indigenous Portugueses grapes including Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Tinta Roiz, and Touriga Nacional (red grapes) and Donzelinho Branco, Gouveio and Malvasia Fina (white grapes). The older traditional vineyards tend to be planted with a mix of grapes harvested and vinified together. The new wine producers are innovating by planting single-variety vineyards.

Highlights

  • Private Lisbon walking tour from the medieval Alfama district to the Barrio Alto
  • In-depth gourmet tasting tour in central Lisbon
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage University in Coimbra
  • Taste the surprisingly good Bairrada sparkling wine from central Portugal
  • Taste at the historic port lodges in Porto: Vintage, Colheita, Tawny-you will discover the mysteries of Port
  • Explore the Douro wines with a private wine expert, visiting wineries with outstanding views and even better wines
  • Stay in a hidden 19th-century quinta (Douro wine estate)
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 Suggested Itinerary 8 nights

Itineraries are handcrafted with extra care to create the right mix of food, wine, and culture for a memorable and unique experience. Here are some ideas and a sample itinerary.  Contact us to get started.

Day 1 – Lisbon

  • See Lisbon’s diverse neighborhoods on a guided tour of the city, from the winding streets of the medieval Alfama to the scenic Bairro Alto
  • Overnight in Lisbon

Day 2 – Lisbon

  • Lisbon has a wealth of traditional food shops where you can taste and buy specialty products. Your local guide will show you the best ones and you will taste some of Portugal’s finest cheeses, charcuterie, pastries, and wine.
  • Overnight in Lisbon

Day 3 – Coimbra & Porto

  • Visit Coimbra one of Europe’s oldest university towns
  • Visit a Bairrada winery known for its red and white wines made from native Portuguese grapes
  • Visit a Bairrada winery making highly regarded sparkling wine
  • Arrive in Porto. Check-in at your downtown luxury 5-star hotel
  • Dinner at an upscale landmark Porto restaurant
  • Overnight in Porto

Day 3 – Porto

  • Visit Porto’s landmark sites: Livrario Lello bookstore, Torre dos Clerigos, Palacio da Bolsa, the Ribeira (riverfront) district, and the Port Wine Institute.
  • Dinner by the sea in a former teahouse built over the Atlantic Ocean

Day 4 – Porto

  • Learn about Port wine visiting two legendary Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, right across the river from Porto. Try a selection of top-quality Port wines, including some rare Colheitas and even a vintage port.
  • An expert will guide you through the fish market visit followed by a fish tasting in Matosinhos-Porto’s fishing port. Lunch of delicate fresh fish.
  • Overnight in Porto

Day 5 – Porto & Guimaraes

  • Visit the World Heritage city of Guimaraes, with its castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganca. Continue onto a Vinho Verde winery for a tasting and lunch.
  • Overnight in Porto

Day 6 – Douro

  • Leave Porto behind for the beauty of Douro Valley.
  • Visit a winery with views over the river for a tasting of their Douro (non-port) wines.
  • Cruise down the river in the afternoon on a private riverboat.
  • Dinner at our favorite restaurant on the terrace overlooking the Douro River.
  • Sleep in a 19th-century quinta overlooking the Douro River.
  • Overnight in Douro

Day 7 – Douro

  • Spend the day at the quinta
  • Cook with the resident chef for your lunch
  • Visit the winery and taste their Port and Douro wines
  • Relax on the grounds of the quinta (pool included)
  • Dinner on the terrace overlooking the river
  • Overnight in Porto

Day 8 – Douro

  • Drive up to the Casal de Loivos Viewpoint for a spectacular view over one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The views continue at an 18th-century quinta with spectacular river and vineyard views, where you will taste their organic port and non-fortified Douro wines with a home-cooked lunch.
  • Home-cooked dinner in the quinta
  • Overnight in the Douro

Day 9 – Departure

  • Depart from the Porto train station or airport

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS

  • Visit Setubal wineries just outside of Lisbon where spectacular late-harvest moscatels are made.
  • A private tour of Monserrate Palace in Sintra- a fine example of Sintra Romanticism architectural style- is our recommended alternative to the crowded Pena Palace. 
  • Join a young chef in the kitchen in Porto where you will learn to make emblematic northern Portuguese dishes.
  • Stop in Nazare, a fishing village North of Lisbon, for lunch and to see the waves that bring surfers from across the globe
  • Take the slow train from the Douro Valley to Porto; the train winds along the valley floor next to the river affording views not seen from the road.
  • Join a winery for a day or a week for the fall harvest grape stomping in the ancient granite lagares.
  • Explore the Douro wines with a private wine expert, visiting wineries with outstanding views and even better wines
  • Visit a Vinho Verde winery, in an 18th-century palace, producing Portugal’s finest Alvarinho wines before continuing on to the Rias Baixas wine region Galicia in Spain

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