From fincas to farmhouses, Sasha Wood picks the top spots for a self-contained Portugal holiday
Rural retreats and self-contained stays have skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic, as people seek more space on holiday. From watermills to wineries, fincas to farmhouses, places to stay that capture the Mediterranean rural idyll are plentiful in Portugal.
Where: Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House, Douro Valley
Famed for its wine production, northern Portugal’s Douro Valley is a prime spot for a rustic spring break sampling delicious local produce amid sun-drenched vineyards and rolling hills.
According to Kirker Holidays marketing manager Patrick Millar: “The Douro and the city of Porto are very popular with clients, who enjoy the combination of culture, food and wine – table wines as well as fortified wine – and the new World of Wine museum is a big draw.”
The operator offers short breaks as well as longer tours, and clients seeking seclusion will love Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House on the River Douro’s quieter north side.
One of the region’s most scenic wineries, it has a 250-year heritage and just 11 rooms, as well as a renowned restaurant, Conceitus, serving perfect pairings and seasonal produce
Guests are treated to complimentary winery tours and tastings, There’s also a swimming pool to cool off in after days spent exploring the local cycling and walking trails.
Where: Villa Estora, Minho, northern Portugal
Tell me more: Enveloped by the rugged Costa Verde or ‘Green Coast’ in the far north of the country, Minho is Portugal’s best-kept secret, a verdant enclave crisscrossed by lush river valleys and terraced vineyards.
Oliver’s Travels co-founder Oliver Bell says lesser-known regions such as Minho currently account for 10% of their bookings, but are slowly growing in popularity as awareness improves.
Perfect for a romantic rural retreat or a digital detox, Villa Estora is a charming old watermill on the river with smart period interiors and room for two.
There’s no W-Fi, so it’s an ideal property for clients who want to switch off and immerse themselves in the local nature
Where: Beach Cottage, Ferragudo, the Algarve
Tell me more: This is a little slice of the Algarve away from the busy hotels and resorts. Beach Cottage is blessed with a secluded setting on low cliffs above the large golden sweep of Praia Grande beach near Ferragudo.
The converted keeper’s cottage has decor that sings sea shanty chic – all bleached wood and bright accents, with artefacts such as wooden oars and seashells.
There’s room for six people, with three double bedrooms and bathrooms, a gorgeous breakfast terrace and a pool with ocean views. It’s the ideal recommendation for GCC clients who want a peaceful spot for the whole family on this ever-popular coastline.
Where: Pousada Castelo de Estremoz, Alentejo
Tell me more: Covering almost a third of Portugal’s land mass but home to just 6% of the population, the Alentejo region is ideal for a socially distanced break.
Spring is an especially bewitching time to visit, with glorious flowers gracing sun-dappled meadows, gardens and roadsides, plus peaceful beaches and lakes to pootle around
It’s the season when the storks nest too and visitors can see ungainly chicks in huge messy nests atop chimneys, church towers, trees and telegraph poles. Sunvil offers stays in lofty castles once built for royalty.
Pousada Castelo de Estremoz is an enchanting option overlooking the historic little town of Estremoz and the green-and-gold plains of the Alentejo, which can be combined with a stay at another castle-hotel, Pousada Castelo de Alcacer do Sal, above a lush valley.