Rising from the shores of the Douro River is an improbable city of colorful buildings, grand baroque churches, medieval relics, and stately bell towers reaching toward the sky. With Porto’s eclectic mix of architecture, you will discover something new at every turn when you explore its narrow streets. Taste one of the city’s famed port wines in a traditional cellar then later, explore the verdant Douro Valley and see the rolling vineyards where the port grapes are grown. Create a collection of charming memories as you experience the history, culture, and world-famous wines of Porto.
- It's Included:
- Accommodations: for 3 nights in Porto at Hotel Teatro, or similar
- 7 meals: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner
- Included tours: Porto city tour, port wine cellar tasting, and vineyard visit
- Exclusive services of a resident Grand Circle Program Director
- All transfers
- Now included for 2015:
- Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers on your extension and all optional tours
Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Porto, Portugal. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.
Arriving in Porto, you’ll be met at the airport and assisted to your hotel. Later, get acquainted with the environs during an orientation walk, then get to know your fellow travelers over a Welcome Dinner.
A romantic mix of medieval, baroque, and modern architecture, Porto beckons from the banks of the Douro River like a storybook town come to life. The birthplace of port, it has long been a favorite destination for those who appreciate a fine wine. It is a much sought-out getaway for not just the Portuguese, but travelers from all over Europe. From its historical buildings to its traditional port cellars, Porto encourages visitors to come, discover, and linger.
After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll set off for a panoramic city tour of Porto. Stroll past colorful buildings, seemingly piled one atop the other as they cascade down steep cliffs to the water’s edge. You’ll arrive in the historical center of Porto—a UNESCO World Heritage site—where you will visit the Palacio de Bolsa. Serving as the city’s Stock Market, this Neoclassical-style building was constructed in the 19th century after a fire destroyed a Franciscan convent that originally stood on the spot. The interior boasts magnificent rooms, each decorated by a different artist. The most famous of these is the gilded Arab Room, designed in the Moorish Revival style—a very popular motif during the Romantic period.
Next, you will discover Sao Francisco Church, the most extravagantly decorated church in all of Porto. Its simple Gothic exterior belies the wonders you will find within—a wealth of baroque-style wooden carvings cover columns, arches, and ceiling alike, each one of them coated in pure gold. Anything that has not been gilded (which is very little) is made of gleaming marble.
After an included lunch, you will visit a traditional port wine cellar. Many vintners bring the port produced at vineyards in the Douro Valley into the city, where they will age the wines in cellars within old wooden barrels. Enjoy a guided tour where you will not only learn about the history and culture of Portugal’s port wines, but savor a taste for yourself.
You will return to your hotel later this afternoon. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Today you will leave the bustle of Porto and explore Peso da Regua in the Douro Valley—one of Portugal’s most rural regions. It is here you will find the terraced vineyards from which originate not only Porto’s famed port wines, but other varieties as well. The mountainous Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has long been a wine-growing region, ever since the ancient Romans first cultivated grape vines here in the 3rd century.
Authentic port is made at quintas (wine farms) along the river gorge. Steep terraced vineyards—many of which were hand-cut 300 years ago—ascend from the Douro River and its tributaries in lush steps of green. Visit one of these working quintas, and learn about the voyage of port wine, from grape to barrel to glass. You’ll enjoy an included lunch here, perhaps also sampling one of the vineyard’s ports.
This afternoon we will return to Porto, where the balance of the day will be at leisure.
After breakfast, you’ll check out of your hotel and depart Porto by motorcoach. Your first stop will be Aveiro. As soon as you set foot in this gem of a coastal city you will notice its most distinctive feature—a series of canals that weave through the city in lieu of streets, winding past the pastel homes and under its charming bridges. Moliceiro, gondola-like boats, traverse these narrow waterways and are a popular method of exploration.
Later, you will stop for lunch in the small town of Cantanhede, named for the Celtic word cant meaning “great stone.” The many quarries in the area account for its name, although today Cantanhede is known for its agriculture—especially its vineyards. Perhaps you'll pair your lunch with one of the region’s wines.
Arrive in Lisbon this afternoon, where you will join your fellow travelers on Day 2 of your main trip.