Immerse yourself in the drama, romance, and flavor of Portugal's north, including the city of Porto and the spectacular Douro region, home to what's considered by many to be the most beautiful wine-growing region in all of Europe. You'll bookend your trip with time in Porto, where you'll embark on a fun food excursion. Then it's off to a number of incredible villages, heritage sites, and a wonderful national park. You'll also delve deep into the Douro Region, with time to go wine tasting in the iconic Douro Valley, home to world-famous Port wine. 

Highlights

  • Take two different guided food tours of Porto
  • Discover the ruins of ancient villages near Esposende
  • Hike the stunning landscape in Peneda-Gerês National Park
  • Go Port wine tasting in the iconic Douro Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Porto - Culinary Excursion Porto
Day 2 Get to Know Porto & Food Tour Porto
Day 3 Travel to Viana do Castelo via Esposende Viana do Castelo
Day 4 Viana do Castelo Viana do Castelo
Day 5 Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park Braga
Day 6 Explore Braga & Guimarães Braga
Day 7 Transfer from Braga to Douro Valley Douro Valley
Day 8 Free Day in Douro Valley Douro Valley
Day 9 Transfer from Douro Valley to Porto Porto
Day 10 Depart Porto  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Porto - Culinary Excursion

Porto's Old Town of Foz
Porto's Old Town of Foz

Welcome to Portugal! Upon arrival at Porto's airport, you will be met by a driver who will transfer you to your hotel. Take some time to rest before you start exploring. 

In the late afternoon, you will learn more about Porto and its cuisine with a 3.5-hour walking tour of the historic downtown. Guided by a friendly English-speaking native, this excursion offers a first-hand look at the culinary renaissance that the city is experiencing, including the rebirth of specialty food shops and new restaurants that are adopting old methods.

You'll take part in several distinct tasting locations that harken back to an era of simple, quality products and recipes created by people who love what they do. Learn about these family-owned businesses and why they are an integral part of what makes gastronomy in Porto so unique. Furthermore, you'll witness the revival of Portuguese cuisine while you explore local restaurants, cafes, and stores offering the best of Porto.

The evening, of course, would not be complete without an introduction to the famous drink of Porto: Port wine. As you taste three different versions, including one vintage, you will learn about the history of this drink and why it is a timeless favorite.

Day 2: Get to Know Porto & Food Tour

The flickering lights of Porto at dusk
The flickering lights of Porto at dusk

Today is a great introduction to Porto! After breakfast at the hotel, you'll join a half-day tour of the city with a local guide. This excursion will lead you through the most important landmarks of Portugal’s second most populous city as you travel from place to place in a comfortable private vehicle. 

Your guide will explain the rich history of this city, also called Invicta (the Unbeaten City), with stories of heroes and battles, as you make your way to the trendiest and most cultural area of town. Here you'll explore Boavista Avenue, one of the city's most important streets, and Foz, home to some of the most revered museums and modern local treasures.

Next, you'll head to the city center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — to admire the most renowned Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical monuments and sites, including the São Bento Railway StationClerigos TowerChurch of St. FrancisLello BookshopSta. Catarina StreetMajestic Café, and Bolhão Market, to name a few.

After visiting the imposing Porto Cathedral with its superb silver altarpiece, you'll finish the tour along the banks of the immense Douro River with views of Ribeira Plaza and the D. Luís Bridge.  

But that's not all: you'll also visit a small scale canning factory, which produces gourmet-quality tinned fishes. What makes this purveyor unique is its hand-made processing techniques, which have been used here for the last century. Tinned fish isn’t only a delicacy in Portugal; it's a traditional way of life that continues to adapt to the times.

In the evening, after you've had some time to rest, it's time for another tour — this time centered on the city's 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 3: Travel to Viana do Castelo via Esposende

Castro de São Lourenço
Castro de São Lourenço

Today you'll head north, stopping first for a self-guided visit of Esposende, a resort town by the Cávado River Estuary. The coastline here is blessed with a chain of gorgeous beaches, all in the North Coast Natural Park that stretches for miles and miles in either direction of Esposende. If the water is calling to you, learn to ride the tube-like Atlantic waves at a surf camp or simply lounge on the luxurious white sands and meander around the dunes.

When you're looking for a break from the sun, head into town to check out the beautiful 17th-century church and the few but fascinating museums. If you're looking for something extraordinary, though, head to the granite filled mountains, where you can discover captivating religious sanctuaries and ancient villages like Castro de São Lourenço deep in the forest.

You'll spend the night in the charm of Viana do Castelo, a gorgeous town with an exquisite basilica dedicated to Santa Luzia, great beaches, and a quaint city center. 

Day 4: Viana do Castelo

The romantic cityscape of Viana do Castelo
The romantic cityscape of Viana do Castelo

After breakfast this morning, you'll have the day to explore the extraordinary Viana do Castelo, the jewel of the Costa Verde. Discover the secrets of this beautiful town, its nearby beaches, or the close-by valley however you like, depending on your mood and interests.

If you're itching for exploration, spend the day walking through town; the city showcases a beautiful medieval center and riverfront. In the old quarter, you'll be charmed by leafy 19th-century boulevards, narrow lanes crowded with Manueline manors, and rococo palaces — all under the watchful gaze of the dramatic, pearly white Neo-Byzantine Santa Luzia church, perched on a hilltop high above the town. To visit the top, you can drive, hike, or ride the small cable car up the mountain. 

Stop into the Gil Eannes, a former war hospital ship now open as a museum, then when hunger strikes, line up for one of the city's delectable specialties: bolas de berlim, a mouthwatering custard-filled donut dusted with sugar. The treats sell out twice a day but are definitely worth the wait. 

If you're interested in checking out the areas beyond the city, you have some great options. Viana's setting by the Rio Lima estuary makes the town a great jumping-off point for exploring the lower Lima Valley, and you'll also find some lovely beaches just outside the city center.

Day 5: Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Find waterfalls and babbling streams in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Immerse yourself in Portugal’s wild landscape on a full-day small-group tour of Peneda- Gerês National Park, where you can hike incredible mountains, admire local fauna and flora, drink in amazing viewpoints, and splash around in mesmerizing waterfalls. 

The park will greet you on your drive with incredible views of the lush mountains, turquoise waterways and the park's iconic bridges. You'll lead out on a mellow but gorgeous trek to see beautiful lagoons and the stunning Tahiti Waterfall. If you like, you can also go for a dip in the therapeutic (though cold!) waters. You'll also enjoy a traditional picnic lunch at Pedra Bella, one of Gerês' most iconic viewpoints while you rest with the mountain at your feet and admire the incredible surrounding scenery.  

After your excursion, you'll travel to the charming town of Braga, where you'll spend the night. Explore the city's streets as the sun sets and ask your specialist for a recommendation for a great restaurant in town for this evening's dinner!

Day 6: Explore Braga & Guimarães

Guimarães
The medieval castle in Guimarães

Today you'll dive deeper into scenic Braga, where you'll visit the sanctuaries that comprise the "Triangle of Faith" —  the storied Braga Cathedral (one of the most important buildings in the country thanks to its long history and magnificent representations of different architectural styles), as well as the gorgeous Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and Our Lady of Sameiro, both of which are important pilgrimage destinations.

After you tour the sights, enjoy some free time in the city, check out the great shops here, and fuel up with a traditional and delicious Portuguese lunch before hitting the road to Guimarães, the beautiful town where you'll spend the rest of the day.

Start your exploration of Guimarães with a visit to the imposing medieval castle, then wander around the delightful historic center, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wherever you are in the city, you'll have a great view of the fortified towers of the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, which always loom above the skyline. The architecture of the palace's exterior shows the influence of 14th-century French buildings, but the vibe here is still Portuguese at heart. 

Day 7: Transfer from Braga to Douro Valley

The Douro River snaking through the valley
The Douro River snaking through the valley

This morning, you'll have breakfast at your hotel in Braga. At the designated time, a driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour transfer to Douro Valley, a fertile grape-growing region that produces some of Portugal's best wines.

Your full-day tour includes a visit to a quinta (winery), where you'll tour vineyards and production facilities, and enjoy a wine tasting. You will then drive to a nearby country town where your guide will recommend the perfect restaurant for a leisurely lunch of traditional Portuguese cuisine, followed by another wine tasting.

After a few hours of indulgence, stretch out 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.  

Day 8: Free Day in Douro Valley

Visit some of Douro Valley's best vineyards
Visit some of Douro Valley's best vineyards

Spend today in the Douro Valley any way you wish! The area is known for its vineyards chiseled into green mountains and world-famous wine estates that date back to the 18th century. Exploring nearby idyllic villages, go wine tasting, and sample fantastic regional restaurants — all accessed by the valley's winding scenic roads. 

If you're looking for culture, the town of Lamego is home to the Museu de Lamego, one of Portugal's best museums. Located in a grand palace, the collection showcases important paintings, tapestries, and chapels dating back to the 16th century.

Curious about Port wine production? Take a guided tour of a winery and enjoy tastings at some of the most notable vineyards in the valley. Or if blends are more your speed, you can instead focus your wine exploration at vineyards specializing in delicious blends and table wines. Foodies can opt to visit a local olive oil producer to learn more about olive harvest and pressing: the valley's olive oil is highly regarded for its incredible flavor. 

A great way to end a day here is to take a relaxing boat trip along the Douro River; relax as you glide atop the water and be sure to bring your camera to make the most of several magnificent viewpoints along your voyage.

Day 9: Transfer from Douro Valley to Porto

A row of Porto's colorful traditional houses
A row of Porto's colorful traditional houses

Today you'll bid farewell to the magic of the Douro Valley and will return to the charm and flavor of Porto. When you arrive in the city, you'll have the day to spend however you like. Head out to see any sights you may have missed at the beginning of your trip. 

If you're looking to explore some gems, head back to Foz, then relax at one of its nearby beaches. There are a bevy of great museums to see too; in the west of the city, Fundação de Serralves is a massive complex that includes a contemporary art museum, a park, and a stunning villa. When you feel peckish, pop around Mercado do Bolhão, the 19th-century open-air structure is home to vendors specializing in delicious local treats, produce, and lovely home goods. 

Tonight, take advantage of the town's culinary scene and enjoy a dinner of fresh locally caught seafood and some wonderful wine from the nearby wine region. 

Day 10: Depart Porto

Sunrise in Porto
Sunrise in Porto

It's time to say goodbye to Portugal!

Depending on the time of your flight, you may be able to squeeze in one more walk through the streets of Porto or perhaps pick up some last-minute souvenirs. At the designated time, you'll be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your departure onwards.

Map

Map of Explore Portugal: The North & Douro Valley - 10 Days
Map of Explore Portugal: The North & Douro Valley - 10 Days