10 reasons why Portugal is the best wellness destination

To travel

From vegan restaurants to paddleboards, Portugal is a wellness playground for those looking for a holistic vacation. Photo / Unsplash

Has anyone else dreamed of all the adventures they will have when we can finally travel overseas?

After nearly two years of health crises and lockdowns around the world, it is no surprise that wellness tourism is already starting to expand abroad as travelers to travel as a way to take care of their mental, physical and emotional health.

With a creative and community-driven culture, stunning natural features, and an influx of wellness restaurants and accommodations, here are 10 ways Portugal is an epic destination for a holistic vacation.

Dive into a healthy meal at one of the trendy new restaurants emerging in Lisbon and Porto.  Photo / Unsplash
Dive into a healthy meal at one of the trendy new restaurants emerging in Lisbon and Porto. Photo / Unsplash

Enjoy nourishing foods
Like Los Angeles and Melbourne, the plant scene has indeed hit the cities of Lisbon and Porto while the more rural towns are the mecca of farmers’ markets and freshly caught seafood. Check out some of the top rated vegan and vegetarian restaurants like Zenith Where Bontanist before finishing the meal with a famous Portuguese cream pie (‘pastel de nata‘), because holidays are all about balance, right?

Make lunch more than just a meal
The Portuguese are not only fans of what they eat, but also of the way they eat. Like most Europeans, meals are an opportunity to sit down with friends and family and enjoy a slow, conscious meal. For the most authentic experience, check out EatWith in Lisbon, which connects travelers with locals who can serve them at home.

Arrival at Selina in Lisbon or Porto.  Photo / Instagram
Arrival at Selina in Lisbon or Porto. Photo / Instagram

Check into a trendy wellness hostel
In addition to the food scene, hostels are also getting a wellness upgrade. Discover Selina in Porto and Lisbon for yoga in the garden, surf lessons and rooftop pools, or The Passenger Hostel in Porto for a 5-star hostel experience. If you plan to work remotely and travel, you might want to get a room in Lisbon second home or Todos.

Challenge yourself with a hilltop walk
A “town of many hills” can be a challenge on foot or by bike, but the views are always worth it. Like Rome, Lisbon was built between seven hills, each with a unique history and view of the city. One of the highest is São Jorge, well worth the hike for its epic fortress.

Go out into nature
In New Zealand we are quite spoiled when it comes to natural beauty, but Portugal’s white sand beaches, dramatic coastlines and protected forests give us what we pay for. Swap the city for the rugged mountains of Peneda-Gerês National Park or Arrábida National Park by the ocean.

Surf world-class waves
In 2011, surfer Garett McNamara caught the biggest wave on record (30m) at Praia do Norte, which if you know Portugal is no surprise. This country has some of the best swells in the world, but don’t worry, not all of them have 10 stories! The coasts of Peniche or the Algarve are perfect for all levels.

If you think Melbourne's Hosier Lane is epic, you'll love Portugal's art-adorned streets.  Photo / Unsplash
If you think Melbourne’s Hosier Lane is epic, you’ll love Portugal’s art-adorned streets. Photo / Unsplash

Get inspired by creative street art
Lisbon’s white and blue Azujelo tiles can grab all the attention, but don’t miss the rich and talented murals that cover the walls of Lago, Porto, and Covilhã. What better way to enjoy it than with a walking tour that takes you around the city while learning about its modern quirks and ancient history.

Break a sweat on the Porto bridge
For an adrenaline rush, try tackling the Porto Bridge Climb. Consisting of almost 300 steps, the sweat is worth it for the almost aerial views of the city.

Italy or Portugal?  It's hard to tell when riding a moliceiros.  Photo / Unsplash
Italy or Portugal? It’s hard to tell when riding a moliceiros. Photo / Unsplash

Slow down with a boat trip
Did you think the canals were exclusive to Venice? Think again. The old port town of Aveiro features winding canals that have earned it the nickname “Venice of Portugal”. For the best views of the city’s markets and cottages, travel on the traditional flat-bottomed boats called ‘moliceiros‘.

Get a full body workout on the water
If you love your vacation with crystal clear water, stimulating exercise and fun, then you will love enjoying the stand up paddleboarding culture in Portugal! The cold coastal towns of Peniche and Santa Cruz are prime locations to try out this full body workout.

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