Like an overlooked classmate who returns from summer break with a new luster, Portugal is quickly becoming the popular gal at the party. And why not? Her beauty, smarts, and charm rival her European neighbors, but Portugal lacks the cost and the crowds that come with years of adoration. So, go now before her dance card is full.
You could begin in Cascais, a cosmopolitan yet unspoiled fishing village near Lisbon with vintage boardwalk and beach huts serving the day’s catch. Our favorite hotel, the family-owned Albatroz, juts out over the sea, affording golden sunrise views and good karma to start each day.
This dreamy state of mind continues with a day trip to Sintra, a fairytale land where Portuguese royalty and now entertainment elite, including Madonna (not to be confused with Snow White), are purchasing second homes. For your own Cinderella moment, consider touring Pena Palace, a real castle UNESCO World Heritage site complete with clock tower and drawbridge. Knights in shining armor, to be determined.
For grown-up fun, Portugal’s famed wine region, The Douro Valley, home to Six Senses Douro Valley is well worth a three-night stop. Indulge in a day at the resort’s renowned spa and pool before venturing out for a hike, a river cruise, or a meal at DOC, Rui Paula’s famed restaurant.
And then, it’s off to Porto. If you arrive by train or happen to be lunching at nearby Tapabento, which we recommend, don’t miss the incredible azulejo tile walls of the Sao Bento Station’s vestibule. Twenty-thousand tiles and a whole lot of talent when into depicting these blue-and-white scenes from Portugal’s history. Porto’s prized hotel, the Yeatman, offers equally beautiful, albeit natural, views – out the windows to the countryside beyond.
Consider a quick stop in the medieval town of Obidos before spending your last few days in the capital city of Lisbon. On par with Europe’s more illustrious cities, Lisbon shines – literally, as the sun bounces off the pastel stone buildings scattered across the city’s seven hills, and figuratively, basking in the glow of her rich history, thriving cultural scene, and charming neighborhoods. It’s all there waiting for you.
Thanks to Luis at Mr. Travel, our preferred Portugal onsite, for his guidance and hospitality.
Caroline Travels the World…And So Can You.