Portugal is a heady combination of exciting cities, sunny beaches, and people with a passion for cuisine and culture. Plan your vacation around historic castles, delicious wine tastings, and maybe even a pop culture hunt (Spoiler: Harry Potter fans will need to visit a certain bookstore), and top it all off with a stay at a luxurious private villa. From Lisbon to the Algarve, there’s so much to explore and plenty of glasses of Port to enjoy from the lookout of an ancient palace. Needless to say, you’ll want to touch down immediately.
If the rumors are true, J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book while living and teaching in Porto, and found inspiration for many of its details in Portugal. One of her favorite writing locales was Lello & Irmão Bookstore, one of the finest libraries in the world and a building with many design similarities to Rowling’s description of Hogwarts. You can visit today and you’ll notice the library’s red staircase closely resembles the one described at Hogwarts. Furthering her connection with the country, Rowling went as far as to name a character in her series, Salazar Slytherin, after a former Portuguese dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar.
A trip to Portugal wouldn’t be complete without sampling some sweet Port wine. You’ve surely already heard of and tasted of Portugal’s famous beverage, but you may not have ever come this close to the real thing. Produced exclusively in the Douro Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in the world, Port wine is rich, sweet, heavy, and traditionally served with cheese after a meal. Taking a slow river cruise down the Douro is a wonderful way to see the river and visit the vineyards that produce the famous vino.
The hilltop town of Sintra is an easy day adventure from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. Sintra is worth a visit for its ancient architectural masterpieces and their verdant views. Pena National Palace is perched so high up on the hill that it can be seen from Lisbon, and you’ll recognize that domed golden tower and red brick chapel steeple from anywhere. Still, it’s better to get up close to enjoy the palace’s vivid colors, hidden pathways, and astonishing vistas. The Moorish Castle, built in the 8th century when the Iberian peninsula was under Moorish rule, should be near the top of your list for its sheer historical significance. Originally a watchtower overlooking Lisbon, until as recently as 2010 it also housed a prison. After climbing the castle, visitors can head underground at the Quinta da Regaleira estate. The so-called Initiation Well is 27 meters deep and is lined with a spiral staircase for you to walk down. Resembling an inverted tower, and connected to a series of tunnels that run under the estate, the well is eerily fascinating.
If you could visit the end of the world, would you? In the Algarve region, just 23 miles from Lagos, there’s a place that must be visited for the view alone - and requires you bring your camera with you. Once considered the “end of the world,” Portugal’s southwest tip at Cape St. Vincent is now referred to as Sagres Point. The lighthouse here is a world-famous sunset viewpoint. When you look over the cliff edge out onto the seemingly endless waters, you can easily understand why the explorers of old believe this to be the edge of the earth.
Renting a private villa in Portugal is the perfect starting point for a vacation full of wine tastings, culinary tours, and exploring the country’s historic castles, cathedrals, and museums. From the green Douro River Valley to the sunny shores of the Algarve, our luxury villas in Portugal feature spacious grounds and private pools designed for relaxed holiday living.
The Algarve region has it all when it comes to your Portugal vacation. Algarve villas are spacious and private; these luxurious homes comfortably sleep up to 20 people, and special touches like secluded balconies for each bedroom add an element of privacy. You can enjoy resort-style amenities close to the beautiful beach town of Lagos, a charming walled city with romantic cobblestone streets and golden sandy coves. Our modern Algarve villas come with private swimming pools and plenty of green space. Ask your dedicated concierge about chef and bartender services, and you’ll barely have to lift a finger all week. When you want to dine out, you’ll find yourself a short walk from numerous trendy restaurants.