The furthest point Southwest in Europe and one of its smaller countries, Portugal is packed in every direction with beautiful mountains, fields, beaches and ruins. The weather moves between mild and gorgeous year round with scenery, space and conditions ideal for an easy drive all over.
A prized and enjoyable climate
We have been to Portugal on several occasions and even with a limited amount of time we were able to see much of the country’s diverse beauty. The general rule is the further South you go, the more sun you see. Golf courses are open year round, especially in the Algarve. The waters that make up two of the country’s coasts create fascinating rock formations and Peniche is one of the top surfing destinations in Europe. Towns like Elvas and Ovidos are just a few examples of places that maintain their Roman ruins and historic charm after two millennia.
Authentic and Memorable Wine and Cuisine
One of the most impressive memories that Portugal gives to its visitors is the authentically flavorful and earthy taste in its food and drink. Places like Estremadura on the border with Spain are rich farmlands that have been producing wheat, grapes and agriculture since Roman times. The breads are rich, seafood is an abundant dinner dish and wines are very affordable and tasty. Wine from Alentejo is a perfect table wine, some of the Douro are gaining international acclaim and of course Port is an established favorite.
For a country that has such an at home, organic feel to it, one might not expect the big players of high luxury to have many places here, but there are so many beautiful places and there is a tradition of the good life and hospitality that makes Portugal amazing in the hotel realm. Penha Longa is one of the most idyllic resorts near the fairytale town and castle of Sintra. It has world class decor, an incredible golf course and breathtaking mountain lakes and forests. The Four Seasons in Lisbon captures the height of the city’s quiet luxury and the Conrad hotel in the Algarve showcases what a vacation resort in any place should be. Convento do Spinheiro is a reworking of a famous monastery that makes for a really unique stay at a Luxury Collection property and the Six Senses in Douro is a wellbeing hotel right in the heart of savory winelands.
Portugal feels like a best kept secret. It has good tourism infrastructure, an amazing history and a really enjoyable culture yet we’ve never felt overrun here. It is more on the map as a vacation spot for Europeans than for other visitors to Europe so it always feels like its waiting there just for us. It has everything you could ask for in a Mediterranean dream and yet it is far less expensive than any of its neighbors that have beaches and riviera’s of blue. We think some of its resorts and places are much more alluring than many other beachfront properties in Europe too.