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If it feels like your cousin/best friend/sister-in-law are all packing their bags for Portugal, it’s because they are. The colorful European country--tucked along the western coast of Spain--just got much more accessible stateside, thanks to a variety of new and direct flights. (We love you, Jetblue!) But convenience isn’t the only reason U.S. travelers are making the trip.

Such Pretty Cities

Porto is the new Paris

PORTO

Maybe it’s the cobblestone streets--or range of 17th- and 18th-century port wine cellars--but there’s something old-world about this town beside the Douro River. Save time for a tram ride and for sipping port tonics along the Ribeira. (It’s a tiny bit touristy, but it also has the best views of the double-decker Dom Luis bridge.) 

Where to Stay: The Yeatman

lisbon
Oktay Ortakcioglu/Getty Images

LISBON

This vibrant coastal city is as hilly as San Francisco. Take the train 20 minutes to nearby Belém for Portuguese pastries (Pastéis de Belém is world-famous for its sweets) and sightsee and gallery hop in and around Bairro Alto. Just don’t leave without hearing fado, Portugal’s version of the blues. (Tasca do Chico is the best off-the-radar spot.)

Where to Stay: Valverde Hotel

coimbra
Leonardo Patrizi/Getty Images

COIMBRA

Home to the historic University of Coimbra and the 18th-century Biblioteca Joanina (a national monument), this central city actually used to be Portugal’s capital. Now, it’s a bustling college town filled with outdoor cafés and breathtaking gardens. (An afternoon at the Jardim Botanico is a can’t-miss.)

Where to Stay: Hotel Oslo Coimbra

Plenty of Beach Access

Oh, those aquamarine blues

LAGOS

Hello, there’s a reason French, Spanish and British tourists all flock to the Algarve. Rent a paddleboard (or a power boat) and explore the prehistoric-looking cliffs and sandy beaches all on your own. 

Where to Stay: Dom Manuel Hotel

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Holibeds

CASCAIS

This Hamptons-esque beach town used to be a sleepy fishing village. Now it’s a shiny and polished shoreline with chichi restaurants, shopping and sand. 

Where to Stay: Senhora Da Guia

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Hannah Loewentheil

COMPORTA

The opposite of Cascais, this peninsula--which is often compared with Ibiza--offers sand and sun south of Lisbon, minus any crazy crowds. Getting there by ferry is easy or you can rent a car.

Where to Stay: Sublime Comporta

Amazing Food

You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten prego

FORNO D'ORO

In Lisbon, fancy pizza is a thing. This upscale Neapolitan joint--known for its pies and vast selection of craft beers--recently earned itself a Michelin star.

tapabento
Oporto Cool

TAPABENTO

Secure a reservation for lunch at this delicious tapas spot in Porto. Four dishes should be enough for two--just be sure to try the Tuna Tataky. (It’s very similar to tuna tartare, but with a citrusy soy sauce as the base. Yum.)

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Pulp Collectors

PHARMACIA

This funky eatery--located inside Lisbon’s apothecary museum--features the freshest flavors in Portugal, all with a medicinal bent. (For example, the Ibuprofen cocktail.)

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O Prego Da Peixaria

O PREGO DA PEIXARIA

It’s the stuff drinking food is made of: This beef sandwich--served on bread with mustard and hot sauce--is a Portuguese specialty. Go to this Lisbon restaurant for a modern take.

Wine Is a Priority

We’re not just talking about the Port

DOURO VALLEY

If your trip allows time for a detour to the Douro Valley--the world’s first-ever official wine region--do it. It’s just three hours north of Lisbon and features some of the best reds, whites and ports you’ll ever taste. But that’s not all: The vertical vineyards and white-washed quintas (wine estates) overlooking the Douro River are so breathtaking, no other wine region--ahem, Napa--will ever compare.

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Six Senses

STAY: SIX SENSES

This wellness resort features the largest spa in Europe, not to mention stunning hiking trails and a wine library with its own rosé ATM.

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Quinta Nova

EAT: QUINTA NOVA

You might want to hire a cab before driving up, up, up to this restaurant above the clouds. But chef José Pinto makes the trip worth your while with locally sourced meat and veggies (some from his own garden), all perfectly paired with wine.  

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Casa de Gouges

DRINK: QUINTA DO BOMFIM

Arrange for a tour or just head straight to the tasting room at this family-owned vineyard in Pinhão. Trust us, port is much more fun to savor with sweeping views of Douro.

Don't Forget the Souvenirs

Treat yo’self (or your friends)

PORT WINE

You may need to buy a second suitcase--it's hard to resist carrying back at least a couple of bottles of red (or white). While you can find a small selection of Douro wines in the U.S., so many of the wineries don’t distribute beyond Europe, which makes that bottle you bought for 6.5 euros the ultimate gift to bring back.

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Pure Fashion

HELSAR SHOES

Fun fact: Both Carole and Pippa Middleton enlisted Portuguese shoemaker Helsar to make their footwear for the Royal Wedding, a testament to one of Portugal’s best-performing industries.

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Eventisimo

COLORFUL CERAMICS

You can’t visit Lisbon without stopping by A Vida Portuguesa, a shop known for locally made artisan goods--including vibrant tiles and serving trays.

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Morgadio da Calcada

LOCALLY MADE SOAPS

Like the ones made from an ancient recipe found in the attic of Morgadio da Calcada, a 17th-century Douro Valley manor that now functions as an eight-room hotel.