Our Dream Vacations Series is all about planning for those future dream trips. Travelling during a pandemic is hard right now, but planning a trip can be the perfect pick-me-up. It’s proven to make you happier to just plan a trip. And planning dream vacations? How could that not make you happy? Each destination mentioned has all the elements for making a dream vacation come true–amazing food, incredible cities, small towns, spots to relax, and opportunities to really embrace and dive into local culture. So, start planning, start dreaming and be ready for those dream vacations when it’s safe to do so!
DREAM VACATIONS: PORTUGAL
Right before the pandemic, I was in Portugal. I flew home the day after the numbers surged in Italy and the world suddenly caught its breath. But, I couldn’t have asked for a better “last trip” to have. I spent my time in Porto, along the Douro Valley and ended it in one of my favourite cities in the world, Lisbon. This was my third time in the country. Previous trips took me on a river cruise of the Douro Valley, into wine and cork country (Portugal is the world’s largest cork exporter!) in Evora, through Cambria, and of course, a lot of time in Lisbon.
Maybe because it was my last trip, but I just can’t stop dreaming about Portugal. Here are all the things that make Portugal a dreamy vacation.
DREAM VACATIONS: IT’S AFFORDABLE
→ It’s incredibly affordable. Portugal is one of the most affordable places in Europe. From flight prices to costs on the ground, Portugal is an easy place to really feel like you’re treating yourself, without breaking the bank. And where else can you find a vibrant city, beaches, 5-star food, and amazing accommodations for so little?
DREAM VACATIONS: LISBON = THE PERFECT CITY
→ Lisbon is the perfect city (in my opinion!). It’s not too big that it’s overwhelming, but it’s also big enough to always keep you guessing. There’s always a new part to explore, so don’t feel like you’ll see it all in a couple of days. Weekends mean you can hunt for those famous Portuguese tiles at flee markets and you can leisurely sip on a coffee in a city square and people watch. If nightlife is your thing, they get started around midnight in Lisbon and party until 9am (maybe take a nap beforehand?). And you’ll get your exercise in–the city is built on 7 hills with neighbouhoods perched on top, each one worth exploring.
PORTO IS ALSO A MUST
→ Porto and the Douro Valley are the perfect mix of city life and relaxation. Get your city vibes by staying at the swanky Yeatman Hotel (you won’t find a better view of the river or the city!). The Six Senses Hotel along the Douro Valley is excluded, spacious, wellness-minded and all kinds of Zen.
DREAM VACATIONS: GET READY TO EAT!
→ The food is incredible! Of course, there are the world famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) in Belem and Lisbon. But each city and town in Portugal has their own scrumptious pastry to try. If you’re a seafood lover you’ll be in heaven in Lisbon, Porto and CasCais (an idyllic suburb of Lisbon). If you’re a meat eater, don’t worry, they do love their meat! And if you’re vegetarian like me, you won’t be hungry–Porto has some incredible vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Porto is a great city to do a food tour. I did one with Porto Food Tours and it’s a great mix of walking, getting some history, learning your way around the city, with plenty of eating and drinking! They’re accommodating for food restrictions or allergies (I did a vegetarian version and didn’t feel like I missed out at all).
AND DRINK SOME WINE
→ It’s a wine lover’s paradise. Not just in Porto where they have their world-famous port wine, but also in other regions like Evora and the Alentejo region… try the green wines, and if you’re in Porto, definitely try a Port & Tonic.
DREAM VACATIONS: EASY FLIGHT OPTIONS
→ TAP Airlines has continued to fly throughout the pandemic and they’re one of the easiest and most affordable ways to get to Portugal. They even added new flights from Toronto and Montreal, making it super easy to get there quickly (when the time is right!). If you can swing the business class for your flight, you’ll get lie-flat seats, a chic toiletry bag and some seriously yummy food.
PORTUGAL’S PANDEMIC TRAVEL UPDATES
→ Portugal has been following strict COVID regulations for visitors since the beginning of the pandemic to give you peace of mind. You can find all their up-to-date information on their website. Make sure you check in on the latest information, especially if you are travelling during the pandemic.