Itinerary - Portugal – (New!) Family, Culture, Wine & Cooking

Places Porto Airport, Viana do Castelo
Classes & Experiences n/a
Meals Afternoon Snack: Appetizers & Snacks on the beach (included)
Dinner: In Viana do Castelo (included)

Our vacation week begins when you meet your host and the rest of the group at the Porto (OPO) Airport. Our scheduled shuttle will be leaving by 2:00 PM and heading north to a coastal area near the seaport of Viana do Castello.

If you are flying in this day, please arrange for your flight to arrive prior to 12:30 PM. If you are coming from Porto or other areas in Portugal, there is convenient metro or taxi service to the Porto Airport, where you can meet up with the rest of the group.

Our accommodations are at the luxury resort hotel, FeelViana. At the hotel, you will find a very relaxed and calming environment. You will quickly find comfort and beauty at the location set in a nature preserve fronting the Atlantic Coast and the beaches of the Cabedelo Bay. The hotel amenities include high speed internet, spa and wellness treatments, swimming pool and sauna as well as water and land sporting opportunities.

After a very warm welcome and reception from the hotel staff, we’ll have some time to get settled in to our rooms and have a bit of time to freshen up. We’ll meet up for our first get-together a little bit later and we’ll head down to the beach for some Portonics (You will LOVE Portonics!!!), wine, beer or other refreshments and local appetizers. With the Atlantic Coast serving as our backdrop, we’ll take in the beautiful scenery and get to know one another while we go over some things about the week ahead, plus answer any questions you might have. Even the one where you say, “When can I move here?”

After our wonderful time at the beach, we’ll take our private shuttle a short distance to the historical center of Viana do Castelo. We’ll stroll around this quaint and cozy beach-town before heading to dinner at a local restaurant. We will be treated to wonderful local dishes and enjoy the local wines and finish off the meal with one of the fantastic Ports that the area is famous for.

Places Viana do Castelo, Spain-Portugal Border Area
Classes & Experiences

Cooking class resulting in lunch (included)
Four-Wheel Drive, Off-Road Trip to locals-only places (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: The meal we prepare in class (Included)
Dinner: Farmer’s Pasta and other selections from our driving crew. (Included)

Breakfast each day will be in the dining room of the hotel. The dining room overlooks the nature-preserve and out to the beach & sea. There is a large buffet consisting of breads and cheeses, yogurts and cereals, there are hot-food options including eggs, omelets, sausages and vegetables. There are many varieties of drinks, including coffee, espresso, cappuccino, juices and milk.

After breakfast today, we will take a short walk to the private home of our chef instructor, Mina. She will greet us with a very warm welcome and will instantly make us feel very comfortable. Mina’s house is most accommodating and she will have set our class preparation table with the utmost of detail and style. Each guest will get their own Culture Discovery Aprons and recipe books that are yours to take home at the end of the week. Since this is 100% hands-on, we’ll get familiarized with Mina’s kitchen and her cooking style, and then get right into our class instruction and start making our first lunch together!

For those that would rather not cook, that’s no problem, Mina has plenty of places to relax or, you can enjoy the comforts of the hotel, lay out at the beach, or go into town and then join the rest of the group for lunch.

Today’s recipes include Folado de Alheira. This is a puffed pastry stuffed with chicken, mushroom and bread sausage mixture, seasoning and spices including red chili pepper. This dish dates back to the 15th century during the Portuguese and Spanish expulsion of the Jewish population.

In order to avoid or, trick the authorities, the Jews would make sausages of chicken, game and bread, hanging them in smokers to make it look like they were their pork counterparts. This fooled the authorities into believing that they were not Jewish and they avoided expulsion, or a worse fate. The dish gained popularity throughout the country and can be found in many restaurants and is a special treat in any home.

Since we are on the Atlantic Coast, Cod (Bacalhau) is found everywhere. Mina’s kitchen is no exception! We will make her awesome Bacahlau a Nossa Moda, or Cod – Our way! This is a cod filet, mixed with sausage, garlic, onion and other spices, drizzled with olive oil and baked in a clay dish until golden brown. This delicious take on a classic recipe is a family staple in Portuguese kitchens.

Our side-dish will be the wonderfully-baked, “punched” potatoes! These are a local variety of potatoes that are baked to perfection on a bed of coarse sea salt and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Then, literally, punched (slightly smashed) with your fist to break them open so they can soak up the delicious juices from the Bacalhau dish that it will be served with.

Dessert is a fantastic dish similar to Crème Brulee. Our custard-crème will be made from scratch and then “scorched” using a special kitchen tool that must be heated over an open flame to get hot enough to sear the custard.

As always, there will be wine and other beverages and refreshments available throughout the class, with plenty of breaks for some singing, dancing and relaxation!

When we’re finished with class, just like a classic Sunday family-meal, we’ll all sit down together, toast over some wine, and enjoy this fabulous meal that we have all had a share in making.

We’ll have a little time to rest or freshen up before heading out for our afternoon excursion.

Our friends will pick us up in their Four-Wheel Drive vehicles and take us up to our first stop at the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia. This large Byzantine-inspired temple sits high on the hill overlooking the town of Viana and the gorgeous coastline for miles and miles. This tranquil and serene place also offers us a great photo opportunity, especially with a local man that makes wonderful black and white photos with his antique camera.

After some fun taking photos and seeing the sanctuary, we’ll head out to our off-road destinations. We give our drivers a lot of discretion on where we’ll be going. Dependent on the weather, and what they think will be the better experience. We may be heading through forests and high-country terrain to a hilltop with some of the most incredible views of the mountains and onto the coastline. You can see well into Spain in several directions! It’s also possible that we’ll head to a beach destination where we will have the beautiful Atlantic Coast in front of us, with its many rock formations as well as the mountains behind us.

In either instance, our drivers and hosts will set up a make-shift kitchen area for some local snacks, Portonics, wine and other drinks while we take in the beautiful views.

When we’re ready to go, all will be packed up before you know it and we’ll head out to our next destination. We’ll be setting up another “base-camp” in a 1,000 year-old abandoned monastery. There are still some creature comforts there as it is sometimes used by local youth-groups for campouts. We’ll relax with friends and family while we help our driver and “head-chef”, Ricardo, put together all the makings for our dinner... A local Sopa - Massa a Lavrador or, Farmer’s Pasta soup, whose recipe has been in Ricardo’s family for generations. Ricardo is passionate about his cooking, so stick close by and learn his little tricks and secrets!

This will be a very memorable evening with local friends, doing what they do all the time and in a unique and beautiful setting. We’ll go as late in the night as everyone feels, before heading back to our hotel for a good-nights rest before our full day out tomorrow!

Places Douro Valley, Baltar
Classes & Experiences

Small-Estate Port WIne Tasting & Lunch (included)
Ceramics Producer (included)
Farmhouse Dinner with Local Friends (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: At the Soenga Ceramics Factory (Included)
Dinner: At the Private Home of friends (Included)

After breakfast, we’ll take our private motor coach to the Douro Valley. The Douro River runs through this valley that has stunning and dramatic views like no other place in the world. This Unesco World Heritage Site is literally filled with vineyards and wineries for miles and miles throughout the region designated for growing the grapes that are used exclusively in making Port Wine.

We will be visiting Alvaro at his Quinto (wine estate). At his small, family-run winery we will sample his full reds as well as his Port Wine. Unlike the large corporations in the Gaia near Porto that have thousands of barrels, Alvaro only makes small production batches at his estate here. Thereby lending a personal approach to its high quality and depth of character. Alvaro will tell us all about his personal connection, passion and approach to his winemaking.

He’ll also walk us over to his neighbor’s place, which just happens to be a big part of today’s outing. We’ll be hosted to a lovely lunch at a unique ceramics factory that is restoring the traditional methods by making black-clay pottery. After the clay is formed by hand on the potter’s wheel, the pieces are placed in a mountainside pit, that will act as a kiln. Under the floor of the kiln is a space for wood to burn and heat the kiln. The results of which are these beautiful charcoal-colored pottery and ceramics that are fantastic cooking vessels as well as they are decorative. We’ll see how this is all done, and enjoy Alvaro’s wine with our lunch and these amazing people that live in such beautiful surroundings.

This will be one of those times where our guests will not want to leave. But, there are other great adventures awaiting, so we must. We’ll drive out of the valley and into the hills towards Porto where we come to a small farm near the town of Baltar. Here, we’ll be among the guests at our friend’s private home. We’ll have appetizers, wine and other beverages while we relax with friends and family alike. The wine we have here cannot be purchased, as this is not a place of business. Instead, this is their private farm where they grow everything for themselves (including their wine grapes). Bring your bathing suit and use the swimming pool, if you want. Or stroll around the grounds and discover Antonio’s impressive gardens, personal vineyard and the beautiful view of the countryside below. This property has been in Antonio’s family for generations, although he personally saw to building it into its current state. He is very proud of his land and he will be happy to share his family stories with you. We will also meet his daughter, Antonia, her husband, Nunno and their two children. Nunno’s father, Fernando, will be there, and other friends that will stop by for our lovely dinner party.

Nunno will be cooking, Antonia will be getting help from some of our guests to make the Aletria, dessert cake. Antonio, no doubt will be opening bottles of his own wine to share with everyone.

Dinner will be a family-style affair where we’ll be dining on a Portuguese Chicken and Rice dish, as well as some side dishes and salads.

Only a day like today could be capped off with a special evening. You will truly feel as a family guest, and not want to leave here, either!

Places Viana do Castelo, Ponte de Lima
Classes & Experiences

Hands-On Cabecudos Artist Workshop (included)
Private Wine Tasting and Lunch at Quinto do Ameal Winery (included)
Ponte de Lima Historical Center (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: At the Quinto do Ameal Winery (Included)
Dinner: At Praca dos Sabores (Included)

Today is another special day as we will be going to visit a wonderful man in Viana that has found his passion for upholding one of the most beloved traditions in this area. He is a master craftsman of the Cabecudos. These are papier-mache heads that are used and worn in festivals and fairs in Viana and other areas of Portugal. Senhor Antonio is a kind and gentle man that will show us his workshop and demonstrate how these wonderful and strange doll-like heads are made. Then, get your Michelangelo on as we’ll be making them too! You will be molding your own Cabecudos heads that you will be able to take home with you at the end of the week!

After a lot of fun with Senhor Antonio, we’ll take the short drive to the winery of our friend, Pedro, who is a fourth-generation winemaker from this area. He will show us around his Quinto do Ameal winery estate and explain about the nuances and intricacies of his Vinho Verde wines and what makes them unique and very personal to him and his family. Pedro comes from a lineage of winemakers. His grandfather was a very well-respected and established Port wine maker. Pedro has continued to uphold the traditions of his family and has instilled his personal passion and expertise in making some wonderful wines.

His beautiful and exquisitely decorated tasting room or the lush gardens surrounding the property serve as perfect settings for our lunch with the winemaker. This is another one of those, “Why do we have to leave?” moments.

But, we will have to let Pedro get back to making his wonderful wines so that we can enjoy them for years to come!

We’ll walk off lunch strolling the street of nearby, Ponte de Lima. Ponte de Lima is the oldest established township in Portugal, dating back to the 12th century. It is still a cute and quaint village highlighted by the bridge with foundations from the Roman-period and rebuilt in medieval times. The town is popular in that it is the last town where one can begin the, Caminho or Portuguese Path of the Way of St. James. This is a pilgrimage route to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the cathedral there, where the remains of the apostle St. James are interred. We’ve had several guests already say that they want to return another time and start the Caminho, right here in Ponte de Lima! For this day, we’ll walk through the town, or along the famous Roman Bridge. We’ll visit the shops and meet up at a café, have some refreshments and enjoy the view of the Lima River in front of us.

We’ll head back to the hotel for some time to freshen up, or take advantage of some down time to enjoy the amenities at the hotel. Use the pool, spa, gym, or head down to the beach and marvel at the ocean view.

Our dinner tonight will be a privately catered affair and another special evening. We will be the exclusive guests at the Café’ Praca dos Sabores near our hotel. The restaurant is owned by Ricardo, who manages the hotel’s activity center. His wife is the head chef, and is accomplished in her own right. She will prepare a special meal for us that will be some of the best local cuisine that you may experience throughout the week. A truly memorable evening with our friends from the hotel that have graciously opened their doors to give us a first-hand experience of home-town hospitality.

Places Viana do Castelo, Montaria
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included)
Portuguese Cornbread Making (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: The meal we make in class (Included)
Dinner: At the Private Home of Friends in Montaria (Included)

We’ll head back over to Mina’s house after breakfast for our second cooking class. After another warm welcome, we’ll start in on preparing today’s lunch. We will be making more traditional Portuguese fare, including Pastaniscas de Bacalhau which are a local style of fried cod cakes, Minho Style Rojões or Fried Pork Loin, and Rabanadas – a local “French Toast” style dessert made with red wine and honey syrup. It’s really good! All the while, you never know when Mina will have us stop what we’re doing and take us outside for an impromptu dance lesson!

Nevertheless, our meal will come out fantastic and we will all enjoy our lunch together along with some wine and always good company.

We’ll have a little time to rest up before heading out to the hills outside of town to the little village of Montaria. There are very few residents here, however they still hold on to ages-old traditions, working and living off the land. We’ll be visiting with Carmen, whose family has been making a local corn flour-based bread for generations. We will see the ancient water-driven mill that is still operational today, as water is diverted from local streams to power the grinding stones that mash the kernels into flour.

At Carmen’s house, we will help her sift the flour, mix with water, mother’s yeast and salt, knead into loaves and then place in her wood-burning oven.

While the oven is baking, we’ll walk over to a local café for a local “wine beverage” concoction that this tiny little mountain town is famous for, and people drive for miles to get it here. It is a very strange concoction of wine, beer, 7-Up, cinnamon, and we-have-no-idea-what... but it is absolutely amazing and refreshing, and after one sip, you’re hooked!

It’s a fun time, for sure, before we head back to Carmen’s home for a dinner with her family and friends. Along with the warm, fresh-baked bread that we just made, we’ll be treated to a wonderful assortment of local delicacies that Carmen and her friends have prepared for us. You will marvel at the warmth and hospitality of this wonderful community that has just met us!

Places Matosinhos, Porto, Braga
Classes & Experiences

Market Visit (included)
Porto Street Food & History Tour (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: Tapas and Street Food during our Porto Foodie Tour (Included)
Dinner: At our chef instructor, Mina’s, restaurant in Braga (Included)

Today is another fantastic day out as we make our way to the large marketplace that houses the fish, meat and produce stands that are frequented by locals each day. We’re not here to just take pictures, but to shop for some of the items that we’ll need for our dinner and cooking class at Ricardo and Marta’s house. We’ll see what the fresh catch is, pick out some vegetables, fruits and the like as we will have the freshest, seasonal produce available for our table setting.

After a fun morning of shopping for local goods, we’ll head to nearby Porto for a first-hand, insider’s walk through this bustling and thriving town. We’ll make stops here and there along the way, whether to take in some historical sites, or to make a food stop where you will enjoy local fare in some off-the-beaten-path places. Try the cachorrinhos, a Porto favorite sandwich like no other. Also, some local wines, cheeses and meats, and a tapas-inspired tasting of many local dishes only found here in Porto. In any instance, we will be full of food and beverage enough to say, “enough!” and we can take a break and some time to explore Porto for a few hours.

Porto is full of shops, cafes, bars and many interesting sites, including the beautiful cathedral, that you will get a taste of enough to want to come back time and again to see more of it. Just before heading out, we’ll meet up for one last Porto foodie favorite…The Pastel di Nata. These custard tart-pastries have become famous all over Portugal and we’ll be going to a wonderful local spot that serves up the best ones found anywhere! Have a coffee and Pastel di Nata and we’re sure that if you have not had one before, you will be quickly converted!

Our bus ride to Braga will be just enough to get in a short nap or enjoy the mountain views. We’ll have some time to explore Braga’s historical center for some shopping or relaxing before meeting up for dinner. We will be treated like royalty as the personal guests at our chef instructor, Mina’s restaurant, Tasca. We will be wined and dined in the comforts of her very accommodating and comfortable restaurant, which has been her passion for many years. She has a special menu prepared and will be delighted to share her personal favorites with us.

This is another fabulous evening that will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come as we complete a circle of experiences with someone that we have come to know so personally.

Places Viana do Castelo, Mindelo
Classes & Experiences

Viana Street Market Visit (included)
Viana Historical Center (included)


Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)
Lunch: Chef’s Selection in the hotel dining room (Included)
Dinner: Dinner Party at Marta and Ricardo’s Home (Included)

After breakfast, take the morning as you wish. You will have the option of exploring more of the historical center of Viana and shopping the large weekly market, or stroll the quaint streets full of stores, cafes, plazas and historical places of interest, such as the maritime hospital ship that sits in the harbor.

Another option is to stay at the hotel and enjoy its many amenities. Take advantage of the pool and sauna. There is a workout room as well as an activity center where you can try wind-surfing or go on a bike ride along the river. Massage services are also available. Some of these programs need reservations and are at an additional cost, so please check well in advance. You can also take in some time at the beach, just yards from the hotel. At the end of a busy week, you will most likely be happy to have a little personal time.

After a relaxing morning, we’ll all meet up at the hotel dining room where the chef will have a specially-prepared lunch menu, along with a paired-wine selection, exclusively for us.

Our final outing for the week will be a special one and a fitting close to the amazing week we just had. After lunch, we will make a stop to visit Senhor Antonio once again. He will pick up our Cabecudos that we made, all dried and ready for us to take home. We will toast him with some wine and bid, “Ciao” to this wonderful and kind gentleman. We then head down the coast for an evening to remember.

We’ll be welcomed at the private home of Marta and Ricardo with the warmth that comes from the heart. This night is for family and friends, many of whom you have met throughout the week.

We’ll be offered Portonics as a customary first, but there will also be wine and other beverages available throughout the night. An appetizer table will be set with many options, charcuterie, cheeses, breads, and dips, many including what we bought at the market in Matosinhos.

Music will be playing, people will be arriving and it’s exactly like those backyard parties that we all remember. We’ll relax and enjoy the wine and company and when Ricardo says so... We’ll start to help prepare the ingredients for the Francesinhos. These are the ever-so-incredible, wood-fired oven baked, delicious sandwiches that are like no other!

As an extra special treat, tonight we will be visited by some musician friends that will perform for (and with) us! Local universities have bands called "TUNA" that play a very unique traditional type of music. When you see them, you may quickly notice that their uniforms were J. K. Rowling's inspiration for for the Hogwarts uniforms! They will play their music for us, we will dance, sing, and have a wonderful party together!

While much of the focus is on our food and wine, the main purpose is to be with family and friends. This evening is the perfect setting and culmination of an unforgettable week with new friends that will remain close for years to come. We can’t help but reflect at the amazing week we have just had and the people that we have met along the way.

Places Viana do Castelo, Porto OPO Airport
Classes & Experiences n/a

Breakfast: At the hotel dining room (Included)

Sadly, our week has come to an end. We will have one shuttle going to the Porto OPO Airport leaving in the morning. Time: TBD

The Not So Fine Print:

Itinerary Subject to Change

This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, our goal is always to make it better for our guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.

Menu Variations

The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on season. We use only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if we are unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally we make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.


Some places on our itineraries don't work well with cold weather or rain. We may have to have some of our meals indoors that were scheduled to be outside. When we do expect rain, we try to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.