Off the beaten track of destinations like Lisbon and Porto, Portugal’s wild southern coast- and aristocratic Sintra region- are gearing up for summer. They’re a diverse bunch, so for the best places to visit in one of Europe’s most-talked-about destinations, read on…

In the north

Where to go?

Douro Valley

The vineyards of the Douro River in Portugal is a smart destination for anyone in pursuit of a quick weekend break in Europe. Think a stunning landscape, pleasant people, chic hotels and sensational spas- and treatments- that draw on local ingredients. This is a different, quieter side of Portugal, where vines grow around pools and terraces open on splendid views of the area along and around the river.

What to do?

This side of Portugal, it’s all about wine and wellness. After all, Douro Valley was once the biggest producer of port and Mateus, the party staple of the 1970s. Book a cruise on the river or tour the vast vineyards of the area, the choice is yours. You could also just check into the Six Senses Douro Valley spa for treatments that draw on ingredients like lemons, oranges and wine-grape pulp; It’s one of the best wellness retreats Portugal has to offer.

Where to check-in?

The Six Senses Douro Valley


The hotel setting

Your room

In the center

Where to go?

Sintra, Cascais and the surroundings

Just 40 minutes from Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and the surrounding area is a fairytale land of castles and palaces. Sintra, with its lush hills and proximity to the Atlantic coast, is where the Portuguese royals would spend their summers, and these former regal estates haven’t changed much, from buildings in a romantic 19th-century architecture to the cobblestone streets and dense forests. Come here for a taste of a town often called the “glorious Eden”, and experience whimsical gardens, hidden chapels and sights like the Pena Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira.

What to do?

The concentration of former royal estates and gardens has turned Sintra into a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Castelo dos Mouros ranks right up the list of things to do while you’re in town. Then, of course, the Queijadas de Sintra is a treat from the medieval times, and it’s as charming as Sintra itself. Other highlights this side of Portugal include cycle rides in Cascais and the breathtaking promenade by the sea. For the more adventurous souls, there is surfing in Nazaré, known for its legendary high waves.

Where to check-in?

The Penha Longa Resort


Your home in Sintra

The golf course

In the south

Where to go?

The Algarve

The beaches of Portugal’s sunny Algarve region, and the whitewashed Moorish villages that dot the coastline, make it the perfect destination for a wild countryside adventure. Think charming locals, the sweet miasma of orange groves, beaches embellished with caves and sea-carved archways and lively sandstrips for those lures of the lounger.

What to do?

There is a lot to see on Portugal’s southern coast: dramatic cliffs, turquoise waters, surf-themed cafes and sleepy fishing villages where historic town centers are still paved with mosaic tiles. While you’re here, golf at Vilamoura or the Quinta do Lago comes with our highest recommendation. For sea lovers, taking a boat out to spend the day on the isolated islands of Algarve is the next best thing. Then, of course, there are the beaches, which count among the best in Europe: Praia da Rocha, Praia da Marinha, Praia da Falèsia and Praia do Barril.

Where to check-in?

Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa


The hotel setting

Your home in sunny Algarve

For more travel ideas, stay tuned!


About Claudia Correia

Based in our Parisian office, Claudia Correia is Grand Luxury Hotels’ Regional Partnership Manager for Southern Europe. She handles our collaborations with luxury hotels in countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece, making her an authority in travel experiences this side of the world.

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