Why Choose A Country Retreat In Northern Portugal
By Julie Dawn Fox
Does the thought of spending a week or two in a country retreat surrounded by birdsong, greenery, gorgeous scenery and fresh air sound like a little slice of heaven to you?
It does to me.
I actually live in the Portuguese countryside but relish the opportunity to get away from my daily routine and spend time in a different part of Portugal and a home that’s more luxurious than mine! Especially when it comes with a private pool and easy access to some of Portugal’s best wines, such as vinho verde from the Minho and port or fine wines from the Douro.
Why stay in a country retreat in northern Portugal
Choosing a luxury retreat for your holiday offers you comfort, privacy and flexibility. As well as having the freedom of time and space to simply relax and enjoy the views from the gardens or pool, you can explore the local area on foot by bike, kayak, horse or car. Or take a guided tour for a deeper understanding of Portuguese traditions, history and culture.
Despite the rural location of these country homes, you’re never far from a quaint town, fascinating historical city or charming traditional village. As you shop for groceries you can get to know your local bakery, butcher’s or market and discover the range of cheeses, meats, fresh fish and vegetables that make northern Portuguese cuisine so tasty. There’s always the option of dining out and tucking into traditional dishes or innovative gourmet fare if cooking feels like a chore.
You could stay in a lovingly restored 17th century traditional Minho farmhouse that has original features such as a wood oven and traditional granite corn stores. You’ll have the option of spending time on the unspoilt Atlantic coast and a chance to delve into the culture and history of fascinating and attractive riverside towns and cities like Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo. This is firmly in the vinho verde wine region so take the opportunity to learn the different varieties and flavours by visiting local wineries or even following part of the vinho verde route.
If you prefer mountains to beaches, a private country villa in a small resort with stunning views of the Caniçada reservoir and dam might suit you better. As well as taking the resort’s kayaks out for a paddle on the lake, there are several walking trails and driving tours you could take into the dramatic scenery of Peneda-Gerês National Park. Explore ancient castles, traditional mountain villages like Soajo and Lindoso, and follow well-worn pilgrim paths past ancient water mills.
The magnificent undulating landscape of the Douro wine region deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status so the opportunity to spend a week in a country retreat surrounded by terraced vineyards is not one to be missed. You can either rent a stunning design villa in the heart of the wine region or venture further along the river to rent an entire luxury hotel for your private use. Either way, you’ll be blessed with unrivalled views from an infinity pool and the chance to savour top local cuisine prepared by talented chefs paired with Douro and port wines, naturally.