Galicia confounds those who think of Spain as flamenco and fighting bulls as much as the Douro and Minho surprise Algarve lovers. Misty valleys echo to soulful Celtic pipes and coasts as dramatic as the west of Ireland have sent hosts of emigrant Gallegos to the Americas. Fishing and wine predominate. Seafood in the rias (fjords) is Europe’s best and the stunning wine terraces of Ribeira Sacra show winemaking at its most dramatic.
Northern Portugal is a throwback to days gone by, a world away from Algarve glitz and glamour in the south. Porto is a gem of a city, the clusters of atmospheric streets either side of the Douro retaining their long lived maritime soul whilst opening the door to the 21st century through fabulous restaurants and luxury hotels.
The rural wine regions of the Bairrada, Dao and Vinho Verde offer food and wine experiences more closely tied to their origins than most places on the planet. The Douro is one of the greatest wine tourism destinations, the astonishing terraces overlooking the river now producing great red wines and ports.
Lisbon is one of Europe’s great cities, a place on the rise and the base for Portuguese exploration from Vasco de Gama onwards, as well as being scenic and dramatic.
Above all though, the joy is in the small villages where grapes, unrecognisable to outsiders, produce wines of huge character, quality and individuality. If you want to discover the glories of godello, vinhao, merencao, albarino and the port grapes join the tour.
• Michelin * dinners in Casa Marcelo in Santiago and The Yeatman in Porto (*2)
• Oenologist led wine tasting in the Douro
• Olive oil visit in the Douro Valley
• Boat ride on River Sil
• Walking tours of historic cities of Santiago de Compostela and Lisbon
• Visit Convento do Cristo, Tomar
• Family-cooked lunch in Rias Baixas
• Dinners at top restaurants DOC and Bairro do Avillez
Top wineries visited include Quinta do Vesuvio, Quinta do Noval, Aphros, Algueira, Pazo de Senorans, Cockburns, Luis Pato
Day One Saturday 5 October.
Meet in the foyer of the Hotel San Francisco, a converted 18th century convent in Santiago de Compostela for a guided walk through the historic town, including a visit to the cathedral that marks the end of the legendary Camino. Early evening Tapas dinner at the Michelin starred Casa Marcelo in the old town.
Day Two Sunday 6 October
Visit and lunch at Adega Algueira, a high-class winery near the Sil canyons, where Fernando Gonzalez makes a range of excellent wines (from local varieties) that are highly rated by Parker. Lunch and then a river cruise down the Sil in the afternoon. Short walk to one of the chapels overlooking the river. Return to Santiago for a free evening.
Day Three Monday 7 October
Head south to the seaside wine region of the Rias Baixas for tasting at the beautiful Pazo de Señorans. Short drive to visit and lunch at Albamar. Xurxo Alba’s wines are a great small producer expression of the albariño grape. There is a typical Galician o furancho style seafood lunch cooked by the family. Check in to the Parador in Baiona. Dinner at the hotel overlooking the bay.
Day Four Tuesday 8 October
Morning tour of the fortress and the site of the return landing of Columbus’s Pintia. Visit the best wine producer in the vinho verde region, the charismatic Vasco Croft in his Aphros winery. After lunch, head south to the dramatic scenery of the Douro. Check in to the lovely Quinta de la Rosa, overlooking the river at Pinhao. Tasting menu dinner at DOC, the best restaurant in the region.
Day Five Wednesday 9 October
Morning visit at Quinta do Noval, one of port’s greatest names and estates. Afterwards a short train ride inland, and visit to the legendary Quinta do Vesuvio, one of the great wine locations in the world. Walk through the vineyards before a buffet lunch on the terrace. Tour of the winery and small chapel then train back to the hotel. Free evening.
Day Six Thursday 10 October
Head up the hill in Pinhao to visit at Casal de Loivos to enjoy a tasting of their D’Origem olive oils and witness how olive oil is produced using traditional methods. Nearby tour and tasting with the oenologist at the Adega de Favaois, a co-operative specialising in Muscatel de Favaois, one of the regions most iconic wines. Lunch at the wonderful rustic Papas Zaide in Provesende for some traditional Douro fayre. Drive to the stunning city of Porto and check in to the magnificent Yeatman Hotel overlooking the river and old town. Evening free.
Day Seven Friday 11 October
Visit the Cockburn’s port lodge where there is a a private tour of the lodge. Short trip to the small fishing village of Afurada for a light seafood lunch at A Margem on the banks of the Douro. Free afternoon before dinner in the hotel’s 2-star Michelin restaurant, one of Portugal’s very best.
Day Eight Saturday 12 October
Short trip to the Bairrada wine region and a visit and tasting at Luis Pato. Private tour and lunch of leitao (suckling pig), accompanied by great wines. Head south, stopping at Tomar to visit the Convento do Cristo. On to Lisbon and our hotel in the heart of town, the elegant Altis Avenida. Light evening tapas meal near the hotel, and visit to a Fado bar.
Day Nine Sunday 13 October
Walking tour through the heart of Lisbon to take in some of the stunning vistas from the Alfama district and other central landmarks. Free afternoon. Last night dinner at Bairro do Avillez to enjoy the cuisine of Portugal’s best known chef.
End of tour after breakfast.
Two nights at the Hotel San Francisco, Santiago de Compostela
One night at the Parador, Baiona
Two nights at Quinta de la Rosa, Pinhao
Two nights at The Yeatman, Porto
Two nights at the Altis Avenida, Lisbon
Private transport by luxury coach
English speaking guides
Breakfast daily; 14 lunches or dinners
Entrances and activities as specified
All winery visits
Airfare; meals not mentioned above; travel insurance, gratuities for guides