Portugal Travel Guide
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 ...
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 renowned for its pousadas, a chain of lodgings in historic buildings. It also offers an ever-expanding number of golf courses.
WHEN TO VISIT
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.
Recommended Luxury Hotels in Portugal
Best Restaurants in Portugal
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 “A Horta da Galinha dos Ovos de Ouro” (“The Garden of the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs”), a lovely starter of eggs with crunchy bread and mushrooms; or “Mergulho no Mar” (“Dip in the Sea”), which is a succulent composition of sea bass, seaweed and shellfish. Other dishes not to miss include the excellent suckling pig with fried potatoes, orange and salad. Closed Sunday, Monday and the month of August.Largo de São Carlos 10 Lisbon US$125. Menus, US$110-US$178. http://www.joseavillez.pt/#/en/belcanto
Hidden in a side street in Evora, this pleasant, old-fashioned establishment with a vaulted white ceiling serves excellent and very reasonably priced Portuguese comfort food. Start with some melon and Chaves ham, then try the arroz de tamboril (rice with monkfish) or pork stewed with clams, before flan or homemade semolina cake for dessert. The wine list is small but well-chosen.
This popular seafood restaurant just across the street from the main market in the busy fishing port of Olhão offers huge portions of freshly caught shellfish and fish, and also has a pleasant sidewalk terrace for outdoor dining. Try the grilled octopus, monkfish skewers, grilled squid and John Dory. The service can be slow. Excellent value for the money.
Located in the attractive little village of Mora, this simple restaurant is a fine place to discover the hearty country cooking of the Alentejo. It opened in 1954 and specializes in dishes such as partridge cooked with rice, grilled local pork with garlic sauce, and the delicious little almond cookies known as queijinho do céu de Mora.
Avillez has also recently taken over the charming Café Lisboa at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, which now has a wonderful all-day menu of small-plate dishes such as cod nuggets with garlic-chive mayonnaise, smoked salmon salad, and excellent hamburgers.
Even if you’re not staying at this dramatically modern hotel in the countryside near Evora, its excellent restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday (Monday and Tuesday are for hotel guests only). Chef Miguel Laffan worked at several restaurants in France before returning to Portugal, and his cooking is refined, original and beautifully presented. Laffan is especially talented at inventing modern takes on traditional Portuguese dishes, such as wild bass with summer vegetables, and chorizo with an oyster vichyssoise.
Also owned by Avillez, this popular bistro specializes in hearty Portuguese comfort food, including appealing starters such as tartlets with partridge, bacon and chive; and chicken livers sautéed with bacon and chive. The far-ranging main courses include lamb tagine with vegetable couscous and yogurt sauce, and giant red shrimp from the Algarve with Thai seasonings.Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7 Lisbon US$65. http://cantinhodoavillez.pt/?lang=en
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 US$85. http://www.casadacomida.pt/
Overlooking the Praia (Beach) de Mareta in Sagres, this simple seafood restaurant has fine views of the sea and is as good for lunch — maybe a salad — as it is for dinner, when you can order dishes such as sautéed squid, grilled sardines or grilled lobster.
Located downtown, this stylish contemporary take on a traditional Portuguese tavern is a great spot for lunch. An interesting menu of soups, salads, cod and other fish is complimented by petiscos, or Portuguese-style tapas. A good selection of wines is available by the glass.
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 lamb carpaccio with garlic purée and hummus, mullet with shellfish quinoa, and slow-cooked pork belly with a celery purée and confit of chayote.Rua do Teixeira 35 Lisbon US$75. http://www.restaurante100maneiras.com/
Run by Vitor Sobral, a Portuguese food celebrity, this friendly, good-value restaurant 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. Closed Sunday.Rua Domingos Sequeira 41C Lisbon US$50. http://www.tascadaesquina.com/en/
Diners here enjoy some of Lisbon’s finest seafood — as well as game — in a masculine atmosphere engendered by paneled walls, stained glass and dark leather chairs. Look for sea bass cooked in a tomato sauce with ham, onions and white wine; or turbot in a rich broth. Superb partridge and duck are served with rice in the local style.Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 23 Lisbon US$95. http://www.gambrinuslisboa.com/