Portugal is Open – Go Explore!
Despite some confusing messages in the media, Portugal has reopened to visitors from EU countries, along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a select few others. Think sultry summer sun, delightful Azulejo tiles, stunning seafood, wide-open beaches and none of the normal crowds.
While Portugal is open it’s not attracted many visitors. You can find great deals on five-star travel and discover famous highlights without the usual masses. Note that you need a negative PCR test to visit the islands, but not the mainland. So go explore with this best of Portugal travel experience designed by a Portuguese travel expert.
If you like the ideas in this experience you can easily create a custom trip to Portugal, featuring these and other extraordinary travel moments.
Day 1 - Porto
Romantic Dinner on a Private Boat in Porto
The sun is setting, and dusk falls. Port glass in hand, stand by the gunnel with that special person, and watch the old neighbourhoods of Porto light up. When the last of daylight is gone, you will enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner served on board in all elegance. Just for the two of you. Revel in the flavours of food and wine, and gaze into each other’s eyes as your boat floats gently down the silent dark waters, which give back the golden city lights.
The Yeatman, Porto
Think vintage elegance, sweeping views of Porto’s clay-tiled roofs, and an array of wine-related experiences. You are thinking The Yeatman.Wine is the theme of this hotel, founded by a family whose wine-making tradition dates from the 19th century. From its cellars, you will have an extensive choice of wines to accompany your double-Michelin-star meals. In the spa, alongside the Roman bath and hamman, you can enjoy exclusive vine-based treatments.And if you like, you can have a vineyard-themed suite — how about sleeping in a bed built into an enormous wine-barrel?
Day 2 - Porto
Porto Culinary Tour
Your guide in Porto is a professional expert in food and drink. And Porto has a very distinctive culinary scene. Alongside her, you will discover the headquarters of a long-established British wine company. Picture a period ballroom, kitchen and library, which all seem right out of Downton Abbey. From there, she will take you to explore a residential area of the city, meet local artisans and buy handicrafts. At a picturesque fishermen’s village, you will choose your fish right out of the net, and enjoy an authentic seaside lunch.
Visit Taylor's Port Cellars in Porto
Taste the sweet ports and learn about them right here, in the city they take their name from. At Taylor’s Wine Lodges, your private guide will tell you how these wines are created. And also, about Taylor’s origins. You will hear how, four centuries ago, an Englishman came to Porto... The Marquis of Pombal, Napoleon’s troops, the Duke of Wellington, the history of this winery is more exciting than you suspect.At the winery’s restaurant, in an elegant room overlooking the city and the Douro, you will have an excellent dinner accompanied by vintage ports from down the years.
After Hours Stock Exchange Palace Tour With Dinner & Fado
Have this 19th-century palace all to yourself as you visit it in the after-hours. Built by the Commercial Association of Porto, it displays proudly the wealth and power of Portuguese merchants of that time. Think gold, granite, marble, exotic woods. A huge iron and glass dome, authentic period furniture, sumptuous décor, a dazzling Moorish revival room. This is the summit of 19th-century splendour.Your visit includes an elegant dinner in the palace. And as you sip your Port, you will enjoy a performance of fado, Portugal’s plaintive and passionate song style.
Day 3 - Porto
Douro River Rabelo Cruise
As the boat glides on, look to the top of the sheer rocky walls. Here the Douro flows in a deep gorge, and the cliffs on both sides are majestic.The griffin and the eagle fly by, undisturbed by the electric-powered boat. It goes on noiselessly, in harmony with the nature around. In olden days, “rabelos”, a centuries-old Portuguese boat, used to sail down the Douro. They carried the wine barrels from Douro vineyards to Porto cellars. You will learn much about this river, which is both a historic waterway and a wonder of nature. You will live the history on your own rabelo.
Day 4 - Slow Travel to Lisbon
Coimbra Walking Tour
As your expert guide walks you around Coimbra, all historic architectural styles will be present before you. You will go from the square romanesque purity of the Old Cathedral to the late Portuguese baroque of the University Tower. And you will breathe history. You will discover a Roman aqueduct. You will explore the oldest university in the Portuguese-speaking world. And in the Monastery of Santa Cruz, you will stop for a moment before a tomb. Crowned heads may lie uneasy, yet here there is nothing but peace about the grave of Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first King. Coimbra is Portugal’s finest historical town and this private tour will reveal its secrets.
Monastery of St. Jerome After Hours Tour
This is the summit of the manueline, the unique Portuguese late gothic style. Walk its imposing halls, passages, cloister and church, in the solitude and silence of an after-hours tour.Your guide will tell you why a king commanded this monastery to be built. She will explain to you the intricate sculpted images. Historical, nautical and natural, they are a defining feature of the manueline.You will also discover the tombs of famous men. Explorer Vasco da Gama and writers Alexandre Herculano and Fernando Pessoa are among those whose bodies rest here. And it’s so much more special when there is nobody else around.
Stay at Bairro Alto Hotel in Lisbon
Your rooms have happy, welcoming colours, and a Lisbon-inspired décor with just the right touch of modernity. And isn’t it pleasant to come back to a quiet, serene place, after walking the steep streets of this typical Lisbon neighbourhood? The wellness centre is waiting for you. Follow it with drinks in the bar, looking out of the rooftop terrace over the city and the Tagus. And then there’s dinner created by a Michelin-starred chef.In the morning, remember the hotel patisserie, and start your day with scrumptious Portuguese pastries.
Days 5 - Classic Lisbon
Lisbon Private Tram Ride
See the old Lisbon neighbourhoods in the most intimate and comfortable way: from a typical 19th-century yellow tram.Regular trams are always crowded. But not this one. It’s all yours for the duration of the ride. Through narrow alleys and steep streets, past the cathedral and the castle, it will take you across whitewashed neighbourhoods with splendid views. Up from Baixa to Alfama and Graça, Chiado and Estrela and wherever else you like.And all along, your guide will point out the sights and monuments, telling you about their history and their stories.
Sintra Palaces Tour
Palaces are strewn all over the wooded hills of Sintra. You will feel in fairyland. Pine woods grow around immense boulders and elegant manors peek from behind trees and stone walls.Pena, Monserrate, Seteais are jewels of the eclectic Portuguese Romantic style.And sitting atop a high hill, you will find an intact ring of embattled walls and towers. This is Castelo dos Mouros. Twelve centuries ago, the Moors built it. And to this day, it watches faithfully the faraway seacoast.Wander among the trees and rocks within, hear the flags fluttering in the wind. This is what “Narnian” means. And this is a private tour through Sintra’s compelling history.
Day 6 - Local Lisbon
Lisbon Shopping with a Local Host
A Lisbon shopping guide will be excited to tour the central neighbourhoods with you, introducing you to her city, to its select boutiques and designer’s shops. Many traditional businesses in central Lisbon are being replaced by large international brands. But there are still those authentic Portuguese places that make a brave stand against them, and your companion can take you there.Let her know your interests and preferences, and she will tailor the tour to fit you like a glove.
Dine Like a Lisbon Local - with locals
You will smile all through dinner. For three reasons.First, because the food is memorable. Your Portuguese hosts are cooking experts, particularly when it comes to typical Portuguese dishes. Then, you will smile because they are so friendly, and delighted to be sharing this meal with you. And third — well, this is something you won’t forget. You smile because guess what they are talking about all the time while you eat? You guessed it. They talk of food. Past, present and future food. It’s all so Portuguese.
Day 7 - Evora
Evora Trip with a Portuguese Cooking Class
A town with historic monuments is one thing. A museum-town is quite another. And such is Évora.Whatever the historic period of your interest, you will find evidence of it here. You will experience the emotion of facing megalithic monuments. You will feel the imposing presence of a Roman temple. You will steep yourself in the hushed ambience of a gothic cathedral, and discover mudéjar and manueline buildings.And when you return to the present, your guide will take you to a professional chef with whom you will cook a traditional Portuguese meal.
Days 8 & 9 - Beach Time
Algarve Oyster Tasting with a Fisherman
Accompanied by local fishermen you will venture into a maze of canals, sand dunes, swamps and beaches along the Algarve coast. The sun shines on the water, the wind rustles in the reeds and you feel the peace of nature. You feel its life too. The Ria Formosa is a Natural Park, teeming with wildlife. As you sail, you can spot dozens of bird species.Halfway through the trip, your companions will make a halt and teach you all you want to know about oysters. A very tasty lesson, really.
Vila Vita Parc, Algarve
Strewn about on extensive gardens, on cliffs that overlook a private beach, you will find a complex of suite buildings and villas.Pine and palm trees. A fountain, ponds, footpath bridges. If you like sports, a golf course and a tennis court. Inside, the décor ranges from pure contemporary to nearly classical. Sometimes, with a Portuguese touch. There are ten restaurants for you to choose from. They go from the cozy and typical Adega to the elegant Michelin-starred Oceano. And every possibility in between.