Portugal is just under 350 miles long, or about the driving length of Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Yet somehow, this tiny nation on the Iberian peninsula has more charming boutique hotels inside its minuscule borders than nations two, three, or four times its size can brag about. Whether you’re looking to have a city escape, a history-filled getaway, or a beachside vacation unlike any other, these six towns in Portugal can more than deliver, with world-class boutique hotels to boot.
Lisbon is the center of the universe, at least when it comes to life in Portugal. The city sizzles with charm thanks to its plentiful museums, glittering nightlife, and views that just won’t quit. Make sure to learn about Portugal’s iconic architecture at The National Azulejo Museum; explore the country’s centuries-old history at the landmark fortress, the Tower of Belem; shop like there’s no tomorrow at concept store Embaixada; and try all the different eateries at the city’s colossal food hall, Time Out Market Lisbon.
Celebrate what makes Lisbon a unique destination by booking a stay at Lumiares, a boutique hotel that bills itself as a “love letter to Lisbon.” The five-star hotel in the Barrio Alto neighborhood features local brands throughout, including the decor, spa products, and locally sourced foods. Don’t miss its rooftop, which also provides top-notch views of the city.
Nowhere can you feel the power of place more than in Porto. The city to the north wears its history proudly via stunning exterior tile work (known as azulejo). Find its best representations outside buildings like Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls), a gorgeous blue and white chapel in the city’s center, and on the facade of the Casa da Musica musical hall. In Porto, take a little time to climb the Clérigos Tower; shop for souvenirs in Mercado de Bolhao; and see the spectacular art and architecture at the Serralves museum.
Honor this city’s artistic soul by staying in an equally alluring hotel like the Torel Avantgarde. Each of the hotel’s 60 rooms is named and modeled after an artist across mediums, including greats like Galileo Galilei, Isadora Duncan, Anaïs Nin, Virginia Woolf, and Orson Welles.
The tiny beachside community of Ericeira is just one of those places that, if you step foot in it, you’ll instantly say to yourself, “yeah, I could live here.” The friendly community is made up of local and expat bohemians who all are just looking for good conversation, a stellar cup of coffee, and tasty waves. In town, don’t miss shopping in the historic center of town; visit the nearby National Palace in Mafra; and learn to search at the World Surfing Reserve, a 4-kilometer area celebrated for its abundance of near-perfect waves.
To find out if you really could see yourself in Ericeira for the long haul, book a few days, weeks, or even longer at You and the Sea, an apartment-style boutique hotel that will make you feel right at home. Each of its rooms comes with crisp white linens, home-style furnishings, and kitchenettes so you can lean into that forever feeling.
As the nation’s southernmost city, Faro caters to those looking for warm-weather vacations that stretch late into the season. But the resort town offers more than just a soft stretch of beach. It’s also a spot where winding roads will lead you to your next Portuguese adventure in town and a spot where the nearby verdant hills offer their own reprieve. In Faro, tour the Faro Cathedral, originally built in 1251; soak in the sun at the area’s best beach, Praia do Faro; and explore all the tiny streets in its historic old town, stopping into cafes all day and restaurants all evening for food, drinks, and plenty of good times.
Find a little more tranquility at Monte Borboleta (butterfly mountain), a boutique hotel nestled just eight miles outside the city but feels an entire universe away. The quaint property puts serenity at the forefront and is a spot where lush landscapes, a glittering blue pool, and drop-dead gorgeous views of the Algarve await.
It’s only right to pay a visit to Coimbra on your next getaway in Portugal. After all, it was the nation’s capital for more than 100 years. The city is bursting with history, including the University of Coimbra, which taught its first class way back in 1290. Come get schooled, then make your way to its other historical offerings like the Chapel of São Miguel, the Monastery of Santa Cruz, and the Conímbriga.
Check into Quinta das Lágrimas, a one-time private sanctuary for nobility turned member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. By the way, yes, its name does mean “estate of tears,” as it’s alleged to be the place where Inês de Castro, the forbidden love of XIVth-century Prince Pedro, was murdered by Pedro’s father, King Alfonso. But maybe while you’re here, try to focus on its massive library of ancient books, antique furnishings, and wildly attentive service instead.
The walled city of Evora evokes a sense of awe at the sheer magnitude of history. The Unesco World Heritage City dates back some 5,000 years, and much of the city remains encased in its centuries-old walls. In Evora, visit the intact Évora Roman Temple; see the artifacts at the Museu de Évora; and just like every other city on this list, make sure to take the time to people-watch while slowly sipping an afternoon espresso at one of the town’s al fresco cafes while taking plenty of mental snapshots of the slow life that is Portugal.
Make it an even more magical stop by staying at Albergaria do Calvário, a 22-room, four-star hotel inside the city walls and built inside an old olive mill dating back to the 16th century.
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