Northern Portugal is one of the most beautiful regions I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Inspiring panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean beset the landscape accompanied by mountains and rivers. New discoveries in charming villages and towns are always present.
Porto, the heartbeat of North Portugal, should be on everyone’s short list as the perfect place to begin a memorable journey into the rich history, classic and modern cuisine, and unique wines of the region. In fact, the city’s historic center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is replete with meandering streets, façade-tiled homes and stunning views of the Douro River. Enticed? Let’s go!
Stay at These Wine-Focused Hotels and Resorts in North Portugal
I think we can all agree that when the day is finished, it’s time to pour a glass of wine and watch the sunset slowly setting over the ocean or vineyards. But where? During my most recent trip to Northern Portugal, I stayed in four distinctive accommodations that should be on everyone’s list. What I learned, though, is that resting after a full day of exploration is only one part of the experience at these notable spots. I guarantee you’ll want to stay a bit longer. Massage in the vineyard anyone?
Monverde Wine Experience Hotel – Amarante, Portugal
A short drive from historic Amarante is the Monverde Wine Experience Hotel. Its concept is to integrate serene accommodations with the discovery of wine, culture and landscape. After registration, I was offered a glass of chilled sparkling Alvarinho and as I walked through the well-appointed gathering areas, bar and restaurant, it was obvious that the concept is realized.
The blend of the structure was in true harmony with the surroundings. Pastoral vineyard views could be had from every window. The main area included an outside pool and spa on the lower level and a short distance away was my stunning Wine Experience Suite. Besides the stocked wine refrigerator, separate bedroom and comfortable sitting space with fireplace was my private infinity pool. Here I was able to have a late-night glass of bubbly after a refreshing dip.
Winetraveler Tip: Don’t miss checking into the spa and arrange for a massage in the vineyard. Reserve your table for a food and wine pairing dinner featuring authentic wines from Quinta da Lixa paired with cuisine that epitomizes simple elegance. Or, wander the property at sunrise and experience the beauty of nature.
Six Senses Douro Valley – Lamego, Portugal
In the Douro Valley, you only need six senses: eat, sleep, spa, move, grow and mindfulness. At the exclusive Six Senses Resort, those elements are addressed each day. An on-site organic garden helps provide sustenance in one of several dining areas and the well-appointed rooms are about as dreamy as you’ll ever see. The spa offerings are complete. You can even make your own essential oils.
The exercise facility has everything you’ll need to remain energized while visiting the beautiful Douro region. Plus, group and private wellness classes are available to guests. Children can also be entertained and satisfied throughout the day with a number of activities. Although I didn’t stay overnight, I had a complete tour of the property as well as a delicious lunch (I’m almost positive that I had just seen the greens in my salad from the organic garden a few moments earlier) with exceptional wines on the sunny terrace overlooking the outside pool.
Winetraveler Tip: Spend an hour or two in the Wine Library with a tasting flight of luscious wines from the Douro Valley, book a lunchtime cooking class in the Open Kitchen (wines for pairing included, of course) or arrange for your personalized wellness assessment in the spa.
Hotel FeelViana – Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Don’t let the peaceful vibe when you walk in the door prompt you to think that this hotel is only about relaxing. Of course, thoughts of sipping a glass of wine or reading a juicy novel will be apparent as you view the sweeping terrace, sunny spaces and streamlined accommodations. Did I mention each has its own private balcony? Yet, Hotel FeelViana is just as much about nature, escape, sports and adventure as it is about relaxation and comfort.
The pulse of the hotel is its array of activities and experiences from which to choose. Trust me, nature lovers will never want to leave for more than a few reasons. Situated right on the ocean, opportunities for swimming, kite surfing, wind surfing, paddle boarding and so much more are at your doorstep. Within the resort itself, the alluring spa and on-point food and wine scene will satisfy your every need.
Winetraveler Tip: Arrange for a kite surfing lesson at the beach and then have a cocktail or wine at the Beach Bar. You’ll appreciate the distinctive, original artwork throughout the hotel and have an opportunity to close your eyes and relax in the Turkish Bath. Or, have an evening walk on the beach before you ask the Chef of the FeelViana Restaurant to select your dinner menu as you gaze at the ocean sunset.
Vila Foz Hotel & Spa – Porto, Portugal
My last two nights in North Portugal were spent at the Vila Foz Hotel & Spa located across the street from the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean and its wide, sandy beaches. The majestic oceanfront mansion, once owned by Porto’s elite, has been converted into a world-class resort. The architectural details of the 19th century have been successfully blended with the luxury of today. A modern wing with indulgent rooms boast every amenity you desire and a balcony towards the ocean as well as a state-of-the-art spa is accessed through an underground passage.
A comfortable, cozy lounge bar and outside terrace overlook the ocean and two restaurants offer a range of wines, cocktails or food. Vila Foz — a premier fine dining restaurant — features fresh fish and seafood from the coast and a highly desirable wine selection.
Flor de Lis, an elegant yet casual spot where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, emphasizes local and seasonal cuisine to fortunate guests. I had a scrumptious dinner there and I’m still thinking of that grilled calamari.
Winetraveler Tip: Have a glass of wine or a cocktail on the terrace and watch the sunset… then have another pour and stay for the fireworks. Pour a glass of Champagne every morning at Flor de Lis to accompany your bountiful breakfast which includes raw oysters, meats, cheeses and fresh breads. Reserve a few hours in the afternoon for a facial or massage at the spa and remember to have a dip in the pool either before or after your pampering.
More Ways To Explore Portugal