Day 1 - Thursday, September 10: Flight fromToronto
Evening departure from Toronto to Lisbon with Air Transat. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Friday, September 11: Lisbon
(D) Arrival at Lisbon Airport and meet & greet by our English-speaking assistant. Transfer by private coach to the hotel and check-in. Enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and exploring on your own. Dinner in a typical restaurant near the hotel. Overnight in Lisbon (Hotel Exe Liberdade 3* or similar).
Day 3 - Saturday, September 12: Sintra - Colares - Cascais
(B, L) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure to Sintra by private coach with English-speaking guide. Sintra is a delightful Portuguese town that is situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. Hidden within these pine covered hills are extravagant palaces, opulent mansions and the ruins of an ancient castle. In Sintra visit National Palace and Palacio de Pena. The Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. The palace is a hedonistic mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand in stark contrast to the lush greens of the Parque de Pena forest. The interior of the Pena Palace is equally as fascinating, being restored to reflect the decor in 1910, when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution. Surrounding the Palacio da Pena are forested grounds, which continue the design ideals of Romanticism, with hidden pathways, mystical ornaments and stunning vistas. The National Palace is a gothic palace, boasting an extensive history and ornately painted ceilings. Lunch in a typical restaurant in Sintra historical center. In the afternoon proceed to Colares and visit a winery, including tasting. The vineyards in this small wine region west of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast look like something that slithered up from the sea. Trained low to avoid the biting wind that blows incessantly off the ocean, the vines resemble green serpents snaking along the sand. It’s as if vines from a more conventional region had come to the beach on vacation and had collapsed in a deep slumber. Colares produces what may well be Portugal’s most distinctive still wines. The reds, made of the ramisco grape, are high in acid and powerfully tannic, so much so that they are aged for years in the cellars before they are released. The current vintage on the market is 2007. Proceed to Cascais and visit of the city center with our guide. Dinner on your own in Cascais. Return to Lisbon. Overnight in Lisbon (Hotel Exe Liberdade 3* or similar).
Day 4 - Sunday, September 13: Lisbon
(B, D) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning walking food tour in Baixa and Alfama areas with our English speaking guide. Alfama is the oldest district of the city and is a maze of narrow streets that stretch from the banks of the estuary up to the castle. Historically this was the section of the city where the poor lived, just outside of the city walls. Today Alfama is rejuvenated with trendy bars and cafes set amongst the crumbling charm of the ancient buildings. The Baixa district boasts of the grandeur that Portugal once commanded, with wide avenues and magnificent squares. The area was completely rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake and was one of the first cities to follow a grid plan street layout. Baixa is the heart of Lisbon and is where many of the capital’s finest tourist attractions are located. Eat as the locals do during a gourmet walking experience. You’ll learn about Portuguese cuisine as we stroll down winding alleys to find unique places full of culinary treasures. Lunch on your own. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening BBQ dinner in a typical farm just outside Lisbon. Overnight in Lisbon (Hotel Exe Liberdade 3* or similar).
Day 5 - Monday, September 14: Lisbon
(B) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Full-day at leisure. Lunch and dinner on your own. Overnight in Lisbon (Hotel Exe Liberdade 3* or similar).
Day 6 - Tuesday, September 15: Lisbon - Obidos - Douro Valley
(B, D) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning departure to Obidos by private coach. (No guide at disposal today). “The Wedding Town” was the traditional bridal gift of the kings of Portugal to their queens, a custom begun in 1282 by Dom Dinis. The town has hardly changed in appearance since then: its cobbled streets and steep staircases wind up to the ramparts, from where you can gaze across a countryside of windmills and vineyards. The parish church, Igreja de Santa Maria (in the central Praça), was chosen for the wedding of the ten-yearold child-king Afonso V and his eight-year-old cousin, Isabel, in 1444. It dates mainly from the Renaissance, though the interior is lined with seventeenthcentury blue azulejos (or painted tiles) in a homely manner typical of Portuguese churches. The retable in a side chapel on the right-hand side was painted by Josefa de Obidos, one of the finest Portuguese painters and one of the few female artists afforded any reputation by art historians. One corner of the triangular fortifications is occupied by a massively towered Castle built by Dom Dinis which has been converted into a Pousada. Explore Obidos on your own. Lunch on your own. In the afternoon proceed to Douro Valley. Check-in at the hotel. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Douro Valley (Hotel Rural Casa dos Viscondes da Varzea 4* or similar)
Day 7 - Wednesday, September 16: Douro Valley
(B, L, D.) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Full-day excursion to Douro Valley by private coach and English-speaking wine. A Unesco World Heritage site since 2001, the Douro is a majestic wilderness, one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, but a surprisingly silent place, apart from three bustling weeks of harvest each autumn. Visit Quevedo winery in S. Joao da Pesqueira. Quevedo is part of a new generation of small family wineries based in the Douro Valley. They grew grapes to make Port wine for merchants based in Vila Nova de Gaia until Portugal joined the European Union in 1986. Then the legislation changed and allowed both grape growers and wineries in the Douro Valley to export their wines directly to the retailer. It was then that the brand “Quevedo” was born. From the sub-regions of the Cima Corgo and the Douro Superior, Quevedo cultivates 100 hectares of vineyards across six properties. The vineyards diversity provides grapes of varying aromas and flavors which helps them craft their wines. Wine tasting and lunch at the winery. In the afternoon visit another winery in the region. Cruise on the Douro River in a barco rabelo. This small craft was used to deliver the port wine from the Alto Douro, to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. From the boat you’ll have a privileged view of the Douro Valley, sailing through a stretch of the river not seen from the main roads. You’ll see its unique landscapes, with vineyards and terraces and many wineries. The Alto Douro Vinhateiro region is a particularly representative section of the extraordinary scenery of the Douro Demarcated Region, the first demarcated region in the world. The departure point is in Pinhão, a village in the heart of the Douro, where you’ll return at the end of the tour. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to pass by Tua. Return to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel or nearby restaurant. Overnight in Douro Valley (Hotel Rural Casa dos Viscondes da Varzea 4* or similar)
Day 8 - Thursday, September 17: Douro Valley
(B, L) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning cooking class at the hotel. Join Countess Maria for an organized cooking session with her in one of the palace’s old kitchens, using a stove and cooking pots dating back to the early 1800’s. You will have a truly delightful experience -- from the very first greeting, to the food preparation with her and her wonderful staff, to eating the meal you will prepare. Maria’s riches to rags to riches story is incredible. She is an amazing woman and a marvelous host who makes her guests feel immediately at home. Lunch is included. In the afternoon departure to Porto by private coach. Check-in at the hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Porto (Hotel Porto Coliseum 4* or similar)
Day 9 - Friday, September 18: Porto
(B, L) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning half-day guided tour of Porto. Our tour begins in one of the most charming monuments of the city, the Cathedral of Porto. Located on the highest part of the city, its construction began in the 12th century. The Cathedral of Porto is considered a National Monument, for its religious, architectural, and historic value. Crossing the famous Aliados Avenue, surrounded by a vast architectural complex with Art Nouveau and Art Deco façades, we will continue our tour towards the São Bento Railway Station. This place may be one of the greatest highlights of the tour - this train station seems like a true tile museum! Its tile panels tell the history of the North of Portugal through dazzling blue and white tiles. The main atrium is covered by more than twenty thousand tiles! Take time to appreciate the most exquisite landscapes of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, while crossing the iconic D. Luís I Bridge, built by one of the disciples of Gustav Eiffel - the French engineer who participated in the construction of the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Vila Nova de Gaia is famous for the stunning Port Wine Cellars, your next stop. Have the opportunity to visit a wine cellar and learn all about the winemaking process that has lasted for centuries and that is the basis of this world-famous wine. A port wine tasting is included, the perfect opportunity to savour some of the best. Visit also Palacio de Bolsa, a 19th century building owned by the Porto Commercial Association and is located in Praça do Infante D. Henrique, the former economic and commercial heart of Porto. The palace no longer works as a stock exchange but remains the headquarters of the Association and is mainly used for major events, such as events and official receptions. In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II was received in Palácio da Bolsa, in a great ceremony. It was built in 1842, over the ruins of the former St. Francis convent, which was burned in 1833, during the Civil War. Between 1833 and 1842, Porto’s businessmen made their trade on the streets, because they didn’t have any building for that. Inside you’ll find a great mix of artistic styles and decorative arts, very typical of Art Nouveau and other movements. Lunch in a typical restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Porto (Hotel Porto Coliseum 4* or similar)
Day 10 - Saturday, September 19: Porto
(B, D) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Follow the lead of the food-obsessed Porto inhabitants and spend a morning hopping between bars on this 3-hour food tour in Porto! With an experienced guide, you’ll learn about the history of Portuguese gastronomy and discover the delights of small-plate dining on visits to 3 of Porto’s best bars. Loosen your belt and wash down finger-licking dishes with local wine, port or beer, on this must-do gastro tour! The guide will take you walking around town on the way to your first restaurant of the afternoon. As you walk, your guide will chat to you about Portuguese gastronomy, and of the explosion of its popularity on the international stage. Bars and restaurants here are not typically as crowded as neighbouring Spain; people here like to sit down and taste with no rush. In some places, on the other hand, we will share food and finger-eat. The dishes served each afternoon will vary, but you can expect a selection of food ranging from niche regional specialties to all-time Portuguese classics. Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean influences due to the Portuguese Colonial Empire that started to expand overseas in the 15th century. The influence of its former colonies is notable especially in the wide variety of spices used, as you will see on the famous Porto pastries. Lunch on your own. Afternoon free at leisure. Farewell dinner in a typical restaurant. Overnight in Porto (Hotel Porto Coliseum 4* or similar)
Day 11 - Sunday, September 20: Morning flight to Toronto
(B) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Morning transfer to Porto airport by private coach for your return flight to Toronto.