Popular Travel Destinations & Global Explorations: Portugal

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

This city, built on seven hills, is often compared to San Francisco, thanks to its landscape and rickety trolleys chugging up and down the hills. For a boutique hotel experience, stay at Torel Palace located in adjacent townhouses with sweeping views of the city. For a full-service hotel stay, including multiple restaurants and a spa, book the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon overlooking King Eduardo VII Park. Make the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum your first stop. The modernist building houses the extensive art collection of its British-Armenian oil magnate founder. The art ranges from Egyptian, to Greco-Roman and Islamic art. The National Tile Museum is a must for anyone who loves Portuguese tiles (or azulejos). Nearby the museum is a huge mural by legendary Spanish street artist duo, PichiAvo. The recently opened Museum for Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is set in a low slung, sweeping building clad in glazed tiles. The collection showcases works by artists and architects while São Mamede Galeria de Arte focuses on contemporary Portuguese artists.

Lisbon is full of jewel-box shops selling just one item. Lisbon’s design heritage is on display at Vida Portuguesa, which is stocked with beautifully packaged local goods, ranging from tinned sardines to Benamor beauty products. Sample the classic Portuguese egg tart at Pastelaria Alcôa and pop into the nearby Bertrand Bookstore, one of the oldest bookstores in the world. Indulge in fresh seafood such as octopus and sardines at the tapas-style restaurants Sr. Lisboa and at Cantinho do Avillez.

Located about 20 miles west of Lisbon, Sintra is one of the most magical cities in the world, and was used by the Portuguese royal family as a retreat for nearly 600 years. Arrive early to beat the crowds and explore the National Palace of Pena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. Explore the forest paths at Parque da Pena, which is also home to outdoor art exhibits. The mysterious Quinta da Regaleira is filled with caves, underground wells, towers and gardens. While many of the sights here are historic, Sintra’s MU.SA – Sintra Museum of Art hosts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, housed in an ornate building. Stay at the Penha Longa resort, tucked inside a national park. Parts of it date back to the 14th century, but don’t miss the very modern, multicourse tasting menu at the Michelin-starred LAB restaurant by Chef Sergi Arola.

If your ideal beach vacation is stylish but also laid-back, then head to Comporta. This beach area, about an hour south of Lisbon, is also Portugal’s main rice growing region. It attracts a well-heeled crowd from the capital as well as across Europe, and has become a favorite among royals, celebrities and architects who crave unspoiled beaches in an unpretentious area. Many of the villas here play off the vernacular of the A-frame rice barn and the Museu do Arroz restaurant is housed in a former rice barn, overlooking the paddies. Make a reservation at Comporta Café to enjoy freshly caught seafood right on the beach. Drive to the Tróia Peninsula to see the Roman ruins of what was once the largest fish-salting production site in the Roman world. The site contains Roman baths, holding tanks for the fish and a mausoleum. Comporta has a handful of stylish boutiques, including Vintage- Department for retro furniture and Rice by Marta Mantero, for linen totes and olive wood cutting boards. The only luxury hotel is the Sublime Comporta, where guest rooms are housed in A-frame buildings and the land is dotted with olive and cork trees. Make time for a yoga class held in a pavilion by the pool.

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