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Blog Travel Ideas

10 Best experiences to do in Portugal

By We Love Small Hotels | 19 October 2017

Portugal is a country full of true and unforgettable experiences. If you choose this land by the ocean for your vacation time or a simple getaway you will be enchanted. From North to South we recommend some of the best things to do. Taste the Portuguese flavours, enjoy the good wines and get to know Portugal through authentic and immersive experiences.

1. PORTO FOR FOOD LOVERS

Take your time to enjoy this city nicknamed “Invicta”. Walk by the river, go on a visit to a Port Wine producer, enjoy a Francesinha, visit the famous places like Livraria Lello or Torre dos Clérigos and finish with a boat tour up the river. To really appreciate food and discover the flavour of this city, we recommend:

For a chef’s experience - Restaurant DOP by Chef Rui Paula

With its breath-taking view to Douro taste the dishes that they serve here. Modern and inventive but with a historical backgorund based on several generations of culinary recipes. Have a special moment in this beautiful place with outstanding flavours.

A classic - Restaurante Traça

Do you appreciate game? Well, this is the best place in town for that type of meat. Unique decoration, views to the most iconic bridge in Porto, Dom Luís, and a menu that you will love.

The typical go local food experience - Casa Guedes

For a more typical experience, have a bite in a “pernil” sandwich with a special cheese from our most famous mountain “Serra da Estrela”. In this restaurant you will have an immersive food experience in a house that has a very typical decoration.

“Francesinha Lovers” - Santiago Café

You can’t leave this city without tasting the most iconic dish, the “Francesinha”. Santiago Café is the best place for you to enjoy this bread, egg, ham, cheese and sauce delicacy. This is definitely the place to go!

The trendy spot in town - Flow

A trendy place in Porto, Chef Rui Mingatos offers three spaces in the same local. Restaurant, Bar and a Terrace. Enjoy the different spaces and different flavours in each spot. Take a look at the decoration and take a step into the city centre, really close by.

For a fish and seafood experience - Marisqueira Mariazinha

The best fish and seafood that’s what you will get in this restaurant. Taste the sea at your table and take the opportunity to meet Matosinhos.

2. DRIVE IN THE BEST ROAD IN THE WORLD AND TASTE SOME WINE IN THE DOURO REGION

If you are looking for a more authentic and immersive experience, go to Douro and observe the astonishing views, the river and vineyards, an unforgettable postcard view.

Visit some local wineries like Quinta da Pacheca or Quinta do Vallado to taste the Douro wines and have a picnic in the vineyards, while enjoying one of the best roads in the world, N222.

These wineries are also unique small hotels that we really recommend your stay.

In the heart of the Douro region, in the delightful town of Peso da Régua, you will find the charming Quinta do Vallado, one of the oldest estates in the region, famous for its distinctive production of Douro and Port Wines. In 2012, and in order to enlarge the hotel, Vallado inaugurated a new eight-room building, currently offering hotel accommodation combining the 18th and 21st centuries.

It was once a centennial house. The first to bottle wine from his own brand. It was once a perfect match between the traditional History of the Douro Lands and the Contemporary Hotel concept.

Quinta da Pacheca, The Wine House Hotel, with a familiar treat and attention to detail, welcomes its guests to provide a unique wine-themed experience, as well as the hotel accommodation and a restaurant.

Close by, get to know the “Vinho Verde” Region

30 minutes from Douro, you can do the Romanesque Route to get an insight of the history of this place. Throughout the second half of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth century a series of transformations combined to trigger the emergence and expansion of the Romanesque style. Then visit Quinta da Aveleda Winery and sleep in Solar Egas Moniz Charm House, close by.

3. VISIT THE CENTRE OF PORTUGAL AND SURF THE BEST WAVES

If you are not familiar with the centre of Portugal, maybe it’s time now. Much less crowded than every destination in Portugal, this area is where you will find Natural Parks, Historical Villages and beaches with waves surfed by the best surfers in the world. Surf the waves of Peniche or Nazaré.

Stay at Surfer’s Lodge for a surf style environment! Find the surf culture of Peniche and also care for the environment. Enjoy the sunset in the rooftop and embrace the sea and waves of this village.

If you are looking for a total immersion with nature, stay at Rio do Prado where sustainability meets simple luxury.

4. DISCOVER THE HISTORICAL VILLAGES OF PORTUGAL AND ITS SMALL HOTELS

Each village preserves its own traditions and habits of its people. These are authentic places filled with charm and charisma, so enjoy discovering the Historical Villages with houses made only by schist, wander around in beautiful natural parks such as Serra da Lousã or Passadiços do Paiva.

In the centre of Portugal you will find unique small hotels:

Madre de Água Hotel Rural, Casas do Côro or Casas da Lapa. These charming, luxury and nature hotels provide the best experience between the slopes of mountains that give life to the centre of Portugal.

Coming a bit down, in Fátima region, discover Luz Charming Houses and Cooking and Nature Hotel. Experience the best of comfort together with a nature environment.

For beach lovers, the centre has its beautiful coast as well. Stay at Rio do Prado, near the beach of Foz do Arelho or Peniche and don’t miss the historical village of Óbidos. Nature, charm and sustainability are the main keywords to describe this place.

5. LISBOA FOR FOOD LOVERS

Discover this vibrant city, eating. Start in Lisbon and taste the local delicacies and then visit some national monuments and squares. Feel the city, walk by the Tejo river to Belém, where you definitely should taste Pastéis de Belém and also get to know history through monuments like Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or Torre de Belém.

If you fancy author’s cuisine go to Bairro do Avillez. The famous Portuguese chef José Avillez has different “eating areas” here so you can enjoy different foodie experiences, in a superb environment, mixing tradition with a cool vibe.

To enjoy fresh seafood you can’t miss Ramiro, the best lobster and other sea delicacies are here. Discover Lisbon eating, with our tour Lisbon for Food Lovers.

Small hotels we love in Lisbon:

Browns Boutique Hotel for a super central experience and 1908 Lisboa Hotel, for discovering a new area of the city that has been bubbling, being the most multiethnic neighborhood of Lisbon.

6. DISCOVER THE UNIQUE LANDSCAPES OF THE INLAND ALENTEJO AND ITS WINE

Inland Alentejo offers you some of the best countryside experiences and breath-taking views, only 1 hour from Lisbon. The colours you will see and infinite fields will give a sense of calmness and freedom. Visit UNESCO sites like Elvas and Évora or ride a horse in Marvão and do the old smuggling route. Visit dozens of wineries in the region and enjoy unique restaurants in the area.

To have a complete experience in inner Alentejo, we recommend eating the delicacies from Mercearia Gadanha in Estremoz or Tomba Lobos in Portalegre.

Stay at Torre de Palma Wine Hotel for a peaceful night in the middle of Alentejo countryside, enjoy its design and history from 1338, while drinking a glass of wine in the hotel’s tower.

7. DRIVE BETWEEN THE PINES AND SAND IN COASTAL ALENTEJO AND DISCOVER KMS OF DESERTED BEACHES

Drive between inland and coast of the Alentejo through a scenic road, without the stress of city traffic, enjoy the ride and see the natural landscape. Drive with the destination appointed to the sea and enjoy the unique beaches in this area. Discover the trendy Comporta beach and enjoy the restaurant SAL.

Stay at Sublime Comporta for a nature, hippie chic experience. 

8. DO THE ROTA VICENTINA WALK TRAIL

Get to know Rota Vicentina walk and bike trails and feel the calm rhythm that this region provide, far from the crowds and surrounded by unexplored nature.

Experience our tour Coastal Alentejo & Rota Vicentina Walk Tour and enjoy the best small hotels in the region: Herdade da Matinha Country House,  Herdade do Touril, Casas do Moinho and Quinta do Chocalhinho.

9. TAKE A WALK IN PRAIA VERDE BEAUTIFUL WIDE SANDY BEACH

Between Tavira and Monte Gordo, the coast stretches through beautiful beaches. Inspire yourself with the beauty of this location, bread the sea breeze, calm the rhythm and take a walk in this unique beach, one of our favourites.

Stay in Praia Verde Boutique Hotel, surrounded by a centennial pine tree forest, with direct contact with nature. Appreciate the quietness of the location and take advantage of the proximity to some of the best beaches in Algarve.

Discover Algarve with our walking tour in eastern Algarve:

10. ENJOY THE UNDISCOVERED, EASTERN ALGRAVE

Here long white beaches are secluded and the port towns are tranquil places, where you can seat and have a coffee and slow down to see life. Visit Tavira and the close by beach, Praia do Barril, a former tuna fishermen’s camp. Near Tavira discover Cacela Velha, an ancient Moorish fishing village. Don’t miss Olhão and its local market with incredible local food and fish. While in Olhão, visit Culatra Island, accessible through a short ferry ride. Then on your way back stop by the ice cream shop Gelvi and enjoy the sunset.

A small hotel we recommend close by is Fazenda Nova Country House.

You can also discover Algarve through its flavours with our foodie tour: Food Lovers in Algarve.