Scenic train vacation to the historic UNESCO heritage towns
Bem –Vindo! This 10-day train trip will take you through the gilded and admirably multifarious history of Portugal; from the mesmerizing northern city of Porto to the explosively creative city of Lisbon in the south.
In between these towns, you’ll visit Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal”, Coimbra, home to one of the oldest universities in the world, plus Évora, where Roman ruins still stand.
You’ll journey to Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal, and venture into the Douro Valley, rightfully famous for Port wine. Admire the stunning azulejos (tile design), spectacular views from above, heavenly cuisine throughout, and marvel at the demanding, rough elegance and immense curiosity Lisbon offers.
More than enough to see in 10 days!
Day 1 | Arrival to Porto | Orientation
On the day of arrival to the coastal city of Porto, a private taxi takes you to your hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, you may have the option to walk around the city for some first impressions of its surprisingly steep hills and grand squares.
Porto is absolutely spellbinding with its tenaciously textured buildings, valorous variety of architecture and Mesmerizing mix of colour shades. Enter this laid-back city with a few great options to check off the travel list.
The FC Porto Museum, is dedicated to the football club FC Porto. We all know some famous football legends who come from Portugal, and here you can rejoice in the blue and white jerseys of FC Porto at their home town museum.
Take a cruise of the Douro River and connect with the Portuguese nautical triumphs and kindred relationship with the water. You’ll pass under the 6 bridges connecting both sides of the city, including Ponte de Dom Luís I, designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Day 2 | Porto | Blue tiled houses and Port wineries
Today charters an alluringly full day of marching around the city and taking in the various aspects of this old-world, rejuvenated city, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Porto is a decorated playground of mazes and cobbled, tangled streets and hills. Brimming with brilliantly blue-tiled buildings adorning the center, the streets eventually widen into well-manicured, wide walkways.
Porto will tempt you today with charming options to see the city, don’t worry intended sites can be revisited tomorrow as well.
Stroll along the boulevards and reach the Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, connecting Porto and its friendly neighbor across the Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia. Cross the Douro river to visit the Port wineries on the other side in Vila Nova de Gaia. We’ll share our expertise on which wineries to visit and which Ports to try.
Every city has its token market, and Porto has the Mercado Bolhão, an identity on its own and a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Indulge in a gastronomic array of Portuguese delectables,
and the shop owners will be happy to share their stories with you here.
Visit the Livraria Lello Library which will surely hold a special place in your memories for years to come. Let the same inspiration that found J.K. Rowling here for her Harry Potter books, find you as well, with its magical wood-work, ornate interior, and crimson carpet.
Day 3 | Porto | Go deeper into Porto or discover its surroundings
On your third day, you’re free to discover which of this northern area of Portugal speaks to you the most.
Meet more of this second city’s gems; of which many have been planted since its seafaring past. Visit the main drag, the Rua (street) Santa Catarina, a pedestrian and shopping street located in the high part of town. Allow time for a view of the Church of Congregados, and watch its famous, beautifully tiled façade tell the story.
Perhaps spend half a day at the nearby district Matasinho. It’s just a few km’s away and is a favourite nearby jaunt for beach and surf lovers.
Hop a bus to Braga, an important town in Portuguese culture and a success story from the time of the Romans, through the medieval era, to the present day. It warrants your visit with its medieval-style settlement, its Cathedral, and the Gothic-style Kings’ Chapel. Markedly, the Cathedral on the hill is one of the oldest in the country.
Move to Guimarães in the northern district, often referred to as the “birthplace of Portugal” and a Unesco site since 2001. Guimarães offers a 10th-century Guimarães Castle built in the style of a French chateau.
The famous Douro valley, for nature and wine lovers, is a landscape blessed with a swirling river running through its hills. Today should be filled with hand-constructed terraces on the edge of its vineyards. Stop to enjoy a Portuguese Coffee in the vintage hotel and relax here spending your day “al fresco”.
Combine it with a tour in Pinhão at a winery and learn what makes this so unique.
Day 4 | Porto - Aveiro | Portugal´s Venice and a dip into the ocean
After breakfast you will take the train from the beautifully tiled São Bento and in less than one hour you’ll pull into the colourful town of Aveiro. Famous for its canals and coined the “Venice of Portugal”, it allows you to take a local gondola or walk around the town following its waterways.
Interestingly, as in many other ancient cultures, the area of Aveiro has a history of artisanal, eco-friendly salt production – having already been a prosperous source of income and well-regarded sense of esteem for Portugal by the 12th century. In modern-day times it is facing a decline, though many old salt warehouses, called Alavarium, are still preserved in its old quarters that you may pass through today. You’ve never seen salt quite like this!
Being Portugal, it of course also offers exquisite cod fish, often cured in this salt. There are ample choices to taste this perfection of the centuries by having lunch while gazing at the Atlantic. For dessert, Aveiro’s own sweet secret – Ovos moles, a lesser known sweet bite found at any pastry shop along the route.
Day 5 - Aveiro – Coimbra – From the colourful city of Aveiro to the historic city of Coimbra
In the morning you leave by train to the historic city of Coimbra, famous for its university, one the oldest in the world. Founded in 1290, the building has changed little, and the town is still a hub for academics and a student-life culture unique and strong to its own device. Students dressed as they were centuries ago give you a taste of tradition with song and dance. If you like, they’ll also happily act as your guide around the university, or you may wander on your own.
Given its historic and current glory, it takes pride in its historic buildings but also its current, visually obvious and wacky expressions of student uniqueness and individuality.
Day 6 – Coimbra – Évora –Deep into the interior and to the historic Évor
Take the morning slowly in Coimbra, doing as you please. Either pop into the 12th century Sé Velha cathedral or the Santa Clara monastery dating back to the year 1285.
Catch the train to Évora, arriving in the late afternoon in time to take a needed rest before heading to dinner and a first exploration of the center.
Day 7 | Évora | The historic centre and skull decorated church
Put on your walking shoes this morning for a visit to the especially well preserved and quaintly small town of Évora.
Start off at the main square with Évora’s beautiful Cathedral. Move just down the street, and here lies the ancient Roman Temple of Évora. Also called the Roman Diana Temple, it’s small and impressive and fits in perfectly with its town surroundings. Then make your way to a visit at the historic university- the second oldest university in the country, established in 1559.
Moving onto lunch, you’ll notice the many restaurants offering more meat than fish on the menu. Remember that we are now inland and the cuisine has changed. Here you’ll enjoy a wide selection of meats, soups, and cheeses. Later on, you’ll visit a church, the Capela dos Ossos. Skulls and bones line the insides of this church, a sight some of you will have never seen before.
Day 8 | Évora – Lisbon | Final lapse from Évora to Portugal´s capital
Today you arrive at your last, and splendid destination, referred to as the “Queen of the Sea” – Lisbon.
Its city rebuilt from calamity to splendor through the centuries. Here you’ll find historical richness and creative brilliance alive in past and current form.
Lisbon is absolutely full with precious things to see and do, therefore we advise you to get ready to do some walking! But wait…Lisbon has seven different hills as well, so also expect to do some climbing! It’s a well laid-out and planned city thanks to recent rejuvenations, so for those of you who prefer to take it a bit easier, we’ll assist you with other methods of transportation.
First things first – the classic “Tram 28”. This well-known and favorite tram route is a perfect ride to catch as it visits most of the tourist destinations, and it can save your legs on the surprisingly hilly streets of Lisbon. After a thorough ride and absorbing an initial sense of the city’s vibe, colors, rhythm, and beauty, hike up the first of the 7 hills, to Saint Jorge’s Castle. It’s one of the first fortifications built, dating from the 1st century BC, and is currently in wonderful medieval form.
It offers spectacular views of the red-tiled roofs and sweeping landscape of the city.
In the evening visit a Fado bar, Lisbon’s famed bitter-sweet music style traced to the 1820s, where you’ll enjoy a live show complete with traditional dress and settings – it’ll whisk you to another time and tell an expressive melancholic tale of its own.
Day 9 | Lisbon | Going to the area of the navigators of the sea or make a day trip to Sintra
Rise and shine this morning with thoughts of “Pasteis de Nata”, the most delectable and scrumptious sweet of all sweets. Head 2,5km out of the city to visit The Tower of Belén which served as an embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers. Nearby is a monastery with the grandest example of late Gothic and Manueline architecture in all of Portugal and has been a Unesco site along with the Tower of Belén since 1983. It is as imposing as it is unique, as it is stunning.
As you make your way up the shore, stop to admire the statue demanding your attention. It’s a wonderful tribute to Portugal’s glorious past nautical excellence and the region’s navigators from the 16th century, boasting such names of explorers as Magallanes, Henry the Navigator and the great Vasco de Gama.Sintra – by now you’ve heard it mentioned on the streets multiple times, and for good reason. If you decide to go on a day trip, less than one hour away towards the coastal area of Lisbon lie the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains. A longtime royal sanctuary, the beautiful forested landscape is scattered with pastel-colored villas and palaces. Climbing upward and reaching the top of the hill, you’ll enter the Moorish and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace. Its fairy-tale design and sensational views of the powerful city and sea below are yours for the taking.
Day 10 – Lisbon – Home | Home or extension
Today you head home, and depending on your flight time, you may head to the center for some souvenir shopping. We’ll arrange a hotel pick-up for you by private taxi.
Do you wish to extend your trip and or add a few extra stops, let us know and we will tailor this trip for you as you wish?
Total price: € 845,- per person
- 9 Nights in 2 or 3 star hotels including breakfast. Please note that there is the option to upgrade to 4 or 5 star hotels for just € 495,- per person for all 11 nights.
- Four train tickets per person. Please note that there is the option to upgrade to a private driver should you wish.
- Private pick-up and drop-off transfer to airport or train station upon arrival and departure.
- Access to insider tips about what to see and where to eat. Let us know if you have any special diets like vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher, or any other and we´ll give you free advice
- 24/7 help line for the duration of your trip.
- Air tickets. Please note that we can arrange these should you wish.
- Travel insurance. Please note that we can arrange these should you wish.
- All other food and drinks not mentioned in the above description.
- City tourism taxes
- Personal expenses such as extra hotel services or gratuities
- Entrance fees unless otherwise stated.