ADVERTORIAL • January 2021
Portugal offers so much more than a Vitamin D fix, but we all agree that it’s a great place to start. Let the intrigue, adventure, rejuvenation and relaxation follow…
Brrr… It’s cold and dark outside, but a dose of short-haul sun should soon put things right. With its temperate climate, golden coastline, captivating cities and gastronomic delights, Portugal is one of Europe’s major mood boosters. And, thanks to the country’s Trust & Transparency charter, you can travel with peace of mind, too. Here, we map out four Portuguese destinations that are the perfect antidote to winter.
With its year-round balmy climate, Portugal’s subtropical Madeira archipelago – off the northern coast of Africa – has long been a popular destination for sun-seekers. And who doesn’t need some blue skies and warmth right now? Here, it’s all about switching off and connecting with the natural world, whether that’s exploring the wildflower-cloaked cliffs, navigating the network of levadas – irrigation channels-turned-hiking trails that crisscross the countryside – or taking a rejuvenating dip in the black lava bathing pools of Porto Moniz.
The capital thrills: Energised and destressed, wander the cobbled streets of Funchal, with its 16th-century cathedral and botanical garden, before feasting on grilled fresh seafood and espetadas. All washed down, of course, with a glass or two of the island’s namesake wine.
Pretty in Porto
It may be one of the oldest cities in the country, but Porto is also among the most vibrant. Turn any corner and you’ll likely be greeted by a colourful display of azulejos, the famous blue-and-white tiles that clad many a façade. Soak up the easygoing Portuguese atmosphere in the Ribeira district, which sits on the River Douro. Once a mediaeval hub, the historic waterfront now bustles with fishing boats and family-run tascas and is a popular spot for a sunset stroll.
The road trip: Porto is also the ideal jumping-off point for the Douro Valley. This majestic wilderness feels a world away from urban living, with vineyards stretching for miles and delightful quintas or wine estates, where you can treat your new unhurried self to local delicacies and a bed for the night. Bring your work laptop, as you won’t want to leave.
The Algarve, always
Escape the cold in southern Portugal, where the speciality piri piri chicken is as warming as the weather. While the regional capital Faro offers up Moorish architecture and an attractive marina, you may want to hit the Algarve coastline. Think quaint fishing villages, golden beaches and an inviting green-blue Atlantic, with breaks for every level of surfer and watersports fanatic. And let’s not forget the superlative golf courses that dot the area.
The road less travelled: Those who prefer an even slower pace of life should venture off the beaten track and go inland, with its sweet-scented orange groves and sleepy hamlets, where the vibe is as chilled as the delicious vinho verde. For a get-away-from-it-all break, the Algarve has it all.
The good life in Lisbon
There’s more to Portugal’s lively capital than its seven famous hills and bright yellow trams. It brims with charm, whether you’re marvelling at the unique architecture, dining in a world-class restaurant or soaking up the thriving arts scene. Two must-visits on the museum front are the restored MAAT – the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology – which glistens and gleams on the banks of the Tagus, and MUDE, the fabulously cool modern design institution (currently under renovation) in downtown.
The magic kingdom: This absorbing cultural landscape isn’t confined to the city. Just half an hour away is picture-perfect Sintra, where the Palacio Nacional will surely catch your eye. A little further on is Pena Palace, a Romanticist, jewel-coloured masterpiece with its architectural flourishes and magical gardens. A fairy-tale ending to any holiday.
British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Madeira, Porto, Faro and Lisbon. To start planning your trip, click here