To enjoy a road trip in Portugal, the first thing you have to do is register to use the Portuguese toll motorways, as car number plates are captured by overhead cameras and sensors. Simply register online or pull over just after crossing the border from Andalucía, where you will find self-service kiosks for credit card billing.
Vila Real de Santo António
Start your road trip in style at this sophisticated five-star belle époque hotel, in Santo António, a ‘Royal’ frontier town, where the Guadiana flows into the Atlantic.
The classic interiors, with creative contemporary twists, play on the property’s Grand Dame style. As a Relais & Châteaux property you can expect to eat and drink well here. The Grand Salon Restaurant & Bar offers expertly prepared cocktails, gourmet tasting menus and an impressive selection of Portuguese wines.
Despite the grand elegance, the ambience is relaxed and welcoming in this pet-friendly hotel. The chances are you will be greeted in reception not only by the helpful Front Desk team but also by ‘Junior Butler Grand’, a fluffy Portuguese Water Dog puppy that is part of the hotel family.
Take the complimentary bicycles for the short ride down to the hotel’s Grand Beach Club, a beautifully designed waterside restaurant with pool, sandy, landscaped sun terraces, with lounge beds and hammocks.
The Sapal de Castro Marim Nature Reserve, adjacent to Vila Real de Santo António, is a landscape of marshes not only rich in wildlife but salt too. ‘Salmarim’ is one of the few remaining family-owned artisan companies that still harvest salt naturally (relying on evaporation).
Grand House Algarve can organise for guests a personalised tour of the salt pans, including a gourmet salt and food experience with Jorge Raiado.
A twenty minute drive west towards Tavira will bring you to this charming historic seaside hamlet, with spectacular views over an Atlantic lagoon and beaches that seem to never end.
EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel
This family-friendly resort is secluded amongst landscaped gardens and pine woodlands, that lead onto the stunning Falesia beach. Expect an intimate guest experience, ensconced in nature, close to the beach, with elegant guest rooms, and upscale dining at the spectacular Al Quimia restaurant. There’s a wellness spa too. Families will appreciate the kids club and swimming pools.
This part of the coast that runs west to Lagos and Sagres is truly magnificent. It has been eroded into an otherworldly landscape, with impressive caves. One of the best ways is to explore by boat, with some tours offering a lunch of Algarve produce on board.
Alentejo is all about nature and staying at the hideaway of Tres Marias will immerse you in the beauty of this area. This farmstead has a homespun style that will appeal to those looking for simplicity and authenticity.
Explore villages and beaches
The coastal hamlet of Porto Covo is a delightfully restored former fishing village of whitewashed cottages with brightly painted doors. Stroll the cobbled streets, browse the tourist shops and lunch in the main square, indulging in grilled fish and tasty seafood.
The village is a stop on the 450km Rota Vicentina coastal trail. So, it’s easy to take a walk to the nearby postcard perfect beaches like Pessegueiro Island Beach.
Historic boutique property built upon the remains of medieval sea walls, which are still visible in the stylish lower level Reading Room.
Located in the on-trend Cais do Sodré district, guests are close to the foodie Time Out Market.
Expect classic elegance with contemporary flair, complemented by superb service.
Set to open in Spring/Summer of 2021, this will be Lisbon’s newest grand hotel. Gastronomy will be a defining element, with two signature restaurants that will have independent access for non-resident guests. The Kōji Japanese Bar & Restaurant on the top floor also promises a roof top terrace for cocktails, inspired by Sake. Then on the lower level will be another signature restaurant called Allora, a place for authentic Italian cuisine that celebrates rustic, wholesome dishes.
A landmark, architectural hotel, that’s also home to Fifty Seconds, the acclaimed Michelin starred restaurant by Chef Martín Berasategui. This design property with exceptional panoramic views of the Tagus and Vasco da Gama bridge, makes a superb base from which to explore the contemporary Parque das Nações district of Lisbon, where one finds Europe’s largest indoor aquarium, the ‘Oceanário de Lisboa’.
Take a sunset sailing trip with the lovely people at Yacht Lovers Portugal who organise small, group catered cruises on sailing yachts that give an unforgettable perspective of Lisbon.
This stylish waterside dining and leisure venue is very much part of the Portuguese capital’s innovative renaissance. With a privileged location in the historic district of Belém, with photogenic views of the Tagus river and the iconic 25 de Abril suspension bridge, SUD Lisboa is Lisbon’s ground-breaking venue.
Combining cocktails, gourmet bites and cool DJ sets at the infinity SUD Pool Lounge and Mediterranean dining on the SUD Terazza with the high-end events space, the SUD Lisboa Hall, this is Lisbon’s unique leisure destination.
I have to admit that a museum dedicated to the history of cod fish does not sound very compelling! Yet this sparkling new, high-tech interactive museum right on Lisbon’s iconic Praça do Comércio square is really entertaining and will be a hit with children.
It imaginatively tells the story of Portugal’s obsession with 'bacalhau', which was fished off the coast of Newfoundland, during the golden age of Portuguese maritime navigation and discovery.