Your browser does not support the HTML5 video element.
This fast-paced trip crams in so much in just eight days. As well as exploring Lisbon and Porto, you'll see some of Portugal's less-explored and fascinating UNESCO sites in the small medieval towns of Alcobaca, Batalha and Coimbra. With guided walking tours in Porto and Lisbon, included wine tastings in the Douro Valley and a visit to a port lodge in Porto, the trip really gets to the heart of Portugal's gastronomic and cultural heritage.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins in Lisbon, founded on seven hills overlooking the estuary of the River Tagus, the city became the capital of Portugal after its conquest from the Moors in 1147. As Portugal built a global empire from the 15th century onwards, Lisbon became the hub of international trade and the heart of this maritime Golden Age of discovery, reflected in the monumental architecture. A devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami almost totally destroyed the capital in 1755 and therefore Lisbon appears as a carefully planned 18th century city.
The Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on a short walk to get our measure of Lisbon.
If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), which is a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Please note that if you wish to join the city walk today, you must arrive at the hotel by 7pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is a 15 minute drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 5.45pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
Residencial Florescente (or similar)
Our morning walking tour takes us through some of the different bairros (neighbourhoods) of Lisbon as an introduction to this great city (approx. four hours). Built on seven hills, you can see the typical trams negotiate the undulations of Lisbon's cobbled streets, and the varied and interesting buildings throughout the city never fail to impress. We walk up Alfama Hill and enjoy the views across the River Tagus from the Miradouro da Santa Luzia viewpoint before continuing our walk through the Bairro Alto. In the course of the morning your tour Leader will also find a place to try Ginjinha, a local liqueur made from sour cherries, which is an acquired taste. The morning will end at the Time Out Market, where there are is a variety of Portuguese food, sweets, and drinks on offer in this traditional food hall.
The afternoon has been left free for further exploration of Lisbon and the Tour Leader can happily help with suggestions such visiting the fascinating MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) or jumping on a local ferry across the Tagus to Cacilhas which has a working port feel, restaurants serving a fish or seafood lunch, and excellent views back across to Lisbon proper.
If you want to head out of the city, you may choose to take a metro to Lisbon's Rossio Station for the 40 minute train ride to the hills and palaces of Sintra. Originally started as a summer escape from the heat of Lisbon, royalty built palaces and gardens in the lush hills of Sintra and the aristocracy followed. Highlights include King Ferdinand II's Pena Palace or the Quinta Regaleira with its ornate Gothic facade and enchanting gardens. If you wish to explore Sintra at a more replaced pace you might consider taking the whole day tomorrow (day 3) to spend longer to walk into hills of Montserrate and visit Castelo dos Mouro.
This morning we drive to Belem to explore the bairros west of the town centre on foot, passing the Jeronimo Monastery to reach Belem tower (approx. two hours). The rest of the day is left free for further exploration of Lisbon, and while in Belem you may choose to go inside the 500-year-old Jeronimos Monastery or cross the river to the Jesus Christ statue. Back in the centre of Lisbon particular highlights are the churches and Se de Lisboa Cathedral, as well as the galleries and museums which offer insights into the art, history and society of Portugal. The Baixa District is well worth a visit and is linked to the equally interesting Bairro Alto by a 32 metre wrought iron lift named Elevador de Santa Justa.
This evening you'll have the opportunity to experience a live performance of 'Fado' music. Stemming from the word 'fate', the music of Fado can be deeply personal in its expression. Said to have been born from the songs of African slaves, the sentiments behind this soulful music are deeply linked to the heritage and hearts of the people, and as such is quintessentially Portuguese. Enjoying this performance after dinner we come a little closer to feeling a sense of 'saudade', a sentiment of nostalgia which, it is said, that only the Portuguese truly understand.
This morning we leave Lisbon and drive one-and-a-half hours to Alcobaca, a gem of a small medieval town in the centre of the country featuring one of Iberia's great monasteries. Hiding behind the imposing Baroque facade is an austere monastery with a forest of unadorned 12th century arches. But make sure you visit the rest too: the atmospheric refectory, vast dormitory and other spaces bring back the Cistercian life, which, according to sources, wasn't quite as austere here as it should have been. After some free time for strolling around we continue to Batalha. We take time to see its splendid Gothic monastery, Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitoria, built to commemorate the Battle of Aljubarrota, which was fought just south of here. The construction of the monastery was never fully completed and we'll see the unfinished chapels.
Late afternoon we reach the old university town of Coimbra. Although it has a beautiful historic centre it also has one foot firmly planted in the present. It has an attractive modern riverside park and is home to a large university. Our tour Leader will take us on a walk through the backstreets of this little known town up to the University.
Hotel Vitoria (or similar)
This morning we have a couple of hours free in Coimbra, which was once the medieval capital of Portugal and sits on a hillside rising from the River Mondego. You may like to visit the university area with its startling collection of centuries old buildings and its famous library.
Later this morning we will drive two hours into the Douro Valley to Lamego. This picturesque Baroque city is nestled among the terraces of the wine growing region of the Douro Valley. After free time here for lunch we will continue to Peso da Regua where we have a wine tasting at a local vineyard before heading to Pinhao. Here there will be the opportunity to join a boat trip for around one hour along the Douro River to take in the views along the valley with its vineyards set on terraced hillsides.
Hotel Regua do Douro (or similar)
This morning we take a scenic two hour train journey to Porto. We will walk from the train station some 400 metres to our hotel (mention to Tour Leader if you are going to struggle).
The tour leader will take us on an orientation walk, strolling down the cobbled streets to Cais da Ribeira - undoubtedly the most picturesque spot. This characterful quayside is dominated by the tall outline of the two tiered Dom Luis I Bridge, built in 1886 by an assistant of Gustave Eiffel. Here, ancient houses with laundry-draped balconies stand high above the waterfront looking out over the river, where several old boats lie moored at the water's edge. Despite the decline in the use of this harbour, with its fish market and restaurants, it continues to have character and bustle reminiscent of its lively past. Following our tour we include a visit to a port lodge. The history and processes involved in making these white, ruby and tawny delicacies are most interesting, and we'll get to enjoy a port tasting.
The rest of the day is then free to further explore the city that has a surprise around every corner - churches clad in finely illustrated blue and white azulejo tiles; bustling food markets selling everything from fruit and vegetables, to bacalhau (traditional salted cod), fresh chickens' feet and tripe; and peaceful squares with small friendly coffee bars hidden away, where you could sit back and watch the world go by.
This evening you might like to visit the nearby city of Matosinhos where you can sample a barbequed fish dinner on the seafront.
Moov Hotel Porto Centro (or similar)
Today is free for you to further discover Porto. The city offers visitors a range of architectural and cultural attractions, such as the Palacio da Bolsa, with its spectacular Alhambra-like interior, a charismatic medieval quarter and the monumental central avenue, Avenida do Aliados. You may consider venturing further afield and taking the train (one hour) to the attractive towns of Guimaraes or Braga.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Porto.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Porto at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Porto Airport (OPO), which is about 30 minutes' drive.
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
Lisbon: Fado concert in the Baixa District €5.00. Visit to Belem by tram €2 per way; Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem combined ticket €12.00. Sintra: Return train €10 Pena Palace entrance €14.50 or gardens only €7.50. Quinta Regaleira entrance €7.50. Pinhao: Douro River boat trip (approximately 50 minutes duration) €10.00 per person. Transport €70.00 per group. Porto: Guimaraes by train €14.00 (journey time is approximately 1 hour 15) or Braga by train €11.00 (journey time is approximately 1 hour). Dinner in Matasinhos approximately €20.00 plus transport by metro approximately €1.20 per way.
Lightweight cotton clothing is best from June to September, light rainwear may be needed at any time of year, but especially after the start of September, and a warm fleece/light jacket is recommended for cooler evenings.
Walking shoes or boots are strongly recommended for the walks in the countryside and in the towns, ideally waterproof just in case.
One main piece of luggage and a daypack. We recommend a bag you are happy to wheel and lift as we use a variety of public transport and taxis on this tour. A daypack is essential for the walks in the towns and countryside. Remember you are expected to carry your own baggage - so don't overload yourself.
During the summer months we recommend you bring a sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen. A water bottle is recommended. The terrain in Portugal is hilly so you may also find walking poles useful.
Bus, Public Bus, Taxi, Train
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.
This trip is designed to acquaint you with the highlights of Portugal in just 8 days. We make the most of our time by using a mix of public transport and charter buses to travel between the cities and in order for you to experience the journey like the locals do. Once we're in the cities our explorations are mostly done on foot, the terrain can be hilly and uneven so please bring sensible footwear and be prepared for the busy nature of this enthralling holiday.
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.