Portugal’s vibrant, picturesque capital, Lisbon, is uniquely made up of seven hillsides overlooking the magnificent River Tagus. They stand guard over the city’s winding cobbled alleyways and are topped by terraces known as miradouros which provide the perfect viewpoints to get your bearings. As Europe’s second oldest capital (after Athens), Lisbon has a rich and somewhat dramatic history, not least being decimated by earthquake, tsunami, and fire in 1755. It prides itself on its resilience and being home to some of the world’s greatest explorers, including Vasco Da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. Today it’s our turn to explore their beautiful homeland.
The first stop in our two-centre villa stay is at Prior Paradise in the stylishly peaceful Lapa neighbourhood, known as Lisbon’s embassy quarter. The elegant four-storey townhouse is surrounded by greenery, from its beautiful courtyard with a tinkling fountain to the terrace and plunge pool at the front. Blooming multi-hued bougainvillea cascades down the walls, and the sweet scent of jasmine fills the air. The villa has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a high-ceilinged, light-filled interior with white polished wooden floors. There’s an on-site butler, and all other services can be organised on demand. A stylish urban sanctuary that makes for the perfect base for exploration.
Lisbon is a great city to wander around, though you’ll need to be prepared for a healthy dose of exercise with all those hills. One enjoyable alternative (and the one we chose) was to explore by motorbike and sidecar with Bike My Side (www.bikemyside.com). We whizzed through the streets taking in the sights and stopping to learn about the city’s history and traditions. We did feel somewhat like celebrities as people photographed us at every turn – those sidecars are a show-stopper! Full of Lisbon knowledge, we returned to the comfort of our villa, where pre-dinner cocktails and our private chef awaited with dinner. The perfect end to the day.
For our next destination, we took the short drive to Setubal and an even shorter ferry ride to Comporta, a stunning coastal town that is also a highly protected nature reserve. This is a truly unspoiled part of Portugal where we felt we were treading the road less travelled. The biggest rice paddies in Portugal criss-cross the landscape, nesting storks pepper the skies, and the most stunning of unspoiled (and uninhabited) beaches await backed by pine forests and dunes.
We stayed in the serenity of Herdade Da Comporta, a secluded 17-acre estate down a dusty road through rows of the fluffiest pampas grass waving us through. The ultimate dream beach house with six separate bungalows (with seven bedrooms), decorated in muted shades and natural materials and linked by paths through the gardens. We’d found our little piece of paradise. We spent relaxing hours in the many outdoor spaces in the enormous garden (there are loungers, sofas, and chairs around every corner), taking long walks on the secluded beach, just five minutes away through the dunes and even galloping along the sands on horseback with the wind in our hair.
Back at home (Herdade da Comporta very quickly felt like home), our private chef provided the most sumptuous breakfasts, with the large table covered in local treats, including delectable orange cake – yes, cake for breakfast. We also enjoyed a cookery course in the welcoming kitchen and ate the delicious soup, sea bass, and traditional pastel de nata we helped to create. The villa has its own vegetable garden, and there’s also plenty of tasty local produce to enjoy. Like the wine. We visited Adega da Herdade la Comporta for a tasting – so good we couldn’t resist taking some home. We also ate out at a couple of the local restaurants, one of them, Sublime, a short walk along the beach from our seaside sanctuary. Herdade da Comporta is a hidden gem of a discovery any explorer would be proud of…but don’t tell too many people.
How to get there
We flew on TAP from London Heathrow to Lisbon. TAP offers daily connections from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester to Lisbon.
The Luxury Travel Book Experience
The Luxury Travel Book offers a carefully selected collection of luxury holiday properties, unparalleled personal service, and personalised luxury experiences for customers looking for a home away from home. Their experts will tailor each holiday to the customer’s needs. They can provide everything from bespoke travel itineraries to personally-tested experiences and a number of in-home concierge services. The company prides itself on speaking directly to each customer to finalise the details for their perfect getaway. www.theluxurytravelbook.com