Friday, 24 August 2018

Portugal is the Hottest Destination of the Year 2018 according to Virtuoso Awards!

Following the last Virtuoso Travel Week 2018, which took place on August 11-17 at Las Vegas, the luxury travel network recognized Portugal as the Hottest Destination of 2018. The award was given to the National Tourism Bureau (Turismo de Portugal I.P.) in front of an audience of 1,700 members of the luxury travel industry, representing travel agents, hotels, airlines and cruise lines from all over the world.

Portugal is still growing as a luxury destination for the North-American Market! The last year 2017 the North-American market had a total growth of 35%, and this year of 2018 it has already grown 21,3% compared to last year first trimester.

Congratulations Portugal!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

16 Fun Things To Do in Portugal with Kids

Most people here in Europe associate Portugal with beaches, nice weather, and good food. But if you have been following our blog for a while, you probably know that we are not that much into sun-tanning on the beach. 

So when I think about our recent trip to Portugal with kids, I have completely different family-friendly experiences in mind that I want to share with you. This is a selection of all kinds of fun things to do in Portugal with kids that doesn’t involve swimming, playing on the beach, visiting zoos, aquariums, or other traditional family activities. Find out!

 Best experiences to have in Portugal with kids

In no particular order, below is a list of some of the best things to do in Portugal with kids from Full Suitcase. This selection is based on our experiences that the kids enjoyed the most. You know, the kind that they keep on talking about long after the trip…
1. Ride a tuk-tuk
If you ask our kids what they liked the most in Portugal, they will unanimously vote for the tuk-tuk ride. It was the very first time they ever rode a tuk-tuk, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen all three of them so excited! Ever. So if you are traveling to Portugal with kids, make sure you take them for a tuktuk ride. You will find them in Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra.
2. Walk the city walls of Obidos
Obidos is a small medieval town just an hour North of Lisbon. Walking the old city walls was one of the most unforgettable experiences in Portugal for kids. Just be careful, especially with kids, as the walls have no rails on one side.
3. Explore the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra 
Sintra has so many castles and palaces that it might be difficult to choose which ones to visit. There is one castle, however, that you really shouldn’t miss if visiting Sintra with kids, and that is Quinta da Regaleira.
Actually, it’s not that much the castle that kids will love the most. The garden of Quinta da Regaleira is a real paradise for little explorers! Your kids will love walking in dark secret tunnels, exploring hidden passageways, jumping over stones over water at a hidden waterfall, or climbing the spiral staircase of a 27m deep well…
Check this post for more ideas on what to see and do in Sintra in one to three days.
4. Ride Lisbon tram nr. 28, Nazaré funicular, Porto gondola, and take the kids for a boat ride
If there is one thing we learned from our trips with kids, is that children love all kinds of transportation. The more varied the better. I already mentioned the tuk-tuk rides. But there are many more fun experiences involving different means of transport that you shouldn’t miss if traveling in Portugal with kids.
Here are some of our family’s favourite transport-related activities in Portugal:
·        Ride a historic tram in Lisbon or in Porto
·        Take a funicular to the O’Sitio district in Nazaré. Read amore about it here: Visiting Nazaré fishing village in Central Portugal.
·        Ride a gondola in Porto
·        Take the kids on a sailing cruise in Lisbon (you can book this highly-rated and very affordable cruise here). Read more about it here: How to spend a perfect day in Lisbon with kids.
5. Visit the caves Grutas de Mira de Aire
Grutas de Mira de Aire is a must place to visit if traveling in Central Portugal with kids. Descend 110m below the ground and explore more than 600m of incredible underground chambers. This is something the whole family will love for sure! Oh, and don’t worry about having to climb back up – there is an elevator to take you back to the surface.
6. Taste traditional Portuguese custard cakes Pasteis de Nata
Traveling is also about getting to know the local food. Our kids are becoming more and more difficult when it comes to new culinary experiences, but they all really enjoyed the Portuguese custard cakes, pasteis de nata
7. Discover some of the most amazing viewpoints of Portugal
This will probably come as no surprise: our kids love climbing staircases and visiting old towers. The higher, the better.
Here are some of our favourite towers to climb and viewpoints not to miss in Portugal with kids:
·        Elevador de Santa Justa in Lisbon;
·        O Sitio district in Nazaré;
·        Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto (the bridge has two levels, the views from the top are priceless);
·        The Cathedral tower of Evora.

 8. Explore an old convent
Museums, churches, and other kinds of religious buildings are not always a big success when traveling with kids. However, Portugal has some amazing places, especially the monasteries, that any kid will love to explore. Our favourites were the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha. Not a chance your kids will get bored here!
9. Get lost in the most beautiful forest of Portugal – Mata Nacional do Buçaco
If you like off the beaten path destinations, nature, and history, make sure you take the kids to the Bussaco forest in Luso, Central Portugal. They’ll love this ancient forest with something different and exciting to explore behind every corner. Take a picnic and make this one of the most memorable family day trips in Portugal!

10. Admire Portuguese azulejos
It would be unthinkable to visit Portugal without falling in love with the traditional Portuguese tiles – azulejos. Children will love looking for new patterns or discovering some ancient stories on the walls of residential buildings, churches, train stations, and old castles… Take the time to really explore this unique kind of art with your kids.

11. Visit Costa Nova – the most colourful town of Portugal
Take your kids to Praia da Costa Nova. This little coastal town with colourful striped houses was a favourite with our boys.
12. Visit a local market
Our kids love visiting markets. There is so much to see, to touch, to taste…
We visited a couple of markets in Portugal with kids, but there was one that left them speechless – a local seafood market in Costa Nova. They didn’t know where to look first – there was a huge variety of fish, but also octopus, shrimp, crab… And then there were eels, hundreds of eels, alive and crawling, waiting for a buyer to take them home for dinner. The kids couldn’t believe their eyes! 
13. Explore Porto by night
One of the best parts of any vacation for our kids is being able to stay up late. They love exploring new places at night!
Our favourite place to explore late in the evening in Portugal was the Cais da Ribeira waterfront area in Porto. Not only does it have some incredible views, you will also find a really great atmosphere with nice also family-friendly restaurants and lots of street performers. The whole family loved it!
14. Buy a Portuguese hat
We try not to buy many souvenirs when we travel, but it’s something our kids look forward to on every trip. I guess all kids do…
If you buy one souvenir in Portugal for your kids, make it a hat. It’s the best 5 Euros you can spend! Not only will it protect them from the harsh sun, it will make all the vacation pictures so much more stylish.
15. Visit a real-life Disney castle – Pena Palace
Portugal is home to many castles, but there is one that kids will definitely remember long after the trip. Palace of Pena in Sintra is probably the most colorful castle in the world. It’s like walking into a real-life Disney castle.
16. Look for street art
City trips can be tiring for children. Looking for street art is a great way to keep the kids busy and involved when exploring Lisbon or Porto. You will be amazed at how much street art there is, and the kids are really good in finding it!
 So, this is our selection of somewhat unusual things to do in Portugal with kids. Of course, you can spend a day at the beach with your family (check the best beaches in Algarve!), take the plunge in the pool, visit an aquarium or a zoo… Portugal has many family-friendly activities. I just wanted to show you that traveling with kids doesn’t always have to be about beaches and theme parks. Not even if visiting such a typical European beach vacation destination as Portugal.
Source: Full Suitcase | See more hidden things to do in Portugal here. 

Friday, 17 August 2018

25 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Portugal

#1 - Quinta da Regaleira

Eccentrically decorated palace and gardens replete with grottoes, fountains, underground tunnels, caves, and numerous statues.

#2- Livraria Lello

One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world hides an Neo-Gothic interior behind a Art-Nouveau facade.

#3 - The Village of Monsanto

Houses are tucked between, on, and underneath giant boulders.

#4- Portugal's Chapel of Bones

A 16th century chapel decorated with bones, skulls, and entire bodies hanging from the wall.

#5 - Pena National Palace

This unreal Portuguese palace looks as though it's made from a pile of different castles.

#6 - Drowned Village of Vilarinho da Furna

A submerged village appears when dam levels drop.

#7- Carmo Convent Ruins

Legacy of the earthquake that nearly wiped Lisbon off the face of the Earth.
Walls built of femurs

#8- Capela de Ossos Bone Chapel

This small chapel is built of human bones and decorated with a golden skeleton.

#9 - Livraria Bertrand

The world's oldest bookshop still in operation.

#10- Boca do Inferno

A unique seaside cave where Aleister Crowley faked his own death.

#11 - Convento de Cristo

The medieval castle built as headquarters for the Pope's secretive Knights Templar.

#12 - Belem Tower Rhinoceros 

A king's pet, a pope's gift, an artist's inspiration, and a tragic shipwreck.

#13 - Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)

An ancient and majestic fortress that played an integral role in Portugal's road to independence.

#14 - Capela do Senhor da Pedra

Picturesque intersection of witchcraft and ancient Christianity.

#15 - Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias

This fairy-tale, neo-Gothic church in the Azores is a world of magical realism.

#16- Igreja de São Francisco

The stunning interior of this Gothic church is covered in ornate gold details.

#17 - Stone House

A small Portuguese cottage formed between boulders in the countryside.

#18 - Santa Justa Lift

This Industrial Age architectural and engineering gem helps visitors and residents alike traverse Lisbon, “The City of Seven Hills.”

#19 - Jerónimos Monastery

Elaborately carved to showcase the glorious wealth that the age of exploration brought to the Portuguese empire.

#20 - Bom Jesus do Monte

A stunning 18th-century site where pilgrims ascend by a series of punishing stairs only to return via funicular.

#21 - Fort of Graça

This star-shaped military outpost is now simply trying to protect itself from neglect.

#22 - Mina de São Domingos (Sao Domingos Mines)

An abandoned mine now resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape of derelict buildings and blood-red pools of water.

#23 - Bordallo Pinheiro Garden

A garden in Lisbon filled with giant porcelain creations.

#24 - Ponte da Misarela (Misalera Bridge)

Local lore says the devil built this beautiful medieval bridge to help a fleeing bandit.
Montemor-o-Novo Castle

#25 - Montemor-o-Novo Castle

This crumbling Portuguese ruin overlooks the populace it once ruled.

Source: Atlas Obscura | See more hidden things to do in Portugal here. 

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The 25 places you need to visit in 2018, according to the world's top travel experts

According to Business Insider, the more you travel, the more you realise there's so much of the world still to discover.

In order to help you put together your 2018 travel bucket list, Business Insider asked the world's most esteemed travel experts — from the likes of Airbnb and Lonely Planet to independent bloggers and backpacking Instagrammers — for the one destination everyone should visit in the new year.
Including three experts who simply couldn't pick just one location, their answers have been compiled into a list of must-see places to visit in 2018.

Whether it's a spot set to be the next big travel trend or a completely under-the-radar natural phenomenon that you need to see in your lifetime, scroll on to discover the 25 best places to visit in 2018, according to the world's leading travel experts.

Trek to the Royal Highlander Festival in Laya — the highest settlement in Bhutan.

Sebastiaan Rijntjes, Co-Founder of travel blog Lost With Purpose, believes that the trek to Bhutan's highest settlement, Laya, should be on every seasoned traveller's bucket list for 2018.

"In October, Bhutan will celebrate its third annual Royal Highlander Festival in Laya — one of the highest settlements in the world at almost 4,000 metres," Rijntjes said.

"The festival celebrates Himalayan nomad culture, so expect highlander sports such as archery and horse riding, yak beauty contests, and endlessly colourful nomad attire. If you're lucky, you might even get to meet the king of Bhutan!"

Watch classic cars cruise past in Viñales, Cuba.

Tom McDermott, Editor at online shop and journal Huckberry, believes the colourful streets and lush countryside of Viñales, Cuba, is a destination everyone should take the time to experience in 2018.

"The surrounding countryside is incredibly beautiful, and the town square is full of live music and dancing until late into the night," he said.

"Stay at Casa Dovales for some of the best home-cooked meals around, walk towards the Mural de la Prehistoria to find brightly painted homes nestled in the foothills, or spend some time playing cards at a local cafe and watching the classic cars cruise down the street."

 Catch a wave along the Alentejo Coast, Portugal.

Maya Goldfine, Product Editor at Huckberry, endorses the clear waves and breathtaking cliffs of Sines and Porto Covo along the Alentejo coastline in Portugal.

"São Torpes is my favourite surf spot. The beaches are empty and the waves easy to ride — and the water doesn't chill you to the bone, which is unusual for the Atlantic coast," Goldfine said.

"The area is just as amazing as the ever-popular Algarve coast, but far less visited, especially by American tourists. It's definitely a locals-only vacation spot."

Soak up some culture in Valletta, Malta.

Valletta, capital of Malta, is a highly-underrated holiday destination according to Dmitrijus Konovalovas — Co-Founder and Managing Director of travel inspiration and itinerary building website IQPlanner.

"Valletta, European Capital of Culture 2018, is offering a packed calendar of events to add to its existing charm," he said.

Support the communities beaten down by 2017's hurricanes across the Caribbean Islands.

As well as Valetta, Konovalovas believes there will be an upswing in socially responsible tourism in 2018.

"Given recent events in the Caribbean, we believe there’ll be a movement aimed at supporting these beloved destinations that depend upon tourism," he said.

"Now is the time to find a well-priced Caribbean holiday and to support the region as it recovers [from Hurricanes Maria and Irma in September and October this year]."

Descend into the carved depths of Antelope Canyon, Utah, USA.

Antelope Canyon in Utah features all of the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Grand Canyon with a fraction of the queues, according to Pablo Carrington — Managing Director of luxury independent hotel group Marugal.

"Less well-known than the Grand Canyon and much smaller, these slot canyons are spectacular and, depending on the time of day, you can visit them with no other tourist in sight," Carrington said.

Find some peace in Tokyo, Japan.

"My favourite city on earth is Tokyo," said Gilbert Ott, founder of air miles advice website God Save The Points.

"It’s always a good time to go there, but as they begin to prepare for the 2020 Olympics, there’s already a special buzz about the place.

"It has this reputation for being manic, but most of it is really not. It’s actually the most orderly place on earth, and you could eat dinner off the streets. The politeness of the people and culture is something you have to see to believe."

Sail to Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia.

"The place that stole the show for me this year — and will no doubt be ruined within five years — is Nusa Lembongan," Ott said.

"It’s a 30-minute boat ride from Bali, and it’s equally if not more beautiful but with virtually no one on it.

"Tourists are starting to find it more and more, but it remains beautiful beyond words and extremely cheap. Massages are $7 (£5.30) an hour, and a chef for the night for up to four people is less than $50 (£38) all in — dishes, ingredients, everything."

Wrap up warm and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Iceland.

Niamh Walsh, Chief Editor of travel search platform HolidayPirates, believes the trend will be "looking north" for travel in 2018.

"Whether it's heading to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, Norway to see the Fjords, or simply a visit to Santa in Lapland, people are definitely eschewing the normal, sunny holiday destinations in favour of something more out-of-the-box," Walsh said.

"Seeing the Northern Lights is something adventurous travellers will find easier to do in 2018. Until recently, it's always been difficult and expensive to access many of the regions where they're at their brightest and most beautiful.

"But with more airlines offering low-cost routes to Iceland, this breath-taking natural phenomenon will be much more accessible — and this extra special experience should not be missed."

Spy on some of Chile's most remote wildlife along the Terra do Fogo archipelago.

"Chile is definitely a hot spot for UK travellers in 2018," said David Warne, Product and Commercial Director of luxury and tailor-made holiday company Wexas Travel.

"In recent years, Chile's more remote, activity-led destinations and excursions have become a key reason to consider the country for a getaway. Patagonia and Atacama are must-see destinations, especially Tierra Patagonia — a stunning hotel set on the edge of Lake Sarmiento — and Alto Atacama — known for its spectacular views for stargazing," Warne said.

Kayak across Lake Bled, Slovenia.

When it comes to jaw-dropping natural beauty, James Asquith, founder of app Holiday Swap and the youngest person to visit every country in the world, says travellers should look no further than Slovenia's Lake Bled.

"Chances are that you recognise the picturesque Lake Bled, just not know it by name. Stunning in its own right all year round, with activities to suit all weather, Lake Bled is a must-see natural site," Asquith said.

Learn all about the astonishing slave history at Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.

For Abi King, Writer and Founder of conscientious and luxury travel blog InsideTheTravelLab, Whitney Plantation on Louisiana's Great River Road boasts incredible views and unbelievable historic sites relating to the historic slave trade in the Deep South of the US.

"Not only will you find the legendary hospitality of America’s Deep South, see beautiful bayous, and taste grits and gumbo, but you’ll gain insight from visiting the first museum to show life through the eyes of the people enslaved in the US," King said.

Grab some tapas in Seville, Spain.

Tom Hall, Editorial Director of travel expert brand Lonely Planet, is backing the Spanish city of Seville in 2018.

"Fabulous food, beautiful architecture, great weather. No wonder Lonely Planet voted Seville the top city to visit in 2018," Hall said.

Snap stunning holiday photos while immersed in the Azores archipelago's wildlife on Sao Miguel Island.

For James McClure, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, travellers should head to the island of Sao Miguel, Portugal for an idyllic holiday destination.

"Last year, I visited The Azores and stayed in a listing on Airbnb on Sao Miguel island," McClure said. "The countryside is a beautiful mix of New Zealand, the Peak District, and Jurassic Park.

"Volcanic lakes, forested hills, hot springs, plus beautiful old cobbled streets in the towns make up this idyllic location."

 Cruise past Norway's Trollfjord.

According to Chris Austin, Senior Vice President of luxury cruise firm Seabourn, "There's nothing lovelier than a Scandinavian summer — especially on a cruise.

"Sail through marquee ports such as Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg. Visit hidden harbours, sheltered coves, and glide between the magnificent towering cliffs in Norway’s Trollfjord. From here, you can take part in kayaking, Zodiac cruising, and some scenic trekking experiences," Austin said.

Feel like the only tourist in Tunis, Tunisia.

When it comes to local hospitality, ancient landscapes, and neighbourhoods untouched by tourism, travel photographer and Passion Passport community member Zach Murphy thinks the Tunisian capital has it all.

"When I arrived, I was blown away by incredible hospitality, as well as cultural and historical sights I could have never imagined. I went to some of the most remote places in the Sahara desert and got way off the beaten path with a couple dollars and complete strangers," Murphy said on his Instagram account.

"I drank hundreds of tiny coffees with old men on the side of the street and declined just as many cigarette offers. I walked around historical ruins in cliffs that seemed to have been deserted yesterday yet held ancient secrets to wealthy Arab kingdoms. I got lost in winding old towns where I was the only tourist. But I was never hassled, never had to haggle, and really felt like I could seamlessly fit in with the local flow of life."

 Hike to the Callandish Stones in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

Paul Hughes, CEO and Founder of minibreak index Rare Escapes, believes that travellers need look no further than Scotland's Outer Hebrides for their next adventure.

"Everyone has to visit the Outer Hebrides on the West Coast of Scotland," Hughes said.

"This is a land shrouded in ancient history, with spectacular standing stones [Callandish Stones] sat in a landscape of beautiful white sand beaches, mountains, Golden Eagles, and — best of all — there won’t be another tourist in sight."

Take a road trip to Gullfoss, Iceland.

"My wife and I don’t enjoy busy cities or tourist-centric place, so for us, Iceland is perfect," said travel photographer Lachlan Menzies, who goes by @loch_irl on Instagram.

"If you can (weather permitting), hire a car and take your time. Four hours out of the capital city, in any direction, you get a sense of isolation. The culture still has many components which hark back to Iceland’s small hamlets when people lived off the land and sea."

Menzies, who described Iceland's landscape as "prehistoric," recommended Gullfoss waterfall for an unforgettable landmark that photography will never do true justice.

 Grab a spa break in Tallinn, Estonia.

Online travel and leisure retailer analysed data on the fastest growing destinations this year in order to determine the biggest travel trends for 2018. The city on the top of their list was Estonia's capital city — Tallinn.

Reigo Eljas, Country Director at, said: "I might be a bit biased as this is my hometown, but Tallinn is the perfect destination to start the new year as you mean to go on with a warm spa break in the winter.

"Also, it’s not every year a country turns 100 — so join the celebrations and combine a visit here with a trip to Helsinki (just a two-hour ferry ride). We think a combination twin-city break will be a huge trend for 2018."

Jump on a train to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Amsterdam is also going to see an uptake in minibreaks from British travellers, according to's predictions.

"Amsterdam has become a hub of hot hotels and slick restaurants," Eljas said.

"The new Eurostar route from London in spring 2018 will really open up Amsterdam for a more relaxed and convenient way of travel — particularly for repeat visitors, who can include a quick day stopover in Brussels, too."

Party on the beaches of Dakar, Senegal.

India Dowley, Digital Editor of Suitcase Magazine, told us that, while Ghana's been a big destination for UK travellers in 2017, Senegal will be the next west African hotspot.

"Senegal is another emerging west African destination, thanks to its great beaches for surfing, music venues, culture, and food," she said.

Surfing spots around Dakar, Senegal's capital, aren't in short supply, and a keen surfer can find good waves all year round here.

See the frozen waters of Lake Baikal, Russia.

"The more you travel the more it seems to you that you don't travel enough!" said Instagram stars and travel bloggers Murad and Nataly Osmann — the beauty and brains behind viral photography account @followmeto.

"All the places we've been to are worth-seeing, but if you ask us to name one place, we would say that Lake Baikal is definitely a must-see in 2018. It's the world's largest freshwater lake and the world's deepest lake. It was a crazy trip and we were so amazed to see it frozen over that we made a series about it."

 Stargaze in Teide National Park, Tenerife.

Cristina Pereira, Royal Concierge Manager at the Royal Hideaway Corales Resort, believes that Teide National Park in Tenerife deserves to be recognised as a holiday hotspot in 2018.

"Considered one of the best places in the world for stargazing, we recommend that our guests [at the Royal Hideaway Corales Resort, Tenerife] visit Teide National Park," Pereira said.

"Here, they can stargaze from an altitude of over 3,55o metres in a landscape with practically no light pollution whatsoever. We recommend guests admire this awe-inspiring natural spectacle from Teide National Park's cable cars, where they can be accompanied by an expert astronomer."

Sail over Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland in a ski lift.

"Switzerland is phenomenal. From the snow-capped alpine regions to the countless waterfalls and green landscapes, picture-perfect scenery lurks around every corner," said Jonny Clayton, the keen Aussie traveller behind travel Instagram account @jonny.melon and travel blog Dare To Travel.

"Lauterbrunnen, the valley of 72 waterfalls, is Mother Nature at its finest!" Clayton said.

Take in the culture of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely the place to be in 2018," said travel Instagrammer Mili Shah, known on the platform as @runway_wings.

"Sarajevo is a magical city where people from all over the world amalgamate to create a wonderful puzzle. But Mostar is another culture in itself and cannot be missed.

"Visit the 16th Century Stari Most bridge to witness a 450-year-old tradition where divers get together once a year and dive 20 metres into the cold waters of the Neretva River."

Source: Business Insider UK| See the original article here.