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Pathways of Portugal: Walking the Douro Valley

Rambling in Portugal is pure bliss. Ancient shepherd paths and Roman roads weave through the wine-soaked Douro River Valley, past citrus and cypress trees to high mountain pastures with wild horses and rare Iberian flowers.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 4 - 8 mi
  • Daily Walking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Walking Activity
  • Ideal for those who walk for a morning or afternoon on a regular basis. Footing may be on a variety of surfaces. No extended ascents or descents, but some rewarding climbs.
  • Airfare Packages Available

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Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Pathways of Portugal: Walking the Douro Valley

Walking highlights include sacred sections along the Way of St. James and the Way of Faith. We find sanctuary in villages carved into cliffs, at a manor house built for traveling kings, and a 17th-century royal Count’s estate. Enjoy a picnic in the vineyards and a cruising lunch aboard a wooden river boat. A sunset over this romantic land is best savored with a glass of port.

Cultural Highlights

  • Walk the pilgrims path along a section of the Way of St. James
  • Taste a flight of elegant wines at the Quinta do Bomfim winery
  • Cruise down the Douro River on a private, traditional rabelo boat
  • Explore high mountain valleys and tiny farming hamlets forgotten in time
  • Follow well-marked hillside trails among cypress, orange and almond trees
  • Visit moorish villages and the birthplace of explorer Ferdinand Magellan
  • Cross over the legendary 2,000 year-old Roman bridge, Ponte de Lima
  • Hike through a medieval village carved into rocky cliffs
  • Stay at a historic, luxury inn on the bank of the Douro River in Porto
  • Enjoy delicious meals featuring family recipes passed down over generations

What To Expect

This tour features a combination of paved roads and easy terrain, mixed with moderate hills, uneven footpaths and vineyards. On rainy days the footpaths and vineyards can be wet and muddy. Our VBT minibus is available at specific meeting points for those who need assistance. Both morning and afternoon walking options are available most days. Ideal for enthusiastic beginners and experienced walkers.

Average Daily Mileage: 4 – 8 miles
Average Walking Time: 2 – 4 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Porto
Mar 62º/45º Apr 64º/48º May 67º/52º  Jun 73º/57º  Jul 77º/60º  Aug 77º/59º  Sep 75º/57º  Oct 69º/53º  Nov 62º/46º

Average Precipitation (in.) – Porto
Mar 3.5 Apr 4.6 May 3.8  Jun 1.8   Jul .7  Aug 1.1  Sep 2.8  Oct 5.4  Nov 6.0

What’s Included:

Walking Vacation Only – Without Air

  • 6 nights in a 17th-century family manor home, 18th-century vineyard farmhouse and medieval stone houses
  • 13 meals – 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Walking Vacation Plus International Airfare Package

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • 6 nights in a 17th-century manor home, 18th-century vineyard farmhouse, medieval stone houses

PLUS: 1 extra night in Porto and 1 extra night in Lisbon in 4 & 5-star hotels

  • 15 meals — 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
  • ALL overseas transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions:
    Pre-trip: Porto • 2 nights for only $295-395*
    Post-trip: Lisbon • 2 nights for only $395-495*

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of our custom VBT walking poles
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • On-tour vehicle support
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception and dinner hosted by Count Calheiros
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • Earn 5% Frequent Traveler Credit on this tour to use on a future VBT vacation. See details.

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $895 | Land Only Single Supplement: $595

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
2019
Or, Expand All Days
Day 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Porto, Portugal

Depart from home and travel to Portugal. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2: Arrive in Porto

VBT Air Package guests: Upon arrival at Porto’s International Airport, proceed through immigration, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is delayed, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you. After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Transfer to your Porto hotel in the city center. Transfer time is approximately 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

Your room accommodation is in the classic non-river view category, however, at time of check-in you may ask about upgrading for an additional cost to a river view room. Upgrades are only available at time of check-in and are subject to availability upon check-in – they can not be pre-reserved prior to your arrival. Upgrade costs vary and are only quoted at time of check-in.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Porto.

Hotel: Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel & World Heritage Site

Day 3: VBT Walking Vacation begins

VBT Walking Vacation only guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel in Porto at 9:00 a.m. The hotel is located at Praça da Ribeira, nº 1 ; +351 22 340 2300. Please contact the hotel to advise them of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package & Pre-Trip Extension guests: Please have your luggage outside your room by 8:30 a.m. Make sure the VBT luggage tags are affixed on your bags. After breakfast, meet your VBT Trip Leaders in the lobby of your hotel at 9:00 a.m.

This morning, join your VBT Trip Leaders for a brief orientation before a short transfer to the Minho – one of three regions you will visit in Portugal. In the heart of the Minho region, drive along the Lima River to the attractive riverside town of Ponte de Lima, named after its Roman Bridge. Here you will have lunch before lacing up your walking shoes and tracing a Portuguese segment of the religious route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Caminho de Santiago.

Your walk today begins with a crossing of the legendary Ponte de Lima. Seven of its original Roman arches remain.

After crossing the bridge, begin your journey through a farming landscape. Pilgrims from around the world have been walking this “Way of St. James” for more than a millennium to arrive at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where many believe St. James was buried. Soon, pastures give way to huge vineyards surrounding beautiful manor houses. One of them is a Paço, a small country palace and rest stop for the king during his travels through the countryside.

Your accommodation for the next two nights is in the Paço de Calheiros, which has been owned and operated by the family of Count Calheiros since medieval times. The present-day family home was built in the 17th century. Its stalwart structures and three-foot granite wall have stood the test of time. You may stroll the grounds which offer breathtaking views of the Lima Valley. If the day is clear you may also glimpse the Atlantic Ocean.

In the evening, get to know your host, Count Calheiros at a welcome reception followed by a sumptuous dinner.

Hotel: Paço de Calheiros
Meals: B (for Air Package guests only), L, D
Daily Options: 5 miles (8 kms)

Day 4: Historic Villages in Portugal's Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês

Today, explore the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês in the northern Minho region. With its forested valleys and mountain pastures, this is Portugal’s only national park. The little mountain villages in the park appear lost in time, but have adapted to the new world of tourism with well-marked footpaths linking them together. There’ll be time to learn about the unique grain storages known as espigueiros. These wood or granite structures were cleverly designed to keep animals away from harvested grains.

You will descend into the valley between the granite peaks of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, arriving in the ancient village of Soajo. This road was originally paved with large stones by the Romans, and for centuries has been walked by pilgrims from Peneda to Soajo; known as the Caminho da Fé, the Way of Faith. Alternatively, it is also referred to as the Caminho do Pão, the Way of Bread, as the inhabitants of this valley have made their living by moving their livestock up and down the mountains with the change of seasons. As you walk past aqueducts used for irrigating fields and powering flour mills, you may even see the indigenous Cachena milk cows or the wild Garrano horses.

Nearing the village of Soajo, with its dramatic backdrop of the Serra do Soajo Mountains, walk under a grape arbor and past small terraced gardens and vineyards. Winding your way through the village and past its ancient granite houses, you will soon arrive at the communal granary, and its granite espigueiros.

En route back to Paço de Calheiros, the shuttle will stop for those who wish to take an optional walk that will end at the lodging. You will cross scenic rolling hills before returning to the estate.  From a distance, the beautiful architecture will look even more majestic. As you amble downhill to your lodgings, a landmark chestnut grove comes into view letting you know the destination is close by.

Back at the manor house, you may opt to venture out and explore the forests that surround Paço de Calheiros on well-kept trails, join a walk through the Count’s gardens or relax by the swimming pool. This is followed by a wonderful dinner that might feature the Count’s own vineyard wines.

Hotel: Paço de Calheiros
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) and/or 1.5 miles (2.3 km)

Day 5: Douro River and Portugal's Wine Region

After breakfast, say your farewells to the Count and his family and shuttle to the Douro River Valley and Portugal’s wine region. In 1756, the Douro Valley became the first controlled and demarcated winemaking region in the world. It’s all thanks to the Marquis de Pombal who planted granite pillars in 1756 to define the boundary that produced the finest port. Today, the entire valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This magnificent landscape continues to inspire poets, painters and photographers

Your accommodations for the next two nights are in the heart of the wine region in the town of Pinhão. The historic hotel is set on the banks of the Douro River, offering spectacular views of the Douro River Valley. Just steps away explore the small shops and restaurants of the small town of Pinhão.

This evening enjoy a wine reception on the hotel patio (weather permitting) over looking the lovely gardens and river. Afterwards, enjoy dinner on your own in the hotel or one of the nearby restaurants in town.

Hotel: The Vintage House
Meals: B
Daily Options: 2.5 – 5 miles (4 – 8 kms)

Day 6: Village of Provesende / Vineyard walks in the Douro River region / Quinta do Bomfin picnic lunch and wine tasting

After breakfast, transfer approximately 1 hour to nearby vineyards with sweeping views of the Douro River valley. Birthplace of the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the county Sabrosa is our destination and the start of today’s walk is the charming village of Provesende, dating to the Moorish era. After a brief exploration of town and its Baroque church, we follow paths downhill through vineyards, keeping the Douro River in sight. We conclude our morning walk in the lovely vineyards of the Quinta do Bomfim where we will enjoy a splendid picnic before sampling some of the vineyards renowned wines.

In the afternoon, spend time at your leisure exploring the town of Pinhão and its train station where the “Wine House” museum is located. Then relax poolside at the hotel and enjoy the river views and its slow-passing boats.

Hotel: The Vintage House
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 4 miles (6.5 km)

Day 7: Cruise the Douro River on a Rabelo Boat

This morning, we embark on a wooden sailing ship similar in style to the bygone rabelos that carried wine up and down the Douro River to other regions. Our privately chartered boat offers a relaxing cruise on the Douro River. Your leaders will prepare a delectable picnic lunch onboard. One of our highlights will be passing through the Douro’s Ferrão lock before disembarking in Ferradosa.  From here we shuttle to our lodgings in Marialva, a haunting medieval village carved into a rocky cliff. Enjoy the remainder of the evening and dinner on your own.

Hotel: Casas do Coro
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 2.5 miles (4 km)

Day 8: Explore the medieval town and castle of Marialva

After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely stroll between stone walls, across vineyards, and past fruit trees and cultivated fields.

After lunch, venture out to explore Marialva and its castle. Though its origin dates back to the sixth century BC, it was not officially granted a town charter until 1179. This hillside medieval village seems carved from the craggy slopes, so it’s easy to see why it once served as an important military fortress. Wandering these streets on old stone-paved roads makes for an otherworldly experience; you’ll want to leave no corner ignored. Venture up to the medieval castle for a guided tour, where you’ll learn more about Marialva’s past.

This evening’s farewell dinner is sure to please, featuring family recipes passed down over generations to our hotel’s owner.

Hotel: Casas do Coro
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 2.5 – 5 miles (5 – 8 km)

Day 9: Transfer to Lisbon / VBT Walking Vacation ends

This morning you’ll shuttle (approximately 4 hours) to Portugal’s capital of Lisbon where the tour ends.

VBT Walking Vacation only guests: Your tour concludes at VBT’s centrally located hotel in Lisbon at approximately 1:30pm.

VBT Air Package and Post-Extension guests: This morning you will transfer (approximately 4 hours) to Portugal’s capital of Lisbon. Arrive in Lisbon mid-day. You will have the remainder of the afternoon to explore the historic capital of Portugal. Spend a night at your centrally located hotel, located next to Lisbon’s main avenue, Avenida da Liberdade. You will receive City Information with recommendations for transportation options, cafés, museums and restaurants.

Hotel: Fontecruz Lisboa, Autograph Collection
Meals: B

Day 10: Depart for home

After breakfast,* transfer to the Lisbon International airport (approximately 30 minutes) for your departing flight.** Please note: Please be in the hotel reception area at the designated time.

* Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk to verify when breakfast is served.

** Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Pathways of Portugal: Walking the Douro Valley

Casas do Côro

The Casas do Côro are located in the heart of medieval Marialva, an historic Portuguese village in a region where human activity goes back to the Paleolithic era. The refurbishment of these centuries-old houses along with the harmonious blend of the structures’ granite and refined decor make for an astonishing surprise. The feel is rustic yet extremely comfortable. From panoramic terraces, you can marvel at the region’s landscape, replete with hills, deep valleys and meandering rivers. A/C is available.
Free WiFi Included

Lisboa Plaza Hotel

A Lisbon institution since it opened in the 1950s, Lisboa Plaza Hotel is owned by a local family. Its informality is complemented by beautiful décor created by Graça Viterbo, one of the most famous Portuguese interior designers. This charming hotel is one of the most reputable in Lisbon, thanks to its traditional Portuguese atmosphere combined with easy sophistication and modern amenities. A/C is available.
Free WiFi Included

Paço de Calheiros

Originally built to accommodate the traveling king, Paço de Calheiros has a very impressive entrance with its distinguished gateway, beautiful tree-lined drive and stone fountain. This elegant manor house has been owned and operated by the family of Count Calheiros since medieval times. The present-day family home was built in the 17th century. Its stalwart structures and three-foot granite wall have stood the test of time. The Count of Calheiros will proudly welcome you with a tour of the manor and the splendid gardens. Enjoy magnificent views of the Lima Valley from the tranquil gardens and stroll the perfectly manicured grounds. A/C is not available.
Free WiFi Included

Quinta Nova N.S. do Carmo

Exuding the rustic feel of the Douro harvest, the Quinta Nova offers comfortable, low-key luxury without pretension. Enjoy ample public spaces, relaxing and sipping the region’s famous port. Or take in the ambiance from the comfort of the covered "shed," a pretty terrace with overhanging grapevines and a swimming pool. You might also admire its historic private chapel. Quinta Nova is especially popular during the harvest season, but it attracts guests year-round from Porto, Lisbon and foreign countries. A/C is not available.

Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel

Constructed on part of Porto’s medieval city wall, Pestana Vintage Porto, Hotel & World Heritage Site is a charming 5-star property located in Praça da Ribeira square. Forming part of a block of town houses dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, this magnificent building is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its privileged location affords beautiful views of the Douro River. You can enjoy Portuguese and International cuisine at the casual RIB Restaurant. Have a drink at Bar Heritage and relax after a festive day in Porto. Room accommodations are in the classic non-river view category, however, at time of check-in you may ask about upgrading for an additional cost to a river view room. Upgrades are only available at time of check-in and are subject to availability upon check-in – they can not be pre-reserved prior to your arrival. Upgrade costs vary and are only quoted at time of check-in. A/C is available.
Free WiFi Included

Fontecruz Lisboa, Autograph Collection

This 5-star hotel is ideally located on Lisbon’s main boulevard Avenida da Liberdade in the center of this historical city. Leisure travelers will find a myriad of ways to occupy themselves thanks to the hotel’s convenient location, steps away from top sights like Rossio Square and the Baixa District. After a day of exploring enjoy spacious guest rooms which include luxurious amenities. The hotel has an outside terrace for morning coffee or afternoon cocktails and the signature restaurant serves Portuguese specialties throughout the day.  A 24-hour fitness center equipped with free weights and cardiovascular equipment is available 7 days a week. A/C is available.
Free WiFi Included
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Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With Low-Cost Trip Extensions

Porto Portugal Walking PreTrip

Pre-Trip Extension - Porto

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2 nights for only $295-395*

Lisbon, Portugal cityscape in the Alfama District.

Post-Trip Extension - Lisbon

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2 nights for only $395-495*

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