Enjoy Portugal's cultural highlights with a generous helping of gastronomy on this delicious 12-day adventure. Start in Porto for wine tasting and river cruising, then head to Lisbon to see the city by tuk-tuk and sample its best street food and snacks. After a week of guided tours and transfers, switch to a rental car for a road trip through the Alentejo to the spectacular Algarve coast—visiting hilltop villages, historic vineyards, and world-class beaches along the way.

Highlights

  • Sample port wine & traditional pastries on a food tour of Porto
  • Board a riverboat for a tranquil cruise down the Douro River
  • Search out Lisbon's hidden corners by electric tuk-tuk
  • Visit Alentejo's whitewashed villages & wine estates 
  • Explore the golden cliffs, beaches & caves of the Algarve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Porto, Afternoon Culinary Experience Porto
Day 2 Tour Historic Porto Porto
Day 3 Day Trip to the Douro Valley, Wine Tasting & River Cruise Porto
Day 4 Transfer to Lisbon via Coimbra Lisbon
Day 5 Lisbon by Tuk-Tuk, Roots, Food & Cultural Walk Lisbon
Day 6 Day Trip to Sintra, Cascais & Estoril Lisbon
Day 7 Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Évora Évora
Day 8 Day Trip to Monsaraz & the Alentejo's Medieval Villages  Évora
Day 9 Drive to the Algarve, Quinta Wine Tasting & Lunch Algarve
Day 10 Enjoy the Beaches of the Algarve Algarve
Day 11 Catamaran Sailing Cruise to Benagil Caves Algarve
Day 12 Drive to Lisbon Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Porto, Afternoon Culinary Experience

Sample Porto's local specialties on an afternoon food tour

Welcome to Porto! Upon arrival, your driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city center. In the late afternoon, you'll get to know the city with a tour that highlights its exciting food scene. This is your chance to get off the well-worn tourist path for a side of Porto that most travelers rarely see. You'll be welcomed by local families in their small, authentic restaurants, cafés, and bars as you taste a range of traditional dishes, local pastries, and, of course, Portuguese wines.

Day 2: Tour Historic Porto

Colorful houses in Porto's Ribeira neighborhood

Discover more of Porto today with a private guided excursion, learning about the city's history, heroes, and battles as you make your way through the trendiest and most cultural areas of town. Start in the UNESCO-listed center to admire its renowned monuments and sites, including the São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, Church of St. Francis, Lello Bookshop, Sta. Catarina Street, Majestic Café, and Bolhão Market. After visiting Porto Cathedral, you'll finish the tour along the banks of the Douro River for sweeping views over the city from the Miradouro da Vitória.

After lunch, the rest of the afternoon is yours to explore at your own pace. A good place to start is the Ribeira neighborhood, which sits right along the Douro River and is one of the city's oldest areas. Famed for its narrow and colorfully-tiled dockside houses, as well as its views of the iconic double-decked Dom Luís Bridge, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is simply a must-see.  For a true taste of Porto, be sure to also explore the warren of windy streets behind the riverside. 

Day 3: Day Trip to the Douro Valley, Wine Tasting & River Cruise

Terraced vineyards along the Douro River

Today, your private driver will be waiting to whisk you into the mountains and valleys of the famous Douro Valley wine region, where you'll visit traditional wineries accompanied by your expert guide. After a wine tasting, you'll enjoy a traditional lunch at one of the valley's famous quintas (estates).

After lunch, it's time to hop aboard a riverboat for an hour-long cruise down the tranquil Douro River. Relax and admire the beautiful scenery of the valley and the rolling hills along the riverbanks. At the end of the day, your guide will return you to Porto, where you can spend the evening at leisure in the city's lively Ribeira area.

Day 4: Transfer to Lisbon via Coimbra

Views across the Rio Mondego to Coimbra

Today, after breakfast and check-out, meet your driver for the transfer south to Lisbon. About halfway through the trip, stop to spend some time exploring Coimbra. This former medieval capital wears its weighty importance in Portuguese history with dignity and pride, witnessed by its multicolored collage of buildings that span nearly a millennium. The historic core cascades down a hillside to create a lovely setting along the east bank of the Rio Mondego.

Upon arrival, meet with a local guide for a private tour of the city. The 13th-century University of Coimbra remains the star attraction, with a tremendous amount of history and knowledge accumulated within its walls. A must-see is the Baroque Library, home to an incredible collection of over 200,000 books stored in carved and gilded bookshelves. The Chapel of Saint Michael next door is also worth the visit, and make sure to take a stroll through the atmospheric medieval streets of the historic center before getting back on the road and continuing to Lisbon.

Day 5: Lisbon by Tuk-Tuk, Roots, Food & Cultural Walk

Lisbon by Tuk-Tuk
Colorful tuk-tuks lined up in Lisbon's Praça da Figueira 

See the "City of Seven Hills" in style today by electric tuk-tuk. Led by your knowledgeable guide, you'll zip through the charming capital's modern and historic districts, from the neoclassical avenues of Baixa to the cobblestone alleys of the bohemian Bairro Alto. Discover the city's fascinating history and hidden corners along the way, and stop at stunning panoramic viewpoints like São Pedro de Alcântara, Parque Eduardo VII, Senhora do Monte, and Santa Luzia.

Later on, you'll explore two of Lisbon's most ancient neighborhoods on a small-group food tour. Take a trip through time as you stroll from the ancient alleys of the 12th century into the bustling modern-day city, soaking up the laid-back vibes of each area and stopping along the way to sample authentic Portuguese dishes and snacks. The walk includes six stops for tastings at favorite local haunts, where you'll learn more about the staples of Portuguese cuisine and its many influences.

Day 6: Day Trip to Sintra, Cascais & Estoril

Pena Palace peeks through the clouds near Sintra

After breakfast, your private driver will pick you up to start today's adventure in Sintra. Located just half an hour east of the city, this resort town in the Sintra Mountains is known for its forested hills, upscale villas, and Moorish palaces. Start with a visit to the Palacio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace). This 19th-century romanticist castle mixes Moorish and Portuguese late-Gothic architectural styles with distinct features like gargoyles, ornate battlements, and colorful terraces. 

After touring the palace, you'll have a break for lunch, at which point you can also stroll through the historic village of Sintra and do some shopping and/or sightseeing. Then it's off to Sintra Cascais Natural Park. Some can't-miss locales in this area include the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Cabo de Roca, the wide and inviting Guincho Beach (a popular surf spot), and the glamorous towns of Cascais and Estoril.  After the tour, your driver will take you back to your hotel in Lisbon.

Day 7: Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Évora

Évora
The medieval grandeur of Évora

Today you'll pick up your rental car and leave Lisbon behind as you drive east to Évora, the capital of Portugal's Alentejo province. Get settled in, then set out to discover the city's most impressive treasures with a private, guided tour.

Explore the UNESCO-listed compact historic center and visit its main monuments, including the well-preserved ruins of the 2,000-year-old Templo Romano and many landmarks of the golden age of Portuguese maritime discoveries. This tour is especially perfect if you're interested in gaining an overview of the city's major events, which have always been linked to the most significant moments in Portuguese history.

Day 8: Day Trip to Monsaraz & the Alentejo's Medieval Villages 

Historical village of Monsaraz
Don't miss a visit to the hilltop village of Monsaraz

Set out on your own today to explore some of Alentejo's famous medieval villages at your own pace. Don't miss a stop in picture-perfect Monsaraz overlooking Europe's largest reservoir. Explore the compact, medieval center, then climb to the castle for panoramic views across the Alqueva Dam. Other highlights of the area include the dramatic clifftop village of Marvão, Castelo de Vide, known for its rich Jewish history, and  Estremoz, nicknamed the "White Town" for its marble and lime-painted houses and towers.

You'll also find a remarkable collection of megalithic monuments in the surrounding countryside. Dating back to the Neolithic period (5500-4500 BCE), these sites are located on the outskirts of Évora, where great river basins converged, and the last communities of hunter-gatherers thrived on the Alentejo plains. Explore the mysterious stone circles, dolmens, and funerary monuments, including the great Cromeleque dos Almendres—built 2,000 years before Stonehenge.

Day 9: Drive to the Algarve, Quinta Wine Tasting & Lunch

Stop for lunch (and wine tasting) in the vineyards of the Algarve

Today you'll head toward the Algarve region, located on Portugal's sun-soaked southern coast. En route, stop to enjoy a winery visit, tasting, and a magnificent Portuguese lunch at one of the area's landmark vineyards. Gather under a 2,000-year-old tree that overlooks old Negramole vines or settle into the warmth of the main house, and share a simple menu paired with a flight of four of the estate's wines. Finish with a stroll through the vineyard before getting back on the road and continuing to the coast.

Upon arrival in Lagos's lively, seafaring town, check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring at your own pace. Lagos is known for its charming inner-walled old town, pretty harbor, dramatic sandstone cliffs, and beautiful beaches, as well as authentic restaurants and buzzing nightlife. Locals are proud to say that Lagos has not succumbed to mass tourism like other cities in the Algarve, and the city still retains its distinctive character and laid-back charm. 

Day 10: Enjoy the Beaches of the Algarve

One of the many idyllic beaches around Lagos

Spend today discovering some of the Algarve's spectacular beaches at your own pace. Praia Dona Ana is the region's most photographed beach, and its little wonder—flanked by rugged rock formations, this 534-foot (160 m) sandy stretch boasts a dramatic, photogenic character perfect for Instagram. High cliffs cast large shadows on the sands, offering cool corners on hot days. They also keep the shore calm by protecting it against large swells, making it one of the best beaches in the region for snorkeling and diving.

The second largest of all Lagos' beaches, Praia de Porto de Mos, is a massive swathe of soft, pristine sand. Tucked 2.5 miles (4 km) southwest of the buzzing tourist center, this beach is an excellent alternative to crowded spots near the city. The beach offers a quiet setting framed by tall limestone cliffs, bright blue waters, and golden sand.

Day 11: Catamaran Sailing Cruise to Benagil Caves

Benagil Caves
Take a boat trip to the Benagil Caves

See the coast from a different perspective today with a catamaran cruise from Portimão to the world-famous Benagil Caves. Along the way, you'll pass the beaches of Carvoeiro and Algar Seco, as well as the Alfanzina Lighthouse and Praia da Marinha’s stunning views. Relax on the catamaran's twin sunbathing nets and enjoy the gentle breeze as you cruise along this unforgettable coastline, then anchor in the lovely coves of João de Arens for some swimming, paddleboarding, or snorkeling.

Back on dry land, the rest of the day is yours to explore the scenic Algarve region in any way you'd like. If beaches are high on your list, you'll find several dreamy options to choose from—offering a variety of services, water sports, and boat excursions. The peaceful cove of Pinhao Beach is known for its secluded, picturesque setting, while the Ponta da Piedade features more dramatic sandstone cliffs and bright turquoise water. Praia do Camilo gives way to a memorable view from the top of a staircase whose 200 wooden steps lead down to a sheltered sandy cove. 

Day 12: Drive to Lisbon Airport & Depart

Sunrise over Praia do Camilo
After one final Algarve sunrise, it's time to get back on the road and drive north to the Lisbon Airport, where you'll drop off your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels and boa viagem!

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Map

Map of Explore Portugal's Culture & Cuisine: Porto, Lisbon, Évora & the Algarve - 12 Days
Map of Explore Portugal's Culture & Cuisine: Porto, Lisbon, Évora & the Algarve - 12 Days