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Travel Diary: Journey Through Portugal

Members discover why Portugal is Europe's new darling on an eight-night adventure through historic cities, chic coastal towns, and captivating wine country.

Day 1 | Welcome to Portugal

Bom Dia (Good Day) from the second oldest capital city in Europe — Lisbon, Portugal. Members arrived in the morning and immediately started the fun by exploring the southwest part of Lisbon, including the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the iconic Belem Tower. In the evening, we gathered at sunset to officially kick off the trip with a glass of Portuguese wine (our first of many more to come) and a toast to the journey ahead.

Day 2 | Enjoying Pena Palace and Sintra

Today we ventured into the early morning fog for a private tour of the fairytale-esque Pena Palace, the summer home of Portuguese royalty. Members enjoyed exclusive access to the palace, which is often congested with crowds. From there, we hiked through the historic town of Sintra up to the Quinta de Regaleira Castle to explore the gardens. In the afternoon, the group enjoyed a family-style paella lunch by the sea with a soundtrack of coastal birds and waves on the beach.

Back in the city, it was a "choose your own adventure" experience. A few Members partook in a relaxing tour of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum which houses the artist's personal collection of works from ancient Egypt to the 20th century. Others chose to explore the city on foot. We capped off the day with dinner by the river.

Day 3 | Lisbon Walking Tour: Exploring Alfama and São Jorge Castle

Lisbon was abuzz on Saturday with anticipation for the upcoming Freedom Day holiday celebrations (coming up on Tuesday) commemorating the end of Portuguese dictatorships. The group immersed themselves in the old city with a walking tour of the seven hills catching peak-a-boo views of the Tagus River through the tile facades and cable car lines.

At the top of Alfama (a neighborhood in Lisbon known for its steep streets), Members were treated to stunning panoramic city and river views from the walls of São Jorge Castle which dates to the 1st century BC. The many layers of architecture and history are well preserved in the fort and amongst the luxurious gardens — it was a great photo opp. We enjoyed lunch at Pateo, the newest restaurant from Chef José Allivez, the first Portuguese chef to receive two Michelin stars. 

Exploring Lisbon by foot showcases all the port city has to offer
Members enjoy learning the intricate history of Lisbon

Day 4 | The History of Porto

On our journey along the Silver Coast from Lisbon to Porto, we stopped in Coimbra for a delectable lunch, treating our members to Portuguese classics like sardines and morcilla sausage. They then enjoyed private tours of the ornate Chapel of São Miguel and the Baroque Library at the historic University of Coimbra, where they marveled at original 16th-century books.

Afterward, we arrived at the breathtaking Yeatman Hotel in Porto, offering stunning views of the Douro River and the city. Each room provided a perfect vantage point with its own patio. Members had the freedom to explore the city and dine at nearby restaurants, savoring the variety of dining options.

Day 5 | Discovering Porto's Food and Wine

The next morning, we discovered Porto on foot, uncovering its vibrant history as a bustling commercial hub. Serenaded by buskers along the cobblestone streets, we embarked on a delectable food tour, savoring Portuguese classics like smoked meats, olives, and, of course, sardines. The group was charmed by a visit to the "Comer e Chorar Por Mas" meat and wine shop, where we indulged in tasting Touriga national wine alongside locals picking up ingredients for their dinner tables.

With a newfound appreciation for port wine, we enjoyed a private tasting at Graham's Port House, savoring different styles and relishing pre-dinner Porto tonic cocktails on the terrace. A delightful wine-paired dinner and a celebratory Ginjinha Nightcap marked the end of the evening.

Next stop: the captivating Douro Valley!

Day 6 | Biking The Douro Valley

After an enjoyable time in Porto, our members eagerly anticipated their final destination: the Douro Valley. Their luggage was conveniently transported by bus while the group embarked on a scenic bike ride along an old rail line. Winding through terraced hills adorned with budding vineyards and olive groves, the 24-mile route enchanted our members.

A delightful Portuguese lunch awaited them after the ride, and in the evening, we arrived at the luxurious Six Senses Hotel. Members enjoyed the spa's beautiful pools and saunas, a well-deserved treat after a day of cycling.

Day 7 | Boat ride along the Douro River

Wednesday was another sunny and beautiful day in the valley. Members hiked down through more vineyards to the Douro River where they boarded a Rabelo boat, the style originally used to transport barrels of wine to Porto. The scenic boat ride took Members to Quinta Nova where they enjoyed a leisurely lunch paired with wines overlooking the picturesque Douro River.  

Biking the Douro Valley as a group
Boating along the Douro River in a Rabelo Boat

Day 8 | Fond Farewells

On our final day, some members embarked on an optional early hike to a breathtaking viewpoint, while others enjoyed a leisurely morning walk. We reunited at a cherished port house, affectionately called "Port Knox" by Vintner Miguel. He guided us through an exclusive tasting of white and tawny ports, ranging from 10 to 40 years. Members savored the intimate experience, comparing different years side by side. Miguel surprised us with tastings of a 90- and 100-year-old tawny port, adored by all!

After an amazing trip, we had a farewell barbecue lunch where we shared our favorite trip highlights before saying goodbye for now. Adeus!