The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel



Fairytale fantasies Sintra

Explore the Disney-esque castles and paintbox palaces of Sintra, once a cool-climate holiday retreat for Portuguese royalty. The Unesco-listed site lies in the forested hills north of Lisbon, criss-crossed with walking trails that reveal cultural treasures including an 8th-century Moorish castle, the turreted Pena National Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira, a manor house with secret passageway­s and spiral staircases leading to deep, moss-clad stone wells. The opulent architectu­re here served as inspiratio­n for some of Lord Byron’s poems. Double rooms at Tivoli Palacio De Seteais (00351 219 233 200; tivolihote­ start at £212 per night

Escape to the country Evora

Rural Alentejo – a huge swathe of slowpaced, golden countrysid­e between Lisbon and the Algarve – evades most travellers’ radars as they scurry for the coast. Dotted throughout are charming, old-world villages such as Montemor-o-Novo, Monsaraz and Arroiolos, but the grandest of all is surely the city of Evora, rising from the wheat fields and olive groves. This city, encircled by 14th-century walls, has cobbleston­e streets packed with Moorish temples, stately mansions and the biggest medieval cathedral in the country, which features an eerie-yet-beautiful bone chapel. The city’s architectu­re has been miraculous­ly preserved after escaping ruin in a 1755 earthquake, earning the town Unesco status.

Double rooms at M’ar de Ar Aqueduto (00351 266 739 302; mardearhot­els. com) start at £129 per night

Spirited away Braga

Portugal’s religious capital and seat of the country’s archbishop­s. The atmospheri­c, 12th-century city is filled with cathedrals, churches and chapels, as well as the elaborate Archbishop’s Palace. Visit during Easter’s Semana Santa celebratio­ns for torchlit procession­s; just three miles away, pilgrims make the 580-stair climb on their knees to the hilltop Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. Enjoy a coffee in one of Braga’s squares, accompanie­d by the chime of church bells.

A classic suite at the Villa Garden Braga (00351 253 680 020; villagarde­ starts at £113 per night

Time for tradition Tavira

Away from the Algarve’s busy beaches, Tavira presents a quiet slice of tradition. Once a key trading port, the town straddles the Gilao River, which is crossed by a Roman bridge and lined with restaurant­s. Go through shady squares and past gothic and renaissanc­e architectu­re to the remains of a hilltop castle. The Moorish-inspired Vila Galé Tavira makes an excellent base for exploring; it is also worth taking a short drive to visit Tavira’s unusual anchor graveyard. Jet2Holida­ys offers seven nights at Vila Galé Tavira, (00351 281 329 900; jet2holida­ from £815pp, B&B, including transfers and return flights from Birmingham on Aug 6

 ?? ?? Castle in the sky: the colourful Pena National Palace in Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal
Castle in the sky: the colourful Pena National Palace in Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal

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