Porto, Batalha, Alcobaca, Lisbon, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Belem, Sintra, Alfama
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Portugal sets a scene for romance to thrive with cobbled azulejo-clad streets, 9th-century hilltop palaces, quaint medieval towns, and terraced Douro vineyards. You cannot help but be caught up together, and while the backdrops will change, with each stop you will delve deeper into the local culture, luxuriating on Portugal’s fine cuisine, wine, art, and history. One week is plenty of time when you are just two, as Porto and Obidos are destinations from a dream, Lisbon rivals Paris for romantic...
Porto – Luxuriating With Port and Fine Dining
Porto is always quick to charm. Draped along both sides of the Douro River, dominated by steep cobbled lanes, this northern city proffers its pride with ease. Your hotel is tucked into the UNESCO World Heritage area and beside the chiming of cathedral bells and the clip-clop of life from the medieval age. Everyone falls in love with the city at first glance, so you can get lost in the mazy lanes, and the azulejo begins to dominate your memory. Get too lost and just descend, for all paths eventually lead to the river and a series of waterside cafes and restaurants.
After some free time to get your bearings, your guide will take you across the river in a paddleboat with an iconic bridge arching high above you. Welcoming you on the opposite bank is Vila Nova de Gaia, where enormous port cellars line up beside old boats. Traveling slowly now you will delve into one of these cellars, following the lines of barrels as peculiar smells flicker through the room. Up and out you go, back into the light and an expansive terrace with superb views over the river and city. This is one of Portugal’s best restaurants, and the dinnertime menu pairs fine food with port and Douro wine, a sumptuous introduction to the country’s gastronomy with a sunset view to boot.
Porto – Immersed in the World of Azulejo Tiles
There will be endless blue tiles cladding the streets in mosaics of old-world splendor. Each tells a tale, narrating a scene such as crusaders negotiating with Moors, or farmers out in the fields. Visit Porto, and you can expect to see azulejo infamous monuments – the one in Sao Bento Railway Station is certainly superb – but azulejo is the vernacular here, making Porto feel like an art gallery. Immersed in a blue world, you can explore the city, a local guide taking you on a tour of the historical center and beyond. Admire the thick stone fortress that is Porto Cathedral, take in the lines of the Stock Exchange Palace, and then discover the atmosphere of Bolhao Market.
It will take three to four hours to tour Porto’s key highlights, and the rest of the day is free. You could amble between wine bars near the riverside, take a tram to the beach, or head uphill to smaller neighborhoods that have a very local feel. Porto remains a laid-back city as if it still desires to be in a medieval era, and you cannot rush too much when the hills are so steep either. So take your time, lounge around the Douro, and feel the romantic setting that Portugal can provide.
Douro Valley – Douro Valley Scenic Drive for a Remote Vineyard Stay
In the morning, your private driver will meet you at your hotel in Porto and take you on a scenic drive meandering along the Douro River. You will pass small towns where red rooftops contrast the surrounding greenery overlooking the stoic river until you connect to the elevated roads where the vineyards begin to dominate. The valley narrows and each vineyard is a series of terraces, and the vines seem to lurch over the edge and their incredibly long roots are one reason Douro wine is so distinctive. You will reach your accommodation at a 200-year-old estate, where your villa is hidden inside the vineyard.
Check into the villa and enjoy your lunch on the terrace, along with a local wine tasting. Add privacy to the setting, and you probably will not want to leave the villa. But feel free to walk hand in hand through the vineyard, perhaps down to the river to see the fields being worked by hand. You can also walk to a small nearby village, where the slow pace of life is on display as the locals are drinking wine on cafe terraces. Dinner is served at the estate’s restaurant and can be accompanied by a tasting of wines from beyond the region, topped off with a little port.
Obidos – Portugal’s Finest Medieval Memoirs
From one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Douro Valley, to two more, this romantic tour continues with the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaca. Odes to a distant time, these enormous structures showcase a grandeur that is no longer seen in modern architecture. Colonnades sweep around their entrances, and colored stones enliven their floors. Sculptures and statues add intimate detail to some of the austere interiors with almost every corner or corridor having something. Mostly you are wowed by size, as you cannot imagine how these monasteries can dominate a town just by looking at their photos on Google.
It takes around two hours to reach Batalha and Alcobaca, where you also stop for lunch. Then transfer further, to the end of the road where it meets the Obidos gate. Here lies a medieval city, encased behind fortress-like walls where the streets are too mazy for a map. Boutique stores line the narrow lanes, with goods spilling out onto the cobbles. Small plazas are lined by cafe terraces and the scent of indulgence as church spires act as compass points and the more you get lost the fun it is. The Obidos experience is all about walking hand in hand, without a map, discovering the medieval charm that hides around corners. Someone from the hotel provides an orientation upon arrival, so you will not get too lost.
Lisbon – Exploring Lisbon’s Neighborhoods on Tram 28
Before Lisbon, there can be beaches and waves, with an optional stop in Nazare or another small coastal village. Your guide can take you to a great seafood restaurant for an early lunch should you wish to visit Lisbon via the coast. Or you can transfer directly to Lisbon and your hotel in Baixa. With every vacation, there is so much to be gained from having great local guides. But you also need space and privacy, and perhaps a chance to wander off and create your own adventure. That is why Tram 28 is so good. Meandering up and down this city of seven hills, the tram route connects Lisbon’s most distinctive neighborhoods. You can hop on and hop off anywhere along the route.
Jump out in Bairro Alto, where boutiques now line the 16th-century streets, and street musicians strum on the corners. Take the tram out to a 12th-century church and a large park for romantic strolls, and then return the same way, passing a royal palace, going up and down and up and down past grand plazas. Soon the tightly-packed neighborhoods give way to space, with glamorous arcades lining the way. Jump off, look around, then get back on and go all the way up to the castle, where you can watch an Atlantic Ocean sunset with a drink in hand.
Lisbon – The Fairytale Palaces of Sintra and an Evening Fado Performance
Historians still disagree as to the age of National Sintra Palace, though the consensus is that it is an early Moorish design from the 9th century. It is certainly unlike any other palace in Europe, a mosaic of color and strange shape perched on a forested hill. Romance seeps from its walls as you explore its grand series of rooms. Sintra’s other palaces have a similar atmosphere, monuments that provide an escape from every day, their legend talked about in hushed whispers. Sintra is a lovely place to grab lunch before the one-hour trip back to Lisbon. With a free afternoon, you might visit Belem, where Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower are Portugal’s two most famous sights.
Entering a small tavern, you will be guided by aromas this evening. Take a seat in the gloomy room, and soon the music will start, a lone voice ringing out in a venue that only seats 100 guests. Another voice will join in, a guitar will play, feet will tap. This is Fado, the sweet sound of 19th-century Lisbon, nostalgic and wistful as it provides an emotional journey. Distinct from flamenco although sharing many similarities, this art form originated in Alfama, almost 200 years ago. You will be experiencing a performance in Alfama in a venue where all the top artists want to play. Food and wine come with the show, and you return to the hotel in a state that mixes elation with emotional exhaustion.
Lisbon – Free Time in Lisbon and Departure
Your final day is left free, and you have a vibrant city on your doorstep. Late check-out has been arranged so that you can explore to your heart’s content, and then freshen up before the airport transfer. Try broad avenues of fashion boutiques, drink a coffee or beer at one of the ubiquitous kiosks, wander the back lanes around Bairro Alto or stroll along the riverside promenade.
- Escape to the UNESCO World Heritage Douro Valley and a luxurious stay amid terraced vineyards
- Wander the cobblestone streets of Porto, surrounding yourself with blue azulejo tiles
- Explore the old palaces of Sintra, where the experience could come from a fairytale
- Enter through the old city gate in Obidos and immerse yourself in one of Europe’s finest and most complete medieval towns
- Toast to romance with a fine dining port pairing in one of the country’s most revered restaurants
- Cruise through Lisbon on Tram 28, the easiest way to explore the city in privacy
- Listen to the beauty of Fado, in the district where this distinctive art form originated
Dream of romance in Europe and first thoughts are often of Paris or Italy, places where there are a thousand ways to say I love you but nowhere quiet to enjoy the moment. Portugal may not be known as a romantic destination, but the country really sets the scene. Cruise through a landscape of terraced vineyards on a traditional wooden vessel used to deliver wine barrels, or wander through a 9th-century palace on a forested hilltop seemingly cut off from the world. While Portugal does not have the famous art galleries, its cobbled streets are living art collections clad in blue azulejo tiles.
In Portugal, there are destinations and settings for romance to thrive, and you will have the space to really enjoy it all. Portugal can be a private getaway where these fantastic settings are not overcrowded or overrun by other couples. There are countless reasons why Portugal is becoming Europe’s next big travel destination, but for now, it is retaining its cultural authenticity and intimacy. The ease of travel is another highlight. On a seven-day vacation, you really get seven days of experiences, as you will not lose a day or two with actual travel.
Handcrafted to celebrate Portugal’s most romantic places, this 7-day tour will take you to Porto, the Douro Valley, Obidos, and Lisbon. Your itinerary will include a mix of privately-guided tours and fully private experiences, along with some of the country’s most exclusive places to stay. All transfers are private, and a number of restaurant reservations have been made because Portugal is not Portugal without luxuriating on the cuisine, so your week will include a fine food and port pairing at a cellar on day one, plus an atmospheric Fado tavern for your final night.
Fly to Porto and find your feet as you take a stroll along the old-world streets, footsteps on cobbles as azulejo tiles set the scene. In a wooden rabelo boat, you will be paddled over the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, where all of the port cellars are located. Explore one of the famous cellars before your evening of fine dining with port. On day two you explore Porto’s famous sights and local secrets, with a guide taking you around the UNESCO World Heritage center. It will be a relaxed four-hour tour that ensures you still have plenty of private time later in the day.
Travel onwards in your traditional wooden boat, the rabelo kind that was used to transport wine barrels up and down the Douro. Meandering into the heart of the wine-lands you will soon be surrounded by terraced slopes with a silence emanating from the landscape. Check into a vineyard retreat and indulge in the privacy with wine tasting provided on your private terrace, plus opportunity to walk amid the vines. The Douro Valley is another of Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you can really escape the everyday here on a landscape that is barely accessible by road.
The next day you will travel south, stopping in Batalha and Alcobaca to admire their enormous medieval monasteries. This 7-day tour is not big on sights, but these two monasteries are breathtaking in both scale and detail, unmissable on the road to Obidos. By mid-afternoon, you will be in the ancient city. Enter through the medieval gate, wander the many alleyways, get lost in all the charm, and realize why this is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Lisbon is a 90-minute onward transfer south with an option to stop by a couple of Atlantic Ocean destinations on your route, and this is recommended if you are both fans of high-quality seafood.
Arrive in the picturesque capital and spend your afternoon and evening on Tram 28. Bending across this city of hills, the tram is a romantic way of exploring Lisbon at your own pace. There is still a full day to go so you can dive into the palaces of Sintra, surreal places with over a millennia of history. Then there is Fado, a magical performance in the district this art form originated, with food and fine wine accompanying the show. With a late flight out of Lisbon, you will have the full day to enjoy Portugal’s capital at leisure, perhaps out at a beach or down the elegant shopping boulevards of Baixa. Read more here about the other exceptional experiences our travelers have appreciated in their travel reviews of Portugal.
$1,395 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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