I did a comprehensive tour of Portugal over a decade ago and thought it was time to revisit this beautiful country. I have travelled with Insight Vacations more than a dozen times, so choosing a tour operator was easy.
Although the itinerary was similar to the previous tour, this time there were new inclusions and a broader cultural focus, both of which made a difference. For example, in each region we tasted local delicacies: pastel de nata in Lisbon, doce fino in Algarve, ginjinha in Obidos, pastel de Tentugal in Coimbra, tibia in Braga, etc. etc. These are small touches, but were appreciated by all, since they and the stories behind them are all threads in the tapestry that is Portugal.
Accommodation was comfortable and very close to city centres and historic sites. Included food was excellent, particularly in the local restaurants Frade dos mares in Lisbon, Sem-Fim in Monsaraz, farm-to-table dinner in Quinta de Maroccos in Peso da Regua... Both included and optional excursions were excellent and were a real value-add to an already great choice of locations and sightseeing.
The local guides were superb - they were passionate about their cities, knowledgeable and entertaining. The tour director and the driver were great too: professional and attentive. The former was friendly, personable, well organised, able to quickly solve problems and displayed excellent attention to detail.
Overall, the tour was very well organised. If anything, I think it should be a bit longer- additional two days would have allowed for some more time to be spent in locations worthy of more exploration. My only criticism would be the stay in Almancil. While the stroll on the beach was nice, there really wasn't anything else to do in the afternoon/evening. Perhaps a different location for an overnight should be considered? Apart from that, the tour was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in gaining a deeper insight into Portugal.
On a separate note - this was the first time I've booked a tour with Global Journeys, an agency I came across accidentally while doing an online search. At first I was a little sceptical and concerned about whether I'd made the right choice of an agent. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Global Journeys provided service of a high standard: communication was timely, responses to questions prompt, information accurate. I have already recommended them to friends and would use them again myself.