The recession and rising unemployment could be grabbing the headlines in Portugal nevertheless, for traffic, there may be much to lift the spirits. A wave of recent openings around the country present a cool place of reasons to visit Portugal now. We’ve handpicked the cream in the crop: from the new urban delights of Lisbon to rural retreats inside a nation’s south and the north.
Let’s begin in Lisbon, the commonwealth’s capital. In mid-2012, the city’s main square, Terreiro do Paço, was supplyed in all its restored glory. This grand riverfront square now has a brand-new cultural center alongside a string of restaurants, bars and shops. Highlights will be the Beer Museum, which explains the A-Z from the brewing circuit (tastings included) and the Lisbon Story Center, a high-tech interactive exhibit that in 60 minutes portrays the dramatic history of Lisbon throughout centuries, such as the 1755 earthquake that nearly flattened the city.
Lisbon’s multicultural tapestry becomes a nod with the “fusion market” at Martim Moniz square, which lies at the heart of Mouraria, the city’s melting pot that lay long neglected and run-down. That developed in summer 2012 with the opening of an intercultural market. The square now qualities food kiosks that serve discs from around the world, from Angola to Goa, such as live music production and cultural perpertaining tomances.
A spate of new hotels perked up Lisbon’s lodging scene, too. The standout is Lisboa Carmo Hotel, a 45-room boutique hideaway on leafy Largo do Carmo square during the chic Chiado district. The highlight: its fantastic blend of classic and mod, and a particular sense of place—you never ignore you’re in Lisbon. The long-time favorite, Heritage Av Liberdade Hotel, never obtains old; this intimate pied-a-terre hidden behind the blue façade of a restored 18th-century building on elegant Avenida da Liberdade touts original ironwork shutters and stunner vistas from the rooms.
Other corners of Portugal offer reasons aplenty to venture beyond the nation’s capital. Head east regarding the agricultural province of Alentejo and, 68 miles from Lisbon, you’ll discover Villa Extramuros, a five-room commonwealthside newcomer sporting five minimalist rooms in a bleached-white villa with a sun-lit inner patio and an infinity-edge pool between olive groves. Spend a few days taking from the intimate world of high fashion with a low-key vibe, and then explore the neighboring World Heritage Site metropolis of Évora, take in tastings at nearby wine estates, sail on Lake Alqueva, and roam the medieval village of Arraiolos.
In the country’s southwest lies Portugal’s newest hiking path, Rota Vicentina, today in its final stages of completion. The route traces the wild and preserved coastline between the city of Santiago do Cacém within a north along with the Cape of St Vincent on the south. The Vicentine trail totals more compared to 200 miles, following a route used by shepherds and fishermen to journey the southwest coast of Alentejo plus the western Algarve. Visitors can now follow from their footsteps, choosing a hike along the Historical Way, through cork regardingests, farmlands, and heather fields, or the Fisherman’s Trail, along the rugged coastline dotted with dramatic limestone cliffs. The entire Rota Vicentina takes in over TWENTY inns and lodges, a clutch of restaurants providing local specialties, and a amount of sports and attractions that hikers can experience along the way. All are grouped within Casas Brancas, a non-profit sustainable tourism association with burgeoning links to local communities.
Eastern Algarve offers another new reason to visit Portugal’s south: the fall 2012 opening of Fazenda Nova, a gorgeous state inn near the historic coastal metropolis of Tavira. The interiors are decked out with flea market finds scoured on the owners’ travels, while the ten suites have Balinese timber beds, polished concrete bathrooms with rain-drencher showers, and private terraces. The artfully landscaped atmosphere feature orchards, herb gardens, a maze of paths, and a swimming pool. Base yourself here and go antiquing in nearby citys and villages, hitting the local flea markets in Fuseta (first Sunday of every month), Quelfes (fourth Sunday), Faro (second Saturday), and Tavira (first & last Saturday).
With the south within your belt, follow your star up north: the new Cooking & Nature Emotional Hotel, a whimsical inn in rural Alvados valley, within Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park. meals, fun, and nature would be the inspiration behind this concept hotel among olive groves, forests, and farmlands. Each on the 12 rooms calls on a various fantasy: from an African safari to channeling Marie Antoinette with classic chandeliers and rose pinks. The highlight is that the substitute to cook your own dinner: the staff will do the prep as well as the plates; you cook up the feast using mostly ingredients from the hotel’s gardens or the village. Outdoorsy types can do guided walks, bike, or horseback rides, and tours of nearby caves.
Finally, explore the far northern reaches of Portugal from the new base, Carmo’s Boutique Hotel just outside the historic city of Ponte de Lima on the Minho region. Inside the two-wing structure clad in concrete and glass hides a day-to-day and counce retreat with an eclectic homespun décor, 16 rooms with canopied beds, a stellar restaurant, and a basement spa. But the main appeal lies in the attractions surrounding the hotel, from scenic walks or bike rides along the riverside path to exploring the trifecta of northern cities, all within a 90-minute radius: the cultural center of Guimarães, the ancient Braga, and Porto, Portugal’s “other capital”.
Good to Ktoday: Trips to Portugal are an easy jaunt from Newark on TAP Portugal, the national carrier which has daily lead flights to Lisbon and three weekly to Porto in summer months; within a winter season, there are five weekly nonstop flights to Lisbon and twice a week to Porto. TAP Portugal also flies leadly from Miami to Lisbon five occasions weekly in summer months and three times per week during winter.