Top Reasons Why Everyone is Visiting Portugal.
The country has gleefully reported the tourism numbers are steadily increasing every year. An uptick of 13% in 2017 for the first seven months of the year. Named recently by Travel & Leisure as Europe’s best destination. U.S. travel has increased by 22% in the last 12 months.
Lisbon, the capital and largest city is located on the coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, near the beautiful Tagus River. Often referred to as the city of seven hills and according to legend, it was founded by Ulysses on his journey back from the Trojan War. Picturesque views from the harbor and a maze of cobblestone streets accented by pastel colored buildings. Ride the century old wooden trams and iron funiculars to traverse the neighborhoods. Baixa district hosts tailors, haberdashers and ancient herbal salons in the baroque city center. Regal kings and queens, empires of the Moors and Christians all have left behind a colorful rich history with palaces, monuments and cathedrals to explore.
Wine Tasting, of course! The national drink porto is abundant across the country, and to enjoy that tasting to the ultimate, why not stay at the luxurious Six Senses Spa property in the Duoro Valley? Hotel and spa is set high in the hills overlooking the rolling vineyards of Portugal’s northern region. A genteel 19th Century manor with river view rooms and acres of forested grounds. Fancy aerial yoga amid the trees? Dining at the Chef table, learn to paint tiles from a local expert and indulge yourself at the award-winning spa after a day of wine tasting.
Porto, a dazzling second city, is halved by the Douro River. The seaside has blossomed over the last few years and hosts charming restaurants, cafes and a few noted Michelin Star restaurant’s. Mosey through the old downtown and discover magnificent gilded churches. And of course, stop by a charming cafe for an afternoon in the sun sipping the national tipple, Port!
From the Foodie Column. The pork is almost as good as the famed Jamon Iberico from Spain. The local semi-wild black piggies nosh on acorns from the Cork Oak Trees and produce juicy slabs of tasty ham. Presunto (cured ham) rivals the best from Spain.
Olive oil and goat cheese are also highly rated – notably, try the hard, pungent cow’s-milk cheeses made on the precipitous mid-Atlantic slopes of Sao Jorge island or the creamy Serra da Estrela from the milk of ewes raised in Portugal’s loftiest mountain range. Fancy a stronger dry cheese: try the peppery Terrincho produced in remote Tras-os-Montes. Award winning olive oil based on the world wide ranking finds four firms producing Olive Oil in the top twenty in the world, including the producer: Oliveira da Serra – Lagar do Marmelo.
Activity besides these mentioned, we can organize bike rides through the culinary and cultural heartland, bike through small villages in the middle of farmlands, olive groves and oak tree forests, vineyards and indigo lakes. Six day trips or custom day rides can be organized.
Harry Potter Connection: Did you know JK Rowling taught English in Porto in the 1990’s and was a frequent visitor to Livraria Lello Bookstore, which is one of the most famous shops in the city. Apparently, its decorative bookcases, carved wooden ceilings and lavish staircases inspired the Hogwarts Library in her Harry Potter books.
Weather – Portugal has a moderate year-round temperature. Lisbon is the continents sunniest city, with close to 3000 hours of sunshine a year.
Exquisite beaches, the swell of the Atlantic Ocean makes Portugal one of the best surfing destinations, the beaches are incomparable. The Azores and Madera are only a few hours away as well.
Charming cities, not far from the capital, dotted with Palace hotels, fine dining, quaint streets and luxury hotels. Sintra is one such city, known for its dominating lush hills, a Moorish Castle and proximity to the Atlantic coast. The entire city is dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Portuguese Gem!
And did I mention Western European luxury hotels at less expensive rates? The currency is the Euro, but the room rates at luxury properties are significantly less. Portugal has been noted as the second-best value destination in Europe. Portugal is also very safe.
Full report coming soon when I return from my Investigative Journey.
Até mais tarde!