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Portugal

Portugal - Bike tour: The Douro Valley

We are currently working with the Portugese Tourism Commission and will be offering a new tour in Portugal in 2018/19.  Stand by for more information. 
 
Portugal - Bike tour: The Douro Valley
 
It was, in 1756, the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world.  The wild slopes of the valley transformed themselves, through the work of generations, in terraces to plant the vines that produce the famous Port, excellent DOC Douro wine, sparkling wine and Muscat. 

This impressive landscape was considered World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2001, as a living evolving cultural landscape - the Douro Valley.  In the Valley of the river Douro and its tributaries, the harmonious interaction between Man and Nature coexists with another, possibly more natural or derelict - the one of the National Parks of Douro International, of Alvão or, yet even further, the Geopark of Arouca.

The River Douro flows from the Spanish border to the east of Porto and, depending on the time of the year, its slopes may be decorated with Almond or Cherry blossom trees.
 
Here are some of our recommendations for a visit to the Douro Valley.
 douro valley
Visit the Douro Museum in Régua or the Casa de Mateus Foundation in Vila Real and the many quintas that produce Port Wine and Douro Wine thanks to the microclimate in the Valley.  If you are coming in Harvest Labour season, you can witness the grapes being picked or explore the Douro International Natural Park (85000 ha) and the Alvão Natural Park (7220 ha).  Located in the Upper Douro, Vila Nova de Foz Cõa saw its name cross borders due to the discovery of its Paleolithic open air Rock Art.  These rocks are estimated to be over 20000 years old.  As World Heritage, this form of prehistoric art got much fame and currently is one of the reasons tourists visit.  The art covers an area of 17km.

The Rock Art of Côa Valley and the Archeological Park, Douro International Natural Park and the Alvão Natural Park, the Douro Valley, The Douro Museum, the Côa Museum, Monuments, the harvest, gastronomy and wine, the Douro cruises, the Casa de Mateus Foundation, the Monastery of Salzedas and the Shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédio are all worth further exploration if you have the time.

For those of you interested in exploring the rich gastronomic culture of the region, you could do worse by trying the traditional recipes accompanied by the highly respected Wines in quintas or in the excellent local restaurants.
 
 

Porto - Bike tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

We are currently working with the Portugese Tourism Commission and will be offering a new tour in Portugal in 2018/19.  Stand by for more information.

 

Porto


Portugal was born in the North and the rich cultural heritage of the region doesn't ignore so noble and ancient origins. Tradition, culture, history, architecture, gastronomy and wine, landscape, hospitality and the joy of their people are the attributes to a unique region. It has a peculiar charm. Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest European centres, its historical centre is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a unique experience to stroll through its streets and feel the pulse of the city. Take the tram to the mouth of the river Douro and get to know the excellent beaches, where you can sunbathe, and the outdoor cafés or slow down and enjoy some local wines such as the Vinho Verde and the famous Port Wine. Porto, thanks to its outstanding beauty and its richness in history, was elected the best European destination of 2017.  Anticipate warm weather throughout the year, but do not forget your umbrella, Porto is also one of the wettest cities of Europe. Thanks to its history, Porto has a huge variety of architectural styles which will make you feel like travelling through different eras of time. 

Board on a medieval journey and pound the historical centre, passing by the Cathedral or the Clérigos tower.  Take a cruise on the river Douro with a Rabelo boat or visit the six bridges.  Visit the Casa do Infante Museum, the São Fransisco Church, the Stock Exchange Palace, the pleasant riverfront and the well preserved Ribeira and Miragaia streets.  Or pick a destination to see and enjoy in our recommendations below.

The Historical Centre, the Lello bookshop, the Café Majestic, the Monastery of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the Guindais Funicular, Miguel Bombarda Sreet, Galeria de Paris Street, Cândid dos Reis street and the São Bento Train station are all unmissable attractions.

 porto 1972486 480

Hotels

- River House 1872:
Located in the centre of Porto's Old Quarter, River House 1872 is the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful city of Porto. Its spacious and comfortable rooms all have balconies offering amazing views over the Douro river or over the city's historical centre. Each room is decorated differently so you will never get tired of staying at this hotel.


- Flores Village Hotel & Spa:
Surrounded by monuments and museums, the 4 star Flores Village is a perfect place to stay to fully enjoy marvellous Porto. You can choose 5 different kinds of rooms, all of them are spacious and tastefully decorated. While staying at this hotel you cannot miss the gardens and the indoor places which are unusual areas, perfect for a reading day, although. The Spa and the Gym are both equipped with cutting-edge technologies offering the best services which will satisfy even the most demanding guests.

GRANDHOTEL- Grande Hotel do Porto:
Grande Hotel do Porto is a 3 star hotel located at the heart of the historical city centre, a few steps away from all of Porto's most famous attractions. This nineteenth century hotel has a stunning and timeless design. Rooms are cosy, elegant and well-equipped. To ensure the well-being of its customers, the hotel has several appreciable services such as massages in its wellness room or a gym.


Restaurants


- Ode Porto Wine House:
Located at the heart of Porto, a few steps away from the Douro River, Ode Porto Wine House is a magical place which will make you discover flavourful, tasty meals cooked with fresh and seasonal ingredients. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, and the waiters will give you the best assistance to choose the right wine.


- Restaurante 'O Paparico':
Located on the upper section of the city, Restaurante 'O Paparico', serves traditional Portuguese dishes in a rustic-style environment. Here you will taste some of the most tasty traditional dishes all prepared with fresh products. The staff are friendly and happy to guide you through the Portuguese culinary tradition.


- Essência - Restaurante Vegetariano:
As the name indicates, this restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant with succulent dishes that will please every tastes and preferences. Its variety of choices allows you to taste Mediterranean, European or Portuguese savoury and healthy meals. Located a few steps away from the city centre, this place is perfect to enjoy some vegetarian dishes in a cosy and welcoming environment.

 

porto view

 

Attractions

 

PALACIO

- Palácio de Bolsa:


Located in the UNESCO world heritage site centre, the Palácio de Bolsa was built in the 19th century in a Neoclassical style. The most beautiful parts of this building are, without a shadow of doubt, its interiors where you will find magnificently decorated walls and furniture.

 

 

CASADEMUSICA

- Casa da Música:

Casa da Música (meaning the house of music) is a concert hall located right in the centre of Porto. It hosts the most important concerts in the town and is one of the most iconic elements of the city. The Casa da Música is the only concert hall in the world with two walls made entirely of glass. You can visit this impressive institution with their English guided tour which will give an outstanding insight into its background.

 

 

Museo Serralves

- Serralves Museum:


Serralves Museum is a contemporary art museum that attracts millions of visitors per year. It hosts both Portuguese and international masterpieces making it one of the most visited contemporary art museums of Europe. After visiting the museum you can relax and enjoy the marvellous gardens which surround the building.

 

 

 

Lisbon - Bike Tour: Wining & Dining Recommendations

 Lisbon - Wining & Dining

Here are our Top Winning & Dining Recommendations in Lisbon, as prepared by intern Mathieu.

 

O Cantinho Das Gaveas:

Located in Bairro Alto Lisbon, O Cantinho Das Gaveas is a typical cosy restaurant. The Portuguese cuisine is simply but excellent, and moreover is affordable.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of O Cantinho Das Gaveas by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures:

“This place was recommended to us by the owner of a different restaurant which couldn't accommodate us. Usually such a scenario encourages me to accept the recommendation politely but ignore it afterwards. On this occasion, I was delighted I didn't. With appetizers of squid (and bread - no charge!) and garlic fried shrimp followed by a sort of rice fish stew (with shrimp, of course). This was one of my favourite meals in Lisbon. However, my pal having a salad was less than impressed. All of us who ordered fish based dishes were suitably impressed. A house white was served in a jug and was great value. Our server was very friendly, efficient, and helpful. Recommended”.

 

The Old Pharmacy:

In Barrio Alto, The Old Pharmacy is a wine bar which kept its original pharmacy decoration with the old glass shelves. The collection of wine is wonderful, such a unique atmosphere to relax and enjoy a refreshment. 

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of The Old Pharmacy by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures:

“Not knowing a lot about Portuguese wine I was determined to try a good bottle from the Douro Valley (someone had recommended to me) while in Lisbon. The server guided me through the extensive menu and brought my attention around to a special 2009 Vallado Touriga Nacional (Esporao). Outstanding. This is a charming and lively spot and an ideal starting point; a little on the pricey side for Lisbon but worth the extravagance if you choose wisely and check ratings using an App on your smartphone if (as I was) unfamiliar with the wines of the region”.

Chapitô a Mesa:

Located in the heart of Lisbon, Costa do Castelo, near Saint-Georges Castle, Chapitô a Mesa is a simply adorable restaurant which offers you a stunning view of the city and the Tagus river. This place is not only a restaurant but a meeting place for Portuguese food lovers.  Such a great way to relax after a visit of the Castle…and what a view!

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Chapitô a Mesa by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures:

“After visiting the castle, we stopped off here for a very late lunch on the recommendation of a friend of mine who had been here in 1999. We were not expecting the welcome we were given ("Wait two minutes and I'll get you the best table in the house") and the views. While this is a very simply decorated space, it oozes charm and authenticity, and boasts unparalleled views. Our meal was outstanding and accompanied by a bottle of vinho verde. The grilled shrimp dish was a particular highlight but my friends vegetarian salad was served too cold and the mushrooms in particular were super chilled. Service was wonderful and friendly. Watching the sun set here at the Magic Hour was a spectacular bonus”.

Remakefood:

In the middle of Barrio Alto Lisbon, Remakefood is a typical restaurant which allows you to taste varied food, but I advise you to focus on vegetarian dishes, they are copious and gorgeous. The decoration is surprising but warming, combining friendliness and professionalism.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Remakefood by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures:

"On a gastro trip to Lisbon I checked out this spot in Barrio Alto. The clinical modern facade is carried through to the interior. I had a tapas dish at the bar; the only person doing so; the restaurant was reasonably busy. The server was very unfamiliar with the wine list and told me there was only one wine available by the glass despite the menu stating quite clearly there were 5 options. He attempted to have me drink a terrible, partially sparkling affair which was unacceptable. Eventually he conceded that there were other options. The marinated squid in roast vegetables was served cold (a surprise) - cooked perfectly and presented very simply. It was outstanding".