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2024 Creative Spirit 

September 4-13, 2024

A unique 10-day tour introducing both Lisbon and Porto, plus fabulous regional destinations in between, all presented through a modern cultural lens. Personally led  by celebrated Canadian curator Esther Shipman. 

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Culture Viewfinder has pioneered memorable, immersive travel programs unlike any other, weaving history into modern life as expressed through street culture, design, architecture, cuisine and wine. All programs personally created and led by celebrated Canadian curator Esther Shipman.

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

  • Behind the scenes museum visits with curators

  • Meet creators in their studios

  • Architect led tours of private buildings

  • Explore neighbourhoods guided by engaging experts

  • Visit one of Portugal's most remarkable design factories reimagining historic materials and techniques that incorporate exceptional design with sustainable and social practices

  • Taste the cuisine of a new generation of creative chefs and outstanding 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 distinctive destinations 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, modern cuisine and viticulture.

CV tours are restricted to small groups, feature atmospheric hotels, attention to detail and a one-off, rich travel experience.

Booking for 2024 programs is now open. Lock in current pricing and avoid disappointment, ensure your confirmation as space is limited.

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. Read the full article here


Tour Itinerary 

All Culture Viewfinder Inc. itineraries, and augmented travel information are  the exclusive intellectual property of Culture Viewfinder Inc. and protected by Copywrite. They are not be copied, distributed, or used other than by tour registrants exclusively during their selected tour without the written permission of Culture Viewfinder Inc.


All registered tour participants will receive further detailed itineraries and supplemental travel information prior to the commencement of their tour. 

Days 1, 2, 3 based in Lisbon      

The program begins the afternoon of Wednesday, September 4 at the Double Tree by Hilton-Fontana Park. DoubleTree is Hilton’s boutique hotel brand in Europe, featuring bright public spaces and a modern vibe.

NOTE: Registrants have the option to arrive a day early to acclimatize to the time change and/or to visit additional attractions in Lisbon on their own. A limited number of rooms have been pre-booked at a discounted rate for this early-bird night. Note: if planning to add this additional pre-tour hotel stay, we suggest that you make your additional booking while booking your tour, as this limited block of rooms are available on a first come first served basis.   


Day 1  September 4, 2024                                                               D

The tour kicks off in the afternoon with a meet and greet at the hotel's Fontana Park outdoor Courtyard, where following brief introductory remarks, you will  meet our walking tour guide and the Whispers Sound System will be distributed. Then departure by coach to the Rossio district for an Introduction to Lisbon walking tour through the central core of the city downhill to the impressive riverside Praça do Commercio. Explore the shops/cafes and colonnades, of this historic square before departing by coach for a brief stop at the beautiful Museum of Art Architecture + Technology (MAAT) for an exterior walk-about of the building designed by British architect Amanda Levete, and its grounds designed by acclaimed landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic and a tremendous photo op atop the museum roof. We cap the day with a Welcome Dinner on the waterfront at Darwin’s Café, at the Champalimaud Foundation Centre for the Unknown (a  state of the art medical research organization), designed by Indian architect Charles Correa. After dinner return to the hotel by coach.


Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel                                                               BLS

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

Afterwards take advantage of the wonderful Miradouro--scenic photo-op, across the square from the workshops, before we continue by taxi/uber through Alfama to our delicious regional lunch at the Taberna Albricoque.


Taxi a short distance for 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 

DINNER NOTE:  as an option for your Free-Time Dinner, the tour leaders will be at 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 stall's 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 Electricity Utility) designed by Aires Mateus Arquitectos and well worth a visit


Day 3                                                                                                      BL

Breakfast at the hotel

Depart 9:30 by coach for the iconic Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum and Gardens. Meet a senior curator for a brief introduction to the museum and its 10 acre site before embarking on a 90 minute self-directed exploration of the two museum buildings (a choice of multiple exhibitions at each, and the impressive gardens, and amphitheater.


Then changing gears we depart by coach to the charming 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 on 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) located along our walking route. 

After lunch our descent on foot continues with a brief tour enroute of a hidden gem by architect Alvaro Siza Vieira--to see his 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.

**Options: follow the Culture Viewfinder guide to Chiado design shops and galleries, or head off on your own to explore these significant two neighbourhoods.

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

Day 4     Alentejo                                                                           BLD

Early Breakfast at the hotel

Please have all luggage packed and deposited at reception prior to breakfast.

Bus departs early (8:30) to Alentejo province, Portugal's 'Breadbasket', abundant with Cork Oak trees, excellent wine and exemplary cultural attractions. Our first destination is an incredible organic and sustainable winery for a tour and tasting, followed by lunch at Origens, a Micheline listed restaurant located in the lovely nearby town. Our afternoon begins with visit to the region's quaint Decorative Arts Museum--MADE, afterwards the coach will take us to our excellent local hotel in a restored Palace. The balance of the afternoon, dinner, and evening are free-time. Enjoy time to relax, swim, or walk the grounds (the hotel also features three excellent restaurants), OR a  short walk away there is a lovely cultural square which features a Roman Ruin, a park with a great Miradouro, and several excellent contemporary museums (entry not included) plus numerous restaurants and the town's main square are close by.  

Day 5 Departure to Serra d-Estrela                                   BLD

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

Bus departs post breakfast at 9:00am, heading north towards our destination in Serra d-Estrela (mountains and national park). Water bottles, fruit and a boxed lunch will be available on the bus.

Washroom stops enroute will punctuate the trip. The quality of Rest Stops vary, however at the very least, all offer washroom facilities, hot drinks and fresh squeezed orange juice (additional beverages/food 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, increasing the population and saving the primary school and hospital. The Serra da Estrela mountains are the highest elevation in Portugal and include a National Park and unusual rock formations making it a remarkable national landmark.

Our hotel for two nights is a 5* Panoramic Spa Hotel perched high above the town. We  settle into our rooms before the daily self-serve Afternoon Tea provided in the hotel restaurant. Relax with a swim in the indoor/outdoor pool + sauna, take in the view on the outdoor patio, or cozy up in the lounge (included), or pre-book a variety of SPA treatments (Spa treatments must be booked by June 30, 2024, additional cost), or enjoy a cocktail or bottle of wine in the lounge (additional cost).

8:30 Dinner in the excellent hotel restaurant.

Day 6, Serra da Estrela                                                                BDL

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 sister hotel property owned by our creative couple. 

Just outside the ski hotel gates is a fascinating ancient stone house, which we will briefly visit prior to lunch.

Post-Lunch Options: 

Participate in a 1.5-2 hour medium-level hike exploring the national park and mountains with one of the ski-hotel staff (included) , OR Return to the hotel for an afternoon of R+R (swim/sauna (included), or pre-book a spa treatment (additional cost). The bus will return to collect hikers at the ski-hotel in time for Tea at the Panoramic Hotel.

8:00pm Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Day 7 on to Porto                                                                             BL

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

Breakfast at the hotel

Depart by coach at 9:00am.

Arrival in Porto for lunch at Commercial  located in the elegant former stock exchange building, in central historic Porto.

Our guide will meet us there and distribute the Whispers Sound Systems before we begin  the Introductory Guided Walking Tour of the Central Historic District

Following the tour the coach will meet us for the transfer for our 3-night stay at the Vincci Hotel Porto, a lovely, light and modern hotel, located in the beautifully restored former Porto Fish Plant. Check in, visit the wonderful rooftop terrace bar, overlooking the Douro River, and located beside the historic Trolley Museum and below the extensive Crystal Palace Park.

Free-time Dinner. Access to the historic district is a short Trolley Ride away--hold onto your hat. The drivers are determined to get you there in record time!, or via Taxi or Uber.

Day 8 Leça da Palmeira Coast and Matosinhos                BL

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), and a very brief stop at the nearby Tidal Pools, both iconic early works by Alvaro Siza Vieria, Portugal’s most renowned architect, followed by a visit to the Casa da Arquitectura, the new centre for architecture located in an arts compound within a repurposed winery and its warehouses. After a short introduction to the centre, visit the key architecture exhibit on display and/or the retail shop featuring objects, books, and prints by architects.


Hop back on the bus for a short trip to the famous Matosinhos Port for an extraordinary fresh fish and seafood lunch, before returning to Porto for a Free-time afternoon and dinner. 

Day 9 Porto                                                                                      BLD

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

Lunch at the Serralves Restaurant, before returning by coach to the central Bolhão district where we visit the studio of internationally acclaimed industrial designer Gabriel Tan.

Enjoy some free-time or join the tour leaders on a short walk to the recently renovated historic 

Bolhão Market and a Pit-Stop at Mantagaria Porto for one of their magical custard tarts (not included). 

Meet in the hotel lobby at 4:15pm

The bus departs at 4:30 sharp for a tour of Graham’s Lodge followed by a Port Wine Tasting at Graham’s Cellars both located across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia the home of Porto's famed historic Port purveyors.

The evening is capped with a Farewell Dinner at the Uva by Calem Restaurant located directly adjacent to the Douro River, a 10 minute walk downhill from Graham's Lodge.

Group Pictures

Return to the hotel via uber/taxi.


Day 10                                                                                                       B

Saturday, September 17

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

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

(see the 2024 Wine Architecture and Gastronomy itinerary).

B - Breakfast / L – Lunch / pL – Packed Lunch / D - Dinner /S – Snack - denote meals included in tour cost


*Itinerary is subject to final confirmation*

September 4-13,2024

Tour begins in Lisbon and Includes:


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

        3 nights Lisbon

        1 night Alentejo

        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 3 at a  discounted rate. Please confirm your interest with our Ellison agent.

Breakfast included every day at the hotels


Lunches (8) everyday September 5 to 13 inclusive, 2-course prix-fixe with water, tea/coffee, 1 glass of wine, unless otherwise indicated. 



4 dinners, 3 course prix-fixe with water, tea/coffee, 1 glass of wine, unless otherwise indicated

            1 Lisbon

            2 Serra da Estrela

            1 Porto


  • Coach + Walking Tour, Lisbon, September 4     

  • Taxis/uber through Alfama district, Lisbon September 5     

  • Coach morning Lisbon September 6, guided walk downhill from Principe Real to Chiado, 

  • Coach September 7, depart Lisbon to Alentejo

  • Coach September 8,  Alentejo to Serra da Estrela

  • Coach September 9,  Serra da Estrela

  • Coach September 10,  depart to Porto, lunch + walking tour central Porto, taxis/uber to Vila Nova de Gaia, port lodge tour and tasting, dinner, and return to hotel

  • Coach September 11,  Leça da Palmeira coast + lunch

  • Coach September 12, Serralves visit + lunch, coach to central Porto.

  • September 13 breakfast at the hotel, tour completed. Those continuing on the Wine Architecture + Gastronomy extension depart by coach to the Douro Valley at 9:00am


Visits and Admissions

Included--Admission fees and private tours of 3 major museums, + 2 architectural landmarks, the Alfama Artisan Workshops and the Decorative Arts Museum in Alentejo. Plus 1 significant design factory and 2 private design studios.

Introduction to Lisbon custom guided walking tour, and Introduction to Central Historic  Porto custom guided walking tour Whispers Sound System provided for both. Brief Chiado district walking tour featuring the post-fire Siza urban redesign led by curator Esther Shipman.

All driver and guide gratutities

Includes all applicable taxes as of contract date

Services of a Culture Viewfinder Tour Manager - Esther Shipman +

24 hour Ellison Travel and Tours emergency contact number while on tour


September 5: Gelato Therapy 1 scoop gelato in cup or cone

September 5 : optional Mercado Ribeira visit (cocktails, snacks, dinner, not included)

September 8: washroom breaks enroute to Serrra da Estrela, coffee/tea (not included), box lunch with water/juice provided for the journey

September 10: Mantegaria Porto, optional stop for exquisite custard tart + 1 shot Port or espresso (not included).

Estimated Tour Cost:

Advertised Land only costs listed below are guaranteed if Booking (confirmed and deposit received) prior to January 2024 

$6395.00CAD/pp Double Occupancy

$1445.00CAD Single Supplement


Pricing based on a minimum of 12 tour participants and a maximum of 18.

Early-Bird Overnight stay in Lisbon

$439CAD Double Occupancy

$425 CAD Single Occupancy


  • Deposit $1200.00 and confirmation of Medical Insurance Coverage at time of booking. Bookings completed prior to January 2024 ensures advertised prices are locked in.

  • Balance due June 4, 2024

Not Included

  • International airfare

  • Passport, visa (NEW ETIAS fee as of 2024 for non-EU travellers, ), government processing fees

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

  • Incidentals

  • Meals not listing in the tour itinerary

  • public transport tickets and/or passes

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

  • mandatory medical insurance 

  • travel insurance is not included in this tour package and is strongly recommended for Cancellation or Interruption, COVID 19 Travel Plan, Comprehensive Assistance, Health Coverage, Individual Accident Coverage, Luggage and Personal Effects Coverage. (Manulife Travel Insurance available through Ellison Travel and Tours, see below). Travellers providing their own insurance will be asked to sign an insurance waiver.



  • 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.

  • International Flights. Ellison would be pleased to book your flights from Toronto or any other departure gateway.


Cancellation Penalties

  • All payments received by Ellison Travel & Tours are 100% non-refundable (speak to our Ellison Agents 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 June 4, 2024

To book contact Melissa Zinga and Emily Bilyea

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

Please Note:

An average/moderate level of fitness is required to enjoy this tour. Trip activities include walking, sometimes on uneven ground, climbing stairs, mounting and dismounting from the coach. There are some extended travel times due to the distance between some of our destinations--but the travel days are all part of the adventure and provide an opportunity to witness life in the rural regions.

For your own safety, as well as the other passengers and the communities we visit, we require that all travellers on this journey be fully vaccinated against COVID 19 at least two weeks prior to departure.

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