Exploring Portugal’s Mesmerizing Minho Region

Exploring Portugal’s Mesmerizing Minho Region

  Many travelers to Portugal only make it as far north as the lovely—but increasingly touristy—city of Porto. However, continue a bit farther, and you’ll arrive at Portugal’s mesmerizing Minho region. This often overlooked destination is characterized by lush mountains, rolling vineyards, charming towns and sweeping beaches.     Though our stay in the Minho was short, the spots we did visit were some of our favorite on our entire road trip. In fact, we added one city to our ongoing “I could live here list.” Whether you’re planning a similar road trip through Portugal or you’re just looking for a semi off-the-beaten-track spot for your next European adventure, here are a few things to love about the often overlooked Minho region:   Highlights of The Minho, Portugal From the birthplace of Portugal to the home of Vinho Verde to some of the country’s most verdant landscapes, the Minho region offers a little something for everyone. Here’s a look at our top picks: Guimarães     Considered the birthplace of Portugal, it was here that revered King D Alfonso Henriques was born and later declared Portugal’s independence. Visit the medieval Castle of Guimarães to see Alfonso’s birthplace, also the site of many key battles in Portugal’s early history.     While you’re there, you won’t want to miss the Historic Center of Guimarães, a UNESCO World Heritage Site revered for its beauty and preservation. We recommend grabbing lunch amongst the gothic buildings in the lovely Largo da Oliveira, then taking the time to amble through the many winding alleyways.     Guimarães is a favorite day trip from Porto,...
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

  It’s no secret that, given our travel lifestyle, we’ve stayed in countless hotels, hostels, resorts and apartments of all shapes, sizes and prices around the world. Throughout this time, we’ve learned that our favorite kind of accommodation is the small luxury hotel. The type of place that’s more like a friend’s guesthouse than a business—accommodation where you feel right at home (albeit more often than not at a much more stylish and luxurious home.) These small and personal hotels always go down as the most memorable, actually enhancing our travel experiences rather than just serving as a place to fall asleep at the end of a long day. Carmo’s Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, is exactly this kind of place (and more.) The family-run luxury hotel is not only uniquely gorgeous in every way, but it’s also conveniently located in one of our favorite spots in Portugal, the Minho region. If you’re looking for a memorable, off-the-beaten-track Portuguese experience, this is it. Here’s a closer look at why we love Carmo’s Boutique Hotel and the Minho region so much:   Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel Of The World   It doesn’t take long to realize why Carmo’s consistently wins awards for being one of the world’s best small luxury hotels. Located down a quiet country road surrounded by rolling hills, you might drive right past Carmo’s if you didn’t know to look for it. Once inside, the hotel grounds begin to unfold into a quiet oasis of gardens and vineyards.     Carmo’s Boutique Hotel has just fifteen suites and two ultra-glamorous tents. You’ll...
A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

    The Douro Valley makes a dramatic first impression. With its rolling green hills, a mighty river and lush vineyards and olive groves, it’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for sipping fine ports and table wines.     While the Douro Valley isn’t necessarily a secret, the destination doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as other famed wine regions such as Bordeaux or Napa. Drive just a few minutes outside of the main town of Pinhão, and you’ll encounter picturesque towns devoid of any tourists, seemingly pulled straight out of a storybook.     Even with its sleepy charm, you won’t have any trouble discovering spectacular vistas, delectable cuisine and memorable wines—if you know where to go.   Enter: Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours     It’s no secret that we love wine and food tours. From Hong Kong to Paris to Boston, we’ve had quite a few incredible foodie experiences. But of them all, our Wine and Olive Oil Tour with Jorge easily tops out as most memorable—for all the right reasons. The best wineries in the Douro Valley are spread out, and most require advanced reservations for a tasting. We wanted to discover top table wines, but we also wanted to do it in a way that would let us get to know the winemakers and ideally find undiscovered wines from small but passionate producers. Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours was the perfect solution. We set up a private, full-day tour, meeting from our apartment in Provezende, then set out on what would be the highlight of Portuguese adventure.   An Introduction To Winemaking In...
Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip

Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip

  We will never forget our honeymoon road trip across the USA, cruising around Costa Rica with the top down on our Jeep, winery hopping in Chianti region of France or gawking at the Fjords in Western Norway, having your own set of wheels adds a whole new sense of freedom while traveling. And Portugal was no exception.     While it is possible to reach some of the main cities by train, we much prefer the freedom of being able to go where you want, when you want, and there are plenty of spectacular destinations to explore throughout Portugal that would have been virtually impossible to get to without a car. We got a fun little hatchback from Booking Group which had more than enough umph to get us everywhere we needed to go. We’ll be diving into more depth about how to see and do the highlights in each of these locations yourself so stay tuned. We highly recommend turning your Portugal vacation into a road trip adventure. The most spectacular landsapes we saw were out of our car windows. Take a look below for more details! Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip   Lisbon   Unfortunately, due to a mix up of our airline carrier, we arrived in Lisbon 36 hours later than we had planned. This gave us only about 3 hours to explore the country’s biggest city. So we headed straight for the best of the best, Belem, to see the Monument Of Discoveries, the enormous Monastery of Jeronimos and the Belem Tower. But not before a healthy serving of delicious Pasties de...
Sunday Snapshot | Coastal Cliff Hike | Algarve Coast, Portugal

Sunday Snapshot | Coastal Cliff Hike | Algarve Coast, Portugal

  I took this photo on one of our hikes on the Algarve Coast in Portugal. The coast is breathtaking and it is just one of those hidden gems you don’t hear much about. Hiking is amazing here and you have all this beauty to yourself. Celia writes the blog Nomadic Danes with her boyfriend Jonas. They’ve been a couple for over 5 years and are now living as digital nomads. In June they left for an amazing bike trip 3744 km across Europe on two city bikes. They are now living in Portugal for one more week and in December their trip across Central and South America begins. Want to see your picture featured on our Sunday Snapshot segment? We’re now accepting guest submissions! Just send us an email at acruisingcouple (at) gmail (dot) com with your photo and a brief description. We’d love to have you!...