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Portugal has been on the rise in popularity, not just for visitors, but also for people seeking the perfect European country to relocate to, as well. Yes, Portugal really is so incredible that once you visit, you may never want to leave! For those in the know, Portugal has long been one of the unsung heroes of the European experience, often thought of after the most commonly visited countries of Italy, France, England, Germany, Spain and the like; however, Portugal might just be the one country that has it all.
Portugal has everything most travelers look for in a European vacation: ancient architecture, rich history, quaint towns filled with character, dramatic coastlines and picturesque beaches, modern amenities and bustling nightlife, world-renowned vineyards and wines, delicious cuisine, and even some of the highest-rated restaurants in the world. The food and wine of Portugal are so good, in fact, that many people are drawn to visit the country just to dine at some of the most famous restaurants and indulge in the exquisite wines.
Which brings us to this month’s Inspiring Itinerary: The Perfect Vacation for Foodies! Of course it’s impossible to experience the local cuisine and wine of Portugal without also experiencing the myriad of other adventures Portugal has to offer, too, so on this Itinerary, you’ll be treated to a little bit of everything!
Your adventure will begin in the historic city of Lisbon, one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, and rich with culture, both new and old. You’ll be seamlessly transported from the airport to your boutique hotel, perched on the edge of a traditional Portuguese Plaza, where you will call home for the first half of your journey. Depending on your arrival time, you will have time to explore the surrounding area, and try one of the excellent restaurants in the city (possibly even one of the Michelin-starred restaurants as long as reservations were made in advance), before retiring to the comforts of your room to relax after your travel day.
Today is all about deep exploration of Lisbon, and immersing yourself into Portuguese culture. Known as the city of Seven Hills, Lisbon has a plethora of hilltop viewpoints from which to take in the beautiful landscape of the city. Your tour will take you to some of the best vantage points today, as well as a number of historical sites, too, including Rossio Square, Almafa (or the Old Quarter), Lisbon Cathedral, the 16th Century Jeronimos Monastery, and Belem Tower, with views of St. George’s Castle and the Monument to the Discoveries.
Even after a full day of sightseeing, don’t think you’re done yet! Tonight you’ll get to experience a quintessential Portuguese tradition: Fado, a national song style developed in Lisbon, as you enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner as well (so special is Fado that it’s now even UNESCO protected).
After a very full day yesterday, today will be a bit more leisurely. Now that you know your way around Lisbon, you’ll have the morning to explore as you wish, possibly doing some shopping, grabbing a famous Portuguese pastry, or even visit a museum, such as the National Tile Museum, which showcases and gives the history of the artistic mosaic tile found all around the city.
Then, it’s time for your main activity of the day: a cooking class with a local chef! In your class, you will learn how to use the fresh ingredients Portuguese cuisine is known for, such as local fish, meat and vegetables to create a traditional meal consisting of a soup, a fish dish, a meat dish and a dessert!
Of course, you’ll get to enjoy everything you’ve made, and all courses will be expertly paired with local wines, as well! By the end of your class, you’ll have Portuguese cooking skills to show off to friends and family for years to come!
Time for a day in the countryside! As mentioned, there is so much to love about Portugal, both in the bigger cities like Lisbon, and also out in the country and along the coasts, too. Today will begin with a scenic drive out to wine country where you’ll visit a winery and vineyard for a tour, an inside look at the wine-making process, and of course a wine tasting.
You’ll see firsthand how wineries in one of the oldest countries in the world are blending ancient traditions with contemporary updates to offer a unique wine country experience. Before heading out, you’ll enjoy a tapas lunch with, obviously, more wine!
Then it’s off to the beautiful town of Evora, where ancient architecture abounds and history seems to deepen at every turn. Among the many sites on your tour will be the Evora Cathedral built in the 18th Century, the remaining 2,000 year-old columns of a Roman Temple, a centuries-old Portuguese university, and if you dare, the Chapel of Bones, lined with actual human bones.
Following your adventures through Evora, you’ll return to Lisbon for your last night in the city, before traveling out to the coast tomorrow.
Today you’ll head up the coast to Porto, where you’ll embark on a tour of the city, starting at the historic city center, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On your tour, you’ll see the Porto Cathedral, enjoy a panoramic view of the Douro River, explore Batalha Square and Palace, stroll down Santa Catarina Street filled with the city’s best shopping, take in the sites of Liberdade Square and Ribeira Square, and visit Clerigos Church and Tower. You’ll even get to visit Livraria Lello, a bookshop famous for being the inspiration of the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter Series. Of course, since you’re in Portugal, you can also opt to add wine tastings to your city tour as well!
Surely after traveling from Lisbon, and touring Porto for the day, you’ll want to retire to your new accommodations, which offer luxury amenities along with some of the best in house wine programs in the country, including tastings, seminars and special wine dinners, all of which will be available to you.
While yesterday focused on the majestic sights of Porto, today’s tour, primarily taking place within the Old City Center, will focus on the delectable tastes of Porto! Your “Foodie” Walking Tour will start in the morning at a classic coffee shop, where you’ll enjoy not only a morning coffee, but also some of the pastries that Portugal is known for, such as custard tartlets, almond tarts, or savory white bean tarts.
As you continue on, you’ll work up a lunch appetite by visiting the interior of the Porto Cathedral, the Grand Sao Bento Train Station, and walking towards the Douro River through the storied streets of Ribeira. Your next meal will feature authentic local fare such as the Portuguese codfish dish, Bacalhau, or chorizo croquettes.
Once you’ve finished lunch, you will have the remainder of the day to explore any part of Porto you’d like to return to, such as the Time Out Market in Ribeira, with every kind of Portuguese food you could imagine. Or, you may choose to retire to your hotel for a signature wine dinner, depending on your cravings for the evening!
Once again, with the city thoroughly explored, it’s time to head out to the country, this time to the picturesque Douro Valley, famous for its vineyards and unique landscape. Your day will be expertly curated with stops alternating between quaint Portuguese towns, and local wineries and cafes throughout the region.
You’ll visit the pilgrimage town of Amarante, the Church of Sao Goncalo Monastery, see houses along the Tamega River, walk along the Douro River in Regua, with views of the terraced vineyards, and then stop by the famed railway station of Pinhau, known for its blue painted tiles.
In between all these stops, you’ll be treated to fresh, local fare for meals and snacks, and of course wine tastings from the vineyards you pass along the way. Then, depending on your preference for dinner, you may choose to take part in a wine seminar or dinner at your hotel, or spend the evening in Porto, dining at a restaurant recommended by your expert guide.
Time to transfer to the last location of your Portuguese adventure, though this transfer will require a flight off-shore amid the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Though many people are most familiar with the Island destinations of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic is home to Portugal’s dreamy Madeira and Azores Islands. Today you will fly to Madeira, where your luxury resort offers a relaxing finale to your Portuguese vacation.
Upon arrival, you’ll have time for a leisurely dip in one of the resort pools, or perhaps even a treatment at the on-site spa to fully immerse you into relaxation-mode. For dinner, you’ll enjoy a traditional Madeiran dinner, including delicacies such as marinated beef skewers and golden fried maize, paired, as always, with local wines.
Today will be spent touring the island, exploring historic locations and of course, taking in the breathtaking ocean views. You’ll see sweeping views of the city of Funchal on your drive to Laurissilva Forest, home to some of the highest peaks on Madeira. Continuing on to Ribeiro Frio National Park, you’ll spy a hatchery program and emerald terraced fields, before arriving to the village of Santana, with its storybook thatched cottages.
As you make your way around the eastern side of the island, you’ll enjoy views of the most dramatic rock formations of the coast before heading back to Funchal and your resort. After a bit of relaxation before dinner, you can enjoy your farewell evening at one of the resort restaurants, or decide to dine at a restaurant in town.
Although the final day of any vacation is always bittersweet, you can try to focus on the “sweet” part by enjoying the morning with breakfast at your resort, and by taking in the oceanic views, even on your way to the airport for your return home. As you fly over the green fields and rows and rows of vineyard vines, you’ll have time to reflect on your favorite meals and wines, and plan how to share your Portuguese dining experiences with friends and family, maybe through a dinner party featuring the new recipes you learned, or even by sharing a bottle of wine from your favorite Portuguese vineyard!
Ready to Plan?
Did you know that this Inspiring Itinerary to Portugal was actually inspired by Jamie’s own trip to Portugal in the fall? That’s right! Jamie loved Portugal so much that she wanted to make sure that YOU had a perfect plan for visiting this incredible European gem, too! Check out Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Portugal for more information about the perfect Portuguese Experience!
If you are ready to plan The Perfect Foodie-Inspired Vacation to Portugal, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, or email hello@LOTMV.com. And of course, whether you want to travel to Portugal for all the amazing food and wine, or you’d like to indulge in the tasty offerings of another European country, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for.
Looking for more of our Inspiring Itinerary series?
You can find links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.
Just like last year, a new Inspiring Itinerary will come out each month!
So far, we have:
And don’t forget to check out our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! You can find links to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
Ready to plan The Perfect Foodie-Inspired Vacation? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com