Portugal’s culinary brilliance comes in many forms including vintage tasting in a port cellar, Michelin dining, and Europe’s first DOC wine region. Experience fishing village lunches, fragrant city markets, exquisite fine dining, and iconic food and wine pairings. Expertly handcrafted, this 12-day tour explores the very best of Portugal’s unique wine and cuisine, with stops including Porto, the Douro Valley, Alentejo, and Lisbon. Prepare for all your senses to be subtly aroused.
Porto – Famous Michelin Dining with Portugal’s Most Beloved Chef
What is the iconic Portuguese dish? As the host of Portugal’s Master Chef and one of the country’s most loved chefs, Bairro do Avillez is a good person to ask. His Porto restaurant, Casa de Cha da Boa Nova, received a Michelin star in 2017 and provides a seductive introduction to the country’s cuisine. Land in Porto and you are transferred to a hotel in the city. The afternoon is at your leisure, before a transfer to the restaurant and one of Rui Paula’s tasting menus. Standing on the rocks next to the ocean, the restaurant is in harmony with the sea. Seafood is the focus, like a cataplana (Portuguese cookware) of shellfish and salted bass. And as you are transferred back to the center of Porto, it is a sublime feeling to know that the restaurant was merely the start of the culinary adventure.
Porto – Vintage Port Tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia
Porto is an idyllic destination for overcoming any jet lag. The city wakes late and stays laid-back throughout the day. Espresso cups collect on cafe terraces, the River Douro reflects bridge archways, and ceramic mosaics add swathes of vibrant color to the buildings. Perhaps the most noticeable thing is the lack of traffic. Porto was always a city on the river, and hardly any of the central roads are wide enough for a motor vehicle. After a morning at leisure, you will take a small boat across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the port wine lodges have stood since the 18th century.
This is Porto, and there is no need to rush. So first have lunch, the cellar’s restaurant a long-time local institution. Next the wine museum, a selection of port wine adverts providing a creative look at history. Then a winemaker takes you on a private tour of the cellar, where musty fragrances emanate from thousands of oak casks. This is followed by a vintage tasting, a smorgasbord of different years and styles that includes a 30-year-old Tawny and vintage Quintas (the highest quality port produced). This evening is at your leisure, and if you are in the mood for a large meal, consider Foz Velha (reservations can be made if required).
Porto – Private Porto Tour with a Gourmet Traditional Lunch
Porto’s architecture has always been defined by aesthetics. You will admire the gold and calligraphy of the Stock Exchange Palace, where many lines and patterns shimmer in unison. Notice the polished wood of Lello bookshop, so harmonious as it encases the books. Find the old grandeur at Sao Francisco, where the thick stone made more beautiful by restored mosaics. With a private guide, you spend the morning discovering the city’s art and architecture, with almost every street housing an icon to admire. That is followed by a special tasting menu at Bull & Bear, a restaurant that refines the classics of Northern Portuguese cuisine, and pairs everything with wines from across the country. Your afternoon is at leisure, and you will find a city that delights anyone who is prepared to explore.
Douro Valley – A Rabelo Cruise and the Sumptuous Delights of a World Heritage Wine Valley
The panoramas are dominated by green when you wind into the Douro Valley. Terraced vineyards stretch across the vista, sometimes disappearing toward a canyon or lazy river. Small white and red villages dot the hills, backdropped by thick forests and meadows. The Douro is wine country, but it is also a charming journey into yesteryear, where family-run wine estates hold hundreds of years of history. Drive into the valley after breakfast, and spend a couple of hours visiting small villages, before stopping at Quinta da Pacheca for a tour of the vineyard. Everything is done by hand here, except what is done by foot, Quinta among few vineyards in Europe that still tread their grapes. Depending on the season, you can also give it a try.
Taste five of the wines with the owners, each paired with a local cheese from the region. Then have lunch at a decadent Douro restaurant where the food of the past has taken on a creative modern twist. You are now further from Porto, so you should expect a heavy focus on pork dishes. Complete the day on a classic Douro River cruise, drifting down the river in a restored rabelo, the boat traditionally used to carry grapes downriver to Porto. You will be dropped off near your hotel, and there is an excellent restaurant on site to complete the day.
Belmonte – Prestigious Wine Pairings and a Medieval Village
The Douro Valley was the first to introduce the DOC system that is now widespread across Europe. This approach has become synonymous with quality consistency, with every DOC wine subject to particular standards. The system also provides your benchmark for exploring further. On today’s first private tasting, you take a tour through the Quinta do Crasto vineyard where flagship wines are served in a tasting room that lingers high above the river. These are wines that have wowed Robert Parker and Wine Spectator for more than a decade, full-bodied and full of panache that is not always associated with the Douro style.
Your next tasting comes after food, the fortified village of Trancoso a great place to experience the atmosphere of Portugal’s frontier past. In between, there is lunch at one of rural Portugal’s most contemporary restaurants, the menu featuring plenty of rich game dishes that are inspired by a much earlier century. Complete the day by traveling out to Belmonte, a beautiful castle town with endless views over the countryside. Stretch your legs on the cobblestone streets after all the day’s tastings, then relax on the plaza as the sun slowly disappears from the sky.
Evora – Exploring the Alentejo Wine Region
While Douro wines are fruity and juicy, the wines of Alentejo are rich and bold. The flavors fit the ambience of the region where Moorish castles dominate hilltops, open plains have a seductive power, and towns are built from marble and limestone. Everything is bold and impressive, from the polished cobbles to the harmonious red rooftops. Today’s journey takes you across some of the region’s highlights, starting with a private tour of Monte Seis Reis Estate, and lunch in the heart of Estremoz where it is recommended you try the dogfish in cilantro sauce or the black pig stew. Even after a tour of a marble town and coffee at a castle, there is plenty of time to taste the single varietals at Monte da Ravasqueira before completing the day at an opulent spa hotel on the outskirts of Evora.
Evora – Another Day of Fine Cuisine and Wine in Old Alentejo
After three days of real exploration, this morning is at leisure, a time to relax on the terrace or unwind in the hotel spa. The afternoon is filled with classic Alentejo experiences, from wandering through acres of olive groves and cork forests to exploring whitewashed villages from the medieval era. You can find black pigs grazing on acorns, and absorb the wonderfully slow pace of the region. Lunch is cold, a rich variety of hams, sausages, olive oils, and cheeses, accompanied by thick farmyard bread. Complete your Alentejo wine tasting at two vineyards, one famed for its single varietals, and another that expertly produces red blends. You will return to Evora in time for an evening walking tour, exploring the columns of Roman Temple and the surreal ambience of the Chapel of Bones.
Obidos – Culinary Bounty of Portugal’s Coastal Villages
After the first couple of days in Porto, there has not been much seafood on the menu. That certainly changes today, a private guide taking you out to the windswept Atlantic Ocean village of Nazare. Colorful fish shacks stand above the sand, where the local women wait in their 19th-century attire for the fishing boats to return. It is a scenic village for tasting seafood the local way. Choose from the trays of fresh catch, and watch the chef grill it over the coals, before dining with the accompanying scent of the ocean.
Travel to Obidos in the afternoon, a delightful hilltop town where bougainvillea-lined lanes are found beneath thick medieval walls. Historic streets are dominated by flower baskets, the castle has a wine bar for a leisurely afternoon drink, and your boutique hotel is built into the walls. As afternoon fades into evening, the castle walls are illuminated, a compass point as you take a stroll through a maze of city streets. You will dine at the hotel, a gourmet pairing of traditional food and contemporary wine that celebrates the contrasts of your surroundings.
Lisbon – Palaces, Castles, Coastline, Michelin Dining, and Wine Tasting
Sintra has a poetry only understood to those who visit. Villas are covered in dramatic blue and white tile-work, and a red and yellow palace first built by the Moors stands proudly. The whimsical beauty of a pink palace is displayed high on forested hills, a twisted initiation well that defies the eyes. Such a remarkable place is complemented by an equally idiosyncratic culinary experience, a lunch of wine and cheese allowing you to taste the contrasts between Portugal’s regions. Sintra is home to Portugal’s royalty and has always imported the best from the country’s corners.
You will travel to Lisbon in the afternoon and have some free time to explore the neighborhoods around your hotel. Dinner is very special, the double Michelin-starred Belcanto a creation of Jose Avillez. Each dish stirs the emotion on a tasting menu that celebrates the highlights of Portuguese identity. Uncover sea bass with seaweed and bivalves, suckling pig, “Abade de Priscos” pudding with pork greaves, and raspberry and wasabi sorbet. Each of the six dishes is accompanied by a Portuguese wine, and the menu is designed to reflect the harmony of contrasts and cultures found in Lisbon and Portugal.
Lisbon – Foodies’ Tour of Lisbon with a Unique Fado Performance
Following last evening’s fine dining focus, this afternoon’s tour explores the local eateries and markets of Lisbon. You will sample espresso in tiny taverns, smell and taste produce in the traditional central market, go in search of the original pastel de nata (a custard tart from Lisbon), and discover some of the gourmet food markets that have emerged in the city. Such a journey also allows you to discover Lisbon’s different neighborhoods. There is some free time in the late afternoon before a unique performance of fado in an atmospheric Alfama club. Haunting music echoes off the walls, the guitars and voices narrating a seductive tales of lost love. You are close enough to read the emotion in every musicians’ face and close enough for the fado to feel like a private performance. The show goes on for close to three hours and is accompanied by a multi-course dinner.
Lisbon – Exploring the City and an Iconic Farewell Meal
Surreal and sublime, Lisbon’s architecture is as unique as the food you have tasted over the last ten days. You will discover the Manueline touches on Belem Tower, the old Moorish roots of a majestic tower, and follow the storyline from Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque. There is color everywhere, whether along the broad streets of Baixa or the maze-like streets of Bairro Alto and Alfama. You have a private guide for the day, and the exact city stops will be tailored to your interests.
Spend the evening at the contemporary TimeOut Lisbon Market. The informal style may feel a little different from the rest of this itinerary, but it creates a lively atmosphere. And the reason for dining here is the chance to taste the creations of different Michelin-starred chefs. You can choose dishes from more than 20 kitchens, but a row of five stand out, the chefs’ kitchens at the far side of the market. The chefs here are Alexandre Silva, Henrique Sa Pessoa, and three of Portugal’s most legendary names. And with the dishes being small, you can taste a creation from each different chef over a couple of hours, with the wine bar offering a multitude of accompaniments. As you dine, you will find that the market reflects a lot of what you have seen previously. Its packed with energy and unique flavors, yet laid-back and unpretentious.
Lisbon – Departure
After breakfast, it is a short private transfer to Lisbon International Airport and your departing flight.
- A winemaker guides you through an old port wine lodge, before a tasting session that includes a wide variety of vintages
- Portugal’s Michelin-starred chefs make regular appearances over the 12-day tour, including Rui Paula, Alexandre Silva, Henrique Sa Pessoa and Jose Avillez
- Taste your way through the Douro Valley, Europe’s first ever DOC wine region and a sublime place to relax amid the tradition of Portugal’s past
- Alentejo is a wine region for connoisseurs, and you will enjoy more than two days of tastings and wine pairings
- Expert dining reservations enable you to taste the difference between the regions, a mix of lavish lunches and intimate dinners included throughout the itinerary
- Northern Portuguese cuisine is rich and heavy, delectably experienced during three days discovering Porto
- Explore Lisbon’s local eateries on a foodies’ tour, visiting markets and cafes that refuse to part with tradition
- Rural Alentejo emanates the atmosphere of medieval centuries, with stops in old cities like Belmonte and Evora offering an immersive insight into the past
- Hop along the coast to find another dimension of culinary Portugal, with the tiny fishing village of Nazare offering unique flavors in an informal atmosphere
- Travel with a private guide and discover many of the legendary landmarks and attractions, including the palaces at Sintra and the walled village of Obidos
When you think of Italian cuisine, images of pasta, pizza, and Chianti come to mind. In Spain, there are tapas, paella, and Rioja. In Portugal, it can be hard to pinpoint a single image. Perhaps a shellfish platter or salted cod at a fishing village eatery? The wine of the Douro or the wines of Alentejo? Other than peri peri chicken and a pastel de nata, Portugal’s culinary masterpieces are not easily recognizable around the world.
The food has passion and is defined by originality, with every region and city having their own distinctive taste. The wine is rich and terroir-driven, originating on terraced slopes home to grapes you may have never heard of. The country is more than happy for its gastronomy to fly under the radar. Portuguese cuisine is made for the Portuguese, just one reason why the country has become Europe’s best-kept culinary secret. Every region is distinct, and you quickly discover that there is no defining Portuguese dish. There is only a defining dish for a city or region.
Handcrafted to arouse all the senses, this 12-day tour explores the diversity and delicacies of Portugal’s food and wine. You have private guides and enjoy dining reservations at a wide range of eateries, from Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to cute village eateries that preserve tradition. Two wine regions are explored in depth, and you will taste at a wide variety of wineries in Alentejo and Douro, as well as having some tutored tasting in Porto’s port lodges. It is a feast for all the senses, from admiring produce at a marketplace to wine and cheese pairings in a medieval village.
While food and wine provide the focus, the route takes you into the heart of Portugal and to some sumptuous destinations. Relax in the old city of Porto, wind through the villages of the Douro Valley, then feel the escapism of Belmonte. Spend a couple of days amid the cork forests and plains of Alentejo, then wander along the coastal cliffs. Absorb the beauty of walled Obidos, then pass the palaces of Sintra en route to Lisbon. Over these 12 days, you find that the food and wine are as idiosyncratic as the destinations they grace, whether sipping on wine during a rabelo cruise (a traditional wooden boat) or lunching on barnacles as colorful fishing boats are splashed by the surf.
If you would like to extend your vacation tour of Portugal, be sure to check out our other Portugal vacations.
$2,395 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.
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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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