Whilst I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions I see no harm in making a travel wish list for the year ahead. For various reasons, I’m most likely to be exploring my adopted country of Portugal in short bursts through days trips, weekends away and short breaks.
Here’s what’s on my 2012 Portugal wish list so far:
If I can squeeze in a trip to Porto before January 29th, I’d like to see the Thomas Struth Photography exhibition at the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto. I also want to check out the craft fair at Hard Club and find yet another quirky hotel to stay in.
Ponte de Lima
Last Easter, a friend and I did a whistle-stop taster tour of northern Portugal and spent a couple of hours in this pretty medieval riverside town. It’s definitely a place I’d like to visit again, this time with my husband and possibly the dog as there are lots of good walks to do in the area. If we make it to Feiras Novas, the 3-day street party in September, though, I think we’ll leave the dog at home.
I visited Guimarães in 2010 and have been wanting to go back ever since. It’s the 2012 European Capital of Culture so I definitely want to spend at least one weekend there, checking out the art galleries and other cultural events, not to mention the vegetarian café opposite the castle, Cor de Tangerina. I have fond memories of the figs with cheese and honey from my last visit, yum!
I’ve been there before but my husband hasn’t. It’s a gorgeous area, especially in spring, with lots of walks through cork-oak forests and boulder-strewn fields to hilltop castles. I’ve seen a lovely looking hotel near Marvão that takes dogs and is reasonably priced so I’d really like to spend a couple of nights there before it gets too hot to go for walks.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the mushroom festival in Alcaide and been impressed by the surrounding countryside, I’m keen to see more of the Fundão region of Portugal. There’s a ‘cherry blossom’ route in the Serra da Gardunha that sounds interesting if we can get there in March. If not, I’d be happy to go to the mushroom festival again in November.
Castanheira da Pêra
Apart from the views, the reward for driving a very steep, wiggly road over the Lousã mountains will be the Praia das Rocas artificial beach. We meant to take the kids there last summer but couldn’t fit it in so we’ll definitely go this year. It would be worth renting a house or camping for a couple of nights to explore the other attractions and natural river beaches in the area.
Living in the middle of nowhere has its benefits but I need a dose of culture and nightlife from time to time and this is where Lisbon fits the bill. This year, I want to experience the St. António festivities in June which means a month of street parties and fun. We should be able to catch a weekend’s worth, at least.
Sintra is yet another place I want to revisit, this time with my husband and a better camera. I loved the mad birthday cake effect of the Pena Palace and the forest around it is full of surprises. The Chalet Condessa d’Edla within the palace park was reopened last year after renovations and looks interesting. I want to check out the nearby Palace of Monserrate too.
Last time we went to Serra do Caramulo, dark, brooding rain clouds hanging over the granite mountains put paid to any ideas of going for a walk. We had a look around the car museum instead, which was interesting even though neither of us are particularly into cars. Caramulo is doable as a day trip from where we live so if we can pick a sunny day, I want to try the 8km Rota dos Caleiros walk.
These are just a few places that immediately spring to mind for 2012. I’m sure other opportunities will present themselves and possibly override these plans. I’m already looking forward to some great mini-breaks this year and whatever else comes my way.
Have you got any suggestions for short trips in Portugal? Let me know in your comments.