Although it’s roughly the size of the state of Maine, for those travelers lucky enough to experience it, Portugal is a world unto itself. Throughout the centuries, a host of conquerors, from the Visigoths and Romans to the Moors and Christians, have all left their mark on this fabled land and are still visible today in the country’s vibrant food and wine scenes, music, art, and architecture.
With nearly 500 miles of coastline, the sea is central to Portuguese life and never too far away from our route—whether walking coastal hiking paths, sitting down to a bowl of steaming seafood stew, or learning about Portugal’s golden age of ship building, when explorers forged an empire that spanned—quite literally—around the globe.
Our week-long journey in Portugal takes us to the mountains of Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the terraced green hillsides and velvety wines of the Douro Valley, Moorish citadels, ancient stone villages, and romantic palace hotels. In short, it’s a chance to experience the fabric of this still-undiscovered European gem and the history, people, and landscapes that have come to define it.
Porto to the Douro Valley
After an early breakfast this morning we'll begin our 3-4 hour walking tour in downtown Porto. Portugal's second-largest city gave its name to the country's most well-known wine export and served as the center of its ship building industry during the 14th and 15th centuries. Today's walk will explore Porto's narrow streets and ancient buildings from its historical center, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along the way, we'll learn about the first Portuguese kings and the town's centuries-long rule by local Bishops.
At mid-morning, we will reach the Ribeira district, facing the Douro River. The traditional Rabelo cargo boats anchored along the river tell the story of port wine, which has been transported by these vessels for centuries. Across the river, we'll climb to the circular-shaped church and cloisters of the 15th-century Serra do Pilar monastery for memorable views of Porto's downtown area.
After lunch, we transfer from Porto to the enchanting Douro Valley, our base for the next two evenings. Along the way, we'll stop at Peso da Regua for a visit to the Douro Museum and an introduction to the valley and its tradition of wine making. This evening, we'll retire to our tranquil hotel on the Quinta do Portal family vineyard.
Casa das PipasSabrosa, Portugal
This elegantly designed boutique hotel is located on the Quinta do Portal family vineyard in the Douro River basin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guests can take advantage of the pool, wine library, and fitness facilities, and even assist with grape picking during the harvest season.
Provesende to Pinhão
The charming Moorish village of Provesende is our destination this morning. With its quiet streets and well-preserved homes and historical sites, it is best to see the town on foot. Highlights this morning include Provesende's 16th century public prisoner's pillory; its ornately decorated Baroque church and fountain dating from the 1700s; and an array of beautiful manor houses, attesting to the economic strength of the Douro Valley in centuries past.
After our exploration of Provesende, we'll begin our descent through terraced grape hillsides toward our next stop, the pretty little town of Pinhão. Our route zigzags down the valley, past the rivers Pinhão and Douro, whose bends appear and disappear along the way. With any luck, we might have the opportunity to chat with local grape farmers at work tending their fields.
By lunchtime, we'll arrive in Pinhão to enjoy a picnic-style meal at a traditional quinta (wine estate). After lunch, we'll head to the shores of the Douro River to board a traditional Rabelo boat for an afternoon cruise (1-2 hours) where we'll be treated to views of the fertile green valley and surrounding wine estates.
After our cruise, we'll return to our own estate: Quinta do Portal, for a visit and wine tasting at the award-winning cellar designed by the famous Portuguese architect, Álvaro Siza Vieira.
Tonight, we'll head back to Provesende and the home Maria da Graça's grandmother for a special treat: a traditional Transmontano dinner cooked for us with fresh local ingredients. Located near the border with Spain, Portugal's mountainous northern Transmontano region is known for its sheep-herding culture and fortified medieval castles, which once served as the first line of defense against invading Spanish and French armies. After dinner, we'll return to our boutique vineyard hotel for the evening.
Serra da Estrela Natural Park
This morning we'll drive into the heart of the Douro Valley and the Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo winery for a morning hike in a landscape The Telegraph once deemed, "Some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (of Portugal)."
With a history spanning more than 250 years, Quinta Nova was founded on land belonging to the Portuguese Royal House and has been owned by the Amorim family since 1999. Each year, the winery produces more than 3,500 barrels of wine.
We depart from the winery on a three-mile walk along dirt paths offering breathtaking views of the Douro River and the sunny valley's terraced hills and low-lying clouds. We'll refuel with a delicious picnic lunch, complimented by wines produced in these beautiful surroundings.
This afternoon, we continue southwards, in the direction of Serra da Estrela Natural Park. Set at an elevation of 6,500 feet, Serra da Estrela is Portugal's highest inland mountain, first national park, and houses the only ski resort in the country. The park's geographic isolation coupled with its diverse glacial valleys, lagoons, and sprawling meadows have resulted in a diversity of flora and fauna, offering the opportunity to spot everything from belleflowers, heather, and rosemary plants to golden eagles, wolves, otters, and foxes.
Tonight, we'll check into our four-star design hotel and enjoy dinner at the property's elegant gourmet restaurant.
Casa das Penhas DouradasManteigas, Portugal
This four-star hotel is located nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, boasting cozy, wood-paneled guestrooms and panoramic windows. Its modern design pulls from traditional regional architecture, but it is constructed using sustainable materials in keeping with the property’s setting inside Serra da Estrela Natural Park.
This morning after breakfast, our hike departs from the hotel, crossing a distinct series of landscapes that comprise the Vale do Rocim. If the day is clear, we'll be treated to views of the majestic Manteigas glacial valley stretching out before us. Later, we will break to enjoy a picnic lunch at an overlook point along the Vale do Rocim dam.
Our highlight today, the Penhas Douradas, is a vast plateau topping out at almost 5,000 feet. The name of the place—which literally translates to 'the gold-colored boulders'—comes from the gigantic, chaotic piles of granite strewn along the valley floor. During the 19th century, Penhas Douradas earned a reputation as a center of healing for those suffering from tuberculosis thanks to its crisp, pure air and cool, year-round temperatures. The plateau has been used by shepherds throughout the centuries and, more recently, has been embraced as a hub for outdoor enthusiasts from Portugal and beyond.
This afternoon is yours to enjoy at your leisure, with the option to return to our stylish boutique hotel or to pay a visit to the Burel Factory. This local arts project was created to preserve the traditional textile production method known as Burel, a type of felt worn by the region's shepherds.
After the visit, we'll return to Penhas Douradas for dinner and a final night in our scenic mountain hideaway.
Bussaco National Forest
After breakfast this morning, we'll bid Penhas Douradas farewell and depart for a two-hour transfer (58 miles) west. Along the way, we'll pass through the lovely spa town of Luso, whose mountain spring waters have been hailed for their healing properties since the 18th century.
Our hike today will take place in the Bussaco National Forest, a dense, walled wood that was settled by the Discalced Carmelites—an order of barefooted monks—in 1628. The monks built a wall around the forest and populated it with nearly 400 types of Portuguese trees, shrubs, and flowers and 300 more varieties imported from as far away as Mexico and Japan.
Bussaco is also intimately connected with Portuguese history as the place where 66,000 French troops were defeated by Anglo-Portuguese forces during the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal in 1810. During our hike, we'll learn about the forest's rich history and famed architecture, including the Fonte Fria cascading water stairway and the famous Porta de Coimbra gates.
After our walk, we make our way to Coimbra for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, before retiring for the evening.
Quinta das LagrimasCoimbra, Portugal
This luxury hotel feels more like staying in a palace, which is accurate given its history of housing kings and emperors. The exotic wooden walls of the library hold ancient books about Portugal’s history; curl up and read about the legend of a forbidden medieval love affair that led to the estate’s name, which translates to "Estate of Tears."
The Schist Villages and Coimbra
After an early breakfast at our hotel, we'll take a short transfer to the town of Lousã for our last hike in central Portugal. The trails here are well known to adventure seekers and particularly well-maintained, and our route today follows a path connecting the Castle of Lousã with the region's ancient Schist villages.
Rising majestically from the mountain slopes, the more than two-dozen Schist villages (named for the weatherproof local stone they are constructed from) are one of the country's best-kept secrets. Here, traditional Portuguese village life is on display, appearing much the same way it has during centuries past. Fresh bread bakes in rustic community ovens, linen is woven on wooden cottage looms, and religious festivals are celebrated in the villages' narrow, winding streets. Our stops today will include Casal Novo and Talasnal, where we'll learn about the preservation efforts being made to restore local cottages using traditional building techniques.
This afternoon, we'll head to the University of Coimbra and its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the 16th-century St. Michael's Chapel with its transporting ceiling painted by Francisco F. de Araújo, baroque organ, and intricately tiled floors. Other highlights include the Noble Room and the famous 18th-century Joanina Library, constructed during the reign of Portugal's King John V, which shelters more than 200,000 volumes.
Our day ends after our walk, and you are free to enjoy dinner and explore Coimbra on your own, or perhaps return to rest and relax in our 18th-century palace hotel.
Citadel of Óbidos to Lisbon
Portugal's Moorish past is at the heart of our explorations today and after an early breakfast, we'll head in the direction of the Citadel of Óbidos. This medieval castle has been occupied by the Romans, Lusitanos and Visigoths over the millennia, but its most important fortifications occurred during the 8th century, when it was settled by the Moors. This morning, we'll stretch our legs along the citadel, which flourishes today as a kind of literary village. Along the way, we'll visit one of Óbidos' most emblematic sites: the Santiago Bookshop, housed in a 13th-century temple.
Early this afternoon, we'll prepare for our scenic coastal hike from the Porto Novo beach to Santa Cruz, a favorite local surf spot. Vast skies, turquoise seas, and dramatic rock structures characterize this route, which takes in some of Portugal's most picturesque beach scenery.
By mid-afternoon, we'll depart for the capital city of Lisbon, where a special treat awaits us at one of the city's exquisite Fado restaurants. The mournful guitar tradition of Fado is central to Portuguese culture and our farewell dinner will include a haunting performance by one of Lisbon's celebrated musical artists. Tonight, we'll raise our glass to Portugal and the memories we've made in this diverse and romantic land.
Hotel Avenida PalaceLisbon, Portugal
The Hotel Avenida Palace, located in the center of Lisbon close to Bairro Alto and the Chiado, is a 5-star hotel which combines luxury and charm and is regarded as part of the city’s historic heritage. Boasting an exceptional location between Lisbon’s Pombaline Downtown and the Avenida da Liberdade, elegant neoclassical architecture, sophisticated and luxurious decoration and more than a century of history, although completely renovated, the hotel occupies the boundary wheretradition and innovation meet.
Departure or Optional Extension
Today after breakfast, you are free to arrange transportation to the airport or other destinations in Portugal. For those who prefer to extend their journey, an optional post-tour day of on-foot exploration is available in Lisbon, as well as a 5-day trip extension to the Azores (at additional cost).
The Lisbon city tour will focus on the city's dynamic Alfama, Mouraria and up-and-coming Chiado neighborhoods, delving into Lisbon's history and its golden age during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Azores Island Extension will begin the day after the Portugal: Porto, the Douro Valley & Lisbon Hiking tour concludes, on the island of São Miguel.
For more details, or to reserve these post-tour arrangements, please contact Boundless Journeys at 1-800-941-8010.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
May 16-23, 2020
Sep 12-19, 2020
Oct 11-18, 2020
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $4,895 Per Person
First two reserved:$150
See single supplement policy below.
10+ Guests: $4,895 per person
9 or Fewer: from $5,395 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Portugal: Porto, the Douro Valley & Lisbon Hiking is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Portugal's fertile landscapes, rolling hills, and coastal paths offer elevations ranging from sea level to 5,000 feet. Our walks and hikes range from 1 to 5 hours (3 to 7 miles), on good trails and paved city streets. Elevation changes range from negligible amounts on our city walks, to an approximate 1000' ascent and 1500' descent on our most challenging days.
Porto, Portugal 8:30 a.m.
Lisbon, Portugal, at your leisure.
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival: Porto Airport, Porto, Portugal (airport code OPO) Most Convenient Airport for Departure: Lisbon Portela Airport, Lisbon, Portugal (airport code LIS) Meeting Time and Place: 8:30 a.m. on Day 1 in the lobby of Crowne Plaza Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Portugal has a warm, temperate climate with weather similar to that of Spain's coastal towns. Summers are hot, though refreshing sea breezes can help to mitigate the temperature. Winters are short and mild, with lots of rain and freezing temperatures at higher elevations. The weather in late spring and early fall is usually very pleasant, with daytime temperatures that range from low 60s to upper 70s, and slightly cooler at night. While these months are not in Portugal's "rainy season" there can be cool breezes or showers at any time. Please come prepared to walk in rain or shine. We will do daily activities as planned, unless weather conditions make it dangerous to do so.
Portugal has a pleasant, sunny climate during the spring and fall, which avoids both the hot summer months and peak tourist season. Wildflowers are in bloom during the spring season, which also sees its fair share of lively local festivals. Mountainous areas can be cool year-round, especially in the evening.
Portuguese cuisine is all about simple, delicious cooking and fresh ingredients, themes that are present across all geographic regions of the country. The Portuguese are very proud of their gastronomic traditions, which in recent decades, have seen renewed acclaim thanks to the country's talented young chefs, who have returned home to live and work at top hotels and restaurants.
In general, Portugal's expansive, fertile countryside and sweeping coastline mean that grilled seafood, smoked meats, sun-ripened fruit, and other fresh produce are commonplace. Portugal consumes more rice (arroz) than any other European nation, and its lesser-known savory dishes fall somewhere between a Spanish paella and Italian risotto. Fish is a staple, and you're likely to find everything from cod and cuttlefish to tuna and grilled sea bass — prepared simply with lemon, garlic, and the country's famed olive oil — on most menus.
You'll also see plenty of stews and soups, including alcatra, a traditional beef stew with warm spices; and caldo verde, a vegetable soup made with spicy chouriço sausage. Cheese aficionados will find much to satisfy, including amerlo da Beira Baixa, a mixed goat and sheep's milk cheese, and Serra de Estrela, made from sheep raised at mountainous altitudes. For dessert, traditional favorites such as egg tarts (pastel de nata) and Madeira honey cake (Bolo de mel da Madeira) can be found at most pastry shops.
Finally, Portugal's centuries-old wine culture is pervasive across all facets of its gastronomy, from the velvety ports of the Duoro Valley to the slightly effervescent vinho verde of the north and Pico Island's rare, World Heritage vineyards in the Azores. Vegetarians can easily be accommodated.
Carla followed the normal path of the “travel junkies.” Her first travels were around Portugal, as a child with her parents. Later, with friends she grew to love the outdoors and traveled around Europe. Carla attended the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and earned a degree in Environmental Engineering. During this time she became an avid kayaker and hiker. As the years passed, she found that her job as an engineer wasn’t fulfilling her desire to travel, explore the world, and share her passion for the outdoors. In 2013 she quit her job and bought a one-way ticket to Kathmandu. She spent two years exploring Asia before returning to her home country of Portugal as a guide.
Artur was born in Vendas Novas and has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Évora. He also earned his M.A. in Statistics and Information Management from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Artur enjoys swimming, running, trekking, adventure trips and travel photography. He has walked through half the world, and would like to share some highlights: Patagonia fascinated him with its beauty; New Zealand, where he walked from north to south, showed him a sketch of heaven; in Nepal, he embraced spirituality and peace and was delighted with its grace; Mongolia crashed him with its wilderness and forever altered his sense of space; in Ecuador and Yemen he fell in love with the people and the landscapes, and in Peru with the archaeological richness. He says the best trip of his life will always be the next one. He also can’t resist a cheese pie!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
The Azores Islands are a wild and otherworldly archipelago that only recently emerged as a trending destination. The Azores consist of nine islands: São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Flores, and Corvo. Each island is distinctly...
Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 2-5 hours per day (4-5 miles).
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Katya d'Angelo
Almost a decade ago, I first learned of the Azores in an article titled something like, “remote islands that no one knows about.” I certainly hadn’t known they existed, which,…
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