Portugal Uncovered: Our top 10 highlights

In late 2021, readers of Conde Nast Traveller voted Portugal the Best Country In The World in its annual Readers’ Choice Awards.

“Portugal is a country that just keeps getting better,” Conde Nast said, “with a growing appreciation, not only for its beaches, but its food and wine, and with lesser-known corners alongside the obvious hotspots.”

We couldn’t agree more, so here are a few of our favourite highlights that will make your Portugal holidays even more magical:

1.Historic Porto

Spread along the banks of the River Douro, Porto is Portugal’s colourful hub, renowned for its vibrant setting and charming ambiance. A Unesco World Heritage Site, listed for its astonishing array of landmarks, the history of which stretches back over 2,000 years, Porto’s buildings are painted every colour of the spectrum, making it one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. While here, exploring on foot, we discover the icons and hidden gems as your guide fills you in on politics, religion, traditions, gastronomy and local customs. Naturally there will be chances to sample the fortified wine for which this city is so famous – port.

2. Douro Valley

One of the most picturesque, and oldest, wine regions in the world, the Douro River flows gently through a remarkable landscape of steep terrace vineyards, rocky bluffs, white-washed wine estates (quintas) and picture-perfect villages. As well as a delight for the eyes, the Douro Valley is also a delight for the tastebuds, thanks to the plentiful wine cellars that also occupy the area. We spend a wonderfully relaxing day making the most of the valley, cruising the river on a historic Rabelo boat, taking a scenic rail trip and visiting a family-run winery for a leisurely tour and tasting.

3. Sintra

Sintra is a fairy-tale come to life, with its ornate palaces and pastel-hued villas nestled among the luxuriant forests, parks and gardens that occupy dramatic hills that roll down to the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic. Sintra-Vila, the Unesco World Heritage-listed historic centre, is a unique and fascinating glimpse of how architecture can work in harmony with nature. Rising above it all is the striking Pena Palace; built as a summer residence for the royal family, it is an eclectic mix of architectural styles, exuding an undeniable romance. Head up to the very top for unbeatable views over the surrounding landscapes.

4. Alentejo

The Alentejo region might be best known for the beautiful beaches of the Algarve but travel inland away from those purely seeking the sun and you’ll discover a rural paradise of rolling hills, cork forests, olive groves and vineyards. There’s also the occasional medieval fortress or abandoned chapel dotted among the landscapes, giving a wonderfully timeless appeal. Here, we visit a centuries-old cork farm to learn from the owners about cork farming along with their other crops, followed by a chance to enjoy a taste of the delicious wines and organic produce from the farm.

5. Geres National Park

Peneda-Gerês is Portugal’s only national park and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and popular beach resorts. Hundreds of square miles of oak and pine forests envelop a rugged landscapes of granite cliffs, waterfalls, rushing rivers and tranquil lagoons. Prepare to be captivated by the wild natural beauty of the park as you spend the day in the heart of this spectacular wilderness walking, picnicking and even taking a refreshing swim if you feel so inclined.

6. Fado Music

The soundtrack to enchanting streets, fado music can be heard drifting out of the bars, cafes and restaurants of whichever city in Portugal you happen to be wandering. Famous for its expressive and melancholic tone, songs tend to express the struggles, battles and experiences of the musicians or tell the folk stories and history of the local area. We include a fascinating evening walking tour on our Portugal adventure that allows you to discover the roots and the emotion of fado. Led by your fado singer guide, you’ll discover some of the traditional fado haunts of Old Lisbon, and visit a Fado House, where you will enjoy an incredible live performance.

7. Culinary Delights

From port wines to sweet desserts, Portugal is a foodie heaven. Renowned for sweet pastries such as pastel de nata (egg custard tart), Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s seafaring history, when merchants crisscrossed the globe trading everything from spices to seafood. There is nothing more Portuguese than biting into the local pastry ‘talasnico’, made from honey chestnuts and almonds, alongside an array of cheeses and a glass of port wine, something you’ll do, touring with us!

8. Old Lisbon

A maze of winding, narrow streets, charming hidden alleyways and orange roofs as far as the eye can see, Old Lisbon offers a unique experience of Portugal. With castles, museums and cathedrals galore, the beautiful historic centre is brimming with incredible history, vibrant culture and bustling city life. On the final day of the tour, you’ll explore this incredible area with a guided walking tour, a ride on a private tram through the most picturesque districts and enjoy a relaxing journey along the Tagus River by sailing boat. It all ends perfectly with dinner at a rooftop restaurant with magical views across the city.

9. Tomar

Rich in art, culture and charm, Tomar is a city that has kept one foot in the past. At its heart is the Unesco World Heritage Convento de Christo, built in the 12th century as the headquarters of the Knights Templar, a building that plays an integral role in Portugal’s history, and it’s from here that the delightful streets of convents, chapels and museums meander. The intriguing town is a photographer’s dream, with architecture unlike anywhere else in the country but, with its rustic and raw character, it’s also as Portuguese as they come.

10. Guimaraes

Sitting in the north of Portugal, the city of Guimaraes is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture combined with its modern and forwardthinking personality. The historic town centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site due to the fact it showcases the old with the new while retaining plenty of Portuguese character. Another colourful glimpse into historic Portugal, this is a place very close to the heart of the country; often called the ‘birthplace of Portugal’, it was here that Portugal’s first king, Alfonso Henriques, was born and where the Battle of São Mamede, a decisive moment in the foundation of Portugal, was fought.

Portugal Uncovered

12 Reviews

12 days from £3290pp

Fully Inclusive of Tour & Flights

Porto - Viana do Castelo - Geres National Park - Douro Valley - Coimbra - Caldas da Rainha - Évora - Lisbon

Leave a Comment