Ports, Port, & Palaces. Inside Portugal.
Often called the Little Country on the Edge of the Sea, Portugal is small only on the map. Which makes a visit here a real joy. Begin in Oporto, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home of port wine. Then to the Duoro Valley, Amarante, Vila Real, Pinhão, Buçaco, Coimbra, Nazaré, Alcobaça, Obidos, Lisbon, Estoril, Cascais, Sintra, and Mafra.
Portugal is the land of infamous seafarers, stunning castles, and rich port wine. Here life is meant to be savored like a fine meal. Wander Sintra as Lord Byron did, get wrapped up in the bustle of Oporto, or gaze into a seaside sunset in Belém. Whatever your mood, the embrace of Portugal makes you think twice about heading home. Don't say we didn't warn you...
This is a nine-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Portugal journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Fly overnight to Portugal.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-3: Oporto, Portugal
• Land in Oporto.
• Walking tour of the old city (UNESCO World Heritage site) including Boavista neighborhood, Dom Luis I Bridge, Serra do Pilar Monastery.
• Praça de Batalha, Avenida dos Aliados, Stock Exchange Palace, Mercado da Ribiera.
• Leisure time.
Overnights in Oporto
Day 4: Duoro Valley, Amarante, Oporto
• Drive to Douro Valley, private river cruise.
• Port tasting and lunch at a vineyard.
• Option to Amarante for Monastery of St. Goncalo and historic bridge.
• Return to Oporto.
Overnight in Oporto
Day 5: Aveiro, Luso, Baçaco Forest, Coimbra
• Drive to Aveiro, old town tour, Mercado do Piexe.
• Drive to Luso, walking tour.
• Buçaco Forest.
• Coimbra including Biblioteca Jaonina, cathedral, Santa Cruz Church and Monastery.
Overnight in Coimbra
Day 6: Alcobaça, Nazaré, Obidos, Lisbon
• Drive to Alcobaça, monastery (UNESCO World Heritage site).
• Drive to Nazaré, leisure time, O Sítio and Ermida da Memória.
• Drive to Obidos, Town of Queens walking tour.
• Drive to Lisbon.
Overnight in Lisbon
Day 7: Lisbon
• City tour including Alfama neighborhood, St. Geroge's Castle, Black Horse Square, Belém, Jerónimos Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage site), Tower of Belém (UNESCO World Heritage site), Pasteis de Belém.
• Option for fado show.
Overnight in Lisbon
Day 8: Mafra, Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon
• Drive to Mafra, Mafra Monastery and basilica.
• Sintra walking tour.
• Pena Palace (UNESCO World Heritage site).
• Cascais old town tour.
• Return to Lisbon.
Overnight in Lisbon
Day 9: Lisbon; United States
• Fly home.
Per person sharing room from $6,940 for this nine-day sample itinerary.
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Portugal by the Glass.
Among other things, Portugal is known for Port, a delectable fortified wine produced in the Duoro Valley. We love a glass of Port almost as much as we love the colorful story of how Port came into being.
In the late 1300s, Portugal and England signed a treaty that established a close alliance not only militarily and politically, but also commercially. Trade between the two powers was brisk.
Nearly two centuries late, another treaty enabled expat traders from each country to settle in the other with special privileges and preferential customs duties. Everything was working swimmingly: England sold Portugal much-needed wool and cotton; Portugal sold the English grain, fruit, oil, and an acidic, light red wine.
In 1667, King Louis XIV restricted the importation of English goods into France. As retaliation, England’s King Charles II kicked up the duty on French wine and, later, forbade its importation altogether.
England needed to find its wine elsewhere. British wine merchants in Portugal stepped up their production, but they realized that the thin, astringent, and often unstable wines made here didn’t satisfy the British palate, so they looked elsewhere in Portugal for a more robust wine.
They found it in the Duoro Valley, but there was a glitch. Transporting the wine down the Duoro River from the valley to the town of Oporto, where it was loaded onto seagoing vessels bound for England, was both treacherous and expensive. The solution? Establish the wine estates in and around Oporto. To protect the wines made here for their long transatlantic voyage, at the time of shipment vintners often added small amounts of grape brandy to “fortify” (stabilize) the wine and keep it from turning.
This worked quite nicely for all involved. Port wine became popular among the British, and in the first years of the 1700s, Portugal and England signed yet another treaty, this one allowing Portuguese wine importers to pay one-third less duty than their competitors.
Today’s Port is fortified with a neutral grape spirit called aguardente that is added before the fermentation process begins. This addition stops the fermentation process, leaves behind residual sugar (Port is generally sweeter than unfortified wine), and boosts the alcohol content.
Port falls into two distinct categories: wood aged and bottle aged. Only Vintage Port is bottle aged; the others spend years in wooden casks.
And there are three types of Port: Ruby Port, a mix of grapes and vintages that’s aged for three years; Tawny Port, a sweeter wine that’s lighter in color and more complex in flavor, as it ages between 10 and 30 years; and Vintage Port, a blend of wines all from the same year that ages six months in oak and then spends another 20 years aging in bottles before being sold. (Port labeled “Late Bottle Vintage” or “LBV” is not Vintage Port; rather, it made with grapes from a single vintage but aged only four to six years in oak before it is sold.) You can also find White Port, white grape varietals made into very dry to semi-sweet wines.
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