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Gastronomic Southern Portugal & Spain: Lisbon, Alentejo and Andalusia

9 days
SpainPortugalLisbonAndalusiaAlentejo
  • Enjoy the beautiful and unspoiled countryside of Alentejo and Andalusia, seamlessly combining Portugal with Spain
  • Savour Lisbon and Seville’s gastronomic delights: taste innovative and playful Portuguese and Andalusian cuisine
  • Explore the wonderful scenery and bold architecture of Lisbon and Seville
  • Visit a classic and an avant-garde wine estate in Alentejo
  • Enjoy tasting great wines in evocative places, as guest of these wine estates
  • Discover the delights of unspoiled Andalusia: gastronomy, nature and cultural heritage
  • Taste Jamon Iberico at an artisanal Andalusian ham producer
  • Sojourn at exclusive hotels – on an estate, and in historic city centres
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About Lisbon, Alentejo and Andalusia
About Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, enchants its visitors with its laid-back but seductive culture. On the one hand this is a metropolis with a large array of imposing squares and grand buildings. On the other hand, the majority of the individual neighbourhoods have each kept their own village-like character.

When exploring this city it is best to fall into its Mediterranean-like rhythm, which is regularly peppered with African and Latin American influences.

Lisbon was once the centre of the world’s first colonial power. It is therefore not surprising that the city has many monuments worth seeing. If you stray off the tourist track, then the city becomes a trove of unexpected treasures. We should also mention the city’s beautiful location being situated on and around seven hills, at the mouth of the river Tagus (Tejo). It’s up and down layout provides a wealth of lovely viewing points, called ‘’miradouros’’. Lisbon’s balmy climate makes whiling away one’s time whilst sitting on one of these many terraces an attractive way to spend an afternoon.

The Portuguese capital has always been one of the best places in Europe for seafood, however, it was not until fairly recently that one can eat in chic modern surroundings. Nowadays restaurants range from the old-fashioned to the trendy and stylish – in the latter category a younger generation of chefs has become celebrated for inventive Portuguese cuisine. Some of these restaurants even offer really good natural wines from wine regions close to the city. It’s a breath of fresh air.

About Alentejo

The Alentejo, east and south of Lisbon, offers great scenic beauty with its rolling countryside full of cork oaks, olive trees and vines. The hills, sometimes small mountains, are frequently crowned by mighty castles. Notwithstanding its appeal, the Alentejo remains pristine; it has not been discovered by mass tourism. The landscape is bucolic, the people are hospitable and there is splendid cultural heritage – it is full of lovely historical towns like Marvão, Estremoz, Portalegre, Vila Viçosa, Monsarraz and Évora.

That said, contemporary wineries and art centres and discreetly modern upscale places to stay have been emerging, which provide a sense of exhilaration in this rural landscape. We think the Alentejo is one of the last secret treasures for travellers exploring the unspoiled cultures of Europe.

In terms of food do not miss the local gaspachos, the carne de porco Alentejano (pork and clams cooked together), the hearty duck pies, legs of lamb with rosemary or grilled John Dory with tomato rice. It’s a rural cuisine, with contemporary touches these days. The red wine is some of the best Portugal has to offer, with the body and ripeness of Southern Rhone Valley wines. Grape varieties commonly used here are Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and the Aragonez, better-known abroad as Tempranillo.

In contrast, the whites tend to be fresh but very aromatic. The main white grape variety here is Roupeiro and Antão Vaz. The white wines are also increasingly gaining their deserved international recognition.

About Andalusia and Aracena

Andalusia is the second-largest and most southern of Spain’s 17 provinces. Here the land offers the visitor a spectacular diversity of terrain: snow-topped sierras, high-mountain deserts, great beaches and a fascinating system of micro cuisines. Cities like Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Jerez de la Frontera, are strikingly beautiful and atmospheric, deservedly famous for their grand architecture. Then there are lovely smaller towns, like Aracena, which offer an unusually large number of glorious fortified palaces and churches, often incorporating Moorish patterns on facades and ceilings with Christian symbols.

The cuisine is famed for its tapas, like those of mountain cured hams. Fish like sardines and anchovies, often fried, are established favourites too. Then there is seasonal game of wild boar and venison. Kid, partridge and hare are local delicacies. Excellent olive oils are produced in abundance.

The principal wines of Andalucía are fortified wines, in particular pale, dry sherries like Manzanilla and Fino, great with tapas, but also excellent as an aperitif. Sherry comes from the Sherry Triangle between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puetro de Santa Maria. There are very good still wines too, like those from the Montilla region close to Cordoba.

About Andalusia – Aracena
The scenic land of the Sierra de Aracena situated between Portugal’s Alentejo and Seville is very much worth exploring. The Sierra is a splendid natural reserve, dotted with charming hillside villages. The lovely medieval town of Aracena is a distinct highlight. This is jamon (ham) country, where some of the best Spanish hams are produced, taking advantage of the dry mountain air for curing.

A drive through the beautiful Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park will take you through vast oak and chestnut forests – rather unexpected so far south. Driving through the winding roads best enjoyed leisurely, with the occasional stop to savour the spectacular landscape.

Once you arrive in Aracena you will find that the locals are welcoming and that the town is superbly charming. Overseen by the remains of a Moorish citadel, the pretty town centre is easily walkable and quite vibrant: with local markets, plenty of small businesses and quiet squares that come to life in the late hours of the afternoon.

Aracena is jamon country. Here Iberico ham, the beluga caviar of the porcine world, is produced. The best Iberian pork ham comes from the surrounding villages in the Sierra, including the coveted jamon de bellota, from acorn-fed pigs. During the drive towards the town it is likely that you pass by a dehesa: a rolling park-like land were the black Iberian pigs roam free to feed on acorns. It’s a constant feature of this region. The beauty of these pasture lands is a real treat of nature. Some of the best dehesas are a well-kept secret. To reach them one has to venture through stone mule tracks that wind through thickly wooded forest – the finest and most delicious jamon, salchichón (sausage) and morcilla (blood sausage) come from pigs grazing here.

When it comes to the local wines you will not be disappointed. From the fresh fruity whites, made of the local grape variety Zalema, to the oddly satisfying “vino naranja” – a white wine macerated with oranges and aged in oak barrels for at least two years. A delightful pairing for a starter or dessert today, these local wines have been making a comeback after years of neglect.

About Andalusia – Jerez

Heading south, a little over 1 hour’s drive from Seville, you will get to Jerez de la Frontera, the unofficial capital of the Sherry wine producing region. As one approaches the town one can spot the seamlessly endless rows of vineyards touching the road. But Jerez has more strings to its bow than just wine. This is an elegant and prosperous town, with the exceptionally beautiful Alcazar, a restored Moorish fortress surrounded by jacaranda trees that stand imposingly on the top of a hill. The old town is quite beautifully kept and worth a calm stroll by bougainvillea-lined houses.

Unique for the Sherry Triangle, with Jerez de la Frontera as its centre of gravity, is the presence of an indigenous yeast called “Flor”, that forms on top of sherry wines. This yeast, the white chalk soils and the solera maturation system, are considered the ‘magical’ elements’ that make sherry production unique to this area. And then there are the bodegas of the sherry houses that pop-up spectacularly in the centre of the town, frequently with a cathedral-like semblance. In these bodegas valuable Sherry wines are stored, in spaces with longitudinal aisles divided by arches, and thin pillars supporting high ceilings and white washed walls. Here maturation takes place, with a unique solera system using a large number of casks and fractional blending.

In the hills around the Sherry Triangle 3 main grape varieties are planted: Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel Alejandria. Various types of Sherry are made from these grapes: fino, medium dry, oloroso and reserva sherries; the sweetness profile may range from bone dry to intensely sweet, but quality and depth of flavour is unmistakable.

Around the town you can’t find a bar where tapas are not drunk with a glass of one of the home-grown sherry wine varieties. Locally ordered in half-bottles they are great matches for a wide range of food. We feel food friendly sherry’s should be drunk over dinner or lunch not just as an aperitif or dessert wine.

Beyond Jerez, hilltop white villages may lure you with traditional charm and modern art, by the likes of Olafur Eliasson at the NMAC sculpture garden for example.

About Andalusia – Seville

The majestic city of Seville in southern Andalusia offers the discerning visitors a stunning list of grand sites and hidden gems. Built up over time along the banks of the Guadalquivir river, its occupants, from Moorish to Romans to Christians, have left a remarkable footprint. Think of the deservedly famous Real Alcazar, built in the XI Century under Muslim rule and later remodelled by Christian kings. Or on a contemporary note, the Metropol Parasol, inaugurated in 2011. This exotic structure, with 150 meters length in plywood, initially unloved, has grown in the heart of the locals and foreigners alike – thanks to the bars and restaurants it guards but also by the elevated walkways that offer fabulous views of the city. This is also a city of narrow, cobbled streets and lovely courtyards filled with fountains, tropical plants and colourful tiles. There are many hidden gems to discover.

Over the river Guadalquivir, is Triana, where one may enjoy discovering rather different neighbourhood of Seville – less obvious but equally fascinating, for those who did not fit in with the wealthy society living inside the walls of Seville; this was the safe shelter of the flamboyant flamenco dancers, gypsies and bullfighters. Today it is again a thriving place, recently reenergised by funky restaurant and shop openings in this less touristy part of Seville.

What to expect from us?

With our “Gastronomic Southern Portugal & Spain: Alentejo and Andalusia” program you will discover some of Portugal and Spain’s best culinary and cultural delights; you will also taste some of the region’s wonderful wines at marvellous wineries while exploring rewarding but lesser-travelled areas beyond the tourist track. These are places where you can eat and drink as a local and enjoy great art and architecture of influenced by Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions, away from the crowds. This 9 days / 8 nights experience is perfect for the discerning traveller seeking delectable cuisine, fine wines and a wonderfully diverse cultural heritage in an intimate and exclusive manner. 

Lisbon
You will stay 1 night at a five-star hotel in Lisbon. It has a prime but quiet location close to the city’s elegant principal avenue as well as the trendiest parts of the city. Rooms are spacious and elegant – this is a turn of the century building converted into an intimate hotel with love, care and good taste. Decoration is calm and comfortable. Rooms are elegant and spacious.

There is a great rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city.

Alentejo
You will be staying 2 nights at a beautiful and elegant 5-star atmospheric boutique hotel in the centre of Evora, the capital of Alentejo.  This is a historic 15th century palace, extensively restored and located within the old city walls. In combining heritage with graceful contemporary architecture, an exclusive and stylish hotel was established.

The rooms are spacious and very comfortable, done out in a crisp palette of greys. Most rooms benefit from picturesque views – of the outdoor pool, gardens, medieval walls or the old town, and have their own private terrace; all rooms have air conditioning.

Andalucia – Aracena
You will be staying 2 nights at a family run hotel cum country estate (finca), which offers wonderful accommodation. The finca is set among woodlands and offers wonderful views over the mountains and white Spanish villages. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and quiet. Your hosts will make sure you are warmly received.

The finca has a good restaurant, lovely gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. A typical charming village is a short distance away. It’s perfect for long walks. with lots of small villages to discover. This a great spot for a relaxing stay in beautiful, unspoiled surroundings.

Andalucia – Jerez de la Frontera
You will stay 1 night an intimate 4-star hotel that was originally built as the residence of a sherry merchant.  It’s a former palace, renovated in a stylish manner combining antiques and original artworks. Rooms are comfortable and individually decorated with Spanish design classics.  The location is very convenient but quiet, close to a delightful square and only one block from the main streets.

Andalucia – Seville
You will stay 2 nights’ at an elegant boutique hotel, quietly located in Seville’s old town. It is set in a charming 18th century building, lovingly restored with many period details intact.

Inside decoration is quietly contemporary Andalucian. Rooms are very comfortable, decorated with elegant simplicity – whitewashed walls. sleek slate floors, generous beds in muted colours. There is a lovely rooftop pool. It is nice  to enjoy refreshments on one of the charming cobbled patios around the hotel.

Dates 2019:

This gastronomic tour is available throughout the year, except August.

Minimum number of guests is two.

To check availability for specific dates, please get in touch.

Pricing

The price for an 9 days (8 nights) break: Euro 1985,- per person

What is included?

  • 1 night accommodation exclusive 5 star hotel Lisbon
  • 2 nights’ accommodation exclusive 5 star palace hotel Alentejo
  • 2 nights’ accommodation exclusive 4 star ‘’finca”” estate hotel Andalucia / Aracena
  • 1 night accommodation 4 star boutique hotel Andalucia / Jerez de la Frontera
  • 2 nights’ accommodation 4 star boutique hotel Andalucia / Seville
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 1 restaurant dinner Lisbon – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant dinner Alentejo / Evora – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 private guided tour, tasting and lunch at a top palace winery Alentejo – including various wines and soft drinks
  • 1 private guided tour, tasting and lunch at a top modern winery Alentejo – including various wines and soft drinks
  • 1 tour of a typical Andalucian jamon producer, followed by lunch – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 dinner finca Aracena – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 private tour & tasting at a Sherry house in Jerez de la Frontera
  • 1 restaurant dinner Jerez de la Frontera – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 private guided tour in Seville
  • 1 tapas tour Seville
  • 2 restaurant dinners Seville – including wines and soft drinks

It is easiest to fly into Lisbon airport, since this airport offers the most varied international connections. There are many direct flights to Lisbon from cities in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

For your return flight, Seville airport is a convenient hub. There are many direct flights to Seville from cities in Europe. For trans-Atlantic flights, it may be easiest to connect in Madrid, Barcelona  London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or Barcelona. Booking early can be very advantageous. Paladares Travel does not offer flights. We suggest that you book these directly with one of the many companies offering such services.

In order to get to the various wineries taking part in the tour, you may wish to rent a car or arrange for a private car service.

Kindly note the pricing on our website does not include transportation, since the cost is largely dependent on the number of people requiring such service. But of course we would be happy to organize a bespoke car service or rent a car on your behalf. If you would like Paladares Travel to assist you, please let us know.

Arrival and departure transfers can be organised easily.

Please find below an outline of the proposed gastronomic tour. Kindly note that the itinerary is available all year round, for a minimum of 2 people.

One of the best ways to explore Southern Portugal & Spain is to self-drive. In larger cities like Lisbon and Seville a car is not necessary; these places are best explored by walking or using public transport. Of course we would be happy to rent a car on your behalf, or to organize a bespoke car service for local transfers and other transport needs. If you wish you can also have the program fully escorted by English, as well as Spanish /

Our itinerary can be altered to suit your flight schedule and duration desired.

Day 1
  • Arrival in Lisbon. The drive from Lisbon airport to your hotel takes about 15 minutes. Check into your hotel, and settle in.
  • You will stay 1 night at a five-star hotel in Lisbon. It has a prime location close to the elegant principal avenue and the trendiest parts of the city. Rooms are spacious and elegant – this is a turn of the century building converted into a hotel with love, care and good taste. Decoration is calm and comfortable. Rooms are elegant and spacious. There is a great rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city.
  • Time to unwind.
  • In the evening your dinner will be in the old town, in an excellent modern Portuguese restaurant, with Mozambican influences. The restaurant is charmingly situated on the river Tagus.
Day 2
  • After breakfast check out, you will have a late morning or early afternoon departure for Alentejo, in the direction of Evora.
  • Check-in at your Evora Hotel. You will stay 2 nights in an elegant and exclusive 5-star hotel in the centre of this charming medieval town, the capital of the Alentejo. This is a historic 15th century palace, extensively restored. By combining heritage with graceful contemporary architecture, an exclusive and stylish hotel was established. There is a lovely outdoor pool.
  • Time to explore Evora on your own or to relax by the swimming pool.
  • Your first local dinner is in a typical Alentejo restaurant in town. Here the young local chef is self-taught. He re-interprets classic Alentejo dishes, with great critical acclaim. The chef will cook a classic local meal using local and seasonal ingredients. Dishes will be complemented by very good Alentejo wines.
Day 3
  • Buffet breakfast.
  • Late morning a visit to a top winery near the medieval town Estremoz. The winery is housed in a former royal estate from the 18th century. The Quinta (manor house) is a spectacularly beautiful palace in private hands. Top wines are made here, this is one of the most accoladed wineries in Portugal. After the guided tour of the buildings and the grand garden of pomegranate and palm trees combined with organic vegetables, you will be invited for a country style lunch. It will be paired by the estate’s superb wines. This is a very special experience.
  • After lunch return to Evora, with more time to explore the enchanting surroundings.
  • Dinner on your own.
Day 4
  • Buffet breakfast.
  • Check out of the hotel. Today a lovely drive Alentejo, and then onto Andalucia. At the end of the morning a visit to another top winery in southern Alentejo, close to the Spanish border. This is a contemporary quinta, quite a contrast with yesterday’s winery. Here too wines are some of the best in Portugal. The vineyards of this winery are affected by the cooling effects of the Atlantic Ocean winds, making the local climate milder. The area has now become one of the most exciting spots to grow white grape varieties in an otherwise red varietal countryside. All wines are very good, but white wines are superior. Agricultural practices are very responsible, close to organic farming. The international wine press and sommeliers of international restaurants are very enthusiastic.

    After a tour of the estate, wine cellars and an extensive tasting, a local country lunch at the winery’s restaurant follows.

  • After lunch, an easy drive into Spain /Andalusia, into the Sierra de Aracena. This is a most beautiful nature reserve punctuated by fertile valleys and high peaks. The sierra is renowned for producing top Jabugo air cured ham – slow food. The natural and cultural heritage of this part of Andalusia is immense and relatively unknown but most rewarding. In medieval times hilltops marked the northern boundary of Cordoba’ Caliphate. After a drive through one of the prettiest village around, arrival at a lovely boutique hotel, in an astonishingly beautiful setting.
  • This family run hotel cum country estate (finca) offers wonderful accommodation. The finca is set among woodland and offers wonderful views over the mountains and white Spanish villages. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and quiet. Your hosts will make sure you are warmly received. There are lovely gardens and an outdoor swimming This is a lovely spot for a relaxing stay in beautiful, unspoiled surroundings.
  • In the evening your dinner will be at your hotel. It has a very good restaurant.
Day 5
  • Buffet breakfast.
  • Late morning, a short and scenic drive from your hotel, for a tour and tasting at a family run ham curing cellar. Your visit will start at the neighbouring dehesas fields, where the acorn-fed Iberian pigs graze freely, followed by a tour of one of the most authentic ham curing cellars in the region. During the visit you will get a real feel for this family run company and their production of top Iberico ham. The visit ends with an extensive tasting of cured meats and local tapas paired with Jerez wines, which will serve as a light lunch.
  • After lunch, time to explore the beautiful nature, the historic hill top towns. You might also wish to unwind by the pool of the hotel.
  • Dinner on your own.
Day 6
  • After breakfast, check-out and depart for Jerez de La Frontera.
  • As you drive south, leaving the green mountainous Sierra de Aracena behind, the route remains rewarding, taking you past Andalusia’s colourful nature and whitewashed towns. As you get close to Jerez de la Frontera, the landscape changes again, this time with white chalk soils where the Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel de Alejandria grape varieties thrive. Arrive in Jerez, the cradle of Sherry, frequently on the hot list of sommeliers these days
  • Check-in to your hotel. You will stay 1 night in an intimate 4-star hotel that served as residence to a sherry merchant. This is a former palace,  renovated in a stylish manner combining antiques and original artworks. Rooms are very comfortable. The location is  conveniently central but quiet close a delightful square and only one block from the main streets.
  • Time to explore elegant Jerez on your own.
  • In the late afternoon you will have a tour & tasting at a beautiful top sherry house. Here Sherries are made from a selection of the best wines. There will be an introduction to the wines maturing under a “flor” film of yeast and the wines aging process. The tour will be followed by the tasting of the different styles of sherry wines you have just learned about.  
  • Dinner at a top local restaurant. Folowing various stints working with renowned chefs across Spain the supremely talented chef here felt it was time to return to Jerez. Here he dedicates himself to pure Andalucian cooking. Food is sensational in a discreet way, and based on local produce.

    Supper here will based on the daily chef’s menu, paired with local wines as well as wines from other Spanish regions

Day 7
  • After breakfast, check out, depart for Seville. It is a short and relaxing drive that should take about one hour. In Seville you should drop off your car as the city is best explored on foot.
  • Check into your hotel in downtown Seville. You will stay 2 nights’ at an elegant boutique hotel, quietly located in Seville’s old town; it is set in a charming 18th century building lovingly restored with many period details intact. Inside decoration is quietly contemporary Andalucía. Rooms are spacious and very comfortable. There is a nice rooftop pool.
  • Late afternoon there will be a private walking tour around the historic city centre. Away from the main streets, you will see how Seville was shaped over its many centuries of existence. Strolling through the narrow streets with harming palaces and surprising gardens, accompanied by your knowledgeable and enthusiastic local guide, you will get a sense of what it is like to live in the city.
  • The first dinner in Seville will be in a traditional, but classy local restaurant. This is an excellent place to dine on tapas style traditional Andalusian food including locally fished tuna,  delicious oxtail croquets, fresh artichokes with sherry and ham and salmorejo (a silky gaspacho). The wine list is extensive and of high quality.
Day 8
  • After breakfast free time to explore on your own.
  • At the end of the morning you will join a small group for a “tapeo” lunch with a friendly and knowledgeable Andalucían guide. Together you will explore the culinary heart of Seville and visit the most typical tapas bars of Seville – away from the clichés. Knowing were the best tapas are is not obvious, and one must blend in with daily life and local pace to find the best eateries. The options change every day, according to what is fresh out of the market, but expect to try the best Iberian acorn-fed ham, chorizo or croquetas. Tapas will be paired with sherry and local white and red wines.
  • The rest of the day is free for to explore at your leisure. You might wish to visit one of our favorites, the Andalusian Contemporary Art Gallery, set in a 14th century monastery, extensively and expensively restored. It is in the quirky and rather local Triana district.
  • Your last diner In Seville will take place at one of the cities finest contemporary restaurants. Dishes are light, cooked with a contemporary take on Andalusian gastronomy; the restaurant has a modern yet welcoming environment. You will dine on the chefs’ market menu based on fresh seasonal  products, with matching Spanish wines.
Day 9
  • After breakfast the program ends
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