Unfolding over seven hills above the glimmering River Tagus, Lisbon is high up on most people’s European bucket list. Beautiful, historic and packed with culture, this city has enough sights and attractions to keep visitors busy for weeks – and even then you probably won’t have had your fill. But Lisbon is also an excellent jumping off point to explore other parts of Portugal. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil getaway just 30 minutes from the city or a rustic escape that seems a million miles away, here are four of the best luxury weekend getaway ideas from Lisbon.
The Oitavos, Cascais
Cascais is an obvious choice for a weekend getaway. Only 30 minutes west of Lisbon, this pretty fishing town sits alongside the Sintra Mountains, rolling sand dunes and pounding Atlantic Ocean. Just a little further afield is the legendary village of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s sprinkled with enchanting castles and deep, mysterious forests. The cobbled streets of Cascais are lined with pretty squares, interesting museums and boutique shops, and from the bustling harbour you can take boat rides and kick back on the beach. There are plenty of upmarket hotels in this area, but for maximum luxury check yourself into The Oitavos, a spectacular five-star hotel unlike anything you’ve seen before.
With futuristic, innovative decor (think clean, sleek lines, enormous rooms and windows and elegantly simple interiors), The Oitavos is the perfect destination if you love wellness, the outdoors, culture and food. There’s an enormous spa with eight treatment rooms and a Balneotherapy area, four dining areas serving up delicious Portuguese, French and Japanese-inspired dishes, and a turquoise infinity pool that looks out onto golden dunes and umbrella pines. If you enjoy golf you’ll be in heaven; the 18-hole Oitavos Dunes is ranked one of the best in the world.
Imani Country House, Évora
If you’re looking for a rustic hideaway where you can experience peace and solitude, head away from the crowds and into the rural region of Alentejo. Full of quietly lovely towns, cork trees and vineyards, Alentejo is vast, but the best destination for a weekend getaway is Évora, a staggeringly beautiful medieval town that’s only a two-hour drive from Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage town is home to the famous 18th-century Sé Cathedral and 16th-century Chapel of Bones, as well as the best culinary tours in the country. If sipping well-rounded wine and nibbling fresh bread and creamy cheese sounds like your idea of heaven, you’re in the right place.
As for where to stay, Imani Country House is the clear winner if you’re looking for understated country luxury. From the moment you drive up the cypress-lined path to this idyllic farmhouse, you’ll feel yourself relaxing. In the garden there are lavender fields, a circular pool, and a pair of friendly donkeys – just in case it wasn’t rustic enough for you. The hotel restaurant, Improvável, serves the sumptuous food this region is known for, and the house wine is created by acclaimed local wine maker Paulo Laureano, just for the hotel. You can arrange massages under the pergolas, and next door there are even 95 ancient standing stones you can visit. The only downside will be leaving.
Flores Village Hotel, Porto
A three-hour drive from Lisbon (or a one-hour flight), Portugal’s second largest city is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway if golfing or pampering isn’t really your thing. One weekend obviously isn’t enough time to really get to know Porto, but it will still allow you to explore the main landmarks, try the local food, discover the city’s famous azulejo art and – of course – sample the world’s best port. To make the most of your cultural weekend away you’ll want to stay somewhere central, so you’re within easy walking distance of the city’s main sites, like the Clérigos Tower, São Bento train station, and the riverside, with all its many attractions.
Situated on Rua das Flores, one of Porto’s liveliest streets, is the wonderful Flores Village Hotel, which makes the perfect luxurious retreat when your feet are tired of walking. The spa offers a diverse range of treatments (fancy some wine therapy or a shiatsu massage?), as well as the obligatory sauna and steam room, and there are also technicolored Roman baths with bubble jets. Upstairs there’s a beautiful and serene garden that provides breath-taking vistas of the city: sit back on one of the cosy cabana lounges, sip your glass of premium port and relax.
Pousada Castelo de Óbidos, Óbidos
Just an hour from Lisbon, encircled by medieval castle walls, is the town of Óbidos. Packed with old, whitewashed homes adorned with flowers, and with plenty of labyrinth-like cobblestone streets to lose yourself in, this laid-back town is the ideal destination for a cultured weekend break. Óbidos is a literary town, so bookworms will be in their element; be sure to drop into the Literary Man Hotel, which is crammed from floor to ceiling with books, for an ‘educational’ drink. There are quirky souvenir shops to browse, old castles to explore, spectacular tiled gates to photograph, and even a celebrated local cherry liqueur to try – Ginja de Óbidos.
In terms of accommodation, if you’re looking for something truly special there’s only one option: the Pousada Castelo de Óbidos, a hilltop castle which has been converted into one of the county’s most luxurious pousadas (upscale hotels). This four-star hotel is just steps away from some of Óbidos’ most visited attractions, like the Grande Mercado Medieval de Óbidos, Óbidos Castle, the Church of Saint Peter and Castelo, and the aqueduct. Once you’ve had your fill of exploring you can retreat to your very own castle, wrap up in your robe, and book yourself in for a massage. Bliss…
So, which of these trips are you most looking forward to? Want more weekend getaway ideas? Try these luxury weekend getaways from Chicago.