Portugal travel guide: where to go, stay and eat

·5-min read
 (Six Senses)
(Six Senses)

Britain’s oldest ally is going to be a big part of all our lives this year.

The recent relaxation of the UK’s testing requirements makes that two-week stint on the sun-soaked Algarve that bit more likely this summer — and Portugal was just voted one of the most popular destinations for 2022 by UK travel association ABTA.

Anyone who has ever visited will love its diversity – from its dramatic islands like Madeira and the Azores to the hubbub of forward-looking, design destinations like Lisbon and Porto.

There’s plenty of pousadas, wineries and wide open countryside in the less visited interior and of course the beaches, bars and golf courses of the Algarve for those craving a little post-lockdown fun.

LISBON

What to see

Lisbon’s iconic yellow tram cars trundle through narrow streets, and funiculars zoom you up to the Bairro Alto. Check out the new maat (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) and don’t forget to pick up a pasteis de nata in Belem.

Where to stay

Everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Axl Rose stayed at the famed 1950s Ritz – now it’s just been totally refurbished and re-opened as Four Seasons The Ritz (fourseasons.com/lisbon). Another newbie, the Moxy brings a youthful vibe to the city centre with its millennial-friendly offering (marriott.com/hotels/travel/lisop-moxy-lisbon-city/).

Where to eat

100 Maneiras (100maneiras.com/en/) is the latest recipient of a Michelin star in the Portuguese capital for the flamboyant and creative cooking of Ljubomir Stanisic. The bar and restaurant at the new outpost of Mama Shelter are set to be Lisbon’s coolest hangouts when it opens soon (mamashelter.com).

 (Monte Palace Hotel)
(Monte Palace Hotel)

MADEIRA

What to see

Madeira’s mountains, levadas and windswept waterfalls make for spectacular hikes to blow lockdown cobwebs away. The island’s subtropical gardens and coastal rockpools are enticing places to while away the days.

Where to stay

Albatroz (albatrozhotel.com) has its own sea pool lashed by Atlantic waves, tennis courts and a friendly vibe. The Cliff Bay (portobay.com) offers an upmarket experience on historic capital Funchal’s posh promenade, with delicious local fish at Avista restaurant.

Where to eat

Villa Cipriani is a spin off of the Venice eatery serving their famous carpaccio (of course) and perfect plates of pasta (belmond.com).

 (Vale de Ribeira)
(Vale de Ribeira)

CENTRAL PORTUGAL

What to see

The Disneyland kitsch of the Palacio Pena in Sintra is a camp celebration of colour. The city of Coimbra is full of students and ancient architecture. Live out your James Bond fantasies at the Casino in Estoril, inspiration for Ian Fleming and real life World War II meeting point for spies from all sides.

Where to stay

Voted best luxury garden resort in the 2020 Luxury Hotel Awards, the high spec Sheraton Cascais Resort is a hermetic world of relaxation (sheratoncascaisresort.com). Sana Hotel has easy access to the legendarily beautiful beach at Sesimbra (sesimbra.sanahotels.com). The little town of Ericeira is home to the simple seaside chic of Reserva Hotel (flh-hotels.com/reserva).

Where to eat

The Michelin-starred dining room helmed by Gil Fernandes rounds off this brilliant boutique bolthole in a former castle overlooking the coast (fortalezadoguincho.com). The new Evora Farm Hotel opens early summer and promises farm-to-table feeds – an orchard, vegetable garden, and cooking classes complete the picture (evorafarmhotel.com).

 (Evora Farm Hotel)
(Evora Farm Hotel)

ALGARVE

What to see

Golf devotees can play a round on the many courses in southern Portugal, while party animals can get their fix in Lagos. There are also protected wetlands teeming with birdlife and brilliant beaches to chill out on.

Where to stay

Luxurious self catering villas Vale da Ribeira Residences are perched in the hills above Lagos (valedaribeiraresidences.com). Tivoli’s recently refurbished Carvoeiro Hotel (tivolihotels.com) adds new levels of luxury. Watch out too for the W Algarve (marriott.com) coming soon to Albufeira.

Where to eat

Japanese joint Umami is the newest addition to Quinta do Lago’s plethora of eating establishments (quintadolago.com).

 (Six Senses)
(Six Senses)

PORTO AND THE NORTH

What to see

Porto’s lively markets and Port wine warehouses, its bridges and cathedrals, are all appealing. The wild west coast is incredible for surfing and the famous Piscina das Mares sea pools perfect for swimming.

Where to stay

Dark, brooding and sensuous, the Teatro is a low-lit hotel in the ruins of a former 1850s theatre in the heart of Porto (portobay.com). Six Senses Duoro Valley (sixsenses.com) offers luxurious stays in the heart of wine-making country. Read our full review of Six Senses Duoro Valley.

Where to eat

Ricardo Costa’s double Michelin starred restaurant at the Yeatman in Vila Nova de Gaia reimagines Portuguese specialties and offers knock-out wines (the-yeatman-hotel.com).

 (Azor hotel)
(Azor hotel)

AZORES

What to see

Breathtaking natural wonders await on the main Ilha de Sao Miguel – try a hike down to the famous Lagoa do Fogo and a dip in the mineral-rich waters nearby, or travel to the picturesque islands of Pico and Horta for mountain climbing and whale watching in the middle of the stormy Atlantic.

Where to stay

As a member of Design Hotels, Azor (azorhotel.com) brings boutique chic to the Azores, sitting pretty on Ponta Delgada waterfront. The super cosy Lava Homes (lavahomes.com) offers homely hygge on the island of Pico.

Where to eat and drink

Serving up fresh fish (much of the tuna caught here goes straight to Japan), Otaka offers an impressive Japanese dining experience in Ponta Delgada (otaka-restaurant). Azores Wine Company (azoreswinecompany.antoniomacanita.com) has won numerous plaudits for its products. Head to Pico for a tasting; their new hotel at the vineyard opens soon.

HOW TO GET THERE

TAP Air Portugal flies from London Heathrow and Gatwick to Lisbon and Porto, and indirectly to Faro, Madeira and the Azores via Lisbon (flytap.com).

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting