- Cruise Porto's Duoro River via a traditional "rabelo" boat
- Descend into the breathtaking depths of the Mira De Aire Caves
- Explore the pristine beaches and hidden lagoons of São Miguel Island
- See breaching whales and curious dolphins on a whale watching tour
|Arrive in Porto, Family Food Tour
|Vintage Car Tour, Harry Potter Library & River Cruise
|Explore Peneda-Gerês National Park
|Drive to Coimbra via Buçaco Forest & Avéiro
|Explore Coimbra, Self-Guided Excursion to Schist Villages
|Drive to Lisbon via Mira De Aire Caves
|Guided Tuk-Tuk Tour, Traditional Tile Workshop
|Private Excursion to Sintra
|Fly to São Miguel Island, Azorean Foodie Experience
|São Miguel Island
|Beaches of São Miguel
|São Miguel Island
|Sete Ciudades Jeep Adventure, Snorkeling Tour in São Miguel
|São Miguel Island
|Whale Watching Tour
|São Miguel Island
|Explore the Furnas Valley
|São Miguel Island
|Depart São Miguel Island
Day 1: Arrive in Porto, Family Food Tour
Welcome to Portugal! You'll land at Porto airport and be met by your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. Porto is Portugal's second-largest city, with a history that dates all the way back to the Roman Empire–which also makes it one of Europe's oldest cities. Modern Porto is a thriving metropolis that manages to retain an old-world charm while also being very family-friendly.
Once you've had time to get checked in and relax a bit, start your adventure with a guided family food tour. Porto has a very exciting food scene, which includes traditional foods like pastéis de nata (custard tart), sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines), and dishes containing bacalhau (dried, salted cod). You'll have a chance to try some of these local favorites, as well as other foods specific to Portugal.
The tour takes you away from the standard tourist spots to small, authentic restaurants, cafés, and bars as you're welcomed by the business owners and their families. You'll taste a range of traditional dishes and desserts, with adults sipping Portuguese wines while the kids can try Sumol Ananás—a fizzy pineapple soda that is one of Portugal's most popular drinks. And if you've got picky eaters, don't worry. Since this is a private tour, it can be curated to accommodate any and all palates!
Day 2: Vintage Car Tour of Porto, Harry Potter Library & River Cruise
See the city in a fun and unexpected way today with a guided tour in a vintage, 1920s classic car. The three-hour tour takes you to some of the city's most important landmarks and historical sites, as well as those hidden corners only locals know. The car makes a great prop for family photos, with opportunities to stop and pose by colorful stacked houses and winding streets. Afterward, you'll have the choice between touring the nearby fishing village of San Pedro da Afurada or visiting Porto's Foz neighborhood, which has nice beaches and local restaurants, ending with a wine tasting at a local cellar.
After your guided introduction to the city, continue on your own this afternoon. Young readers in the group will enjoy a visit to Livraria Lello, one of the oldest bookstores in Europe and thought to be the inspiration for the "Flourish and Blotts" bookstore in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. See the richly decorated ceiling, the majestic winding staircase, and the Art Deco touches throughout. From here, head to Crystal Palace Gardens, located in downtown Porto and home to peacocks, ducks, and even roosters. There are easy paths for strollers and plenty of shaded areas.
Day 3: Explore Peneda-Gerês National Park
Today, take a day trip to Peneda-Gerês National Park for a guided hiking adventure. While there are many listed natural parks within Portugal's borders, Peneda-Gerês is the only official national park and takes up a whopping 436 square miles (703 sq km) in the north, near the Spanish border.There are several accessible hikes that will get you up into the best scenery of the park in a short time, and they can be curated to suit your family's abilities and needs, with easier trails for the little ones or more challenging adventures for older kids. Enjoy the breathtaking mountain panoramas and waterfalls, and swim in crystal clear lagoons with only fish for company. You're also likely to see some local flora and fauna along the way, so tell the kids to watch for glimpses of wild horses, deer, or otters! The tour includes a picnic lunch of traditional local food served against gorgeous scenery.
There will also be a cultural side to your adventures today. As you travel between the scenic highlights of the park in a 4WD vehicle, your knowledgeable local guide will give you numerous insights into the park and its inhabitants. You'll visit the area's centuries-old villages, where ancient traditions have been preserved, and meet the villagers that help conserve the region's distinctive culture. Your trip finishes with a meal at a local restaurant, paired with some of northern Portugal's famous vinho verde wine.
Day 4: Drive to Coimbra via Buçaco Forest & Avéiro
Pick up your rental car and make the drive to Coimbra, located approximately 1.5 hours from Porto. There are some great sights to see along the way, so plan to make a few stops! Start at Buçaco Forest, a great place to take a break and let the kids burn some energy. The forest has more than 250 species of trees and shrubs, with six different walking trails, lakes, fountains, and small chapels that were originally built by monks. Be sure to visit the Palace Hotel do Buçaco, located in the center of the forest, and see the beautiful boxwood gardens.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Explore Coimbra, Self-Guided Excursion to Schist Villages
Get out and explore Coimbra, one of Portugal's oldest cities. Primarily known as home to the University of Coimbra, this is a vibrant place with plenty to see and do. Start with a visit to the university, which sits in the city's upper zone. The incredible Baroque library should be your first stop, where you'll find a collection of over 200,000 books, all stored in beautifully carved bookshelves. You can also visit the 18th-century bell tower, and nearby you'll find the Chapel of Saint Michael with its elaborate interior wall tiles. Then, head to the Old Town, where you can stroll through lively markets and grab lunch at a local eatery.
Day 6: Drive to Lisbon via Mira De Aire Caves
Get back on the road today and head to your next destination, Lisbon, a drive of just over two hours. Along the way, make a detour to visit one of the region's most impressive sights, the Grutas Mira de Aire. Formed during the Middle Jurassic Age more than 150 million years ago, these are the largest underground caves in Portugal. The caves were discovered in 1947, and in 2010 they were elected one of the "Seven Natural Wonders" of Portugal.
Your visit will begin with a short film that explains the history of how the cave system was found, then you'll head underground with your guide, descending more than 600 man-made steps into a world of mineral formations, cathedral-like rooms, and dimly-lit pools. See stalagmites and stalactites and learn how they were formed, and take in the unusual beauty of this natural creation. While the caves are not stroller-friendly, the steps themselves aren't difficult to navigate as they go along several levels, so even younger children should do just fine.
After visiting the caves, continue to Lisbon. Portugal's capital city and also its largest, Lisbon, is a bustling hub that combines a rich history with a modern vibe. Drop off your rental car and check in at your hotel, then get out and explore a bit. If the kids need some space to run, head to Jardim da Estrela, a huge park with playgrounds, duck ponds, and a café that often hosts live music. And if the older kids are into street art, be sure to visit LX Factory, a buzzy district with creations by local artists everywhere. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Day 7: Guided Tuk-Tuk Tour, Traditional Tile Workshop
Explore Lisbon in style today with an electric tuk-tuk tour. Led by a knowledgeable guide, you'll travel 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. Afterward, set out on a self-guided tour to see more of the capital.
Walk to Castelo de São Jorge, a castle with spectacular views of the city, which also sometimes has exhibitions with knights and archers—something the kids are sure to love. Then, head to the Telecabine Lisboa for a cable car ride along the river and dizzying views of the Vasco Da Gama Bridge. For a fun and unusual experience, take a Lisbon Hippotrip Tour. These amphibious vehicles take you over both land and water, allowing you to see some of Lisbon's most notable sights without ever leaving the comfort of your own seat. Is it a bus? Is it a boat? It's both!
Visit Estufa Fria, a greenhouse that has four different plant houses and a spacious park attached to it, then stop by Jerónimos Monastery, a breathtaking piece of architecture with a vast chapel, and the National Azulejo Museum, which is dedicated to the history of Portugal's traditional tilework. Speaking of tilework, you'll also have the opportunity today to participate in a tile workshop, where you'll learn the history and art of painting traditional ceramic tiles or azulejos. This hands-on workshop not only teaches how and why the tiles are used, but you and the kids will also get to paint your own tiles to take home.
Day 8: Private Excursion to Sintra
Today's day trip takes you on a private tour to the village of Sintra, located in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains. Your driver will collect you from your hotel, and you'll make the 40-minute drive to this lovely little town, home to a whimsical collection of palaces and villas, winding streets, and colorful art.
The tour takes you through the village and to some of its most well-known palaces. Your first top will be the Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with incredible neo-Gothic architecture, large gardens, and an assortment of hidden passageways and winding staircases. Then, you'll visit the National Palace of Sintra, which is located in the town center and was once a hunting retreat for the Portuguese monarchy.
You can also stop by the impressive Pena Palace, a vividly colored romanticist castle completed in 1854 and overlooks the whole town. Originally intended as a summer palace for the king, it was purchased by the state in 1889 and was later transformed into a museum. The castle is adjacent to Pena Park, which encompasses nearly 500 acres (200 ha) and has shaded walking paths, pavilions, lakes, and ponds. There are even some secret walking paths for the kids to discover, making it a great spot to relax at the end of the tour.
Day 9: Fly to São Miguel Island, Azorean Foodie Experience
Today you'll be picked up at your hotel for a transfer to Lisbon Airport to catch your flight to the island of São Miguel, the "Green Island" of the Azores. You'll arrive in Ponta Delgada, and after you pick up your rental car and check in at your hotel, start your visit with a true immersion into local culture with an Azaorean "foodie" tour!
Day 10: Beaches of São Miguel
Check out the beaches of São Miguel today. Start with local spots in Ponta Delgada, such as Milícias Beach, considered one of the best beaches for children in the Azores. The unusually darker sand here relates to the island's volcanic origins, and in addition to changing areas and a bar, there is a pedestrian promenade along the beach with easy access for strollers. Ponta Delgada is also home to the lagoons of Lagoa das Sete Cidades ("Lagoon of the Seven Cities"), a protected region with gorgeous turquoise waters, and Lagoa das Empadadas, a lagoon surrounded by lush forests perfect for hiking.
From here, make the drive to Ribeira Grande, where you'll find Areal de Santa Bárbara Beach, which stretches more than half a mile (1 km) along the shore and has parking, restrooms, and restaurants. Nicknamed the "Surfer's Beach," this is a great spot for bodyboarders or surfers in your group, with calmer waves near the shore that the little ones can enjoy. You can also visit Lagoa do Fogo, a lagoon with crystal-clear water, dense greenery, and hiking. Caldeira Velha should also be on the list, a natural area that has a stream with small dams and hot springs that are fun for an afternoon dip.
Adventurous families can visit Pedreira Beach, located in Vila Franco do Campo. The tranquil views and landscapes make this a not to be missed destination. Parents of smaller children should keep in mind that the beach's cliffside location makes for somewhat difficult access, and there are no amenities. And if you want a memorable, traditional meal, visit the village of Furnas and their lagoon, Lagoa das Furnas. In addition to this being a fun swim spot, nearby restaurants bury pots in the ground to make the popular dish, cozido das Furnas–a delicious stew found only in Furnas!
Day 11: Sete Ciudades Jeep Adventure, São Miguel Snorkeling Tour
Escape the usual tourist routes and add some adventure to your Azores holiday with an off-road excursion to Sete Cidades. Located on the west side of São Miguel Island, this remarkable area of natural beauty is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Lush hillsides and volcanic craters rise between numerous tranquil lakes, each with its own distinctive character.
You'll be picked up from your hotel in the morning and head out in a 4WD Jeep. Stop at viewpoints such as Carvão and Vista da Princesa, where you can contemplate this breathtaking landscape accessible only by foot or 4WD. Weather permitting, stop for a hike along the iconic Cumeeiras Trail, where the kids can stretch their legs and take in the view as you walk the volcano's rim. Continue to the charming church and village located inside the crate and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the village before heading back to Ponta Delgada.
This afternoon, take a guided snorkeling tour at the Natural Reserve of Vila Franca do Campo Islet. After your family is briefed on the basic concepts of snorkeling and provided with the necessary equipment, your guide will take you out into the stunning blue waters, where you'll get up close and personal with some of the Azores' amazing marine life. See underwater plant life, tropical fish, seahorses—maybe even a dolphin or two! Relax at your hotel this evening before continuing your adventures tomorrow.
Day 12: Whale Watching Tour
This morning, make your way to the port for an amazing day of whale watching, one of the Azores' most exciting and unforgettable adventures! Your guides will include biologists and naturalists, who will provide education and insight into the marine biodiversity here, as well as share information about the marine life that inhabits these seas. The four-hour tour takes you along the island's scenic coastline and beaches, as well as by the Princess Ring Islet of Vila Franca do Campo. Whales and dolphins are in the area year-round, and the kids should keep an eye out for friendly sea turtles and colorful fish.
Day 13: Explore the Furnas Valley
Spend today at the Furnas Valley, a volcanic caldera that has lain dormant since 1630. In one of São Miguel's most intriguing and otherworldly geothermal spots, you'll find a fantastical series of fumaroles, lush green landscapes, and peaceful lakes and trails. Visit the Capela da Nossa Senhora Das Vitórias, a lovely neo-Gothic church on the shores of Lago das Furnas, and hike through the forest to the Salto do Rosal waterfall.
Budding naturalists might also enjoy a visit to Furnas Research Center, where you'll find exhibits on the ecosystem of the lake and surrounding areas, and be sure to stop and see the geothermal fumaroles with their bubbling mud and steam! The region also has several thermal pools where you can soak in the mineral-rich, healing waters.
Day 14: Depart São Miguel Island
It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Portugal today as you drive to the airport and return your rental car, then catch your flight home. Safe travels!
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