How to Plan a Trip to Portugal with a Virtuoso Travel Advisor
I traveled to Portugal for the first time last year and it quickly became one of my favorite European countries and a favorite for clients - I booked Portugal 5 times in 2019 alone!
Once a maritime empire that conquered much of the New World, Portugal is an incredible destination for travelers. Whether you like history, food and wine, architecture, adventure, or something else, this small country is bursting with things to experience. Portugal also has a mild climate, so you can visit this country anytime during the year! To get to Portugal, you can take a direct flight from New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and (during the summer) Philadelphia…easy peasy! Our partners at Mr. Travel Portugal share where to go in Portugal and more below.
A visit to the north of Portugal is a trip back to Portugal’s beginnings. A land of Celtic settlements, medieval castles, mountain fortifications, and imposing monuments, each hill and building has its own fascinating tale to tell. The fine wines produced in the green valleys and the gastronomic marvels found in every village makes it a flaring combination of old charm and new trends.
- Highlights: Boat trip along the Douro river, Quinta de Marrocos
- Good for: foodie, history buff, family, wine lover
- Where to stay: Six Senses Douro Valley, Vidago Palace, Casas de Coro
Portugal’s second biggest city and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Porto is the gateway and departure point for a journey across the natural and cultural diversity of the region. It is known for the Port wine that is shipped from here to all over the world, but also for a heritage which combines ancient churches and monuments. Its School of Architecture bred names like Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura, winners of the Pritzker Prize, and both their contributions to its cosmopolitan streets leaves any visitor entranced.
- Highlights: Porto wine tasting at cellars, Stockmarket palace, Lello library, Clerigo’s tower, São Bento train station, São Francisco church, Casa da Música, Serralves Museum
- Good for: foodie, history buff, family, wine lover, shoe shopper, architecture enthusiast
- Where to stay: Maison Albar Monumental Palace, The Yeatman, InterContinental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas
The interior of the country goes from mountains and castles that defended the nation’s borders, passes through historic villages of granite and schist and transition into fishing villages and quaint coastal beaches dotting the coast of the Atlantic ocean.
- Highlights: Coimbra Library (UNESCO), Portugal dos Pequenitos, Batalha & Alcobaça Monastery
- Good for: history buff, family, sun & sand
- Where to stay: Quinta das Lágrimas, Areias do Seixo, Casa de São Lourenço
Enchanting. Lisbon’s unique light accentuates the dignity of its monuments, the scenic river Tagus glistens in the sunlight and the city’s unassuming cobbled streets lead you into resplendent squares. Old and new co-exist harmoniously in a city that has a rhythm all of its own where you will want to soak up its charm at a leisurely pace.
- Highlights: Jeronimo’s Monastery, Saint Jorge castle, Lux nightclub, boat sailing
- Good for: foodie, history buff, family, shoppers
- Where to stay: Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Bairro Alto Hotel, Valverde Hotel
ESTORIL COAST & SINTRA
Twin city of French riviera’s Biarritz, Estoril is one of Portugal’s main luxury resorts. Chosen place of exile for many European royal families, politicians, artists and businessmen during WWII, this unique town is glamorous and inspiring also to writers such as Ian Fleming that witnessed the movement of spies staying in the Hotel Palácio to create his Casino Royale’s James Bond. With all the infrastructures for a wonderful nightlife and a summer centre Estoril still remains much in vogue.
Continuing the story-telling moto, but now in a realm of romance, Sintra is all about scenic splendor where majestic fairy tale-like palaces, a grandiose castle, regal estates and charming red tiled houses stand amidst a landscape of luxuriant forests and hilltops.
- Highlights: hiking, surf, golf, motor-racing circuit, beach
- Good for: foodie, family, sportsmen, golfers
- Where to stay: Intercontinental Cascais-Estoril, The Oitavos, Hotel Palácio Estoril
Such as an artist in creation, Alentejo’s slower pace in life is sought after and treasured. Its capital, Évora, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, is even considered a book of Portuguese art history.
At the coast, golden sanded beaches that stretch out as far as the eye can see are breathtaking and ideal for horse riding on its dunes. Comporta villa is a best kept secret hidden gem where world fashion designers and top entrepreneurs unwind in luxurious simplicity.
- Highlights: wine tasting, golf, dolphin watching, beach horseback riding, Chapel of Bones, Diana’s Temple
- Good for: history buff, family, wine lover, horse riders, golfers
- Where to stay: Quinta da Comporta, Sublime Comporta, São Lourenço do Barrocal, Convento do Espinheiro
Thanks to the warm Moroccan air, the southern tip of continental Portugal has a fabulous climate all year round. The wide choice of beaches, animated seaside resorts, sophisticated villas and golf courses galore have all come together to make the Algarve Portugal’s best-known region.
- Highlights: beach, Sagres fort, boat rides, golf
- Good for: family, boat lovers, golfers
- Where to stay: Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Vila Vita, Vila Joya
The Azores is a land full of natural beauty to explore in the blue immensity of the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanic power that emanates from the earth created black lava vineyard fields, the geysers, hot thermal waters, and volcanic lakes – as well as the tasty “Cozido das Furnas”, a dish slowly cooked inside the earth. While in the Azores, don’t miss the local, specialty cheese produced by cows that live on the hills (the hills also offer a great view where you can spot whales and dolphins!).
- Highlights: hiking, whale and dolphin watching
- Good for: family, cheese lover, hikers, bird watchers
- Where to stay: Furnas Boutique Hotel, Hotel Azor, Lava Homes, Pocinho Bay
Are you read to experience the magic of Portugal? Click here to start planning your trip!