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2023 Creative Spirit (September 21-30, 2023)

detailed itinerary and pricing under construction. View the  information to date under the new listing of Creative Spirit 2023 and/or the recent e-blasts under NEWS.


2022 Creative Spirit


A unique 10-day tour where the individual personalities of Lisbon and Porto are revealed through a modern cultural lens

September 08-17, 2022

From Lisbon to Porto and and extraordinary points in between.

All Culture Viewfinder excursions include exclusive insider-access programs not otherwise open to the public.

  • Behind the scenes museum visits with the curators

  • Meet creators in their studios

  • Architect led tours of private buildings

  • Explore neighbourhoods guided by engaging experts

  • Visit two of Portugal's most remarkable design factories reimagining historic materials and techniques that incorporate both eco and social issues

  • Taste the cuisine of a new generation of creative chefs and exceptional regional winemakers

  • Stay in the comfort of 4/5 star design hotels

  • Share in Culture Viewfinder’s knowledge of amazing local shops, gourmet boutiques, and galleries

Find new sources of inspiration as we explore below the surface in Lisbon and Porto and introduce lesser known points in Portugal's interior. A journey guided by the touchstones of contemporary art, architecture and design from the handmade to the mass produced, inextricably linked to Portugal's history.
CV tours are restricted to small groups and will be personally led by celebrated Canadian curator Esther Shipman who will introduce you to many of the leading creative lights of Portugal.


Discover why Tyler Brulé’s culture forward magazine and organization Monocle chose Lisbon as the location for their first-ever Quality of Life Conference and Bon Appetit published How Portugal Became the Greatest Place to Eat Right Now, in October 2018. Read the full article here

Booking Closes July 15 '22 10am EST

Tour Includes:


9 nights at 4/5* hotels, standard rooms unless otherwise indicated.

        4 nights Lisbon

         2 nights Serra d'Estrela

         3 nights Porto

Note: For those who wish to arrive a day early to acclimatize, a small number of hotel rooms have been booked September 7 at a  discounted rate. Please confirm your interest with our Ellison agent.

Breakfast included every day at the hotels


Lunches (8) everyday September 9-16 inclusive, 2-course prix-fixe unless otherwise indicated.



6 dinners, 3 course prix-fixe unless otherwise indicated

            2 Lisbon

            2 Serra da Estrela

            2 Porto


  • Coach + Walking Tour, Lisbon, September 8     

  • Taxis and downhill walk through Alfama district, Lisbon September 9     

  • Coach morning Lisbon September 10, guided walking tour downhill from Principe Real to Chiado, 

  • Coach September 11, Sintra Coast, Taxis to dinner

  • Coach September 12,  depart Lisbon

  • Coach September 13,  Serra da Estrela

  • Coach September 14,  towards Porto

  • Coach September 15,  Leça da Palmeira coast

  • Coach + Walking tour of central Porto, taxis to dinner, September 16


Visits and Admissions

Included--Admission fees and private tours of 4 major museums, + architectural landmarks, the Alfama Artisan Workshops and Monserrate Palace and Grounds.

Introduction to Lisbon custom walking tour, and Siza urban redesign walking tour Lisbon, Whispers Sound System provided for both. Central Porto walking tour led by curator Esther Shipman.

PLUS exclusive visits to 2 significant design factories, 2 private design studios, and the award-winning EDP Headquarters which are not open to the public.



September 9: Gelato Therapy 1 scoop gelato in cup or cone

September 9 : Mercado Ribeira (cocktails, snacks, not included)

September 12: washroom breaks enroute to Serrra da Estrela, coffee/tea (not included), box lunch with water/juice provided for the journey

September 16: Mantegaria Porto, optional stop for exquisite tart + 1 shot Port or espresso (not included).

Estimated Tour Cost:


$4995.00CAD Double Occupancy

$1150.00CAD Single Supplement


Pricing based on a minimum of 14 tour participants and a maximum of 20.

Maximum 4 spaces still available, first come first served.

Not Included

  • International airfare

  • Passport photos, government processing fees

  • Luggage handling (with the exception of arrival at the hotel in Porto)

  • Incidentals

  • Additional taxes, fuel surcharges or service charges levied by the governments or our suppliers



  • Manulife Travel Insurance (coverage available for Canadian residents who have a valid provincial health card—includes emergency medical coverall, cancellation and interruption, limited baggage insurance—see policy for terms and conditions. Ask our agents at Ellison Travel & Tours for details.



  • Terms of Payment will be through online portal with use of EFT, Visa or Mastercard.

  • Deposit $700.00 at time of booking

  • Interim payment due April 15, 2022

  • Balance due July 15, 2022


Cancellation Penalties

  • All payments received by Ellison Travel & Tours are 100% non-refundable (speak to our Ellison Agent regarding refunds resulting from Government imposed travel bans or cancellation due to COVID 19)

  • $40.00 service fee for NSF transactions

  • Please note that there are no changes to the itinerary or number of travellers

Booking Closes July 15 2022 10amEST

To book contact Sandie Vanderschot

Ellison Travel + Tours

4-1930 Hyde Park Road,
N6H 5L9 London, ON

800.265.7022 x 236


Direct link:

For info and updates, subscribe to our mailing list here

Tour Itinerary

Fully detailed daily itineraries are available only to registered tour participants

Days 1, 2, 3, 4 based in Lisbon.

Begin your journey on Thursday, September 8 at the Double Tree by Hilton-Fontana Park. DoubleTree is Hilton’s boutique hotel brand in Europe and this property in particular has a bright, modern interior and vibe.


The tour kicks off in the early afternoon with a meet and greet at the hotel's Fontana Park Courtyard, followed by a short coach ride to the Rossio district where we begin an Introduction to Lisbon walking tour through the central core of the city to the monumental riverside Praça do Commercio. Explore the collonades, shops and/or cafes of this historic square before departing by coach for a private tour of the Museum of Art Architecture + Technology (MAAT) designed by British architect Amanda Levete. Time will be provided after the tour to explore the exterior of the museum and its grounds designed by acclaimed landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. We cap the day with a Welcome Dinner on the waterfront at Darwin’s Café, at the Champalimaud Foundation Centre for the Unknown designed by Indian architect Charles Correa. Return to the hotel by coach.


Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel

9:30am Departure by taxi (coaches are not permitted in the historic Alfama district), to a former Palace for a private tour of the unique artisan workshops that specialize in exquisite 16th Century wooden joinery and marquetry, decorative metal, textiles and book binding.

Walk downhill through colourful Moor-influenced Alfama (starting with a wonderful miradouro--scenic photo-op), to our private lunch at the Taberna Sal Grosso (translated to Course Salt).


Taxi a short distance to a private studio visit of internationally acclaimed glass and furniture designer Emmanuel Babled, where we will meet the designer, view his work and hear about his latest project in Tanzania. Two floors up the designer has personally funded a design incubator for new design businesses utilizing historic Portuguese materials and techniques.

Pit Stop right downstairs at the incredible Gelato Therapy

Free-time afternoon and dinner 

NOTE: the tour leaders will be heading for cocktails and dinner at the  TIME-OUT Mercado Ribeira--the first and best of Lisbon's food halls featuring stalls by many of Lisbon’s finest chefs and unique shops. We will grab a table with shared seating. Tour members are welcome to join us while they peruse the market stalls drinks, snacks or dinner. Alternatively upstairs there is a classic Portuguese restaurant Pap Açorda with table service OR venture by taxi east along the river where there are numerous seafood restaurants. 

The Mercado is steps away from Lisbon's only architectural bookstore, as well as EDP Headquarters (Portugal's electrical utility) designed by Aires Mateus Arquitectos and well worth a visit. 


Day 3

Breakfast at the hotel

Depart 9:30 by coach for the iconic Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum and Gardens, two museum buildings--1 housing Gulbenkian's personal collection of historic near and middle eastern textiles, ceramics and furnishings, and temporary exhibitions, the second featuring outstanding contemporary exhibitions (visit approximately 2 hours). 

We then change gears heading to the hilltop neighbourhood of Principe Real with 45 minutes free time to explore Rua Dom Pedro I--take in the shops or chill in the park with a coffee or a cool drink, before meeting under the giant Juniper Tree in the park to begin our descent by foot through the narrow streets towards the hip districts of Bairro Alto and Chiado. Our lunch destination The Taberna at chef José Avillez’s fantastic Bairrio do Avilliez (part food market, part multi-resto complex) is located along our walking route. 

After lunch our descent on foot continues with a short tour downhill to the hidden gem of architect Alvaro Siza Vieira’s creative urban redesign (responsible for saving a significant section of Chiado destroyed by fire in the 1980’s), which ends at the landmark Elevador Santa Justa.

The balance of the day and evening are Free-Time


follow the Culture Viewfinder guide to Chiado design shops and galleries, or head off on your own.

Perhaps this is a good night take in a FADO performance. CV will survey everyone in advance and can book for a group or provide a short list of FADO spots and you can take your chances. (cost additional).

Day 4

Early Breakfast at the hotel

Bus departs early (8:15) to Sintra, a wonderland collection of fantasty villas built as summer retreats by Lisbon's elite in the late Victorian era. Our destination is the outstanding Monserrate Palace and its award-winning Gardens. Both the villa and the extensive gardens are yours to explore from 10-am-12:30pm. Bus departs at 12:45 sharp! for an exceptional seafood lunch on the coast at Praia das Maçãs (Água e Sal).

Free-time afternoon: this is an opportunity to visit additional museums, neighbourhoods or shops on our last day in Lisbon.

**A choice will be available for a drop-off in Chiado district, or return to the hotel.


Taxi to Dinner at a charming, intimate, tucked away restaurant in Bairro Alto.

Afterwards is a Free-Time evening.

The restaurant is located a short walk to Mantegaria for the best Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) in town, or to the arty Cocktail Bar atop the Consulat Hotel. The Bairro Alto club district is not far away.

Day 5 Departure from Lisbon to Serra d-Estrela

Please have all luggage packed and deposited at reception before breakfast.

Bus departs post breakfast at 8:30am. We begin the day with brief visits to three architecture landmarks just east of central Lisbon--the recent Cruise Ship Terminal by Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos, Siza Vieira’s Portuguese Pavilion at the Expo’98 site, then Calatrava’s Gare d’Oriente train station, before heading north towards our destination in Serra d-Estrela (mountains and national park). 

The hotel will provide box lunches and bottled water for the trip (as the highway rest stop fare is bleak). We will make  washroom stops enroute. Hot drinks and fresh squeezed orange juice are typically available (not included).

Our destination is a picturesque mountain town, home to an innovative design studio, textile factory and two boutique hotels founded by creative entrepreneurs who saved the historic factory from shuttering and rejuvenated the town with a young workforce, support for a school and hospital. The Serra da Estrela mountains are the highest elevation in Portugal, include a National Park and unusual rock formations making it a remarkable national landmark.

Our hotel for two nights is a 5* Spa Hotel perched 7000 ft above the town. We arrive to a tour of the exceptional hotel and settle into our rooms before Tea  is provided in the late afternoon. Relax with a swim in the indoor/outdoor pool, on the patio, or lounge, or book a variety of treatments at the spa (additional cost).

8:30 Dinner in the excellent hotel restaurant.

Day 6, Spend the day in an around the town.

In contrast to the hectic pace in Lisbon we take some time to enjoy the town and the surrounding mountains. 

Breakfast at the hotel

Coach departs at 9:30 as we descend into the town for a tour of the textile factory, followed by a brief visit to the factory shop.

Lunch will be casual (soup, salads, sandwiches) at a well-appointed ski lodge, the second hotel property owned by our creative couple. 

Just outside the ski hotel gates is a fascinating ancient stone house, worth visiting.

We return to our hotel for an afternoon of R+R.

In addition to the pool and Spa, a hike will be offered to those who would like to explore the mountain with one of the hotel staff.

Tea in the late afternoon

8:30pm Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Day 7 on towards Porto

Please have all luggage packed and deposited at reception before breakfast.

Depart by coach at 9:00am for the largest Cork Composites factory in Portugal.

Arrival at the Composites Showroom for an exclusive custom presentation and tour. Be prepared to be amazed!

Lunch on site.

Continue on to Porto, check into the Carris Hotel Ribeira Porto a characterful modern hotel, near the Douro River and central historic Porto. Unfortunately, in this part of the city, there is no coach parking at the hotel, everyone will disembark and walk 200 metres to the hotel. A luggage service has been hired to transfer all baggage to the hotel. 

Settle into the hotel.

Late afternoon depart for a tour of Graham’s Lodge followed by a Port Wine Tasting at Graham’s Cellars across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia the famed location of all of Porto's famed historic Port purveyors. Coach transport will be provided to Graham's Lodge.


Free Time Dinner. There is a fine restaurant Vinum Restaurant on site at Graham's Lodge or walk down hill to the festive riverfront Quay where there are numerous restaurants and cafes, or alternatively return across the bridge to Porto for dinner. 


Day 8 Leça da Palmeira Coast and Matosinhos

Breakfast at the hotel

Depart by coach at 9:15am for the Leça da Palmeira coast.

A day north of Porto, starting with a guided tour of the Boa Nova Casa da Chá (Tea House), an iconic early work by Alvaro Siza Vieria, Portugal’s most renowned architect, then a brief stop at Siza's Tidal Pools before we  head for a fresh grilled fish lunch adjacent to the famed Matosinhos Port.


After lunch we visit the Casa da Arquitectura the new centre for architecture located in an arts compound in a repurposed winery and warehouses. A brief tour of the compound and architecture centre. 

The coach returns to the hotel in Porto. Free time for the remainder of the afternoon.

Dinner at 8:00pm at O Commercio located in the former stock exchange building, walking distance from the hotel.


Day 9 Porto

Coach departs at 9:30 am for the Serralves Museum, considered amongst the top ten contemporary art museums in the world. Brief guided introduction to the history of the museum, the current featured exhibitions and a map of the 10 acre site. 2 hours are allotted to tour the museum, the sculpture gardens and the grounds.

Coach departs at 12:15 for lunch at the charming, mostly plant forward  Essência Restaurant.

The coach takes us back toward central Porto to the district of Bolhão where we visit the studio of designer Gabriel Tan,

Then either take a leisurely downhill walking tour with Esther Shipman  past by The Majestic, famous Art Deco Café, continue down local pedestrian streets to the tile murals at the St. Idelfonso Church and São Bento Train Station, continuing south toward through historic Porto toward the river.

OR enjoy a Free-Time afternoon.

Take a taxi from the hotel to the Farewell Dinner at Oficina, by chef Marco Gomez, located in the Bombarda art district. Group Pictures


Day 10

Saturday, September 17

Breakfast at the hotel independent check-out and departure (tour commitment ends).

Those continuing on to the Douro Valley Option will depart by coach after breakfast at 8:30am

see the 2022 Wine Architecture and Gastronomy itinerary for further details. 


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