Portugal was once a destination on Europe’s periphery. No longer. Portugal is no secret – it is one of the hottest destinations in Europe these days.
And, Americans are one of the fastest growing segments. But, they need guide, many lack the general knowledge of where to go, what to do – and what to eat – that they have with other destinations.
So, here is the latest of the latest, from north to south, we’ll go on a journey to the most recent and future openings in Portugal, here’s what’s new:
Starting north, Portugal’s birthplace has taken up art with the Santa Luzia ArtHotel. The 4-stars hotel in Guimarães has a unique design, resembling an Art Gallery. The Douro’s wine traditions continue to charm the visitor. Set in the hills of Northeastern Portugal, the new The Longroiva Rural Hotel is, amid ancient walled towns and presiding over a wild landscape and wine country. This resort hotel includes the rethinking of a historic thermal SPA of excellence. To better explore the region, after several years of refurbishment, the Historic Steam Locomotive will again run this summer on the Douro River Line, from Tua to Porto.
Making the stop in Porto, Portugal’s second city-and fast emerging from Lisbon’s shadow, there’re two new places you can stay. Once a Dance and Drama School, the new hotel The House Ribeira has double rooms, premium rooms, and penthouses - with a panoramic view of the Douro River. If you cross the bridge from Ribeira to Gaia, you can spend the night in the newest Ap-Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia: Oh! Porto. Facing the Douro River and the iconic D. Luís bridge and has six fully furnished apartments named after each bridge. While in Porto, taste the traditional food of the recently opened Porto Sentido – with the signature of a Portuguese well-known Chef – or The Cork House – a wine bar where the Portugal’s own cork is the main decoration.
After being partially destroyed by the fire last summer, the Paiva Walkways - in the Arouca Geopark – reopened to the public. The 5-mile trail is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, extending from the river beaches of Areinho and Espiunca, lying between them, the Vau beach. Still in Centro de Portugal, but to the south, the first Jewish hotel in Portugal has opened. It is the Belmonte Sinai and, as the name implies, the new hotel is in Belmonte, Centro de Portugal. Opened in the end of April, the hotel caters to Jewish tourists with kosher cuisine - as is one of the few restaurants in Portugal with a Kosher certification. Back on the coast, the Forte de S. Miguel Arcanjo, in Nazaré, reopened to the public after refurbishment with new exhibits.
With a long list of awards and recognition, it is almost impossible to keep up with the hotels and restaurants openings in Portugal’s capital. Several new museum, include the Money Museum, and 2 new art museum are set to open. In one of the upmarket areas for shoppers, Avenida da Liberdade, are 2 new hotels. The New Lisbon Concept, where guests are invited to sleep in "capsules-shaped" beds, and the four-stars Vincci Liberdade, results from the rehabilitation of a historic building dating back to 1910. Also in a historic building, which resisted the 1755 earthquake, Palácio Chiado is the foodie’s new favorite place. Inside one can find 7 different restaurants and bars with plenty of food and beverage options. For a taste of international food you can now try all kind of sausages in Maria Wurst, or a French snack in the Goûter. If you’re going for the Portuguese food, the new options can be Portugal Puro, – Portuguese food all you can eat - Bacalhau Com Todos, – with several codfish recipes options - or Choco Loco – where you can try the famous Choquinho Frito from the Alentejo Region.
The Alentejo is a warm, dry, rolling hills region north of the Algarve that has saw a 44% jump in American visitors last year, including many cyclists. The wine tourism is big here, with two debuts: a new 5-star hotel in the region and “water wine” in the market. São Lourenço do Barrocal, the first 5-star hotel near the medieval village of Monsaraz offers 40 accommodation units, a wine cellar for the production of exclusive brand wines and a restaurant to serve them. Also new in the region, is the Ervideira, a producer of Alentejo wines, that plunged 32 000 bottles of wine in the waters of the Alqueva Dam. After the official launch session, the Ervideira will send the first orders to Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland, having already waiting orders from all over the world. Open again to the world is Gruta do Escoural, just three miles from Santiago do Escoural, after closing for refurbishment work.
Porto is what’s next with travelers. That ahs led to new efforts to recover many of the downtown buildings that were abandoned. Two examples are the recovering of the old A Brasileira or Pensão Monumental. The luxurious Monumental Palace will take the place of a former famous café from the 30s, in one of the biggest abandoned monuments of Avenida dos Aliados. Where A Brasileira coffee was, since 1903, a hotel will also open, in 2017, from the Pestana Group.
Focused on a healthy life-style, the first hotel from Biggest Loser TV Show brand will open in Leiria: the Monte Real Biggest Loser Resort. Further south, Lisbon will have 13 new hotels – most of them in Baixa, Chiado, Avenida da Liberdade and Bairro Alto. Some of them will include the CR/Pestana and the refurbishment of both the fromer Braz&Braz and historic Convento Santa Joana buildings. Located near the airport, Hoti Aeroporto will have 180 rooms, turning itself into the biggest hotel to open this year in Lisbon.
Just 2 hours away, in Ponta Delgada, the Azores there are 2 new openings. Scheduled for 2018 – with the refurbishment work starting this year – The Azores will have a new aquarium in Ponta Delgada’s waterfront park. Also facing the sea, the Azor Hotel, features sea view rooms, the ÀTerra restaurant, lobby market, rooftop outdoor pool & bar, gym, and conference center.