When you are seeking a honeymoon destination, Portugal may not be the first place that comes to mind. You may be surprised to know, however, that Portugal offers a wonderful mix of beaches, historical sites, golf courses, parks, adventure, and – for those who want them – luxurious accommodations. From the beautiful Choupana Hills Resort and Spa, located on the island of Madeira, to the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon, you are sure to find lodging to suit the most discriminating taste.
Portugal Honeymoon: Lodging
For a change of pace, consider staying in one of the government-run pousadas, which are accommodations intended to highlight the architecture, history, culture, and cuisine of the country. You can choose to lodge in castles, monasteries, convents, palaces, fortresses, or ancient estates, each providing a unique look at the region in which it is located. Be sure to ask about packages that entitle you to special rates at one or more pousadas.
If you decide to base your Portugal honeymoon in Lisbon, there is no shortage of things to see and do. Several magnificent museums (the Museum of Ancient Art, the National Carriage Museum, Gulbenkian Museum, and the Museum of Decorative Tiles, to name a few) are located throughout the city. Don’t miss the incredible Jeronimos Monastery, a World Heritage Site built in 1502 and housing the body of explorer Vasco da Gama, and St. George’s Castle, the city’s most popular tourist destination. To get a great overview of Lisbon, take a tour on Tram 28, a popular way to see the city. And plan to visit Lisbon’s excellent restaurants, which serve up fabulous seafood and often stunning views. If offbeat films are your thing, take in the Indie Lisboa, Lisbon’s international independent film festival that draws independent filmmakers from around the world. It takes place each April.
Portugal honeymoon: Things to do!
There is much for honeymooning couples to do in the nearby town of Sintra. A day trip to Sintra will provide you with the opportunity to take a romantic ride in a horse-drawn carriage, stroll the gardens at the National Palace, or take a boat ride down the palace’s canal lined with decorative tiles. On the second and fourth Sundays of the month, the Fair of São Pedro takes place in Sintra, and you can wander through the market and shop for unique products.
If sightseeing in the city isn’t really your thing, and you’d rather experience beaches and all the sporting opportunities they offer, consider a specific seaside destination. Although there are almost 600 miles of coastline in Portugal, the southern beaches of Algarve are among the most popular. In addition to stunning beaches, Algarve has luxury resorts, small fishing villages, excellent golf courses, and a variety of cafes and restaurants.
Activities to choose from in Algarve include hang gliding, rock climbing, hot air balloon rides, caving, zip lining, trekking, Jeep touring, mountain biking, sailing, surfing, fishing, and cruising along the coastline. There are also casinos located in Algarve, so plan a visit and try your luck. In August, the Silves Medieval Fair is the perfect place to bask in the Moorish history of the area. Dress up like a knight or lady and have fun!
If you really want to get away from it all, consider a visit to the Berlengas Reserve, an hour’s journey by boat from the fishing village of Peniche. The underwater reserve contains beautiful barrier reefs and caves for divers to explore, as well as a few shipwrecks. Surfing and windsurfing are also popular in this area, and birders will appreciate the large variety of seabirds to be found on the islands.
Even farther afield are the Azores, islands located about two hours (by air) from Lisbon. There are nine islands in the archipelago, and they provide a perfect spot for whale watching, swimming with dolphins, Jeep tours, hiking, fishing, boating, diving, golfing, or just relaxing on the beach (although sandy beaches are less prevalent than rocky ones due to the volcanic origin of the islands). If you are in the Azores in October, don’t miss the Angra do Heroismo International Jazz Festival. Jazz artists come from all over the world to take part in the three-day festival, one of the country’s top events.
Food and wine lovers should consider the options for wine and culinary tours of Portugal, which are varied and perfect for a honeymoon. Day excursions, weekend tours, and ten-day luxury honeymoon packages are available and will allow you to sample the regions’ wines and cuisine. Boa viagem!