The travel market in Portugal has been buzzing lately with hotel openings, new tours highlighting a few of the nation’s historical and cultural sites, and added flights to this area.
The Southern European state, which is situated on the Iberian Peninsula on the border of Spain, saw a record number of visitors in 2016 according to Eurostat, reporting that occupancy rates of tourist organizations were up 1.7 percent from 2015, taking numbers to 60.6 million travellers. Next in line was France (up 4.6 percent to 395 million), the UK (up 4.5 percent to 292 million) and Germany (up 2.8 percent to 390 million).
In answer to the growing interest in travel to the nation, many tour operators have introduced new itineraries to their collection of offerings. Tauck recently launched the eight-day “A week in Portugal” itinerary as part of its series of European territory tours for 2017.
The traveller’s journey from Porto to Lisbon allows them to see seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with restaurant and winery spots, wine cellars, historical monasteries and churches, palaces and castles. A stop at Porto includes a two-night stop at the Freixo Palace Hotel, a restored 18th-century rococo palace.
Additional stops include Coimbra and the 700-year- aged university found there, and after, travelers have the chance to look at a historical 13th-century monastery at Alcobaça, before reaching Monte Real where they will spend a night in the Palace Hotel Monte Real, topped off with a meal from the hotels’ boutique breakfast restaurant. There are opportunities for a wine country visit to the Herdade do Esporao winery, wine tasting and freshly prepared meals will also be included, in addition to a walk-through of the 500-year- aged Jerónimos Monastery and a personal tour and dinner in Palacio de Queluz, an 18th-century royal retreat.
Also seeing a rise in popularity of its Portugal trip is Intrepid Travel, with its eight-day “Real Food Adventure – Galicia & Portugal” itinerary. The excursion begins in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia place and travels to Porto, where guests take a ferry ride to a seafood market, then get involved in a Galician cooking class and lunch. Additionally, while in Porto, travelers participate in a guided food wander through Mercado do Bolhao to sample exquisite European food including bacalhau, a Portuguese fish dish.
Other activities include a full-day tour of the Douro Valley with visits to two wineries, a tour of an Alentejo distillery and little cheese-making facility along with a stop in the Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon to sample local beverages and dishes like ginjinha, a Portuguese wild cherry liqueur.
This trip through Spain and Portugal is fit for families with kids that are teenaged or old. Everyone can enjoy watching a medieval fortress in the center of cosmopolitan Lisbon and the parents can finish the day with a port tasting in Porto. There is also enough free time in the itinerary to allow room to look around.
Foodies travelling to Portugal also have many new tours to select from with The global Kitchen, an operator specializing in culinary excursions and courses throughout Europe and overseas. The global Kitchen released three new seven-day itineraries: “Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora”, “Walking and Cooking in Portugal” and “Discovering Western Portugal”.
The Seven-day “Discovering Western Portugal” tour starts in Lisbon and includes a stop in Porto, the medieval city of Óbido and up to Arcos de Valdevez. Later, guests return south to see Braga, a city with numerous architectural and religious websites.
The “Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora” tour, which takes travelers through the smaller city named a UNESCO world heritage site. The itinerary is suitable for anybody wanting to learn more about Portugal’s culture and the contemporary lifestyle in the southern Alentejo area.
Meanwhile, the “Cooking and Walking in Portugal” guided tour travels via Porto and Braga and includes visits to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Guests will take cooking courses, go on walking tours, hike trails and learn about the area’s famous Port wine. Travelers also have an opportunity to try regional specialties throughout their trip like grilled sardines along the shore or Black pig of the rural Alentejo region, where the half-wild pigs are free to forage for acorns.
The “Cooking and Walking in Portugal” tour is priced at $1,850 per person for two-to-three folks, while “Delectable Portugal at Historic Evora” is priced at $2,775 and “Discovering Western Portugal” is priced at $2,200.
In hotel news, Avani Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel newly opened in the nation’s capital, just off Avenida da Liberdade. The hotel, formerly Tivoli Jardim Hotel, has undergone a $1.6 million refurbishment including a redesigned entryway, upgraded guest rooms, lobby, and reception area, the installation of the AVANIFIT gym and the relaunch of the resort’s Olivier Restaurant.
All 119 Of Avani’s standard, premier, deluxe and family rooms are updated with a modern style with shades of plum, black and white. Newly added modern comforts include a Nespresso coffee-maker, satellite television, mini-bar and high-speed Wi-Fi. All the resort’s standard, deluxe and family rooms have balconies while standard rooms have garden views.
The neighbouring Palacete Conference and Events Center provides three floors of event space with a capacity for up to 260 people, and facilities for catering to functions. The ground floor has a large reception area, the first floor offers three function rooms and the top floor houses a boardroom with its own foyer and lift access.
The hotel also relaunched the Olivier Restaurant which provides ingredient-focused food with a strong Portuguese influence. New décor includes hardwood floors, new furnishings, suede upholstery, wallpaper and mosaic tiles. Additionally, an outdoor terrace surrounded by olive and ficus trees provides alfresco seating.
Also new on the scene is Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort. The resort underwent rebranding earlier this season, together with its sister property, Tivoli, with upgrades including new décor, the inclusion of family suites, a spa and Anantara’s Dining by Design program.
Portugal has a lot to offer and with these luxury hotels available who could say no!