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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!
By Project Wedding for our sponsor, Maui Visitors Bureau
After all the stress and anxiety of planning a wedding, wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a honeymoon spot that's relaxing, warm and beautiful? Enter: Maui. Home to sun-kissed beaches and five-star hotels, along with island touches like luau and lush natural parks, Maui offers the perfect blend of comfort and adventure.
5. World-class Resorts: From the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea, with its poolside cabanas, Spago restaurant and VIP service, to the blissful, TV-and-radio free Hotel Hana Maui and acclaimed Honoa Spa, Maui hotels are as modern and luxurious as any five-star counterpart in the states. For newlyweds, beachside couples massages, helicopter tours and sunset cruises are just a few of the romantic excursions concierges can arrange for you.
4. Beaches: If you should decide to leave your hotel room, you will find dozens of gorgeous sunbathing and snorkeling spots. The Western side of the island gets the most sun, which makes Kaanapali Beach the one of the most popular locales for tanning and swimming. Nearby Pu'u Kekaa (Black Rock) is a popular snorkeling spot because of its lively habitat of sea turtles, parrotfish, snapper and many types of tang. Cliff-divers also perform their daring feats off the top of the rock nightly. Big Beach down in South Maui is a hot spot for body boarding and surfing.
3. Volcanoes and Waterfalls: Stand on the rim of the world's largest dormant volcano at Haleakala National Park, which is reachable by car, on foot or via horseback. Or spend a cool day at the Pools of Oheo in Kipahulu, a lush playground featuring dozens of waterfalls and crisp, fresh-water-filled basins where you can splash and paddle about.
2: Fantastic Food: Still hungry after that luau? You won't have to look far for great eats on the island. Besides island snapper, abalone, ono, mahi mahi and ahi, some of the freshest seafood in the world can be found at high-end restos Nick's Fishmarket and Mama's Fish House. (They'll even tell you the name of the captain who caught your entrée!) While affordable steaks, salads, burgers and even sushi and pasta can be found at local eateries around town.
1. Friendly People: Maybe it's all the mai tais, but Maui is one of the most welcoming islands around. Many resort, restaurant and tour employees are English-speaking American transplants from the mainland who are happy to share their favorite island hangouts with malihini (visitors), and Maui's slow pace of life is totally contagious. If you're craving a place where your most complicated decision is whether or not to get a floater with your cocktail, Maui is the spot.