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Portugal and the Douro

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15 days From £3,820 per person
4.2 stars(60 reviews)
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Experience Portugal’s dynamic cities, dine at a superb port wine estate, sample port at one of Porto’s historic wine cellars, and explore the entire glorious Douro Valley by rail.

Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: POG24

About the tour

Flowing from Northern Spain to the Atlantic Ocean, the Douro River carves our route through a rolling landscape of vineyards and we explore the magnificent Douro Valley by rail. From Spain's golden city of Salamanca we discover Portugal's beautiful countryside and unique cuisine, the vibrant cities of Porto and Lisbon… our holiday ends in Spain's fabulous food capital, San Sebastián.

Unforgettable Experiences

Take an exclusive vintage tram tour of enchanting Lisbon
Take an exclusive vintage tram tour of enchanting Lisbon
Explore the characterful cobbled streets and many hills of this wonderful colourful city on a guided tour aboard a fabulous vintage tram.
A private dinner and tasting at the Quinta da Casa Amarela
A private dinner and tasting at the Quinta da Casa Amarela
We enjoy a relaxing evening at this beautiful, family-run Port wine estate which produces and presses the noblest grape varieties of the Douro Valley.
Spend an evening in Taylor’s Port wine cellar in Porto
Spend an evening in Taylor’s Port wine cellar in Porto
Experience a superb port wine tasting followed by a delicious dinner in the atmospheric setting of one of Porto’s historic wine cellars.
Explore the delightful foodie capital of San Sebastián
Explore the delightful foodie capital of San Sebastián
Spend two nights in the coastal haven of Spain’s favourite Basque town, known for its special variety of tapas - ‘pintxos’, heavenly beaches and charming character.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - From London, overnight in historic Biarritz

Our holiday starts at London St Pancras where we join the Eurostar service to Paris, travelling in Standard Premier class where we are served a light meal at our seats. From Paris we continue by First Class rail to stylish Biarritz in Southwestern France, not far from the Spanish border, where we spend the night. Overlooking the sweeping Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast, this historic spa town - a popular health resort since the 1850s - has an air of grandeur and Art Deco glamour. We enjoy our first dinner together as a group in a delightful local restaurant on the Grand Plage seafront.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Light Meal
Day 2 – Journey by rail to the golden city of Salamanca

This morning we transfer by coach over the Spanish border where we join the rail network and make our way by train to the ancient city of Salamanca for two nights. Our rail journey takes us across central Spain and we arrive into Salamanca in the early evening. After checking into our hotel in the heart of Salamanca we dine with our group at a traditional restaurant in the city's vibrant main square, Plaza Mayor. Local specialities include Iberian cold cuts such as chorizo and jamón ibérico, suckling pig or baked hake. An evening stroll through the Old City is magical, as the city's beautiful monuments are floodlit at night to dramatic effect.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Discovering the sights of Salamanca

Today we take a guided tour of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the 'Golden City', due to the honey-coloured glow of its sandstone buildings. We see the city's two impressive cathedrals, the Baroque city hall and the Renaissance-era Monterrey Palace, once the home of the Duchess of Alba. Spain's oldest and most distinguished university was established here in 1218 and we pass elegant college buildings, which we have free entry to visit. We also see the unusual Casa de las Conchas with its shell-studded medieval façade. This fantastic building was built by a knight of the Order of Santiago de Compostela and the carved stone shells are similar to those worn by pilgrims who walked the Camino de Santiago. Famous alumni of Salamanca include Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, and the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Our afternoon and evening is at leisure, and - for lunch and dinner - there are many restaurants and cafés to choose from in this enchanting city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Exploring Portugal’s Douro Valley by rail, travelling west to Peso da Régua

This morning is a highlight of our tour as we journey into the wonderful Douro Valley. Our day starts with a transfer by coach from Salamanca to Pocinho, a tiny railway station on the banks of the Douro River. Here we join Portugal's most scenic rail route, into the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of the Douro Valley, to Peso da Régua in the heart of this idyllic region. Our journey closely follows the contours of the river, skirting terraced vineyards and isolated Port 'quintas' - wine-growing estates - which produce the region's fortified wines. We glide past sleepy towns and villages, delightful almond orchards and through dramatic gorges, eventually arriving in Peso da Régua, a small town in a peaceful spot beneath the Serra do Marão mountain. On arrival, we walk the short distance from the station to our hotel, where we check in for two nights. This evening we dine together at our hotel which overlooks the Douro and its verdant riverbanks, and features an outdoor swimming pool.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 – Into the Douro Valley by train, and an evening at the Quinta da Casa Amarela wine estate

We travel by local train to Pinhão, a small town located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão rivers and the epicentre of this Port-making region. We enjoy a Port tasting on arrival, followed by some free time to explore. We return to Peso da Régua for a relaxed afternoon when you might like to visit the town's celebrated Douro Museum, which describes the history of Port production in the area. Later we enjoy the top highlight of our tour, an exclusive visit to the wonderful Quinta da Casa Amarela, a family-run Port wine estate which produces and presses the noblest grape varieties of the Douro. We are taken by coach to the estate, not far from Peso da Régua, set in the idyllic Portuguese countryside in the ancient heart of this historic World Heritage region. After a welcome drink and a short guided walk through this delightful traditional estate, we enjoy a private dinner in the beautiful grounds, with glorious views across the vineyards and the Douro.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Arrival into picturesque Porto, free time, guided tour and dinner

After checking out of our hotel in Peso da Régua this morning we walk to the station to join the train to the wonderful coastal city of Porto. We continue west along the Douro, all the way to Porto where the river widens as it inches towards the Atlantic Ocean. Once regarded as the edge of the known world, we spend two nights in this vibrant city. Our hotel is a short distance from the train station, in the picturesque riverside area known as Ribeira. Here, colourful houses and grand buildings are stacked into the hillsides and lively restaurants line the waterfront.

After some free time over lunch to relax, we explore the winding upper streets of Porto with our guide, admiring the city's superb architecture, historical townhouses and regal churches before crossing the famous iron bridge. We visit Porto Cathedral, from where we enjoy panoramic views across the city. We also visit the elegant neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa - once the Stock Exchange Palace and now a UNESCO World Heritage site - where entrance to its incredible ornate interior is included in our guided tour.

We return to our hotel in Porto and enjoy dinner together this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Guimarães, Portugal’s original capital, and a superb port wine tasting at Taylor’s

After breakfast we head by coach to the lovely city of Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal, whose attractive, narrow streets and beautifully-preserved buildings have earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Before we arrive there, we stop enroute at the shrine of Bom Jesus do Monte, a grand monument with several chapels, known for its elaborate Baroque stairway. After some free time here we continue to the jewel in Guimarães' crown, the imposing medieval fortress watching over the city. We enjoy a tour through the colourful streets and lively squares before visiting the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, where entrance is included, continuing to Villanova de Gaya - a fascinating area where all the old port warehouses are situated. After free time to explore Guimarães independently, we return to our hotel in Porto. This evening we experience another very special highlight of our holiday - a visit to the esteemed Taylor's Port wine cellar, for a superb port wine tasting followed by a delicious dinner in the atmospheric setting with beautiful views over Porto and the Douro or the cellar's beautiful gardens.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - A full day and evening at leisure in Porto

Today you have a full day and evening at leisure to explore the many charms of Porto. You might choose to simply relax and enjoy the views from the rooftop terrace of our hotel, spend time at one of the laid-back riverside restaurants, or enjoy a walk with a refreshing sea breeze along the seafront. There are many intriguing places to discover in the city. You could visit Livraria Lello, one of Portugal's oldest bookshops. It's hidden behind a glorious Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic façade and features wood panelling, a double spiral staircase and a striking stained glass ceiling. Or you might climb aboard one of the city's delightful old trams, heading west to the lighthouse. Further afield, around half an hour by bus or less by taxi, is the scenic district of Foz do Douro, an area of sandy beaches and green spaces overlooking that Atlantic. Porto itself is celebrated for its sunsets and the riverfront is a popular place to spend early evening, watching the boats drifting in and out, and you may choose to follow this with dinner in one of the city's enticing waterfront restaurants. On Porto's Esplanade is a café terrace, known for its free summer outdoor concerts of music ranging from folk, pop and blues to jazz.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 – From Porto to captivating Lisbon, by high-speed rail

After a leisurely breakfast we experience Portugal's fast, sleek and modern rail network, travelling First Class to Lisbon for a three-night stay. After checking into our hotel, the rest of your afternoon is free. Lisbon is a delight to explore. A city of many hills and look out points (known as miradouros, in Portuguese), if you're feeling energetic you could hike up to St George's castle to take in the spectacular views, or - from the Principe Real district, just below our hotel - take a relaxed stroll through the Lisbon Botanical Garden, a magical park with exotic and sub-tropical plants. Downtown, you could wander around the vast harbour-facing plaza known as 'Praça do Comércio' facing the Tagus River, one of Europe's largest public squares. You might also be tempted to stop at a café for a crisp glass of Portuguese 'vinho verde' wine, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Exclusive vintage tram tour and sightseeing in Lisbon

Today we enjoy a unique city tour of Lisbon, an amazing experience and a great way to get around the many steep cobbled streets and take in the sights of this wonderful hilly city - travelling aboard one of the city's fabulous vintage trams. Specially chartered for our group, we zip through the oldest neighbourhoods of Lisbon, including Bairro Alto - a quirky maze of cobbled streets, bohemian boutiques and traditional bars. Our tram tour ends in the Belem district, on the banks of the Tejo Estuary - an attractive historic area which is the original neighbourhood of the traditional pastéis de nata, known here as 'Pastéis de Belém'. We sample these delicious Portuguese custard tarts, with a coffee. Our sightseeing tour ends at lunchtime, when you are free for the afternoon and evening, to continue your exploration of this vibrant city.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 - Exploring enchanting Sintra

This morning we take the train for free time in the captivating town of Sintra, once the summer residence of Portuguese royalty. Today Sintra is popular thanks to its whimsical brightly-coloured Pena Palace and ancient walled fortress, the Castle of the Moors, both set high above the town among forested areas of the Serra de Sintra. Downtown is the Palacio Nacional, a preserved medieval royal palace, recognised by its two white conical chimneys - now a museum. The Moorish castle, well worth seeing for the stunning views from its walls, and the Pena Palace, both involve uphill walks so - to make exploring easier - our day ticket includes free access to the shuttle buses which run between the town and its sights. Back in Lisbon later this afternoon, you are free to continue exploring the city. You may like to start the evening at a rooftop bar in the Bairro Alto, dine at one of the city's many seafood restaurants or seek out an authentic Fado experience.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 12 – An evening and overnight in Valladolid

Today we travel by train from Lisbon to a station close to the border with Spain, then continue by coach to the Spanish city of Valladolid. Attractive and historic, this university city is off the popular tourist track so is less crowded and more authentic than many major cities. After checking into our hotel close to the railway station, the rest of the afternoon and evening is free to explore and discover the city. Our elegant hotel is set next to the large city park where you'll find the Tourist Information office. Landmarks to visit include the cathedral, San Pablo Church and the National Sculpture museum. It is well worth walking from our hotel to the Old Town. The atmospheric Plaza Mayor is the largest square in the whole of Spain, and the heart and soul of the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 13 – Arrival in sensational San Sebastián

This morning we take the direct train north to delightful San Sebastián, where we have plenty of time to explore this afternoon and evening. San Sebastián is one of the most beautiful and charming Basque resorts, and sits within the fashionable La Concha Bay and its stunning beach area. Known internationally as the culinary capital of Spain, the city is also celebrated across the continent for its pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas, and - after a walk along the seafront or through the beautiful old quarter - you might like to immerse yourself in local life, stopping off at different eateries for a small plate or two and a drink before moving on, a tradition known as 'txikiteo'.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 14 – Free day in San Sebastián and final dinner

On our last full day in Spain you have a day at leisure in this magical seaside town. You could choose to relax on one of the golden sandy beaches, the main beach is the expansive Playa de la Concha, or walk through the atmospheric streets of the historic old town among fascinating architecture. In the 'Parte Vieja' or Old Quarter, is the San Telmo museum, which provides an insight into Basque history and culture along with exhibitions of contemporary art. This evening we enjoy our final dinner together, marking the end of our colourful and exuberant Iberian holiday.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15 - Homeward bound, from Spain to Paris and London

Saying adiós to Spain after our final breakfast this morning, we transfer by coach just across the French border to the station in Hendaye to join the direct train to Paris. Retracing our original journey along the coast then inland to Paris, we have time to enjoy the changing landscape and to reflect on this two week holiday of new experiences. In Paris we join the Eurostar service to London St Pancras arriving early evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Light Meal

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel PortoBay Marquês

Hotel PortoBay Marquês, Lisbon

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Hotel Régua Douro, Peso da Régua

Hotel Régua Douro, Peso da Régua

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Hotel PortoBay Teatro

Hotel PortoBay Teatro, Porto

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Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

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NH Collection Aranzazu

NH Collection Aranzazu, San Sebastian

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Valladolid Recoletos Hotel, Valladolid

Valladolid Recoletos Hotel, Valladolid

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Trains

Eurostar
TGV

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

London Hotels
UK rail connections
Door to door luggage service

Reviews

4.2 stars4.2 / 5 · 60 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (23)
  2. 4 stars
    (29)
  3. 3 stars
    (6)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

customer Len

5 stars

Submitted 10 Nov 2023

Amazing quality & quantity of sights fitted in, very good guide manager ‘Charles’, excellent 4* hotels. Only real down was a port wine trip to ‘Taylor’s’ the guide here was useless- a video & TV would have better & NO wine tasting, hence no sales!

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mr Gee, Thank you for your review. That is great to hear! I will make sure to pass your feedback across to our Product team so we can look at changing the itinerary for the future. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Ian Channing

5 stars

Submitted 06 Nov 2023

Excellent holiday good hotels great food and drink very good tour manager all round great experience

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mr Channing, Thank you for your review. That is wonderful to hear! Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Valerie Pegg

1 stars

Submitted 05 Nov 2023

Lovely locations, great tour manager, but so much stress because Great Rail Journeys simply had not done their job. Trains were a lottery on whether we had been booked on the right one, and whether we had seats. For a company who is supposed to specialise in rail travel, this was unacceptable.

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Ms Pegg, Thank you for your review. I am very sorry to hear that your tour felt short of expectations. I will make sure to pass your feedback across to our Product team who can review this tour itinerary for the future. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Wilcox

5 stars

Submitted 05 Nov 2023

Great holiday.

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mr Wilcox, Thank you for your review. That is great to hear! Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Dr. Mike Steward

3 stars

Submitted 05 Nov 2023

The places visited were interesting but too much time was spent travelling on several days (some of it not entirely the fault of planning by Great Rail Journeys as there were disruptions of planned rail journeys where coaches had to be used instead). I would have preferred to take more days to do the lengthy travel involved in this trip so that we could have arrived earlier at more places for an overnight break in the journey which would have given an opportunity for a brief look at those places in addition to the main destinations

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Dr Steward, Thank you for your review. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the places you visited but it is a shame to hear that there was disruptions to your travel. I will make sure to pass your feedback across to our Product team who can review this tour itinerary for the future. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

Kathryn Buzzacott

4 stars

Submitted 03 Nov 2023

On the whole very good.Hotels OK but included meals poor.Great tour manager.

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mrs Buzzacott, Thank you for your review. That is great to hear! It is a shame that the meals let it down, so I will pass your comments over to our Product team so we can review these for the future. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

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