Stunning Portugal

Small in size, but rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, Portugal offers landscapes that contrast with long beaches, lush vineyards, verdant valleys.

You can find rolling hills dotted with tiny towns where old traditions still are a way of life. Portugal’s countryside is ready for leisurely adventures on foot or by bicycle, where it is home to well preserved medieval castles and outstanding wineries, producing some of the world’s finest ports. The country’s cities offer a culinary experience known for its many award-winning restaurants.

Portugal is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Europe.

Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe maintaining its borders since 1279. Although visits to any country during highseason months are a bit pricey, Portugal isn’t that expensive in comparison with its neighbors. Peak season for Portugal is June to September where temperatures can vary greatly between day and night after the sun sets. For sun worshipers, it’s definitely a state of Nirvana.

As for language barriers, your Spanish classes during high school might be somewhat useful. Portuguese may seem similar to Spanish when you first hear it, but listening to the locals, it sounds like they forget to pronounce vowels. Fortunately, many people there can speak English or French.

Going to Portugal is never a bad idea. You can escape the cold, bask in the abundant sunshine, dance with the waves, and embrace all the temptations that Portugal has to offer.


One of your first stops to Portugal should be to the town Albufeira on the Algarve coastline. Primarily a resort town, it offers a combination of family-friendly fun, along with couples or singles looking to party. There are two sides of the fun: “The Old Town” and “The Strip.” The Old Town offers a variety of restaurants and a night life that is vibrant and fun. For a more hedonistic holiday, visit The Strip where the night life and drinking go hand in hand. Luckily, there are beaches close by where you can recover the next day.


Called “Oporto,” the city of Porto gave the country and Port wine their names. Portugal’s second largest city (Lisbon is the first) dates back to the 4th century and offers a rich cultural past and industrial present through its architecture and style. This romantic city is known best for its greatest export, Port wine, and for its old historical center, a World Heritage Site. Porto is a city of contrasts; stately buildings, medieval structures, Baroque churches, the river and impressive bridges all give this city its flavor.


Embraced by rolling hills, old mansions and castles, Sintra’s romantic style is like no other. Home to Portugal’s royalty, the town is host to several palaces and parks and has become a favorite destination for those who love architecture, gardens, and history. A World Heritage Site because of its famous 19th-century monuments and buildings, Sintra is a popular tourist destination for not only Portuguese, but also foreign travelers.


Lisbon, known as the city built on seven hills, has experienced a renaissance in recent years making it a favorite city to visit, but with fewer touristy crowds. Easily recognizable for its red roofs and as impressive as many European capitals, the city boasts large monuments and museums as well as backstreets and old neighborhoods. Cozy cafes, live music venues, pulsing bars, and diverse discos weave together the fabric of Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife. Listen to fado–traditional Portuguese music, go shopping in the chic Chiado area, or spend your time viewing its imposing historical structures.


Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort & Hotel Spa
(Algarve Coast)

A 10-minute walk from Praia Santa Eulália beach, this down-to-earth resort is a 15-minute walk from Praia Maria Luisa beach and 18 km from Zoomarine Algarve.

Casual rooms feature free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and minibars.Upgraded rooms add balconies and sea views. Suites include separate living rooms and some add kitchenettes. Room service is included.

Freebies include breakfast, an Albufeira shuttle service and parking. There are three restaurants, three bars and a terrace, as well as a kids’ club, an outdoor pool and a fitness center. Additional amenities include a tennis court and a spa area with an indoor pool, a sauna and a Turkish bath. More info.

Pestana Vintage Porto

Across the street from the Douro River, this trendy, retro hotel is a 10-minute walk from São Bento railway station and 13 minutes on foot from Clérigos Church and its baroque bell tower.

Stylish rooms feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars, as well as safes. Upgraded rooms feature river views, suites with sitting areas, and espresso machines. Breakfast, served in the hip restaurant with a terrace, is complimentary. Amenities include a funky bar and several lounges. More info.

Hotel Portugal – Portugal Boutique Hotel

This modern boutique hotel is a 2-minute walk from the Rossio metro station, a 3-minute walk from historic Rossio Square, and an 11-minute walk from Sé de Lisboa, a cathedral with mixed architectural styles.

Inspired by traditional Portuguese tiles, the contemporary, uniquely decorated rooms come with free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, as well as a choice of pillows. Freebies include parking and breakfast. There’s a relaxed terrace and a sleek bar with wood accents and direct access to two adjacent scenic restaurants is available. More info.

Bars and clubs

The number of gay hotspots in Lisbon is growing every year. From daytime cafés to post-dinner bars, to clubs for dancing and frolicking (to Europe’s most beautiful gay beach), there’s a place for you in Bairro Alto or neighboring Principe Real. Remember that everything starts very late and often doesn’t end until the sun rises.

Zoom (Porto)

Zoom is currently the hot nightclub of the moment in Porto. A contemporary party palace rises from what was once an old industrial warehouse. The club is contemporary and cool, with enormous disco balls and catwalks over the dance floor made for muscled go-go boys. Drag shows, theme parties, strippers and popular DJs keep the entertainment continually interesting. The place gets even more crowded after 4 AM when everyone migrates over from other bars closing around town. More info.

In Bairro Alto (Lisbon):


Rua do Grémio Lusitano, 8, Bairro Alto.

Although it’s been around for some time, this bar turned gay in 2013 after the success of hosting special gay parties. It now opens just before dinner time for drinks and stays open until late with DJs on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s open throughout the week (except Sundays) and has regular events such as strip and drag shows.


Rua Santa Catarina, 28

Down the hill from Bairro Alto and down the street from the popular Santa Catarina terrace, is this welcoming bar inspired by the famous Paris gayborhood. The colorful interior opens in the afternoon, for pre-dinner Happy Hours, and continues with a relaxed atmosphere and reasonably-priced drinks into the night.


Rua Da Atalaia, 105, Bairro Alto

For local gay men, this is one of the first stops after dinner. It is a spacious old tavern with a casual, down-to-earth atmosphere, although most prefer to grab a drink and stand outside and watch the world go by. A Lisbon classic.


Rua das Salgadeiras 28, Bairro Alto

A mixed (largely lesbian) crowd heads to this trendy bar behind orange doors, especially on weekends when a DJ spins some electronic sounds.


Rua do Trombeta, 1C, Bairro Alto

Close to all the Bairro Alto bars, this sauna with private cabins is open day and night (starting at noon). More info.

In Príncipe Real (Lisbon):

BAR 106

Rua De São Marçal, 106, Principe Real

A friendly, small bar with a light décor and a good place to start the evening before hitting the clubs. It is a popular meeting place for young gays who chat on seats against the wall or by the busy bar area. It’s one of the few bars with some life on Sunday nights, when it’s the weekly “Message Night.”


Rua De São Marçal, 170, Principe Real

The newest gay bar in town is found on a quiet residential street. It hosts special theme parties throughout the week, from fetish to cabaret. More info.


Rua Cecilio De Sousa, 82-84, Principe Real

Targeted at “bears,” this club is still attracting crowds of all ages.


Rua Da Palmeira, 38, Principe Real

This is a very small, yet very popular gay club. It can get quite crowded at the end of the night (meaning early hours of the day in Lisbon), but you can squeeze into the tiny dance floor and dance to some classic gay anthems or watch the regular drag shows.


Rua de Noronha, 5A, Principe Real

This bar is part of an association called Kinetik Rainbow and functions as an exhibition space for painting, photography, sculpture, video, and all kinds of art. To become a member, you must register at the door or on the website. The interior is divided into different areas- -a bar for chatting, a dance floor, private cabins and a semi-dark room in addition to the space dedicated to the arts. It opens from 11 p.m.to 4 a.m. (except on Mondays when it’s closed), extending to 8 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.


Rua Ruben A Leitão, 2A, Principe Real

This bar opened in late 2010 in the neighborhood which has the most gay bars in the city. It attracts a predominantly gay crowd of all ages and styles although targets the “bear” subculture. It opens in the afternoon, serving a variety of drinks as well as a few snacks and light meals. More info.


Rua Da Imprensa Nacional, 104B, Principe Real

This is the largest gay club in Portugal consisting of several bars and two dance floors that get packed on weekends. More info.

Until next time… “Obrigada.”

For travel recommendations:
email RSicilio@TRIPSandCRUISES.com
visit TRIPSandCRUISES.com
call 800-411-8747

Rick Sicilio is the owner of Travel and Tours in Pittsburgh. He is an avid, worldwide traveler and has visited 68 countries to date. For over 21 years, Rick and his staff have been assisting clients to embrace their wanderlust and travel the world.