Portugal, one of the undiscovered delights of Western Europe.
It won’t stay that way for long.
Lovers of food, wine, adventure and culture should not miss a moment booking a trip to this historic land.
Most trips to the country will begin in Lisbon, a city rich with both Moorish influences and the haunting sounds of fado music.
Head straight to the Alfama and Castelo de Sao Jorge, the 11th Century castle.
Explore the archeology, the steep climb and the leafy gardens. Meander downtown to the Baixa, city center, for live street performances and local cafés.
Lisbon. Photo credit: Portugalholidays4u.com
Chiado is the place to be for high-end shopping and theaters. Bairro Alto is the place to head for the local folk music, known as fado. The haunting noise will follow you home in a nostalgic love of home and country.
As for dining, options appear almost endless. Try Cervejaria Ramiro, a massive beer hall and restaurant, cracking bottles and shrimp shells with the locals. Or go for a Michelin starred experience at Alma in the Chiado district.
Dining out in Portugal is a delight. Entradas, or small plates, will be brought upon seating. Be aware that these are not complimentary. They are, however, a fantastic way to ease into the meal. Washed down with Vinho de Casa they are a real local experience.
Pratos do dia are usually that day’s fresh catch along with accompaniments and an excellent value.
A short drive from the capital is the delightful, charming Sintra.
Brightly colored buildings and café-lined streets are a balm to the soul.
Sintra - Photo credit: Kuddelmuddel travel Blog
Those looking for luxury need to do no more than check in to the Ritz Penha Longa. Dating from the 14th century to the era of monks and royalty, the Ritz not one but two Michelin starred restaurants.
Walk old town, explore the multiple palaces, jump on the tram, eat queijada, then head to Praia da Adraga, one of the best beaches in the country.
Head off to Porto to explore the myriad Port wineries. Since the 14th century, when the country signed a commercial alliance with England, this wine has been popular internationally. Fortifying the wine with brandy to survive the trip to England gave it its unique flavor.
The Douro Valley is a wonderful location for further exploration of Port Wineries and the internal landscape.
In Porto, head to Caves Ferreira, the only Port winery remaining Portuguese owned since its inception. Also try a tour and tasting at Taylor’s, a large internationals Port winery.
Dine at Dom Tonho or the Yeatman for Michelin stars and exquisite cuisine. Try Chez Lapin for hearty local fare.
Table wines are quickly surpassing Port in international demand. A trip east into the Douro valley, complete with quaint inns, local markets, steep hills and village life show another side of this country. A side that may be pushed quickly into tourism to keep up with the growing wine tourism industry. Some excellent red table wines are being produced from this region.
Feeling the adrenaline rush? Head to Ericeira, one of nine world class surf breaks and close to the capital.
Summertime brings Sumol Summerfest in July, allowing the opportunity for incredible surfing, golden beaches and summer concerts in one spot.
Mix the warm weather, hiking, trendy beach scenes and breath-stealing cliff drops in the Algarve region, the wild west area of the country.
The stunning Algarve coastline. Photo credit @nadiawaugh from Instagram
Breathe, relax and enjoy the sandy walks, surfing and seafood. One of the most famous restaurants in the area is Vila Joya in Albufeira, central Algarve. Holder of two Michelin stars, this famous spot focuses on local seafood.
Options abound here, but another great option is Braga, the religious capital of the country. It is rich with monasteries, churches, chapels and colorful festivals.
Soak in the culture while relaxing at the Melia Braga, the top five star hotel in town.
Explore the university, take a day trip to the Peneda-Geres National Park, and soak in the atmosphere.
Larry Gamache has spent his life exploring the world with his first trip to France in 1985. While his journeys have taken him through the United States, Africa, Asia and South America he now calls Paris home. He co-founded BonjourMonAmour, the Concierge for Luxury Travels to France in 2018.