Travelling to Portugal is becoming an all year round activity, now that people are discovering its wonderful cities, its rich culture and history and its awe inspiring landscapes winter escapes are becoming almost as popular as the beach holidays that had already gained ground as one of the most popular European vacation destinations.
We’ve written before about winter travel to Portugal to avoid people coming with the wrong expectations. Although winter walks on the beaches are a refreshing and wonderful thing to do on most winter days swimming and lazy beach days are certainly over after October and at least until April. However winter in Portugal is just perfect for many of the things that are less good during the summer. Its the perfect season for hiking, rafting, surfing, avoiding mass tourism, seeing the country green and bursting with flowers as well as many other activities that are just more pleasant when the temperature is not hitting the highs!
A great way to spend winter days is to visit one of Portugal amazing monuments, during the winter months you could find yourself one of the few in even the most popular monuments which gives plenty of time and peace to be able to really Discover it! You will also find the staff more willing and able to help you with any requests you might have and they will possibly be less stressed and more friendly than during the summer months.
Another fantastic way to spend a gloomy afternoon or evening is to go listen to live Fado music, somehow for me Fado is so much more a winter sound I enjoy cuddled in the corner of some tavern with a warming drink and surrounded by the locals somehow the sounds are so much better combined with the melancholy of a damp day.
Go to a wine tasting specifically of some of the great warm blooded red wines is another sure way to get through a cold day with grace and enjoyment if you are in Porto try the famous Port wines in one of its Port houses, many charge almost nothing for the event and guarantee you a typical experience.
Get into Portuguese culinary life by following a cookery class, many cities have schools and companies that organize them, generally you will cook the meal together with an established cook that will teach you the basics of the Portuguese cooking traditions and at the end of the class you will relax and enjoy the meal together with the cook and your “class mates” making new friends and never having noticed anything but the warmth and sunshine that comes with the Portuguese cuisine.
Visit a spa, Portugal has many spa’s off all types modern or traditional. One type that is quite famous are the thallasotherapie spa’s based on salt water. Other than clearing up your body and mind they claim to stimulate the healing of skin conditions, asthma and bronchitis and are a popular addition to general health for many Portuguese people.
Spend your day in a food market – every city has at least one covered food market, they are great place to discover typical Portuguese foods, people and traditions – there is always at least one cheap budget restaurant attached and it guarantees wine drinking merchants, fresh produce and typical traditional meals at very low prices.
Go to the mall in Portugal shopping centres are plentiful and very popular with the Portuguese. Many people will spend their entire day of in one, dressed for the occasion this is where you will meet real Portuguese people. Walking in and out of shops or choosing lunch or dinner from one of the restaurants on the top floor. Shopping centres are generally where Portuguese people will do most of their shopping so they are also where you will find the largest selection of clothes, accessories, supermarkets, Telecom shops, cinemas, playgrounds and child care centres and in fact almost anything else you can think off.
Go Petisco hopping get to know a great food tradition of Portugal the petisco, little culinary snacks much like Tapas. They are great at any time of year but provide extra comfort on the wetter, colder days – get yourself into one of the more traditional areas of any town and hit the bars, cervejaria’s (beer houses) or petisco restaurants most do serve petiscos often prepared by the owners wife that will introduce you to the real Portugal feeling in the best possible way. Accompany by wine, beer, water or a coffee anything is fine when it comes to Petiscos.
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