June 5, 2019

Enchanting Portugal - The best way to experience portugal

Picture of Nick Cabugos
Nick Cabugos

Creative Director, Montecito Village Travel

Located in the southwestern point of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is one of the oldest states on the peninsula and one of the oldest in Europe. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain, Portugal is just a sliver of southwest Europe, but the territory also includes the Azores and Madeira archipelagos. In Portugal, one would find old castles and palaces, rich cultural heritage, a thriving culinary scene paired with incredible wine and port wine, beaches, world-class golf, and a friendly community that welcomes visitors to their city.

Below you will find some of the best ways to experience Portugal including tours, river cruises and 5-star luxury hotels.


A River Cruise journey down the Douro River

There are many ways to experience Portugal. One of the best River Cruises in the world is down the Douro River, which takes explorers and wine enthusiasts on a journey from Porto through the Douro Valley, all the way to Madrid. Scenic Cruises offers a 17-day all-inclusive tour and river cruise, starting with a tour of Lisbon, then fly to Porto and continue down the Douro River ending with 3 days in Madrid.

Explore Portugal and the Douro River with these luxury
river cruise lines:

  1. Ama Waterways
  2. Scenic Cruises
  3. Viking Cruises
  4. Uniworld
  5. Tauck

Rent a Car and Explore

Renting a car is another option and is a great way to explore the country. Driving from Lisbon to Porto, or the south in Algarve takes only 3 hours, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way. Just outside of Lisbon are the cities of Sintra, Cascais, Guincho, and Estoril. Drive an hour and a half north and explore Nazare and Peniche, which are two big surf towns. Keep driving and discover Porto in the northern end of Portugal.

The south of Portugal is so much different. In the south, you can explore the beaches and marinas of Algarve, Lagos, Portimão, and Faro. Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys trail to the famous Benagil Beach, famous for its caves and remote beaches. For golfers, there are plenty of options such as the Arnold Plamer designed course, Victoria, at the Anantara Vilamoura where they hold the Portugese Masters.

Inside tip: Uber exists in Portugal and it's very cheap. MVT can also arrange airport and hotel transfers for you throughout your entire stay.

Here are our recommended 5-star properties to visit while in Portugal:

  1. Intercontinental Cascais-Estoril
  2. The Ritz Carlton Penha Longa Resort
  3. The Yeatman Porto
  4. The Valverde Hotel
  5. Vila Vita Parc Algarve
  6. Anantara Vilamoura
  7. Tivoli Carvoeiro
  8. Six Senses Douro Valley

The Intercontinental Cascais-Estoril

The view from the balcony at the Intercontinental Cascais-Estoril

Set in the Oceanfront of the Atlantic, on the “Portuguese Riviera” a region full of beauty and history, where the omnipresent Ocean has created a fascinating coastline and a mild microclimate. Factors, which combined with easy access to the historical city of Lisbon, made it the birthplace of tourism in PT. Estoril is an ideal retreat for family escapes. Experience Portuguese heritage, fish and seafood specialties, sandy beaches and your favorite water sports and signature golf courses.

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There is so much to surrounding this hotel. Take a short walk and you will find many restaurants and bars along the boardwalk serving up fresh fish and Super Bock beer. Downtown Cascais is a beautiful little town with so much good food, boutique shops and souvenirs, and colorful architecture with Portuguese paved sidewalks that are so prevalent in Rio de Janeiro along the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Come here to experience some authentic Portuguese culture.

Also close to the resort you will find many golf courses, surfing all along the coast, and Casino Estoril. Whats even more convenient is the hotel is right next to a train station (which you cannot hear at night), so if you want to go into Lisbon, it's just a short 15 min train ride.


To the north of the Cascais and Estoril is Guincho, a wide open stretch of coastline with golf courses, old lighthouses and buildings, and many Michelin star quality restaurants. The drive is very scenic, you will see sand dunes, tall cliffs, large waves pounding the coast, and take a stop by the famous Boca del Inferno cave.

IHG Luxury & Lifestyle Benefits

Our clients will receive the following (minimum 2-night stay):

  • Guaranteed late check-out (until 4PM)
  • Breakfast for two, daily at hotel restaurant
  • Value-added amenity, specific to hotel ($100 value per stay)
  • Upgrade to next room category (subject to availability on arrival)
  • Free Wi-Fi (unlimited devices)
  • Turn down service as appropriate by brand
  • Handwritten, personalized welcome card
  • Bottled water, fresh fruit, and snacks in room upon arrival
  • No walk policy
  • Priority wait list


Ritz-Carlton Penha Longa Resort

The pool at the Penha Longa Resort over looking the 27 hole golf course

Breaking the lush landscape of Sintra’s rolling green hills, Penha Longa Resort is a reminder that true beauty withstands time. The hotel, the only within the natural park, seamlessly incorporates a 14th century monastery and chapel within its luxurious setting. A 27-hole golf course is to be both played and admired; family-focused activities celebrate nature and tradition; and two of eight dining experiences hold coveted Michelin stars.

"Penha Longa is a superb resort conveniently placed near to Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais. All staff are friendly, the suite was beautiful and well equipped, and the food in each restaurant is of a very high quality."

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When you're not spending time biking, walking or running the 8km trails around the resort, one of the 3 pools, working out at the state of the art fitness center, relaxing at the spa, golfing 27 holes, playing with the kids at the massive outdoor kids area, or eating at one of the Michelin star restaurants, you can enjoy the charming, historic city of Sintra just a short drive down the road.

Ritz-Carlton Stars Amenities

Our clients receive the following added benefits:

  • A personal welcome by hotel management as well as a welcome card from the General Manager.
  • Often can request pre-registration and express check in and have the convenience of obtaining a 4:-00 pm late check out upon request.
  • Continental breakfast for 2 and sometimes even full breakfast to compliment the Complimentary in room amenity.
  • Most importantly, a guest room or suite upgrade subject to availability at check in. 

The Yeatman Porto


The Yeatman is a luxury wine hotel and spa in Porto with spectacular views over the UNESCO World Heritage city and the Douro River. Member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection of hotels and distinguished with two Michelin Stars, The Yeatman Hotel is widely regarded as the best hotel in Porto and is a unique and distinctive landmark in the world of classic luxury hotels.

Set amidst the Port wine lodges, The Yeatman nestles on a hill, overlooking Porto and is set within 7 acres of land, and has outdoor and indoor infinity swimming pools.

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Award winning wine list of 1300 wines

Due to the Hotel’s focus and wine theme, you will find in particular many Portuguese wine references since the shop has 1300 labels to choose from, available from The Yeatman’s award winning wine list, and these are all stored in The Yeatman’s cellar, many of which are exclusive collectors’ items.

Enjoy food and beverage presentations, on-site concierge services, laptop and free internet, and a selection of newspapers and magazines in the Club Lounge.

Exclusive offer: Spend three luxurious nights at The Yeatman and experience the historic city of Porto.

Enjoy an exquisite dinner in The Orangerie Restaurant paired with stunning wines from our award winning wine list. Take a tour of the Taylor’s Port cellars, one of Porto’s oldest Port firms, followed by traditional lunch at the Taylor’s restaurant, Barão Fladgate.

The stunning panoramic views of the River Douro and the city of Porto from your bedroom terrace or balcony will both mesmerise and delight.

Virtuoso Amenities:

Our clients will receive the following: 

  • Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Buffet Breakfast at "The Orangerie" OR Continental Breakfast through Room Service for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • FREE Signature Cocktail at Dick's Bar
  • VIP Treatment in the room upon arrival (Bottle of Port Wine + Portuguese Custard Tarts)
  • Tour and Port Wine Tasting at Taylor's Port Wine Lodges
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi


Six Senses Douro Valley


Positioned as the ultimate Douro wine and spa experience, the resort assumes its own regional identity. The stunning historic manor house is both contemporary and sophisticated. It was originally converted to a hotel in 2007 and renovated to adopt technical and material innovations, then totally recreated, becoming Six Senses Douro Valley, together with faultless service based on thoughtful details and little surprises.

First off, the Six Senses spa experience is well known to be one of the best in the world. At the spa here, you will find an array of experiences that stimulates all of the senses. Relax in the regular steam rooms and thermal saunas, then move down the line to the Himalayan salt sauna, the eucalyptus steam room, or the dark rain forest style steam room. Each treatment room here has an incredible view of the Douro river and forest views.

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Dining options at Six Senses Douro Valley are a celebration of the region with much of the produce coming from the verdant valley and surrounding countryside. An organic garden of vegetables and herbs is located right on the estate. Fresh ingredients are harvested only as needed, assuring ultimate freshness and flavor.

Experience the wines and port wine of the Douro Valley on a cruise up river, or schedule appointments to experience the local vineyards first hand.

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As the heart of the resort, the Wine Library & Terrace features an eclectic collection of local materials and furnishings to create an authentic Douro Valley experience. It is also a pre-dining rendez-vous with a tempting selection of local tapas items and self-service wine tasting ideal for learning, imbibing and celebrating. Browse gifts, art objects and gourmet items from the valley. Meet here with the wine concierge to plan excursions and spa treatments for the day. The room extends onto a covered stone terrace with
comfortable armchairs arranged around a fire feature.


Golden by name – Douro – the sun-kissed valley is also golden by nature, with the River Douro flowing through amber-hued vine-filled terraces. The region, that comprises three world heritage sites, offers unforgettable experiences in this unique natural landscape.

Virtuoso Amenities

Our clients will receive the following: 

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Buffet Breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability


The Valverde Hotel - Lisbon

Located in the Avenida da Liberdade, in the most noble of Lisbon, Valverde Hotel opened its doors in September 2014. This boutique hotel will remind you of London and New-York Town Houses, with its classic and elegant style, it's contemporary furniture, works of art and antiques.

Its warm colours, the comfort of its fabrics and materials, its homey arrangement of space, are what distinguishes the Valverde Hotel from any other hotel in the surrounding area, an "Oasis of comfort and discreet luxury."

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Sítio Valverde Restaurant

Keeping in line with the aesthetic of the hotel, the restaurant is decorated with vintage look furniture, thirteenth century paintings and eclecti lighting ...

Facing the courtyard, Restaurant / Bar "Sítio Valverde", with its very high ceilings, is a unique space where sophisticated clientele can come to lunch, dine or have snack at any time of day. Its menu includes a number of "Classics", plus a Chef's suggestion for the day, to suit any customer.

Chef Carla Sousa offers a signature cuisine, focused mainly on Portuguese dishes. It has capacity for 30, serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Additionally, the hotel offers a bar service with signature cocktails and a classic menu available throughout the day.

The hotel is a Relais & Chateaux property so you know right away the food is going to be world-class.

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This hotel is a great option if you are just arriving to Lisbon. It is close to the airport, shopping, and central Lisbon. Talk to one of our travel advisors to learn more about exclusive amenities we can provide our clients.


Vila Vita Parc - Algarve


Vila Vita Parc, located in the south of Portugal in Algarve, is a destination in itself. With private beaches, several swimming pools, fitness and wellness center, newly renovated spa, six bars and ten restaurants including the 2-Michelin starred Ocean Restaurant, a boutique shopping center, private yachts, and plenty to do for the kids, you will never get bored here.

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The accommodations come in various shapes and sizes, from chic, sea-inspired rooms and suites with ocean-view terraces to spacious whitewashed villas with private pools. All are located within the oceanfront clifftop grounds amid 54 acres of subtropical gardens. Each type comes with standout features, whether a rooftop terrace or an exquisite Portuguese tile mosaic.  For larger parties, they offer 3-5 bedroom villas, with an all new, ultra-modern 6-bedroom villa coming soon.

Food is never an afterthought at VILA VITA Parc. With a total of six bars and 10 restaurants, ranging from casual beachside dining to rustic Portuguese plates to one-of-a-kind gastro-creations at our two Michelin-starred restaurant, diversity is key to their culinary philosophy.

Flavours span the globe, from sun-drenched Mediterranean produce to clean and crisp Japanese cuisine. The impressive wine cellar – stocked with more than 11,000 bottles – ensures the perfect accompaniment wherever you dine.

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A vacation is a time when family bonds are tightened and enduring memories – the type your kids will still recall when they themselves are old and grey – are made. VILA VITA Parc welcomes families with open arms, offering a programme of child-friendly activities that will please all ages, from tots through to teenagers. From sea life exploration to family yoga sessions to young palate-pleasing children’s menus, we can tailor your experiences to your family’s particular interests.

There's so much to do and so much to see here, you'll just have to experience it for yourself.

 Virtuoso Amenities

Our clients will receive the following:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Buffet Breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Bottle of wine, seasonal fruit and mineral water on arrival
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability


Tivoli Carvoeiro


The Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort, has one of the best views around to wake up to. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside, the fully-refurbished, family-friendly 5 star hotel in Carvoeiro, Portugal offers a completely different experience than other hotels in the area. Here you will find stunning views and famous beaches and caves, as well as the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The trail is accessible from the hotel and stretches 10km, taking you all the way to Benagil Beach which has one of the most famous caves.

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After a comprehensive 5 month remodelling project, our hotel is setting a new standard for luxury amongst Algarve resorts, with 248 stunningly refurbished bedrooms, suites with balconies and new Family Rooms for larger groups. Take advantage of impeccable facilities including celebrity-chef standard restaurants, Tivoli Spa, a first-rate fitness area and more than 1,300 square metres of impressive event space, while still possessing the same unstinting enthusiasm and warm service that has made the Tivoli Carvoeiro a landmark hotel for a quarter of a century.


As the sun sets slowly along an endless horizon, Sky Bar Carvoeiro comes alive with a joy and relaxation that is contagious. Enjoy superb cocktails and appetizers against a backdrop of chilled music and intoxicating rooftop views. This is a perfect place for large gatherings, parties and weddings. Every view is spectacular and when the warm breeze blows out towards the ocean, your enjoying food and beverages with your friends dancing to good music, there is no place like it.

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