Nowadays, it doesn't take much to make a vacation with friends or family unforgettable. The recipe is easy: a dash of imagination, some originality and daring, all without having to leave Portugal; or for a trip abroad with people close to you. Think outside the box and test your tolerance for vertigo, sleep in an old train station, walk for several days (with the Atlantic as a backdrop), or travel back in time aboard a train that is about 100 years old. All About Portugal gives you ideas: all you have to do is choose how you want to move around.
On foot – Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park
How about planning a vacation with your friends and taking them walking for a few hours… or even a few days? The Rota Vicentina offers you 400 “walkable” kilometers through one of the most incredible coastal areas in Europe. A diversity of natural landscapes, eight circular routes (which take between 1.30h and 5.30h, depending on the one you take) and two main ones for the bravest: the “Historical Way” – with 230 kilometers, which connects Santiago do Cacém to Cabo de São Vicente – and the “Fisherman's Trail” – which always follows the sea, along 125 kilometers, between Porto Covo and Cabo de São Vicente. You will be able to catch up with your friends and will have a beautiful experience to remember.
By bike – Minho River Ecotrack
Do you still remember the endless summers of your childhood, when you spent the holidays with friends riding your bike? The Minho River Ecotrack is an excellent option to make a “remember” with those life buddies. This old railway section that goes through Monção, Valença, Caminha and Vila Nova de Cerveira, in an extension of about 40 kilometers, has a degree of difficulty that goes between “easy” and “very easy” and can be done in several stages. So there are no excuses, even if you guys are rusty. Enjoy the "carochos" – traditional boats from the Minho River, which keeps up with the route –, discover the Vila Nova de Cerveira Castle and get lost in the landscapes full of vineyards. Finish off replacing calories with any of the Minho's dishes and have a nice glass of fresh verde wine.
By motorcycle – Terraces of Foz Côa (N222)
Put on your leather jacket and go on holiday with friends… preferably bikers. Be the star of your own “road movie” on the N222 (a kind of Portuguese Route 66) considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world. There are 226 kilometers that unite Vila Nova de Gaia and Vila Nova de Foz Côa, in the heart of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We leave you a spoiler right away: the 27 kilometer between Peso da Régua and Pinhão is undoubtedly the icing on the cake. With 93 curves through amazing landscapes, it was already considered the best road in the world to drive.
By air – Alqueva
The Great Lake that the Alqueva reservoir has become is the perfect excuse for a holiday with friends or family. Especially if you include a hot air balloon ride, which will allow you to see this water mirror with about 250 km², from another perspective. Don't miss out on some of its points of interest: we highlight the new Aldeia da Luz (the only village submerged by the waters of the dam that had to be literally relocated), Monsaraz, a preserved medieval village-museum, with schist walls and streets and, of course, the region's sky (yes, the sky!), considered by UNESCO as a stargazing reserve. At night, public lights are dimmed to a minimum to provide perfect conditions, even for first-time astronomers.
By train – Historic Train of the Douro Line
Alto Douro Vinhateiro is always a perfect setting for a luxury holiday, in every way! In addition to being the ideal destination for those who appreciate good wines and good cuisine, the landscapes are breathtaking and the tourist offer, both in terms of accommodation and entertainment, is increasing. Gather the family or organize a holiday with friends and visit the region classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, aboard a steam locomotive, built in 1925. The smoke coming out of the chimney and an unmistakable whistle will give color to this route that connects Régua to Tua, with a stop in Pinhão, and with lots of entertainment included.
By car – Marvão
It is, above all, a dazzling surprise for those who don't know it, and it is one of those suggestions that can be added to any list of “must-see places to go on vacation with friends”. Within the walls of Marvão, you can discover an interesting sample of popular Alentejo architecture, but one of the main reasons to visit the town is the beautiful view over the region. But don't stop there, enjoy the visit to the Alentejo countryside and live the experience of dreaming and waking up in the industrial-era Marvão/Beirã railway station, classified as an Architectural Heritage. TrainSpot Guesthouse is the ideal place to spend a few days of vacation with friends or family, not only for the accommodation space itself (which promotes socializing), but also for the tranquility of the small rural village or for the activities available to do in groups, depending on your friends' energy!