The Roundup

The 9 Places to Visit in Portugal

by Delfina Forstmann
Lisbon, Lisbon streets. Photo by xiquinhosilva/Flickr.

Portugal seems to have it all: City scenes, beach getaways, mountain hideouts. It’s rich with culture and history, food and wine, and fresh design. It's also relatively safe, affordable, and utterly charming. Plan your trip using this list of nine destinations and excellent hotel destinations as your jumping-off point.


What’s to love: The capital city is full of old history and modern flare, and the contrast is what gives the place such a terrific ambiance. Cobblestone streets and majestic squares are countered by graffiti-covered monuments in up-and-coming neighborhoods. Bairro Alto is a good place to start your exploration, as it is filled with cool shops and quirky cafes. Head to Baixa for sightseeing, Principe Real for shopping, and Alfama for beautiful views and great food. Stop in at Casa da Praia Bar and Tapas for snacks and a glass (or two) of crisp vinho verde. Make sure to drop by Pasteis de Belem for your pastel de nata fix (a traditional Portuguese egg tart pastry you can't pass up).
Where to stay: Santo Clara 1728 is the spot.
Read more on Fathom: Food, Fado, and High Spirits Are All the Rage in Lisbon


What’s to love: This laid-back and rustic cluster of islands are delightfully underrated. A beautiful balmy climate is thanks, in part, to its location in the southern branch of the Gulf Stream. Boutique hotels and outdoor adventure opportunities add to the appeal. Horseback riding is a must: The stables at Equi'Acores, outside Ponta Delgado, can organize extensive multi-day rides across the island.
Where to stay: Azor is a charmer.
Read more on Fathom: The Azores Are the Hawaii of the Atlantic

Comporta,Portugal, Brejos villa.
Brejos Villa in Comporta. Photo courtesy of Brejos Villa/Airbnb.


What’s to love: Comparta is to Lisbon what The Hamptons are to New York. The best way to experience this beachy town is to rent a house with a group of friends.
Where to stay: Brejos Villa, Comporta Beach Villa, or Casa do Pinhal will do the trick.


What’s to love: The scenery is wooded, mountainous, and home to historic castles, palaces, and displays of beautiful architecture. The UNESCO cultural landscape is said to be one of the fairytale-like places that inspired Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Spend time in Parques de Sintra exploring Palacio de Pena, the medieval Moorish castle. Visit the gardens at Quinta de Regalieria, a turn-of-the-century gothic estate. Tascantiga is the perfect place to enjoy tapas (make sure to reserve ahead if you're visiting during summer) or Tacho Real for traditional Portuguese dishes and live Fado music.
Where to stay: Tivoli Palácio De Seteais will be your kingdom.
Read more on Fathom: Escape Lisbon at Sintra's Fairy-Tale Palace Hotel

Cascais Beach, Portugal.
Beach in Cascais. Photo by Caroline Goggin.


What’s to love: A small but upscale beach town only 30 minutes out of Lisbon. Brimming with shops and cafes, locals say Lisbon is for doing things and Cascais is for relaxing. Spend your days wandering historic streets, strolling in to boutiques or take a scenic bike ride along the coast. Check out the beach, and walk in the sand or enjoy a refreshing drink at Bar do Guincho. In the evenings you want to get the best view of the notoriously stunning sunsets, the rooftop of Hotel Baia offers a perfect place to sip on a cocktail while watching.
Where to stay: Pestana Cidadela Cascais is a good home base.
Read more on Fathom: The Living is Easy in Cascais, Lisbon's Charming Coastal Neighbor


What’s to love: The city hugs the Atlantic. It’s effortlessly cool and distinctly European, with small streets littered with wine bars, cafes nightclubs, galleries, museums, and cultural gems. Eat, drink, explore. Don't miss popular restaurants Shiko and Portarossa.
Where to stay: Casa do Conto is refined and relaxed.
Read more on Fathom: Feeding the Body and Soul in Northern Portugal

Douro Valley, Portugal.
Lush Douro Valley. Photo courtesy of Six Senses Douro Valley.

Douro Valley

What’s to love: Sprawling green countryside, beautiful blue skies, and vibrant colors all around. Elegant bridges stretch across the Douro river. Travel by train from Lisbon (it's both accessible and affordable), or drive to take in the view of the wineries, towns, rivers, and thermal pools in the valley. Look into Longroiva Hotel & Thermal Spa on the northeastern cusp of the Douro River and Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park, an eco-conscious treehouse hotel designed by Luis Rebelo de Andrade. 
Where to stay: Six Senses Douro Valley will cure what ails you.
Read more on Fathom: Feeding the Body and Soul in Northern Portugal

Lagos Algarve,Portugal.
The pool at Casa Mae, Lagos Algarve. Photo courtesy of Casa Mae.

Lagos Algarve

What’s to love: Go for the charming old town, the Atlantic rocky beaches, and the dramatic ocean cliffs. Lagos can be touristy in high season but it is also a good base to explore Western Algarve. Be sure to explore the Dona Ana Beach and Ponta da Piedade cliffs.
Where to Stay: Casa Mae, once a19th-century family home, is now a fab 22-room boutique hotel located in town.

The grounds at São Lorenço do Barrocal. Photo courtesy of São Lorenço do Barrocal.


What’s to love: Monzeraz is a hilltop town with medieval walls, cow pastures, and tidy vineyards. Walk through olive groves, visit Neolithic ruins, and stay on a working farm. The Esporão Estate is a lovely local winery.
Where to stay: São Lorenço do Barrocal is a hidden gem.

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