Tailor made Portugal itinerary design and trip planning

Who is my custom travel planning service perfect for?

Do you get immense pleasure from getting off the beaten track and exploring authentic places on your travels?

Do you enjoy boutique accommodations, guided tours and unique cultural or culinary experiences as well as free time to explore independently?

Would you rather hand over the research, logistics and bookings to local experts instead of taking on the burden yourself?

If so, you’re in the right place. As a Portugal travel expert, trip planner, and blogger, I specialise in helping couples and small private groups of family and friends by designing unique and personalised trips to Portugal.

With my extensive knowledge and insider tips, gained from 17+ years of living and travelling throughout Portugal, I can create a trip that ticks all of your boxes and goes way beyond the typical tourist attractions, although I will make sure you don’t miss the “must-sees” that are important to you.

“Our trip was wonderful! Each day was so much fun, and every detail was perfect… I’ve been meaning to write to you everyday to thank you for putting together such a spectacular trip for us. The hotels were amazing, the pace just right, and the food was so good! You have spoiled us for all future travel!”

– Lucy Irwin

“Hi Julie, as I sit here looking over my pictures, I wanted to thank you for putting together our itinerary in Portugal! We saw so much in 2 weeks! For us, some of the highlights included the visit to Obidos ( even in the pouring rain), Cantinho das Aromaticas ( I am enjoying a cup of tea from there right now), the food tour in Porto and the hiking and lunch at Ervadosa do Douro! The sailing in Lisbon and ebike tour were also highlights. All of our guides were great. The 2 weeks were stress free, with not having to think what we were going to do the next day! I am already planning what I want to do next trip ( hiking in Alentejo or Madeira). Thanks again, Nancy.”

Nancy Rheaume

No time to design your own Portugal itinerary?

Finding your ideal experiences and designing a logical, balanced itinerary takes considerable time, effort and insider knowledge.

Trawling through hotel websites, checking opening times, locating decent restaurants, choosing tours, considering how to get from A to B and deciding what you can realistically fit into a limited amount of time is not everyone’s idea of fun.

If you simply don’t have the time or desire to research your trip but crave a unique, personalised holiday in Portugal, I’m here to help.

My custom itinerary design service takes care of the planning and logistics, leaving you free to relax and succumb to Portugal’s charms without the hard work.

“We can’t thank you enough for the wonderful “Glimpse of Portugal” itinerary you designed for our group. The sights you selected, the incredible food and wine tours and especially the outstanding local tour guides were beyond our expectations. Every restaurant recommendation you gave us was fantastic! You have left us with an indelible impression and wonderful memories of the beauty, culture, foods and people of Portugal. We can’t wait to plan another trip with you.”


“Julie Dawn Fox was absolutely amazing. My husband and I wanted to have a relaxing trip where all we needed to do was show up and have a great time. She definitely delivered! Julie came up with an awesome, custom itinerary and it was executed flawlessly. Every detail went smoothly, from the driver pick-ups to the chef’s dinner on a farm in the countryside. We had a trip of a lifetime that we’ll never forget. I would highly recommend using Julie’s services while in Portugal!”


Why me?

Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal, with blue and white Portuguese tiles in the background
Meet Julie Dawn Fox, your outsider on the inside. Award-winning Portugal blogger and contributor to DK EyeWitness Travel Guides to Lisbon, Portugal and Europe plus publications like The Huffington Post and Ritz-Carlton Magazine.

With almost two decades of experience of travelling in Portugal, I have developed an extensive network of trusted contacts and discovered the best the country has to offer.

I can help you discover secret spots that are often overlooked by guidebooks and which most travel agents have never even been to.

You’ll get the best of both worlds: independent travel advice and recommendations from a Portugal insider combined with the ease, customer service, and security of booking through a trusted, licensed, local travel agent.

“Overall, the trip was amazing and our experience with everyone involved in the planning process was tremendous (i.e., exceeded our expectations), beginning with Julie through all the folks at Catavino.  I am not sure who is exactly responsible for what aspect of the experience, but from my perspective, it all began with Julie.  We were extremely fortunate to stumble across her through some creative Google searches.  We were late to the game in planning this trip, and finding Julie was a lifesaver.  She was incredibly responsive, detail oriented, and “heard” our interests and objectives for the trip.  As the “quarterback,” she did a great job in relaying our desires to the right people.  Once Catavino took over, there was no fall off in customer experience; it was seamless and you guys nailed it!” 

Kevin & Stacey B.
Landscape around Pinhão, Douro Valley Portugal

How does my Portugal itinerary design service work?

My custom itinerary design service is set up to make your Portugal trip planning process seamless and stress-free. Here’s how it works:

1. Simply get in touch using this form to tell me what you’re looking for. This will help me learn what you’d be thrilled about during your trip and what to avoid at all costs.

2. Once I’ve reviewed your completed questionnaire and I’m sure I can help, I’ll send you a payment request for the initial itinerary design fee of €300 (for trips of up to 2 weeks for less than 6 people – see FAQs). This initial fee will be deducted from the total cost of the proposal that I create in conjunction with my partner travel agency.

3. After receiving payment, I’ll email you an outline itinerary, usually within 3 working days. This includes:

  • Details of specific accommodation (name and location of the hotel and type of room)
  • Type of tour or activity, e.g. half-day private walking tour of Porto’s historical highlights
  • Suggested sights to visit independently, e.g. visit a contemporary art gallery renowned  for its collection, architecture and gardens
  • Logistics such as travel method between cities, e.g. 1st class train tickets or private transfer
  • Quote for the total cost of the trip (we work on a package price and cannot break down the cost per item)

4. You can request changes or ask for more information until you are happy to proceed to the booking stage.

5. My trusted local partner will take over at this point and handle deposits and reservations.

6. When your services are secured, we will send you a final itinerary with full details, including restaurant suggestions (the agency can make reservations for you, if you like).

“I was so glad to find Julie Dawn Fox! After much time spent ‘researching’ where to go and what to see for a planned 2-week trip to Portugal, I was overwhelmed. After an initial email contact with Julie asking for her assistance, I provided her with details about what we liked, didn’t like, our activity levels, interests, etc. Very quickly she provided a framework of an itinerary, with many options for tours/day and half-day trips from which to choose. My husband and I reviewed and tweaked it to our preferences, and once it met with our satisfaction, Julie turned us over to Catavino Tours to manage the details. All in all we were extremely pleased with the guidance, support and service Julie provided, and would recommend her services to anyone considering a trip to Portugal.”


Your final custom itinerary includes:

  • Written day-by-day itinerary
  • At least one restaurant recommendation for each day
  • Contact details for your guides and drivers as appropriate
  • Information about activities you can do without a guide where relevant
  • Information about the local weather during your trip and other practical tips
  • Contact details for 24-hour emergency support throughout your trip
  • Additional sightseeing information for major cities


Portugal Itinerary Design FAQs and T&Cs

How much does it cost?
There is a minimum fee of €300, payable in advance, for trips of up to 2 weeks and groups of 6 or less. If your group is larger, or your trip is longer, I will send you a quote based on the complexity of your trip. All amounts are exclusive of VAT (sales tax), if applicable.
How far in advance should I book?
The best availability and prices are available when you are able to plan and book your trip 6-9 months in advance. The closer to the trip dates you leave it, the more expensive hotels will be and some activities may no longer be available. We need at least 1 week to arrange a full itinerary for you so last-minute trips are far from ideal.
Will I receive an itemised cost breakdown of the trip?
No. If you give me any budget guidelines, I will bear them in mind when selecting accommodation, tours and restaurants but ordinarily, my focus is on your experience rather than the price. I am able to incorporate exclusive services and confidential trade prices via my partner that aren’t available to the general public (only if they are appropriate for you, of course). My partner agency works on a package price basis so once the itinerary outline and accommodation is agreed upon, they will give you a quote for the entire tour. If it is beyond your budget, just let us know and we will make adjustments to bring it in line with your expectations with as little compromise on the overall experience as possible.
What's the benefit of booking through the travel agency and will it cost more than doing it myself?
The industry rates that the travel agent has access to go some way towards offsetting the cost of their services. You can expect that the fully managed service will cost slightly more than doing everything yourself as you are paying for our expert services and the 24/7 support of a licensed travel agency. In terms of the time and effort you save before the trip and the peace of mind of knowing that if something goes wrong during your trip you can rely on them to do everything possible to resolve it is well worth it if you’re not on a tight budget.
Can you book my flights for me?
I’m afraid not, although my partner travel agency can organise domestic flights within Portugal.
Why do I have to pay in advance?
Each itinerary I design is unique and that takes time and commitment. I start from scratch to research options based on your individual requirements so that I can be confident that the recommendations I make are a) ones you’ll love, b) available for your dates and c) within your approximate budget. In order to dedicate my time to delivering the best itinerary possible for you, I need to be sure you are just as committed.
What if I don't like the itinerary you design for me?
I use the information in your questionnaire to choose trip elements I think you’ll adore. If I’ve missed the mark in any respect, simply tell me what doesn’t appeal to you and I’ll make alternative suggestions and adjustments to the draft itinerary until you’re thrilled with your trip plan.
I'm still not sure. Can we talk first?
Of course. If you’d like to talk through your ideas and make sure I’m the right person to be trusted with creating your ideal trip, we can set up a Quick Query consultation. I will discount the cost of this against the price of the itinerary design if you decide to go ahead.
What if I'm not satisfied with your service? Can I get a refund?
If you are not completely satisfied with the itinerary design service I have provided, please email me within 30 days to explain the problem. If I am unable to resolve it, I will refund 50% of the itinerary design fee. Please note that I am not responsible or liable for problems caused by Third Party services – see Terms and Conditions below.
Terms and Conditions
Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal is not a travel agency. Information and suggestions made with regard to itineraries are just that and do not constitute a travel arrangement or contract. Every effort has been made to ensure the information provided by Julie Dawn Fox is accurate and up to date at the time. However, services, reputations and standards of third parties are subject to change; establishments close, standards and prices may change. Julie Dawn Fox is not responsible or liable for the operation of any third-party service providers. This includes, but is not limited to, the failure of public transportation to operate as planned or museums and other attractions to open as scheduled. Fees paid to Julie Dawn Fox are for itinerary design and consultation services only. Fees are payable in advance and are non-refundable unless unforeseen circumstances at Julie Dawn Fox’s end render her unable to deliver the service. Under such circumstances, the client will receive a full refund of unused fees.  If the client notifies Julie Dawn Fox in writing within 30 days of dissatisfaction and it is not possible to resolve the problem (see above), 50% of the fees will be refunded.

Happy to do more of the planning work yourself?

If you would rather be more involved in researching and building your own itinerary, you might find my Quick Query 1:1 travel consultation service will suit you better.