Sitting snugly in the crook between Spain and the warm tides of the Atlantic, Portugal has all the vibrancy of its neighbor to the east, but with fewer crowds and a number of added hidden gems. From the whir of Lisbon’s iconic tramlines to the regal splendour of Cascais and the barefoot chic living of Comporta, Portugal is never short on fascinating culture and spellbinding beauty. Our travel experts have traveled the length and breadth of the Seven Hills of Lisbon to curate a trip that will see you swaying along to the tones of the Fado, mastering the art of the Pastel de Nata and horseback riding across sweeping sand dunes backed by verdant rice fields. So, spend a week living as the trendy Lisboans do as you take in the history and nightlife of Lisbon before heading down to the laid-back beaches of Comporta. We won’t just take you away from the crowds, but get you ahead of them too.
The View from Up Top
The perfect start to any trendsetting trip to Portugal, get a feel for historical elegance in its capital, Lisbon. Framed by the Seven Hills, lapped by the waters of the Rio Tejo and cobbled up to the hilt, this is a city that comes postcard-ready and needs no filter to show off its beauty. Make yourself at home on one of the hills at the grand Four Seasons Ritz and spend three days living like royalty amid lavish 18th-century decor.Read more
First things first, you’ll get your bearings on a private tour of the city’s most happening neighborhoods as you hop on board the city’s iconic tram and head into Bairro Alto. Lively and full of energy, this is the place to sway along to the melancholic tones of the fado and to sample their trademark dish of bacalhau à Brás – or shredded cod to me and you. Continue onto Chiado and discover a cultural enclave where the great writers and philosophers of the 20th-century used to gather to hone their ideas. The perfect pitstop for a coffee, stop off at A Brasileira Cafe and mirror the nearby statue of Fernando Pessoa as you enjoy your bica and watch the world go by. Ticking off the city’s hills as you go, next up is the picture-perfect neighborhood of Alfama. Here, you’ll get a feel for traditional Lisbon with its narrow cobblestoned streets and the stunning 12th-century Sé de Lisboa Cathedral before learning to cook petiscos like a local in a private cooking class. From there, the only way is up; up to one of the cities most iconic miradouros at Castelo de São Jorge. Looking out over centuries of history as the sun glints and turns the city a dusky shade of pink; it’s Lisbon at its most magical. In the evening, you’ll head back into Bairro Alto and enjoy a night at one of the city’s best fado restaurants, where good food, the perfect setting and the melancholic tones of the fado come together for a truly authentic night in Lisbon.
Culture by the Sea
Tomorrow, you’ll get a taste for Portuguese royal life as you take a trip out of Lisbon to the beautiful seaside town of Sintra. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this charming town in the foothills of the Sintra mountains is studded with pastel-hued villages and palaces. Head into the historic center for a picturesque stroll and discover historic buildings that now house quaint handicraft stores and patisseries, where you can sample the country’s famous Pastel de Nata – you’ll even get the chance to turn your hands to the task of baking these delicate specialties in a private cooking class, if you so choose. The best sights in Sintra, however, belong hands down to Pena Palace. A hilltop palace of whimsical design and boasting sweeping views, it’s the perfect way to end your morning before enjoying lunch in a traditional restaurant. In the afternoon, you’ll continue onto the town of Cascais, stopping off at Europe’s most westerly point at Cabo da Roca on the way. Here, you’ll discover the cosmopolitan side to coastal living as you stroll from the Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort in the Old Town down to the sandy beaches of the Atlantic. From here, it’s a short drive back to Lisbon; but it’s not without its stunning vistas as you cruise along the famous ‘Marginal’ Road, taking in the stunning contrast of white sandy beaches that run along one side of the road and opulent fortresses that dot the other.
Laid Back Living in Comporta
As the days get longer and temperatures creep up, in-the-know Lisboans gradually slink away to one place to enjoy the height of summer. Comporta. A seemingly sleepy seaside town, its laid-back vibes and shabby chic charm have got the height of Lisbon society clamouring over the most exclusive villas. Get ahead of the pack and check in at the effortlessly sophisticated Sublime. A boutique hotel that balances elegance with simplicity, it’s Comporta in a hotel. Spend the next three days relaxing in the balmy sunshine, horseback riding over the dunes, cycling through the rice fields, catching glimpses of playful dolphins and relaxing on the crowd-free beaches. For a dose of culture, head into Comporta’s charmingly unassuming white-washed villages where small boutiques full of boho-chic wares lie off of cobbled streets and below traditional terracotta roofs. Or for something that will really take your breath away, how about a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the beautiful Alentejo? Champagne in hand, it just goes to show that slow travel is the only way to do it.
Bronzed and blissed-out, it’s time to head back home and back to reality. Though after setting foot in Comporta, we’re sure you’ve already eyed up a villa for next summer. See you there.