This guide will focus in on nine of the best honeymoon destinations in Portugal. It tries to cover all bases for all sorts of travelers, offering something for couples who want to surf the wild Atlantic waves together and those who just want to sip rich red wines in the comfort of a five-star Douro vineyard.
The thing is, Portugal is a very romantic place. It’s riddled with breathtaking sunset lookouts on the coast, covered in pretty cork farms, dotted with age-old mountain villages, and blessed with some of the best beaches in the world. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to post-wedding jaunts.
Topping that off is a mix of uber-lux hotels with spas and enticing eateries attached, along with surf camps with couple’s packages, and charming pousadas that give a taste of age-old Portuguese culture. You’ll find all that and more in our pick of the nine best honeymoon destinations in Portugal…
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Porto charms and beguiles travelers with a mix of history and zesty passion for life. It’s very different to the capital of Lisbon, offering an off-beat nightlife scene that’s driven by jazz bars and speakeasies next to a laid-back daytime ritual of beach visits and UNESCO history.
Porto has catapulted itself into the mainstream of European city break-travel in recent years. That’s come thanks to the opening of stacks of new hotels and aparthotels, along with an ever-increasing array of low-cost flights into Porto Airport. Backing that up is a truly loveable center – the Ribeira – that spills down the sides of high hills in a cascade of Gothic palaces and Baroque churches that will keep the camera lens a-clicking.
Porto also has two trump cards up its sleeve that help it compete with the very best honeymoon destinations in Portugal. One: It’s on the cusp of the Green Coast, a land of rugged beaches that get just a fraction of the crowds of the Algarve. Two: The Douro River wine region is right next door, offering romantic stays in vineyards and some of the tastiest reds this side of Rioja!
Anyone marrying in December? Well…Madeira is a fantastic year-round honeymoon option in Portugal that offers something totally different to the mainland destinations on this list. Just look where it is: A mega 530 miles from the tip of mainland Portugal, far off in the central Atlantic Ocean. The location means the isle has oodles of sunshine most of the calendar, along with a pleasant average temperature of 67 F (19 C).
But you won’t only be coming here for the warm air and sunshine. Madeira is a stunner of an island, crumpled by great mountains and jagged summits that jumble and jostle over each other. The whole place is webbed by walking trails known as vereda. They run alongside old irrigation channels but open up hikes to long-lost waterfalls and lush valleys alike.
Those who aren’t feeling too adventurous after all the excitement of the big day need not worry. There’s rest and relaxation on offer in Madeira, too. That comes courtesy of the wine bars of Funchal and hotels like the 100-year-old Reid’s Palace that once hosted luminaries like Winston Churchill. Yep, it can all get very grand here if you’ve got the moolah!
We don’t think it’s possible to list the best honeymoon destinations in Portugal without at least a nod towards the capital in Lisbon. Now, we’re not saying you have to spend your whole two weeks here. Just a few days is enough. But there’s no doubt that Lisbon is an enthralling place to kick-start your married days, and the surrounding region is a corker for getting the romantic vibes a-going. Let us show you…
Start in the Alfama area. It’s the oldest part of the city and a web of cobbled lanes where sardine taverns hide around the narrow corners. After that, go for some cultural enjoyments at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the amazing maritime museum, all before sunset wines at the Miradouro de Santa Catarina.
When Lisbon is done and dusted, you don’t have to venture far to escape the town and switch urban explorations for R&R. Go south across the Tagus and you’ll come to the long, golden sands of Costa da Caparica, an uninterrupted stretch that runs for a whopping 17 miles and offers surf breaks and nudist beaches along its length. Alternatively, you can hit Cascais, a stylo beach resort to the west where casinos worthy of James Bond stand against the Atlantic – more on that one later, though!
They call Aveiro the Venice of Portugal. And if that sounds like it might just be one of the most romantic places to honeymoon in the land of surf and Sagres beer, that’s because it is. Yep, this medieval town sits on a winding lagoon on the edge of the wonderful silver coast, offering a canal-carved center that’s replete with tiled-fronted churches and enticing seafood taverns.
A ride on one of the local moliceiro boat is a must. They’re Aveiro’s answer to the gondolas of its Italian counterpart. Trips can last up to an hour and take you through the historic waterways that drift through the city’s heart, spying out mysterious monasteries and grand Baroque chapels as you go.
The other great thing about Aveiro is that it’s never too far from the sea. A quick transfer – and we mean less than 15 minutes – to the west and you can be wallowing between the painted cottages of lovely Praia da Costa Nova. That’s a chilled beach town with a bar-filled promenade and long runs of shimmering yellow sand before the Atlantic.
Coimbra is one of the most enchanting towns in Portugal. The erstwhile capital of the country (it was the first city between 1131 and 1255), it oozes history and charm, and comes with a layer-cake of a past that includes eras under Moorish and Visigoth and even Roman rule. Today, it retains all that in its stunning core and its old university complex, which is the oldest in the world and now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Honeymoon days in Coimbra can be spent sailing up and down the meandering Mondego River. That bends like the branch of a cork tree around the age-old town center, rising on a steep hill in a symphony of red-tiled roofs and pastel-painted mansions. Or stick to dry land, where you’ll be free to get lost in the maze of cobbled streets and piazzas, all dotted with Portuguese taverns and wine bars.
What Coimbra lacks in beaches it makes up for in wild countryside. You can escape from here into the Schist Villages of the Serra da Lousa. They’re uber-romantic little hamlets that clutch precipitous highland ridges. Check out Aigra Velha, Aigra Nova, Pena, and Casal de Sao Simao for glimpses of some of the best.
Less than an hour on the train from the heart of Lisbon, Cascais promises to swap the rattling trams and hubbub of urban life for something altogether more refined. Yep, there’s a whiff of the French Riviera about this lovely town on the Estoril Coast. Its marinas are fringed with casinos and turn-of-the-century hotels. Its beaches are peppered with baking bodies clad in the latest Gucci swimwear.
But there’s more to Cascais than just James Bond poker tables and lux stays. The town is also perfectly located for getting out to sands like Praia do Guincho and Ursa Beach, two of the most dramatic in central Portugal. Plus, it’s on the doorstep of uber-famous Sintra, where you and your other half can wander UNESCO-tagged palaces once inhabited by the Portuguese kings and queens.
You also get access to the lovely Estoril Coast that runs towards Lisbon. That’s a land of surf spots and happening beach towns, all backed by rising mountains clad in forests. The other plus? Cascais is eminently accessible – you’re looking at less than 60 minutes transfer from Lisbon Airport before you can start your R&R in earnest.
Odeceixe straddles the divide between Alentejo and the Algarve. Seriously the divide between the Faro district and the Beja district runs smack dab through the heart of the town, following the meanders of the Ribeira de Seixe river as it wiggles towards the great blue of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a very nice spot indeed, with heather-clad hills rolling all around and cork forests scenting the air.
The piece de resistance of this part of Portugal is surely the Nature Park of the Southwest Alentejo and Vincentine Coast. That’s at least 50 miles of protected shoreline to explore, running from Vila Nova de Milfontes all the way to Sagres headland. Within are walking paths that cut through coastal pine woods and beaches where you and your other half can chase your first waves together.
But back to Odeceixe…this village is a charmer in its own right. Seriously, the stunning natural setting aside, this one’s about bedding down in a rustic Algarvian village filled with whitewashed cottages and cute little pousada hotels warmed by crackling wood fires. September and October are great times to visit, as this part of Portugal stays warm but the crowds really do cut down.
Calling all newlywed surfers – Sagres is a fantastic location for waxing up the board after your big day. The village is actually right at the most southwesterly point of mainland Portugal, meaning you get the wild Atlantic-facing beaches on one side and the more protected south-facing beaches on the other. To put it another way: There’s something to surf pretty much all year round in these parts.
That said, Sagres isn’t just a surfer’s town. Nope, it’s got access to stunning beaches like Praia do Martinhal, where you can bronze your bodies before a lapping sea. A quick drive east will bring you to the famous cliff-backed bays of the southern Algarve – think Praia do Zavial, Praia da Boca do Rio, Ponta da Piedade. Go north and you can hit secret bays like dramatic Bordeira and others.
In Sagres itself, there’s now a great mix of self-catering accommodation and more chic hotels. Lots even offer packages that include surf tuition and board rental. On top of that, you’ll get access to the striking citadel of Sagres Fortress and the gorgeous bay of Prainha das Poças that lies just beneath.
Tavira is set on the edge of the winding waterways of the Ria Formosa lagoon in southern Portugal. It’s only a stone’s throw from the Spanish border but puts the longer, sandier runs of the Algarve’s famous beaches close by for those who want a honeymoon of lazing, lounging, and topping up the tan.
But a trip to Tavira is also about much more than just soaking up the rays on the side of the Atlantic Ocean. There’s rich history here. You’ll see it shine through in the historic old quarter of the city, which is topped by the 2,000-year-old ruins of a Roman fort. There, the cobbled lanes run up and down the length of the Rio Gilao, past ancient bridges and look-at-me churches done out in the Gothic style.
During the day, you can embark on sailing trips through the flamingo-filled Ria Formosa reserve itself. That can bring you to stilted villages on the brackish water, where some of Portugal’s best seafood taverns await. Keep going and you’ll eventually come to the Ilha de Tavira, which clocks up nearly two miles in length from end to end and reigns as one of the longest beaches in the whole of the Algarve.
The best honeymoon destinations in Portugal – our verdict
Portugal certainly has no shortage of awesome honeymoon spots. You can go north to seek out the historic architecture of Porto. You can go south to see the golden-sand beaches of the Algarve. You can taste wines in award-winning vineyards or search for waves to ride together when the Atlantic swell comes in. Our guide offers all that and more, by hopping across the country and even beyond (to the distant isle of Madeira, for example) on the hunt for the best honeymoon destinations in Portugal. Of course, it’s really just scratching the surface, and there are oodles more options besides!
When to visit Portugal for a honeymoon?
The best time to visit Portugal for a honeymoon is between May and October. That’s when the country has its highest amount of sunshine, when days are warm, and when the ocean is also balmy. Most of the major resorts get busier in the period between July and August, but shoulder months like September can often be quieter and cheaper. Winter can be wet and cold, so it’s best avoided.
Is Portugal good for a honeymoon?
Portugal is a fantastic choice for a honeymoon in Europe. The country is rightly famed for having some of the most stunning beaches on the continent, especially the southern Algarve. On top of that, there are medieval cities that ooze romance, and charming fishing villages with plenty of character. You won’t regret coming here after the big day.