Best of Portugal: Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, Albufeira Tour

A 8 day trip to Portugal 
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The outstanding highlight of Portugal is not the sights, but the atmosphere. You will be enveloped by the feel of the destinations and savor the ambiance that is distinctive to these regions. Heritage and old-world style are found around Porto, grandeur and gregarious welcomes abound in Lisbon, and then serenity and seclusion are yours in the south. With private tours customized for you, this one-week luxury tour will reveal the best of Portugal’s atmospheres in Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, and Albufeira, blending the postcard-perfect panoramas with authentic cultural experiences. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Porto, Se Cathedral, Santa Catarina Street, Gaia, Batalha Square, Douro Valley, Amarante, Mesao Frio, Peso de Regua, Pinhao, Lisbon, Rossio Square, Alfama, St. George’s Castle, Belem, Belem Tower, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Cascais, Estoril, Albufeira, Algarve, Carvoeiro Beach, Faro

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Porto – Exploring the Centuries in Central Porto

Porto quickly envelops you in as your senses are nearly overwhelmed. Most walls are covered with intricate ceramic blue mosaics that create moving murals. Streets of cobblestone and intrigue twist through the old center, winding down to the elegant banks of the Douro. At some points, you ascend to panoramic viewpoints that show Porto and the port cellars across the water. You will be exploring on a private afternoon tour, walking and driving to distinctive parts of a distinctive city. Gaze upon the heritage of Se Cathedral, and then stroll from Batalha Square along Santa Catarina Street, the tiles changing every few meters. Take a look inside the vintage Lello bookshop and feast your eyes on Clerigos Church and Tower. With your private guide, the scenes of the city start to make sense, the epic tile murals painting very particular stories.

Stroll down to the river and take a boat across the Douro to the cellars.  Wine was banished from Porto in the 18th century, so the winemakers constructed their cellars on the opposite bank, which was a different city at the time. The cellars smell of 250-year history, pungent and atmospheric with their seemingly endless rows of oak casks and barrels. Your walk through the cellar concludes with a vintage tasting, a chance to smell and taste the difference created by the year and the aging.

Following the cellar visit, you will be transferred back to your historical four-star hotel in the city. You will have already checked in earlier in the day after being greeted at the airport for a private airport transfer. Ideally located within the heart of Porto, your hotel is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and exudes intimate charm and inherent grace. There is a view over the Douro River from your suite, with wooden furniture and soft tones preserving the atmosphere of a very laid-back city. You will find a wide collection of restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the hotel.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Porto – Leisurely Day Discovering the Douro Valley, Including Wine Tasting

Tradition dictates the ambiance in the Douro Valley as tiny villages are reached by crossing ancient brick bridges, and church and cathedral spires rise above the green slopes, their facades softly fading. Gothic ghouls look down at you from churches hidden from the world, and then there is the wine, elegant rows of grape vines stepped along the river. You will spend today in this majestic valley with a private full-day tour that twists and turns through the folds in the hills. Start in Amarante, the Sao Goncalo Monastery an introduction to the omnipresence of tradition. Wander the narrow streets from centuries past, and then traverse the rural valley to Masao Frio and its outstanding Gothic church.

Pinhao train station is another stop on route to the vineyards, and you will take a private tour of a winery to admire how the steep terraces have preserved some very traditional cultivation methods. Almost everything is done by hand at some of the vineyards with the rows of vines too steep for machinery. Stop at a different winery and taste alongside the winemaker for a chance to drink the wine that is most synonymous with Portugal. You will dine casually at one of these wineries and savor the local produce on the terrace while sitting on a picnic blanket in the heart of the vines. While there are half a dozen stops on your tour, you will travel at a leisurely pace that suits the destination and arrive back in Porto in the late afternoon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Lisbon – Historical Icons and Contemporary Color in Lisbon

One of Portugal’s highlights is the high-speed railway from Porto in the north to the Algarve in the south, with Lisbon roughly halfway. Traveling first class, you will whizz through the rural landscapes and look out on the crumbling fortresses that dot the hills and ochre-hued plains that sometimes swirl with dust. It will be just under three hours to Lisbon, and the station in Porto provides a poignant send-off, the main hall decorated with the city’s most iconic ceramic mural.

You will be greeted at the station and transferred to your next accommodation, a boutique hotel with a classical grandeur. Each part of the hotel is packed with character, designed by the great Graca Viterbo, one of Portugal’s most revered interior designers. With a location close to Avenida da Liberdade, you’re next to the grand icons of Lisbon’s historic center, with a huge choice of restaurants within a ten-minute walk. Enjoy your lunch somewhere close to the hotel before a private afternoon tour to explore the city’s most iconic highlights.

Statuesque heroes look down on you around Rossio Square, the thriving heart of Lisbon. Wide avenues are lined by grandiose 18th-century townhouses here, but they narrow when you reach Alfama, the old quarter of the city that’s still connected by the city’s traditional tramcars. Explore Lisbon Cathedral and then wander uphill to St. George’s Castle, the monument that has scared off invaders for centuries. Many of Lisbon’s postcard images are found down by the river in Belem, like the Patrimony of Mankind Jeronimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, and Belem Tower. These are all essential stops, and you should have the energy to explore after refueling with a pastel de nata, a pastry that originated in Belem and is now found all over the country. The evening will be at your leisure to relax, or to continue exploring.

What’s Included: accommodation, train, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Lisbon – Exquisite Day Trip to Sintra and the Coastal Villages

It was Lord Byron that immortalized the town of Sintra, which is located an hour outside of Lisbon. He called it the “glorious Eden” and it will be hard to argue, especially when you first glimpse the fairytale palaces in the wooded hills. Over a thousand years before Lord Byron, the town was mentioned by the Moors, who were the first to lay eyes on the peculiar castle that dominates Sintra, and it remains one of the most unusual royal buildings in Europe, eye-catching from outside and inside. Take your time in Sintra with a short stroll along the narrow lanes followed by coffee overlooking the palace and a chance to peruse one of the old Byron poetry collections that are dotted around.

UNESCO World Heritage Sintra is surrounded by undulating woods and freshwater springs, and as you explore further, you will find hidden caves and cliffs standing dramatically above the Atlantic Ocean. A lighthouse marks the western edge of mainland Europe in Cabo da Roca, while other palaces can be discovered when you travel in the surroundings. On this full-day private tour, you can spend the morning in and around Sintra, and then the afternoon on the coast. Discover the regal resort village of Cascais, a retreat for royalty since the 19th century. If you’re feeling active, there is a wonderful promenade walk here, or you can drive onwards with the guide to Estoril, another seaside village with grandeur and heritage.

Your evening in Lisbon is at your leisure, and you will find the city’s atmosphere to be gregarious around dusk. People fill the streets, taking a stroll after work and locals meet at the plazas, perhaps stopping for an espresso or small beer at one of the many public kiosks. Terraces are bustling, as is TimeOut Lisbon market, a gathering place for the city’s most iconic chefs and kitchens. Evening time is also ideal for taking one of the historical tramcars, with number 28 connecting the city’s distinctive neighborhoods, the tram is quieter at this time, and there is more to see along the streets.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Albufeira – Tranquility of the Southern Beaches

The cliffs of Albufeira provide the backdrop for the final three days of your luxury tour. The cliffs change color as the sun crosses the sky, from yellow to red to ochre before dusk. Pinnacles have been separated and stand like giant sentinels out in the waves. Vertical escarpments hide picturesque beaches, some only accessible by boat while walking paths roam along the cliffs, ideal for an adventurous hike in nature. You may also opt to descend to the golden sand and walk along the beach, which extends for many miles in both directions beneath your hotel.

Earlier today, you enjoy a first-class train journey from Lisbon to Albufeira, the second stage of your admiration for Portugal’s rural landscapes. Sun-scorched and rugged, the landscapes are more akin to northern Africa than western Europe, desert-like and emanating a wilderness feel. It will take just over 2 ½ hours to reach Albufeira, where you will be greeted at the station for a transfer to nearby Falesia Beach. The sand is just a minute’s walk from the hotel, and there will always be a quiet place to relax as you settle into the charms of southern Portugal.

What’s Included: accommodation, train, transfer, breakfast

Day 6: Albufeira – Caves and Dolphins of the Algarve Coast

Dolphins rise in unison as they migrate around the south of Portugal, bounding clear of the water and then disappearing back into the blue. The dolphins are abundant here as they feast on waters rich in sardines and other small fish as they follow the warmer currents into the Mediterranean. Local boat captains know where dolphins love to feed with their appearance in different spots explained by the changing tides. These dolphin pods are the initial focus of your luxury boat cruise, a small-group tour that’s permanently back-dropped by the red cliffs of the Algarve.

As you return towards the shore and the cliffs, your boat will take a route through the pinnacles and the caves, cruising through surreal rock formations. Narrow archways lead you into cathedral-like caverns, with light pouring through gaps in the cliffs above. Some caves can only be accessed at high tide, others at low tide, and the changing of the water brings a rush of sounds and smells. You will stop at a beach inaccessible by land, a place for a quick ocean swim beneath the cliffs and then you are back to Albufeira and your hotel in time for lunch, with an afternoon at leisure spent along the coast.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Albufeira – Day at Leisure With Options for Historical Exploration

Your five-star hotel looks out over the golden sands and red cliffs, and it is a place of seclusion and serenity as the atmosphere symbolizes the wider region. Your room will have contemporary style with white marble bathrooms and a private terrace for looking over the ocean. There is also an extensive spa to enjoy, two restaurants on site, plus the amenities you would expect from a five-star establishment. The day is deliberately left free in a place where you can comfortably waste time without feeling an ounce of guilt. You can walk to the quiet parts of the beach, where all you hear is the sound of the surf and all you smell is the salt on the ocean breeze.

There will be an option for historical exploration today as well. While the Algarve is Portugal’s beach tourism hotspot, it has a history that is older than Porto. Villages are white and blue, a legacy of the Moors that lived here more than a thousand years ago. Lagos is a fine town for a walk, if a little overrun by tourists in the summer. Regional capital Faro has the most impressive old quarter, a town that has fervently retained its Portuguese tradition. All along the coast, you will find minute fishing villages with one or two outstanding restaurants, perfect for an indulgent seafood banquet. This private option with a driver guide needs to be arranged before departure to Portugal.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 8: Albufeira to Faro – Departure

It will be a 40-minute private transfer to Faro International Airport where your luxury tour will culminate, and you can enjoy use of the facilities at your hotel before departing.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$1,595
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.