Day One: Fly to Porto
Fly to Porto, meet your tour manager and transfer to your chosen hotel close to Braga. Savour a first dinner in the hotel this evening.
Day Two: Included Tram Museum visit
Enjoy your first sight of the golden River Douro, as you journey to Regua, the bustling riverside town that is the gateway to the wine-producing area where vineyards have covered the hillsides for over 2,000 years. Board a train to travel west to Porto, Portugal’s former capital and enchanting second city, built on granite bluffs high above the Douro. Crossed by several vertigo-inducing bridges, this route leads to the port-wine centre of Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern shore. Upon arrival at magnificent, tiled Sao Bento station, you’ll be met by tram, served port and canapes and will travel on in traditional style to the fascinating Tram Museum, which showcases some 25 vehicles. After a chance to explore, you’ll return to the hotel in time for dinner.
Day Three: Optional tour of Braga
Today brings opportunities to rest and relax in the hotel. Alternatively, join the optional excursion to explore your surroundings in former Catholic capital Braga, where the Bom Jesus shrine towers 400 metres above the city. You will travel up to the monument on Iberia’s oldest funicular, a water counterweight-driven engineering marvel, or if you’re feeling energetic - or penitent - climb the seemingly endless flight of steps up and catch the funicular down. The day also includes a visit to seaside Viana do Castelo, where a more conventional elevator takes you to the Basilica de Santa Lucia for more wonderful views.
Day Four: Optional tour of Porto
A second optional excursion brings another chance to explore Porto, a city its friendly, industrious citizens claim “works while Lisbon shows off”. You will enjoy a short boat trip on the Douro in a flat-bottomed rabelo boat, and cross the river to the UNESCO World Heritage riverside Ribeira district. Visit one of the famous lodges for a tasting and to see how the fortified wine is produced before being sent to all four corners of the globe. Enjoy free time in the ramshackle, engaging city, and take lunch in one of the numerous cafes and restaurants lining the river.
Day Five: Included train journey from Regua to Tua
Today sees you return to the meandering Douro to visit one of the most famous working wineries, the historic Quinta de Pachera. Enjoy a tasting of some of the estate’s celebrated red and rose wines, and take another train journey, from Regua to Tua, through the scenic heart of the river’s valley, where the ripening vines cling precariously to the slopes. With an opportunity perhaps to enjoy lunch, and to buy some of the wines on offer, this will be one of the highlights of the holiday.
Day Six: Included train journey on the Vouga line
A last included excursion sees you journey on the historic Vouga line, Portugal’s last surviving metre-gauge railway. Your journey begins in colourful Aveiro, known as the Venice of Portugal, due to its canals, lagoons and Moliceiros - gondola-like fishing boats. Don’t miss the blue azulejos tiling on the facade of the old station, and be sure to try a delicious Ovos Moles de Aveiro cake, for which the city is renowned. Boarding the train, you’ll travel inland to Macinhata do Vouga, where a fascinating Railway Museum traces the history of Portuguese train travel. After, you’ll travel by rail travel to the delightful town of Agueda, famed for its unusual hanging of thousands of colourful parasols above the ancient streets. Return to the hotel at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Day Seven: Optional excursion to Guimaraes
Rest and relax at the hotel, making the most of the surroundings, or join today’s final optional excursion, to enthralling, UNESCO-listed Guimaraes, generally regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. The city boasts an ancient Norman castle, some exquisite cobbled squares and cafe-lined plazas, as well as a cable car to the summit of Penha Hill overlooking the city amongst its many attractions. A leisurely lunch sat surrounded by Guimaraes’ historic, timber-framed houses might be a final lasting memory of a wonderful, varied and absorbing holiday.
Day Eight: Fly back to the UK
Bid “adeus” to your hosts and transfer back to the Porto Airport for the return flight to the UK.