From Andrew Harper

Portugal is blessed with a diverse landscape and a sun-drenched coastline. The country is split by the Tagus River. The north is chiefly mountainous and indented by steep valleys, whereas the south is a land of rolling plains. Traditional Portuguese architecture is extremely distinctive, especially the highly ornamented Manueline style from the early 16th century. Fish is integral to the country’s cuisine, especially dry cod (bacalhau), grilled sardines and caldeirada, a potato-based fish stew. Wines have been produced in Portugal since the time of the Roman Empire. The country is justly renowned for its pousadas, a chain of state-owned luxury lodgings in historic buildings. It also offers an ever-expanding number of excellent golf courses.

CLIMATE: Portugal has an agreeable climate, with mild winters, and summers that are dry and warm but seldom oppressively hot. The Mediterranean Algarve region is the sunniest, driest and warmest part of the country.

TIME: Five hours ahead of New York (EST).

CURRENCY: Euro (€). Fluctuating rate valued at €1.00 = US$1.36 as of December 2013.

U.S. EMBASSY: Lisbon, Tel. (21) 094-2300.

DIRECT DIAL CODES: To phone hotels and restaurants in Portugal, dial 011 (international access) + 351 (Portugal code) + city code and local numbers in listings.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passport (valid for three months beyond end of stay). Visit www.travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, www.cdc.gov

GENERAL INFORMATION: Visit visitportugal.com before your trip.


All recommended hotels in Portugal

Alentejo, Portugal
Pousada Da Rainha Santa Isabel
Pousada de Estremoz, Rainha Santa Isabel

Restored 13th- century fortress-hotel situated on a scenic hilltop.

Pousada Dos Loios
Pousada de Evora, Convento dos Lóios

Atmospheric inn situated between Evora’s 13th-century cathedral and a well-preserved Roman temple.

Algarve, Portugal
Hotel Quinta Do Lago
Hotel Quinta do Lago

Golf-oriented resort amid 2,000-acre residential estate. The 141 lodgings offer spacious living areas and scenic balconies.

Coimbra, Portugal
Quinta Das Lagrimas
Quinta das Lágrimas

Villa-style hotel with 54 comfortable lodgings amid a 20-acre park, 21⁄2 hours north of Lisbon.

Douro Valley, Portugal
Aquapura Douro Valley
Aquapura Douro Valley

Striking hotel on a vine-planted hillside overlooking a sinuous bend in the Douro River, just over an hour from Porto. Currently closed for refurbishments.

Vidago Palace exterior
Vidago Palace

Charming 70-room hotel in a grand four-story palace built for the king of Portugal but repurposed as a hotel when the country became a republic in 1910.

Lisbon, Portugal
Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto Hotel

Stylish 55-room hotel occupying an 1845-vintage building in the fashionable and atmospheric district of Bairro Alto.

Olissippo Lapa Palace
Olissippo Lapa Palace

Lavish 109-room hotel on a lush hilltop overlooking the Tagus River in a quiet residential-embassy district, 10 minutes from downtown.

Palacio Belmonte
Palácio Belmonte

Evocative 10-suite hotel occupying an exquisitely restored 15th-century palace in the hillside Alfama district.

Lisbon Area, Portugal
Convento de Sao Saturnino
Convento de São Saturnino

Intimate hotel created from a ruined hamlet overlooking the Atlantic near the village of Azóia, half an hour from Lisbon.


All recommended restaurants in Portugal


Located in the stylish Bairro Alto, this lively restaurant draws a well-heeled  crowd for the modern Portuguese dishes of Bosnian-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic. Stanisic  creates intriguing tasting menus that change constantly, featuring dishes such as sautéed  foie gras in chestnut flour with a Muscatel-pineapple reduction, and pistachio-crusted goat  with quinoa.

Rua do Teixeira 35
Lisbon 1200

After a stint at Tavares, one of the oldest restaurants in Lisbon, brilliant young  chef José Avillez moved to Belcanto. Located in the heart of the city, his restaurant has a  sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere. Avillez creates intricate dishes with mysterious names  such as “Mergulho no Mar” (“Sea Diving”), which is a succulent composition of sea bass,  seaweed and shellfish; or “Paisagem Alentejana” (“Alentejo Landscape”), which just might  make you appreciate pig’s feet, since these are deboned and served with a delicious coriander  sauce. Other dishes not to miss include the excellent partridge escabeche and a clever take on  açorda de bacalhau, a Portuguese favorite of salt cod.

Largo de São Carlos 10
Lisbon 1200-410

Also owned by Avillez, this popular bistro specializes in hearty  Portuguese comfort food, including appealing starters such as black pudding with apple  crumble, or chicken livers sautéed with onions and Port marmalade. Several main courses  recall Portugal’s colonial past; for example, don’t miss the sautéed scallops with Indian spices.

Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7

An 18th-century townhouse provides a luxurious setting for one of the  city’s loveliest restaurants. Attention to detail and the freshest ingredients produce superlative  dishes such as grouper in clam broth with sautéed vegetables, and terrine of suckling pig  with rösti potatoes, broad beans and tomato stew.

Travessa das Amoreiras 1
Lisbon 1250

Diners here enjoy some of Lisbon’s finest game and seafood in a masculine  atmosphere engendered by paneled walls, stained glass and dark leather chairs. Superb  partridge and duck are served with rice in the local style, while the signature seafood dish  is sea bass cooked in a tomato sauce with ham, onions and white wine.

Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 25
Lisbon 1150

Run by Vitor Sobral, a Portuguese food celebrity, this relaxed, friendly, good-value restaurant with large windows is perfect for a casual but delicious meal of Portuguese comfort food. Starters are made for sharing, and among those not to miss are the grilled baby clams and cod fritters, while excellent main courses include tuna with sweet potatoes. There is a wonderful selection of Portuguese cheeses.

Rua Domingos Sequeira 41C
Lisbon 1885