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Falling in Love with Portugal: A Couple's Itinerary and the Most Romantic Hotels

By , June 5th, 2018

Portuguese romanticism has deep roots. Take for example the Lenço dos Namorados (lovers’ handkerchiefs). These traditional handkerchiefs from Minho, in the northern region of Portugal, were once embroidered with verses of love by young women looking for a partner. The young man who received the handkerchief would carry it in his pocket as a sign that they were in a relationship.

The lover’s handkerchief finds it home in one of the first destinations of this unforgettable selection by trivago Magazine Portugal Editor, Sara Vieira, containing 12 of the most romantic places in Portugal, divided by regions.

Northern Portugal (Porto Region)

Viana do Castelo

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic viana do castelo

Things to do in Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is one of the most stunning towns in Portugal. Full of history, culture and tradition, Viana is a perfect starting point for a road trip with your loved one.

Take the lift to the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia and enjoy, as a couple, one of the most incredible landscapes in the country. Stroll through the historical centre of Viana do Castelo, without any maps or directions, discovering every nook and small town square. Visit the Costume Museum before losing yourselves at the fairs and in the stores while looking for a lover’s handkerchief. No afternoon would be complete without a walk hand in hand along Cabedelo Beach. When hunger strikes, treat yourself to the famous bolas de Berlim (doughnuts) from the Natário bakery, a typical pastry of this region.

Your Viana do Castelo Hotel

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Our choice? Built in 1918, today Pousada de Viana do Castelo still features all the magnificent architectural details of the past.

 

Braga

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic braga

Things to do in Braga

Known as the “Portuguese Rome”, Braga is a town with a special charm. If charm is then measured in time, Braga would be a winner with more than 2,000 years of history making this city the oldest in the whole country (to which more than 30 churches here can testify).

Bom Jesus, located on a hilltop ideal for taking in the whole town, is one of the must-visit sites. To get there, you can climb the stairway (with more than 600 steps) or opt for the lift of Bom Jesus—the first funicular built in the Iberian Peninsula, making it the world’s oldest that is still in service, with a water counterbalance system. In addition to the incredible view and its natural park, Bom Jesus also offers two especially romantic activities: a boat trip or horseback riding.

But the “Heart of Minho” has much more to offer: stroll through the romantic Garden of Santa Barbara, visit the Cathedral, and walk through downtown where a sea of flowers fills the Avenida da Liberdade; discover the Arch of the New Gate, have an iconic Brazilian coffee or get lost in the astounding view of Sameiro.

Your Braga Hotel

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Our favourite romantic hotel in Braga is the Villa Garden Braga, the result of a late 19th-century mansion restoration.

 

Guimarães

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic guimaraes

Things to do in Guimarães

The picturesque town of Guimarães is one of the most important historical destinations in the country. Known as the “Cradle of the Nation,” Guimarães is a fascinating destination to visit as a couple, especially for its extraordinarily, well-preserved medieval castle, walls, and charming neighbourhoods. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães is filled with winding alleys and old houses leading up to its main square, Largo da Oliveira, and the old Ducal Palace.

To share the panoramic views of Guimarães with your better half, there is nothing better than a trip by cable car to Penha—offering a beautiful aerial view of the town, though not before taking in the natural surroundings on the ascent.

When is the best time to visit Guimarães? Every year during the first week of August, the Festas Gualterianas (The Feasts of St. Walter), which date back to 1452, are celebrated in this charming town. Enjoy an old-world atmosphere at its best with a medieval handicraft market, arts fair, and a lively parade of old costumes.

Your Guimarães Hotel

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Just like Guimarães, with its beautiful architecture and distinctive style, we recommend the Casa do Juncal, a hotel located in the city’s historic centre, with everything you could need for a memorable getaway.

 

Douro

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic douro

Things to do in Douro

Boasting striking natural beauty and river-side vineyards, Douro is the place where the world-famous Port wine is produced. The small villages between the landscape, vineyards, and fantastic hills are an invitation to explore one of the most stunning provinces of Portugal.

There are countless romantic activities to choose from here: cruise down the river or take a trip on a sailboat; go on a train ride between Régua and Tua; visit the Casal de Loivos viewpoint; or even enjoy a donkey ride, promoted by the Douro Valley.

And the accompaniment of choice during your time in the Douro should be a glass of Port wine, naturally.

Your Douro Hotel

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In Douro, our reservations are booked with the Six Senses Douro Valley, a hotel for wine lovers that has everything for your dream stay.

 

Guarda and the Serra da Estrela

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic guarda

Things to do in Guarda

Located in the mountainous landscape of the Serra da Estrela, Guarda is the highest town in Portugal, where the air is pure and fresh. With more than 800 years of history enclosed within its walls, Guarda boasts a unique cultural heritage. The Torre de Menagem, the ultimate defensive symbol, rises from the highest point in the city. In the town centre, which is well worth a visit, you’ll find the Guarda Cathedral.

Known as the “city of 5 F’s”—forte, farta, fria, fiel and formosa (strong, rich, cold, faithful and beautiful)—Guarda is renowned for its granite, valleys, clean air, and tradition of health and well-being; the mountainous climate and fertile soil guarantee delicious food. The climate brings the beauty and incomparable shine of the snow, transforming the city and painting it white.

If you are in search of a retreat where you can be close to nature, taste divine flavours and cuddle by the fireplace, Guarda is undoubtedly the answer.

Your Guarda Pousada

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We suggest the Pousada da Serra da Estrela, which is close by and perfect for all the activities of the cold season, where you can enjoy the snow-covered white slopes like nowhere else.

 

Piódão

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic piodao

Things to do in Piódão

After visiting this historical village for yourselves, you may not want to let the rest of the world to know about this hidden treasure in Serra do Açor in Central Portugal. Precisely, the reason why it’s the ideal hideout for a couple’s getaway.

Known for its schist houses, with blue painted windows and doors, Piódão is one of those destinations to explore without a tour guide or map. It’s a place to get lost and fall in love.

Walking tours (around Foz d’Égua and Chãs d’Égua), cycling tours or a visit to the Núcleo Museológico de Piódão (Piódão Museological Centre) are just some of the recommended activities here. But don’t forget to savour and share the specialties of the local cuisine with your partner: potato bread, honey, mountain cheese, liqueurs, traditional goat stew, roasted lamb, and grilled trout – though we don’t blame you if you keep a few of those dishes just to yourself.

Your Piódão Hotel

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In Piódão you’ll find an authentic refuge carved into the mountain: the inXisto Lodges tourist complex. It’s our favourite place to enjoy the mountain and nature with every comfort of home.

 

Coimbra

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic coimbra university

Things to do in Coimbra

With its own unique atmosphere, the result of a rich and varied history, Coimbra is a timeless destination that has inspired the work of acclaimed poets and writers. Coimbra will win over your heart through the sounds of serenades and Fado.

In this romantic itinerary, the first must-see location is the Quinta das Lágrimas, a place surrounded by the purest beauty made famous by the love story of Dom Pedro and Inês de Castro.

The Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery, Church of Santa Cruz, University of Coimbra and Conímbriga—one of the largest Roman ruins in the country— will fill up the schedule for a full two-day stopover.

Your Coimbra Hotel

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Overflowing with a romantic ambiance, our choice in Coimbra is undoubtedly the Quinta das Lágrimas, a four-star hotel distinguished by the famous romance of Prince Pedro and Inês de Castro.

 

Central Portugal (Lisbon Region)

Óbidos

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic obidos

Things to do in Óbidos

Óbidos is one of the most impressive and romantic destinations in Portugal. A little over 80 kilometres from Lisbon, this medieval city is still completely surrounded by walls and enchants all who visit it. Built in the 13th century, the Óbidos Castle is the star of the town as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, and now operates as a B&B.

But there is much more to discover around town: climb the walls and admire the never-ending views, visit the churches, chapels, and little shops, and get lost among Óbidos’ typical row houses with their blue and yellow details. A truly magical experience that will surely stay forever in your memories.

Your Óbidos Hotel

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In Óbidos, our favourite hotel for a romantic short trip is the Rio do Prado, a four-star hotel set in the middle of nature with all the amenities you could need for a memorable stay, including a fireplace and private hot tub.

 

 

Sintra

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic sintra

Things to do in Sintra

A town full of magic and splendour where majestic palaces, a castle, and fascinating mansions emerge in the midst of hills and forests. Sintra is a romantic destination within just 30 minutes of Lisbon.

Famous for the Pena National Palace and Castle of the Moors, Sintra is a trip back to an earlier time. While the Church of São Martinho and Correnteza offer great viewpoints for admiring the landscape, the Parque da Liberdade also provides the perfect place to go for a stroll and relax.

The Sintra streetcar, which now operates as tourist transportation, connects Sintra with the resort town of Praia das Maçãs. It is also a fantastic activity to do as a couple. For all this, Sintra is the textbook place for falling in love again.

Your Sintra Hotel

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In Sintra, our choice would be the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, a hotel that fits the magnitude of a special occasion. In addition to being extremely romantic, this hotel is a journey to the elegance and atmosphere of the 18th century.

 

Évora

Things to do in Évora

Considered a world heritage site by UNESCO, Évora is a town full of beauty and charm. Known as an authentic museum city with roots dating back to Roman times, Évora not only provides a journey where you can feel the history around you, but it also highlights architectural details, white houses, tiles, and balconies.

After exploring and marvelling at traces of the past, don’t forget to surrender yourself to the present and sample in the delights of the traditional Alentejo cuisine.

Leave it all behind and get ready for the charm of Évora—the most romantic city of Alentejo.

Your Évora Hotel

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Our favourite hotel for a romantic weekend in Évora is the Convento do Espinheiro, a hotel situated within a 15th-century convent that has been classified as a national monument and is surrounded by eight hectares of magnificent gardens.

 

Monsaraz

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic monsaraz

Things to do in Monsaraz

Located on a hilltop with views of the Guadiana River and the Spanish border, Monsaraz is where Alentejo touches the sky. An airy medieval village made of lime and shale, Monsaraz maintains the atmosphere and magic of another era like very other few places in the world.

The walls that surround the settlement unveil a welcoming village while echoing the magnificent stories that were once lived here. The Town’s Gate, Castle and Main Church of Nossa Senhora da Lagoa are some of the must-see attractions. But when night falls, there is something that you will certainly not want to miss: Monsaraz’s sky which shines like no other and offers a unique spectacle of stars and constellations.

Your Monsaraz Guesthouse

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The Casa Ladeira do Castelo is our pick for local accommodation on a romantic getaway. As a perfect place to rest and enjoy the peace of Alentejo, this property offers a truly rustic and traditional atmosphere.

 

Madeira Island

Funchal

Hotels Portugal Itinerary Romantic sunset view funchal madeira

Things to do in Funchal

Perfectly located on the southern coast of Madeira, Funchal is a picturesque town famed for its remarkable natural beauty.

Strolling through incredible parks and gardens, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, eating bolo do caco (sweet potato bread), drinking Madeira wine, and exploring the narrow, winding alleys are just some of the many unforgettable experiences that make this destination one of the most romantic in the country.

An ideal destination to be experienced as a couple, Funchal will surely win the top spot on your list of most memorable romantic trips taken as a couple.

Your Funchal Hotel

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Our top choice in Funchal is Quinta da Casa Branca, a fantastic five-star hotel that is perfect for those who want to enjoy the incomparable beauty and ambiance of Funchal while being one with nature.

 

What are you adding to your romantic Portuguese itinerary? Let us know below!

This article was originally published on the Portuguese and Brazilian Editions of the trivago Magazine.

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