I am interested in the Best of Portugal tour but have two questions. The tour doesn't go to the Algarve region. Would I want to travel to that area before or after the tour? Also, many, many people say the cork farm is their Wow moment. With all the wonderful things to see in Portugal, what makes the cork farm so special?
I don’t think Rick particularly likes the Algarve https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/portugal/algarve and so, yes it’s not included. We took this tour a few years ago and really enjoyed it. The Algarve is closer to Lisbon than Porto so traveling there before the tour makes sense. We did not go there as we get ample beach time when we visit Hawaii. But do leave time for Sinatra which is also not on the tour. As for wow moments-we enjoyed the cork farm, the family who hosted us, the lunch, but it was not our wow moment.
The Algarve is mostly comprised of large beach and golf resorts and lacks the character of other parts of Portugal. There are better areas to see unless you want time at the beach and there are many of these closer to Lisbon.
I went on my own to Portugal. While I was in Evora, I drove out to a cork factory for a tour and it was one of the highlights of my trip (there were a lot), because I learned so much about farming and processing cork and its many uses. I saw many cork groves, not sure what makes a cork farm special, except if they are actually harvesting cork while you're there. Harvesting depends on the weather - it must be consistently hot, so it usually doesn't begin until mid-June or later. My guess is that a lot of the harvesting is done during the hottest weather when there are no RS tours
Hi there! I went on this tour last year. We did not go to the Algarve on our own but some in our group did. Nothing we heard made us feel as though we missed anything. Sounded very touristy and typical of a beach vacation. The cork farm was a "WOW" because of the Garcia family, who hosted us. They were so open and welcoming. We rode on a safari vehicle with Gonçalo Garcia, the grandson, who told us the history of the farm. He talked about the difficulty of cork harvesting and sustainable farming. We ate lunch with three members of the family, including the estate owner, Maria Garcia. The food was down-to-earth and delicious. The visit was one of those things that you may not be able to understand until you do it. It's a truly "backdoor" experience that Rick is so famous for. Honestly, though, I loved everything about this tour. I hope you go.
Thanks to everyone for your input and insight. It makes a lot more sense now. I hope to go on the Portugal tour in 2020.