Portugal has a rich history and has always been on our radars thanks to football stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, but parts of the country haven’t had as much press as hot spots like the Algarve – until now.
While the south coast has been a popular tourist destination for timeshare owning families and golfers for many years, some of the best parts of Portugal seem to have slipped under the radar. Many, though, are near some of the country’s best-known landmarks and are surprisingly easy to reach – you just have to look them up on the map, first!
Keep an ear open for this region, you’ll be hearing more about it…
The Alentejo is rustic and picturesque with bountiful rolling hills, forests of oak trees, and never-ending vineyards. The perfectly warm climate gives this region the right conditions to produce one of Portugal’s best known wine varieties and is famous also for its production of wine corks which come from the local trees. Coupled with a rich history illustrated by the Neolithic stone circles that pre-date Stonehenge, this area is definitely getting its act together with a host of new excellent design hotels catering for tourists.
Portuguese nationals have long known about this seductive suntrap due to its easy to reach location under an hour from Lisbon – in fact many Lisbonites have already bought villas in the area, as the hotel industry was slow to take off here. However, with its popularity increasing, small boutique hotels have been emerging in this boho-feel beach town that sits upon miles and miles of sandy beaches.
If you’re a wine buff you’ll know all about Portuguese port (from Oporto) and now Portugal is hot on the heels of other varieties such as younger, slightly fizzy wines. The Douro Valley that lies inland is known for vineyards that product very good red wines – both Claret and Burgundy style. A new “foodie” destination, the Douro is worth visiting – why not take a trip here and get involved with the seasonal grape harvest?
Typically, the surfers head to that house-hunting Algarve of bright white villa complexes that are home to freshly cut golf courses, but those ahead of the game surf along the windier, wilder west around Costa Vincenta National Park, in particular. You’ll find charming little communities that run along the coast line, hosting surf schools for beginners and more extreme beach breaks for the pros. It’s all very relaxed and laid back and under an hour from the Algarve’s busier spots like Lagos, or further east Albufeira and Portimao.