Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a city with charming cobbled streets and plenty of places serving up warm Portuguese egg tarts and salty pasteis de bacalhau. However, Portugal is more than just its capital, and if you want to combine a city tour with a unique stay somewhere a little out of the way, here is a guide of our favorite places to stay!
A Countryside Palace in Sintra
Many people think visiting Lisbon would purely be a city-centric vacation, but there are beautiful natural landscapes to explore nearby. As an antidote to the city life–of both Macau and Lisbon–head to Sintra. It’s so easy to get to with regular and inexpensive trains from Rossio Railway Station in central Lisbon which takes only 40 minutes. The trains depart about three times an hour from morning until night, and you will be blessed with views of quaint country towns, dramatic rolling hills, and grand palaces. If you decide to spend the night in this picturesque village with UNESCO world heritage status, you won’t be able to help but feel relaxed and rejuvenated. We recommend staying in the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, a lovely hotel with amazing views that will make you feel as though you are living in one of the grand palaces you spent the day exploring. Set remotely in the hills, it has three restaurants on-site as well as a spa, pool and day trip options to make your stay as smooth as possible.
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais R. Barbosa du Bocage 8, 2710-517 Sintra, Portugal, +351 2192 33200, www.tivolihotels.com
A Sunset Stay Near Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca forms the westernmost point of the Sintra Mountain Range, meaning that the sunset is outstanding with unspoiled views of the ocean and fading horizon. Ubers drive and pick up regularly in the area, so you don’t need to worry about travel, but if you are up for a hike, it’s a two to three-hour walk from Sintra central. Go up and down winding hills that are full of beautiful sites throughout the national park which is perfect for leisurely nature walks. If all that walking and fresh air leave you famished, a meal at 3 Gomes Restaurante–in the closest village to the viewpoint–offers fresh seafood and a warm ambient vibe to restore your strength and provide a perfect end to the day. For a truly unique stay experience, try the Fortaleza do Guincho–a hotel in a fortress at the top of a western cliff face. Not only does its location mean you can enjoy a private sunset experience from the comfort of your balcony or the pool, but it also has a restaurant on site that has held its Michelin star since 2001. The selection of seafood available at Fortaleza do Guincho is truly sensational, which you can enjoy from your table just meters above the ocean. For breathtaking ocean views, it really doesn’t get much better!
Cabo da Roca Estrada do Cabo da Roca s/n, 2705-001 Colares, Portugal
3 Gomes Restaurante Colares PT, Estrada do Cabo da Roca 23, 2705-001 Azóia, Portugal, www.thefork.pt/restaurante
Fortaleza do Guincho Estrada do Guincho 2750-642 Cascais, Portugal, www.fortalezadoguincho.com
An Artistic Beach Experience in Cascais
Most people think that the only beaches in Portugal are found in the south. While it is true that the Algarve boasts some of the most impressive coastlines in the whole of Europe, forgetting about the beaches near Lisbon would be a disservice to the country! Very close to Lisbon is a strip of breathtaking beaches in the municipality of Cascais. If outdoor activities in the countryside aren’t your thing but you want to escape the city, a trip to the seaside is super easy with the trains to Cascais going from Rossio Railway Station three times an hour, whizzing you past stunning coastline as you get to your destination. Whether you go for a day trip or want to stay the night, we recommend Pestana Cidadela Cascais for a day or night experience you won’t forget. A luxe art-influenced hotel in a former fortress, this stunning venue has two pools, two restaurants, a gym, and a spa to give you everything you possibly need on a relaxing trip outside of the city. To provide an even more unique and artistic experience, it is situated in Cascais’ art district and it’s surrounded by studios, galleries, and museums in addition to being three minutes from the beach! No hiking necessary because, the beach, art and all amenities are literally on your doorstep!
Pestana Cidadela Cascais Av. Dom Carlos I, 2750-310 Cascais, Portugal, +351 2148 14300, www.pestanacollection.com
Get back to nature in Viana do Castelo
A less touristy alternative to Sintra but still relatively close to Lisbon is arguably the most picturesque cities in north Portugal–Viana do Castelo. Although it’s a little further away–around a four-hour train ride–you won’t notice the distance as the train glides along the coast giving you scene after scene of beautiful views. And the city is well worth the journey for its stunning appearance and multitude of activities available. Its unique location set between both the sea and the mountains has a landscape embellished with castles churches and palaces for you to take in. As well as art history, architecture and gold filigree that the city is known for, there are many bike and hiking paths just outside the city. Jet skiing, sailing, rowing and canoeing activities are available on the magnificent River Lima or the sea nearby. If you want to feel one with nature, Feel Viana is a luxurious option in which you won’t have to compromise on nature nor comfort! With a motto of “active cozy”, it is the perfect base after all the outdoor activities you will be doing in Viana do Castelo, staying in all-natural wooden huts set among the tall trunks of silver birch trees. There is a pool, spa, and sauna to rest your tired legs, all with the view of the forest so you never feel too removed from the quiet of nature.
Feel Viana Bras de Abreu Soares Street, 222, Praia do Cabedelo, 4935-159 Viana do Castelo, Portugal, www.feelviana.com
Fly from Macau to Lisbon with China Eastern Airlines for approximately MOP $9,900.