Farmhouse of the Palms
This boutique bed and breakfast in an old olive oil factory near the small mountain town of Sâo Brás de Alportel has been renovated over five years by Belgian couple Frank and Véronique. It sits on a hill looking down on to green Algarve countryside. There are seven suites (white walls, high ceilings, floors of handmade terracotta tiles, private terraces) in four houses around a central courtyard, with water fountain and black mosaic pool, terraces and gardens with lounge chairs, day beds and a bed hanging in a century-old oak tree. A three-course dinner of traditional Algarve cuisine made with the area’s fresh produce is served twice a week. Days can be spent walking in the countryside or taking a ferry over the Ria Formosa to barrier islands with white sand beaches.
• Suites for two from €195 in June, farmhouseofthepalms.pt
Unless otherwise stated, prices quoted are per night for June 2021
This artists’ retreat offers rustic guest accommodation near the lovely town of Castro Marim, on the Spanish border where the river Guadiana divides the two Iberian countries. Everything is built from the land or salvaged and is simple (compost toilets, for example). There’s a communal kitchen and bedrooms are in funky little places that range from huts, sheds and tipis to more solid structures such as the Birdhouse and Phaedra, which has three bedrooms. Founded by British artist Tom Leamon and a group of friends, the Beekeepers is on land belonging to Quinta da Fornalha, an award-winning biodynamic farm, with olive, carob and fruit trees. The idea is that guests embrace the environment (there’s no air conditioning) and the collective of compassionate souls help in this, with hypnotherapy, yoga classes, bike tours, fishing, birdwatching and, of course, painting. The Beekeepers “is open to individuals who wish to stay and develop their own practice, specific events, group trips and residencies”.
• Doubles from €561 for three nights in June, prices are negotiable – not least for those who “bring value”, thebeekeepers.info
Companhia das Culturas
The breakfast here is beautiful (as are the dinners) and includes figs, guava and pitanga (also known as Suriname or Brazilian cherry), cheeses, jams and fruit juice. There are rooms and apartments dotted across land that has been in the family for generations, and now it’s being used to grow produce for the hotel table – there are chickens and a vegetable garden. Just outside Castro Marim, this stylish but minimalist place has a wonderful hammam where guests can steam and bake and plunge in a structure that reflects the Moorish occupation and influence in Portugal. Also on site is the Corkbox, a yoga studio lined with cork and offering two free yoga classes a week.
• Doubles from €115 B&B, companhiadasculturas.com
Morgado do Quintão
These country cottages are in an old quinta (country estate), whose owners are trying to reclaim the Algarve wine tradition, which lost its way as land was turned over to tourist development. The family have brought in an award-winning winemaker Joana Maçanita, to produce what they describe as “creative, playful wines”, which are reclaiming “the terroir in a land that wine forgot”. There are also wine tastings, and lunches at the “farmer’s table”, under a 2,000-year-old tree that overlooks old negramole vines. Fig, olive and almond trees offer a shady post-lunch spot for a snooze. The estate is a five-minute drive from the town of Silves, with its Moorish castle.
• Cottages sleep six to eight, from €300 a night (three-night minimum stay in low season and seven nights in high season), morgadodoquintao.pt
A “slow B&B” in countryside near the town of Loulé, Casa Brava is a restored farmhouse at the end of a dirt road. Three rooms have been created from the old pigsties, donkey stables and cellar, each with private entrance, garden and terrace. An organic, vegan breakfast is served by the pool in summer. The farm grounds are peppered with cork, arbutus, carob and olive trees and there are biking and hiking trails nearby, as well as the beaches of the Algarve coast – beach towels and bicycles can be borrowed for free. Owners Julie and Marco also make “eco cosmetics” – soaps from a recipe using organic olive oil – and have created a range of bathroom and kitchen accessories carved from local wood or woven from straw.
• Doubles from €86 B&B, casabrava.pt/slowbnb
Between the beaches at Comporta and the northern edge of the Costa Vicentina, Reserva Alecrim (Rosemary Reserve) lies slightly inland but on top of a hill with sea views. The eco-suites/glamping resort sits amid cork oaks, olive and pine trees near and the Santo André Lagoon nature reserve, with meadows and beaches nearby. Accommodation is in swishly furnished domes (on five-metre high platforms), eco-pods, safari tents and little wooden houses. There’s an infinity pool, a “bio” pool with lily pads and other plantlife, a playground and a “sunset lounge and pizza bar”.
• Eco-pods for two €143 (much less in low season), reservaalecrim.com
Quinta do Barranco da Estrada
The owners of this unpretentious lakeside quinta have dubbed it “paradise in Portugal”. The eco-retreat, near the village of Santa Clara-a-Velha in the Odemira municipality, has been slowly renovated by owners Frank and Daniela and various volunteers over the years. It has award-winning green credentials – there’s no air conditioning, but the walls are thick and overhanging roofs keep heat out in summer and warmth in in winter. Swimming, canoeing (canoes and paddleboards are included in the price) and fishing are available and Frank is a professional birdwatching guide who can advise on or lead spotting trips in the nearby cork forests. Daniela offers shiatsu massages, and there’s a large open-air yoga shala. Rooms are high-ceilinged, traditionally furnished, and most have outside space.
• Doubles from €120, retreat-in-portugal.com
Herdade do Sobroso
This country house and vineyard is set across 16 hectares of arable land and cork oak forests near the Alqueva dam (the largest artificial lake in Europe) and the Guadiana river. Owner Sofia’s father, António, an architect, bought and rebuilt the property in 2001. Apart from stunning wines, the herdade (homestead) produces jams, honeys, olive oil, vinegars and organic infusions. Lunches and dinners are rustic and generous, and use the land’s own produce, including wild boar. Guests can take rides to try to spot these in a 4X4, and hot-air balloon rides, fishing, kayaking and biking can all be organised, too.
• Doubles from €199 B&B, herdadedosobroso.pt
Aldeia de São Gregório
A whitewashed village in the foot of the mountains, surrounded by vineyards, São Gregório dates from the 16th century and has a cluster of traditional cottages, simply refurbished to give a taste of the old Algarve (but with modern amenities). There’s a swimming pool and meals can be arranged in the central courtyard. Vineyard visits and wine tasting, hiking, cycling, birdwatching are all available on the doorstep. The village is the site of a 12th-century chapel, and the “white city” of Estremoz is a short drive away.
• Cottages such as Casa de Padaria, sleeping two, €60 a night (two-night minimum), aldeiasaogregorio.com
A lovely old herdade on a 118-acre estate, this restored farmhouse is a stylish, organic collection of four rooms and three apartments run by husband and wife Catarina and ToZé, who returned to the family land to embrace country life, also growing and selling organic vegetables and eggs. Guests can visit the kitchen and learn about Portuguese country food, and pick it directly from the trees, greenhouse and earth when in season. There’s a large saltwater pool with views across fields, a games room with pool table, a lake and three miles of walking and bike trails – Tangerina, the family dog, is an unofficial guide. Just outside the rural village of Barrancão, Cucumbi is 1¼ hours’ drive from Lisbon airport and under an hour from the chic beach resort of Comporta.
• Doubles from €175 with vegetarian breakfast, cucumbi.com
Wider Lisbon area
You and the Sea
These apartments and studios in the old fishing village of Ericeira – now recognised as one of the world’s best places to surf – claim to offer the comforts of city life by the sea. It’s not all about surfing, though: there are sheltered beaches suitable for young families, close to the village and further away at Foz do Lizandro, where there are small paddling lagoons formed by the Lizandro river. You and the Sea sits just above Ericeira’s south beach. There’s a swimming pool, a gym, a spa and a children’s play area, and bikes are available. The restaurant, Janganda, serves traditional Portuguese dishes and pizzas from a wood-fired oven. Surf packages including lessons, breakfast, dinner and some drinks are available. There are 35 apartments “with hotel service”, ranging in size from studios to four-bedroom flats, all with kitchens and balconies.
• Studio apartment from €199, youandthesea.pt
Cliff Surf House
A surfing hostel that sells itself as “a lifestyle, not a sport – a home, not a hotel”, this surf camp in Santa Cruz is 200 metres from the beach at Amanha and 45 minutes north of Lisbon (with airport shuttles on offer). It has eight double rooms and two shared rooms with six bunkbeds, though there is currently no sharing due to Covid restrictions. Surfing lessons (for beginners and intermediates) are in English, and a weekly stretching class is included in the price. Out of the water they also offer instruction on what they call a “surfskate” – basically a skateboard. Additional extras include “longboard dancing” – learning fluid step and tricks on a skateboard – wine tasting, horse riding and a visit to Nazaré, home to two of the World Surfing League’s Big Wave surfing contests, where the breakers can reach up to 30 metres in winter.
• Seven-day surf package €699pp (less in low season), including en suite accommodation, breakfast, surf lessons and equipment hire, cliffsurfhouse.com
Casa do Valle
This little guesthouse – awarded a “green key” for sustainability (the half-empty toiletry bottles go to the homeless in Lisbon) – is a short walk from the quite magical town of Sintra, described as a Disneyland for grownups because of its castles, palaces and country houses. Set in a large garden (where people are encouraged to meditate), it has 11 rooms as well as a guest kitchen, barbecue area and pool. Breakfast is on the terrace overlooking the Palácio da Pena, there are hatha yoga classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and walking guides can be booked. Wine and beer tasting tours are offered and a pastry-hunt walking map leads guests to the places with the best sweets and cakes, for which Sintra is famous. Some rooms have their own stove for winter visits.
• Doubles from €88 (two-night minimum in high season), casadovalle.com
Vila Galé Ericeira
On the edge of the Atlantic in the village of Ericeira, this traditional old Portuguese hotel has 202 rooms – four types, some with sea views and balconies – a children’s club and playground as well as a spa with massage rooms, hydromassage pool, sauna, Turkish bath and gym. There are three pools (one saltwater), a restaurant and two bars. There’s an electric car charging station and the hotel is accessible for people with disabilities. Children under the age of 12 are allowed to stay in their parents’ rooms.
• Doubles from €126 B&B (two-night minimum), vilagale.com
Built in the pine forest that leads on to Cabedelo beach, Feel Viana is a hotel for the active. There are indoor and outdoor pools and guests can learn to surf, windsurf, kitesurf, paddleboard, wakeboard and cycle – there’s even a small skate park. Co-owned by kite and windsurfers, the hotel is clad with wood, so it melds into the landscape. There’s a gym and spa as well as yoga and pilates – wellness retreat packages are available. There are two restaurants, a lounge bar, a beach bar and a “wake park” bar overlooking the River Lima. Terraces lead from the lounge and one of the restaurants to the pool.
• Doubles with a garden view, breakfast and spa access from €160, feelviana.com
Casa da Cisterna
Created by two biologists – Ana and António – this house in the historic village of Castelo Rodrigo, surrounded by ancient walls, describes itself as a luxury condominium, but in rural style. There are nine rooms and two suites – all varying in layout and style – set around a small stepped terrace, and there’s an outdoor pool with great views. The village is home to the ruins of Cristóvao de Moura palace. Guided walks with Ana or António are available, as well as donkey rides and 4X4 tours (picnic baskets can be arranged). Breakfast is made by Ana with eggs from her chickens and homemade bread, cakes and jams.
• Doubles €75 B&B in June, pt.uniquestays.pt
YMCA Camp Alambre Bungalows
Simple – but not basic – wooden bungalows with kitchen and air conditioning can be rented in the YMCA camp in the middle of the Arrábida natural park, a 40-minute drive from Lisbon airport. There are bird hides and picnic areas on site, with climbing, abseiling and hiking, and it’s a 10-minute drive from the white sand beach at Pontinho do Arrabida and a 15-minute drive from Galapos beach. Paddleboarding instruction can be organised via the camp. The nearby town of Azeitão is famous for its soft, buttery, DOP-protected cheese, made from unpasteurised ewe’s milk, using cardoon thistle instead of rennet.
• Bungalows for two from €79, alambrebungalows.com
Salvaterra Country House and Spa
This green retreat was built using organic materials and is just 40 minutes from Lisbon in the heart of the Ribatejo, the farming heartland that stretches along the banks of the River Tejo and over rice fields. The country house has wonderful tropical gardens with more than 185 botanical species, and each of the four rooms has its own leafy terrace and a bathtub with scented candles – and breakfast in bed is available. There’s an outdoor kitchen for guests, and a sauna, Turkish bath and a wood-fired hot tub, as well as massages. The nearby town of Santarém is known as the “belvedere city”.
• Doubles from €136, (two-night minimum), salvaterracountryhouse.com
This boutique hotel is in the village of Fátima, a place of pilgrimage since visions of the Virgin Mary were reported in 1917. Newly built houses and renovated cottages cluster around the “mother house”, with honesty bar and lounge, and a little grocery shop. Rainwater is recycled, solar panels heat the water, and low-consumption lighting is used – sustainability is the motto here. The garden has fruit and olive trees, and there’s a pool and “wellness cave”, where massages using locally extracted essential oils can be booked.
• Doubles €133 B&B, luzhouses.pt
Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel
The big idea at these two hotels, set 200 metres apart among ancient olive groves near the village of Alvados in the Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, is that meals are cooked and shared (classes are available), using a lot of produce grown in the garden. There are guided walks across six routes, as well as an app for planning more, and e-bikes are available to rent. The Emotional Hotel has 12 rooms while The Nest (pictured) has eight rooms and two apartments. There are outdoor and indoor pools and a massage area. The natural park is formed largely of limestone and the rugged landscape features caves, pits and underground lakes, with ammonite fossils to be found.
• Doubles from €120 room-only, uniquestays.pt
Cerca Design House
This 17th-century manor house with contemporary interiors sits in a valley between the Serra da Estrela – the range that includes mainland Portugal’s highest point – and Serra da Gardunha, with more than 280 miles of walking routes and 220 miles of mountain bike trails. Medieval castles, river beaches and hikes are all within easy reach. The nearby small city of Fundão is home to the Parque do Convento, with mountain bike centre, picnic areas, playgrounds and tree climbing for children – as well as the Cherry Route, where visitors can pick cherries in June and attend the annual cherry festival. There are 15 rooms and four villas, including one adapted for guests with disabilities. There’s a small outdoor pool and an indoor Jacuzzi.
• Doubles from €90 B&B, cercadesignhouse.com
Set in the heart of Castelo Branco, famous for the Aldeias do Xisto, or schist villages, this campsite features simple but nicely done wooden bungalows and “hobbit houses” (with outside balconies) and camping, next to the Açude Pinto river beach, where an artificial waterfall divides two swimming areas, one of which is suitable for children. The beach has a playground, sunbathing areas, shady retreats and picnic spots. It’s in Portugal’s green centre, dense with pine and arbutus (wild strawberry) trees. There are 100km of walking trails nearby, along with the historic white schist village of Álvaro, which overlooks the River Zêzere. The site is a Bioketel partner that caters for cyclists.
• One-bedroom bungalow (plus room for one child) €57, campingoleiros.com
Quinta de la Rosa
Sitting on the banks of the Douro, near the town of Pinhão, this quinta has been in the same family since 1906. A producer of premium wines and ports, olive oil and vinegar, Quinta de la Rosa has 23 rooms scattered across the estate, some unfolding across terraces and hills. The restaurant, Cozinha da Clara – named after owner Sophia Berqvist’s grandmother, who was given the quinta as a christening gift – uses produce from its own gardens and has a terrace overlooking the river. The more casual Tim’s Terrace has the same astonishing views, but serves pizza and barbecue. Wine tours and tastings, as well as guided vineyard walks are available, and every year the quinta hosts the La Rosa hill challenge, where people swim across the Douro and climb up the hill on the opposite bank.
• Doubles from €185 B&B, quintadelarosa.com
Casa no Castanheiro
An isolated cabin built under a chestnut tree, with a deck below the branches, Casa no Castanheiro is a modular structure built from wood and cork that overlooks a valley near the village of Valeflor, 2½ hours’ drive from Porto. The clever, light design of the 25-square metre space – with one glass “wall” – has been nominated for an architecture prize and comes with air conditioning, stove, fridge, fireplace and wifi. A stay here could take some boldness, say the owners, because it’s rather remote, but it is within striking distance of the Douro valley, Côa Valley Museum and Archaeological Park, and the historic villages of Marialva and Trancoso.
• Sleeps two adults and one child, €200 or €170 for stays of more than one night, casanocastanheiro.pt
Hotel Casas Novas
A countryside hotel with spa, Casas Novas is in an 18th-century baroque manor house with 27 rooms plus indoor and outdoor pools, gym, tennis court and playground. Around 1½ hours’ drive north-east of Porto, it sits between two national parks: Peneda-Gerês is a mountainous treasure, home to one of the largest oak forests in Portugal and to wolves and salamanders; Montesinho is a more gentle landscape and is the habitat of more than 120 species of nesting bird. The restaurant focuses on produce from this, the Trás-os-Montes, region. The nearest town, Vidago, is famous for its waters and thermal spa.
• Doubles from €67.50 B&B, hotelcasasnovas.com