Street Food Festival In Estoril This Weekend

street food

The Street Food Festival in Estoril starts today and goes until the 1st of May. From 12 pm to 18 pm in the Casino do Estoril garden discover world cuisine such as Colombian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English and much more in the different food trucks that will be parked here for the event. There will be also show cooking classes and tastings, music and there’s even a special space dedicated to children.

If you want to know more, you can check their Facebook page, unfortunately, it’s only in Portuguese.

Staying In A Convent In The Middle Of Alentejo

Described by The Guardian as the new Tuscany or, even better, the more affordable Tuscany, Alentejo is one of the destinations you can’t afford to miss ou when you visit Portugal. The wine is amazing, it’s where half of the Portuguese wine production is done. The food is very rich, sometimes rustic but always really tasty with black pork, sheep’s cheese, wild mushrooms as some of the typical dishes you should definitely try. Culturally there’s an abundance of history to discover while visiting roman ruins, castles, museums, wineries or churches from many centuries ago.Alter do Chão Castle – Built In The 13th Century

Since returning to Portugal, Alentejo has become one of the regions I’ve visited the most whenever I have the chance. It’s relatively close to Lisbon and it’s usually warmer and drier plus hotels tend to be cheaper there. This Easter I had some holidays to take so with temperatures around 26° c, that’s 79 F,  I decided to go to Alter do Chão. The idea was to find a nice hotel with a swimming pool inside a small village so I wouldn’t have to go far looking for restaurants. After doing some research, I discovered the Hotel Convento d’Alter, a XVII Franciscan convent that was converted into a beautiful hotel. I’ve added some pictures of the swimming pool although it looks even better once you’re there, sitting on a lounge chair with this incredible view around you. It helped that we were one of the only guests staying at the hotel so the whole space was basically only for my partner and me.

Swimming Pool At The Convent

Quick Access To The Swimming Pool

Canopy beds in some rooms
Now as for the service, irreprehensible, they were really nice to us, very helpful giving suggestions on what to do and see and they even gave us an upgrade giving us a bedroom on the bottom floor, next to the swimming (if you decide to visit, tell them you’d prefer to stay on the ground floor). It was great to just go in for a nap or to get some drinks and be by the pool so instantly. All this for just 117 euros, quite a great price for two nights.

Find out more here.

What to do in Alter do Chão

castelo alter

1. Visit A Medieval Castle – Apart from lounging by the pool, we went around the village and climbed the many stairs of the medieval castle that is right in the centre of the city. It costs 2 euros to go in. There’s an elevator for those with low mobility but if you can, use the stairs, its not only a great workout but you get to feel what it must have been like to live in those days, moving in big armours around the small passways and narrow stairs. Parts of the castle were built during the Muslim occupation but the castle as it is today was rebuilt in 1359.

Coudelaria de Alter do Chão
2. Ride a horse in the Coudelaria de Alter do Chão – Founded in 1748, the goal was to “breed horses for the royal horsemanship“. This stud farm is where Alter Real studs are bred and there’s even an annual auction where breeders or farmers can buy these or other Portuguese horses. There are tours taking place every day in Coudelaria, you can visit the stables and the museum, you can book horse-riding lessons or even practice falconry with experts. Tours take place twice a day, at 11 am and 3 pm but I would advise you to call and confirm the dates they’re open to the public.

Booking Telephone: 961733371 / 245610064 | Email: cri@alterreal.pt.

3. Walk in a Roman Bridge – Although not in Alter do Chão, you can’t miss out this piece of history. This roman bridge in Vila Formosa was built in the 1st or 2nd century and it was part of the roman empire road system that connected Lisbon to Mérida in Spain, at the time the capital of Lusitania. It was so well built, that nowadays, 21 centuries after, cars can still circulate on it.

food_alter

4. Enjoy the Alentejo Cuisine at the Restaurante Páteo Real – Try some of the marvelous Alentejo cuisine in this restaurant right next to the Convento D’Alter Hotel. A roasted leg of lamb or a lamb stew, grilled black pork, together with some good Alentejo wine and bread to dip into the sauce. Unpretentious and delicious.

If you’re planning to take some days off, just to catch up on some reading and sleeping like I did, or if you want to visit high Alentejo, its vineyards and its rich history, Alter do Chão is a great option.

 

Top Luxury Hotels in Porto 2017

Porto, founded in the 12th century, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the most sought after by travellers. Its historic centre has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO making it the favourite city for those who enjoy learning about history while appreciating culture, food and of course the wine. This inspiring city, bathed by the Atlantic and river Douro, is home to Porto wine and it’s the best place to be if you want to learn about the process that goes into making it and even try different kinds of this special fortified wine.

Start planning your trip with the selection of luxury hotels I’ve carefully chosen for you. Bear in mind that at these hotels you will be so pampered and taken care of, it will be difficult to leave and actually go out and explore Porto. Read it at your own risk.

  1. The Yeatman

The award-winning hotel Yeatman is in Vila Nova de Gaia, a city that rests in the margins of the Douro River, connected to Porto by the São Luís bridge and only 15 minutes away by taxi (there are also trams, trains, buses and the hotel also has a shuttle). It’s in Gaia, this is how most people call it, that you will find all the famous Porto wine cellars. Usually described as a luxury wine hotel, the decoration is classical and elegant, you can have your own terrace with breathtaking views of the city of Porto and the Douro River.

All rooms have a fabulous river view. This hotel is part of the Relais & Châteaux collection of hotels and its restaurant The Restaurant has been distinguished with two Michelin Star. There’s a wine spa inside and an infinity pool.

Average rate for a standard room: $298 | £238 | €279

Book it here

2. Pestana Palácio do Freixo

Staying here is experiencing living like royalty if only for a few days. This 18th-century palace where the hotel now lays offers the tranquillity and comfort to guests who want to visit Porto in style. The hotel offers free shuttles to the area of Ribeira, three times a day. If you prefer to stay in the hotel, there’s a gym, a spa, Turkish baths and sauna. There’s also an infinity pool overlooking the river, for those hot summer days, and an indoor pool. If you would like to go golf, hire a boat for a trip along the Douro river, among many other activities the hotel can help you book them.

Price per night in the following dates: £156 | $195 | €184

Book it here.

3. InterContinental Porto Palácio das Cardosas

Located in the heart of the city, close to all the main Porto sights and next to the train station. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, this luxury 5-star hotel has been renewed, it used to be an 18th-century palace, but the comfort and the luxury is still all there.

The staff is impeccable, the food marvellous and the rooms so cozy you won’t want to leave.

Average price per night: €209 | $222 | 177

Book it here.

4. Flores Village Hotel & Spa

Great location, right in the historic centre of Porto, a few minute’s walk to the Douro river bank, outstanding service, comfortable beds. This hotel has family-friendly rooms and even provides a rent-a-car service, you just have to choose the car and the key will be delivered to your door.

Average price per night: €179 | £150 | $192

Book it here.

5. Hotel NH Collection Porto Batalha

The NH Colection Porto Batalha hotel, in the heart of Porto, is another beautifully renovated palace, also from the 18th century. It used to be the home of a prominent wine makers family and later it even became the main post office quarters in Porto until it was finally reconverted into this beautiful hotel, overlooking the Batalha Square and in front of the National Theatre.

The staff at the hotel is absolutely incredible and the breakfast one of the best you will have in Porto. You’ll love it here.

Average price per night: €132 | £111 | $142

Book it here.

Best Family Easter Brunches In Lisbon

Easter is a time of celebration, a time of renewal and also a time for eggs and delicious meals with your family. If you happen to be visiting Lisbon around Easter here is the list of the best Easter brunches on offer at the moment. I’ve carefully selected the ones free activities and meals for children up to a certain age.

  1. Family Brunch at the Hotel Real Palácio in Lisbon

Every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday, from 12.30 pm to 4 pm the five-star hotel Hotel Real Palácio, serves a delicious brunch made up of scones, brioche, cake miniatures, regional bread, cereal, fruit, homemade compote, scrambled eggs, pancakes, appetizers as well as pasta, delicious desserts, juices and all kinds of drinks. And if you thought this was the best part, here’s more, there’s a babysitting service at the hotel for children between 4 and 12 years old. There’s a drawing corner, a reading area, cooking classes and, every week, different activities for the little ones, it’s all free. Easter weekend, on the 16th April, instead of brunch, the hotel is serving a special easter lunch buffet.

Every Sunday from 12.30 pm to 4 pm

Price: €30 per person. Children from 0-4: free. From 5 to 11: €15

Address: Hotel Real Palácio, Rua Tomás Ribeiro, 115, Lisboa

To make a reservation – Telephone: (+351) 213 199 50 Email: eventos@realpalacio.com

2. Brunch Pestana Palace in Lisbon

dessert pestana

Everything about this hotel’s brunch experience is regal. First, the brunch is set in what used to be the ballroom of a 19th-century palace. Everywhere you look there are details evoking palatial Versailles. The worked ceilings, the frescos, the Louis XV furniture, it’s all there. And then there’s the food, cold and warm dishes, sushi, meat, cheese, eggs cooked in different ways, salads, pancakes, desserts of all kinds and ice cream.

Brunch at the Pestana Palace hotel is served every Sunday, from 12.30 pm to 4 pm and it’s €35 per person (children go for free or pay less). The price includes access to the outdoors and indoors swimming pools and, the gardens, which are actually considered a national monument.

Every Sunday from 12.30 pm to 4 pm

Price: €35 per person. €17.50 for children from 8 to 14. Children up to 7 go for free.

Address: R. Jau 54, 1300 Lisboa

To make a reservation – Email: reception.cph@pestana.com – Telephone: 21 361 5600

3. Epic Sana Lisboa

epic sana brunch

Epic, it says it in the name and that’s what you can expect of the Epic Sana Easter Brunch. There’s a sushi bar, cold and hot dishes, loads of desserts and even live music. And if you have kids, there’s the EPIC KIDS Lounge, a special space offering free food workshops, face painting stations, a Nintendo Wii with different games and, as if these weren’t enough, there’s also a chocolate fountain with fruit and marshmallows, and special meals for the little ones at the buffet.

Every Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. 

Price: €35 per adult, 50% discount for children aged 7 to 12, free for children up to 6.

Address: Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco 15, 1070-100 Lisboa

To make a reservation: +351 211 597 300| flordelis@epic.sanahotels.com

4. Pão de Canela

brunch.png

This option is the most affordable but doesn’t mean it’s less exciting. Brunch is Pão de Canela’s cafe speciality and it doesn’t disappoint.  There are vegan and gluten-free options and the food is really yummy, serving hot and cold dishes, different kinds of cakes, all from 10 am to 5 pm on weekends and bank holidays. There’s also a kids corner called Canelinha where, under babysitter supervision, children can make collages, paint, listen to storytelling and even knitting.

Price: €18 Free for children up to 3 years old. From 4 to 7 kids pay €7 only.

Address: Praça das Flores, 27, Príncipe Real, Lisboa

Bookings – Facebook page: facebook.com/canelapt  Telephone: +351213972220

5. Intercontinental Lisboa

intercontinental.jpg

The brunch menu includes treats like goat cheese with grilled strawberry and raspberry, mint, coriander, cucumber, melon, cantaloupe and dragon fruit or even swordfish tataki, wakame, sweet potato and sesame and these are just a sample of the what you get with the starter menu. The price is a bit high compared to the other suggestions but it does include drinks like wine and even coffee. For the little ones, this easter there’s a kid’s corner with activities like egg hunting, holiday collage making, egg painting and there’s even a surprise visit, shhhh, from the Easter Bunny.

Every Sunday from 12 pm to 3.30 pm

Price: €55 per person, 50% off for children from 6 to 12 years old.

Address: Akla, Restaurant, Rua Castilho 149, 1070-051.

Reservations – Email: akla.restaurante@ihg.com Telephone: +351 213 818 700

 

 

Best Affordable 4 Star Hotels In Lisbon

If Portugal is on your checklist but you still haven’t planned your summer holidays, this is the time to start researching and making your bookings. The hotels in Lisbon are still at 40% capacity but after the Easter holidays, things will change very quickly. Here is a list of my favourite 5 best budget hotels in Lisbon where you can stay for a week in July, under the €350 mark per person. Check it out.

  1. Lisbon Marriot Hotel

swimming pool marriot

If the swimming pool in the hotel isn’t convincing enough, then the €542 price for a week, for 2, in a room with a city view, plasma screen, free breakfast and a spa & gym should close the deal. You can book it here.

One week in Lisbon – Price in dollars: $578 – Price in pounds: £463

2. Vila Gale Opera

At this hotel, you can get a double room with a private bathroom, flat screen, free wi-fi, access to the swimming pool and sauna and river views for less than €600. It’s located by a restaurant filled area and it’s close to one of Lisbon’s nightlife hotspots. It’s going for €534, for a week in July, for two people. If you pay €10 more a day, you can also guarantee a deluxe breakfast daily.

The hotel has a sunroof pool also and, if you’re travelling with kids, the front desk will be happy to assist you on suggesting nice activities for children. Book it here.

One week in Vila Galé Opera – Price in dollars: $570 – Price in pounds: $457

3. NH Lisboa Campo Grande

bedroom NH

This hotel is right in front of a central metro station and there’s also a bus stop that takes you to the historical part of town. It’s good value for money considering you get all the 4-star hotel perks for as little as €428 for a week in July. All rooms have big windows and there’s even a pillow menu! A delicious breakfast is available for an extra €14.90 a day.  You can book it here.

One week in NH Lisboa Campo Grande – Price in dollars: $456 – Price in pounds: £366

4. EVOLUTION Lisboa Hotel

room blue

Imagine stepping into your own rain shower after a hard day of sightseeing around Lisbon? Or going downstairs for a drink before a night out and, instead, ending up partying at the sound of a DJ set and drinking the best cocktails? Tired of a night of partying? There’s a swimming pool, a gym and a sauna, open 24 hours a day.

swimming evolution

This hotel is for perfect for tech lovers, at the reception you can find Macbooks and plugs for tablets, the bedroom temperature, lights and curtains are controlled by a smartphone app on the TV. There’s even self-check-in and check-out if you don’t like to wait. Right now, you can book a whole week of holidays for €497 in July.

Note: The rooms in the hotel have an open plan bathroom, which means there’s not much privacy if you’re not that intimate with the person you’re travelling with. On the plus side, food is available 24/7. You can add the breakfast for €11. 

Book it here.

One week in Evolution Lisbon – Price in dollars: $530 – Price in pounds: £425

5. HF Fenix Music

hf fenix

I’m actually cheating on this list and adding a 3-star hotel, but that’s because this one is too good and original to be left out. Part of what makes the HF Fenix Music hotel so great is the amazing rooftop swimming pool from where you can admire the city.

bedroom hf fenix

It helps that the rooms all have a musical theme and there’s a Bluetooth sound system installed. If you’re worried about noise, don’t. All rooms are soundproofed.
You can stay here for €671. The price is for two people and the breakfast is included.

Book it here.

One week in the HF Fenix Music – Price in dollars: $716 – Prince in pounds: £574

16 Items You Should Pack For Your Trip To Portugal

Planning to visit Portugal in the summer? These are the essential items you should consider packing.

  1. Have your own personal guide with Lonely Planet Travel to Portugal

As fun as it can be to just go with the flow with no real plans on what to do or see, most of the times it’s helpful to have a guide who’s in the know. And Lonely Planet Travel to Portugal does that and more. Not only does it offer a comprehensive guide of Portugal’s top spots, it also gives you tips about what to visit in each area, insider tips on where to eat or sleep and itineraries and maps so you can tailor your trip to your liking. Costs $17.01 and you can buy it here.

2. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Lisbon is filled with top suggestions on how to make your trip unforgettable.

 

If you’re just visiting the capital, this is my favourite. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Lisbon, is light, pocket-sized and packed with the best suggestions. It costs only $9.80 on Amazon.

3. Portable Wi-Fi for smartphones, tablets and laptops from Tep Wireless

wireless tep

In Portugal, free Wi-fi connections are usually available in most hotels and even some bars and restaurants in the most popular touristic areas. But, if you can’t live without an internet connection on your phone Tep’s wireless dongle is your best travel companion. All you have to do is rent the device and enjoy the super fast internet on your phone. The battery lasts for 8 hours, it’s light so you can carry it in your bag and you can connect up to 5 devices to Tep. The best part of it all? There are no data limits so you can surf away without worrying about getting an astronomical bill at the end of your trip. Rent it for 10 days and pay only $99.50.

4. A hanging toiletry bag from Mr. Pro

Portugal in the summer means lots of sunscreens, after sun lotions and even mosquito repellent, depending on where you go.  This super organiser is perfect for keeping all your toiletries together and has multiple pockets so things are easy to find, it’s also water resistant and odor-free so no need to watch out for that mouldy smell. The hook is strong so you can fit in the toilet with no worries. Buy it for $12.95 here.

5. No pain in your shoulders with the Ultra lightweight backpack

In Portugal, you will do a lot of walking and this versatile ultralight backpack is just what you need. You can take it to the beach, it’s water resistant, you can take it when hiking or even when you’re just shopping. At the airport, you can fold it and put it back inside your luggage and voilá, no surcharges. It’s priced at $15.99 on Amazon.

6. Liquid containers leak proof and portable

 

When I travel far and for more than 1 week I like to buy shampoo and conditioner in the country I’m visiting but there are some things that I end up inevitably having to take like hair mask or contact lenses liquid. This little bottle container bag costs only $6.99.

7. Eye modelled sleep mask with stars 

Houses and hotels in Portugal usually have blinds, so most of the time you will be able to keep your room dark if you want. But packing this mask might prove useful in the plane or when taking an afternoon nap by the swimming pool. The best thing about this mask is that it doesn’t touch your eyes and it fits around your nose. Buy it here for $9.99.

8. 4 in 1 USA to European Plug Adapter

plug

This is a safe bet if you’re travelling with lots of electronic devices. This adapter has two USB connections so you can charge your smartphone or tablet and a normal plug adapter. Just remember, this is not a voltage converter so your devices need to be compatible with the 250v capacity. The price tag is $8.99 and you can buy it here.

9. Happy feet with compressed socks for the long haul flights

These socks are incredible for when you just know you’re going to be stuck on a plane for more than 5 hours. They promote the circulation, minimise swelling while reducing fatigue. Perfect for long bouts of sitting and walking, which you will do a lot of in Portugal. They’re selling for $14.60 on Amazon.

10. A soft travel pillow that supports your neck

No more neck pain with this pillow. I don’t know about you but the number of times I just end up throwing the plane pillow to the side and give up on having any neck support is ridiculous, so I was amazed when I found this alternative. It soft and it holds your neck in an ergonomic position. It’s also small and light compared to other travel pillows. You can buy it for $29.99 on Amazon.

11. Puncture and water resistant beach and picnic blanket

How cute is this? You can carry a large blanket in your pocket without even noticing it. There are three different sizes available and it even has small weights in the corners for those windy days. It goes for $11.99 for the small size and $19.99 for the larger version. Buy it here.

12. A mini usb humidifier for those hot Portuguese summer nights

Apparently, Mariah Carrey can’t live without humidifiers nor should you, especially not during the Portuguese summer. You can attach almost any water bottle or even Pepsi and Coke bottle. It’s small, it has a timer and it works with batteries if you don’t want it connected to your computer. It’s on sale at the moment which means you can buy it for $23.99.

13. Tide Travel Sink Packets

The laundry service in hotels is usually expensive and it’s still very uncommon to find self-service laundries in Portugal. But don’t worry, with this packets you won’t have to worry about dirtying your favourite items of clothing when you’re travelling. Just wash them in the sink and problem solved. It costs $3.95 on Amazon. 

14. A small travel charger for your smartphone and tablet

travel charger

Nothing’s more annoying than running out of battery midway through a day exploring. That last sunset picture, that wrong turn that left you not knowing which way you needed to go. A mobile phone is an essential travel companion and this small travel charger will give you the breather you need before you get to the hotel. It’s on sale now and going for $17.99.

 

15. Lightweight, slip-on, memory foam sneakers from Skechers

Skechers-Performance-Mensskechers

They’re slip-on, they’re grippy and flexible, perfect for someone planning to do a lot of walking, which as I mentioned extensively will happen a lot when you visit Portugal. Size 7 on the women shoes is $37.67 at the moment. And the men’s version is at $40 for size 10.

15. Pack of portable reusable bottle protector sleeves

wine protector

If there’s one thing you won’t want to leave Portugal without is wine. You might want to take it for yourself or to offer friends, regardless, after you try the Portuguese wine you will for sure crave for more. And this is the perfect way to carry it back home without risking any breakage. You can buy it on Amazon for $15.97.

And that is the end of the list, do you have any other suggestions of what you might want ot pack in your bag when travelling to Portugal?