We adore the historic, vibrant, azulejo-filled city of Lisbon with its ginjinha bars that appear magically from nowhere once the work day is done. The hills are no match for our appetite to find the best pastéis de nata and order every type of coffee – café pingado, bica, galão, meia de leite…we’ve had them all and survived the caffeine jitters.
On a recent trip, we were invited to escape the city and venture out to the Portuguese coast – starting at one-time summer retreat for nobility, Cascais, and work our way down to the Algarve and the sun-bleached old town of Faro.
A mere 30km to the west of Lisbon, you’ll hit this charming historic fishing town where lobster pots and fishnets have been replaced with lavish 19th-century mansions and cocktail terraces. A popular day trip from Lisbon for tourists and locals, the town’s cobbled streets and museums (Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, for instance, is an unexpected find in a tourist town, casadashistoriaspaularego.com) are perfect to get lost in while taking respite from the white heat of Praia dos Pescadores beach.
It would be a shame to spend all your time on the beach, so book a unique vintage Beetle tour with Boost Portugal. With the salted sea air rushing through your hair, you’ll visit fascinating geological formations like Boca do Inferno and Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on the continent, before pulling up at the Casal Santa Maria winery, feeling like a vintage movie star – headscarf and big shades required. That feeling will only intensify with the tale of the passionate Baron Bodo von Bruemmer, who founded the winery (at age 96) in 2006. Purchase a bottle of their Mar de Rosas Roséso you can be transported back to this idyllic hilltop terrace at the pop of a cork.
The perfect base for exploring Cascais and colourful and quirky Sintra is, without a doubt, the luxurious Sheraton Cascais Resort. While giving easy access to the coast, the resort is much more than a place to crash after a beach day with a large outdoor pool area, yoga classes under the pines and two onsite restaurants. Reserve your seat at the Japanese style sushi bar in Yakuza by Olivier for a dinner you won’t forget — each dish will be more colourful and innovative than the last. Post-dinner, sit out on the terrace of your room and marvel at the stars, far away from the city pollution, with a glass of local port. Your luxury coastal adventure has only just begun.
Faro and the Algarve
The Algarve is seen as Portugal’s most important tourist region, which might have you running for the hills, but its stunning beaches, hospitality and towns will coax you back. Team Coco fell head over heels in love. After a leisurely drive down from Cascais, leave your bags at reception at Pine Cliffs Hotel then feel yourself drawn down the private wooden walkway, between the rust-red cliffs and dusty pines, to dreamy restaurant Maré on the sand at Falesia Beach.
The newly renovated Maré is one of many dining and bar concepts to be found across the Pine Cliffs Resort property – from the healthy eating concept of Zest, traditional Portuguese chicken dishes with vinho verde on the terrace at Piri Piri Steakhouse to sundowner cocktails at Mirador Champagne Bar. You almost don’t need to leave the resort for food, but you would be missing out.
In nearby sun-bleached port town Faro, meet up with Joana for the most immersive food tour you might ever experience under the watchful gaze of the town’s resident storks. In amongst snippets of history – including the deeply creepy Capela dos Ossos bone chapel – you will experience the finest small foodie businesses Faro has to offer. Come hungry and you will be rewarded – the local goat’s cheese at eco Bistro 31 Vinho & Compwon’t be forgotten in a hurry or the unique Amarguinha Sour shaken up by the bartenders at Columbus Cocktail Bar.
Back at Pine Cliffs, after all that eating, you should probably do some work and Head Chef Lúcia Ribiero will put you through your paces to create a traditional cataplana at Mimo Algarve, the largest culinary school in Portugal. Leave with plenty of Instagram stories showing your prowess and some handy tips for when you are trying to recreate your dinner back at home.
All that’s left to do to complete your Algarve experience is to fully relax and soak up the lush surroundings of Pine Cliffs Resort either on Falesia beach or poolside at one of the seven outdoor pools. If the day turns grey, or you need to get out of the sun, treat yourself to an afternoon at Thermal Oasis at Serenity – The Art of Well Being spa strolling from experience shower, to zen garden and steam rooms – until it’s time to dry yourself off in search of some more delicious food!
Classic Collection Holidays offers two nights at Sheraton Cascais Resort and three nights at Pine Cliffs, A Luxury Collection Resort from £1,253 per person.
Price based on two adults sharing on a bed & breakfast basis and includes flights from London Heathrow to Lisbon and back from Faro, private transfers and rail travel between Lisbon and Faro. Departs mid-September 2019