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Discover the beautiful historic towns, scenic valleys and rolling vineyards of northern Portugal on this cultural tour with a foodie focus. Unlock the flavours and traditions of Portugal, which is really making a name for itself in the food world, combining hands-on cookery experiences with plentiful tastings and buzzing markets, finishing in the dynamic city of Porto.
Explore Tour Leader
5 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights premium hotel
Trip maximum 10
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins in Ponte de Lima, a small riverside town in the picturesque province of Minho. The main symbol of the town is an attractive Medieval bridge with 24 arches, of which four on the south bank of the River Lima are the original Roman construction.
Our Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive at any time, if you miss the briefing, your Tour Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Porto Airport (OPO), which is an hours drive from the hotel.
Inlima Hotel & Spa (or similar)
This morning we head out into the countryside to the small village of Montaria to experience the quite pace of rural life in the rolling hills. Here the tradition of making cornbread dates back to the 16th century. We will take park in a hands-on workshop with the opportunity to make our own cornbread, participating in all stages from sifting the flour to placing the bread in the wood-fired oven. We will sample the freshly baked cornbread along with Serra D'Arga honey and other local products during a picnic lunch.
Back in Ponte de Lima it is market day. Held every other Monday since 1152 on the south bank of the river, the market is oldest in Portugal. It is a meeting point for farmers with hundreds of traders gathering to show their best wares. We immerse ourselves in the buzz, wondering amongst the stalls and sampling local products.
Tonight has been left free to eat as a group or book your own dinning experience, there are three Michelin stared restaurants in Ponte de Lima (Petiscas, Acude and A Carvalheira) which you may wish to pre book well in advance of travel.
Today we travel into the Douro Valley Winemaking Region, a UNESCO's World Heritage Landscape. Our first visit is to Guimaraes, where we will have a guided walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage city centre with the opportunity to taste the traditional pastries of the region.
We continue to the ancient city of Lamego, visiting the historic centre with the option to see the famous Nossa Senhora de Remdios church before driving to Quinta De Tourais. This cosy wine estate located in a historic monastery 200 metres from the Douro River, has been managed by the same family since 1927. We spend the afternoon here, amongst the picturesque vineyards, with a cooking experience tutored by the owner Manuela, a lady passionate about Portuguese gastronomy and wine. We will cook a traditional specialty in the estate kitchen which will be included in the lunch. We'll feast on a leisurely three course lunch and feel part of the family, the menu includes a variety of sharing starters, choice of meat main (vegetation available on request), pudding and cake sharing desserts, wine and coffee.
For the next two nights we stay in a beautiful hotel with it's own orchard and vineyard. Facilities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, small spa, and terrace restaurant with modern, spacious and light rooms.
Lamego Hotel & Life (or similar)
Today we explore the Douro Valley on foot and by boat. This mornings short (five kilometres - easy to moderate) walk begins in Sabrosa, following paths connecting the numerous winemaking Quintas, through vine-covered terraces. En-route we will get the opportunity to learn more about olive oil production, visiting the press and tasting at a small local producer's installation. The walk ends in Celeirós at a family Port and Douro winemaking estate where we'll be welcomed by the owner to enjoy a guided winery visit and learn how these famous wines are made.
This afternoon we take an hour boat trip from Pinhao into the spectacular gorge of the Duoro River in a typical wooden Rabelo boat. We drive back to Lamego along one of the most scenic roads in Portugal , following the majestic Douro River as it meanders through the beautiful scenery of terraced vineyards of the region.
Today we leave the valleys behind and drive to the Portuguese coast. Aveiro is surrounded by salt-flats, beaches and lagoons and dominated by the Central Canal running through town - a mixture of neat fishermen's cottages and art nouveau mansions with a few historic buildings.
This morning we visit a oyster producer - once a salt marsh and fish-farming nurseries, recently remodelled, this oyster producer experience includes a guided visit and a tasting of oysters.
Next is an interesting and fun activity inside a traditional salt-pan, trying our hands at the ancestral methods of salt making tutored by an enthusiast 'salt-master'. Nowadays salt from here is highly appreciated by chefs and gourmets, in particular the 'Flor de Sal', a special salt produced only from the thin skin that floats in the salt pans and is softly removed.
Walking from the lagoon area we get to Aveiro centre where we will have a short orientation walk before free time for lunch in the fisherman's quarter. This afternoon, we will take a tour through the picturesque canals in a typical brightly-painted Moliceiros boat, traditionally used for seaweed harvesting.
Veneza Hotel (or similar)
This morning we drive north to Matosinhos, a fishing town close to Porto. Here we learn all about sardines, visiting a factory of canned sardines to see the unique production process. The visit will be guided, passing by all departments of the cannery, from the fresh fish reception until the end product where we can taste the specialties of the company such as sardines in extra virgin olive-oil.
The fish market in Matosinhos is a beautiful, protected building, housed under a peculiar parabolic dome. Nowadays there are still plenty of fishmongers (traditionally a profession for women here) in the main ground-floor area, with live animals as well as fruit and vegetables sold on the upper level. The lunch will be inside the market, and will feature a culinary experience based in the fresh fish from the market.
After lunch we continue to the centre of Porto taking an orientation tour by bus on the way to the hotel. On the right side of the river Douro, the city of Porto is one of the oldest and most beautiful towns of Europe.
This afternoon is left free to explore independently or take an optional guided ebike tour along the Douro River and the seaside (easy, approx. 18 kilometres - subject to availability).
Our hotel has a fantastic location on the pedestrian Rua de Santa Catarina, a short walk to the historic waterfront. There will be the opportunity to book your own restaurant experience in Porto for tonight if you wish. Your Tour Leader will be able to offer you advice based on your preferences.
Grand Hotel de Porto (or similar)
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll stroll down the cobbled streets to Ribeira - undoubtedly the most picturesque spot in Porto. As we make our way down to the waterfront, we'll pass many of Porto's historic buildings. Modern day Porto effortlessly blends its rich history with a modern twist, it has many outstanding restaurants as well as thriving street art and cutting edge architecture, all reasons why Porto has become one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. We will make serval stops along the way to nibble on a traditional speciality including a freshly baked Portuguese Pastéis de Nata.
After lunch, we visit the Port Wine lodges district, taking a tour of the cellars to learn the history and processes involved in making the famous white, ruby and tawny port wine, stored in the atmospheric cellars. At the end of our guided visit we enjoy a port tasting.
To end our gastromic week in Northern Portugal our final dinner will be taken at Torreao, a restaurant of a local charity institution, housed in an elegant 18th-century stately home with a rooftop terrace overlooking the Douro River. The charity offers various services in the scope of reintegration, training and social support for the elderly and young people of the area, with all profits being fully re-invested into project. The three course menu includes a fish starter, meat main, pastry desert, wine and coffee.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Porto.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Porto Airport (OPO), which is about 30 minutes' drive away.
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a trip to Portugal - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The northern high plains has both extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. The islands have very different weather patterns due to their positioning and can have sudden rain falls throughout the year so waterproofs are recommended even in the summer.
2 Pin Round
Porto - Guided ebike tour along the Douro River €36.00
Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. July and August are the hottest months, but late in the season (October) go prepared with clothing to suit drops in temperature and rain showers. Light rainwear may be needed at any time of year, and a warm fleece/jacket is recommended for cooler evenings and nights.
One main piece of baggage and daypack.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat are advised and a water bottle is recommended. A power bank may be useful if you'd like to use or charge your phone whilst travelling.
Throughout this trip we use a range of well located comfortable and premium accommodation.
The cuisine of Portugal includes a lot of meat and seafood. Whilst there will be vegetarian and vegan options in some locations we recommend reviewing the itinerary and inclusions to ensure that you will be able to fully participate and enjoy this trip.
It is possible to cater for gluten-free options in all the included meals and activities, although you would have to pass on the traditional pastries. To note that on day 3 of the tour, the cooking experience has a part that uses puff pastry, only this ingredient cannot be changed for a gluten-free one. Please advise us at time of booking of any dietary requirements.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Portugal: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.