For Mrs. Hicks
The global empire
Dear Ms. Hicks,
You will find below your itinerary for Portugal, named “Destination of the Year” by Travel + Leisure in 2016. This is a small country with a rich history; the Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history, accumulating immense wealth as a major maritime power in the 15th and 16th centuries. Contrary to what many believe, Portugal offers something entirely different than Spain. Roman ruins, fabulous wine, white sand beaches, fresh seafood, and some of the best surfing in the world—Portugal has it all, and can be easily explored from top to bottom by car.
Day 1: Arrive Lisbon
Upon arrival in Lisbon (LIS), a representative will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall. You will be privately transferred to the Palacio Belmonte, a restored 15th century palace.
Your guide, Claudia, will meet you in the hotel lobby this afternoon for a private walking tour of the city.
Fondly known as the “white city”, Lisbon is one of the only major European cities on the Atlantic Coast, which is reflected in its maritime history. The Lisbon experience consists of everything from enjoying a fresh pastry and bica (espresso), to window shopping in Chiado or watching the sunset from the old Moorish castle. The city is small, manageable, and perfect for wandering on foot.
For dinner this evening, we recommend a stop at the city’s oldest food hall, reopened in 2014.
Day 2: Sintra
Your guide and driver will meet you in the hotel lobby this morning for a full day visit to Sintra, located 30-minutes by car from the city center.
The quaint, fairytale-like medieval town of Sintra is surrounded by lush wooded hills and has historically been a draw for the wealthy, which is reflected in the many palaces that have been built in the area. The most iconic of these palaces is the Pena National Palace, one of the world’s most iconic expressions of 19th century Romanticism.
As you make your way back to Lisbon along the coastal “Marginal” road, we recommend a stop for lunch in Cascais for a fresh seafood meal on the coast.
Day 3: Lisbon-Porto
A 2.5 hour train ride brings you from Lisbon to the city of Porto.
You will be met at the station and transferred to the lovely 1872 River House, located directly on the Douro River in the center of town.
Your guide, Joana, will meet you in the hotel lobby this afternoon for a private walking tour of the city.
The rich and varied architecture of Porto’s historic center depicts the values of succeeding periods—Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Modern.
Porto’s historic center is the Ribeira district, where Roman ruins lurk beneath the foundations. Despite signs of decay that are found throughout the city, Porto has undergone a remarkable renaissance over the last two decades and is worth at least two full days of exploration.
Day 4: Porto
Morning at leisure to explore the city on your own.
We recommend visiting: Sao Bento Railway Station, Livaria Lello, Casa de Música, Museu de Arte Contemporanea.
This afternoon, we have organized for you a private cooking class, during which you will learn to prepare some of the country’s greatest dishes in a hands-on environment. Dishes will include an appetizer, a traditional fish stew, and a Portuguese dessert.
Day 5: Porto-Douro Valley
A 1.5 hour drive brings you to the majestic Douro Valley, nestled amidst vineyards that overlook the Douro River. This is one of the world’s oldest wine-producing regions, dotted with remote farming communities where time stands still.
Your accommodation is a renovated 19th century manor house, offering only 11 rooms with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards and the Douro River. The property is Portugal’s first wine hotel, and allows guests the opportunity to observe the different stages of winemaking throughout their stay.
Day 6: Douro Valley
Today, you will embark on a private cruise along the Douro River, offering an opportunity to view this stunning microclimate from the water. You will pass olive and almond groves, and of course endless vineyards.
A car will be waiting for you at a disembarkation point for a short transfer to a nearby quinta, where you will be served a delicious three-course lunch.
For a special meal this evening, we recommend DOC in Folgosa.
Day 7: Douro Valley-Comporta
Your driver will meet you in the hotel lobby this morning for a 3.5 hour drive to Comporta, just south of Lisbon in the rural, arid Alentejo region.
Your accommodation is a high-end country retreat, located on a 17-acre estate with only 14 suites.
Comporta, a casually chic beach destination, is home to some of the best beaches in Portugal, stretching from Troia at the northern tip down to Melides in the south. Since the 1950’s, Comporta has drawn a fashionable European crowd looking to get off the grid. The landscape is wild, with miles of empty beaches, dense umbrella pine forests, cork trees and a patchwork of rice fields. Tourists will find only a handful of “formal” restaurants to choose from, scattered throughout an otherwise rural, working class community.
Day 8: Comporta
Transfer 1.5 hours to Lisbon Airport in time to meet your flight home.
End of services.