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Back Roads and Wines of Portugal
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Back Roads and Wines of Portugal

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 14 day(s)
Group Size: 8 - 16 people
Destination(s): Portugal  
Specialty Categories: Food & Wine   Cultural Journey  
Season: October
Airfare Included: Yes
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 6799 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 6799 US Dollar (USD)

Tour dates:
October 6 - 20, 2015
October 8 - 22, 2016

Wonderful Portuguese historian as escort, local cooking class, outstanding wines and foods, friendly locals, picturesque villages and great historic cities, the real Portugal. With a charming native Portuguese historian as our guide and companion, we are going to see some fascinating, out-of-the-way sights that represent the true Portugal so little known—the least explored corner of Western Europe. From the rolling plains of the Alentejo to the mountains and romantic castles of the Beiras; from the Douro River Valley with its famed port wine to the rural green hills and valleys of the Minho region of Northern Portugal—we will see Portugal as it has changed through the centuries. We will meet today’s vineyard owners, olive farmers, and craftspeople creating beautiful azulejos ceramic tiles as they have been made for centuries.

We’ll learn about yesterday’s kings and queens and explorers. We will see beautiful Manueline-style palaces and monasteries and tiny Baroque churches. Hearing stories of Portugal’s fascinating history, we’ll explore medieval castles and fabulous palaces. We’ll see ancient cities and tiny hilltop villages. We’ll learn about (and taste) Portugal’s best wines and dine on her most delicious regional specialties and freshest fish. Staying in elegant Pousadas and wonderful regional manor houses, we’ll travel by minivan with a small, friendly group. Each evening dinner is a special occasion that will feel like a delightful dinner party of friends. Throughout our two-week gourmet travel adventure, you will be pampered, wined and dined, and treated as our guests. You’ll see a Portugal you will never forget!

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1.
Arriving at the Lisbon Airport, you will be met by our wonderful tour leader and guide, Carla. After a rest at our hotel in the center of Lisbon, we take a tour of this beautiful city. After some free time to relax or explore, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant serving mouth-watering Portuguese cuisine.
Overnight: Lisbon | Includes: (D).

Day 2.
In the morning we continue exploring Lisbon’s colorful neighborhoods. Highlights are the Castelo San Jorge, high on a hill overlooking the city, and the Jeronimos Monastery, where Vasco Da Gama prayed and is buried. We also visit a tile workshop to see how the famous Portuguese tiles are created and painted by hand. At the end of the day we enjoy a tapas walking tour followed by free time to explore on your own.
Overnight: Lisbon | Includes: (B).

Day 3.
Today we head north to the city of Coimbra, birthplace of six kings and home of Portugal’s oldest university. A local guide leads our tour and takes us to his favorite pub for lunch. Next on our route is the colorful city of Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, named for port wine. We’ll have a tour and tasting here of one of Portugal’s oldest Port wineries. Then we continue on to our charming Pousada in Guimarães, the 2012 European cultural capital. Tonight we enjoy a wonderful dinner at our inn.
Overnight: Guimarães | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 4.
Today we have a guided tour of the historic town of Guimarães, Portugal’s first capital and home of the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques. On the way back to Guimarães we visit the spectacular Baroque monument, the Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte. The “Stairway of the Three Virtues” is an amazing sight—and to think the pilgrims used to climb it on their knees! We have dinner tonight in Guimarães and spend a second night at the Pousada.
Overnight: Guimarães | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 5.
This morning we depart Guimarães for Pinhão, stopping in the picturesque town of Amarante for free time and lunch on the way. We drive along the beautiful Douro River and check into our luxurious river-front hotel, where we enjoy a gourmet dinner.
Overnight: Pinhão | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 6.
Today we visit the Vila Nova de Foz Côa archeological site, the largest Paleolithic open-air site in the world, where we see 20,000-year-old prehistoric rock drawings. On our way back to Pinhão we stop at a beautiful winery high on a hillside for a port wine tasting. Tonight is another special dinner of delicious regional specialties.
Overnight: Pinhão | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 7.
A visit to the flamboyant Solar de Mateus shows us an excellent example of Portuguese Baroque architecture. The palace is surrounded by gardens, tree covered walks, and allegorical statues. In Vila Real we enjoy a very special wine tasting meal, and then take a cruise along the Douro River in a “Rabelo”—the traditional wooden sailing ship used in days gone by to transport barrels of port up and down the river. We have a free evening to relax.
Overnight: Pinhão | Includes: (B), (D)(served mid-day).

Day 8.
Today we drive south through the Beiras and Tras-os-Montes regions into the Alentejo. Our fabulous Pousada for the night is in Marvão, a fortified medieval village perched high on top of a granite wall on a peak of the Serra de São Marmede mountain range. Marvão is exciting to explore, with its narrow streets and covered alleys climbing up to the 13th century castle. From the castle the view of the surrounding countryside is outstanding. We can easily see across the border into Spain.
Overnight: Marvão | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 9.
In the morning we visit the charming village of Castelo de Vide and then we visit the Vila Viçosa Ducal Palace, the former residence of the Dukes of Braganza from the beginning of the 16th century. In Portel we check into our lovely villa, our home for the next two nights. Within this elegant manor house is a cooking school. We enjoy an entertaining cooking class followed by a gourmet dinner.
Overnight: Portel | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 10.
Today we take an excursion to visit the medieval walled town of Monsaraz, perched high on a hill above the River Guadiana. A tour of the Herdade do Esporao wine estate is followed by a tasting of excellent Alentejo wines. We return to our villa in Portel to enjoy a wonderful gourmet dinner of regional recipes.
Overnight: Portel | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 11.
In the morning we leave Portel and drive to the ancient Roman city of Evora. This is a fascinating medieval walled town with a perfectly preserved Roman temple, an unusual cathedral, and the macabre “Chapel of Bones”. After our visit we head back toward the coast and arrive at our final destination, Sintra. We spend the next two days in this beautiful village, an enchanting, picturesque community, high on a hill, with quaint streets, beautiful villas, and three palaces. Our hotel is in the old center, which we explore before a wonderful dinner in town.
Overnight: Sintra | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 12.
Today is an exciting day to explore this storybook land. We visit the historic castle in the village and then the wild and crazy Pena Palace on top of a mountain. In the afternoon we take a short drive to the Cabo da Roca to see the ocean view from Europe’s western-most tip of land. We have a free evening to choose one of the many enticing restaurants in the village.
Overnight: Sintra | Includes: (B).

Day 13.
We must visit one more beautiful palace, and then have a free afternoon to shop or explore Sintra’s quaint streets. Tonight is our gourmet farewell dinner in an outstanding local restaurant.
Overnight: Sintra | Includes: (B), (D).

Day 14.
After breakfast we drive to the Lisbon Airport for the return flight.
Includes: (B).

Airfare is included in the tour price.

Price Includes:

- Roundtrip airfare from Boston or New York (airfare price can be deducted)
- 13 nights deluxe accommodations in Lisbon (2); Guimarães (2); Pinhão (3); Marvão (1); Portel (2); and Sintra (3)
- All breakfasts and 11 dinners
- Full-time professional Portuguese guide, who is both our driver and an expert on Portuguese history
- Transportation in comfortable, air-conditioned minibus
- All wine tastings
- Additional visits to: Coimbra, Porto, Douro River, Vila Real, Moura, Monsaraz, Castelo de Vide, Portalegre, Monsanto, Almeida, Vila Nova de Foz Cŏa, Evora
- Boat cruise along the Douro River
- Entertaining cooking class
- All tour guides, vineyards, museum and monument entrance fees
- All tips and taxes.

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