Thursday, 13 December 2018

Safety and security are important for travelers - and Portugal is number 4 on the most peaceful countries

The international think-tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), builds a list of the most peaceful countries, every year, reports Global Finance.

The list contains 163 independent countries, where more than 99% of the world population lives. The list is compiled taking into account more than 20 indicators in areas such as:

  • social safety and security
  • domestic and international conflict
  • degree of militarization

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

It is not good news that the World is not a better place nowadays. In the last decade, the conflicts have risen and turned the World a little less safe. However, it is safe to say that this century brought more peace than the previous one. And there are definitely good havens in several parts of the World. Number one on the list is the breathtakingly beautiful Iceland. Icelanders are now confortable taking this spot, since it is the 10th year in a row this happens.



Photo by André Filipe on Unsplash
Portugal sits on number 4 of the list, third country in Europe. The high safety standards, low cost of life and environmental quality places Portugal as a great place to live... and visit. Get to know the rest of the TOP 10 of the most peaceful countries in the World.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

More for Portugal - Know the winners of 2018 World Travel Awards

For the first time, the cerimony for the World Travel Awards occurred in Portugal, on its capital city, Lisbon. Not that we need it, but it must have brought good fortune, since Portugal won multiple awards!

Passadiços do Paiva


Here are some of the categories on which Portugal won the 2018 World Travel Awards:

World's Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction - Passadiços do Paiva World's Leading Airline to Africa - TAP Air Portugal World's Leading Airline to South America - TAP Air Portugal World's Leading City Break Destination - Lisbon World's Leading City Destination 2018 - Lisbon World's Leading City Hotel - Corinthia Hotel Lisbon World's Leading Classic Hotel - Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel World's Leading Conservation Company - Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua World's Leading Design Hotel - The Vine Hotel World's Leading Destination - Portugal World's Leading Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant - Vila Joya Hotel Restaurant @ Vila Joya World's Leading Inflight Magazine - Up Magazine (TAP Air Portugal) World's Leading Luxury Leisure Resort - Conrad Algarve World's Leading Tourist Board - Turismo de Portugal

Get to know the whole list of Awards here.

And congratulations for all the winners!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Michelin Guide was in Portugal and left us with more stars

The Michelin Stars Gala happened in Sintra and brought additional stars to portuguese restaurants. Alma joined the 2 stars restaurants, which awarded chef Henrique Sá Pessoa's team.

Along with this award, the Michelin Guide gave 1 star to three new restaurants in Portugal:

  • G Restaurante, in Bragança
  • A Cozinha, in Guimarães
  • Midori, on Hotel Penha Longa, in Sintra
With this new (and very well deserved!) distinction for Alma, six restaurants now have 2 Michelin stars. Two of these are right in Lisbon's city center, on the cosmo and trendy Chiado. Portugal thus becomes more important on the Michelin Guide for the Iberian Peninsula. And claiming its place internationally as a destination for foodies - the food lovers who travel in the search of new flavors and restaurants. Also, it starts to be more likely to get a 3rd Michelin star for a portuguese restaurant. This would certainly place Portugal as a food destination!


Photo by Lifecooler


Check here the complete list of Michelin stars' restaurants in Portugal, for 2019.

Two Michelin stars Alma / Henrique Sá Pessoa, Lisboa Belcanto / José Avillez, Lisboa Il Gallo d’Oro / Benoit Sinthon, Funchal Ocean / Hans Neuner, Alporcinhos The Yeatman / Ricardo Costa, Vila Nova de Gaia Vila Joya / Dieter Koschina, Albufeira One Michelin star A Cozinha /António Loureiro, Guimarães Antiqvvm / Vitor Matos, Porto Bon Bon / Louis Anjos, Carvoeiro Casa da Calçada / Tiago Bonito, Amarante Casa de Chá da Boa Nova / Rui Paula, Leça da Palmeira Eleven / Joachim Koerper, Lisboa Feitoria / João Rodrigues, Lisboa Fortaleza do Guincho / Gil Fernandes, Cascais G Restaurante / Óscar Gonçalves, Bragança Gusto by Heinz Beck / Heinz Beck, Almancil Henrique Leis / Henrique Leis, Almancil LAB by Sergi Arola / Sergi Arola, Sintra L’And Vineyards / Miguel Laffan, Montemor-o-Novo Loco / Alexandre Silva, Lisboa Midori / Pedro Almeida, Sintra Pedro Lemos / Pedro Lemos, Porto São Gabriel / Leonel Pereira, Almancil Vista / João Oliveira, Portimão William / Luís Pestana, Funchal Willie’s / Willie Wurger, Vilamoura

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Medieval town in the center of Portugal - Meet Óbidos, our fairytale place

Take a day off your city tour in Lisbon and Oporto and head to the town of Óbidos. That is the proposal Travel+Leisure offers for your bucket list. It's only a 1h30 away, but it will take you back some centuries...

Óbidos is a fairytale town which even has its own castle


It was built 700 years ago and was offered by a King to His Queen as a wedding present. But the impressive part is that the castle still remains today, as does the wall around the town.


Photo by Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash


Take a walk on the top of the wall and you will feel as King of the Castle

To sleep as a proper King, spend the night at Pousada Óbidos, an historic hotel. There is even the possibility to sleep on a castle tower. This hotel also has a dining room with two very special tables - the Moon Table and the Sunset Table, where you can enjoy a good meal with a view.

There is also another alternative to spend the night, for book lovers


Stay at The Literary Man and experience sleeping amongst 45.000 books, on an exquisite location. This town is highly known for its medieval ambiance and fantastic views.

However, you won't miss the most fun (and tasty) part of the visit - having a ginjinha at one of the many bars.

Have it straight as a shot or simply sip it - on a chocolate cup. Sounds delicious? That is why it is. Finally, as almost anywhere in Portugal, you can taste many and delicious pastries. Difference here is you will do this while marvelling on the sights and buildings. It is a worth while visit!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

20 reasons why to come to Portugal and eat

To eat well is part of Portugal's DNA. However, our cuisine is not easy to internationalize, thus why there aren't many portuguese restaurants throughout the world. The main reason why this happens, according to CNN Travel, is the difficulty to have the freshest local ingredients. And this is the secret to portuguese cuisine.

So if you're a foodie, always looking for the next big thing in restaurants, you should come to Portugal


Dine in our "tascas" (a very small restaurant with an informal way of serving, where you taste real food) is just one example. Here's 20 more!

Fish

Portugal has fish and seafood like nowhere else in Europe. There are inumerous ways to do it, but definitely you need to visit a market and see the fish for yourself. You will be amazed with the diversity and freshness. In many restaurants, you get to pick your fish and the chef will cook the one you chose.

Olive oil

Olive oil is used in most of portuguese cuisine, both in the kitchen and at the table. Also, it has a strong economic value in Alentejo, Beira and Trás-os-Montes regions, as many families own olive groves and take income from its produce. It is called liquid gold for a reason.
Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

National dish

Portuguese food varies from North to South. Upnorth the food is robust, with lots of meat. In the South, there is more fish, seafood and cooked bread. However, there is one national dish, which is offered in almost all traditional restaurants, on sundays - the cozido à portuguesa. It consists of beef and pork, boiled with blood sausage and chorizo, and different vegetables and beans cooked in the same water. So there's different ingredients but everything tastes the same! You need to have this at lunch and you will skip every meal until the next day.

Gourmet offer

Recently portuguese chefs have awakened themselves to experiment modern techniques and approaches to portuguese cooking. Chefs like José Avillez, who has a 2 michelin stars restaurant (Belcanto) and Henrique Sá Pessoa, with several projects in Lisbon.

Our beloved codfish

It is said Portugal has a recipe to cook codfish for every day of the year. Probably there are even more! And you will find always an offer with codfish in every restaurant.

Smelly cheese

French and dutch cheeses are known all over the world, Portuguese cheeses are great; we just don't have the right communication skills! You can have cheese before a meal, with some bread, or after, with marmalade or a glass of Port wine.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Porto's finest

Portugal's second city has two very famous dishes. However, please be warned that you need a very strong stomach for both. That said, have no fear and taste away! Tripas à moda do Porto is a stew of several types of meat, with the star ingredient being the tripe - the white lining of the cow stomach. The other one is francesinha - or little french girl - and is basically a big sandwich made of beef, egg, cheese, a special sauce and some other things you probably don't need to know about.

Everything with rice

There are a lot of dishes made with rice - seafood, octopus, duck and also desserts, similar to rice pudding (but better!). They are not known all over the world, as risotto and paella are, but they are so so much better.

Black is the pig

These pigs grow in the wild in the plains of Alentejo. They have a different taste and texture and provide for the best cured ham Portugal has to offer.

Have lunch at school

There are a lot of old primary schools, all over the territory, which now serve as restaurants. You find many different concepts in unusual locations.

Pour the wine

There is wine for everyone here. And award-winning too! Green wine you can only find in the North of Portugal. The same with Port, one of our best sellers abroad.

The explorers' food

Portugal was a colonizing country, with territories from Africa, to Brasil and India. These flavours are now part of our cuisine. And also, part of our offer on its own, since you can taste food from old colonies in many dedicated restaurants.

We love little pigs

Suckling pig is a delicacy at the middle of the territory, in a town called Mealhada. You can taste it elsewhere, but the real thing is there.

Local fruit

Our mild climate, together with singularities with mountain or island climate, turn Portugal in a fantastic home to many tasty seasoned fruits. We eat it plain and make jams or desserts with it.

Little as the sardine

Sardines are only available in the Summer, on which you can have it at Lisbon's street festival. Grilled of course.
Photo by Elle Hughes on Unsplash

Weird but tasty

A blood-sucking snake-shaped fish. Goose-necked barnacles. Or a sugared blood sausage. Don't ask. Just taste.

Visit the local market

To see all you can taste in its original form, visit a local market. There is one in each town, even in the smallest.
Photo by Stefan Pflaum on Unsplash

We are so sweet

Come and bring a larger pair of trousers. You will need it. Portuguese pastry is very diverse and unique on its own. Our pastel de nata is famous everywhere but you need to dig further and try other options. You won't regret it.

Meat sandwiches

We already referred to our tascas. There you can either eat a bifana (a sandwich made with fried pork) or a prego (same concept, but with beef). Or both.

Many many meat

Portugal is more known for its fish and seafood. But we have meat too - and good one.

Hope you have (even) more will to come to Portugal - and eat!

What is the best time to travel to Portugal?

The weather in Portugal is mild all year round, so it is always a great time to visit! There are, however, the best times of the year to enjoy the sun and have less chance of rain.


Destiny
Recommended Season
Temperature
Lisbon
From April to September
Summer - maximum:  35°C [95°F]; minimum: 16°[60.8°F].
Winter - maximum: 16°[60.8°F]; minimum: 8°C [46.4°F].
Porto
From May to September
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum: 15° C [59°F];
Winter – maximum: 13°[55.4°F]; minimum: 5°C  [41°F].
Braga
From May to September
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum:  14°C [57.2°F];
Winter – maximum: 15°[59°F]; minimum: 5°C [41°F].
Coimbra
From May to September
Summer – maximum: 29°[84.2°F]; minimum: 15°C [59°F];
Winter – maximum: 13° [55.4°F]; minimum: 5°C [41°F].
Évora
From April to June / in September to October
Summer – maximum: 30°[86°F]; minimum: 16° C [60.8°F];
Winter – maximum: 12°[53.6°F]; minimum: 5°C [41°F].
Guimarães
From May to September
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum: 15°C [59°F];
Winter – maximum: 13° [55.4°F]; minimum: 5°C [41°F].
Algarve
Spring and Autumn
Summer – maximum: 29°[84.2°F]; minimum:  15°C [59°F];
Winter – maximum: 18° [64.4°F]; minimum: 8°C [46.4°F].
Azores
From May to September
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum:  18°C [64.4°F];
Winter – maximum: 17°[62.6°F]; minimum: 11°C [51.8°F].
Madeira
Spring and Summer
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum:  19°C [66.2°F];
Winter – maximum: 19°[66.2°F]; minimum: 13°C  [55.4°F].
Porto Santo
All year
Summer – maximum: 25°[77°F]; minimum:  20°C [68°F];
Winter – maximum: 18°[64.4°F]; minimum: 13°C  [55.4°F].

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Best destinations for November - and Lisbon is one of them

November has arrived and is usually a quiet month to travel. After the summer holidays and before Christmas' break, it is not a regular time to travel. But that is just another reason to come to Lisbon, Portugal, at this time of year. It is also less crowdy, the temperatures are lower (but even so, pleasant) and by the end of the month, you will feel a sense of Christmas, with all the lights and Christmas' trees.

Lisbon is on Travel+Leisure list of destinations for November, along with other great destinations



And it also gives some ideas on what one should do in our great city.

Our capital Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills


If you climb each one of them, you will get a wonderful sight of the city and of the Tagus river, along with its southern margin. It mentions Alfama, one of the historic districts, where you can listen to fado music on many restaurants and wonder through the narrow streets. Our marvelous cuisine is never unnoticed, and the online magazine refers to seafood and fish, namely bacalhau (cod fish), which we cook in more than 100 different ways.


Photo by Tom Byrom on Unsplash


November is also a month of several cultural and business events

Vodafone Mexefest brings music to Lisbon's downtown, offering concerts in different locations, such as churches and train stations. Also, Lisbon and Sintra Film Festival brings to town many people related to the movies' industry, such as directors, writers and actors. On a business note, the Web Summit is in Lisbon for the 3rd year in a row, bringing Lisbon many entrepeneurs and techies. Travel+Leisure didn't forget our "São Martinho" celebration, on which we eat roasted chestnusts and drink Jeropiga (a delicious sweet wine). Check out the other destinations for November by Travel+Leisure.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Best Urban Hotels Shortlist by Wallpaper - and Lisbon is on it

Wallpaper magazine just announced the shortlist for Best Urban Hotels. And Portugal has one name on it.

The competition in the hotel business has never been stronger


And the same goes for the opportunities, with the travel business always increasing its numbers. These days, it is simply not enough to have great rooms, warm reception and exquisite restaurant. It is all about the experience. So, hotels are constantly introducing new services, thinking outside the box. The devil is all in the details.

This is what Wallpaper went looking for


A hotel that cultivates a sense of belonging and community... It’s all about the vibe without the starchy formality and fussy five-star frills, the current brief is for hotels to ‘drop any attitude’. Wallpaper is looking for simplicity, instead of good old glamour. In a nutshell. To help them, they surrounded themselves with six globetrotters, from diverse areas, all linking to style and beauty. A beauty entrepeneur, a creative director, an art consultant, a designer, an architect and a design curator. All looking for the Best Urban Hotels.

The shortlist has 39 names on it


But one which really stands out is our own Verride Palácio Santa Catarina hotel, in Lisbon. We could tell everything about it... but really this is a case on which the images will speak on its own. We are looking forward for January 2019 for the winner announcement!









Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Teresa Conceição shares her favorite Nature Parks - Part Two

We have talked about some of Portugal's Nature Parks, from the North to the Center of the territory. These were brought by Teresa Conceição, a journalist from TV channel SIC, who co-hosts the series "Ir é o melhor remédio" ("To go is the best medicine" in a free translation). She shared with the national newspaper Expresso some of her favorite Nature Parks. Today we share the ones south of the Tagus river.

Serra da Arrábida

The Arrábida Nature Park is right by the Atlantic Ocean, where it reaches in high cliffs and small coves. The diversity of the wild life is such that it is a protected area. The green forest is a contrast with the blue waters. The water at the beaches is freezing but that does scare away people, who choose these beaches for their beauty. Galapinhos is considered one of the best beaches in Europe.

Photo by F nando


Vale do Guadiana

This Nature Park rests in the Alentejo inland. Here it is possible to meet the wonderful and protected Iberian Lynx and the Royal Eagle. They make their life in this area, together with the trees and plants that create wonders one cannot forget. Pulo do Lobo is a waterfall in which resides one of the most beautiful natural atractions. Through the park makes its way the river Guadiana, all the way until the Algarve. It is also a wonderful area to try the best Alentejo cuisine.
Photo by Francisco Antunes


Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina

This park extends in a vast area, from the village of São Torpes all the way to Sagres, in the Algarve. It is a biodiversity sanctuary that has been preserved, regardless the high potential of the turist industry. It follows the coastline and offers many routes to the ones who love trekking. And for the ones who like to observe birds, it is the only place in the planet where you can see storkes laying their eggs on the cliffs.
Photo by Xuaxo


Ria Formosa

This is the farthest South Nature Park and sits in the Algarve. It is one of the seven Nature Wonders in Portugal. The area is well known for its paradise beaches. However, it holds other riches, like animal life which exists almost nowhere else in Europe, such as the chameleon. For the ones who love to observe birds, here is where they can see the flamingo, and other special birds. It is also a wonderful place to eat fish, octopus and seafood, cooked in an exquisite way.
Photo by Osvaldo Gago

Even though Portugal is a small country, its diversity and richness is well worth a visit, from North to South. These Nature Parks are just one (very good) example.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Teresa Conceição shares her favorite Nature Parks

Portugal is a small country but it offers many contrasts. High mountains, where it even snows, deep valleys, where the sun sometimes forgets to shine, and beautiful plains with wheat and old cork trees. Not to mention, of course, our wonderful coastline which offers amazing beaches and sights to the Atlantic Ocean.

Teresa Conceição is a journalist from TV channel SIC, who co-hosts the series "Ir é o melhor remédio" ("To go is the best medicine" in a free translation). She shared with the national newspaper Expresso some of her favorite Nature Parks. This is an excerpt of her sharing.


Peneda-Gerês

Nature, first. Then traditions, villages and people. This park was created in 1971 and sits in the North of Portugal. It integrates mountains Amarela, Peneda, Soajo and Gerês. The rivers Minho, Lima, Homem and Cávado flow through it and offer some marvelous sights.


Photo by José Antonio Gil Martínez

Montesinho

This mountain sits in the Northeast of Portugal and it's home of the iberian wolf. Apart from this wonderful animal, it also has many of its preys and other species. Wild boars, foxes, eagles, bucks. And of course, unique flora such as oak trees, chestnuts and heaths. The biodiversity of the Montesinho Natural Park is extraordinary!

Photo by Manuel Anastácio


Alvão

This protected area, created in 1983, invites many photographers and biodiversity lovers. It offers natural relics, not only in what concerns fauna and flora, but also in geological terms. Its ex-libris is the waterfall Fisgas do Ermelo. The river Olo floods the park with natural beauty. And it's just enough to sit and hear the sound of its water flow...
Photo by Bhavagati

Douro Internacional

The river Douro is very well-known as the cradle of Port wine. However, this long river is born in Spain and before it reaches the winery area, it has a much more wild string to it. This park holds border with our neighbour country, Spain, and it's called "hot land" for its enormous thermal amplitudes.


Serras de Aire e Candeeiros

Much far south, impressive geological formations tell an imense story. This set of mountains was craved throughout millions of years, offering dinosaurs' footprints and many pedestrian rails, One just needs to get himself lost on these lands.


Photo by Towiki60

Tejo Internacional

This Natural Park is one of the most relevant in Europe. It marks the separation of two regions, Beira Baixa and Alentejo, with the river Tejo (Tagus) in between. Portas de Rodão is where the two margins almost touch each other, offering a wonderful sight. Apart from that, the river flows generously.


Photo by Nuno Tavares
Soon we will share the rest of Teresa Conceição favourite National Parks...

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Joana Vasconcelos' Castles of Portugal

oana Vasconcelos is our most renowned plastic artist, currently holding an individual exhibition at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. She takes inspiration from arquitecture in general and especially Castles and Palaces. Her exhibitions are proof of that, since she often displays her giant and modern masterpieces in wonderful heritage buildings.

This is an adaptation of what she told the national newspaper Expresso, for a special Castles and Palaces' Guide Edition.

These buildings have not only the ability to reveal our story as people and society, but also have contributed to our dreams of a happy ending, through fairy tales of princes and princesses. It is from these stories that we have formed our romance concepts and behaviours. A great deal of childrens' tales are about a princess which is saved by prince charming. All this happening in a wonderful castle and palace, leading them to a rich and fulfilled life. So we, as a society, always long for something great. It's no wonder Joana Vasconcelos takes inspiration from Portugal's Castles and Palaces. And while some make the headlines, others are hidden gems. So we're going to explore these and bring our castles to you.

Photo by Francisco Antunes [2] - Flickr [1], CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2283573

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

A portuguese professional surfer talks about his favorites' beaches and why he thinks surf has a lot of potential

Tiago Pires is a surf icon in Portugal and worldwide. And he has a lot to say in what concerns beaches and best surf spots in Portugal, along with the potential this sport has from a travel destination point of view.

This is an excerpt of what he told national newspaper Expresso, for a special Beaches' Guide Edition.

We have some of the best beaches of the World, much diversified and beautiful. Our cropped coast has a lot of character. Personally, I love the Vicentine Coast. In terms of natural beauty, it is and area with beautiful beaches, pretty untouched by Man. For surfing, there are good waves from North to South, although the northern ones are colder but beautiful, like Moledo beach. In terms of waves, I would say south of Nazaré and Figueira da Foz there is a lot of diversity, coming with all sizes and formats. The best known are on my special list, such as Ericeira and Peniche. Let's not forget surfing is a development factor, but these days we need to ask ourselves what can we do to keep this going. We have to take advantage of the conditions we have, in terms of waves and climate, as we have the best climate in Europe. So it is yet the time to do a profound study of surf potential in Portugal. Sport's initiation is providing jobs to many people, and it is necessary to organize this practice. Beaches are not just for surf and sun... they exist all year long. Meaning we need to understand the interaction with the beach, both with surfers and bathers. And we need to keep preserving them. One cannot love the ocean and not respect the beach. We can no longer take garbage and not put it into the bin. We have to respect and leave the beaches clean, also because of the image this offers to our country. We want the traveler to come and find a well preserved beach. We totally agree with Tiago and welcome all these initiatives to keep our beaches as they are. Beautiful and lasting.


Photo by Rita Gomes Oliveira on Unsplash

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

An epic journey to find best beach of 2018. In Portugal, of course!

Business Insider India came to Portugal looking for the best beach in 2018. We think it was a wise choice!

The journey started in Serra da Estrela


From there, they headed south. Although it was a longer journey, they got to appreciate Alentejo's plains, with its wheat plantations and cork trees (we call it sobreiros), for which they fell in love with.


Serra da Estrela

First stop - Alvor, Algarve

Looking for a quieter place, they followed the advise of a shop owner and went to this small and picturesque village. However, in the summer, it is hard to have a quiet place in the Algarve, so they kept looking.
Alvor, Algarve

They then followed west, hoping for less crowded beaches. The area around Sagres is known as the best spots for surfing and other ocean sports. It is a beautiful sight, with the high cliffs falling onto the Atlantic Ocean. Beaches are less crowded here, as the water temperature is lower and the wind is stronger. But, still, the best beach was not there yet.


Praia do Camilo, Algarve

Algar do Benagil, Algarve
Moving up the coast, they explored the Alentejo beaches, much more deserted and wild. This means sandy roads, not always accessible to every car. But if one gets to arrive there, it will find spectacular beaches! Downside: cold cold water.

Last stop was Arrábida


This protected area is home to many species of birds and other wildlife. A portuguese shop owner had told them to go to a secluded beach and tell noone its name. We just love secrets, so we will just keep this one, as well. And they found their idyllic beach, just then and there.


Arrábida, secret name beach