Fabulous time in Portugal!!!
Portugal | Jul 22 - Jul 31, 2022

C
CHRISTINE A.
Houston, TX | Reviewed on Aug 09, 2022

I know some people who plan trips on their own and feel travel agents don't add value. I have to say that Marta and Karin proved their worth as travel agents every step of the way. it was easy to message them during the planning process. They figured out pretty quickly what kind of hotels I liked. They provided a very nice mixture of activities (in city food and cultural tours, hikes, day trips to surrounding areas, kayaking etc.). Every detail of the trip was planned perfectly. Having... read more

I know some people who plan trips on their own and feel travel agents don't add value. I have to say that Marta and Karin proved their worth as travel agents every step of the way. it was easy to message them during the planning process. They figured out pretty quickly what kind of hotels I liked. They provided a very nice mixture of activities (in city food and cultural tours, hikes, day trips to surrounding areas, kayaking etc.). Every detail of the trip was planned perfectly. Having drivers already scheduled and ready to go saved us so much time and were hassle free. The app they used to store all of our travel plans was fabulous. During our trip, they were available by phone or by chat. Everything went off without a hitch. Our tour guide in Porto, Tommy, was entertaining, friendly and knowledgable. Our hiking guide Carlos, who to us to Peneda-Geres National Park was so knowledgable about nature. Bernardo our guide to our Sintra day hike was great! Ana-Luisa, our food and cultural tour guide in Madeira was fabulous too! Luis who led our kayaking snorkeling adventure was great too. Thanks for a fabulous trip. We can't wait to use you again when we travel to Spain!!!

Hotel Reviews
AlmaLusa Baixa/Chiado
Lisbon

The location of this hotel is its finest attribute. This hotel is within walking distance to a ton of restaurants, outdoor cafes, shopping, the waterfront, the tram.......pretty much everything! The rooms were beautiful. My only issue is the rooms were on the small side but other than that, this is a lovely hotel. The staff and concierge were very helpful in finding restaurants or anything we needed.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Fabulous!!! It is so close to many attractions and we really did not have to get in a cab to go where we wanted to go. We walked everywhere from this hotel
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
The Yeatman Hotel
Vila Nova de Gaia

This is a first rate hotel. We would go back again and take advantage of the World of Wine tour. We didn't have time this time around. The only issue with this hotel is it is about a 17 minute cab ride to most places. Ideally I like to stay in hotels where I can walk to restaurants and shopping. Other than that, it was fabulous. Also, net time we will definitely book their one Michelin star restaurant. Also I did not realize until we got there that this is a Relais & Chateaux property. Every detail of your stay is thought out and fabulous! I forgot to mention the breakfasts, which are included, were the bomb. Everything was delicious and plentiful. My favorite detail was the decorations they would put on top of the cup of cappuccino!

Authenticity & Character
Beautiful and spacious property. First class attention to all details of the stay.
Location
Beautiful views. Wish it were closer to town though
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Reid's Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Madeira
Funchal, Madeira

What can I say other than it was like I died and went to heaven. This hotel is soooooooo gorgeous. They were also very accommodating at this hotel and very attentive to service. We had an early flight to Madeira so we arrived at our hotel around 9:30am. They sent us to have a fabulous breakfast by the pool while we were waiting for our room. They were able to get us in our room by 11am. They also let us have a late check out on our last day of 1:30pm. I know these sound like small things but when you only have two days in Madeira, you want to maximize. The entire facility was gorgeous. It is set on a cliffside over looking the ocean. The rooms weren't spacious but so gorgeously decorated. Lovely gifts were left in the room, like a travel journal, a beach bag and a water bottle. They had two pools, a salt water and a chlorine pool. They were both large and gorgeous. The vegetation on the property was gorgeous. They breakfasts, which were included were fab. They had plenty of outdoor shaded seating for breakfast and lunch. The William, which is a one Michelin star restaurant was top notch. There was a deck down by the ocean, which you need to take a long stair case to reach. That was absolutely a gorgeous place to just to lounge!~ and watch the ocean and listen to the surf. This is such a special place! I can't wait to return!

Authenticity & Character
This is a renovated mansion. They kept photos and details of a previous area. You definitely felt you were at a very special place.
Location
Set on a cliff overlooking the ocean with absolute gorgeous views!
Staff
Attention to every detail and sooooooo polite and lovely!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Perfection!
Lisbon Marriott Hotel
Lisbon

Perfect for our purpose. We had one last night in Lisbon and wanted to be super close to the airport to catch a 5 am flight in the morning. The only thing that just meh, was the restaurant. That is typical of Marriotts however. Anyway, this hotel was perfect if you need a place close to the airport and want a good night sleep.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Close to airport
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Porto Culinary Experience
Porto

We loved Sergio our tour guide. He was friendly, knowledgable and entertaining. It was a nice format so that we were able to chat with the other people in the small group. The wines we had were really good. My only criticism is that the food was just ok. The cheese and the sardine courses were good. The desserts/food they paired with the port were just meh. Some of the other courses, I plain old can't remember because they weren't memorable. In summary, the tour guide was great, the wine and port, really good and the food could be improved.

Quality of Experience
Food
Please improve the food that is paired with the port at the end.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Sergio was funny, entertaining and knowledgable.
Privately Guided Tour of Porto
Porto

Tommy Hogg reached out two days before the tour via What's app just to connect. He was easy to find at our meeting point because we were already connected on What's app. He was knowledgable and entertaining. He asked us a lot of questions to get us engaged with the subject matter and the tour. At the end of the tour, he helped us with directions for our next stop, a restaurant which was close by. I would highly recommend Tommy and the tour!!!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Hike & Cultural Excursion in Peneda-GerĂªs National Park
Porto

This was a lovely trip to add on to a City stay. Having a day trip to a national park day trip to be outside with nature was a nice contrast to restaurants, tours and shopping. Carlos was a great guide. He was very knowledgable about nature. Everything about the day went smoothly, including the picnic, which was a nice touch. Carlos found out we had never been to Spain, so he took a little extra time to drive over the border, so we could say we have been to Spain!

Quality of Experience
Hiking and being outdoors with nature. The hike was challenging enough but not overly so.
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Carlos is just a very nice likeable and knowlegable guide!
Transport
Private Transfer {{start_location}} to {{end_location}}, Guided Visit of Coimbra
Portugal

This was a nice way to get from Porto to Lisbon and squeeze in a day trip to Coimbra too. The only glitch we had was the driver didn't really know the game plan as to where we should be dropped off and he didn't speak much English, which would have been ok, we were just thrown off because most of the other drivers were able to communicate well. Anyway, that was the only hiccup. Fabiana was a great tour guide and she also went out of her way to make sure we got reconnected with our driver as the tour was done. Coimbra is a university city and home to the country's most prestigious university. It was a nice bonus that Fabiana was a graduate of that University and she also is returning in the fall for her Master's degree. Coimbra is another picturesque city in Portugal! What is not to love! Fabiana was multi lingual (Portuguese, Spanish, English and I'm sure other languages). She was very knowledgeable! Thanks for the great tour!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Fabiana receives 5 stars, the driver receives 3 for not knowing where we were supposed to go and not reaching out to the company for information.
Transport
The drive was fine but as stated above, it is important that the driver be sure about where to drop tourists off in Coimbra. He just dropped us off at a random gate and it was really hard to figure out where to go from there.
Lisbon by Tuk-Tuk
Portugal

This was a fabulous way to get around Lisbon. If you haven't been on a Tuk Tuk tour, it is essentially being driven around on a golf cart type vehicle. This is the perfect way to get around Lisbon to see the highlights. I love walking but Lisbon is pretty spread out and very hilly. Ines was our tour guide and was so friendly and knowledgable. I know the tram (cable car) is famous and really cool but I have to say it was super crowded, which doesn't seem like a good idea during COVID times. The Tuk tuk tour was still ourdoors/open air but it was just the three of us and our driver. They essentially followed the same route as the tram tour. This trip was definitely worth doing and I would recommend it!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Ines was great!
Transport
Loved the Tuk Tuk. It is perfect for the narrow and bumpy roads of Lisbon !
Sintra Heritage Hike
Portugal

Sintra is a must see if you are in Lisbon. The car ride was only 35-40 minutes. You could do the bus tour to get up to the palace and the fortress but hiking was much more enjoyable and we really had great weather. The line to get into the palace was insanely long/crowded so we opted not to go inside. People were packed in like sardines. It was still well worth the trip to see everything from the outside however. Bernardo was knowledgable and guided everywhere so we didn't get lost. Hiking the stairs up to the fortress was a little scary. Once you make it to the top, the stairs back down are way less scary. People without guides didn't know there was a back staircase to get back down. Our guide was very helpful.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Introducing Funchal - Food & Cultural Tour
Madeira

We had only a few days in Madeira and this tour really hit all the food and cultural highlights. It was a small group and a nice way to meet tourists from all over the world. It is essentially a walking tour throughout Funchal with several stops at restaurants and cafes along the way. The quality of the food was great. Ana Luisa, our guide was very welcoming, knowledgable and fun. She was multi lingual also able to switch from English to German to Spanish. Don't eat much before you go on this tour because you will be absolutely full by the end!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Garajau Nature Reserve: Kayaking, Snorkeling & Cliff Diving (optional)
Portugal

The description of this made it sound like we were going somewhere remote. It actually started from a hotel water front. This was fine with us however because our hotel did not have this option. This was a fun activity and my first time kayaking. The guide was great and I felt safe. Going out was easy because we were with the current. Save you energy for the way back against the current. The water was a little too rough to snorkel at the half way point (which was a more remote location)so we snorkeled close to the hotel when we returned. It was still lovely and the guide was very smart to be safe.

Quality of Experience
Super fun, out in nature
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Luis was great and entertaining and he kept us safe
Transport
Driver who picked us up and dropped us off was great
Local specialist: Marta Trzeciakowska
Marta
Marta Trzeciakowska
Local specialist in Madrid, Spain | Reviewed on Aug 09, 2022

Hi Christine, thank you for your kind words and this wonderful insight about your time in Portugal. I am very glad you enjoyed the trip and I hope we can stay in touch for your future adventures in Spain and Portugal. All my best, Marta